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The Importance of Proper Matching of Marital Partners: Applying Shrimad Bhagavatam Today/ Part 1

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Kasyapa seduced by Diti
In the Temple here in Prabhupada Village we have been studying Shrimad Bhagavatam 3rd Canto, part 2 and are now reading chapter 14, “Pregnancy of Diti in the Evening”. This volume of the Bhagavat began with Brahma’s prayers for creative energy, then his creation of living beings, the division of time from the atom, creation of different gods and sages like the four Kumaras, and then the appearance of the Lord’s incarnation as Varaha.

Lord Varaha fights with Hiryanyaksa
His appearance and activities prompted more and more questions by the saintly Vidura who was putting questions to the great sage Maitreya Muni. Thus the history of the cursing of Jaya and Vijaya, the gate keepers of Vaikuntha, who had to take birth in the material world was revealed. But first the pregnancy of their mother, Diti was described.

There is much to learn in these historical narrations about the consequences of our actions—offending saintly people, how the plan of the Lord serves many purposes, and the importance of the proper consciousness of parents in begetting good progeny. I gave class on the 14th verse of this capture and I will share with you the outline of my class.

Here is the verse and purport:
Veda-Vyasa
verse 14 “In days long ago, our father, the most opulent Daksa, who was affectionate to his daughters, asked each of us separately whom we would prefer to select as our husband.”
purport by Shrila Prabhupada “It appears from this verse that free selection of a husband was allowed by the father, but not by free association. The daughters were asked separately to submit their selection of a husband who was famous for his acts and personality. The ultimate selection depended on the choice of the father.”

As always I thought about how to apply this verse in various cultures throughout the world that may be very different from the Vedic culture. The externals of a culture never stand alone, but are meant to serve some purpose, often forgotten. As devotees of Krishna and students of the Vedas (especially the Bhakti scriptures) we understand that the purpose of the rules of Vedic culture and Varnasrama dharma (the four stages of social and spiritual divisions) are meant to help the people in many ways—in a beginning sense to elevate human beings from just being animals to become regulated moral, civilized human beings.

Yet in addition to this Vedic culture is meant to help people make progress beyond ordinary material religiosity and morality to the spiritual plane which involves serving, loving, and glorifying God and his pure devotees, and reaching the spiritual world, beyond earth, the heavenly and higher planets, and so on, to that place which upon returning one never returns this mortal world again. This is done by installments, and although modern culture is far divorced from this high goal, those who know this purpose of human civilization and especially the Vedic scriptures and culture work to help people make spiritual progress regardless of their social and religious customs.

In this verse we learn that in traditional families the father was responsible for finding a suitable husband for his daughter, and in kingly families the daughter would herself choose a husband from a list the father had gathered. This list was based on careful examination of the families and character of the prospective groom, and by referring to great astrological seers who could understand the science of compatible matching of men and women.
Dealing with differences
We can draw from this how very important it is to match individuals with compatible temperaments. My wife and I do premarital counseling and we try our best to help couples make informed decisions. If the couple is infatuated or still in the romance stage, we try to get them to wait till the bubble bursts, or they aren’t just projecting their ideal on their potential mate. Easier said then done of course, yet if a couple marries without carefully considering their compatibilities, “baggage” and challenges, it will be difficult for them to stay together.
Marital problems
As infatuation and perceived youthful beauty changes, the husband and wife must have spiritual advancement as their main concern to be able to remain committed. If husband or wife are only seen sexually or as objects of material enjoyment, when there is some impediment to such enjoyment there will be likelihood of divorce. Therefore, mutual appreciation is essential, and must be continued throughout the marriage. As the old adage, “familiarity breeds contempt” teaches us, we must practice the art of not taking one another for granted, but practicing gratitude and appreciation and showing that we truly care. In addition couples should pray for one another and engage in spiritual practices together such as japa, kirtana, reading scripture and serving saintly persons.
Ideal matching
We teach couples to see a relationship pyramid with husband and wife on the bottom two points and Krishna or Guru and Gauranga (Lord Chaitanya) at the top of the pyramid or triangle. This concept means always keeping our spiritual focus. We are meant as husband and wife to not just enjoy the material world, but to help one another make spiritual progress. Although basic physical/emotional/spiritual compatibility between a couple is very important, our dedication to being Krishna conscious is as well, since that is the ultimate goal of our life and marriage.

Our relationship should also be seen as having an existence of its own—not just two people, but a relationship existence which needs to be given time and care. As individuals need proper care to live and prosper, so does a relationship. Relationships will not survive on automatic pilot, but need “TLC” or tender loving care, and readjustments from time to time. As people change so must relationships adapt to stay relevant. Often in marital therapy we have to recommend to busy couples that they schedule special quality time with one another, and regularly take stock of the changes in their individual lives that may affect their marriage.

The karma, tendencies and consciousness of the parents will determine the type of child that comes through them. Before begetting a child the parents are meant to purify themselves and their desires through various rituals and spiritual practices. If they do this properly is very likely they will attract a high quality soul who is qualified to take advantage of the spiritual facilities they will offer. This is a continuing story as our consciousness at death will take us to a place corresponding to our desires and attachments. This is the science of life and death.

to be continued as this is already 1,000 words, and I know reading my long blogs can be a bit much.

devotees listen to call in PV

Combined comments from old site

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 15:22 — bhaktincarol
not too long

Hare Krsna!

I thought, it's not too long (!) I would like to read more. :-)

This is a subject I am interested in learning more about.

When the two individuals in a relationship are very different, how to cope with that? I try chanting the mantra silently when things become difficult. Doing that, right at the moment I am doing that I feel better, but the same problem going on around me continues. I wish I could just talk in a relationship, and they would let me talk, and they would be interested in what I had to say, and maybe would try to be accommodating. But when that doesn't happen, and they won't listen to me...do I then just try to do what I need for myself? If I am asking them to stop yelling and they won't stop, should I just walk away if I don't want to hear yelling? (and I don't always have that opportunity) Another question, how not to feel stress when others are yelling?

I also wonder about this...I was told some years ago by a devotee that even if we think we have chosen our spouses, that actually it was not our choice, that the individuals in our lives are put there for us (and for them). I was wondering whether someone could explain this more.

thank you
bhaktincarol


*Reply*

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 17:58 — Karnamrita.das
Hari Bol and Happy New Year

Hi Bhaktin Carol. Hope you are well!

There is fate and free will, and with our intelligence and good council we do our best to make informed decisions. The problem in relationships is when we become attached to some one or used to them, and then we can't see clearly--we become enmeshed, and think we have no choice but to make it work and get married. Or sometimes on account of low self esteem we think we can't find anyone else, or we just deserve to suffer.

It is true that we may have some karma to work out in a difficult relationship, yet the main thing is to learn what you need to learn. And you may not need to marry someone to learn your lessons. People can change, but it is difficult, and they have to want to change. If you can't speak your mind to someone, it seems doubtful it is a very favorable situation. People need to be comfortable being who they are now and in striving for their KC and other goals. And if it is so troublesome before you marry, it is likely to only get worse.

Communication is essential in a relationship and marriage. People need to find someone who supports, understands and nurtures them--allows and fosters their growth as a person and a devotee--and is interested in their welfare both spiritually and materially. There are difficulties in any relationship, yet there is no reason it should be a battle of wills. There needs to be basic compatibility in many areas. So you have to assess all this.

Basically you have to determine if your relationship is favorable to your KC, and what you need emotionally, mentally and physically. And you have to think long term. People need to like being with one another, ideally being best friends and have a sense of shared meaning in their marriage. I suggest you read a very helpful book my wife and I teach from called, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John M. Gottman. You will find many important tips there including danger signs. There are many other good books also. They are not devotees, but are generally good, compassionate people. I can suggest other titles as well. The more you understand about relationships the better.

Many things in KC are really common sense, but sometimes we complicate them with applying only parts of the philosophy. Often marital partners have been married for many births [according to Bhrigu readings], but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take care in choosing our life partner. We sometimes come together with a potential partner to learn what we don't want or need! You should both be helping each other, not competing. There are traditional male/female roles, yet they are not written in stone. We are not living in Vedic times, nor are we ideal men and women, so we have to make adjustments that work to support both devotees. We all have strengths and weaknesses, so our roles and duties should take all this into consideration. When both people work, that also changes everything, and duties need to be fairly shared.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Tue, 01/19/2010 - 07:00 — Karnamrita.das
Premarital counseling

Premarital counseling would also be very helpful. As I mentioned one may not be seeing clearly and it can be helpful to get feedback from a trained professional. If someone isn't willing to have such counseling, I wouldn't take this as a good sign. It can be helpful to step back from your situation to gain some clarity--this is why detachment is so valuable. It would be so valuable to speak to others not invested in your marrying a certain person, who are neutral and can speak objectively from their experience, either professional, practical or both. We shouldn't be fatalistic, but try to gain insight, clarity and be as realistic as possible. Remember you DO have choice!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita