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“Srila Prabhupada often states that the main reason that a marriage ends is because of an interruption in sense gratification.”

 

 


 

 

“When the home and children are in good order, then the husband need not worry about them at all. If he is forced to worry about them, then his anxiety causes his responsibilities suffer.”

Krishna Conscious Marriage
By Jayasri devi dasi

Dear CHAKRA,

There has been a lot of talk lately on the topics of healthy relationships in Krishna Consciousness, and that focus on Krishna should be the center and most important aspect of a relationship. I would be honored to submit another kind of relationship that doesn't get much support; the old-fashioned idea of the men in our lives should be the head of the household. Perhaps it is not the most popular idea. Yet, it seems that if we are willing to embrace KC as the ultimate goal, we can encourage women and men in this kind of relationship as well, even though it might not sound right to everyone.

Srila Prabhupada often states that the main reason that a marriage ends is because of an interruption in sense gratification. If devotees can find a partner, with the intention of making Krishna Consciousness the center of their relationship, then they will be guaranteed a successful marriage.

It seems appropriate for devotees who are already in a Krishna Conscious marriage to offer encouragement and support to those seeking the same. In the future, I am hopeful that I can offer some perspective on the role of the husband, especially on his role as protector. It is the responsibility of the husband to give his wife fearlessness, among his other responsibilities.

However, this time I would like to focus on the role of the wife, simply because I have more experience in that area.

We should always encourage our devotee women to seek marriage. A soul in a woman's body requires protection. She ideally gets this protection through every stage in her life; from her father when she is young, from her husband when she is grown, and from her sons when her husband leaves home to pursue spiritual enlightenment. If a woman is young and unmarried, without a devotee father, then we grhastas should help her find a Krishna Conscious spouse, so he can protect and encourage her in her pursuit of Krishna Consciousness.

Sometimes a woman ends up without a man to protect her. That is hard for her, and causes many difficulties. Those who are able to should do their best in helping these women take shelter of Krishna. We should offer emotional support, even financial support, to help them maintain their Krishna Conscious families.

For the last few decades, western society has portrayed the woman who is "only" a wife and mother as unsatisfied and oppressed. Today's woman should pursue a career if she wants fulfillment, because family life is not enough. This is frequently called "women's liberation". Men can no longer expect to be considered "head of the household". That is old-fashioned, chauvinistic, and doesn't empower women. This fails to acknowledge that a woman achieves more than just temporary material power by faithfully serving her husband. Not only does a woman gain spiritual power by serving her husband, but it is pleasing to Krishna as well.

There are some powerful examples of this in the sastras.

In addition, the majority of working women will admit that even though they work the same amount of hours as their husbands, they still shoulder much of the domestic responsibility. Many men are not experienced in household duties, because it is not their natural position. Ultimately, the husband ends up disturbed if household affairs get neglected, and then his duties suffer because of his anxiety. The woman does not really get "liberation" in this circumstance. She merely gets more responsibility, and less time for her family. When the husband is the supporter and authority figure, and the wife is expert at managing every aspect of the household, then family life is peaceful and conducive to Krishna Consciousness. This system deserves a closer look.

Srimad Bhagavatam 4.27.2 purport

".....It is the duty of the wife to dress herself up very nicely so that when her husband returns home he becomes attracted by her dress and cleanliness and thus becomes satisfied. In other words, the wife is the inspiration of all good intelligence. Upon seeing one's wife dressed nicely, one can think very soberly about family business. When a person is too anxious about family affairs, he cannot discharge his family duties nicely. A wife is therefore supposed to be an inspiration and should keep the husband's intelligence in good order so that they can combinedly prosecute the affairs of family life without impediment."

This purport explains the most vital part a woman plays in her marriage. When the home and children are in good order, then the husband need not worry about them at all. If he is forced to worry about them, then his anxiety causes his responsibilities suffer. This makes the whole family suffer. When the wife is expert in maintaining the home Krishna has given her, then her husband can spend his time doing his duty, which is maintaining his family and supporting them nicely. He is happy to do so.

It can be argued that a woman might have a different interest than what her husband would prefer her to do. If a woman has not been instructed in the importance of serving her husband, then it is likely that she will consider our own likes and dislikes to be much more important that those of her husband. If we sincerely want to follow in the footsteps of great chaste women such as Gandhari, Draupadi, and Devahuti, then we should seriously consider the value of pleasing our husbands. In serving the husband in this way, we also learn how to serve the spiritual master, and ultimately Krishna.

This doesn't mean that a devotee woman can only stay at home! What it means is a devotee woman should follow the instruction of her husband, as sastra dictates again and again. He might feel that her service is needed at home, at the temple, or in preaching activities. A devotee husband, as head of the household, will engage his good wife in service that he feels is best for the spiritual advancement of their family. Following the instruction of her husband is the religious duty of a Krishna Conscious wife, and it is for her ultimate benefit to do this as best as she is able.

There is a vivid example in the following verse of the power a woman can achieve through being chaste and faithful to her husband:

Caitanya-caritamrita Antya 20.57

TRANSLATION

"The wife of a brahmana suffering from leprosy manifested herself as the topmost of all chaste women by serving a prostitute to satisfy her husband. She thus stopped the movement of the sun, brought her dead husband back to life and satisfied the three principal demigods [Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara]."

PURPORT

"The Aditya Purana, Markandeya Purana and Padma Purana tell about a brahmana who was suffering from leprosy but had a very chaste and faithful wife. He desired to enjoy the company of a prostitute, and therefore his wife went to her and became her maidservant, just to draw her attention for his service. When the prostitute agreed to associate with him, the wife brought her the leprotic husband. When that leper, the sinful son of a brahmana, saw the chastity of his wife, he finally abandoned his sinful intentions. While coming home, however, he touched the body of Markandeya Rsi, who thus cursed him to die at sunrise. Because of her chastity, the woman was very powerful. Therefore when she heard about the curse, she vowed to stop the sunrise. Because of her strong determination to serve her husband, the three deities -- namely Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara -- were very happy, and they gave her the benediction that her husband would be cured and brought back to life. This example is given herein to emphasize that a devotee should engage himself exclusively for the satisfaction of Krishna, without personal motives. That will make his life successful."

This story emphasizes that this woman's first desire was to satisfy her husband for the satisfaction of Krishna. Even though he had sinful desires, she still remained faithful and relied on Krishna's mercy to guide him in the right path. Ultimately, her undying faithfulness and chastity destroyed his lusty desires for sense gratification. If she attained such power serving a sinful husband, imagine the power in following a husband who has no such desires! It is important that we, as women, realize this power in regards to serving our husbands. This power will destroy the husband's desire for sense gratification, and turn it into desire to serve Krishna. This is for his ultimate benefit as well as ours. This is but one example that emphasizes the immense power that lies in chastity, and in faithfully serving the husband.

It is not easy for those of us who grew up in the west to relinquish our newfound "freedom", when we have lived at the height of the women's liberation movement. It is not easy to give the authority to our husbands, when it is pounded into us from birth that men do not deserve any authority, because it is old-fashioned, and anything a man can do, a woman can do better. We are told we simply do not even need men, except maybe to fix cars and mow the lawn. Yet, sastra dictates that a woman does require the protection of a man and that we should follow our husband's instruction.

We should not deny either of those facts simply because of our material conditioning. The freedom and liberation promised to us by so-called independence from men is false, and is not in accordance with sastra.

A woman has nothing to lose by serving her husband faithfully, giving him authority in the family, and following his instructions. It is entirely possible for us to attempt just a touch of the faithful behavior of the chaste women throughout our history; Draupadi, Devahuti, Mandodari, and others.

Even under difficult circumstances, they still served their husbands faithfully. If a wife serves her husband, without duplicity, she will gain all power. By following her husband cent percent, she will attain real liberation that is pleasing to Krishna, and pleasing Krishna is the ultimate transcendental goal of a devotee.

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