Is Marriage a Curse or a Boon?
Nature has made the two genders of male and a female different from one another. Their physical differences are evident, but they are different mentally too; they think differently. But one thing is common to them for sure, and that is that they cannot stay away from one another. Nothing can separate them, not even their multiple differences. A boy and a girl are apart only at the toddler stage, but once the hormone glands become active, nothing can stop them from coming together. Men can’t live without women or women without men. The truth is that nature has created these differences for a purpose. As the saying goes: Opposites will always attract. Mutual attraction between the sexes is nature’s handiwork.
Once upon a time, in primitive society, a man could have sex with any woman and vice versa – just like animals. Then, as man became wiser and started living in organized groups, the need for sex acquired another dimension – that of emotional attachment. This emotional attachment led to the further domestication of man and woman. The concept of marriage came into the picture and started taking shape slowly. When man started living in closed groups, the structure of society started to evolve, and society designed marriage around sexual attraction and emotional bonding.
Many people believe that marriages are tailor-made by god. One thing has to be understood: Marriages are not made in heaven and your partner is not chosen by god. Society has created a structure in which marriages are arranged and organized. Man is a lonely and social animal, and so in order to live his life he needs a partner. The Bible says that God first made man, but man was always unhappy, and so God created woman from the rib of man – to entertain him. So as per the Bible, man can never ever be truly happy without a woman in his life. Even today a woman is called ‘the better half of man’. The two halves have to be together for a feeling of completeness. Marriage is considered a medium for man and woman to feel complete. Well, it remains to be seen if that really happens or is simply wishfull thinking!
Boys will remain boys and girls will remain girls; they must get together and they will get together. And then the end result will be sex – which will lead to pregnancy, which will but obviously lead to the birth of a child. Bringing a child into this world is a responsibility, therefore the entire process needs to be given the utmost attention.
Curtailment of the sexual urge was the motive behind the idea of marriage. Boys and girls are attracted to one another, they seek attention and appreciation from one another. Movies, television and the print media helps this attraction or lust in so many ways, that children grow up faster and teenagers become adults earlier. The age of puberty age is decreasing every day. Girls used to attain puberty at around fourteen years of age; today it is happening at eleven, and even ten years of age. When the mind is bombarded with so much information, and that too in titillating ways, it brings about changes in the brain, because of which the body too undergoes certain changes. The internet has given unlimited access to all kinds of information, from making friends to dating and looking for sexual partners. The sexual urge arises much earlier then it used to in the past.
Today’s teenager is much more aware of sex then the earlier generation. Sex arises within ones body and mind, and therefore, even when there are no external sources of knowledge, one still knew about it instinctively. This mutual attraction gives rise to the need for two individuals to come together, and therefore society established the institution of marriage.
Marriage is an institution in which two individuals are placed together so that their physical, emotional and social needs may be fulfilled. Marriage is an understanding between two individuals to accept one another in their entirety, and not selectively – accepting only the good parts and hating or rejecting the bad ones or trying to improve the person or condemn him or her all the time. Marriage is a bond which two individuals share with one another; marriage is living a life of commitment together, it is mutual sharing, love and trust.
Most people I have observed feel that marriage is something which everyone should indulge in at a certain age in their life, as though it is a compulsion; maybe for sex it is! For girls it is a license to get good clothes and be the focus of attention, even though just for a few nights during the wedding celebrations. For boys it is most definitely sex, and lots of it; the best part is that they don’t even have to pay for it! And yes, it is also about finally getting a woman they can own and flaunt in their social circle.
Sex seems to be the only binding factor for many married couples, who are otherwise nagging and fighting all the time. At times the bond is the children who are accidentally born of such encounters. Thus, for the sake of the children, social marriages are kept intact. I have observed many unhappy marriages that are still withstanding every onslaught, as a divorce would bring more complications and troubles for the couple and their children.
Now lets see how marriages are planned. In Indian society it is the parents or the elders who choose a bride or groom for their children. The norm is that this selection is made within the boundaries of caste and religion. What is the criteria for selection? Religion, money, social status, looks: this is the order of priority. In arranged marriages it is not the union of two individuals but of two families. Therefore economic worth is given great importance and then comes the status and of course the appearance. In love marriages, the chart is topsy-turvy; first come looks, and then everything else.
Never are compatibility, like-mindedness, likes and dislikes taken into consideration. Adults think that once the marriage takes place, the bride and groom can get to know one another – it is always a surprise package for both the man and the woman. If it works, good! And if it doesn’t work, no problem, just keep on trying to tolerate one another. In Hindu society there is a concept that once you are married to someone, the bond will last for the next seven lifetimes! Commitment for seven lives is a very serious thing – marriage is definitely a serious matter. If one is getting married with ones eyes closed, or if one is getting married in the hope that life is going to be heaven, then you are waiting for a disaster to happen.
Ramesh was congratulated by his lovely wife Sunita, “Darling, it is our wedding anniversary. I pray to god to be your wife in my next seven lives too.” Ramesh whispered to himself, “O god, may this be my last birth, how else will I tolerate her for the next seven.”
Lets see examine how marriage was viewed in the distant past, from the point of view of tradition. In Vedic times, marriage was considered to be not entirely a social contract or a worldly commitment, but was seen as an important part of ones spiritual journey. Masters and students saw life in a larger perspective.
For a Hindu there are four pillars on which life should ideally be based: Dharma – the principle of life; arth – money; kaama – desires including sex; moksha – liberation. These were considered the four objectives of life. A human being should strive to experience all four in order to bring about a total harmony, completeness and fullfilment to life.
All Hindu gods are married: Shiva & Parvati, Vishnu & Lakhsmi, Ram & Sita, Krishna & Rukmini. Most of our sages and rishis were married. Vashist, Atri, Vishwamitra, Agasthya, and Garga Acharaya, the list goes on and on. Marriage was considered holy; it was not entered into for the sake of sex alone. Undoubtedly procreation was a reason, but another very important reason was that marriage was considered a part of sadhana. Living through the body and experiencing physical and emotional closeness and security was expected to mature the mind and take one to a deeper understanding of life. Usually people live their lives without any understanding of how and why things happen. In order to understand every experience with total awareness, training was given before marriage, to both men and women.
Boys and girls received training of the mind by various means: studying of the scriptures, contemplation, meditation – serving the master for a good eighteen years made them mature and responsible adults. This period of brahmcharya was a preparation for the future challenges in a householder’s life. When a person gets married, every bhoga – sensory pleasure – is within reach. This is the time to test whether man is the master of his body, mind and senses, or it is the sensory objects which will enslave him. Marriage means being in the world and of the world, and yet being firmly established in ones spiritual practices; learning to remain distant and aloof from it. We live our life through this body; resisting the urges of the mind and body is a losing battle.
Being in disciple-hood was like being trained to live life in all its colours and richness. The gurukuls and ashrams were mostly run by rishis – the enlightened ones. Just imagine the wonder of being in the lap of nature, serving the master, learning and growing in meditation everyday! One may wonder what the need is for such training. And the answer is: “Don’t you learn to drive a car in an open field before you drive it in a crowded city lane?” Similarly, before one begins to live actively in samsara, one needs to know the rules of living life. More importantly, before one gets totally involved in sensual and carnal pleasures, the gurus wanted the student to experience the great bliss and calmness of spirituality, so that when a person indulged in sensual pleasures, it was with the knowledge that this was not the purest form of bliss.
When the mind is totally absorbed, there will be moments of great calmn, peace and joy. The young minds will be filled with so much energy, insight and purity, that the whole world together will be unable to sully the mind. When one experiences beautiful moments of divine energy, one is satiated, calm and peaceful. All the knowledge in the scriptures can only provide a guide map to what sex is and what it can give; what meditation is and what one can get from it. These wonderful experiences have already been sampled, and now when marriage finally takes place, it is not for mere sexual satisfaction; it is for putting to the test, the knowledge one has received from the master.
Men and women were given an opportunity to select their life partners. Royalty had the tradition of Swamywar where a princess selected her groom; The girl could choose – from amongst several suitors – what kind of a husband she desired for herself. Once the selection was made, the two would live together as man and wife. The experiences gained in meditation would always be at the back of their minds and they would always seek similar moments in their married life. Little wonder then, that by the age of fifty they would begin to think of going back to the ashram where they had experienced the purest love. Even if they stayed back at home, they would live like sages – spending their time in contemplation and meditation – serving all.
Marriage was supposed to be a tool of sadhana, a testing-ground for ones mind, to see how much it is attached to sex, wealth, house, name etc. Male and female energies should work together to achieve a higher state of consciousness. When two mature individuals support one another, it can be a beautiful journey. Both work as mentors to each other; both help each other rise above human errors. A true love blossoms between two such individuals who give the other person care, love and attention, without seeking the same in return. When both wish to give – both end up being enriched. When two incomplete, ill-matched people are married, where both wish to extract pleasure and fun from each other, where both parties are beggars, then who will give whom and what? If two beggars beg from one another, who will receive and who will give? Zero plus zero is zero, not one. Do consider your stand and ask yourself: “Do I have something to give or am I just expecting a number of things from my spouse.”
An ignorant couple’s marriage is a contract where both agree in the presence of society, to duly, as per custom, exploit one another, make life hell and burn in it – as long as they live – or as long as they live together. The entire society witnesses this and the occasion is celebrated with great fanfare. Quarrelling, bickering and even physical abuse is considered a part married life!
My question is: “Did you marry nurturing the same sentiments and mind-set as described above? If unmarried, are you preparing to get married in a similar manner, as it is supposed to be? Everyone is so keen to get married but no one talks about this! Therefore, I say good! Go ahead and get married, but are you prepared for it? Do you know what marriage really means? If you get married without the right understanding of marriage, then most probably it will become a curse for you. It will become a cross on which you will be martyred.
Please think before you leap. If you are well prepared for marriage, then it can be heaven, and if you are not, then it will be a curse. By itself, marriage is neither heaven nor hell – it is what a person makes of it.