- Money and career
- Practical Spirituality
|"I shall direct My own drama to leave behind a message for posterity", that is what the Divine Thought seems to be|
as He gazes into the future with a smile...
|A colourful welcome on the Holi day...|
|An unforgettable day for me as I got the chance to be one of the 'organizers' of Swami's Sita Kalyanam that day.|
|Swami also interacted with the "elders" of the drama first, seemingly setting an example of the reverence one must have.|
- Seek the parents’ (and elders’) blessings
I am often asked whether Swami always wanted ‘arranged marriage’ or would He be fine with ‘love marriage’. I don’t know the direct answer for that but this much is certain that in any marriage, Swami wants the blessings of the elders concerned to be sought. This makes so much sense because a marriage is not just the union of two individuals. It is the coming together of two families. If the elders (especially the parents) in (any) family are unhappy or neutral, the marriage is bound to be difficult. So, however hard it might seem, efforts must be made to ensure that one’s parents are happy or at least not hurt because of the marriage. Swami emphatically states this in the discourse on the 18th of December, 1995. "The antecedents of families were fully examined in the past, before marital alliances were concluded. But today these factors are ignored. People are indifferent to family backgrounds, while they are concerned about the pedigrees of dogs in dog show! This indifference to lineage accounts for the breakup of many marriages after a short time. This should not happen. Marriage should be a life-long partnership."
- Get to know the partner spiritually and intellectually - not physically
Swami strongly criticises the different movies, serials and dramas that depict scenes of a romance between Rama and Sita before the wedding. Swami also states emphatically in multiple discourses about how Rama and Sita never saw each other before the wedding. He ensured the same when He conducted the Sita Kalyanam on this day. One might be tempted to think that this is an impossibility in the modern times. In fact, I have been asked questions by the youth on what is Swami’s take on dating before the marriage, just to get to know one’s future partner.
It is not as if Rama and Sita (and the elders) had no knowledge about the bride/groom. However, this knowledge pertained to the character and qualities of the person. It was not about looks, talking style, hobbies etc. The answer to the question of dating becomes evident when we read what Swami beautifully puts across in the Birthday Discourse on 23rd November 1973,
“When one chooses a life-partner now-a-days, the first consideration is paid to external beauty and charm. Next, the economic position is taken as the basis. How rich is he or she? How much does he or she earn? Questions like, how far they are educated, what is the social status of the families to which they belong are asked later. Carried off by mere external frills and foppery, people enter into wedlock, and get entangled in misery or a destructive 'family life. The family cannot be stable if it is built on such slender foundation. Prime importance has to be paid to the fundamental requisites of a good character, high ideals of tolerance and forbearance, love and service. When beauty fades or wealth wanes, the bond too becomes less strong.”
Swami says that marriage is a training ground for trans-sensual love - that love that is beyond the senses and permanent. When we are seeking something to last a lifetime, we need to look for things like character, service and forbearance that also last a lifetime and not prettiness, wealth, career etc. which can come to an end at any time. For this purpose, a ‘date’ is definitely not a necessity. When we honestly enquire, a date often is an excuse to indulge in those sensual pleasures that can easily wait till the wedding gets over. Even in a date, why a private date? Why not a ‘date’ in the presence of all well-wishers concerned if the intention is truly to discover the character, goodness and nobility of the other? Will these not be better expressed in others’ presence? These are points to ponder.
- Remember that marriage is for life
It is very interesting how Swami wanted the end of Sita’s saree tied to the end of Rama’s dhoti. He ensured that they were never separated. This is a powerful message in times when separations, divorces and splits are commonplace between partners. According to Swami, these choices must not even be considered and if they happen, it has to be the force of destiny which takes one towards it in spite of one’s best efforts. Neither husband nor wife is complete without the other after marriage. As Swami puts it to the author of the book ‘Divine Memories of Sathya Sai Baba’,
“Before marriage, he is half body. Before marriage, she is half body. Lady is always left side. Right side is gent's. The gent's body is always the right side of the wife. Now you have only one body. In Indian philosophy or custom, this is called ardhangi. (Ardha means half.) Wife before marriage is only ardhangi, half body. Now the left side is joined with the right side and you are full body.”
If this aspect that a marriage is for life is kept in mind even before the marriage, I feel we would automatically look for those qualities in our spouses that will keep the harmony permanent. We will then look for ‘beauty’ rather than ‘prettiness’ or ‘handsomeness’ that are bound to fade with time.
- The atmosphere of the marriage is important
I couldn’t help but notice how insistent Swami was on having the Vedic chants fill the air throughout the Sita Kalyanam. Many marriages nowadays have film songs, romantic themes and peppy numbers playing as the couple take their holy vows. When a holy union is happening, all the sights and sounds should inspire holy things in the couple and the witnesses. Swami has always insisted on the purity of the composition that is rendered in His presence. I remember an episode of how upset He became even when a bhajan (which was not composed with the right purity according to a teacher who was told the same by Swami) was sung in His presence. There have been many such compositions that Swami has frowned upon. These are never sung by the singers of the Prasanthi Bhajan group even to this day.
I think the best thought for us Sai devotees (who would love to have Swami grace our weddings) is this - “Would this be the ambiance if Swami were to be physically present here? Does this atmosphere stand for what Swami stands for?” If this is the focus, everything else will automatically fall in place.
|Swami asked the SP and other elders to bless the couple amid Vedic chants and Bhajans. After that, Rama's dhoti and|
Sita's saree were tied at the ends.
|The ultimate goal of every earthly union - the DIVINE UNION.|
"If married couples keep Swami as the centre of their lives, then they don't need the knot also to keep them together."
Now, that is a fitting finale I feel, for, after all, isn't Union with Him the ultimate goal of every earthly union?