What If My Pati Doesn’t Deserve Service

[Sita-Rama]“I shall happily reside in the forest, considering it to be just like my paternal home, paying no attention to the three worlds and only thinking of devotion to my husband.” (Sita Devi speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 27.12)

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सुखं वने निवत्स्यामि यथैव भवने पितुः।
अचिन्तयन्ती त्रीन्लोकांश्च्चिन्तयन्ती पतिव्रतम्।।

sukhaṃ vane nivatsyāmi yathaiva bhavane pituḥ।
acintayantī trīnlokāṃśccintayantī pativratam।।

“One of the commendable moments from the early part of the Ramayana story is the decision by Sita Devi to accompany her husband in what amounts to being kicked to the curb. A sentence to remain homeless, for fourteen years, with no access to the vast resources of the kingdom.

“The defendant, who was not allowed to plead His case, who was not afforded due process, happened to belong to the royal family. It was Shri Rama’s father who made the decision, after being pressed into a corner by his youngest wife, Kaikeyi.

“Sita Devi did not have to go. The punishment was only for Rama. He insisted that she remain at home. Why needlessly suffer? It is better to have someone alert, able, and capable, with eyes and ears on the ground, so to speak, while the master of the house is away.

“Rama’s wife flatly refused. She insisted on accepting the same punishment. There is a series of wonderful Sanskrit verses that include the logic behind her reasoning. If it were a courtroom, the jury would be swayed. No one could match her intelligence and art of presentation.

“We tend to praise such behavior. To sacrifice for another shows great honor, integrity, and a sense of duty. In the Vedic system, the wife is supposed to have that level of allegiance. They are certainly not expected to take on such extreme hardships, but no one will fault Rama’s wife in that instance.

“I am wondering what the recommendation is when someone has a husband who is not like Rama. What if my pati, my protector, my supposed companion for life, is a horrible individual? What if he is a bum, who is good for nothing? What if he is abusive, both physically and verbally? What if I have no desire to serve him, to be dedicated to him? What if I want to abandon the pati-vrata?”

Shastra creates a sort of handicapping system. Just like in the world of application development, there might be a standards committee and various whitepapers on best practices to implement, so in the journey through life, Vedic culture, which originates in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, passes along guidelines.

The system for maintaining is known as dharma, and through the passage of time, allegiance to dharma diminishes. The comparison is to a table starting with four legs. With each successive age, the table loses one leg. This inevitably means that the standards people tend to follow today are vastly different than the common practices of ages prior. We see evidence of this within a single family, in comparing against one or two generations back.

The recommendations for husband and wife, in the institution known as grihastha-ashrama, serve multiple purposes simultaneously. Material attachment is the cause of future rebirth, and the strongest attachment is to the sense enjoyment of sex life. Marriage helps to keep this urge in check, to direct it somewhere that can lead to purification.

The householders are also responsible for supporting the other vital institutions in society, such as the students, the retired, and the itinerant preachers. The husband and wife continue the family line. They bring forth the next generation, who will hopefully not take birth again.

In the ideal scenario, the husband protects and the wife serves. These roles align with the respective natures. The objective is to create as natural a situation as possible, with everyone involved as happy and peaceful as possible, for the duration of the arrangement.

As the material world features duality, sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes the wife is the cause of great trouble, as in the case of Kaikeyi. She not only caused hardship to Rama, but also to everyone else in the kingdom, who loved Rama dearly.

Sometimes the husband is terrible and to continue staying with him is dangerous to life itself. It may be that the sannyasi travelling through the area is corrupt and a menace to children. The local political leader is only interested in their personal benefit, at the expense of the citizens.

There is another side to the decision of Rama’s wife. It shows that Sita cannot live without her husband, not even for a moment. This was later explained by Lakshmana, who is Rama’s younger brother. He also decided to accept the exile sentence as his own.

न च सीता त्वया हीना न चाहमपि राघव।
मुहूर्तमपि जीवावो जलान्मत्स्याविनोद्धृतौ।।

na ca sītā tvayā hīnā na cāhamapi rāghava।
muhūrtamapi jīvāvo jalānmatsyāvinoddhṛtau।।

“O Rama, You should know that just as fish cannot survive when taken out of water, neither Sita nor I can live without You for even a moment.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 53.31)

[Rama and Lakshmana]In these situations, we find meaningful exchanges of arguments, with both sides well-represented. There were arguments for both Lakshmana and Sita to remain in Ayodhya, but each of them had their own reasons for accompanying Rama. The presentation was so exceptional that Dasharatha’s eldest son had no choice but to agree.

This is the mood of the devotee who is well-versed in the principles of Vedic life. They use whatever knowledge they have to further justify their allegiance with the original purpose. That devotion is the meaning to their existence, and they will say and do whatever is necessary to continue to honor, praise, and serve the one who means the world to them.

In Closing:

The world meaning to me,
Only for His pleasure to see.

Such that whatever justification to make,
Principles from shastra to take.

Like Lakshmana and Sita so,
Insisting with Rama to go.

Vrata in dedication to Him,
Arguments in that direction to spin.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❤️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❤️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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