Family Life

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2
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Have your eating and drinking in common. I bind you together. Assemble for worship of the Lord, like spokes around a hub. Of one mind and one purpose I make you, following one leader. Be like the Gods, ever deathless! Never stop loving!

The Ideals Of Marriage

Marriage is an institution, a business, a spiritual partnership, a furtherance of humanity and a contract — a three-level contract involving body, mind and emotion. Marriage is a necessary commitment not only for the continuation of the human race but also for the furtherance of each individual soul’s spiritual unfoldment. The interaction on all levels between the couple, and later their children, molds the good, bad and confused karmas into new dimensions. Saivite marriages involve not only the bride and groom but also their parents, their priest, guru, astrologer, relatives on both sides and the entire community. The feeling of responsibility to the community is ever present. The community’s feeling of responsibility to make each of its marriages work out well is also always present.

Why are Saivite marriages different from other kinds of marriages? It is because of the ever-abiding belief in the ever-present oneness of God Siva within each one. God Siva is within you, and you are within God Siva. God Siva is the Life of our lives. This and more the Saivite saints sang. To forget that Siva is within the wife, to forget that Siva is within the husband is to forget Saivism itself. This basic Saivite belief lays the psychological foundation for the husband to see the wife as a Goddess and the wife to see the husband as a God. All other behavior comes out of this belief. Belief creates attitudes, and attitudes create actions.

The knowing that each one has come into life to work out certain karmas they brought with them in this birth, and that karmas are generally worked out through other people, gives a challenge and a goal — to resolve these karmas and receive the reward of mukti, freedom from rebirth. Because of this belief, this understanding, the husband and wife blend their energies more constructively. Their attitudes are naturally more generous, forgiving and understanding, their actions and interactions more harmonious and mutually supportive. A woman gives her prana, spiritual energy, to her husband, making him strong. Children give their prana to their parents, because to them the parents are Siva-Shakti, the first guru. The wife, always attending to her husband’s needs, sets the pattern for the children. By focusing her energies within her family, she builds up a great spiritual vibration in the home. In fulfilling his purusha dharma, the husband gives his prana, love and loyalty to his family, and he benefits the community through his service. He never, ever raises his voice in the home; nor does he show anger in any way. He is the model for the entire family. When his sons come of age, they join their pranas with his, and as a result, the family, the community and the country flourish.

Believing in reincarnation, the parents know that their relatives — and they themselves — will be born back into their family again and again to work out their unfinished karmas. A Saivite home is a karmic factory, a recycling of souls, a mill that grinds exceedingly fine the seed karmas of this and past lives.

Mysticism In the Home

The Saivite Hindu lifestyle is very special, very binding, strengthened by: the pancha nitya karmas; the Monday family home evening and the daily family meetings; the knowing that each child is and has been totally a part of the family, maybe for hundreds of years; the knowing that there is karma to be worked out within the family — feelings of happiness, unhappiness and misunderstandings, all to be resolved; and the knowing that there is a purpose for them all being together and that they may all be together until mukti, liberation from the cycle of rebirth. All this and more distinguishes the Saivite family from all other families on the planet.

It is on the astral plane, the inner world of this world, that twenty-four-hour life takes place. Beings there do not have to sleep. The positive activity of the astral world within the house or the apartment transforms it into a home, or if negative into a hotel room. To stabilize this astral activity and make sure it is positive, the home puja is performed by every Saivite family daily. Scriptures are read, the yamas and niyamas are fulfilled and all difficulties, large and small, are resolved before sleep. Divine ancestral devas are coaxed to live in the home, as well as devas from nearby temples where the family frequently worships. This magic makes the home into a spiritual abode, not unlike a temple itself.

Children are always treated with great respect and awe in a true Saivite home, for one does not always know who these young ones were in past lives. They may be incarnations of a grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, dearly beloved mother, sister, brother, respected father, distant related yogi or rishi. Who are they? What is their destiny to fulfill in this life?

The answers lie in the voice of the universe, the mystical Saivite astrological system laid down by the rishis of yore. The family’s astrologer carefully explains the nature of each child, and how it will develop, flourish and unfold year after year. This gives the parents knowledge and hope, courage and understanding, tolerance and forgiveness, and all the other fine qualities that all Saivites want to cultivate within themselves. In raising the children and simultaneously realizing that each is a part of Siva’s well-ordered universe and has entered the family with his or her own prarabdha karmas to be lived out, the parents are neither excited nor dismayed when the predicted characteristics begin to manifest within the child. Yes, the Saivite home is a factory, an intricate mechanism manufacturing spiritual unfoldment for every member of the family.

Bringing Up Children

Many families look at their children as intruders, as strangers. Saivites don’t. There is great power and wisdom in the knowledge of astrology in bringing the necessary information to the parents to know the nature of their new arrival. Non-Hindu families generally do not have this kind of insight into the nature and future of their offspring and are generally at a loss to understand or know how to deal with patterns and developments as they arise.

Hindu parents view each child as an adult in a very young body, growing up into the fulfillment of its potential. Using the knowledge gained through astrology, they work to strengthen the strong character traits and never aggravate the weaker or antagonistic ones. This is to say that should the child have a propensity toward anger, jealousy and argumentativeness, and another propensity toward generosity, creativity and acquisition of knowledge, the wise parents will, of course, never argue with the child, because they do not want to awaken and strengthen this quality; they would carefully refrain from angering the child and quickly quell the anger when it flares up. In order to avoid strengthening the tendency toward jealousy, they would seek to secure the child’s relationship with friends and things so that he never felt unloved or disadvantaged. They would praise his creativity, generosity and acquisition of knowledge. For all this he would be rewarded with kind words and gifts, because once these tendencies are strengthened, the negative ones will fall aside.

This example is given to explain the way in which mother and father must work together to formulate patterns of positive discipline that they will understand and implement in the same way, so as to bring out the best qualities within the child. When these best qualities are brought up and become a part of the child’s daily life, the worse qualities will naturally be subdued by the best qualities. It is an interactive mechanism within the child himself that brings him closer to perfection. Non-Saivite families often bring up the worst within their child, and the child has to, for his own salvation, leave home to be with people of a higher nature, a more expanded consciousness, who will strengthen his finer qualities, or be drawn to those of a lower nature, who will strengthen his lesser qualities. Everyone is on the path to perfection, and they are instinctively and superconsciously seeking out those who are capable and able to help them progress. Saivites want this to happen within the home itself, and hence welcome the involvement of the guru, the swamis and the entire community.

Because people are human, differences arise. If everyone were the same, humanity would be called a herd, with the instinctive nature the predominant functioning intelligence. But humans are not a herd; they are individuals, each and every one of them. Each has a destiny and on the path to fulfill that destiny must go through an intricate series of unique experiences. Saivites appreciate the differences. If any sameness exists, it is because of the shared understanding of the Saiva Dharma and each one’s ability to live up to it in his own way, helped or restricted by his prarabdha karmas. In our own Saivite organization — a worldwide family it has been called — a pilgrim can visit a mission in Canada, California, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius or India, and experience his brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles. This worldwide extended family exists because of their shared, basic Saiva beliefs and attitudes, and their striving to live up to the culture and sadhanas in their own way, only being helped or inhibited by their prarabdha karmas.

The Roles of Man and Wife

Is there anything unique in the Saivite marriage that helps in dealing with the roles that men and women traditionally play? Are women always to be meek and dependent and men aggressive and in charge? Sometimes an aggressive woman marries a passive man. How does Saivism deal with this?” This totally depends on the education of both the husband and the wife. This has been my experience. When the modernization of education occurred, which taught people how to live in the world, run a business or work for someone else, family life began to evolve out of the village consciousness and into the technological age. In this change, traditional roles also changed.

Today there are five basic patterns of marriage. In an agricultural community, women take care of the house, and men take care of the farm, the business and industry; or in some other societies where women are stronger, they work side-by-side with the men. There, for a man to have his wife work side-by-side with him in the field is a sign of status, better meals for the family and more attention to himself. Also we must understand that in these marriages both husband and wife share a similar educational level, a similar understanding of how the world works. This is the first and oldest pattern.

However, as society changes because of technology and industrialization, people change and their relationships change. I have found that a Western-educated man who marries an Eastern village-educated girl will always be head of the house, and she will allow this. Basically, she does not understand the ways of urban life. This is the second type of marriage. The educated man marrying an uneducated girl will not expect her to understand what he is thinking about or feeling. And she would probably not understand even if he explained it all to her. She would naturally be submissive; he would be aggressive.

It has been my experience that it works exactly the same the other way around in cases where the woman is more highly educated than the man. The intellectually educated lady marrying an uneducated man would most likely be the principal wage-earner, and he would be submissive. She will naturally make the major decisions about how to spend her money. He will naturally concur. Or, they will fight. This third, more difficult, relationship will demand a leader and a follower, especially if she earns more money than he and has more job security and greater benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement.

The second and third types of marriage share a common factor. A village girl has no way of earning her own living, should her husband die or leave her, and would have no recourse but to return to her family, unless he left her a substantial bequest or alimony. A nonprofessional village man would have no other recourse than to seek his own level of income should his educated wife die or leave him without providing a generous support or inheritance.

Special Types Of Marriage

The fourth type of marriage, like the first, is between those of similar educational backgrounds. Here, though, each is sophisticated, has professional skills and could be a wage-earner in his or her own right. Within these marriages, even though the skills may not be used, they are a potential source of income and security. This fourth rule book, which has been written more recently by the actions and experiences of various couples and the societies in which they live, is most important to elaborate on. Two fairly equally educated people should work in unanimous agreement, in partnership, in all things regarding raising of the children and management of the home.

The first three rule books are fairly well set, and society understands them. They have been functioning for hundreds and thousands of years. In the fourth type of marriage, men and women meet in equality through intelligence developed and cultivated through Western education, Western experience and the equal ability to be wage earners. The intellect, intelligence, has no sex; it is equal. To apply agricultural village traditions to these marriages would be to foster contention, misunderstanding and feelings of rejection, leading to possible separation. Two potential wage earners living together must themselves reach consensus on every issue.

The fifth type of marriage is more religious, more spiritual. Here the couple has blended together for the purpose of fulfilling religious aspirations, for ministry, producing sons for the monastery or future priests and pandits. These lofty marriages have definite guru involvement and swami involvement. The couple is intent on practicing yoga and serving their religion selflessly as missionaries, exemplars and teachers. My Saiva Siddhanta Church encourages each couple to write a two-part marriage contract. Part one is the mutual agreement, laying out the overall purpose of the marriage and the aspirations and goals that the union hopes to fulfill. The other part is a statement of the duties and responsibilities of each of the partners. This semi-corporate approach has proven successful in stabilizing many marriages, as each partner clearly understands his or her role.

Any couple following any of the other four types of marriage could move to the fifth at the right time. They would ultimately take the brahmacharya vrata, later in life, after a decision was made to have no more children, and then live together as brother and sister. This is traditional within Saivite culture and consistent with community expectations.

Marital Harmony

One might ask about the traditional role of the husband as guru of the wife, whether he should give in equally to her views when difficulties arise or expect most of the compromise to come from her. In the ideal of the husband’s being the guru in the family, the word guru simply means teacher. So, to be a guru in the household means that he is a very religious, knowledgeable, understanding, humble husband who is kind, honest and respected in the community as an exemplar. Otherwise, the ideal of family guru does not apply, and more of a partnership arrangement between spouses is the default in today’s world.

People are held in bondage in many ways — physical bondage, emotional bondage, intellectual bondage. In India’s Hinduism, unfortunately, as in many other societies on the Earth, disproportionate numbers of women are still not educated, while the men more often are. Therefore, the woman is held in intellectual bondage, sometimes not even being able to count to a hundred and only being able to, and expected to, gossip in the marketplace and bargain for food. Naturally she would follow the religion of her husband. Naturally she would also depend on him fully for guidance in all other matters, financial and otherwise.

But times have now changed, and many Hindu women have been educated and can formulate their own opinions through the reasoning processes of their own minds, talk intelligently among themselves and arrive at pragmatic conclusions. The guru-disciple relationship does not exist in marriages of this kind. She does not need to learn anything from her husband. In most cases she has sufficient skills to be financially independent. Therefore, the relationship is not that of a guru and student, but is more like a business partnership, the fourth type of marriage.

Their business is birthing children and raising them to be good citizens, maintaining a harmonious home by reconciling differences before sleep, even if they are reconciled a few hours after dawn, maintaining the family budget, paying all of the bills on time, saving for their children’s higher level of education, seeing to the children’s being settled in a life of their own, paying off the mortgage on the house, preparing for retirement, seeing to the spiritual upliftment of the community by contributing to the local temple society, maintaining a shrine room in their home, and hiring a local priest to perform house ceremonies and certain samskaras within the home. To fulfill all of this, a fair, professional attitude toward one another must be maintained.

Professional people in large corporations do not argue endlessly before reconciliation, nor do they undermine each other, lest they soon find themselves looking for another place of employment. Divorce in this modern time is like being dismissed, fired, and then the search is on for another partner with whom the same unresolved karma will finally mature. This is because we are born with certain prarabdha karmas to be lived through, if not with one person, then with a surrogate. The way to avoid creating new kriyamana karmas is to face up to the karmas with the first spouse rather than with a second, third or fourth, which would create a kukarma, or bad karma, mess along the way to be later cleaned up, if not in this life, then hopefully in the next life.

It is said that the wife should see the husband as Siva and he should see her as Shakti, which is often misconstrued as putting him in a superior position. The only up-down situation is the educated husband married to an illiterate wife, yet even here the relationship should be one of love and mutual respect. Siva and Shakti are totally and equally interrelated as far as Saiva Siddhanta philosophy is concerned, and cannot exist without one another. Therefore, is the husband Siva, and is she Shakti? It’s a yes and no answer. In Saiva Siddhanta, Siva and Shakti are two aspects of a one Being, Siva being the unmanifest Absolute and Shakti being the manifest Divinity.

If the wife is as capable as the husband in the external world and the intellectual world, emotional world and physical world, there is no up-down relationship between them, and they are Siva and Shakti, absolutely equal. The old system of male dominance originated in early human societies when physical strength — for war, hunting and heavy muscular effort — was a prime survival factor. It was perpetuated as the way of life in villages of preindustrial India, Europe and early America, where the man received the education and the woman, as a rule, did not. To apply this system in today’s sophisticated technological societies would be to plant the seedlings of the destruction of the marriage.

Commitment To Harmony

Traditionally, every Hindu family should have a family kulaguru, a preceptor who knows the flow of karma within all the family connections and the birth dharma of the family itself. To be without a kulaguru is likened to a child being without its parents.

One of the greatest disruptive forces in a marriage is the amateur psychiatrist or psychologist practicing on his or her spouse. This tactic for solving problems is totally unacceptable. Such efforts, however well-intended, to straighten out a spouse through subconscious analysis are antagonizing, disruptive and hurtful emotionally and mentally. All these psychiatric games are based on the principle, “Something is wrong with you, and I’m going to straighten it out. Come to me. I have all the solutions.” Saivism is different. It is based on the principle that you are perfect. The only problem is that you don’t know it. Let’s talk ourselves into our own perfection through reading scripture, praying, doing Sivathondu together, doing japa together, to lift our consciousness into the perfection that is always there.

If your spouse is trying to hurt you, protect yourself in the Sanatana Dharma as your first line of defense. Recognizing that this is your karma, fulfill your dharma fully, be it stri dharma or purusha dharma, the best you understand it. The Vedas assure us that truth always wins over evil (Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6). It is the wife’s duty to uplift the husband, the husband’s duty to uplift the wife. A husband bent on hurting his wife could not outlast — his hurtfulness could not survive — the wife’s chanting “Aum, Aum, Aum” all day long and placing spiritual vibrations into his food. In this way, good overcomes evil, ahimsa overcomes himsa, dharma overcomes adharma. This is why we are born on this planet, to evolve through such challenges. We are here for no other reason. But should the husband ever become physically violent, the wife should take the children and run to safety. She should stay in a safe place until he has undergone counseling, made amends to her and to the congregation, asked the family guru to prescribe a penance and fully performed that penance.

When families who are trying to meditate and unfold spiritually go through times of internal or external violence they should not practice raja yoga or other forms of meditation. This will only aggravate and worsen the situation. Yoga practices are not for them. What they should do is Sivathondu, or karma yoga, bhakti yoga and simple japa yoga. That is all. If a disharmonious situation comes up between husband and wife, they must resolve it before they go to bed, even if they must stay up all night into the light of day.

Sleep puts the problem to rest over a period of two or three nights, and it will eventually fade into the memory patterns of forgetfulness over a longer period of time. Having sex does not solve the problem. It puts the problem into seed, into the memory patterns of current forgetfulness, and these will definitely materialize at another time. Sex and sleep are not solutions to marital disputes. One is immediate postponement and the other is a slower postponement. To resolve a conflict between husband and wife, lest it affect the lives of the children by being postponed into forgetfulness, it must be done before sleep. There is no other way. This is the way husbands and wives catalyze their spiritual unfoldment on the path and develop themselves. Another reason sex is not a solution to disharmony is that babies that are conceived in a union that is supposed to settle a squabble are more often than not invoked from the Narakaloka. Such children might harass the family for the rest of their lives.

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Comments
  1. nikky says:

    Its has been a great pleasure to read your blog. your information here is very useful. looking forward to hear from you soon. keep up writing. cheers

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