A person's real journey of self- growth from self-centeredness to other-centeredness begins with marriage. The seeds of ethics and morality that a child receives in his subconscious from the family and environment start sprouting and growing rapidly after marriage. The virtues of love and devotion, self-control and sacrifice, piety and forbearance, etc. have ample opportunities to develop fully in married life. The family is a school of achieving perfection in all spheres of life and the marriage marks an admission to this school. As the foundation of primary education is essential for the students in order to pursue higher studies; in the same way, the institution of marriage is of paramount importance in the proper nurturing of family life.
In order to inculcate this objective, Vedas advise the bridegroom to proclaim:
Gribhnami te saubhagatvaya hastam mayapatya jardastirayathasah|
Bhagoaryyamma savita purandhiramahyam tvadurgaharpatya devah||
That is "Oh dear! On this auspicious occasion of our life, I take your hand in mine in the presence of invoked deities. Oh blessed woman! You be with me as a fortunate partner for a very long time. I hand over the control of my family in your hands, discharge your duties joyously".
Indeed how happy is that moment when a bridegroom takes this solemn vow in the presence of invoked deities. His loneliness and indifference end there and a new life begins in which he gets all the means for attaining the noble objectives of life.
That day the division of household duties takes place. The husband undertakes to earn the livelihood for the family and the wife take care of the home. The married life becomes successful only when both of them perform their duties with wisdom and devotion. It is against the Indian tradition to casually go through the rituals of marriage and then live a haphazard married life. The sacramental Hindu marriage is the beginning of the acid test of life. Therefore, total commitment to the vows and pledges taken alone can make married life meaningful.
This resolve of sacrifice and austerity leads to real happiness. If a person solemnly obeys the pledge taken during wedding ceremony, he can create an environment of heavenly bliss in married life. Wife is truly an incarnation of Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth). The human life remains charmless and stale in the absence of this wealth. How true is the following proclamation of the groom:
Amoamasmi matvam matvamasyamoham|
Samahmasmi ktvam dyauraham prithvi tvam||
You are Lakshmi. I was poor without you. Indeed there was no joy without you in my life. Oh beautiful lady! Our union is like sama (one of the Vedas) and its aca (verse), and the earth and the sky.In the abovementioned vedic aca, the rishi has given a very important elucidation of marriage. The institution of marriage is not solely related to a specific person but affects the entire society. Therefore, those marriages which are entered into without any consideration for the welfare of the person concerned as well as the society, lack the stamp of sanctity and commitment.
The desire to attain happiness is not satiated by mere sensual pleasure. The growth of humanity is accomplished not by enjoying the pleasures of senses but by the control of senses. Therefore the purpose of marriage cannot be the gratification of sensual hunger. The marriage is a pledge that is taken to keep intact the strength, sovereignty and honour of the future generations of the nation.
The Scripture says
Tavehi vivahavahai saha reto dadhavahai|
Prajam prajanayavahai putran vindavahai bahun||
That is The purpose of marriage is to live a mutually love-filled life and to provide the nation with virtuous and worthy offspring. It is in order to keep this tradition alive that the wedding is given the shape of a sacramental rite in vedic tradition. But the methods of marriage that are being adopted these days often lack this sense of sanctity. The custom of child-marriage is really a mockery. A child, who does not know the purpose of marriage, considers married life a mere play. As a consequence, several social evils and immoral traits are bred by practices like this.
The latest fashion of love-marriage too does not have any worthwhile purpose. It is a mere craving of flesh whose dangerous outcome is visible soon after the honeymoon. The number of divorces are found more among the couples who have rushed into love-marriage. Such marriages are based on physical attraction and lack depth of soul-bonding. When they face the reality of life, they find the relationship on the rocks.
Such marriages result from bodily attraction only. The foundation of love can not be based on the shifting sands of physical attraction or material affluence. Therefore, the increasing trend of such marriages is harmful to our society.
The practices of mis-matched-marriage, child-marriage or attraction-marriage are not in accord with the Indian tradition. They are ,in fact, a social curse. With these practices it is almost impossible to achieve the aims of vedic sacramental marriage. On the other hand, they create a plethora of family and societal dysfunctions.
These social evils have resulted from the change in circumstances and the pernicious influence of foreign culture. If the society so wills, these can be eradicated.
A healthy tradition ought to contribute to the overall well being of an individual and the society at large. It is wrong to consider any blind practice, whether it is new or old, to be authentic. It appears more appropriate to use discriminative wisdom while following the traditions.
A successful tradition of marriage is that in which the desire of the couple for sensual pleasure is controlled and the sentiments for each other remain warmly pure. The tendency should be more towards observing self- control than self-indulgence and a warm sense of sharing ad caring. The primary aim of marriage should be to protect the family tree by giving birth to children; realization of depth in love and keep the family joyful and harmonious. In fact, it should be the sacred aim of marriage to practice self - giving for the good of others and ultimately realize the true goal of life.
Ancient system of Hindu-Vedic-marriages was fully scientific. It did not differentiate between male and female as is being done presently. Considering male to be superior and female to be inferior is the major fault of present age. In our ancient tradition of marriage, wife is given an equal status. The practice of considering one to be primary and the other secondary has been framed by ignorant people. It is the union of male and female of the species that is the cause of perpetuation of the race. In order to fulfill this natural tendency this unsocial practice of discrimination must be dispensed with.
The basis for a fulfilling and happy life is
Te santu jardistayah sampriyau royisnu sumansyamanau|
Pasyema sharadah shatam jivema sharadah shatam shrunuyam shardah shatam||
We should be able to live a graceful life that is full of mutual love and warmth. Our sentiments should be auspicious. We should be able to see for hundred years, live a healthy life of hundred years and listen the music of spring for hundred years. The sage of the above mentioned vedic aca, has emphasized that the basis of happy and fulfilling married life is the sense of unity, intimacy and love between husband and wife. Therefore, marriage is not for self-indulgence but it should be considered a life long social and spiritual responsibility. Married life is an opportunity for two persons to grow from life partners into soul mates.