A person asked these questions on a mailing list:

What is marriage?
Some says it is the biggest gamble for one in his life!
Others says marriages are made in heaven… which is true?
Does ‘ horoscope matching ‘ play an very important role?
Your opinion will give us (brahmacharis) a good clarity towards marriage….

Here is the answer I wrote back:

Human beings have various desires. To reach the highest goal of Jivanmukti, the desires have to be overcome. This is done in two stages – removal of bad desires and removal of all desires. The spiritual path is clearly demarcated as two phases – the pravritti maarga and the nivritti maarga. The first is called Karma Yoga and the second one is called Jnaana Yoga.

Not everyone is ready for the second phase by birth. So they have to go through the first phase – the pravritti maarga. In the pravritti maarga, the aspirant goes through various experiences, which eventually result in attenuation of desires. In pravritti maarga, desires are not considered as evil. But they have to be regulated. There are three regulations prescribed:
1. Pursuit of desires should be legal and ethical. Desires which are not legal and ethical are prohibited.
2. Pursuit of desires should be moderate. There should be a conscious moderation in enjoying.
3. Pursuit of desires should be non-binding. By pursuing one desire, you should try not to lose our external and internal freedom of choice in pursuing another desire. You should avoid addiction to anything at all costs. Also, instead of having strong likes and dislikes, you can have mild preferences.
With these three regulations, you are allowed to pursue our desires in the pravritti maarga. By this regulated indulgence, your attachment to them will become weak and you will be ready for the nivritti maarga. The aim of pravritti maarga is to prepare the person for nivritti maarga.

Lust, attachment to progeny, pursuit of wealth, etc are desires of a human being. The institution of marriage gives a way to gratify these desires in a moderated manner. It allows gratification of lust, but only with spouse. Also, the responsibility of taking care of spouse, parents, children, guests, etc are also added. It becomes the duty of the householder to earn wealth, but it also become the duty to give in charity. This way, the institution of marriage is designed to give a means to moderately gratify desires and at the same time gives a lot of responsibility. Eventually the person becomes free from the desires and does all his/her duty externally when being detached internally. The person becomes a sannyasi within and pursues the Jnaana maarga when still living in the family. If the Praarabda Karma of serving the family is over, by the grace of the Lord, the person will become free from the bondage of family (which others may call as calamity) like a ripe fruit falling off the tree by itself, and the person gets to spend most of the time in spiritual pursuit.

If a saadhaka does not have strong desires it is advisable that he/she does not enter into the institution of marriage. The aim of the pravritti maarga is to prepare for nivritti maarga. If the person is already ready for nivritti maarga, there is no use of getting into married life.

If a saadhaka develops strong renunciation after entering into the institution of marriage, still no problem. The person should continue serving everyone without expecting any returns. He/she should continue his/her spiritual pursuit will full zeal. If the Lord wants the person to be a sannyasi, the world will renounce him/her. All the family members may die in an accident. A great disgrace may be forced upon the person by mistake and the person may be rejected by everyone around. People around will call it a calamity. But the person will know it is a blessing from the Lord. The person will happily fly out like a bird released from a cage.

I asked a sannyasi, “Which is better? – life of a householder or that of a monk?” He replied, “The aim of life is to realize God; not to be a householder or a monk. You focus on God realization. Let the Lord decide whether you realize him as a householder or as a monk.” Internal sannyasa is essential to realize God. Krishna defines clearly in the Gita in chapter 6 verse 1. “anaashrita karma phalam kaaryam karma karoti yaha sa sannyaasi ca yogi ca” One who does not depends on the fruits of action and still does the work that is prescribed for his station of life is both a sannyasi and a karma yogi. Sannyasa is emotional independence. It is internal. One cannot realize God without this internal sannyasa, whether the person is externally a householder or a monk.

All other details become irrelevant and insignificant when you consider the institution of marriage as a means of growth and not a license to enjoy. Whether you succeed or fail in the material world, with the right attitude, internal growth is assured. Horoscope matching, etc are significant only to people who put material prosperity above spiritual progress.

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