One has to bear in mind that , in a society, we have many issues, including the most personal issues of an individual.
It is the duty of an organized society to take cognizance of his and offer a solution that would solve the individual’s problem and at the same time ensure the smooth functioning of the Society.
A society consists of individuals.
And there might be people who may not be virtuous , though the majority are virtuous.
This is applicable to any society of any time frame.
One has to bear in mind this fact when one talks about the Vedic India and its people.
Ravana existed when Lord Rama lived.
Duryodhana lived along side Yudhistra.
So when one reads the Vedas, these facts are to be borne in mind.
The Vedic society consisted of virtuous men and women;it also had people of lowly character.
Then we have social issues like Drinking, prostitution, gambling and sexual profligacy.
These belong to the people of bad character.
There are social issues like women being deserted by husbands, Adulterous relationships.
These are dealt by the Vedas and Smritis with Injunctions against them.
There are also some issue for which the individual is powerless to handle.
For example, impotency, inability to conceive.
Under such circumstances, the society must offer measures to ensure that the individual problem is resolved with least impact to the society.
One such issue is childlessness and Impotency,
This problem was dealt with by Hinduism during the Vedic period in a practical way.
If a husband is not capable to produce sperms (i.e. Impotent) ,then he has the right to order his wife.,To copulate with other man to beget a child [RigVed Mantra 10 Sutra 10)
This is being quoted to vilify Hinduism and the Vedas.
First there is no concept of order in marital relations in Vedas.
Second, Niyog was a social custom for an emergency situation which was applicable only when all other options of getting a child – including adoption – had been exhausted and getting a child was necessary for couple for any valid reason.
Third, it could happen only if the society permits this. This cannot be independent decision of couple alone.
Fourth, this is exactly that was practiced in all societies of world including Islam. For example, Hazrat Ismail was born when Hazrat Ibrahim impregnated his slave. Hazrat Muhammad got his son from Maria who was his slave and not one of his multiple wives.
Q b) Is it not what the above Mantra says? What is the true meaning of the Mantra?
Answer: No, the mantra only says that if someone does not consider himself to be able to perform his duties in a dual relation, he should allow the other person to seek other partner. This is a very broad principle that can apply in all situations of life – business partnership, master-servant, king-subject or marital relationship etc. Earlier people have tried to interpret this to justify Niyog and avoid prostitution. But Vedas do not get into such details.
Q c) What does niyoga means? Is it not exchanging wives?
Answer: Vedas do not have any word like Niyog. Niyog was a social custom invented for those times where people wanted a child to protect their property, have safety in old age etc but were unable to get a child due to some reason. Niyog literally means a union. It is understood to mean a temporary appointment. This is social custom and not a word from Vedas. In any case, even the social custom of Niyog was to PROHIBIT wife exchanging and hence means exactly opposite of what seem to perceived. In today’s society, when variety of new methods of fertility as well as options for adoption exists and the concept of patriarchal kingdoms has vanished, Niyog is not more applicable even as a social concept, in same manner as one need not wear dress of hide-skins when you live near a tailor shop and have money to by dresses.
Besides , the Rik Veda also say that if at all the women has taken a second man as the new husband(under the condition of first husband being impotent), her first husband cannot have any physical relation with her and he acts as her brother in relation.
Q d) What does the Mantra say?
Coming to current mantra 10.10.10 of Rigveda, it says:
Anyam – someone else
Ichhasva – desire
Subhage – one desiring happiness
Patim – Leader
Mat – Apart from me
Now Pati is a broad term – king is a pati, general is a pati, employer is a pati, parents are pati. Anyone who is supposed to take responsibility is a Pati.