From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Gāndharva literally means ‘pertaining to the Gandharvas’.
The dharmaśāstras declare vivāha or marriage, not as a social contract, but as a sanskāra, religious sacrament.
In gāndharva vivāha, the boy and the girl decide by themselves to marry and then get the approval of their parents and guardians. The svayaṃvara system among the kṣattriya kings belongs to this type. The type of marriage is seen in the Ṛgveda among other texts.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore