The menace of early marriage in the lives of girls
At times the swayambars would lead to quarrels between the princes, which would further lead to a bloodbath. But, it must be remembered that only princesses had their ‘swayambars’ ; there is no mention of the lives of the common men and women in the texts, which implies that perhaps the ordinary young girl was bound to wed someone pointed out by her family, or (if she was lucky) could marry someone she loved.
However with the passage of time certain things were rigidly comparmentalised. The Smrtis brought down the marriageable age still lower by dividing the marriageable girls into five classes:
(1) Nagnika or naked,
(2) Gauri, 8 years old,
(3) Rohini, 9 years old,
(4) Kanya, 10 years old and
(5) Rajasvala, above ten years.
Nagnika was regarded as the best stage, hence many girls were married at that stage itself.
It did not help that in Medieval Era invaders invaded India and looted and plundered everything. Education for women was completely forgotten: they remained confined to homes from birth to death, married off in childhood itself and deprived of all opportunities. Moreover, there was a belief that girls must be married before puberty. As a result girls who did not get married early remained unmarried forever. They were considered a burden on their families and some of them turned to prostitution in order to support themselves.