The purpose behind marriage is the procreation of noble children, who will form the foundation of virtuous families and a virtuous human society. Through such offspring, parents attain elevation not attained by them. A family’s gradual spiritual elevation depends upon the merit of actions of the successive generations. Man-woman relationship is thus part of a divine process for fulfilling the ultimate purpose of life, which is spiritual elevation of every clan of families.
Man, as a rational being, lives according to his aspirations and freedom of thought, which produces diversities in the web of human relationship. This diversity is reflected in the social life, philosophy, art, culture, politics and economics. Among the complex social relationships, the relationship between man and woman is most fundamental since it plays a pivotal role in molding the culture of people. From the seed of man-woman relationship develops all other relationships - mother-father, son-daughter, sister - brother and so on.
If the male-female relationship is not placed appropriately, the births proceeding from it would also have drawbacks. It means that through marriage, the male and female ought to initiate spiritual enrichment for the next generation. By the strength of offspring’s virtue, the parents are lifted up to a new plane of prosperity and peace, which they themselves lacked in life.
Man-woman relationship calls for extreme caution and analysis in order to provide enduring beauty to the relationship. Normally, various aspects, such as health, looks, economic and social status, education, family lineage, caste, religion etc. are considered before tying the nuptial knot. The seers of India have enlightened us on the spiritual depth of marriage and the values and vision associated with marriage. For example, swayamvaram (a girl’s selection of bridegroom) was allowed under the spiritual guidance of rishis in the olden times. By the graceful guardianship of the seers, girls used to be endowed with spiritual knowledge and experience of spiritual visions (darsan).
‘Kulam’ (clan), ‘gotram’ (family stock), family tradition, faith etc. purports to the evaluation of a family’s worth in a spiritual point of view. However, caste should not come in the way of such life evaluation. The basis for such evaluation is the consideration of cumulative virtue earned by the souls in that family through their deeds in successive births. Relationship between the males and females of such families produces positive results, as there is a matching of culture, wisdom and ability. Most important aspect among this is the way of worship because there should be a single way of worship in a family.
Karma Gati or karmic course is influenced by vasanas or propensities of an individual, which includes the karmic burdens or fate. The karmic courses of the husband and wife should be complementary. For a scientist husband, an intellectually evolved wife would be contributing. There is a similar aspect to the spiritual status of individuals. An intensively spiritual husband and a less spiritually conscious wife will be a sure recipe for trouble. There is another aspect. The character and behaviour patterns of individuals vary according to the type of worship or faith they are attached to. The unity of a family depends upon its spiritual unity. Therefore, the faith in one Supreme God is important to maintain spiritual unity in the households. It is only by correcting these underlying conflicts at the level of the soul can any real improvement be brought about in strife-torn families.
The sages said, Bhaarya Bhajati Bhartaaram a wife worships her husband. The concept only means that by following the footsteps of her husband, a wife should attain an elevated position in life. The controversy on gender equality has arisen from a slip in the understanding of the divine status of a husband and wife and their responsibilities to each other. Success lies in the understanding of the qualities of both genders and developing together synchronizing these qualities. In family life, a wife embodies dharma and husband karma.
A person, who becomes a husband, should protect the chastity of his wife. It would be possible only when we order the dharmic structure behind life. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru said that a father should be one with a mind as pure as the sky and a mother should be one speaking profound words (of wisdom). Like the sky, which absorbs the hordes of dark clouds, a father who is a husband should be able to absorb shocks, ups and downs in life with equanimity. There should be the quality of discrimination about what is right and wrong in life and one should live with a balanced mind. This is the meaning of ‘a mind as clear as the sky’.
Such an ability to behave beyond the instincts happens through the grace of a supremely enlightened Guru.
Develop sukrutam –a benevolent attitude in all circumstances - that is the responsibility of a husband. The husband should understand his wife with all her limitations, cultural and spiritual qualities and give her guidance and support. Then only she could be elevated to a high status. The bond of husband and wife is to provide birth to noble children through their vigilant, pious and pure life. This type of life is possible only when we are guided by an omniscient soul-knowing Guru. A woman after marriage is supposed to be living deeply respecting her dutiful husband. By this, she attains a blessed state in life. This can become practical only when the woman is enlightened enough to guide her husband in the path of dharma. The wife should seek life fulfillment through a path of dharma, the karma of her husband nourishing this goal.
Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru has said that the father should bring up the children in an atmosphere of proper worship (faith in the One Almighty God), life culture (habits), love and compassion to fellow beings. It would be possible only when the father and mother live according to the guidance of the 'Atmajnani Guru'. The father should make the children understand the difficulties and hardships that he himself had undergone in life and also create situations in the life of the children for them to learn from such experiences.(The Dharma of Marriage, Swami Navananma Jnana Tapaswi, quoted from Santhigiri Souvenir 2016)