Archive for the ‘Routine part 2’ Category

Positive Discipline

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2

Disputes, worldly associations and quarrels should be avoided. Not even spiritual disputations should be indulged in, whether good or bad. Jealousy, slander, pomp, passion, envy, love, anger, fear and misery should all disappear gradually and entirely.

The Bane Of Battering

The whole world is reevaluating how we treat women, children, the aged and infirm. Ways of behaving toward our fellow human beings that were normal and acceptable a hundred years ago are no longer acceptable. We now comprehend, as never before, the tragedy of a battered wife or an abused infant. Shamefully, we do not always live up to the Hindu ideal in these areas.

What is that ideal? It is this: Never injure others. Hindu children are always treated with great respect and awe, for one does not always know who they are. They may be incarnations of a grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, dearly beloved mother, sister, brother, respected father, a yogi or rishi returned to flesh to help mankind spiritually. We must ask, “Who are these souls? What is their destiny in this life? How can I help?”

Parents love their children, or at least they should, and the principle of ahimsa, nonviolence and nonhurtfulness — physically, mentally or emotionally — does apply in the parent-child relationship, as well as in the husband-wife relationship. Children must be nurtured prenatally without being hurt in the process. Children must be allowed to develop physically, emotionally and mentally without being hurt in the process. We know they are sometimes mischievous and can get on your nerves, but the religious parents who are avowed to ahimsa are in truth more mature than their children and are able to handle situations as they come up without recourse to pinching, hitting or verbal abuse. Only in an ahimsa home can we bring children from one stage of physical, emotional, mental growth to another and still nurture spiritual qualities.

To hurt a child in any way is to drive that child into fear and cause the development of anger and resentment at an early age. Parents are supposed to lift their offspring into the higher nature, of love, forgiveness, friendliness and security, not to drive them into the lower nature, of hate, mistrust, resentment, offishness and insecurity. Obedience through fear is not a desirable obedience.

Psychologically, parents breed guilt by telling their children they sacrificed everything for them, gave them so much, saying, “Look what we are getting in return. You are worthless and ungrateful.” Guilty people are not creative, often not reasonable and are lacking willpower, for their inspiration has been destroyed. Their self-image is at the bottom of the bottom, like rust on the soul. “I’m nobody, I’m nothing. She is right. I don’t appreciate anything, I’m worthless.” These are the thoughts of those who live in this state of mind. True, this is the Kali Yuga in which mothers give birth and then destroy their young. They do it through beating them when they are young and later through defamation of character through cutting insults to keep them “in their place.”

Conformity through threats does not build a loving family or a strong society. To bribe children into submission with sweets or promises that are never meant to be fulfilled is to engender in them an eventual mistrust of their parents and foster rebelliousness coupled with selfish expectations about life. To anger a child at an early age is to place him on the path of retribution toward others later in life. To strike or pinch a child may seem expedient in the confusion of the moment. It may provide a short-term solution. But never forget the long-term karmic price that must be paid. The “I own you, you owe me” attitude is no longer acceptable, and is being replaced by “I love you, you love me,” in the homes of righteous Hindu families who realize that the hurtful methods do not bring positive results.

The Sad Truth Of Hurtfulness

I have been asked, “Should parents never spank a child?” Of course, one should never spank children, ever. Those who are spanked are taught to later punish their children, and this is a vicious cycle. Have you ever seen an animal in its natural habitat abuse its offspring? Does a lion cause blood to flow from its cub, a bird brutally peck its own chick, a cow trample its calf, a whale beach a disobedient calf? How about a dolphin, a dog, a butterfly, a cat? It is only humans who become angered by and hurtfully, sometimes lethally, aggressive toward their offspring.

The wife-husband relationship is where it all begins. The mother and father are karmically responsible for the tenor of society that follows them. An ahimsa couple produces the protectors of the race. Himsa, hurtful, couples produce the destroyers of the race. They are a shame upon humanity. It’s as simple as that. It’s so crucial that it needs to be said more than once. “Himsa, hurtful, couples produce the destroyers of the race. They are a shame upon humanity.”

A five-foot-ten-inch adult beating on a tiny child — what cowardliness. A muscular man slapping a woman who cannot fight back. What cowardliness! Yet another kind of cowardliness belongs to those who stand by, doing nothing to stop known instances of harm and injury in their community. Such crimes, even if the law does not punish, earn a lifetime of imprisonment in the criminal’s karma, because they always know that they watched or knew and said nothing. This sin earns lifetime imprisonment in their own mind. Beating a child destroys his or her faith. It destroys faith in humanity and therefore in religion and in God. If their father and mother beat them, whom are they going to trust throughout their whole life? Child beating is very destructive.

Innocent children who see their father beating their mother or their mother spitefully scratching their father’s body after she emotionally shattered his manhood by provocative insinuations, threats and tongue lashing have at those very moments been given permission to do the same. Of course, we can excuse all of this as being simply karma — the karma of the parents as taught by their parents and the karma of the children born into the family who abuses them. But the divine law of karma cannot be used as permission or an opportunity to be hurtful. Simply speaking, if hurtfulness has been done to you, this does not give you permission to perform the same act upon another. It is dharma that controls karma. It is not the other way around. In Hinduism, the parents are to be the spiritual leaders of their children, not the mental, emotional and physical abusers of their children.

Those sensitive children who see their mother and father working out their differences in mature discussion or in the shrine room through prayer and meditation are at that moment given permission to do the same in their own life when they are older. They become the elite of society, the pillars of strength to the community during times of stress and hardship. These children, when older, will surely uphold the principles of dharma and will not succumb to the temptations of the lower mind.

Instilling No Fear

There is no greater good than a child. Children are entrusted to their parents to be loved, guided and protected, for they are the future of the future. However, children can be a challenge to raise up into good citizenship. There are many positive ways to guide them, such as hugging, kindness, time spent explaining, giving wise direction and setting the example of what you want them to become. Most children were adults not so many years ago, in previous births. The mind they worked to develop through the great school of experience is still there, as are the results of their accomplishments and failures. They have been reborn to continue to know, to understand and to improve themselves and the community they are born into. Parents can help or inhibit this process of evolution. They have a choice.

There are six chakras, or centers of consciousness, above the muladhara chakra, which is the center of memory, at the base of the spine. Above the muladhara lies the chakra of reason. Above that is willpower. There are seven chakras below the muladhara, the first being fear, below it anger and below that jealousy. The choice of each individual parent is to discipline the child to advance him or her upward into reason, willpower, profound understanding and divine love, or downward into fear, anger, distrust, jealousy and selfishness — personal preservation without regard for the welfare of others.

Children have an abundance of energy, and sometimes it can make them rather wild, and this can be extreme if they are consuming too much sugar. How should this be controlled by the parents? When children run around excitedly, refer to their energy as Siva’s prana within them. Congratulate them each time they exercise control over it, but don’t punish them when they don’t. Instead, explain that it is important that they learn to control and use their energies in positive ways. Have them sit with you and breathe deeply. Teach them to feel energy. Go into the shrine room and sit with them until their pranas become quiet, and then help them observe the difference. To hit them or to yell at them when they are rowdy is only sending more aggravated prana into them from you. Another technique is to withdraw your prana from them and tell them you are retiring to another room until they calm down.

Beating, spanking, pinching, slapping children and inflicting upon their astral bodies the vibration of angry words are all sinfully destructive to their spiritual unfoldment and their future. Parents who thus force their child to fear and hate them have lost their chance to make him or her a better person by talking, because they have closed the child’s ears. Those who beat or pinch or hurt or slap or whip their children are the enemies to religion, because they are pushing the next generation into lower consciousness. Is that religious society? No! Such behavior is not even common in the animal kingdom. It’s below the animal kingdom. But that is what we face in the world today. That helps explain why there are so many problems in this modern age.

Sadly, in this day and age, beating the kids is just a way of life in many families. Nearly everyone was beaten as a child, so they beat their kids, and their kids will beat their kids, and those kids will beat their kids. Older brothers will beat younger brothers. Brothers will beat sisters. You can see what families are creating in this endless cycle of violence: little warriors. One day a war will come up, and it will be easy for a young person who has been beaten without mercy to pick up a gun and kill somebody without conscience, and even take pleasure in doing so. What kind of society do we have? In the US today, a murder is committed every thirty-three minutes, an assault every five seconds, a rape every ninety seconds. A man beats his wife every fifty-one seconds. A woman beats her husband every five and a half minutes. A 12- to 15-year-old child is assaulted every thirty-one seconds, and one is raped every eight minutes. Will the violence ever stop? No. It can’t, unless a radical change is made. We must stop the war in the home. It is as simple as that.

I recently attended a ceremony in which criminals being released from the Kauai jail gave testimony before leaders of the community that they would not repeat their crime. With tears in their eyes, all said they had been beaten by their family in early life, driven out of the home, into drugs, excessive alcohol and into crime and finally jail. Each one had the same sad story to tell.

I instruct the lay missionaries of my international Hindu church: “Talk to the children. Ask if their parents beat them, and then talk to the parents. At first they will say, ‘Oh, once or twice,’ but if you persist, you may find it’s much worse than that.” Think about it, even if a child is only hit once a month, that adds up to nearly two hundred beatings over fifteen years. I challenge child-beaters, “Would you beat somebody your same weight and your same height with the same readiness?” They would say no, because that’s against the law. It’s called assault. But hitting a little kid, is that also not against the law? More and more, it is.

Laws Against Child-Beating

In England, in 1996, a twelve-year-old boy who had been caned by his stepfather made headlines in a human rights court by challenging British laws that permit parents to “use corporal punishment, but only to the extent of reasonable chastisement.” Hundreds of children marched through central London on April 15, 2000, to demand an end to smacking. They ended their protest at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the Prime Minister, where they handed in a letter urging him to ban all physical punishment of children.

Smacking children under any circumstance has been banned in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Israel, Cyprus and Germany. Progress toward legal reforms are underway elsewhere: in the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, Scotland, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Mexico, Namibia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Republic of Ireland and Belgium. In India battering is widely considered perfectly acceptable and is encouraged in homes, as well as in schools, ashramas and gurukulas, among all castes and classes. However, the Supreme Court of Delhi has recently banned physical punishment of children in the state. In the US, all states except Minnesota permit parents to use “reasonable” corporal punishment on children, and the law for schools, institutions, foster care and day care facilities varies from state to state, with even caning still allowed in some.

In schools, happily, the trend is away from corporal punishment. Almost every industrialized country in the world, and many pre-industrial countries as well, now prohibit it in school. See for an up-to-date list. In the US, twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia have bans, with legislation underway in many more. The national newspaper USA Today wrote in 1990, “As millions of children across the USA prepare to go back to school, teachers are laying down their weapons — the paddles they use to dole out corporal punishment. A teacher does best armed only with knowledge. Corporal punishment is a cruel and obsolete weapon.” In Canada, only the provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick and the Territory of Yukon have banned corporal punishment in schools.

In London, in response to a move to reinstitute beating, public school teachers said they would not cane even if lobbying by conservative members of parliament was successful, while Christian bishops and priests are trying very hard to reinstitute beating in their schools. Abolition of corporal punishment in African schools is also quickly spreading. A high-level Zambian court declared corporal punishment in schools to be unconstitutional, and the Kenyan Minister of Education, in March, 2001, discarded sections of the law that permitted corporal punishment. Laws, however, are no guarantee of protection. Consider the nation of Mauritius, where laws have prohibited battering of children since 1957 but have never been enforced, and children are mercilessly abused in schools to this very day.

I’ve had Hindus tell me, “Slapping or caning children to make them obey is just part of our culture.” I don’t think so. Hindu culture is a culture of kindness. Hindu culture teaches ahimsa, noninjury, physically, mentally and emotionally. It preaches against himsa, hurtfulness. It may be British Christian culture — which for 150 years taught Hindus in India the Biblical adage “To spare the rod is to spoil the child” — but it’s not Hindu culture to beat the light out of the eyes of children, to beat the trust out of them, to beat the intelligence out of them and force them to go along with everything in a mindless way and wind up doing a routine, uncreative job the rest of their life, then take their built-up anger out on their children and beat that generation down to nothingness. This is certainly not the culture of an intelligent future.

Nor is an overly permissive approach. A senior sadhu from the Swaminarayan Fellowship’s 654-member order of sadhus, who visited us recently echoed our thoughts on child-beating and emphasized the need for firm, even stern, correction and teaching right from wrong. “Parents these days fail to impart what is good and what is not good,” he said. “As a result, a very crude society is being developed.”

I advise parents: if you are guilty of beating your children, apologize to them, show remorse and perform the child-beating penance, bala tadayati prayashchitta, to atone. Gain their friendship back, open their heart and never hit them again. Open channels of communication, show affection. Even if you never beat your children, be alert in your community to those who do and bring them to your understanding that a happy, secure family is free from violence.

Penance and Reconciliation

Those who have been physically abused are as much in need of penance to mitigate the experience as are those who abused them. The penance, or prayashchitta, for abusees is called the flower penance, or pushpa prayashchitta. It has been successfully performed by many children and adults to mitigate the hate, fear, resentment and dislike toward the parents, teachers or other adults who beat them, by hitting, pinching, slapping, caning, spanking or other methods of corporal punishment. This penance is very simple to perform, but often very difficult to carry out. Each person — child or adult — who has been beaten at any time, no matter how long ago, is enjoined to put up in the shrine room a picture of the person or persons by whom they were beaten, be it a father, mother or teacher. Then, every day for thirty-one consecutive days, without missing a single day, he or she must place a flower in front of each picture, and sincerely forgive the person in heart and mind. If no picture is available, then some symbol or possession can be substituted, or even a paper with his or her name written on it.

When it becomes difficult to offer the flower of forgiveness, because hurtful memories come up from the subconscious mind, the abused individual must perform the vasana daha tantra, writing down the hurtful memories and burning the paper in a trash can. This tantra releases the deep emotions within the individual who finds that he or she does not like or deeply resents the parent or other relative, school teacher or principal. After writing about these experiences, expressing in words the emotions felt on many pieces of paper, the area of the subconscious mind holding the suppressed anger and resentment gradually disappears as the papers are seen burning to ashes in a garbage can.

Upon recognizing and admitting their fear or hatred of their abuser, they must deal with the pangs of pain that arise each day by mystically turning the slap, beating or spanking into a beautiful flow of prana by placing a flower before the picture with a heart full of love. Each day while performing the “flowers of forgiveness prayashchitta,” the individual should mentally approach the tormentor — the person or persons who beat him or her — and say, “I forgive you. I don’t hold anything against you, for I know that you gave back to me the karma that I set in motion by committing similar misdeeds at a prior time.” If possible, this act of verbal forgiveness should be done in person at least once during the thirty-one days, ideally face to face, but at least by phone, if the person is still on this Earth plane.

Of course, for most it’s much easier to pass on the slap or beating to someone else. Parents often hit their own child, or abuse another person in order to “get it out of their system.” That slap has to go someplace, and turning it into a flower is very, very difficult. This prayashchitta brings up all those awful memories. This discipline brings up all the pain. It brings all the injustice to the surface of the mind. Nevertheless, this tantra, or method, has been a great help to many. It is difficult to forgive, and some had to work very diligently within themselves to face up to being able to place that little flower lovingly before the picture of a parent or a teacher. Many have tried and failed again and again when deep-seated resentment emerged, but finally succeeded in true forgiveness, whose byproduct is forgetfulness. They all feel so much better today. Now they are responsive, creative and happy inside. Yes, hitting people is wrong — and children are people, too.
In Defense Of Battering!

There is an old saying in Tamil that is often recited before or after slapping or beating a child: Adium uthaium uthavu vathu pol annan thambi uthava maddar. It means, “Even the help of one’s younger and older brothers cannot compare to the benefit of being kicked and beaten.” It seems this proverb, printed in certain school books, is taught to students.

This makes me ask the Hindu community worldwide: What fearful expectations are we nurturing in young minds by repeating such a cruel, stupid edict? Study until midnight to avoid a plastic rod across the back? Obey the teacher or get hit with a strap or cane, then slapped in the face at home for getting beaten in school? Are there more shlokas promoting himsa, violence, in the home, more guidelines for corporal punishment? Is it our intention to pass this despicable attitude from generation to generation? Unfortunately it seems to be so. My young Asian monks can recite the above verse from childhood memories. Parents seeking to defend corporal punishment of children will also quote a saying from Manu Dharma Shastra (7.198), “Sama, dana, bheda, danda,” which means “using kind words (or negotiation), bribery, sowing dissension, and punishment (or striking).” These are the four successive steps in achieving success against an enemy of the realm. It is advice for kings, not parents. I, for one, hope the rules will change in this nuclear-family age, for there are more seeming reasons to hit and fewer places where a beaten child can find solace and love, without the presence of grandma, auntie and others.

The working mother slaps her children at home because they add stress to her already stressed-out nerve system. Father has a tough day on the job and takes it out on his son’s back or face with the hand, strap or cane. Does it give a sadistic joy to hear young children cry in pain and humiliation? Does it enhance the feeling of “I’m in charge here; you are not!”?

In the past century we’ve had two world wars and hundreds of smaller ones. Killers come from among those who have been beaten. The slap and pinch, the sting of the paddle, the lash of the strap, the blows of a cane must manifest through those who receive them into the lives of others. But there is a price to pay. The abuser one day becomes the abused. This is a law of life seen manifesting every day. It is called karma. Action gives an equal or more intense reaction, depending on the intent and the emotion behind it. Corporal punishment is arguably a prelude to gangs on the streets, those who will riot on call, and others who suffer in silence and hide behind a desk or in a routine profession, fearing reprimand and punishment, never talking back or offering an opinion.
Time Out And Time In

Is there a covert consciousness that accounts for the fact that for forty-eight years, until early 1996, I didn’t even know that children of my international congregation were being beaten? Perhaps. Hindus know it’s wrong in their heart of hearts, but are blindly obeying the cultural attitude expressed in this himsa, violent, senseless proverb, and thoughtlessly reacting to their own stress and anger. They don’t even look for a better way. Well, there is a better way.

It has been over fifty years since my ministry started, way back in 1949. Now, in its maturity, there are uncounted encounters to rely upon, much experience to guide the fellowship and much energy to march into the future of futures. Among the concerns, one has become crucial to parents, who ask, “Are there better ways to raise our children? We are entirely dedicated to ahimsa, noninjury, physically, emotionally and mentally. But how is this lofty ideal possible to follow when troubled by emotions that are too easily released by taking them out, in the fire of the moment, on those we love? How can misdeeds that happen in the home be absolved, and examples set that prevent their repetition generation after generation?”

For parents seeking effective nonviolent alternatives, they are readily available today in excellent books. One strategy educators recommend is called time out, one minute for each year of the child’s age; hence ten minutes for a ten-year-old. This tells the child that if he doesn’t behave in a reasonable way, he will be separated from other people. Time out, sitting quietly in a room, works best in conjunction with its opposite, time in. Time in is quality time spent with the child in an activity he enjoys, and just being together. Time in includes letting children share their feelings, positive or negative, with parents lending a receptive, understanding ear.

There are new methods and new principles, such as in Nandinatha Sutra 138: “Siva’s followers never govern youth through fear. They are forbidden to spank or hit them, use harsh or angry words, neglect or abuse them. They know you can’t make children do better by making them feel worse.” This goes along with the innovative approach being taken by psychologists, sociologists and educators, in consideration of the turmoil that engulfs today’s world. The truth is being accepted that methods that rely on what experts call “punishment power” — scolding, taking away privileges, spanking — do not elicit more desirable behavior in children or adults. Rather, they produce hostility, resentment and the desire for retaliation. In communities around the world, our family missionaries are conducting study groups on Dr. Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline as a public service to help parents raise their children without violence.


Raising Children

Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2

I will utter a prayer for such concord among family members as binds together the Gods, among whom is no hatred. Be courteous, planning and working in harness together. Approach, conversing pleasantly, like-minded, united.

Be Patient And Caring

There is an old saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and this is wise in certain respects. We are thinking of the young adults who will not follow the traditional family patterns of their well-raised Hindu parents. Admittedly, they can be made to fear their parents and be forced to obey for a time. The problem with such an approach is that it usually ends up with the sons or daughters losing respect for them and leaving home as soon as they are able. Often parents take the authoritarian approach, not realizing there are alternatives, well-proven techniques of a more positive discipline. In actual practice, it is more useful to work with children little by little as they grow and mature. They can be reasoned with and will be very open if the parents show a definite interest in their cross-cultural way of life and their natural inclinations, one of which is to keep in with their peers. To lament the modern young adult’s behavior, to merely criticize it, is not going to help, and may cause, in the case of sensitive children, irreparable damage.

My advice to parents has always been to stay close to their children, but at the same time give them some space to grow and mature in today’s world. Today’s world is not all that bad. But children must be taught how to live in it — what to be wary of, whom to trust, whom to befriend and marry, how to proceed in business, social life, education, career upscaling, religious life and on into the raising of their own family. So, keep the communication lines open.

True, today’s world has its challenges, its temptations and definite drawbacks, but it is today’s world and the world of tomorrow. We can’t ignore that fact. We cannot recreate yesterday’s world or wish for the return of olden days. We have to move forward and teach the children to move the forces of the outside world for a better world in the tomorrows that are to come. So, be wise and pass your deeply profound Hindu culture and wisdom along to the children so they can make proper decisions for themselves. This is what they will do anyway, make their own decisions, so they might as well be trained early on how to do it right. Who better to teach them this than their own parents? True, times have changed, and things may never be as they were, but the religious and cultural traditions of the former generation are still valid and must be passed on gently yet firmly to the modern children, educated to think for themselves rather than simply carry out orders from elders. Don’t close the doors on them. This will not help society or the family unit. Nor will it fulfill the dharma of parenthood.

Parents of all ages and all cultures have always worried about their teenagers, so take heart. Don’t give up on them. They are the future. Some must learn by their own mistakes, while others, more sensitive, thoughtful and loving, who are polite enough to at least listen, can learn by the mistakes and successes of their parents. So, communicate your wisdom to them; whether they listen or not makes no difference for the time being. Your message, given with conviction but without anger or resentment, sinks deep into their subconscious mind, making a positive samskara. To accomplish this best, give it just before bedtime, when they are more open and less defensive. It will be their last thought before sleep. Don’t rant and rail during the day. That will simply sow the seeds of long-lasting animosity and create division within the family. At night before sleep — this is the key to getting your message through. Also, before sleep, all differences must be resolved, lest they become unwanted vasanas to be worked through later in this life or the next.

Training in Energy Use

Another way to communicate is when mom serves her children meals. While they are eating their favorite food served by their favorite person, she gently speaks some loving advice for their deportment, or a gentle correction, in the right ear, not the left. These timely suggestions, well implanted at that very human psychological moment, are absorbed in the subconscious as the meal digests. Five decades ago in Sri Lanka, I learned of this shrewd Hindu ingenuity by which women have been known to turn an election by whispering in their husband’s ear whom he should vote for, just as he is putting into his mouth his favorite morsels of food. This wisdom is one of the positive laws behind Nandinatha Sutra 99, which requires the wife to serve her husband food, enjoying her own meal only after he and the children have been well satisfied. Politicking? Well, yes! of the highest womanly order. She has her ways. Yes, the clever wife is indeed the queen of her castle. The rishis tell us there are eighty-four ways a woman can influence her man and keep him on — or lead him off — the path of dharma. Some call these wiles; others know them as the feminine siddhis.

It is the parents’ duty to provide a sound education in the use and misuse of the life forces, the sexual energies, and teach their children how to control them as they grow into adulthood. Only in this way will they have the knowledge required to face the challenges of their own instinctive/intellectual nature.

There are two main areas that parents can feel free to speak about with their boys and girls as they are growing up from a very young age. These are prana and the chakras. Once your children have a clear idea of what prana actually is and what the chakras actually are, they will be confident in lifting up the sexual pranas into the higher chakras when puberty is upon them.

You who are parents know that this prana will increase within your physical body until you are about forty years of age. After that, the prana increases in power within the mental body until you are about the age of seventy. Then the prana continues to increase within the spiritual body of the soul. Carefully explain time and time again to your children that it is up to them to control their prana, their life force, which is the total energy of their body. Until forty years of age, this is done through education, exercise and hard work. After forty until seventy, this is done through study, caring for those younger than themselves, community service and additional education. After seventy this is done through worship, sadhana, tapas and deep meditation.

When explaining the chakras to your children, refer to these force centers as lovely flowers within them that need to be fed by their vital energies. Teach them to breathe deeply and lift the sexual energy from the lower chakras to the higher ones and hold it there, as if to feed and water these flowers. Teach them that chakras are also rooms of consciousness, and the energy we put into the chakras awakens this consciousness and makes us very alert and intelligent.

In other words, as soon as your children can understand, you can begin teaching them about their energies. In this way, you give them the tools to handle their sexual nature so that their forces do not run away with their mind during puberty. In this way, you will open channels to talk freely with them about sex when the time comes. Many parents give absolutely no guidance in this area to their children, who then have to learn from other children or from the Internet, alone in a room, about this natural function of their life. So, be a wise parent and begin early. Remember, there are only two basic areas to cover: prana and chakras. Your own intuition will guide you as to how to proceed.

Be Firm But Kind

Children respond well to correction, discipline, talking and explaining, and being treated like the intelligent beings that they are. Many parents these days are afraid of their children and dance around them, as if they were things to be avoided. They bribe them with toys and sweets, bow before their every whim and appoint them, by default, the head of the house. Truly, children these days like to be told what to do, but also to be told the reasons why.

The “Obey me because I said so” stance will not work anymore for the Western-educated child. What will work is, “Obey me because this is what our family needs and wants you to do, because we love you and want you to remain a member of this family, and these are the reasons why….” This approach even a truant kid will accept, because he or she still needs to eat, still wants a roof over head, clothes to wear and, in the future, maybe a paid-for education. Less obstinate children will conform because they love their family and intuitively know how to fit in when they are urged to and have been given clear directions, explanations and expectations. Yes, there are children in the Western world who do not throw temper tantrums at home, who are still nice to their elders, who will turn off the TV when asked and even show appreciation for all that their parents have done for them.

Who are the mentors of the home, the kids or the parents? Children raised on bribery or raised in fear will in their future bribe others, subjugate others by instilling fear of their wrath and unruly ways. If you are ambivalent and insecure, your children will not listen to you. This may be embarrassing, but nonetheless true. It is not necessary to let your children go headlong into Western ways. It is not necessary or even helpful to leave them alone to find their own values in life, from the streets, from peers, from people more confused than they are. What is most helpful is for you to share with them the Eternal Path, with all of its values, all of its insight into humanity and Divinity. What is most helpful is for you to spend lots of time with your children. Many parents these days minimize the hours they spend with their kids and don’t even have time for an in-depth conversation anymore. Just “Hello” and “Good-bye” and “Why did you get a low grade on your report card?” Kids need more, more of you, more of your time, more direction and more guidance. Don’t be afraid to give to them what they need most — all of you, not just a token part. Teach them traditional religious and cultural values at an early age. Don’t be afraid that they will be different from the other children. They are already different. They are Hindus, inheritors of India’s fountainhead of mystery and Truth.

An all-pervasive mental disease has come to the planet. It started in the West and is spreading worldwide. It is the modern way that parents talk to their children, by stating a question when actually giving direction or instruction, such as, “Why don’t we all get in the car now?” “Why don’t you put on your coat?” “Don’t you think it’s time for you children to turn off the TV and go to bed?” These kinds of phrases are used in the family homes and in offices throughout the modern world. Children given the choice “Why don’t you?” before the instruction of what to do are disadvantaged. They are forced to make a yes-or-no decision before complying with the request, and sometimes it might be “no.” When undecided, children comply reluctantly. Giving these kinds of choices to young people, which is being done today even at the five-year-old level and younger, is a new way of raising them which puts parents at a disadvantage. They become beholden to their child’s every mood, thought and preference.

The “Why Don’t You” Approach

It does not take long for even very young children raised in the “why don’t you” method to catch on and understand that they are permitted, indeed expected, to make a personal choice in all that happens in family life. An aggressive few of these children will take over the home and begin giving orders to the parents, unkindly, abusively. Most often, when choices are given, they take the opposite point of view. When you ask a child, “Why don’t we turn off the TV?” he may answer, “No, I’m not turning off the television, because the program I’m watching has not ended yet.” When you suggest, “Shall we all get into the car?” he will respond, “I am not getting in the car. You all go. I’m staying home.” If you then force him to change his decision after asking him to make a choice, you are considered unreasonable. When this happens, respect is lost and is hard to regain.

Is the child being disobedient? Well, yes! And well, no. Yes, by responding in opposition to the expected answers, and no because the question itself invites them to decide, and one possible response is to refuse. Such questions from adults tell the child that each one in the household is an independent entity, free to go his or her own way. The child is being taught how to do this by the parents themselves, by the way they phrase their directions. Some parents want their kids out of the home, on their own, supporting themselves. Others don’t.

There are only two ways: teach dependence or teach independence. Independence should be taught when the child has become an adult and is educated well enough to make it on his own, not before. Then he is responsible and will do right by his parents when they are older, because he understands dharma, duty, because he depended upon and flourished under their direction, their love and their wisdom for oh-so-many years. Don’t let them leave home too early and then continue to learn by their own mistakes. What a sad and often painful way to learn. Don’t let them face up to this. Protect them while you can. Simply don’t give choices. They will never notice the change in your approach and will appreciate the security of positive direction: “Let’s all get into the car. Come along.” “It is time now to turn off the TV. We are all going to bed.” Keep affirming that “Our family is a team. We move together. We are loyal to each other and tell each other everything, keeping no secrets. We will always stay together and care for one another.” This should come up at every opportunity, at least three times a week.

What is the binding force that keeps youths in the home? Love. If you love your children completely, they won’t want to leave. You won’t be able to force them out of the house, even if you try. You are bound together by bands of steel made of love. Within this loving relationship, you can guide them and watch over them and help them to live a good life without getting into trouble. Three hugs a day keeps trouble away. How can you apparently practice Hindu bhakti, which is love of God, Gods and guru, and not have enough love in your heart for your son or daughter to make them want to be close to you? If you don’t love your children, they will find someone else to love them.

Financial Independence

In summary, Hindu parents should make decisions for their children and refrain from giving them choices until they are educated and about to leave the home. Offering children freedom with money has similar problems. By giving adolescents financial independence too soon, parents breach the protective atmosphere of the home and invite exploration of who knows what in the world. It begins with an allowance that they can squander any way they want. They soon learn that by putting heavy demands upon parents they can get more. Then parents add gifts for good behavior, a form of bribery not recommended. In training adolescents, any money they handle should be accounted for and the change returned to and counted by the caring parents. This teaches honesty, accuracy and cooperation with the core group, the parents.

Many times I have seen an allowance lead to a desire for a summer job or to work after school, more independence, more time away from home and family. The summer job taxes the child when he or she should be playing, resting, going to school or doing wholesome extracurricular reading. The early-morning paper route or the job after school takes precious time away from education. Adolescents should not be allowed to handle their own money or to earn an income until their high school education is nearly complete. Then any money earned, the full amount, should be given to the parents, and all spending money accounted for. This will mold the young adult into a frugal, income-producing person.

One choice young people can and must participate in is their profession. A jyotisha shastri, Vedic astrologer, will help in this. In principle, the karma of the child is to accept the profession of the parent. He had a choice and could have been born into another family. He chose you. So, don’t compromise him or her, and be sure that you have unanimous agreement with all members of the family when the choice of profession or occupation is made. The ideal, of course, is for the children to work in the family business and develop the wealth that can be passed along to others in the family, generation after generation. This is the way Hinduism has persisted through trial and tribulation, siege and battle, oppression and subjugation for the past 10,000 years. Let’s not allow it to stop now. It is all up to you, the mom and dad, and how you phrase your direction, how you discipline with love and patience as their growing-up process continues. Raise your children right, and you will be rewarded by the justly fair law of karma when you are on the other side of life, about to experience moksha. Don’t raise your children correctly, and you will be born again into an unwholesome, adharmic household and learn by feeling how they felt under your neglect.

Responsible Chaperoning

I described the importance of chaperoning in Nandinatha Sutra 149: “Siva’s followers accept the serious responsibility of guiding the private and social life of their children. They chaperone and monitor friendships to help ensure that young ones grow up safe and celibate.” An Indian lady once told me what she considered to be her most important duty in life: that she would never, ever let her daughter out of her sight until she was married and well settled. Someone asked, “Don’t you trust her?” The lady’s answer was, “No.”

Why do swamis of traditional orders like ours go out only in pairs? Is it because we don’t trust them? We trust the soul and we trust them individually, but we don’t trust worldly people they might encounter who would love nothing more than to deter them from their dharma. We follow the ancient traditions so that problems don’t arise.

Many parents are faced with the dilemma of sending children off to college for a higher education at the risk of their exposure to undesirable influences. I tell my devotees, if you want your son and daughter to attend the university, you should, if at all possible, move into a home near that campus so you can be close to them and keep them from getting into trouble, share meals with them, monitor their friendships. You will be investing a lot of money to put them through school, and if you are not there, you will be investing a lot of worry.

If sending them to a far-off school is unavoidable, and you cannot move to a home nearby, remind them to at least perform simple puja every day and tune into a picture of you, and of the family guru and the Gods of our beautiful religion. The object of going to college, you can explain, is to learn what they need to learn and come out the other side as a professional, able to make their way in the world. So, explain to them that they are not going to college to make friends, to join sororities or fraternities, or to get side-tracked in any way by the temptations of the world as it is today. Encourage them to treat everyone the same, with a happy smile, to not take sides, to not like one person more than another.

There is a wonderful lady from the Tamilian community who sent her two sons off to the University of California, and every day, to stay close, she cooked a meal for them, packaged that meal and sent it by courier to their apartment 400 miles away. Another pattern that has worked in our congregation is for young people to marry and then, as a married couple, move near a university for the husband to attend school. Then he is naturally chaperoned by his wife as they grow up together.

Many children don’t follow their parents’ religion, don’t want to be sheltered or restricted and want to leave home in their teens and go off on their own. I say that if you have really made the religious teachings a part of your life, you will naturally be able to convince your family and friends of those wonderful truths. Your youth will see the wisdom of not going out without a chaperone, be it an adult or a trusted peer. If you can’t convince your family of the teachings, that shows that they are just intellectual thoughts that in practice don’t mean anything to you.

I watch for those in my international congregation who can do this, who are deeply involved, active and committed members who can bring others along the path that they themselves have trod. And I watch for those, indifferent and apathetic, who can’t and are just hanging on because of the social benefits or the mystique.

Our Young Missionaries

All of the young people here today, each and every one of you, must be proud that you are living the Saiva Dharma. You must be proud to be Saivites, proud that you know this great God personally. Now, this is not an egotistical kind of pride which sets you apart from everyone. It is a pride of humility which makes you very compassionate toward all. Stand strong for Saivism. It is your duty to help spread the Saiva Dharma throughout the world, to let each one hear about Siva, about the great Mahadeva Ganesha, about the great Mahadeva Murugan. Let them accept or reject, as they choose, but first they must hear your message. You are all the young missionaries of our religion, the young missionaries of Saivite Hinduism. You must study this religion most diligently. Study hard so that you can turn the minds of others towards goodness, towards selflessness, toward Godliness. You must study very, very hard, very diligently, committing the Saiva Dharma to memory so that when you are asked questions about your religion you have a ready and convincing answer and can give forth that answer with confidence. You must be strong, for there are many more temptations in the world today than when your parents and grandparents were raised. Those who are young nowadays face far more temptations than ever before, especially from the Western world.

Proceed with confidence and with courage, and your life will be a strength to others who are waiting and longing for your message. I ask each of you young adults and children here tonight to grow up tall and proud of our Saivite religion. How do you do this? Through discipline and obedience. Nothing was ever accomplished on this Earth without these two qualities. Be self-disciplined, cultivate self-control. Obey your gurus. Obey your mothers. Obey your fathers. Obey your elders. Obey your Saivite teachers. Don’t be influenced by Western ways. Western ways are based on a Christian belief structure. If you do all of this, you will become the leaders of the Saivite Hindu temple tradition.

Religious learning is the greatest learning, the only permanent learning. All else is transitory and changing. Religion is the knowledge of the soul. God Siva created your soul. Your mother and father created your body, brought you into this world. But you create your own experiences in this life from the sum total of experiences in your past lives. You came to this Earth for one purpose: to learn of your religion. You are on this Earth for the evolution of your soul. You are not here to earn money. You are not here to gratify yourself through excesses. You are not here to fight with each other. You are not here to accumulate material conveniences. You are here to learn of and then to fulfill your religion. It is knowledge of religion in your life that makes the soul evolve. So, learn your religion fully, properly, intelligently, and it will guide you through this life into a better birth or on into moksha, liberation from earthly existence.


Posted: 08/07/2013 in Routine part 2
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Dwell in this home; never be parted! Enjoy the full duration of your days, with sons and grandsons playing to the end, rejoicing in your home to your heart’s content.

Marriage Is Forever

There is a breakdown that has been under way among all of us some time all over the world. Complaints as well as suggestions come in daily to my publisher’s desk. These are some of the typical problems: mothers are no longer teaching righteousness, Vedic Dharma, worship and puja to their children, for fear their little ones won’t fit into the alien cultures in which they are living. That’s one. Fathers are no longer taking their sons into the family business or profession, but giving them choices of their own, for fear of being regarded as the “dominant” parent figure and not fitting in with the society in which they are living. That’s another. There are more.

Children are orphaned in their own homes because the minds of both mother and father are in the work-a-day world in which the children play no part. Kids content themselves within the asuric realms of video arcades and TV. Families have given up dharma and even the hope of moksha, liberation from rebirth. Instead, they are immersed in the insatiable search for artha (wealth) and kama (enjoyment) and the many other magnetic pulls, so that they, too, are able to blend into modern society.

Hindu people, we are told in many e-mails, have almost all become passive followers, with few active leaders among them. No one wants to stand out over another, lest he be harshly criticized and put down. Many moderners fear openly affirming the dharma if it conflicts with modern society. Society as we know it today is the doctrine of materialism governed by anarchy. Lay down a rule, and someone will break it, no matter what it is. Are we in the Kali Yuga?

There is one institution that there is still hope in saving. It has been cherished in scripture, in living cultures, in all the major religions for thousands of years. It is the precious institution of marriage. It is the binding, contractual agreement between a man and woman who have come together to take on the responsibility of birthing, raising and educating a new generation. How are we going to have a brave new world, a new world order, a new age, based on anarchy within the family itself?

Yet, here, too, Hindus are taking their examples from those who do not understand or observe dharma; they are seeing divorce as a solution instead of a problem.

When the institution of marriage breaks down, everyone suffers. We see this happening all around us. A husband and wife bound by holy sacraments are psychically attached to each other. To separate for a month, a week or even for a day can be painful on the part of one or both. They reach out to one another during the time of physical absence in dreams and longing. How painful then is their permanent separation? How much anguish does it bring to their beloved children, whose wounds never really heal? And how is it that only the priest, a person who invokes God and the Gods, can sanctify a marriage, and that a court judge, a man of the world, can cancel that divine contractual agreement? Impossible. Only in the Kali Yuga.

A long and joyous life is theirs who remain firmly on the faultless path of the control of the five senses. There are still a few elders left today who speak out, whether listened to or not. Their fire of righteous indignation, their love for dharma, is making an impression upon the younger generation and their parents alike. We appeal to these elders to take courage and proclaim the ancient values, whether their children and grandchildren listen to them or not. Some part of them will be hearing. Preach the dharma. There is little to lose and much to gain. We appeal to elders to speak against divorce, to patiently work to harmonize matrimonial tensions and diffuse difficult family situations.

Drawbacks Of Divorce

Divorce only begins new problems. Is a divorce similar to going out of business? Or bankruptcy? Yes, because in both cases everyone is the loser. The employees are losers, the children are losers, the suppliers are losers; everyone is a loser, and everyone takes sides. In the case of the failing business, the employees take sides, the partnership breaks up, the partners take sides, and their friends take sides. In case of a marriage, the friends of a husband take his side, the friends of a wife take her side, and there is a permanent division. Sometimes the courts take the side of the children, and the children are divided. It is the breakdown of the community, it is the breakdown of society, and it is the creation of a lot of kukarma that has to be worked out in this or probably in a future life. There’s another great loss in the case of a marriage that breaks up or a business that breaks up, and the loss is trust in the individuals concerned. They lose their ability to trust each other, to trust themselves; and, of course, no one trusts them.

Couples have been taught to look to psychiatrists, psychologists, family counselors and attorneys for solutions to marital problems. But who can give better solutions than our qualified elders who know the karmas, who know the adharma involved in divorce? Their experience has great value. Find a swami, sadhu, guru, a jyotisha shastri, someone who can help tighten the bonds of family love and trust and make this person an integral part of your family. Every family needs its spiritual preceptor to strengthen the support group, who in turn hold the family together when hard times come. The plea is to hang on to one thing: the family life. Marriage is forever.

Indian culture has within it all the solutions to maintain proper relationships of a man being manly and a woman being womanly. Today men are confronted by women who have, often out of necessity, nurtured their masculine qualities. Naturally, such couples will fight, compete and suffer. In my life-long ministry, those who are not getting along well in marriage come occasionally for advice. We work it out according to ancient shastric principles that transcend the immediate problems. Marriage is like a voyage by ship. Sometimes the going is easy and sunny, and sometimes there is bad weather to endure. But at all times it’s advisable to stay with the ship and not jump overboard. My experience is that the bad karmas, or kukarmas, as well as harsh astrology and difficult attitudes, are always finally overcome, so long as no one gives up the hope and the effort. The marriage continues. The word divorce is never uttered or seen as a solution in the hundreds of extended families who look to me as preceptor.

Those who don’t take such advice are overwhelmed by the tugs and pulls of pranic forces between them stimulated by hatred and confusion, tears, remorse, unresolvable misunderstandings which have gone on unattended for fifteen or twenty years. Couples who did not listen to my advice to not end their marriage ten years ago still speak to me today of their separation as though it all happened a week ago. They admit that divorce was no solution, only a postponement of problems that still linger, which could have been solved and still have to be. Those who have gone through the experience know that divorce and remarriage is just trading one set of problems for another. We have seen that divorcees remarry others with the same traits, temperament, faults, failings and even looks as their previous spouse. No one, however clever they may be, can run away from their birth karmas. No, divorce is no solution. Separation, though better, is still not the solution. Both are only the beginning of new problems.

Unofficial Divorce

In Hinduism marriage is still highly respected, and so divorce is a sign of failure, because life is a spiritual journey and failing to fulfill that journey is a weakness. In a sense, it is a crime against one’s own karma and dharma in this life. It is like saying, “I can’t do what I came here to do.” Divorce brings loss of social position and respect in the community. By getting divorced, one betrays a sacred covenant, a betrayal that weakens the whole of society.

There is divorce, and there is divorce. I have observed through the years that a modern form of Hindu divorce has become a part of Indian culture. It is a clever way to not hurt the feelings of elders, parents and relatives, or to avoid incurring the community stigma of divorce. A modern form of Hindu divorce, it seems, has cleverly been conceived in the following way. The husband is under great stress, a stress that is not natural for a human being, a stress based on living up to materialistic expectations. He comes home psychically wounded, tired, worried. If things do not go well at home, he may verbally or even physically abuse his wife and family, blaming her for everything bad that happens to him. Sensing his failure to cope with all of this, he secretly wishes he did not have to face his weakness.

He learns from compatriots that the Big Solution to the marriage problem is to get away from the wife and the kids. He is advised to accept a job in another part of the world, knowing that his association with his family will become distant and tenuous, and he will no longer have to confront his wife, who has become his conscience. He knows he will hardly have to speak with her, rarely visit her and will be able to avoid, most of the time, the challenges the marriage has brought to him which he is unwittingly unable or unwilling to resolve. He knows, too, that he won’t have to face the community’s disdain that a formal divorce would bring, and that he can avoid the financial pains of alimony.

After reorganizing his professional life, the husband takes a job in a far-off land. He returns home for brief periods and only occasionally, thus effecting a separation without the expensive inconvenience and social stigma of formal divorce proceedings. He assures everyone, mostly himself, that this is the right thing to do, since he is making more money. Of course, money will never make up for his absence, never buy the children their childhood back. Lacking in fatherly guidance, the children, are running wild, turning promiscuous, later to repeat the example of neglect that dad is teaching them. No one wins.

Husband and wife should always be together. If there is an unavoidable separation, he should call her daily, ask how her day was, inquire about the children. After all, it is the harmonizing of their pranas that will create through their children a brave new world, a new world order and a new age.

Whom to Hold Responsible?

HINDUISM TODAY ran a quiz about divorce on the women’s page. The subject struck a nerve among readers. Here’s a question that a young Hindu asked about coping with divorce.

Question: My mother and father got a divorce, and I really resent it. It happened seven years ago when I was sixteen, and almost every day I regret what I missed by not having my mom and dad together in a loving home. How can I deal with the resentment, Gurudeva?

Answer: It’s not easy experiencing the separation and divorce of one’s mom and dad, at any age — six, sixteen or thirty-one. There is a feeling of emptiness; something is lost, never to be regained. The feelings and thoughts of blame grow, they do not diminish, as the years go by. But look at it this way. Any marriage, yours maybe, needs a loving, strong support group that wants to help the young couple, or the older couple, work out their problems rather than avoid them through separation and finally divorce. Basically, when there are children involved as a result of a marriage, there really is no divorce — only separation. Every marriage is truly irrevocable, carved in the akashic records when the first child’s umbilical cord is cut. Thereafter, there can be no separation without a great deal of pain and unforeseen karmic repercussions.

Upon whom should the children put the blame? Put it where it truly belongs. Put it on the support groups — the mothers, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the next-door neighbors, the business partners and friends of the family. Everyone in the community shares the tragedy of the home’s breaking up — the members of the temple society, the marriage counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, the hairdresser, the gym instructor and the attorney were all responsible to become part of the solution rather than part of the dissolution of the marriage. Put the blame on them, not on your mom and dad.

An extended family that loves one another and looks out for the good of all, a religious group of loving souls who pride themselves on low percentage of divorce in their community or congregation — these and more are all the people who can or should see the tension growing between husband and wife and who have the ability to diffuse it at the early stages. Don’t blame your mother and father. If blame is to be cast, blame all those people that surrounded your family who were not alert enough, good souls that they may be, to help diffuse the tension between your parents.

Obviously, the support group has failed their marriage. You must admit that failure, lest it drag you down to its own depth. Be part of the solution. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Don’t make them feel guilty. For your own peace of mind, transfer the blame, the hurt feelings, the pain and resentment over to the relatives, the community and national value system. Become an agent of goodwill. Have kind words to say about dad to mom and kind words to say about mom to dad. Resist the impulse to criticize one to the other and cause an even greater separation within the family. They are not to blame. Society is.

If you take sides, you are creating bad karma, kukarma, for yourself, to be faced later. So treat each one the same. Don’t make deals, don’t deceive them or keep secrets from them, lest you psychically alienate yourself from the home. Maybe, just maybe, you can help them to understand and reconcile their differences if you follow this advice. Maybe, just maybe, time and the forces of nature will all come to your aid, and your parents will remarry and you will all become a family again. Don’t perpetuate the problem. Be part of the solution. Work with it. You, their child, may be their very best hope.

Support at Crucial Times

When the tensions of the burdens of life begin to build, if friends, relatives and community begin to pull away rather than come forward to help, mom and dad are rendered helpless, absolutely helpless. Certain crises are predictable in the course of a marriage. When the first child is born, everything changes. This is the first crisis in their life. He lost his sweetheart and lover when she gave birth to her first child and became a mother. She lost her lover, too, when he became a father. Their roles first began to change during the time of her pregnancy. He had to watch very closely his thoughts toward other women, while feeling neglect because she was thinking about their baby soon to be born more than she was thinking about him. She used to think only of him.

Moving into another home is another crisis time. It’s easy for dad because he is involved in new employment and new friends, but hard for mom because she has to adjust to the change of her entire environment. Is this a time for her to be emotionally upset? Yes it is.

At middle age, around forty, mom goes through menopause — another big crisis. Dad doesn’t admit it — no man ever does — but he goes through a corresponding change at that time, too. At that time they both begin to think how it would have been if they had married somebody else. Dad, maybe, especially is ready for one last fling. They both have a desire to return to the surroundings of their youth. This is another intense crisis time. If dad reaches fortyish first and mom later, then they experience two crisis times instead of one. When their daughter entered puberty, another crisis time occurred for the family. They didn’t know what she was going to do next, and they often blamed themselves and each other for her erratic and sometimes erotic behavior. Another crisis time.

Grandma, Grandpa, great aunts and uncles, the neighbor next door, even the deliveryman, can help in times of crisis. The temple community, the church congregation, the priest, the minister, friends, Rotary Club members, executive at the office, if they don’t help, are all negligent. We can blame them for the failure. Don’t blame mom and dad. They are helpless. Do we blame somebody who is sick for being ill? Of course not. Do we blame a person who is emotionally distraught for being emotional distraught? Of course not. We try to understand. We try to help. If the help is offered or is not offered, we blame those who do not help.

Therefore, I tell troubled youth, for your own peace of mind, dear child, love your mother and your father. Keep them as one in your mind. Don’t separate them in your mind. You yourself are the greatest marriage counselor. It is only you who at this juncture can become a binding force for the family. Rise above the accepted standards of the nonculture of today, which advise divorce to solve the problem. Remember, don’t take sides.

The Dreadful First Slap

Though divorce is not an acceptable solution to family problems according to Hindu Dharma, there is one regrettable exception to maintaining a divine union, and that is in the case of domestic violence. We’ve encountered much talk lately in Time, Newsweek, Hinduism Today and on TV about the taboo subjects of wife beating, date rape and even sexual abuse of children. Things once not even whispered about behind closed doors are now out in the open. No more secrets.

Of course, domestic violence never was much of a secret, for all those involved knew: husbands and wives, their friends, the kids, close relatives and neighbors. Knew but said nothing. If the neighbors are making too much noise at a party, no one hesitates to complain. But if that same neighbor is beating his wife and she is screaming and crying, nothing is done. No knock on the door. No call to authorities. We never allow a fist fight in a public place, but we do permit, by our silence, such heinous violence in the home.

In the spirit of standing for ahimsa and not permitting violence, when you see a man slapping his wife or a parent hitting his child, call the police! Don’t protect the wrongdoer. Don’t be a party to the crime by remaining passive. Don’t think that no karma is attached to inaction. It is no longer acceptable to turn up the TV to drown out the screams and sobs of a wife being beaten.

Recently, the California case of O.J. Simpson released an immense outpouring of sympathy for abused women. It took a world-famous athlete to bring forward an infamous worldly behavior. It is an admirable trait that an uncensored press can come forward to awaken a nation’s conscience. In a way, the images and stories that are appearing are not unlike Indian epics or Greek stage plays that seek to establish morals by depicting tragic happenings, or Italian operas which conceal morals in melodrama. All in all, the world has not changed that much.

As hard as it is to discuss wife abuse and why it happens, people are discussing it openly and without shame. We see graphic, real-life pictures of this violence and battered wives speaking out in magazines and on television. The big question is, will it ever end? Maybe not, but we can end the cultural sanction of the sport where father and mother watch their son slap down his wife and then drag her across the room by her hair.

A man who strikes his wife in an effort to make her cower, to control her, actually karmically does the opposite. His brutality turns against him, becomes his disadvantage. Her love and dependence weaken, and her psychic bonds to him unravel. After that, she has the spiritual upper hand, is more free from him than ever, less under his control than before that first slap. Yes, it all begins with the first slap.

It does not matter as much when they fight with words — the name-calling, insinuations, insults and arguments. That’s all part of the play of married life and may be fairly intense when their astrological compatibility is not as perfect as it might be. But that first slap changes everything! It is that first slap that brings dire kukarma, that degrades and demeans, that makes her his enemy and not his friend. This is not acceptable. Kids cannot accept it. Wives will never forgive it. Families should not endure it, even to defend beloved sons. It is not less violent just because it happens behind closed doors, just because we know the people so well. All who know of this crime and who do not speak up for dharma, for ahimsa, are accomplices. Like a thief or rapist, they are enemies of a stable society.
What Can Be Done?

“What can I do about domestic violence?” you may ask. You can refuse to remain silent. You can object, as I did recently upon finding in my own community three cases of wife abuse. Imagine, if devotees performing sadhana can succumb, how easy it must be for others. There is help available. Peer pressure, elders, police, counselors and shelters are there, and much more. It’s like the olden days when people first started objecting to slavery. Everyone knew in their heart it was wrong, but no one dared go against the conventional wisdom that it was “necessary.” Finally, mankind came to its senses and stopped it. It was no longer acceptable. In that same way, we are now coming to our senses about spouse abuse and child abuse.

What is the difference between beating a woman and raping her? Not much, really. Violent harm is done. Her body has been violated, moved by his body against her will. A sin has been committed, equally as psychologically serious. Kukarma for the man, bad consequences, results from that first slap. Prayashchitta, penance, must be performed to mitigate the backlash of his actions, lest they seriously affect his next birth.

The first push, bruised wrist, pinch without mercy, slap or bleeding lip tells her nerve system that “this is no place for me to be.” Her fear takes over, and the process of breaking up the family nest begins. His future is jeopardized as she instinctively withdraws her shakti. Perhaps he struck her to show that he’s the boss and that she cannot control him. But, in fact, he thereby appointed her as another boss that may well torment his consciousness the rest of his life and bring to him sorrows to equal her own, now or in his next birth.

Of course, it is the birth dharma of Hindu elders to rule society with a firm hand and demand of their younger male generation that they never defile themselves by giving that first slap. When a domestic situation is brought before me that involves violence, my immediate response is to advise the wife to run for safety. Unless counseling, if ever accepted, brings about an actual change in the offender, and there are actual apologies, remorse and genuine efforts to mend ways and transform that are acceptable to relatives and the congregation at large, I know it is my responsibility to step in and advise separation. Yes, this may lead to divorce, unless, of course, a deeply sincere correction has taken place and a new marriage covenant has been written by the couple. Continued physical violence is the singular justification for divorce in modern Hindu culture — a regrettable exception to the life-long covenant of marriage. This is comparable to an abortion performed to save the life of the mother, which is dharmically permissible because it is an even worse kukarma for a child to kill his mother. All concerned will accept the wisdom of these exceptions, both of which save the life of the mother.


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.


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.


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.