“In the revealed scriptures there are two nomenclatures for the householder’s life. One is grihastha, and the other is grihamedhi. The grihasthas are those who live together with wife and children but live transcendentally for realizing the ultimate truth. The grihamedhis, however, are those who live only for the benefit of the family members, extended or centralized, and thus are envious of others.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.2 Purport)
Friend1: This isn’t breaking news here. Marriage is difficult.
Friend2: What part of it? Setting it up? Maintaining it? Keeping each other happy?
Friend1: All of the above, but especially maintaining it. Even from shastra we learn of so many issues. There are the exceptional cases in devotion, such as with Savitri and Sita Devi. Then we have the horrible women, like Kaikeyi. She embodies what a lot of cynics say about women in marriage.
Friend2: Oh boy. What is that?
Friend1: Something to the effect of:
“From day one they are on the lookout for what is most important to you. They are keenly observing. They are seeking leverage. Then, at the opportune moment, they will strike. They will attack that one thing they know is the most important to you. It is their way to gain the upper hand. Women are the worst.”
Friend2: Oh, and so Kaikeyi knew that King Dasharatha loved his son Rama so much.
Friend1: Exactly. She used that love against him, as a way to punish him. What kind of sick person does that?
Friend2: It happens. Envy is a difficult emotion to control. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam, there is an incident with Krishna travelling to the heavenly region to retrieve a tree for His wife Satyabhama.
Friend1: The parijata plant.
Friend2: Yes, and so Narada Muni noticed that Rukmini Devi, Krishna’s chief queen in Dvaraka, was not envious about someone else receiving such a tree.
Friend1: Basically, she didn’t feel the need to ask Krishna to get one for her.
Friend2: And so that was something to be noted, as it was an absence of envy.
Friend1: That’s cool. I’m sure many people ask this question. Why does marriage exist at all?
Friend2: There is the joke which says, “I don’t know who invented marriage, but I can tell you it wasn’t a man.”
Friend1: That’s funny. But seriously, it is such a difficult phase of life to complete, I don’t see why it is necessary.
Friend2: First, it should be stated that the institution is not compulsory. The idea is that kama is very difficult to control.
Friend2: Or material desire. Kama is what causes rebirth. Kama is the anchor to the material world, which is full of suffering and misery.
Friend1: Marriage is a way to control kama, then?
Friend2: Absolutely. The difficulty of the experience is intentional.
“Okay, so you want to enjoy the senses? Try doing so in a regulated way. At least you will get good children out of it. It is then your responsibility to rescue them from the cycle of birth and death.”
Friend1: What happens if you skip this phase of life?
Friend2: Unregulated kama is worse. If you have conquered lust, following in the footsteps of Mahadeva, then all the best to you. Religious texts give guidelines on eating and sex life specifically to restrict those activities. Otherwise, no one needs to be taught how to gravitate towards the opposite sex for enjoyment. No one requires instruction on eating and sleeping. These regulations are there for our benefit.
Friend1: For achieving a higher goal.
Friend2: The highest one: God consciousness. One that remains throughout the day. Consciousness manifesting in service. Loving God instead of just acknowledging His existence.
Friend1: How can I love and serve the Supreme Lord if I have other people to keep pleased in the home?
Friend2: Do the service together. Chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Read sacred texts like Shrimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana. Support each other in maintaining the consciousness, and then hopefully the experience won’t be as miserable.
How happy together to be?
When from marriage misery to see.
Daily my wheels grinding,
Fault after another finding.
So that for escape desperately pleading,
But only further into hole proceeding.
Idea that for senses to restrain,
And together liberation to attain.