For the wonderful prasadam and various entertaining and humorous parts of the program the guests and devotees were comfortably seated in a big and beautifully decorated tent. On Saturday evening everyone was invited to come to the stage and dance a waltz accompanied by the classical waltz music, having its traditional roots in Vienna/Austria. After all, the newly wedded are both coming from this part of Europe...!
We all had a good laugh watching the amusing scenario - devotees are usually not so educated and practised in such kind of dancing...!
The vivaha yajna serves as a ceremony in order to receive Krishna's and the assembled Vaishnavas' blessings for the marital relationship; and whatever comes in future life is accepted as Krishna's mercy and meant for our purification and spiritual rectification. In this ceremony we give a firm vow to perform our duties towards each other in all circumstances, and not to separate.
A wonderful example of the noble quality of keeping one's word of honour is King Dasaratha when keeping his promise to his wife Kaikeyi. When she heard that her husband was planning to install Ramachandra as the new king of Ayodhya, she decided to ask him to grant her two boons which were promised to her many years before when she nursed him back to health following a fierce battle between the demigods and the demons. Since he had stated that he would keep his promise to fulfil her desire, she now told him to banish Ramachandra to the forest for fourteen years and to install Bharata as the new king instead.
Even though King Dasaratha fainted in excruciating pain upon hearing his wife's request and later gave up his very life, he nevertheless kept his promise of granting those boons to his wife. How noble a character!
In the 8th canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, we hear about the pastime of Bali Maharaja and Vamanadeva. Bali Maharaja had promised three steps of land in charity to Vamanadeva, and even though these steps turned out to be of a different size than Bali Maharaja expected, he nevertheless kept his promise, even though his spiritual master advised him not to do so. In the verses 8.20.3-5, Bali Maharaja exclaims:
"I am the grandson of Maharaja Prahlada. How can I withdraw my promise because of greed for money when I have already said that I shall give this land? How can I behave like an ordinary cheater, especially toward a brahmana?
There is nothing more sinful than untruthfulness. Because of this, mother earth once said, "I can bear any heavy thing except a person who is a liar.
I do not fear hell, poverty, an ocean of distress, falldown from my position or even death itself as much as I fear cheating a brahmana."
This is the mood and attitude of a Vaishnava: Once he gives his word and promise, he will be ready to accept any inconvenience to keep it and execute his duties, even at the cost of risking his very life.
In "Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead", Chapter One, Srila Prabhupada further explains:
"When Vasudeva was returning home with his firstborn child, although he was pleased by the behaviour of Kamsa, he could not believe in him because he knew that Kamsa was uncontrolled. An atheistic person cannot be firm in his word of honour. One who cannot control the senses cannot be steady in his determination. Those who are addicted to unrestricted sense gratification can never be truthful, nor can they be trusted with any faith."
Srila Prabhupada's words are strong and to the point. The fact that we have difficulties in sticking to our word of honour may well be seen as a sign of subtle atheism which is still lingering within our hearts. We have been carrying it with us for many lifetimes, and thus it is not so easy to abandon it. It requires deep purification and a thorough paradigm shift.
Our journey through life is full of unexpected surprises. We may try to plan and arrange everything to our best capacity, but nevertheless, things may take a completely different direction - something may happen which we would have never expected. We are not in control. We may have our master plan for life, but maya has Her service to allure us into illusion, and Krishna has His plans; and we have to be ready to accept His plans and let go of ours. This does not mean that we don't make plans for our life. It simply implies that we have to be ready to repeatedly adjust to His arrangements and give up our attachment of being in control.
In regards to married life, whatever difficulties may be ahead of us, we have to be fixed in the resolute determination and commitment to work through them to ultimately conquer over them. We have to make ends meet by being willing to bend over backwards to make it work. There is no question of divorce - the mere term should not even exist in our vocabulary, especially if our partner is practicing Krishna consciousness. It is not a matter whether the situation is still to our liking or not. It is all about performing one's duty within Krishna consciousness.
If we enter married life with this attitude, we can be sure to work hard at our marital relationship which will eventually grow into a deep and meaningful bond and support us in our journey back to Godhead.
To give up a relationship and flee the scene is always the easiest way out. But to stick together and conquer over difficulties deepens a relationship, and we emerge as mature and wise personalities. Krishna will reward us for our perseverance, tolerance and faithfulness.
Your servant, Devaki dd