Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has favoured raising the age of marriage for both men and women to 25 in tune with the 'Ashrama system' prescribed in Hindu philosophy for good health and getting rid of malnutrition.
The present permissible age of marriage is 21 for men and 18 for women.
"I believe marriage age for both boys and girls should be raised to 25 in accordance with the age-old tradition of the Ashrama system," Manjhi said on the sidelines of 'Janata ke Darbar me Mukhya Mantri' programme on Monday.
The Ashrama system divides life into four stages on the basis of age. The first stage is "Brahmacharya" (celibacy) till the age of 24; then "Grihastha" from 24-48; followed by "Vanaprastha" (48-72); finally "Sannyasa" (72 till demise).
There was sound reasoning for categorisation of stages in the Shastras, he said and added that health problems, population explosion and malnutrition were due to violation of the age-old practices.
"Why has height of an average person come down to 5 feet from earlier 7 feet?" he asked and answered his rhetorical question by attributing it to early marriage.
The 70-year-old CM cited his own example and said he got married after 25 and that was the reason why he did not have to take any medicine even at this age.
"Lifting marriage age to 25 will solve the problems of bad health and malnutrition among women and infants prevalent in society today," he said.