Early Marriage

Posted: 01/07/2013 in Routine part 2

Unite, O Lord, this couple like a pair of lovebirds. May they be surrounded by children, living both long and happily.


Traditions of Early Marriage

We are now entering the dawning of a new age in which everyone is becoming more and more conscious of life and the inner laws of life in their investigation of the inner man. Child marriage is one of the most interesting and least understood practices of ancient India, which has a very real basis in spiritual law. I thought you would be interested this morning to hear of some of the intricacies of this ancient custom.

For many thousands of years, India has practiced early marriage in a variety of forms, making the Indian home through the centuries strong and stable, losing much of its power and stability only in more recent times as some of the ancient practices such as early marriage have begun to fall away from common use. But still, in thousands of homes throughout Asia today, families practice the betrothal of their children no later than the age of puberty. Such a practice is continued in many homes surrounding our ashrama in the northern part of Sri Lanka. In a typical home, the father and mother begin to take a great interest in finding the proper mate for the child when he or she arrives at the age of six or seven years. In the most traditional communities, many matches are proposed when a boy is five and six years of age to a girl who is just born, because the family wants a happy life with the other family and it seeks to protect the youthful life of the children who are raised together with this vision in mind. Such matches are fulfilled in holy matrimony at age sixteen or later. The principle of such a match is considered to be much the same as the grafting of one kind of an apple tree upon another kind of apple tree, producing a tree which will then bear different kinds of apples. The children are matched by their parents according to an intricate system of character delineation which allows the parents to know the respective basic tendencies of their children.

Sometimes a betrothal is made several years before the marriage takes place. In such cases, the little boy or the little girl is told, perhaps at the age of six or seven, who will one day be his wife or her husband. From that day on, the child’s mind is constantly directed towards the person he or she will one day marry. The father talks about it, the mother talks about it, the older brothers and sisters are constantly filling the child’s mind with thoughts of the husband- or wife-to-be; and the betrothed child begins to anticipate the approaching marriage as a sacred and permanent lifetime contract. From the moment of decision, the parents and relatives in both families are quite happy and content with the arrangement, and eventually it is sanctified with the aid of the temple priest. Generally it is when the two children reach their mid-teens that they become actually married. Then the little girl packs her bag and is taken to the house of the boy, where she lives with him, but just like any one of the rest of the family.

In some cases in India, prior to the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom may not even have met; but as soon as they begin to live together, they come to know one another slowly in the security of his family’s home. Gradually, their minds, which have long been directed toward one another, come together in a natural and harmonious way. When they begin living together, the emotions of each blend one with another, and this is really the marriage of the emotions. First occurs the marriage of the soul. Then the two minds become married. Then the emotions become married or interblended. Finally, the physical consummation of the marriage takes place when both bodies are mature enough for this to happen. The physical bodies continue to grow, and the marriage is a continuing growing together of the physical bodies, emotional bodies and mental bodies, just as you would mold together two pieces of clay until finally you could not tell where one began and the other stopped. Ideally such a marriage is as perfect and complete as the harmonious grafting of one limb upon another.


Marriages Of the Spirit

Now, you might ask, suppose a young married couple find that they don’t like one another. Suppose they are not suited to one another? Well, they are, assuming the match was carefully determined according to the basic tendencies in the nature of each child, according to harmonious and compatible character delineations and not as a forced marriage. The two children, being of the same basic tree, actually grow together in growing up together. This is an ancient ideal among Hindus and other peoples. Though it is not widely practiced in today’s world, it may be in the future when society regains the inner understanding that dispels the misconceptions surrounding the subject.

One of the most compelling aspects of a compatible child marriage is that divorce never even enters into the consciousness of these husbands or wives. In such a relationship, to think of divorce would be like thinking of cutting off your arm. You don’t even consider cutting off your own arm to solve a problem. Nor do children who have grown up together in marriage consider divorcing each other. They have their children at an early age, and they grow up with their own children, so the whole family is closely knit.

The success of a good early marriage is due to the fact that it is a marriage of the spirit. It is not simply an emotional, impulsive pairing or a sexual mating. When the family elders, the mothers and fathers, consult with the family jyotisha shastri and make the betrothal at the very early age of perhaps seven, the destinies of the children are fully directed in the mind of each member of the family. There is no doubt, uncertainty or suspense.

We might think that children should not have their lives determined for them in this way by other people, that they should be given free will to make their own mistakes, to find their own happiness. But think for a minute, how much free will do we really have in our Western culture? Without even knowing it, we buy what manufacturers and advertisers determine we should buy, our minds are filled with what the media presents to us, and we date and marry those we contact by chance circumstance. Our existence in all ways is dependent upon our surroundings more than we would like to admit.

Now, I am only giving you one view of early marriage. You will have to arrive at your own conclusion on this subject. Certainly, there are abuses of the practice of arranged marriage in general. For instance, in response to such abuse, in 1999 England passed a law forbidding forced marriages of young girls.

The responsibility for the marriage of youths lies with the parents, just as they were responsible for their children’s conception. After both families have agreed upon the betrothal, it is the duty of the parents in each family to thoughtfully direct the minds of the children toward one another. The parents and all the elders of the family watch carefully to see that the children do not form any other romantic alliances. They may have other close friends, but first and foremost in the mind of each is the husband- or wife-to-be. In this way, a slow amalgamation of the souls of the two children is made; and looking within, it is possible to see the process of interweaving which takes place on the higher planes of consciousness.


Advantages of Early Marriage

I have observed that children born in such early marriages are spiritually inclined. They are religious and intuitive by nature. Intellectual education does not concern them too much. Nor are they concerned with the worldly pursuits of Western people who are suffering, basically, from frustrated sex emotion, or of those unhappy, incomplete people of the West who live in the frustrations of intellectual ramification and who arrive at the end of their lives and suddenly ask themselves, “Who am I, where did I come from and where am I going?” for unless they have a particularly strong memory, most of their study will have left them. Just as the memory of each detail of your yesterday has flowed through you, so does intellectual knowing eventually flow through the life of the person who contains it, as a thing of only temporary value.

The custom of early marriage in Asia does not stop with the marriage ceremony. The mothers and fathers enter into an unwritten contract together to support the son and the daughter and set aside a certain amount of money for them, so that they can eventually have their own house. The boy usually follows along the line of business of his father, and in this way, spiritually, socially, culturally and economically, the youthful husband and wife are taken care of until the young man is old enough to assume his full family responsibilities. If the young man exhibits special aptitude that might warrant it, and if the parents are sufficiently well off, perhaps they will send him to the university. If not, he follows happily and usually successfully in his father’s trade. The result of such stable early marriage is to give the nation a solidarity and to bring forth, as well, spiritually strong children.

You may enter a home in which such marriages have taken place and find ten people living in the same small area so harmoniously and so well adjusted that you would hardly know that more than one or two are living there. Very large families may live in close contact with each other, and because they are so well adjusted and have such inner respect for each other, there is no contention, no feeling of being crowded. This inner respect for the moods and feelings of another is only possible because the soul qualities are awakened at an early age in the children. Without all of this, we would not, in all wisdom, recommend such early marriage.


Drawbacks of Late Marriages

The further a culture strays from the basic laws of early marriage, the more difficulty do its people have mentally and emotionally, and the more difficult it is for them to awaken spiritually. They have to struggle to internalize and utilize the laws of willpower, concentration and meditation; whereas in a spiritually adjusted Asian home, inner knowledge and inner peace are more or less second nature.

Now let us consider marriage the way we know it today in the West. Boys and girls grow up and may not enter into marriage until eighteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty or later. Along the way they enter into various relationships, and each time they wonder, “Is this the right one?” They compare one experience with another, and each experience they have in this line makes them more unsure of themselves than the last. When marriage finally does happen, instead of the wife going to the husband’s home and looking to him completely for her security, she goes to him with reservation.

Prior to many Western marriages, the years of looking around, wondering, investigating, experimenting and dating only build up an unnatural conscience, because during the crucial, early years, the young men and women are going against the natural inclinations of their own soul, and the resulting states of uneasy conscience only make them insecure. The man who does marry with a foundation of such insecurity can no longer depend fully upon himself, and he finds himself depending upon his wife. She, in turn, is only half depending upon him. They are like two rickety posts leaning up against each other. Jar them a little bit, and they both fall down. By contrast, a well-raised man who marries early develops, with the support of his family, a natural reliance upon his own inner being, and the wife depends upon her husband.

Perhaps you wonder what this force is that amalgamates a husband and wife at their early age. It is an inner force of the nervous system. Perhaps you are somewhat familiar with the central nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. The arms and legs could be likened to the gross projections of our nervous system which can be seen with the two eyes. But there is also a subtle projection of man’s nervous system composed of millions of tiny nerve currents which radiate out from his body and which form an aura about him. When you are close to someone, it is through this subtle nerve force of the aura that you can feel how that person feels.

Before a young boy or girl reaches puberty, the nervous system is pure and strong and vital in its growth, providing the child is not beaten or abused and lives in a harmonious home. If you could see psychically the subtle nervous system that permeates the physical body and extends beyond it, you would find that it has little hooks at the end of the nerve force. In an early marriage, these little hooks come together, connecting the boy and the girl like interlocking fingers, and thus the subtle nervous system of each grows together.

The soul brings the boy and girl together, the mind brings them together, and finally the nervous system in this manner binds them closer and closer together in an actual amalgamation. Once the subtle forces are completely intertwined, they cannot be torn apart. This is why children scheduled for an early marriage are watched very closely, because until the marriage actually takes place, the power to properly amalgamate the subtle forces and projections of this nervous system may be lost. This virginal power may be dissipated in an instant, never to be regained until a new birth. The children are watched so that they do not have any sexual experience with another of the opposite sex before their intended marriage. If they do, the pristine amalgamating power of the subtle nervous system is lost; and though they could still come together in marriage, there would not be the same binding force to hold their lives together. Thus, early marriage as described above is the ideal only when both boy and girl are virgins.


Marriages and Social Problems

When a marriage takes place after the boy or girl have already dissipated their sex energy in one way or another, the main force that holds the two together is one which the woman emanates from within herself in order to stabilize her own security. This is a psychic force which projects subconsciously from her solar plexus. To psychic vision, this force looks like a long, translucent white rope, about six inches in diameter and up to fifty yards in length, which is manifested by the woman’s desire for security and is sent out from herself to “hook” onto the frame of a man and wind round and round his spinal column, thus binding him to her, even at times against his conscious will. This is why you find so many weakened men over whom women have gained an inner, psychic control, holding them in lower states of consciousness. Some mothers exert this kind of control over their sons, too, from time to time, when they do not have their husbands. When a man feels “edgy” and “peculiar” without knowing why, he may well be under the psychic domination of a woman.

When this is the only binding force of a marriage, it is not a marriage at all. Women are inwardly very unhappy in using this force, because it leads them into a lower, instinctive plane of consciousness as well. Until they renounce the use of it, they are never able to contact the faculties of their own soul or to find the Divinity within. Until a man frees himself from these psychic forces, he can never realize freedom within himself or realize his true Divinity. Yet this is the basis upon which our new culture, or nonculture, in the West has formed.

Even in Asia today, which is now tending toward later marriage, the boys and girls are making up their own minds about marriage. But basically they aren’t making up their own minds at all. Instead of the soul forming the marriage, it is done the other way around. First the body makes the marriage, then the emotions make the marriage, then the couple become intellectual partners in marriage and spend all their time and energy trying to see eye to eye on many subjects which they can’t see eye to eye on. When the intellect makes such a marriage, it never becomes a spiritual marriage. It can’t be, because the power of the spirit, which was not harnessed in chastity at an early age, is gone. As man loses the power of a spiritual marriage, his life depends more and more upon his instinctive nature, upon his instinctive drives, and fulfilling his instinctive drives becomes popular, becomes the cultural way of life, the social custom.

The news media are now making us aware of the terrible social problems being created by the tradition of late marriage in America. Child marriage is not considered modern, and yet each day the percentage of children engaging in intercourse, and of teen pregnancy out of wedlock, is increasing, especially with the help of the Internet’s pornographic enticements. Hotmail is not only e-mail! What proper guidance, what dharmic fulfillment, is given to the Western, and now Eastern, boy and girl at the age of puberty? Very little, very little.

In 1962 Someone gave me an article telling about the many families in the United States who were considering entering their children into early marriage with the consent and support of the two families through a legal contract and agreement. Even in our own state of Hawaii, the law sets the age of consent for intercourse, and hence marriage, at a youthful fourteen. This is a basic social issue for us to think about and consider. If you know two people who were married at an early age without prior sexual experience, compare their lives with a couple who married later in life after many affairs and experiences. Early marriage has long been practiced by many cultures and civilizations of the world, including the early Jews, Christians and Muslims. Such practices are not thought out intellectually but are arrived at through observation and the intuitive knowing of the tremendous forces in the instinctive nature of man.


Growing Up Together

Now let us suppose that a young boy and girl are pushed, even forced, into marriage together who are not astrologically, intellectually and spiritually compatible. That would be like trying to graft a pine tree upon an apple tree, which just would not work. The chemistry of the inner forces of this boy and the girl simply would not mix, and naturally the marriage would not be a happy one. This is often the case when two different types of people, who are basically not suited to one another, marry at a later age and thus do not have the chance to grow and mature together. In this case, they are only “glued” together, and when the circumstances of their companionship become too intense, the glue melts and they fall apart.

This indicates why we see so little of early match-making for youths today. There is simply not sufficient knowledge widespread in our society to make proper matches between children. This sophisticated knowledge must be present in both families. Furthermore, both must necessarily be mature and traditional religious families. Similarly, where there is no proper experience in grafting, trees never get grafted.

Among my initiates, we arrange marriages at a slightly later age, such as twenty-one for the boy and seventeen for the girl, and we always require the blending of the two families as a one family and the unequivocal consent of the young man and woman, as well as a written agreement between the couple. There is a lot to be said for marriages that are arranged at these formative ages, because after age twenty-five, personal patterns are already set, and it is more difficult for anyone to adjust to a marriage partner and be guided by community elders.

Years ago in the West, before the two World Wars, it was looked down upon, even unheard of, if there was not at least a three- to five-year difference between the groom and the bride. And to keep genetics strong, cousins never, ever married. The boy was always older, of course. It has been my observation that there is more strain and misunderstanding in marriages when the woman is of the same age or older than the man. When younger, he may feel like a boy, and she like a mother. Whenever the husband is older, his masculinity and sense of protective caring is stimulated, as his wife is younger than he and therefore depends upon him, as eventually do the children.

In today’s world the new trend is to marry when the professions are well established and earning power is up — enough to support a nuclear family. But what about the children? The generation gap is humongous, or at least very big, for them. The mom who marries as a child herself, around sixteen or even earlier and having a baby ten months later, would be only about sixteen or seventeen years older than her first child. By the time she and her husband are fortyish and in the stressful throes of male and female menopause (yes, men go through it, too), their children will be in their early twenties and totally able to help handle their parents’ traumas.

Compare this to a young woman of twenty-five marrying a man who is thirty or older. Mom will be fortyish and dad, too, when the children are in puberty. Hot flashes for mom, while dad is wondering whatever happened to his youth and resisting having an affair. In the midst of all this, the children are demanding their freedom as they experience their own budding powers of procreation. Under these circumstances, the emotional ups and downs in the home can be almost unbearable for everyone, including the neighbors, who sometimes have to listen to loud, high-pitched voices and banging of doors.

Many nuclear families blow up because of the simultaneous release of the biological forces of bodily change experienced by both generations, which inevitably happens in families who marry late in life — father going through middle age crisis while his teenage son is coping with “testosterone poisoning,” mother going through menopause while her adolescent daughter is transforming into an estrogen-powered woman. Of course, the generation gap of twenty-five to thirty years or more between mom and dad and their offspring also contributes to deeper misunderstandings.

What price profession, a well-established financial plan and enough income to maintain a nuclear family? The divorce lawyers get their share, and so do the marriage counselors and psychiatrists — and, oh yes, the doctors, the druggists and the hospitals all take a cut. So, there is a lot to be said, in contemporary Hindu families, for marriage beginning around sixteen for girls and twenty for boys. By this age such children are practically young adults, which even present-day laws recognize.


Not Growing Up Together

One suggestion is for marriageable youth to give up those summer vacations and study around the year to get through school and into a profession so they can wed and establish a family while they are still young, rather than delaying the completion of education and the time of marriage.

Can you tell this to the young people of today? No. They will say, “We will deal with it when it happens.” To delay marriage until age thirty or later and go into a situation with no plan of how to deal with the problems when they come up is flying blind, isn’t it? We don’t even buy our automobiles like that. Will youth listen to such advice from elders? No, not any more. “It’s not cool,” they say. Well, it won’t be cool when emotions get hot and the family has to live through the seven teenage years of puberty simultaneously with the five or more fortyish years of menopause. Think about it.

Here’s a story: Little Jyoti got interested in sailing when his father purchased a boat. Dad was reliving his youth, but had no time to take Jyoti out on a sail, except once, and that was the time they nearly capsized. Dad was forty-seven, and Jyoti was seventeen. There were thirty years between them. Imagine! It certainly didn’t used to be that way, but it is now. All their lives the father and the son lived in different universes, seldom communicating. Even when they thought they communicated, they didn’t. The distance between the ages of Jyoti and his parents contributed to the breakup of the family.

Jyoti went to live with mom after the divorce. They were all happier, now that the fights about the cost of the boat were over. Mom thought the money spent on the boat would be better spent on a new wing built on their house for her mother, who was getting old. Now mom and Jyoti live in her mother’s house, which is big enough for all three of them. Jyoti and dad have finally become friends. Dad sees Jyoti whenever he comes over. Jyoti does not visit dad’s place too often and only when dad’s “significant other” is at work and it’s dad’s day off. It’s all too true that this story is the tale of many families in today’s world.

Another story: Rani’s mom was married at seventeen to a boy who was twenty. They were both virgins and grew together as they discovered each other physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Then came little Rani, then Kumar and then Krishna. Mom, dad and the kids were all children together, and they are still together. Mom stays home. She has never held a job. Dad makes enough for the whole family; they live simply. Mom is always there for her family, laughing and smiling. She is rarely tired and never stressed out. Dad has mutual-interest projects going in the attic, the basement and the garage for the two boys. Mom is teaching her daughter how to sew, cook, sing and serve. Mom, dad, Rani and the boys enjoy each other because they are not so far apart in age. Are those days gone? Are there going to be no more happy times when the entire family enjoys each other without too much distance between their age and interests? Dad doesn’t have to worry about giving quality time to his family. He is there with them — there for them — and so is mom. They have no marriage counseling bills to pay; no problems, really.

The moral to these stories is simple. There is a wisdom in the old ways of marrying early, which is exactly what happened in tribes and cultures for thousands of years prior to World Wars I and II. That is the natural way, the way that avoids frustration and promiscuity, marriage failure and unhappy families.

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