Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Happy Home

Radha and Krishna together “The best process for making the home pleasant is Krishna consciousness. If one is in full Krishna consciousness, he can make his home very happy because this process of Krishna consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krishna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bg 13.8-12 Purport)

In today’s society, especially in Western countries, divorce is a very common practice resorted to by couples having problems in their marriage. Due to the high divorce rate, many churches will not allow people to get married in their church unless they undergo a series of counseling sessions. This course, known as “Pre-Cana”, is given as a way of helping ensure the solvency of the marriage. Couples are taught about the institution of marriage, what to expect, and how to get along with each other. The concepts of shared love, responsibility, and conflict resolution are discussed along with other topics. Many local governments also provide similar instructions to couples when they apply for marriage licenses. Many people even go so far as to sign prenuptial agreements, hoping that this will prevent their spouse from potentially coming after their assets through the divorce system.

While these attempts are very nice and well intentioned, we see that many couples still end up divorcing even after going through such extraordinary preventative measures. In actuality, the concept of divorce is a modern man made creation. According to the Vedas, a marriage is a bond between a man and a woman that exists for life. Even if the husband takes to the renounced order of life, sannyasa, he is still considered married to his wife.

In the Vedic tradition, boys are married as soon as they have any inkling for sex life. The same holds true for girls. In this way, sex life is allowed, but only in a regulated manner inside of a marriage. There is no concept of boyfriend/girlfriend or the free association between men and women. Marriage occurs through the arrangement of the parents. A girl’s parents will compare the qualities of their daughter with that of the potential son-in-law. Both families compare each other’s lineage to make sure that the family traditions and values match up. Married life is known as the grihastha ashrama. In the Vedic system of varnashrama dharma, a person’s life is to be divided into four successive stages, each of which is conducive to achieving God realization. Grihastha is the second stage of life where ones lives as a householder with one’s spouse and children. It immediately follows the stage of celibate student life, known as brahmacharya. Household life requires the wife to serve all the needs of the husband, and for the husband to provide full protection for his wife. This allows for a peaceful life where both parties can make spiritual advancement simultaneously.

Disagreements naturally occur, but no thought is given to divorce. Both parties understand from the beginning what their role is. In the modern system of love marriages, the wife is always asking herself if the husband still loves her. The husband is always asking himself if his wife is devoted to her. Much effort is taken to maintain the “romantic spark”. For couples in the Vedic system, these questions don’t arise since there is a sense of duty that exists from the very beginning. Both the husband and wife are working towards a cause higher than themselves.

Whether it is a love marriage or a Vedic style marriage, the best way to ensure a successful household life is for both husband and wife to constantly chant the holy names of God together.  Married couples should rise early, perform deity worship, chant together, and then eat prasadam. The same process can be repeated in the evening. Even the children can get involved. Young children are the essence of innocence, as they haven’t developed many of the inhibitions that adults have.  Thus, they will take very nicely to serving the Lord by accompanying the parents in their chanting and offering of prayers and prasadam. Such activities will prove more valuable to children than watching television or playing video games.

Bhagiratha praying for the Ganga to descend to earthAccording to the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, one should not be a king, a teacher, or a parent unless they can deliver their dependents from the repeated cycle of birth and death. People may have children for other reasons, many of which are very noble, but the highest service a parent can perform for a child is to make them Krishna, or God conscious. This will ensure that their child’s birth will be their last one. Even the parents are benefitted from such a situation, since a truly devoted person can deliver many previous generations of family members. The great sage Bhagiratha brought Mother Ganga, the Ganges River, down from heaven to earth, thus delivering five previous generations of family members, including the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara.

If we water the roots of a tree, then automatically the branches and leaves are also fed. In the same way, if we provide nice service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then the needs of our friends and family are satisfied at the same time. If a husband and wife work together for the highest cause, then they will always be happy and secure in their marriage.