Spirituality in Family Life

16 January 2013, Khalaspur, Punjab: Swami Buddh Puri Ji (Maharaj Ji) visited Khalaspur after the repeated requests of Bhagat Naajar Singh Ji, Sajjan Singh Ji and their family to mark the wedding ceremony of their son. Owing to the significance of the occasion, the sabha was organized in the portico of the hosts’ house, instead of the kutia in Khalaspur. Maharaj Ji began by narrating to all the history of the Khalaspur Kutia. He told there were once, a Hawaldaar Ji who wished very keenly that Kambli Wale should visit his village (Khalaspur) too. However, there was no space where the large masses could gather when the Master would come. So, in his love and devotion, Hawaldaar Ji simply leveled his field which would have been ready for harvest in about a month. To his heart, full of love and devotion, calculations of material profits never appeared an issue. The near disciples of Kambli Wale told the Master what had happened. Now, it also worth noting that Hawaldaar Ji wasn’t ‘demanding’ that the Master should come in response to his sacrifice! He did all he could to arrange the visit, and then left it to Master’s will. This is devotion. And that is the tradition which is still continuing.

Thereafter, the discourse moved on to the subject of “Spirituality in Family Life”. The English rendering of the discourse follows. <Please click here to watch, listen or download this discourse in Punjabi..>

“Perhaps, this is the first time that a wedding ceremony and satsanga are happening together. The wedding ceremony is called as Anand Kaaraj – that work which is done to bring bliss. The word anand (bliss) is really beautiful. This is also the goal of household life. The Rishis created four Ashramas: Brahmcharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, Sannyasa. These are four milestones on a being’s journey. As he travels, he reaches these milestones, goes on moving further and further, and if he has travelled in the right way, in the end, he attains the final goal – ananda or bliss.

The entry into Grihastha is a significant milestone. If we understand the goal and enter into this ashrama with that understanding, then one’s life will be very pleasant. The road to supreme bliss will be found through it.

Yes, there are some rare warriors, detached and inwardly tuned, who can make a direct jump; they do not need to enter Grihastha. This is because they get a glimpse and understanding of the vast inner world and the Lord residing within the body. They wish then to take the direct route within. They need not enter into a householder’s life.

But such a condition is very rare. Only some rare being will take this direct plunge. But normally, beings make a gradual progressive journey to the goal. The first ashrama is in the home of the parents, under their shelter, studying and understanding the goal of one’s life and taking appropriate first-steps to the attainment of that goal.

Now, by the completion of this phase, if one still has the understanding that “He/she is the body” or one’s consciousness is still drawn to the sense organs, then it is very appropriate that one will enter the Grihastha Ashrama. But, if one begins to get some glimpse and understanding of the inner world (within the body) then one is not bound to do so.

One may have, and usually has the awareness that “I am a woman, a girl” or “I am a boy, a man etc.” This awareness is based on the identification of the Self with the body (the Atman itself is neither a man nor a woman; even the subtle body is bereft of these differences). Or, put in terms of the Indian culture, one may think, “How will I go through the journey of life all alone? I need a support.” This need is felt because one has not managed to gain access to the support of the Lord in one’s very own heart, which, in reality, is the only real support one has. One may want a house to live, wealth to look after the body. In the Indian tradition we say, “O, how would this girl live all alone” or “How would this boy pass his life all alone; he will keep on running here and there and will get lost.” In all such situations, it is appropriate that a boy and a girl are bound to each other and live together – both in pain and pleasure. And in this way, they too will be able to walk the road to supreme bliss and once they are free of all responsibilities, then they too could take that plunge and do all which a sannyasi does otherwise.

During Raam-Dhun at the conclusion of the sabha

So, what is the utility of a household life? It is not only meant to experience pleasures and earn wealth – the goal of the household life is the attainment of supreme bliss. But it should be clear to a householder that he has entered this life, because he not ready to take the direct plunge. The meaning of Grihastha is that two beings – a man and a woman – come together. They also decide that they will be together through the rest of their lives. They will be together not only in pleasure but in pain too.

This is not only a meeting of two beings, a man and a woman. Yes remember, we are not talking about the Western culture here. There it is common that after the wedding (or even before), the boy and the girl live separately from their families, parents. It is common to see men and women get divorced there, sometimes within a fortnight of their marriage. Then they go in search of new partners and the cycle continues. This is because their goal is only to experience the pleasures of the senses and the body. As long as the husband and wife have common understanding, they live together and eat together.

Once, we had gone to a restaurant abroad, and they told us, that a couple would eat there and the husband would pay his own bill, and the wife her own  :-). Such is the condition at some places. Yes, there is “I” ness in the body; but that is not all, there is a tendency to remain stuck in this identification in that culture.

But, even in that culture, there are some people who are extremely loving and sacrificing. They will sacrifice for their children, and elders. There are some beautiful people. We only focused on that other face of that culture because the same has now started to show its influences here too. And as a result, we meet so many cases of tension and suffering between the husband and the wife. “My in-laws are not good; my husband doesn’t listen to me; I want to meditate but they don’t allow me” – such complaints often come to us. The reason is the influence of the that self-centered and pleasure-oriented culture.

It is not only that wives complain. Husbands are no less – “Since she has come, my parents have been neglected. She doesn’t listen to anyone.” Complaints raining down from both directions! What is the reason?

Yes, there is a reason. We will not say the absolutely basic reason, because that is not easily understood. But the prime reason of this conflict and tension is that the goal of married life is not Supreme Bliss. Yes, though the husband and wife may use the words like God and sadhana, and supreme bliss, and complain that the other person hinders their quest, but understand that those who complain in this way, do not even have a distant relation with the goal of Supreme Bliss. They do not even know what Supreme Bliss is and what is the path to reach it!

Whenever one complains that after marriage he/she is not allowed to practice – simply know then, one does not really know what it means to practice. It is time to work in the kitchen and instead you prefer to sit with closed eyes – is this called practice? The child is crying, and instead you sit with closed eyes – is this called practice? Suppose, the family members do not believe in saints. To ridicule them by saying, “You are atheists” – is this called practice? To talk insultingly to the family which is now your own – is this called practice? Would then those family members ever come close to us? We just do not know what it really means to practice.

Practice truly begins when one gets a glimpse of the Lord within and in the relation closest to oneself. For the wife, it is the husband and vice versa. If there is not mutual love between the two – then there is no relation with the Lord too. If they fight when one says that he/she wants to go to the temple, some ashrama etc. then know all such going is really futile. To turn one’s back upon the living God in the other person, and go to a temple – what utility does that have?

The satsangis should take special note of this. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, atleast do not come to us with this complaint – “They don’t allow me to practice”. You have entered into Grihastha. You are not able to see the Lord within yourself; if you did then there was no need to enter into Grihastha. Because there is darkness within, you take support from outside. And one only seeks that support outside, where one finds some resonance, where there is mutual love, where there is the will to sacrifice one’s pleasure to remove the suffering of the other. Now these are big things. But there is another thing which we are seeing these days.

It is clear that there would rarely be such a family where all the members think alike. This cannot be, should not be, and is impossible. Every other being, has a different way to be, to think. This is the beauty of the world. The wife’s thoughts would be different from the husband’s and the husband’s different from the wife’s. And when these different thoughts meet and unite, then an incredible story is written.

From one side comes down the Ganges with its own colours and characteristics. From the other side comes down the Yamuna. When they meet, the waters struggle to merge into each other, dissolving the mutual boundaries; whirlpools arise in the process, lots of struggle and roaring happens, but once they merge then a bigger, stronger current moves onwards, to the ocean.

Just like this, when two families come together, two embodied beings – a man and a woman – come together, their thoughts are bound to be different. At this time, sadhana is just that these two thought processes merge and unite. Through this a huge awakening happens within. But doing this seems so difficult. Let us understand the difficulty.

Remember the situation where a baby is born into a family. All of us believe in the process of reincarnation. The previous body dies and the being is born into an entirely new situation. It can happen that in the previous birth the baby was a prince, and owing to the karma he got birth in a very poor family. It can happen that someone who had lived in a city got birth in a village and vice-versa. All this is possible. Whatever the situation is, the mother loves her child dearly. The father loves the child dearly. And so does the child love his/her parents. Why is this? Because, the old is completely forgotten. This is the law of Nature. If you want to progress, the old must be left behind. If you have gone to a new place, and you take with yourself all the old longings, you will not be able to adjust to the new place.

Some people are found saying, that if God had not made us forget our previous lives, then we could have learnt from the mistakes of our previous lives and would not commit them again. But God has made no mistake in making us forget our previous lives!

There was a renunciate once. He wanted to know about his previous lives. So he did great penance in a graveyard. God appeared and told him to ask for a boon. He said he wanted to remember his past lives. God advised him not to fall into all that, it wouldn’t be good for him. But he said that when he would know his past, he could learn from it and make a plan for his future. The God had to give a boon and the man was adamant, as a result, the man came to remember 500 of his past lives.

He closed his eyes, and he saw it all. Once he had been a king, then he saw he had also been a beggar, a robber and so on and so forth. He remembered all the incidents. There was so much pain. His head began to reel. And ultimately he wished only if he could forget all that what had been unleashed on his mind. He prayed to God to be rid of it. God listened to his request and ultimately peace dawned on him. Then he could really chalk a course for his future.

This is a story. When a child takes birth there is love between him and the parents. Though the father may be a drunkard, yet there is love. And if by good karma, the father is a great scholar and the mother is virtuous – then these qualities will be easily assimilated by the child. Why? Because there is mutual love!

Now, it is a tradition and a natural one, a right one that a girl will leave her old home, and go to the home of her husband. It is different issue, where the two live separately from their families after marriage. Now, during the marriage and even for a time being after it, everyone is happy, excited and ecstatic. We believe that while the marriage is happening, no mother-in-law finds faults with the bride. No father-in-law complains. The bride and bridegroom – all are excited. The bride is excited about going to a new home. There is nothing amiss at this point.

So note it. While the wedding is on and even after it, for some time, there is no trouble anywhere. But there will be very few homes, where these waves of happiness and joy go on increasing with time. What is the reason for this rarity? So many cases of after-marriage turmoil come to us. And we guess, that in courts too these issues would be the most prevalent.

The reason is simply this. You did not understand your new home, to really be your home. The bride did not accept the new place as her home, and the in-laws did not accept the bride as their daughter. Somewhere a gap remains. And because of this gap, tensions cumulate. In the example of the new born baby that we gave, the newly born child does not complain that these are not his parents. But in the present case, the place has changed, but the mind is still stuck with the old.

The mind of the husband is complaining about the wife and goes on running here and there, at many places. We would say, still in the Indian tradition, the girl has not become so extroverted. But when does the problem arise with her? A little thing happens and she calls her parents to complain about the in- laws. The boy is wrong in not being committed to his wife, the girl is wrong is keeping her mind yoked to the old.

The mobile phones have really helped this issue to burst on the scene. A little thing happens, and the girl rings back to her parents. They forget that now they are married; that they must understand each other and walk hand in hand.

If the thoughts of the husband and wife do not meet, then it is the ground for doing a tremendous sadhana. And if the thoughts meet, then they should move forward from there. If the thoughts do not meet, they should not not try to make them meet. In such a situation, he/she should allow the other to fulfill his wish. Who should take this initiative? Who should be more compromising? Who should be more understanding and loving? One, who considers himself/herself to be a satsangi. He/she who considers oneself to be more mature, more closer to the Guru or the saint, should also show the maturity to allow the other the space required.

We remember the instance of a family from Jattana. The family used to come to Maharaj Ji, but the girl got married into such a family that she could not see Maharaj Ji for 16 odd years. She was not even allowed to keep his photograph with her. The photo, as it happened, remained in her heart. And she did not meet him all this while. And yet, her sacrifice and devotion resulted in the entire family ultimately becoming satsangis. But we are in such a hurry to get to this point.

And it is not only about hurry. The problem is when the girl rings back at any small instance, and her parents also get agitated and begin to complain. And when the girl’s parents get involved, then the threads get all tied-up and knotted.

Which is that home where there are no differences in thought? Nowdays, even the teaching given is such, “See, girl, when you go there, don’t miss the first chance. You should assume authority as soon as possible. If you win on the first day, then all will be fine, otherwise, you will be in trouble.”

We are primarily teaching the girl today. Yes, we also tell the boy, not to allow his mind to go here and there, and instead make his wife, his power (shakti). Unite in understanding, discuss, respect the parents and move onwards. The reason for primarily teaching the girl is that she has greater power. The male does not have so much receptivity. Therefore, it is the girl that goes into the new home. It is the girl that can mould herself to new circumstances. The male remains rigid. Even the body of a male is rigid, so is his mind. But the female is flexible, both in body and mind and easily assimilates the new. And probably therefore, the Rishis said, “O Devi! You only go to the new home. The boy can’t do it.”

So walk hand in hand. It is not that the wife should try to force her demands on the husband and vice-versa. Leave the negative sanskaras in the other as they are. Take hold of the positive. Everyone has positives. And go on increasing them. Go on increasing them to an extent that the negativities diminish in comparison. In this way, Grihastha will become an ashrama.

In this way, Ananad Karaaj will be successful. The girl should take the new place to be her home. The boy should not take his eyes here and there. Walk hand in hand. And give total respect and reverence to elders. And always remember, a wedding is not only coming together of two beings, but of two families, two cultures, two different streams.”