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    Hare Krsna,

    His Divine grace, A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has given wonderful advice on the characteristics which husband and wife must demonstrate. 


    'Without enthusiasm', Srila Prabhupada writes, 'one cannot be successful. Even in the material world, one has to be very enthusiastic in his particular field of activity in order to become successful'. (Nectar of Instruction, p. 30) When Sukanya, a young princess, was wed to Cyavana Muni, an irritable old sadhu, she set her mind not on the apparently unfortunate match but on making a conscientious effort to do her best. She did not try to change her spouse but fully played her role, surrendered her pride and, by perseverance, succeeded in making a marriage that worked. A devotee's enthusiasm crystallises into industriousness, which solidifies into circumstances of Krsna conscious pleasantness and advancement.

    In his introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srila Prabhupada explains that our inherent nature is to serve. In this world everyone is rendering service to someone, just as, for example, the wife serves the husband and the husband serves the wife. Both the wife and the husband can be enthusiastic in this service because, as Srila Prabhupada states elsewhere, 'Krsna is pleased when a Vaisnava is rendered service'. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 5.24) If our spouse is a devotee and we are sincerely serving that person, we will benefit spiritually. 'Anyone who wishes to advance in Krsna consciousness must try to serve the devotees of Krsna'. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 13.113)

    Marriage is like a fortress created by the husband and wife to protect themselves from the powerful enemies of the uncontrolled senses and peacefully make spiritual advance-ment. 'The bodily senses are considered plunderers of the fort of the body. The wife is supposed to be the commander of the fort, and therefore whenever there is an attack on the body by the senses, it is the wife who protects the body from being smashed'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.14.20)

    'There is no difference between a good wife and good intelligence. One who possesses good intelligence can deliberate properly and save himself from many dangerous conditions'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.26.16) 'One who is situated in household life and who systematically conquers his mind and five sense organs is like a king in his fortress who conquers his powerful enemies'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.1.18) As in any battle, if they would be victorious, the fighters must first be enthusiastic.

    (2) Gratitude

    The health of the marriage depends on the health of the individuals in it, and it is gratitude that keeps those individuals healthy and free from dullness and complacency. As a household dedicated to spiritual cultivation, the grhastha-asrama is founded on the spouses respecting, honouring and appreciating each other as Krsna's devotees. The husband thinks, 'My wife is the sacred and holy property of her spiritual master and of Krsna. She is not mine. If I do not honour her, if I do not respect her, if I do not protect her and provide for her, then I am a vaisnava-aparadhi. I am offending a Vaisnava, and it will seriously impede my spiritual progress'. Similarly, a wife sees her husband as the sacred and holy property of guru and Krsna. She treats him as a Vaisnava and is faithful and assists and serves him in his role as her husband. Each appreciates the sacrifice of the other, the generosity of the other, the loving intent of the other, and each grows in gratitude, overlooking the other's flaws. A sane person wants nothing less than this in marriage and will make the success of such a relationship a top priority.

    An example of marital appreciation from Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead: when the cowherd boyfriends of Krsna were refused alms by the brahmanas who were performing sacrifices, Krsna sent them to the wives of those brahmanas, who ecstatically provided varieties of wonderful foods for Krsna, Balarama and Their friends. Later, the brahmanas understood their foolishness in refusing the boys and appreciated the spiritual advancement of their wives. They said, 'Just see how fortunate these women are who have so devotedly dedicated their lives to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna ... They have surpassed all of us in firm faith and devotion unto Krsna'. (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ch. 23)

    In another place Srila Prabhupada writes:

    Everyone should be friendly for the service of the Lord. Everyone should praise another's service to the Lord and not be proud of his own service. This is the way of Vaisnava thinking, Vaikuntha thinking ... Everyone should be allowed to render service to the Lord to the best of his ability, and everyone should appreciate the service of others. Such are the activities of Vaikuntha. Since everyone is a servant, everyone is on the same platform and is allowed to serve the Lord according to his ability. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.12)

    Sincere gratitude is an antidote for self-righteousness.

    (3) Affection

    Lord Krsna told Rukmini, 'My dear beautiful wife, you know that because we are householders we are always busy in many household affairs and long for a time when we can enjoy some joking words between us. That is our ultimate gain in household life'. Srila Prabhupada comments, 'Actually, householders work very hard day and night, but all fatigue of the day's labour is minimised as soon as they meet, husband and wife together, and enjoy life in many ways. Lord Krsna wanted to exhibit Himself as being like an ordinary householder who delights himself by exchanging joking words with his wife'. (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ch. 60) Similarly, it is described, 'Lord Siva was sitting in an assembly of great saintly persons and embracing Parvati on his lap with his arm ... For Parvati to be embraced by Lord Siva was natural in a relationship between husband and wife; this was nothing extraordinary'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.17.5). Also,

    We always speak of the goddess of fortune as being placed on the chest of Narayana. In other words, the wife must remain embraced by her husband. Thus she becomes beloved and well protected ... Just as intelligence is always within the heart, so a beloved chaste wife should always have her place on the chest of a good husband. This is the proper relationship between husband and wife. A wife is therefore called ardhangani, or half of the body. One cannot remain with only one leg, one hand or only one side of the body. He must have two sides. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.26.17)

    A prerequisite for affection is acceptance, and from acceptance grows a rich understanding and deep trust between the husband and wife. In marriages that have endured for some time, the partners are comfortably and effortlessly together, whether in dialogue or in silence. They can always be themselves, with nothing to prove, nothing to get, no need to impress. They feel mutually secure, cared for, wanted and valued. The strength of their affection allows them to enjoy each other's company - foibles and all. Affection shifts frustration, anger and blame to friendliness, understanding and kindness.

    (4) Contentment

    Everyone's goal is to enter into and and remain in the elusive condition called 'happiness'. To be happy we must be peaceful. In Krsna's words, 'How can there be happiness without peace?'(Bhagavad-gita 2.66) To be peaceful we must be content with whatever situation we are in. We accept our lot in life and are happy even if we don't completely settle our marital discord. 'One should be satisfied with whatever he achieves by his previous destiny, for discontent can never bring happiness'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.19.24) There is no element of chance in the circumstances of our life - they are the result of a law that cannot err, and they are our destiny created by our past activities. It is as futile to rail against our pains and misfortunes as it is to toil to increase our pleasures. 'Without endeavour, one can get the amount of happiness and distress for which he is destined. And one cannot change this. Therefore, it is better to use one's time for advancement in the spiritual life of Krsna consciousness'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.42)

    (5) A long-term vision

    When King Yayati was cursed to immediately become old, he was also benedicted that he could exchange his old age with another's youth. Yayati approached his son, Yadu, for this exchange, but Yadu refused, not out of defiance or a desire for sense gratification but because Yadu had a long-term Krsna conscious vision: he wanted to use his youth to attain the renounced order in the future. Srila Prabhupada explains:

    Maharaja Yadu was very eager to engage himself in the Lord's service, but there was an impediment: during youth the material desire to enjoy the material senses is certainly present, and unless one fully satisfies these lusty desires in youth, there is a chance of one's being disturbed in rendering service to the Lord. We have actually seen that many sannyasis who accept sannyasa prematurely, not having satisfied their material desires, fall down because they are disturbed. Therefore the general process is to go through grhastha life and vanaprastha life and finally come to sannyasa and devote oneself completely to the service of the Lord. Maharaja Yadu was ready to accept his father's order and exchange youth for old age because he was confident that the youth taken by his father would be returned. But because this exchange would delay his complete engagement in devotional service, he did not want to accept his father's old age, for he was eager to achieve freedom from disturbances. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.18.40)

    The husband and wife play their roles expertly so that eventually they will expertly distinguish reality from illusion, become fully self-realised and attain love of God. 'If a man is in good consciousness, he consults with his religious wife, and as a result of this consultation, with intelligence, one advances in his ability to estimate the value of life. In other words, if one is fortunate enough to have a good, conscientious wife, he can decide by mutual consultation that human life is meant for advancing in Krsna consciousness'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.27.6)

    (6) Krsna consciousness

    Our home is Krsna's property, and when we orient all the affairs of our home around its proprietor, Krsna - around service to the Deities - then all our household activities are devotional service. If we're Krsna conscious, if we're actually grhasthas, then everything we do is spiritual. 'According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a husband and wife can turn the home into a place as good as Vaikuntha, even while in this material world. Being absorbed in Krsna consciousness, even in this world husband and wife can live in Vaikuntha simply by installing the Deity of the Lord within the home and serving the Deity according to the directions of the sastras'. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.29) When we worship the Deity, when we offer all our food, when we share prasadam with our family, when we regularly invite devotees to come and when we serve them prasadam, have kirtana and discuss Krsna topics, our home is a sacred place.

    To the degree that we see our asrama as a means to serve and please Krsna, it will be a facility for advancing in Krsna consciousness. To the degree that we desire material satis-faction, household life will distract us from Krsna consciousness. 'Generally a person cannot make much advancement in spiritual consciousness if he is married. He becomes attached to his family and is prone to sense gratification. Thus his spiritual advancement is very slow or almost nil'. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 13.112) Whether our marriage helps or hinders is a question of consciousness; in other words, it is up to us.

    A Krsna conscious marriage is meant to bring us into greater alignment with our spiritual nature. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised the householder Kurma, 'Remain at home and chant the holy name of Krsna always. Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam ... If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather, you will never lose My company'. Srila Prabhupada comments:

    Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If one is a little literate and can read Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam that is so much the better. If a devotee follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrndavana and Navadvipa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Krsna consciousness. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 7.128-9)

    Similarly, when a grhastha resident of Kulina-grama asked Lord Caitanya, 'My Lord, kindly tell me what my duty is and how I should execute it'. The Lord replied, 'You should engage yourself in the service of the servants of Krsna and always chant the holy name of Krsna. If you do these two things, you will very soon attain shelter at Krsna's lotus feet. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 16.69-70)

    P.S: If you have any more specific questions, kindly let me know. I will try to answer them.

    Hari bol,

    • Hare Krishna Prabhu. I found this article really helpful. Thank you.

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