Archive for the ‘Routine part 2’ Category

Matchmakers

Posted: 06/07/2013 in Routine part 2

May the suitor, O Agni, win our friendship by choosing this maiden and bringing us good luck. Liked by the wooers, lovely in assemblies, may she have good fortune with her husband.

Arranged Marriages

Marriage is a union not only of a boy and girl, but of their families as well. Not leaving such crucial matters to chance, all family members participate in finding the most suitable spouse for the son or daughter and thereafter commit hearts and minds to assist in times of need. Marriage is a sacred covenant which all relatives take up the responsibility to care for and protect. It is one of the most sacred events of life. Through the homa rite at the marriage ceremony, the priest invokes the Gods. The elders, the priests, the Gods, the devas, the planets and even cows witness the couple vow themselves to holy, harmonious matrimony for the rest of their lives. Thus, divorce or annulment are considered out of the question. The Rig Veda intones: “United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be one, that you may long together dwell in unity and concord” (10.191.4. VE, P. 863).

While not all marriages must be arranged, there is wisdom in arranged marriages, which have always been an important part of Hindu culture. Their success lies in the families’ judgment to base the union on pragmatic matters which will outlast the sweetest infatuation and endure through the years. Compatibility of culture and education is also taken into consideration. A spouse is generally sought from within the same religious community. The man and woman should at least be of the same religious sect for long life and a happy marriage. This may not seem important if both are not religiously active, but conditions will tend to change in future years, especially after children are born, and the disparity can lead to separation and divorce. Most families begin early in finding the proper mate for their children among families they know and esteem for the kinship bonds the marriage would bring. Those involved ponder whether the two families can blend into a one family harmoniously with benefits to both. Stability is enhanced if the groom has completed his education, established earnings in a profession and is at least three years older than the bride.


Seeking the Best Match

In arranging a marriage, the families consult astrologers regularly until a match is found. Sometimes the boy and girl are allowed to get to know each other long before they are aware that a marriage is being arranged for them. Of course, if they do not get along well, the matter is dropped and the search is on again. If one match is not agreeable, another is sought. The inner-world devas also help to arrange the best matches. Most traditional astrologers have one or more devas assisting them to provide knowledge from the akashic records and insight into the planetary powers that impel karmas.

Astrological compatibility is also sought for and acquired between the girl and her prospective mother-in-law. The results are taken especially seriously if they will be living in the same home, because in this case the bride will be under the guidance of the mother-in-law and may spend more time with her than with her own husband. In marrying the son, she becomes the daughter of his mother.

Once a potential spouse is selected, discreet, informal inquiries are made by a relative or friend. If the response is encouraging, the girl’s father meets with and presents a proposal to the boy’s father. In some communities it is the boy’s father who presents the proposal. In these modern times, with the worldwide diaspora of Hindus from India and other countries, the fathers must take an aggressive role in helping their sons and daughters become well settled in life. If fathers do not fulfill this obligation, it becomes the duty of the mothers. This pattern differs from the tradition of well-settled village communities where only the father of the girl makes the overtures. In today’s widely dispersed global Hindu village, it becomes everyone’s duty to help in the task of matchmaking for the next generation.

Once the union has been tentatively agreed upon, the families gather at the girl’s home to get further acquainted and allow them to meet and discuss their potential life together. Of course, mutual attraction and full consent of the couple are crucial. After all the input from the community is in place, it is the couple themselves who must make the final decision whether to spend their life together, based on their own personal sensibilities and judgments. They do have the right to say no. In recent years, we have found that an excellent way for a young prospective couple to gradually get to know each other before committing to marriage is through correspondence by e-mail over a period of several months. The first and the last important factor for a good match is that the boy and girl must be happy and comfortable in each other’s company.


Pledges and Blessings

Love marriages that are not arranged by the parents are also fully acceptable if the astrology is excellent, the parents on both sides agree and the young lady and the young man are of the same religious denomination. Of course, these ideals cannot always be met, and if not, more support will be needed from family and friends to make the marriage a success.

Before the wedding, the bride and groom each writes out a covenant by hand, pledging loyalty to one another and formalizing their promises, ideals, expectations and love. The couple share and discuss these documents together, read them carefully and make necessary revisions until 100 percent agreement is achieved. Like a ship’s chart, these detailed vows can be referred to if the relationship gets off course. Each of the two families makes a written pledge as well, signed by the mother and father of the groom and the mother and father of the bride, stating what they promise to do and give toward supporting this marriage in the areas of artha, kama, dharma and moksha. Also most welcome are written testimonies in support of the marriage from grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, as well as from other members of the religious community. This is also a time when anyone among family and friends may, in deepest confidence, even anonymously, share with the family preceptor any obstacles to this marriage that should be known and understood. A full, honest disclosure of the boy’s life and the girl’s life, including sexual experiences, should be made to both families and to the kulaguru.

From the time of inquiry into a match, several months should be allowed for the jyotisha acharyas and shastris to assess compatibility. The whole process of arranging a proper match for a son or daughter often takes two or more years. There should never be a sense of urgency for this or any other lifetime commitment. As Jnanaguru Siva Yogaswami so wisely said, “No hurry. No worry. No sorry.” Nor should the arrangements ever be forced on the boy or girl. They remain free to cancel the process at any time if the match does not seem suitable to them.

When all agreements have been reached, the boy’s mother adorns her new daughter with a gold necklace. Generous gifts are exchanged between the members of both families to bind the two families together in love and loyalty. Rejoicing begins with the formal engagement party, when the boy and girl exchange gifts, such as engagement rings. Later, they read their pledges to each other in the presence of elders. All arrangements and ceremonies culminate on the wedding day, when members of both families join to wish the couple a righteous, prosperous, happy life leading to the ultimate goal of enlightenment. During weddings or related ceremonies, the vegetarian diet should in no way be compromised. Meat and other nonvegetarian foods should not be served, even to please guests of other religions or communities. All Hindus attending should be requested to dress in formal Hindu attire.


Supporting The Marriage

Once a marriage has occurred, both families are relied upon to hold it together through the years. It is the duty especially of the husband’s parents to support and make the marriage work and to offer a home to their new daughter. But it is unacceptable in modern Hindu society, and especially in our fellowship, to follow the oppressive tradition in which the girl becomes the total charge of the boy’s family and is seldom allowed to see her family of birth. It is the duty of the bride’s parents to monitor her protection and observe the couple’s abilities to dwell in unity and concord, while allowing them freedom to work things out together in their new home.

If she is abused physically, they must open their doors to receive her back, to be sheltered, comforted and consoled. It then becomes their duty and that of all shishyas in the community to try to patch things up, restore harmony and obtain trustworthy promises from the husband that this will never happen again. The bride should receive no blame for her husband’s violence, for it is he who has broken his promise to adore her and protect her from harm.

The blending of the two families as a one family gives both the son and daughter two families to support them in good times and bad. It is the responsibility of both families to work toward assuring an endearingly enduring marriage, as well as to guide the raising of the progeny, so that they may become good, productive, dharma-aware citizens, contributing to society at large. If the two families fail in this mutual effort, society fails.

To build solid marriages, some Hindu institutions provide a family evening for fellowship and discussion with a trained counselor. Once a year during the holy time of Pancha Ganapati, the couple take out their marriage agreement and together study where they have been lax or derelict. They trace back in their minds to incidents that are still vibrating as negative samskaras, and apologize humbly and seek forgiveness and total resolution. They renew their commitment to each other. This is a wonderful key for setting the tone for the coming year — of harmony and peace, which leads to abundance and happiness. We call this anahata yoga, cleansing the heart chakra, bringing up that true love for one another. It is the process of bringing up all those things that were not settled before going to sleep, to retrieve those seeds before they get ploughed under and produce another crop of sorrow in the coming years. It is bringing up little things that each one said or did that hurt the other and were not resolved. It is bringing up incidents of anger, any physical violence, which should never be but may have been. It is time to extend apologies, talk with your kulaguru, and make promises and New Year’s resolutions to set the course of the future on the path of dharma, which is based on ahimsa.


Cross-National Marriages

Many are the cross-national marriages happening today, marriages between members of different nations, religions, cultures or races. Times have changed. It is communication that has done it. With no communication, there is no change. When information flows freely, independent thinking is the result, and change is inevitable. Yes, inevitable, and that is what we are seeing today. The younger generation are thinking for themselves, no longer relying on elders to advise. This is unfortunate, for now they will have to learn from their own mistakes. What a way to learn! But this is what is happening, and it is happening faster than we would like to see. Much faster.

Any kind of marriage can survive if true love is there as its glue. True love is the kind of love that gives the couple the ability to give and take from each other without serious conflict, to go through the ups and downs together in trust, to support each other without fail and to reign as benign king and queen strong enough to bind all members of the family together. Even the rishis said that when true love is there, any kind of astrology is good and the marriage will be lasting. Love overrides all bad influences and softens incompatibilities. Love is the sum of the law. But how would a young couple know if theirs is true love or magnetic love? By giving the love a test. That is how. Test it with time. Magnetic love weakens and all but disappears over time. True love grows stronger, much stronger, with time. True love mellows through the years.

Cross-national marriages are essential to the Hindu thought that avant-garde thinkers are sharing today, “All the world is one family,” Vasudhaiva kutumbakam. Citizens of the world bound in love can survive the torrents of the upheavals that naturally come as lives are lived through together and individuals grow ever closer and closer in body, mind and spirit.

Every marriage needs a support of some kind or another built into it. True love is the best support of all, but support from the parents on both sides is a necessary help, too, especially for couples who were drawn together only by magnetism. It is when the magnetic love fades away, and all that’s left are the children, that support from parents and friends is essential for the marriage to last without violent outbursts of released stress which was once undying passion.

Shall we have a look into the future? Since cross-national marriages have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen, there must be some sensible way for them to happen without undue strain on the families of the couple. Wisdom is supposed to fix things, heal conditions, and settle problems. But first we have to admit that there is a problem. And, yes, cross-national marriages are a problem to many people of the old school. The old school only became old just ten years ago. Before then it was a school sharing standards of how things should be to maintain a growing and stable society.


When It’s Too Late to Say No

When an Asian girl marries a black boy, should she be banished from the kingdom? Yes, according to the old school, the old standard. No, according to the new school, the new standard. The banishment method of parental punishment is outdated and bizarre today. Today’s girls think. They understand. They do not intend to be the ill-treated servants of the mother-in-law. The days of Cinderella have long since passed when the mean old stepmother made her cringe beneath her wrath. Boys, too, think for themselves. They read, they listen and evaluate. Theirs is an ever-changing world ahead. They are busy preparing for it. But then along comes love, of one kind or another, to complicate their lives.

When Karen falls in love with Shan and elopes to his country, go visit them and bring her home in your heart. “I love you, therefore, I love whom you love.” That should be the attitude. When Kumar announces his undying love for Carmen, his lover from Mexico, and informs you that her father has a place for him as senior partner in his business, accept it. Enjoy Mexico City. It is a great place, because Kumar and Carmen are there.

Yes, hands across the ocean are loving hands. Hands across the ocean are binding continents to continents, businesses to businesses. This and more is what all Hindu elders are seeing happening around them today. Today’s world is a happening world. Cross-national marriages are inevitable as the peoples of the world become more and more a global village. This is the real, earthy expression of our belief in one God and one world. The soul has nothing to do with nationalism, social restrictions, ethnic taboos or restrictive, prejudicial upbringing. Two souls joining in dharmic matrimony transcend all such boundaries.

My advice has always been that families should arrange marriages for their children. That’s part of their purusha and stri dharma. This is a process they should begin early on. But if they don’t do that, obviously their young people will start arranging their own marriages. And very often when they do arrange a marriage for themselves, the family objects. They have no right to object, because they didn’t perform their duty in the first place.

The dilemma is that matches are not being arranged, and yet parents also want strict control over their youth, and youths are going to find partners, one way or another. Girls especially should be chaperoned. It’s very easy in today’s world to meet the wrong kind of people. As one solution, though not the ideal, I recommend in such cases that mature young ladies double-date and chaperone each other. Then they can talk together about the young men they are dating, and bypass the families who’ve neglected their duties, and arrange a good marriage for themselves that will be lasting, and in the future raise the next generation by doing their duty by arranging a marriage according to tradition for their own children early on.

We cannot stand in front of progress, lest we get run over by it. But we can sit by the side of progress and guide it so it doesn’t run off the track. This cannot be done when we break off communications and refuse to talk to the youth when they don’t obey the old standard. It is communication that is catalyzing the changes in the first place, so we all must guide the young by keeping the channels of communication open. Don’t let them go. Go with them. Love them and gently guide them.
Interfaith Marriages

I tell young ladies, if you are planning on getting married, do not do what the average mother might tell you, “Get the husband under your thumb right at the beginning. Otherwise you might have a terrible time, because it’s harder to do it later on.” Don’t do that. Go into your marriage for better or for worse and live up to your vow. Be to your husband like melted butter is on toast; it is absorbed. Be one. You will have a very happy old age.

It might be rough at the start, but don’t hold divorce over his head to force him into various preconceived ideas that your girlfriend has put into your mind, as so many do, or that you’ve seen on television or in the movies. You have seen the results that Hollywood marriages have played upon the lives of those who have had them as they have gotten older through the years. They are not happy people, though they are advertised as glamorously as they make their living. That is not the way. The way is, when you take your vow, think about it first, and then stick to it for better or for worse.

I tell young men, Gentlemen, if you are thinking about getting married, do not marry a young lady who won’t be one with you in your religion, who will not be willing to stay at home and take care of and raise your family, one who doesn’t respect you as a man and starts, right off the bat, by telling you what to do. Don’t do that, because if you do you will be miserable and you will lose your manhood and be nothing but a puppet on the strings of your wife. And you will both be unhappy, but she especially, in older age. Rather, choose a girl who will blend with you for better or for worse. And whether you are successful or not, she will be happy to eat what you eat and go where you go. A Roman ideal pronounced by the bride at weddings was “Where you are, there I will be.” It might be difficult in the beginning years, but it will be much better later.

A seeker wrote to me saying, “I’m in love with a Christian girl but she wants me to give up my religion and accept Jesus Christ. How can I explain to her that Hinduism is my path and I want to stay with it, but I love her very much? What should I do, Gurudeva?” I responded that you have to think of the children and how you want to raise them. Obviously you want to raise them to be good Hindu children. Since there is very little connection between Hinduism and Christianity — because Christianity does not accept karma or reincarnation, the existence of an all-pervasive God or our temples and ceremonies — there will be serious problems. If she remains a Christian and you remain a Hindu, the children are going to be very confused. If your beloved doesn’t want to go along with you intellectually and spiritually, maybe your love is only physical; that is called carnal love — love of the flesh. That is a very limited type of love, and it is not long lasting. Don’t be guided by your carnal, instinctive emotions. Be guided by your spiritual intellect, or by my good advice. Go shopping. Find a good Hindu girl, or let your parents find one for you, so you can raise a good new generation of high souls.

I’ve seen many cases of Hindus marrying outside of their own religion, and I’ve seen the young couple be very happy for a while. But after the children come and the sensuality of the marriage has cooled off, then there arises a tension between the husband and wife. Generally one becomes more religious than the other. The non-Hindu spouse argues, “You should be religious in my religion,” and the Hindu insists, “You should be religious in my religion.” The victims of this conflict, which generally goes on throughout life, are the children. It is a couple’s shared allegiance to a religious tradition that is the most important common ground.

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.

Family

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2

May you two, waking up in your pleasant chamber, both filled with laughter and cheer, and enjoying mightily, having good sons, a good home, and good cattle, pass the shining mornings.

What Is a Real Family?

How to strengthen family ties is a very important question these days. It is said that Jawaharlal Nehru was instrumental in breaking up the extended family structure in his attempt to industrialize India. After that, once tightly-knit families really suffered as age-old family ties became loosened. The wealth of extended families dispersed in many directions as nuclear families formed and money was unnecessarily spent to maintain the ever-increasing needs of a multiplicity of households.

Let’s explore what a family actually is. People seem to have forgotten. In America before the First World War there were wonderful, well-established and large joint families, with twenty, thirty or more people all living as one unit, often in one home. Everyone had chores. And they all knew their place within the family structure. They loved and cared for each other, and mother was always in the home. We may be a long time in rebuilding family togetherness to the point where the extended family is back in vogue, but meanwhile we are still faced with maintaining family unity. Hindus around the world are working hard to rediscover their roots and strengthen family values. Our staff of HINDUISM TODAY had many inspiring interviews with bright young Asian Hindus in America who are working in their communities to make a difference and reestablish the old culture of caring for one another. We congratulate them and welcome their efforts, for they are the leaders of tomorrow.

I tell parents who seek my advice that one way to keep a family together is to show all members that you want to be with them, that you need them in your life. Not: “Get out of my life, you are bothering me. I have other things to do. I have goals in life that don’t include you.” This hurtful attitude is based on the belief that when children reach age eighteen they should leave home and support themselves. In the West, this pattern is the result of two world wars, when every able-bodied young man left home to join the armed forces. This callousness on the part of parents leads to alienation from their children, who then begin leading independent lives. That leads to the first step in leaving home: keeping secrets from the parents.

With each secret kept, a small distance is created. A large distance is created when five or ten secrets accumulate and deception becomes a habit. When too many secrets mount up, parents and their children don’t talk to each other much anymore. Why do secrets create a distance? Because every secret must be protected. This requires cleverness, sneaking around to keep the matter hidden, even lying. Secrets give rise to angry outbursts to keep others away, such as, “I’m insulted that you would even suspect me of that!” Arguments erupt that go unresolved, and an impenetrable barrier is established.

Mom and Dad are heard confiding to one another, “They’re so different now. I can’t reach them anymore.” Of course, the children have been taught to be cautious, in a sense forced into keeping secrets, lest unloving parents curse them or physically punish them without mercy for transgressions large and small. Many are afraid of the wrath of mothers and fathers who rule their families by fear. In today’s world it is so easy to leave home. It is so easy for the family to break up. It’s even expected. Husbands’ and wives’ keeping secrets, similarly, creates a distance between them. The final divorce decree started with the first secret.

In an ideal family, children should be able to tell their mother and father anything and everything. The parents should want to understand and realize that if they don’t understand but misunderstand, they participate in the break-up of their own family. Of course, it might be hard for them to deal with certain experiences their children are having, but all they have to do is look back at their own life, actions and private thoughts to know that their children are living out the same fantasies. The children repeat the still-active karmas of their parents. Children are born into families with karmic patterns that are compatible with their own. I can predict what young people are going to do in their future, and the temptations that will come up, if I know the karmic patterns of their parents. With this knowledge, it is easy to guide them through life, helping them avoid temptations and unwholesome experiences that their parents lived through. All of these experiences are set into motion by the individual himself, by his own past actions.

The Magic Of Love

Every experience, no matter how difficult or embarrassing, is a good experience, providing the lesson to be learned is extracted from it. Experiences that are unresolved and repressed can be very burdensome for the individual. Living Saiva Dharma makes us our own psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor and problem-solver. This is because one slowly becomes the watcher of his mind thinking, the watcher of his emotions feeling, acting and reacting.

Holding the family together can be summed up in one word: love. Love is understanding. Love is acceptance. Love is making somebody feel good about his experience, whether the experience is a good one or not. Love is giving the assurance that there is no need to keep secrets, no matter what has happened. Love is wanting to be with members of the family. A father who is eager to hold his family together rushes home from work. He doesn’t think to himself, “Why should I go home to all their problems when I can continue working at the clinic for awhile longer.” Loving parents, father or mother, want to be with their children, and they let them know this in so many ways. They face up to problems with love, trust and understanding. They know that problems are only problems because of lack of understanding. They also know, through living Saiva Dharma, that love and trust bring understanding and acceptance of the lessons of the experiences, which are natural manifestations of individual birth karmas and collective family karmas. This approach keeps the family strong and cohesive. In a home where dharma is lived, no one has a private life. No one has a secret life.

When harmony persists in the home, harmony permeates the community, and harmony permeates the country. When love and trust prevail in the family, love and trust extend to the local community, and the country becomes stronger and more secure. Making strong distinctions between good and bad does not help youths understand their desires and temptations. The only path through their lives is one experience after another. They evolve into better people through understanding their experiences.

Children and young adults who have been holding secrets and now feel that it is time to become close to their family again should tell their parents they want to be completely open and disclose what they have been hiding. Then give parents a few days to adjust and prepare to listen. Once reconciliation takes place, hugging and talking will begin again, and the warm, loving feeling of family will take over the home. Something magical happens when secrets are brought out in the open among loved ones. Many youths have told me that when secrets were divulged, their parents were surprisingly understanding. Secrets are psychic burdens, and releasing them, youths tell me, gives a great sense of upliftment, like a balloon dropping its counterweight and soaring skyward. They feel instantly closer to their parents, free of guilt, happier, less stressful, no longer defensive and more interested in helping others.

One of the biggest areas of secrecy is sex. It is important that parents give their children an education in sexual behavior early on. This will also bring and keep the family togetherness. Many parents find it difficult to talk about sex, pornography, drugs and the various other kinds of temptations the world offers today. If this is the case in your home, it is best to seek community or professional help. Not talking leaves children unprepared. Parents force their children into secrecy by showing that these are areas that cannot or will not be faced in the light of day. All begin wishing that conditions will improve, but they never do.

We can now see that the first secret is the crucial issue, for it leads to many, many more, be it on the part of children keeping secrets from their parents, wives from husbands, husbands from wives, students from guru, and on and on. The solution is to follow the yamas and niyamas, the dos and do nots of Hindu Dharma. These are the natural laws of Sanatana Dharma. These are the human ethics that hold families together, marriages together, communities together, countries together. These eternal Vedic precepts are for everyone, no matter who they are.

What Makes a House a Home?

What is it that makes a house a home? A home is a place of companionship with people in it who love each other, who are harmonious and closer inside with one another than they are outside with associates in the workplace or with classmates at school. A home is a place that’s so magnetic that it’s difficult to leave. In a home there is love, kindness, sharing and appreciation, and the inhabitants help one another. It’s a place of selflessness and togetherness, where everybody has time for everybody else. In a home, the guests are treated like Deities or devas coming to the temple. That is the spirit of hospitality in the Hindu framework. It is the same spirit of sublime energy flowing to the guest that also flows within the household. And a righteous household that worships every morning together as one family is like a temple. That’s a home, and everything else is just a house or a hotel lobby.

If you were to look at a harmonious home with your astral vision, you would see the three primary colors — pale pink, pale blue, pale yellow — and white, all intermingling in a big pranic force field. Moving over to another house, you might see a congestion of various colors, with dark and light shades and strange astral forms, and you would know that house was not much different from a hotel lobby.

I was once asked about the desperately poor, homeless families living on the street in America and what can be done for them, when so many other families have large, luxurious homes. I, too, have seen families on the street. But if they live together, if they sleep together, if they talk together, if they eat together, they are a family, even if they are destitute. Such a family is at home wherever they are. You don’t need a roof to make a family. You don’t need a roof to make a home. The truly homeless are some of the rich people who build multi-million-dollar houses and are too busy to really live in them. The truly homeless are those who have turned their home into a hotel lobby. The husband works. The wife works. The children are delinquent. There’s no companionship. They don’t talk together every day. They don’t eat together every day. They rarely see each other. The truly homeless people are those with babysitters, caretakers, gardeners and maids, but who don’t spend quality time with the family in their house. Babysitters often abuse their children. Parents are unaware, too busy making money outside the home that they don’t live in. This is another way of looking at the rich and the homeless. Who is to be pitied?

Control of the computer and the Internet is also important to make a house into a home. If the computer is on all the time, the house turns into an office, even if everyone is at home. Many homes these days are just offices. Human communication has stopped. The computer eats up the time that one should be giving to others within the home. Using the computer moderately gives us time for gentleness, play and communication, not with a screen, but with a human being. And that is the vibration needed in a home.

Discouraged Families

There are too many dysfunctional families in the world today. What is a dysfunctional family? A dysfunctional family is a discouraged family, a family that has no home. True, they may have a million-dollar house, but it would take a lot of constant, magnetic love and kinship to turn that house into a home. Many million-dollar homes are just houses, totally impersonal.

The guests are not God in those homes; guests are seen as business potentials and social obligations. The father works late in his profession so he can avoid his wife and family. When he comes home, he sits down in front of the television while eating his dinner. The kids are running here and there; the mother comes home tired from her equally demanding profession and begins yelling at them. Verbal abuse becomes a way of life. The youngsters come and go unchaperoned. Nobody knows what anybody else is doing. Girls are getting pregnant out of wedlock. Boys are swearing, getting involved in gangs and experimenting with drugs. That is the hotel lobby home of a definitely dysfunctional family, a discouraged family.

No wonder that in discouraged families teens want to leave home as quickly as possible — as soon they’re able to get a job and rent an apartment. That is not quality living, is it? Sorry to say, but most dual-professionals’ homes, where husband and wife both have high-paying jobs, are more like a hotel lobby with a snack bar than like a home with a hearth, which is home with a heart. Think about your home. Is the guest God? Is your house a home? What kind of astral vibration does it actually have? Be honest with yourself. Evaluate!

The astral pranas or energies radiating out from the hotel lobby kind of home make the occupants frustrated people. They make people around them uncomfortable, because they live in an uncomfortable place. Yes, the pranas that emanate from an empty house make one an empty person. All Hindus in the world should reverse this situation for a stable, well-adjusted community for the new and coming generations of Hindus in the West, as well as in the East. This is the next step which those of the diaspora have to heartfully take. It is only intelligence that can reverse a negative situation and turn it into a positive, encouraging situation.

It is important for the mother to be mother, and for the father to allow her to be mother, so that together they can nurture the astral atmosphere within the house and make it vibrate with spiritual energies into a real home. To make the house into a home is the next step. You will know if it is a home when you want to hurry back to it. You won’t want to stay away too long, and you will find it difficult to leave. That’s because you enjoy the vibration that you have created from your soul body. And your focus for whatever you are doing will be exquisite. It won’t get divided.

It is a slow process for a mother and a father to turn a house into a home. They have to be spiritually present in the home. The auras of the mother and father and each of the children have to permeate the walls of the house. The Gods and guardian devas and ancestors have to be worshiped and invoked in the home. That turns a house into a really pranically viable home, building up the vibration so that you never want to leave.

What Is Real Prosperity?

A spiritual vibration in the home can be initiated or renewed by having a priest come and perform a purification ceremony. That makes the pranas flow correctly in the home, which when carried out to the community make you a full person. Another key is to have Monday evenings at home. Monday home evening is practiced by many religions, including the Hindus. On Monday evening, Siva’s day, the family members get together, prepare a wonderful meal, play games together and verbally appreciate one another’s good qualities. It’s an evening when the television is not turned on. They don’t solve any problems on that day. They just love each other, and everybody has a voice, from the littlest child to the oldest senior. It’s a family togetherness, one day a week when everyone will look forward to having mom and dad at home. That doesn’t mean it will be on Tuesday or any other day if Monday is missed. Family home evening is always on Monday, and everyone’s life has to adjust to that.

Many families find even this is impossible because of their careers. Nowadays people think that they have to have two incomes, three incomes, to be comfortably well off. Money is gained and lost, sometimes rather quickly. As quickly gained, often as quickly lost. But what is wealth? Wealth is a diamond with many facets. One facet of wealth is money, but it is not the only one. A happy family that enjoys each other — that is a great wealth. Doing things together and enjoying doing things together is another great wealth. Rushing home to be with one another — if you can create that in your family, you are wealthy. Wealth is growing your own food, making your own furniture, sewing your own clothing, picking oranges off the tree the family planted together several years ago. Another great wealth is living within your income. Even multi-millionaires are poor if they do not live within their income and always worry about debts, payments and responsibilities. They often are very lonely people, because in all their efforts to gain those millions, they have had to sacrifice their family, their children and their own happiness. Many content themselves with building big multi-million dollar mansions — but to benefit whom? A gardener? Maybe a cook, a maid or two who get to live there all the time while the owners are traveling around the world, coming home late and leaving early. That’s not wealth. That’s also not wisdom. That’s a good way to die young.

To have a maid take care of the children while the parents both work and come home late is not a substitute for a mother; nor are grandparents, though they may be a better choice. A surrogate mother cannot replace a real mother and a real father for children growing up, because children model themselves more than you know upon what they see adults do, what they hear adults say to each other, what they feel adults are feeling. That shapes who they are and what they are going to do in their future. There is no substitute for a real mom and a real dad in a real home with a vibration of a family, the vibration of loving and the vibration of sharing. A mother’s place is in the home

What is a mother? A mother is a person who loves her children, who is calm, serene, doesn’t become angry, doesn’t become frustrated with children, realizing that a child goes through many stages of development. One must not expect a child to behave like an adult or expect too much of a child too early. A mother knows of all this intuitively; but for her intuitive mind to work, she has to be free from the worries of the outside world, of bills and bill collectors, of travel, of TV and various other concerns, so that she can raise up the next generation strong enough to meet the challenges of the impending new age of peace and prosperity for all mankind.

Now, if mothers beat their children, the children will beat other kids, and later on in life they will become warriors and fight all through life, emotionally, mentally, because they’re taught right in the home that solutions are reached through violent means. We don’t want that. That won’t bring in the New Age. That is bringing back the Old Age. Those methods of raising children have to go. A mother must be a real mother. For many, it’s not a popular idea for a mother to stay at home. During the Second World War in the United States, mothers left their homes and never went back, because they were needed in airplane factories and shipyards, as the men were all off to war. But before the Second World War and before the First World War, mothers remained home. Juvenile delinquency was not a phrase in anyone’s vocabulary. If a teenager made some mischief, the family was held responsible by the community. Such things were regulated in those days, but went out of balance when mother left home and never went back.

Mothers-In-Law

When devotees speak with me of their experiences with family togetherness, the mother-in-law is a common concern. Mothers-in-law on both sides are often even the cause of separation or divorce. They often have the attitude, “This girl is not good enough for my son,” or “This boy is not good enough for my daughter.” That constant harassment — emotional harassment, mental harassment and even physical harassment — can cause the couple to separate, just for their own peace of mind. When we are asked to ascertain astrological compatibility for marriage, we not only check the compatibility between the boy and the girl, but also between the girl and the boy’s mother.

It is important to be aware that all mothers-in-law of the world — and every daughter may eventually be one — have their own insecurities in giving sons and daughters over to a spouse they don’t know deeply. Social security and pension plans are relatively new, and only exist in certain parts of the world. In the absence of these, worries about the future naturally arise. Every society has evolved solutions to the in-law issue, mothers-in-law, fathers-in law, but in today’s world it’s even more difficult. Young people need to be aware of their needs, their feelings, their insecurities, and have compassion when behavioral patterns that are the by-products of insecurity show themselves, such as being overly dominant, proud, extremely critical and unrelenting. In America there is a sad saying, “Old and gray and in the way.” The solution used all too often is to put bothersome elders away in nursing homes, rest homes or “paradise retreats.”

The major focus of the problem is the authority of the mother-in-law and her occasional abuses. But consider also that in modern cultures the authority of elders is all too frequently usurped by both the son and the daughter-in-law, who then wield the power and make life-and-death decisions about their parents. The tables are turned. This causes an even greater instability. One has to ask which is the preferable culture — to allow the elderly to remain in charge of their lives and have a strong say and respect in the family or to deny their contribution and condemn them to a life of helplessness and dependence, which is what happens all too frequently in the West. Obviously, a harmonious balance is needed.

First of all, I suggest that the myth that mothers-in-law are unable to adjust or learn anything new should be thrown out. Second, I hold the husband, the mother-in-law’s son, totally responsible for bringing about harmony in the home so that his wife is happy and not at odds with his mother, and that his mother does not make his wife miserable. As in all family conflicts, each incident must be resolved before sleep. Issues or problems can be put on an agenda, as described in our system of positive discipline, and brought up in a calm manner at the daily family meeting, just as is done nowadays by children in many school classrooms.

Anyone, including mothers-in-law, can change if they want to. A problem mom is a discouraged mom, just as a problem child is a discouraged child. A young bride told me her mother-in-law was totally transformed when she changed her attitude toward her, when she began to consider what it would be like to be in her place and looked for ways to win her love and trust. Without a single confrontation, a single harsh word, their relationship improved and they actually began enjoying each other and working together with enthusiasm.

Striving for Teamwork

The mother-in-law has much to offer. A strong, kindly mother-in-law will see that divorce does not happen for her son by helping to hold the family together. A strong, loving mother-in-law will see that an untrained wife becomes trained in various household skills and the human arts of nurturing and education. A strong, understanding mother-in-law will care for the children and give occasional rest and freedom to the busy young homemaker. The mother-in-law is a precious artifact. Whatever her qualities are, likeable or unlikeable, they are also the qualities of the son, since she raised him. She is a library of useful knowledge for the young bride. If the young homemaker takes the attitude that she is in school and the mother-in-law is her teacher, and adopts that relationship, then it will be a positive learning experience for the daughter-in-law, and she will become a better, more accomplished, more refined person as positive qualities awaken in her. The mother-in law teaches the ins and outs of the whole family, and if there are dozens of members of the extended family, there is a lot to share and know. She should listen carefully.

Many families are not patient and persistent enough to bring about harmony in the home. Often they resort to splitting apart. When the mother-in-law living with her son and daughter-in-law is not kindly, loving or understanding, one common solution that works when the going gets tough for the bride is for the son to get an apartment for himself and his wife next door to his mother and father’s home, or at least not too far away. After the first baby is born, mom-in-law may soften.

Another solution is a condominium with members of the extended family living in separate apartments in the same building. This happens in many parts of the world where ancestral compounds provide closeness, but also separateness. Within this independence enjoyed by each nuclear family, there is yet a valuable dependence on the extended family as a support in marriage, crises, births and deaths. Here, without too strict a rein, the elderly mother may reign supreme. Honor her, respect her when she visits and realize that each in turn may be a mother-in-law or father-in-law one day. Thus we set a new karmic pattern in families where Eastern values and those of the West merge for a happy elderly experience among Hindus in today’s world. With this in mind, shall our motto now be “Old and gray and here to stay”?

Still, we must admit that to move across town to avoid the mother-in-law is to cause new karmas to be worked out in a future birth. To conquer the home situation in love and trust leads us to deepen our religious commitments through sadhana, to quell the flames of fight within us. When this is done, a better person emerges. The family dharma is a very important part of Hinduism today. We must reaffirm that we are born into a family to merge our prarabdha karmas with those of others and endeavor to work them out with all family members.

It is best to take a positive attitude. Mothers-in-law are not going to go away. They have always been with us; they will always be with us. Many, if not most, are not going to adjust to being retrained. Most will have a hard time accepting suggestions or hearing about a better way of doing things. They are who they are. If the wife receives pleasure from her husband, simultaneously she can bless his mother for bringing him into a physical body. Let’s be kindly. Let’s be tolerant. Let’s be accepting. Let’s be nice to the aged. Let’s work out issues at the daily family meeting as they come up. If all else fails and the situation becomes unbearable, let’s get an apartment a few minutes away, and treat Mom as an honored guest when she comes to visit, which will probably be twice a day.

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.

Woman

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2
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Be a queen to thy father-in-law, a queen to thy mother-in-law, a queen to thy husband’s sisters, and a queen to thy husband’s brothers.

Sanctity of The Home

From the point of view of the Second World, or astral plane, the home is the family temple, and the wife and mother is in charge of that spiritual environment. The husband can come into that sanctum sanctorum but should not bring the world into it. He will naturally find a refuge in the home if she is doing her duty. He will be able to regain his peace of mind there, renew himself for the next day in the stressful situations that the outside world is full of. In this technological age a man needs this refuge. He needs that inner balance in his life. When he comes home, she greets him at the entrance and performs a rite of purification and welcome, offering arati to cleanse his aura. This and other customs protect the sanctity of the home. When he enters that sanctuary and she is in her soul body and the child is in its soul body, then he becomes consciously conscious in his soul body, called anandamaya kosha in Sanskrit. He leaves the conscious mind, which is a limited, external state of mind and not a balanced state of mind. He enters the intuitive mind. He gets immediate and intuitive answers to his worldly problems.

How can he not be successful in his purusha dharma in the outside world when he has the backing of a good wife? She is naturally perceptive, naturally intuitive. She balances out his intellect, softens the impact of the forces which dash against his nervous system from morning to night. Encouragement and love naturally radiate out from her as she fulfills her stri dharma. Without these balancing elements in his life, a man becomes too externalized, too instinctive.

If a woman is working, she cannot provide this balance. She has to start thinking and acting like a man. She has to become a little tougher, create a protective shell around her emotions. Then the home loses its balance of the masculine and the feminine forces. Take for example the situation in which the wife rushes home from work fifteen minutes before the husband. She’s upset after an especially hard day at work. The children come over from Grandmother’s house or she tells the babysitter to go home. She scurries to prepare something for dinner before he comes home, then rushes to get herself looking halfway decent. Emotionally upset, she tries to calm herself, tries to relax and regain her composure. Her astral body is upset. The children’s astral bodies are upset. The husband enters this agitated environment — already upset by being in the world — and he becomes more disturbed. He was looking forward to a quiet evening. But is he going to get it? No. He begins to feel neglected, disappointed, and that leads him to become distraught, to say angry words that make everything even worse. The pranic forces are spinning out of control. It’s seems like a totally impossible situation for both of them. Furthermore, it’s not going to get better, but exceedingly worse, as the days wear on.

The Wife’s Special Power

The situation I have just described is one of the main reasons that marriages today have become less stable, that so many married couples — sixty to seventy percent, I’m told — are experiencing difficulties and breaking up. But couples never get married with the intent of breaking up. Never. The pranic forces do it. You put two magnets together one way and they attract one another. Turn one around, and they repel each other. The same force that brought the people together, when it is not handled right, makes them pull apart and hate each other. They can’t see eye to eye. Then to make up, they go out to dinner to talk it over — in another frustrating, asuric situation, as far out in the world as they can get — to try to make up. When that doesn’t help, they come home still frustrated. If they went to the nearby temple and worshiped the family Deity together, that would help. They would return home in a different state of mind and discover that their vibration had changed. Why does it help to go to the temple? Because the God is in the temple, the Deity is there to adjust the forces of the inner nerve system, to actually change the forces of mind and emotion.

In the home, the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power, the very soul of the home. None other. So she has to be there. She has to be treated sensitively and kindly, and with respect. She has to be given all the things she needs and everything she wants so she will release her shakti power to support her husband, so that he is successful in all his manly endeavors. When she is hurt, depressed, frustrated or disappointed, she automatically withdraws that power, compromising his success in the outside world along with it. People will draw away from him. His job, business or creative abilities will suffer. This is her great siddhi, her inborn power, which Hindu women know so well.

It is the man’s duty, his purusha dharma, to provide for her and for the children. The husband should provide her with all the fine things, with a good house which she then makes into a home, with adornments, gold and jewels and clothes, gold hanging down until her ears hurt, more bracelets, more things to keep her in the home so she is feeling secure and happy. In return she provides a refuge, a serene corner of the world where he can escape from the pressures of daily life, where he can regain his inner perspective, perform his religious sadhana and meditations, then enjoy his family. Thus, she brings happiness and peace of mind to her family, to the community and to the world.

The Home As a Temple

This working together of the home and the temple brings up the culture and the religion within the family. The family goes to the temple; the temple blesses the family’s next project. The mother returns home. She keeps an oil lamp burning in the shrine room on the altar to bring the shakti power of the God and devas into their home. This is only one of the beautiful practices of her religious stri dharma, so sensitive and so vital to the furtherance of the family and its faith. All this happens because her astral body is not fretted by the stresses and strains of a worldly life, not polluted by the lustful thoughts of other men directed toward her, causing her to live in the emotional astral body to ward them off, or be tempted by them. She is not living in the emotional astral body. She is living in her peaceful soul body of love, fulfilling her dharma and radiating the soulful presence called sannidhya. She was born to be a woman, and that’s how a woman should behave.

If she does not do her dharmic duty — this means the duty of birth — then she accrues bad karma. Every time she leaves the home to go out to work, she is making kukarma. Yes, she is. That negative karma will have its affect on her astral body and on her husband’s astral body and on the astral bodies of their children, causing them to become insecure.

The Judaic-Christian-Islamic idea of just one life, after which you either go to heaven or to hell gives the impression that time is running out. Some even think “you have to get everything out of this life, because when you’re gone, you’re gone, so grab all the gusto that you can.” This has given the modern Western woman the idea that she is not getting everything she should, and therefore the man’s world looks doubly attractive, because she is just passing through and will never come back. So, living a man’s life is very, very attractive. She doesn’t want to stay home all the time and not see anything, not meet anybody, go through the boredom of raising a family, taking care of the children. She wants to be out with life, functioning in a man’s world, because she is told that she is missing something. Therefore, you can understand her desire to get out and work, start seeing and experiencing life and mixing with people, meeting new people.

The traditional Hindu woman, however, does not look at life like that. She knows that she was born this time in a woman’s body — this soul has taken an incarnation for a time in a woman’s body — to perform a dharma, to perform a duty, for the evolution of the soul. The duty is to be a mother to her children, wife to her husband, to strengthen the home and the family, which are the linchpin of society. She knows that the rewards are greater for her in the home. She knows that all she is missing is a man’s strenuous work and responsibility, that her stri dharma is equally as great as a man’s purusha dharma, even though they are quite different by nature. Because she knows these things, she fulfills her dharma joyously.

Mother in The Home

Now, a woman may wonder, “If I don’t work, how are we going to pay the bills?” The stated reason that most women work is economic. The economy of the world is becoming more and more difficult, and the first answer to money problems, especially in the West, where the family unit is not too strong these days, is to have the wife go to work. This is an unhappy solution. Much too often the sacrifices are greater than the rewards. It is a false economy. Many times I have told young wives to stay home with their children. They worry. Their husbands worry. But with the wife at home, working to strengthen her husband, he soon becomes confident, creative, energetic and that makes him prosperous. He is reinspired and always finds a way to make ends meet.

As long as the mother is home, everything is fine. There is security. Without this security, a family begins to disintegrate. Just think how insecure a child is without its mother. When the mother is there, security reigns in the home. As long as the mother is home, doing whatever she naturally does as a mother — she doesn’t even have to read a book about how to do it — the husband has to support the home; he feels bound to support the home. Of course, religion must be the basis of the home to make it all work. When women leave the home to work in the world, they sacrifice the depth of their religion. Their religious life then simply becomes a social affair. This is true of both Eastern and Western religions. As long as the mother is home, the celestial devas are there, hovering in and around the home.

How many of you here this morning were raised with your mother staying at home? Well, then you know what I mean. Now, what if she wasn’t at home when you were a child? You had to fix your own snack in an empty house. You didn’t feel much cared for. You were alone in an empty house, perhaps frightened, and you went around seeing if someone was hiding in the closet. You didn’t feel that motherly, protective feeling.

When mother finally does come home, she has other things on her mind. She is tired. She has worked hard, and now she has to work even more. She is not thinking about the helpless kid who can’t take care of himself. She may get home and think to herself, “I just can’t forget about that good-looking man I met at the office. I even see him in my dreams. I have a husband and I shouldn’t be thinking about such things, but…” And on and on and on. Arguments begin to happen for the first time in the home. What do you do? You worry for awhile. You cry a little. As soon as you can, you start fending for yourself. You work out ways to take care of yourself, or even to get away from the unhappy situation as soon as you can. You end up out on your own in the world at a young age, before you are mature enough to cope with it.

A Feminine Incarnation

The Hindu woman knows that she is born in a woman’s body to fulfill a woman’s dharma, to perform her duty and not to emulate the men. The duty is to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, whom she looks to as her lord. She performs that duty willingly, as does the man perform his duty which arises out of being born in a man’s body. The Hindu woman is trained to perform her stri dharma from the time she is a little girl. She finds ways to express her natural creativity within the home itself. She may write poetry or become an artist. Perhaps she has a special talent for sewing or embroidery or gardening or music. She can learn to loom cloth and make the family’s clothing. If needed, she can use her skills to supplement the family income without leaving the home. There are so many ways for a Hindu wife and mother to fully use her creative energies, including being creative enough to never let her life become boring. It is her special blessing that she is free to pursue her religion fully, to study the scriptures, to sing bhajana and keep her own spiritual life strong inside.

Then there is the situation in which the wife is working for her husband in the home. This is not ideal, but it is far better than having her out away from her husband, under another man’s mind. At least the family is working together toward a single goal, and the mother is there to care for the child and answer questions. Of course, if working in the home does not allow for closeness of mother and children, then it is to be avoided — if, for instance, the work is so demanding that the mother is never free to play with the young ones or is so pressured by her other duties that she becomes tense and upset. Otherwise, it is a positive situation. From the child’s point of view, mother is home. She is there to answer questions, to make a dosai or say, “Go make yourself a nice dosai and I will help you.” She is there with a kiss and a band aid for a scratch. She is there to explain why the grass is green, to tell a story, to teach a simple lesson in why things are the way they are. Mother is home, and that is very important for a young child. Yes, her prana in the house makes the house a home.

We are nowadays witnessing a big wave of change rushing to the shores of Hinduism in Colombo, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Durban and London. I have seen it coming. Hindu women no longer feel they have to adhere to the old traditions. They are changing traditions. They adopt new ways these days. Now a Hindu woman can go out and work, especially if she lives in the city, and she is encouraged by family and friends to do so. She can neglect her family, and that is deemed all right, too. She doesn’t have to fulfill her stri dharma. Staying home is old-fashioned, they say. I have been told that eighty percent of all Hindu women living in the West work in the world. Eighty percent! Apparently those who have worked for the demise of Hinduism have done their work quite well. Still, I am not worried. I know the nature of waves, and this one will ebb as soon as it reaches the height of its power, replaced by the greater power of returning to tradition.

Why Respect Tradition?

Let’s look at the word tradition. Webster defines tradition as “a story, belief, custom or proverb handed down from generation to generation, a long-established custom or practice that has the effect of an unwritten law.” We all know human nature, because we are people living on this planet. We are fickle; we are changeable. We are always curious to try new things. Change is a wonderful part of life, within certain bounds. We do not want to be too restrictive, yet we do want to be strict. Be strict without being restrictive, and life will be balanced between discipline and freedom. This has always been the Asian way. Take a look back into history, back to the time of Saint Tiruvalluvar, who lived 2,200 years ago. He would not have written the Tirukural if people were perfect, if they were, as a whole, strong, steady and self-disciplined. He wrote those sparkling gems of wisdom and advice for fickle, changeable people, so that they could keep their minds controlled and their lives in line with the basic principles of dharma for men and women clearly set forth in the Vedas six to eight thousand years ago.

Tradition adapts itself to culture and climate. The Hindu women raised in Western countries will not be able to follow all the traditions of the East. But they have to fulfill enough of those traditions to fulfill their stri dharma. And, of course, they will have to adjust slowly.

Scriptural advice is just as pertinent today, thousands of years later. Why? Because people are human, because they are little different today than they were then. Societies change, knowledge changes, language changes. But people do not change all that much. That is exactly the reason that traditions do not change much or change very slowly. They still apply. They are still valid. They are the wisdom of hundreds of generations assembled together. The wise always follow the ways of wisdom, always follow tradition. Does that mean they cannot be inventive? No. Does that mean they cannot use their mind and will to advance themselves and humanity? No. Does that mean they must avoid being creative, original, individualistic? No. It simply means that they express these fine qualities within the context of religious tradition, thus enhancing tradition instead of destroying it. Tradition, with its spoken and unspoken ways, is far too precious to throw out or tear down. The unwritten laws and customs of tradition are what has developed and proved out to be best for the peoples on this planet for centuries. We cannot casually change tradition. It takes centuries to build a tradition. We cannot sit at a meeting and arbitrate a change like that.

Take all of this that has been said into your meditations. Think deeply about the natural balance of masculine and feminine energies in the world and within yourselves. You will discover a new appreciation for the woman’s role and for the traditions which allow her to fulfill it.

A Personal Testimony

By way of illustration I will ask you now to read a fine message we received from a Saivite lady in Sri Lanka who follows beautifully the spirit of stri dharma.

“I am a Hindu wife and take pride and pleasure in being one. I am a graduate of the London University and was a teacher in a girls’ school before I got married in 1969. I belong to an orthodox Saivite Hindu family, and when I reached age twenty-six my parents proposed a marriage. My future husband, too, hailed from an orthodox Saivite family and was thirty years of age. After our parents discussed and decided upon details, an opportunity was afforded to us to meet. The venue was a Ganesha temple, and the time was 7AM. As each of us stepped into the temple from different directions almost simultaneously, the temple bells started ringing to herald the 7:00 puja. ‘A good omen,’ both of us thought independently. After the puja was over, we were introduced to each other by my mother. Out of inborn shyness and a certain amount of fear of meeting a stranger, I was hardly able to look up and even see the color of the man who was going to be the lord of my life. I heard him talk and even noticed him gazing meaningfully at me all the time. The ‘confrontation’ lasted about ten minutes, and we parted. Each of us approved the selection so carefully made by our parents and, to make a long story short, our marriage was solemnized in due course.

“From the date of marriage, I resigned my job as teacher because my duties as a housewife appeared more onerous and more responsible. My husband earned enough to maintain a family, and we started setting up a home of our own. I brought in some money by way of a dowry, and this helped us to furnish our home with all essential requirements. We loved each other very much and lived like Siva and Shakti. The most important corner of our house is the shrine room where our day-to-day life starts every morning.

“I get up from bed at 5AM every day. After a wash, I enter the shrine room and clean up the place. Remnants of flowers from the previous day’s puja are removed, the brass lamps and vessels are polished, water is sprinkled on the floor and the place kept ready for the day’s puja, performed by my husband. Then the kitchen is swept and the pots and pans washed. Water is kept on the gas to boil, and I go for a bath. Returning from the bath, I do a short prayer and pick flowers for my husband’s puja. By now it is 6AM — the time my husband awakens. I go to the bedroom and wait there ready to greet him for the day. He looks upon me as the Lakshmi of the home, and it pleases him a lot to wake in my presence — all gleaming with holy ash and kumkum pottu on my forehead. As soon as he gets up, he goes out for a half-hour walk and is back home by 6:30. A cup of coffee is now ready for him. He takes this and, after five minutes’ rest, enjoys a fine bath. He then makes the necessary preparations for the puja. I could do this myself, but my husband feels these preparations are also a part of the puja. Sharp at 7AM, the puja starts. I join him and so do our children (we now have two boys and a girl). It is a pleasure to watch my husband at puja, which he does very piously and meticulously. At 7:30 we come out of the shrine room for our breakfast. I personally serve my lord and the children meals prepared by my own hands and then get the two elder children ready for school. By 8:30 all the three are out of the house on their respective missions. I then clean up the house, put my little three-year-old son to sleep and by 9:30 I am back in the kitchen preparing lunch.

“In the evening I am dressed up and ready for an outing with my husband and children. Almost every day he takes us out, but occasionally he comes home tired and prefers to remain indoors. At 6PM I start cooking the dinner and at 7:00 we have a joint prayer in the shrine room. Dinner at 7:30, then a little bit of reading, listening to the radio, some chit chat and off to bed by 9:30. This has been my routine for the last eleven years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“In the house, I give first place to my husband. It has never been my custom to find fault with him for anything. He understands me so much and so well that he is always kind, loving, gentle and compassionate towards me. I reciprocate these a hundredfold, and we get on very well. My husband is the secretary of a religious organization, and I give him every help and encouragement in his work. My household duties keep me fully occupied, and so I don’t engage myself in other activities. I respect my husband’s leadership in the home, and so life goes on smoothly.”

May there be the woman at home with husband and children. May there be born to the worshiper heroic youths with the will to victory, the best of chariot-fighters, fit to shine in assemblies.

 

Women’s Liberation

Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam! “God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality!” This morning we are going to talk about a vast subject, one that is important to every Hindu family: stri dharma, the dharma of the Hindu wife and mother. In Sanskrit stri means “woman.” Dharma is a rich word which encompasses many meanings: the path to God Siva, piety, goodness, duty, obligation and more. Stri dharma is the woman’s natural path, while purusha dharma, we can say, is the man’s.

There is much controversy about the role of the woman in society these days. In the West, a strong women’s liberation movement has been at work for many years, and now there has arisen an equally vigorous opposition which defends traditional values. The struggle for women’s liberation has affected women the world over — in India, Iran, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. In North America, I began a campaign informally called the Hindu Women’s Liberation Movement. It is not what you might expect. Its purpose is to liberate our Hindu women from the liberators, to save them from worldliness and to allow them to fulfill their natural dharma as mother and wife.

For a religious woman, being liberated starts with resigning from her job and coming home. Once she is home, she is liberated and liberated and liberated. Working in the world keeps her in the outer dimensions of consciousness, while being at home allows her to live in the depth of her being. I have seen this work many times. There are so many distractions and influences in the world today that divert women away from being a wife and mother. In the West a woman is a wife first and a mother second, but in the East her traditional duties as a mother are foremost. She is trained from early childhood in the arts of homemaking, trained by her mother who was trained in exactly the same way by her mother, and so on right down through history. It’s an old pattern.

The Hindu woman is looked upon as most precious. Two thousand years ago Saint Tiruvalluvar observed: “What does a man lack if his wife is worthy? And what does he possess if she is lacking worth?” (Tirukural 53) There is more respect in the East for women and for their role in society. Here in the West, the woman is not fully appreciated. Her contribution is underrated and misunderstood. In fact, this is one of the reasons she seeks fulfillment and recognition in other spheres, because Western society has become oblivious of her unique and vital role. Abused by neglect and disregard, she seeks other avenues where she may be appreciated, recognized and rewarded.

Masculine And Feminine

Don’t forget that in the East the ties of the extended family are traditionally very close. Women live in a community, surrounded by younger and older women, often living in the same house. They enjoy a rewarding life which includes helping the younger ones and being helped by those who are more mature. Several generations work together in sharing the joys as well as the burdens of household culture. It is different in the West. Women here usually do not have the advantages of close association with other family members. Naturally, they become a little lonely, especially if they do not have a religious community of friends. They get lonely and want to get out in the world and enjoy life a little. This is another reason women leave the home. It is very unfortunate.

In the East there is a better balance of the masculine and feminine forces. In the West the masculine is too strong, too dominant. The feminine energies need to be allowed greater expression. But that does not mean women should start doing what men do. No. That only confuses the forces more. A better balance must be found. In Asia the woman is protected. She is like a precious gem. You don’t leave it unattended. You protect it, you guard it well because you don’t wish to lose it. Hindu women are guarded well. They are not allowed to become worldly. They are not exposed to the looks and thoughts of a base public, nor must they surrender their modesty to contend in the tough world of business affairs. She can be perfectly feminine, expressing her natural qualities of gentleness, intuitiveness, love and modesty. The home and family are the entire focus of a Hindu woman’s life.

Many of you here this morning are too young to know that this was also the prevalent pattern in America up to World War II, which started in 1939. Before World War II, Western women were very much reserved in public appearances and were nearly always chaperoned. It was that war that broke down the ancient roles of men and women. The men were taken away from industry by the army, and women were forced out of the home into the factories and businesses so that production could continue. Earlier they had been protected, seldom seen unaccompanied in public. Throughout history, women had been the caretakers of the home and the defenders of virtue. They valued their purity, their chastity, and were virgins when they married. Many people don’t know that the old values were upheld quite strictly until 1940 or so. Then the Second World War broke up the family and disturbed the balance between men and women. For the first time, women were seen alone in public. For the first time, they left the home and competed with men for their jobs.

Society in Transition

I speak often of the change humanity is going through in moving out of the agricultural era and into the technological age. This change has affected the dharma of the woman and the dharma of the man in an interesting way. During the tens of thousands of years of the agricultural age, families lived and labored mostly on farms or in craft guilds. The entire family worked on the farm. The men all worked in the fields; the women and children mostly worked in the home. Children were a great asset. More children meant more help, a bigger farm, more wealth. There were many chores that a young boy or girl could do. When harvest time came, everyone joined in. It was a one team, and everyone contributed. When the crop was sold, that was the income for a combined effort from all members — men, women and even children. In a very real sense, everyone was earning the money, everyone was economically important.

With the onset of the technological era, only the man of the house earns the family income. Everyone else spends it. The husband goes to work in a factory or large company office while his wife and children stay at home. There is not much they can do to help him during the day with his work. His work and his wife’s are not as closely related as in the old days. He is the provider, the producer now; she and the children are consumers. Because the children cannot help much, they have become more of an economic liability than an asset. This, coupled with the population problems on the Earth, devalues the economic importance of the woman’s traditional role as wife and mother. Whereas raising children and taking care of the farmhouse used to be a woman’s direct and vital contribution toward the family’s livelihood and even the survival of the human race, today it is not. Whereas they used to be partners in a family farm business, today he does all the earning and she feels like a dependent. The answer is not to have women join their men in the factories and corporations. The answer is to bring traditional religious values into the technological era, to find a new balance of karma that allows for the fulfillment of both the man’s and the woman’s dharma.

When young couples marry, I help them write down their vows to one another. He must promise to support her, to protect her, to give her a full and rewarding life. She must promise to care for him, to manage the home, to maintain the home shrine and to raise fine children. I ask them each to respect the other’s realm, to never mentally criticize the other and to make religion the central focus of their life together. I ask the young bride to stay at home, to be a little shy of involvement in the world. I instruct the young husband to provide for her, throughout her life, all that she needs and all that she wants.

Working in The World

A mother’s place is within the home and not out in the world working. When she is in the home all day, she brings love and security to the children, sensitivity and stability to the husband. By raising her children, she changes the course of history. How does she do that? She raises strong children, good and intelligent children. They will grow up to be the great men and women in the community, the leaders of the nation. They will be the worthy farmers, artists, businessmen, the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the architects, the presidents and, most importantly, the spiritual leaders. They will be the good mothers, the homemakers and child-raisers, scientists and inventors, pioneers and poets, artists and sculptors and creators in all dimensions of life. It is such men and women who change the course of human history. This is the great power held by the mother and by no one else: to properly mold the mind and character of her children. And she trains her daughters to do the same by example and gentle guidance.

Of course, she also holds the opposite power, expressed through neglect, to allow her children to grow up on their own, on the streets where they will learn a base life. Such children will as surely change society and human history, but negatively. They will be the common men and women, or fall into mental and emotional abysses, there to express the instinctive nature and become the exemplars of violence and lust, of dependence and crime. The very direction of mankind is right there in the early years, to be turned toward a great potential through love and attentiveness or allowed to decay through neglect. The mother is the child’s first guru, and she alone can shape the mind in those impressionable years. So, you can all see the truth in the old saying: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Take the case of a mother who is at home every day, morning and night, attending to her children. As she rocks the cradle, her love and energy radiate out to the infant, who then feels a natural peacefulness and security. She has time for the child, time to sing sweet lullabies and console when the tears come, time to teach about people, about the world, about the little things in growing up, time to cuddle for no reason except to express her love. On the other hand, the working mother has no time to do extra things. When the infant cries, she may, out of her own frustrations of the day, become impatient and scold him, demanding that he keep quiet. “I told you to be quiet!” she shouts. The infant doesn’t even understand the language yet. You can imagine this helpless child’s feelings as he receives an emotional blast of anger and frustration directed toward his gentle form. Where is he to turn? He cannot find refuge even in his mother’s arms.

What will the next generation be like if all the children are raised under such circumstances? Will it be strong and self-assured? Will it radiate kindness to others, never having had kindness given to it? Will it be patient and understanding? No. It is a proven fact that most prison inmates were seriously neglected or beaten as children. It is also a proven fact that nearly all parents who mistreat their children were themselves mistreated by their parents. Unless mothers care for and love their children, society will inherit an entire generation of frustrated adults who were once frustrated children. These will later be the people who rule the world. Then what happens? They in turn raise their children in the same manner, for that is the only example of parenthood they have. They will think that neglect is natural, that children can get along on their own from an early age or be raised by a governess or nurse or at a day-care center. It’s a circle: a childhood of neglect produces a bitter adult life; a childhood of love and trust produces a loving and happy adult life.

The Psychic Force Field

We learn so many important things from the mother. This learning is not just from the things she explains to us, but from the way she lives her life. If she is patient, we learn patience. If she is angry and unhappy, then we learn to be angry and unhappy. How wonderful it is for a mother to be in the home and give her children the great gifts of life by her example. She can teach them so many things, bring them into profound understandings about the world around them and offer them basic values and points of view that will sustain them throughout their life. Her gift of love is directly to the child, but indirectly it is a gift to all of humanity, isn’t it? A child does not learn much from the father until he is older, perhaps eight or nine, or ten years of age.

We have a book in our library which describes a plan made by the Christians to destroy Hinduism in Sri Lanka and India. One of their major tactics is to get the Hindu women out of their homes and working in the world. They knew that the spiritual force within the home is created by the unworldly woman. They knew that a secure woman makes for a secure home and family, a secure husband and a secure religion. They knew that the Hindu woman is the key to the perpetuation of Hinduism, as long as she is in the home. If the woman is in the home, if she is happy and content and the children are nurtured and raised properly, then the astral beings around the home will be devonic, friendly and beneficial. But if she is out of the home and the husband is out of the home, the protective force-field around the home disintegrates, allowing all kinds of astral asuric beings to enter. Such a neglected home becomes inhabited by base, asuric beings on the lower astral plane. You cannot see these beings, but they are there, and you can sense their presence. Things just don’t feel right in a home inhabited by negative forces. You have the desire to leave such a home as soon as you enter it. The children absorb these vibrations, these feelings. Children are open and psychically sensitive to such influences, with little means of self-protection. They will become disturbed, and no one will know the reason why. They will be crying and even screaming. They will be constantly disobedient. Why should they become disobedient? Because there is no positive, protective force field of religion established and upheld by the mother. This leaves the inner force field vulnerable to negative and confusing forces of all kinds, especially in modern, overpopulated cities where destructive psychic influences are so strong. These negative vibrations are penetrating the inner atmosphere of the home, and the children are psychic enough to pick them up and suffer.

People Caring For People

Religion begins in the home under the mother’s influence and instruction. The mother goes to the temple to get strong. That is the reason Hindus live near a temple. They go to the temple to draw strength from the shakti of the Deity, and they return to the home where they maintain a similar vibration in which to raise the next generation to be staunch and wonderfully productive citizens of the world, to bring peace on Earth, to keep peace on Earth. There is an ancient South Indian proverb which says one should not live in a city which has no temple.

If a child is screaming in its cradle, and the babysitter is yelling at him and couldn’t care less about his feelings, and the mother is out working, that child is not a candidate for keeping peace on Earth. That child is going to keep things confused, as they are today. So, it’s all in the hands of the mother; it’s not in the hands of the father. Religion and the future of society lie solely in the hands of the mother. It is in the hands of the father to allow or not to allow the mother to be under another man’s mind out in the world.

Just as World War II took women out of the home, so did another change affect mankind. When the automobile came along, people forgot about breeding, because it replaced the horse, which they cared for and learned to mate with other horses to strengthen the genetics. The automobile did one terrible thing: it made people forget how to breed and how to take care of one another. When people kept horses, horses were a part of the family. People had to care for their horses, and in the process learned to care for one another. People also had to breed their horses, and in that process learned about the value of intelligent breeding. In those days you often heard of the “well-bred” person. You don’t hear of the well-bred person anymore. Although among biologists there is much talk about heredity, ordinary people no longer consider that humans, too, are involved in the natural process of breeding. They have become forgetful of these important laws, and this has led to lack of forethought and discipline, to bodies indiscriminately procreating more bodies. Who is living in them nobody quite knows, and too many simply don’t care. That’s what we as a society forgot when the automobile replaced the horse. When you had a horse, you had to feed and water it. You had to train it, you had to harness it, curry it, stable it and breed it. In breeding, you had to choose a stud for your mare or find a suitable mare for your stallion. The qualities of both the sire and the dam were closely observed, and the resultant combination of genetics was consciously planned. It was therefore natural for people in those days to seek proper mates for their children, and the results were the vital, creative and industrious children of the children. As a civilization, we are slowly forgetting such basic things, being more and more careless about our children’s future, about their lives and their mates.

The Impact Of Television

Television has not helped society to raise its children. In fact, it has virtually stopped the proper education of the child in those communities where it is watched for hours each day. Instead of developing an active curiosity by adventuring for hours through a forest or climbing a tree, instead of discovering the wonders of nature and art, music, literature and conversation, instead of becoming involved in sports and hobbies, children are mentally carried along by television stories through positive and negative states of mind. They become uncreative, passive, inactive, never learning to use their own minds. Admittedly, not all television is negative. Some of it can be quite educational; but hours and hours each day of passive absorption is not good for a child’s mental and emotional development. Children need to be active, to involve themselves in a wide variety of experiences.

If the mother is there, she can intelligently guide their television, being careful that they do not get in the habit of watching it for hours on end, and watching that bold sex, casual and brute violence, raw language and other bad influences are not a daily experience. When the program is over, she can send them out to play. Or, better still, she can take a few minutes to explain how what they just saw on TV relates, or often does not relate, to real life. Of course, if she is gone, they will watch anything and everything. For the young, television is one of the most senseless pastimes there is, carrying the mind further and further away from the true Self.

I think you will all agree that our values, the values found in the holy Vedas, Tirukural and other sacred scriptures, are rarely found on television. Instead, TV, at this time in our history, gives our children a brutal, romantic and unbalanced view of life which distorts in their minds how life really is. These are very serious issues. It is the mother who protects her children from negative influences, guiding their young minds into positive channels of expression.

Take the case of a farmer who raises livestock, who milks cows and goats. He works hard. He gets up early and takes care of his animals. He cannot succeed if he is also working part-time in the grocery store downtown. Those animals need attention. There is no sensible man who would run a farm, with cows and goats and chickens, and not be there to take care of them, because those animals need a lot of help. He stays there and takes care of his business. He is a farmer and that is his duty, and he knows it.

Well, what’s more important than the child? He needs twenty-four-hour-a-day care. He is learning to walk, to speak, to learn, to think. He falls down and needs consoling. He catches the flu and needs to be nursed back to health. It is the mother’s duty to provide that care. No one else is going to do it for her. No one else can do it for her. She brought that soul into a physical body, and she must prepare that child for a positive and rewarding life.

If the farmer neglects his animals, he creates a serious karma. The animals suffer. The farm suffers. The community suffers when the farm fails, and the man himself suffers. There is a grave karma, too, for the woman who neglects her stri dharma, who goes out into the world and does not nurture the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of her children. She knows this within herself, but she may be influenced by ill-advised people, or by a mass movement that tells her that she has only one life to live and that she cannot find fulfillment in the home, but must express herself, venture out, seek her own path, her own fortune. You have all heard these ideas. I tell you that they are wrong. They spell the disillusionment of the mother who heeds them, then the disintegration of the family that is sacrificed by her absence. Finally, they result in her own unhappiness as she despairs at the loss suffered by her family and herself.