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Beauty and the Beast – The Higher Purpose of Marriage

Kamlesh D. Patel shares some thoughts on how marriage ennobles and enriches our lives, supports our evolution and provides a happy, stable base for family life.

The other day, I was lucky enough to observe an elderly couple taking a stroll along the river in Princeton, their steps totally in sync. You could see they had been together a long time. They hardly spoke, communicating their togetherness in more subtle ways. Eventually they reached a park bench overlooking the river, pulled out a flask of tea and some sandwiches, and together enjoyed their little feast in perfect silence. Their movements were so in tune it seemed for a moment like one person was moving. The way she poured the tea was full of gentleness and care, as was the way he received the cup. They ate their sandwiches and enjoyed the stillness of the riverside.

They had reached a stage in their marriage of purity in connection and communion. Did this happen as a result of a life full of perfect harmony and ease? I doubt it. Did they have arguments about how to discipline their children, and how much money was spent last month? Probably. Most couples evolve to this stage in their relationship by going through struggles and difficulties, by sacrificing their personal wishes, and by raising children, grandchildren and sometimes great grandchildren.

This is the other end of the spectrum from the heady days of the young love of newly-weds, when a couple is much more physical and verbal in their demonstration of love. That is, if there is love in the relationship. We will get to that later on.

So which one is better – the exciting early days of romance, or the halcyon days of an elderly couple? This seems like a silly question, given that it is obvious they are different stages in the evolution of a marriage, both relevant and both important. It would be a silly question, except for the fact that today most marriages in the West, and an increasing number in the East, do not last the distance!

It is worth examining why. What comes between the beginning and the end? Why is it that in today’s world so many marriages end in divorce? Is it because marriage is an outdated institution? I would say “No,” it is because we do not understand the purpose and stages of marriages, and the nature of love.

It is easy to see how problems happen. The daily grind of modern life is not kind to relationships. Often both parents work long hours in order to save enough money to pay for their children’s education and buy a house, and city dwellers are bombarded by all sorts of environmental pollution and stress. So by the end of a hectic day, there is little energy left to take care of each other and be kind.

But do you think this is any harder than living with war, famine, plagues or slavery – all situations that existed for our ancestors? We can easily blame circumstances for the failing marriages of today, but in many ways human beings have never had it easier.

It is also that after the joyous whirlwind of a wedding, there comes the reality of living together, accepting each other’s imperfections and learning how to adjust to the new dynamics of a relationship. When two imperfect beings come together, there is bound to be some friction and adjustment. And if the couple lives with extended family, there are even more components in the new dynamic.

It is often not at the beginning or the end that marriages falter, but in the middle when the struggles are greatest. So what makes the difference between a couple that is able to stay with the evolutionary process of marriage and one that does not?

As more and more youngsters look for answers to such questions, where reason and emotions converge, where tradition and contemporary thinking meet, and perhaps, where science and spirituality meet, there is a need for a very relevant and practical approach to relationships that also encompasses the wisdom of the ages.

So let’s start with some ancient wisdom that can help.

In Yogic philosophy, we learn about the 3 human types: sattvik, rajasic and tamasic. We are all a mixture of the three, but generally one predominates in our make up, and this can change as we evolve.

Tamasic behavior is characterized by ignorance and inertia. A tamasic person is often lethargic, prone to violence, and mistrust. Rajasic behavior is characterized by action and passion. A rajasic person is one who is often focused on satisfying his own personal desires, gain and prosperity. Sattvik behavior is characterized by purity and wisdom. A sattvik person cheerfully serves others without any expectation of personal benefit.

These three qualities pervade everything we do – the way we walk, talk and eat, and even the way we breathe! What happens to our breath when we experience intense anger? The nostrils flare and our breath is long, loud and chaotic; tamasic in nature. On the other hand, when we are in the state of samadhi or deep meditation, our breathing is so quiet and calm that we hardly notice it. It flows so naturally and so effortlessly, which is sattvik in nature. These qualities play out in all our interactions with others, and are very evident in our closest relationships. As a result, marriages are also associated with one of these three types.

A tamasic marriage is based on individual gain. The couple is coming together for benefit. For example, the groom might be focused solely on the financial status of the bride’s family, or gaining a trophy wife. Alternatively, the bride might be marrying someone much older for money, status or access to an easy visa. Such marriages are transactional in nature, based on narcissistic or self-centered behavior, and can easily result in mutual distrust and discord. A spouse is a commodity to provide status, pleasure or service.

Today, many marriages are rajasic, based on mutual love and respect, and also mutual desire and benefit. But although there may be mutual respect, the love is not totally pure and unconditional, as there is expectation. So when the other person is flawed and imperfect, as we all are, there is disappointment and trouble in paradise.

A sattvik relationship is one in which the two partners don’t think of themselves as individuals, but as one. They cheerfully sacrifice everything for the relationship and each other. There is a wonderful short story by O. Henry called ‘The Gift of the Magi’ about such a young couple. In a sattvik marriage there is purity of intent, and no concern about physical deficiencies or financial status. Communion, mutual growth and unconditional love are at the core of the marriage. In sattvik marriages, the best emerges over a period of time, as the family is based on giving and love, and so it is strong.

When children come along in a marriage, the focus in the couple shifts from attention on each other to a partnership where the main focus of attention is now on the children. The different personality types will respond in different ways to such a shift. What do you imagine will happen to a person who is self-focused, who wants his or her spouse to constantly shower attention? And what will happen to a person who is always happy to give and does not need to be the center of attention? Here is an example of different responses leading to different results.

You can consider many other scenarios – financial hardship, ill-health, problems with children, death in the family, worries at work, etc. How will each personality type respond when such struggles come in a marriage?

There always needs to be at least one giver for a marriage to work, and if there are two it can thrive. So in today’s world, where narcissism and self-interest are encouraged and promoted by advertising and the media, it is not surprising that so many marriages fail or exist in suffering rather than joy. When we are intent on blaming and criticizing the other person for problems, rather than looking to ourselves and accepting difficulties, nothing can move forward. We have become a ‘me’ rather than a ‘we’ culture.

But this is exactly why the institution of marriage brings so much hope for the future. Let’s go back to our elderly couple in Princeton. Did they start out married life in this sattvik state together? Not necessarily. Life together, over the years, brings about a shared evolution. The rough edges are made smooth, acceptance blossoms over time, and both learn from each other how to be in harmony and stillness. That is, as long as they are both willing to stay together through all the ups and downs of married life.

Marriage and family life teach us to become more and more giving, if we are willing to commit to the journey. There is a traditional French tale, Beauty and the Beast, in which the Beast starts out very tamasic, imprisons the beautiful Belle and locks her away as a prize. But over time the kindness, love and acceptance of Belle transforms him into a handsome, gentle prince. We love these folk tales for the very reason that they kindle something in our unconscious mind that we know is possible.

This is the possibility marriage brings to all of us – the opportunity to grow, refine ourselves and learn to love. Through marriage we can evolve into that sattvik state of communion I saw that day in the elderly couple by the river – so subtle, gentle and full of naturalness. I hope that more of us will have the opportunity to experience such a state.

That is why in 21st century Yoga, family life is venerated far more than the celibate life of a monk. It is through the love and sacrifice, the struggles and acceptance, and the willingness to grow that marriage offers that we refine ourselves enough to realize our fullest potential as human beings.

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  • Sudeepa

    Loved this article Daaji!

    January 14, 2017 at 7:12 pm Reply
  • Gagan

    These are pearls of wisdom, so enlightening. I recall someone’s advice drawing parallels with Individuals work on their craft, their health each day………..marriage also needs daily work.

    Thank you,

    Gagan

    January 14, 2017 at 7:23 pm Reply
  • Terran Daily

    That is such a beautiful article!

    January 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm Reply
    • Nijalingappa Sheelvanth

      It is very much enlightening on the important relationship of a couple. Reading it again and again helps us to grow wiser to nurture our relationships. Grateful to you Daaji.

      January 16, 2017 at 1:40 am Reply
  • Priyanka Vegad Gupta

    Beautiful article!

    January 14, 2017 at 9:10 pm Reply
  • Parasu Gopalan

    The beauty of Daaji’s writing is that they are so simple to read and understand , yet there is a deep and profound impression left upon the. mind,

    January 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm Reply
  • Lav

    Thank you daaji. It was very helpful

    January 14, 2017 at 10:24 pm Reply
  • S NARAYANAN

    Amazing article. Everyone at any stage of married life should read and follow.

    January 15, 2017 at 12:13 am Reply
  • Sandhya Prakash

    Thank you Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 1:23 am Reply
  • Vibhuti Khanna

    Thank you daaji for putting such great wisdom into simple words! Beautiful

    January 15, 2017 at 1:52 am Reply
    • Rekha D

      Simple yet powerful and profound, Pearls of wisdom indeef

      January 15, 2017 at 4:07 am Reply
  • Rashi

    This is beautiful! Thank you so much for this article, Daaji 🙂

    January 15, 2017 at 3:13 am Reply
  • Rekha

    Amazing article

    January 15, 2017 at 3:14 am Reply
  • Radha saxena

    These are such precious teachings though very simply explained. Have heard about gift of magi by chariji also.. And read in school but yes learnt the real meaning after marriage. And even deeper understanding of it day after day..
    Thanku daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 3:22 am Reply
  • Sri Sandhya

    Thank you dear Daaji… This article is much needed for youngsters like me to change in life. Could observe my life starts tuned aft reading.

    January 15, 2017 at 3:53 am Reply
  • Samyukta

    Thank you so much, Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 3:56 am Reply
  • Manoja

    Beyond words..A necessary read for all

    January 15, 2017 at 4:18 am Reply
  • Suman Bansal

    Thank you Daaji. You have given us an insight to make our married life meaningful, and in turn walk on the spiritual path together.

    January 15, 2017 at 4:26 am Reply
  • Nishant Shah

    A very helpful read….A starbucks state of mind helps us to accomplish so many things in our life

    January 15, 2017 at 4:46 am Reply
  • Nishant Shah

    A very helpful read….A sattavic state of mind helps us to accomplish so many things in our life

    January 15, 2017 at 4:47 am Reply
  • Disha Chandra

    So beautifully explained article…it actually touched my heart…thank u Daaji for such wisdom…

    January 15, 2017 at 4:57 am Reply
  • Nkounga nguewa francis

    Merci Daaji je me reconnais dans tes écrits.Dans un mariage de Sattvipra effectivement, l’amour qui règne à l’intérieur du couple sert d’écran protectrice aux multiples difficultés de l’existence. Merci encore

    January 15, 2017 at 5:01 am Reply
  • Poonam saxena

    Thankyou daaji.it is very helpful article.

    January 15, 2017 at 5:06 am Reply
  • Aroon Dave

    So soothing and so true yet Man remains blind. ‘The Gift of the Magi’ remains very dear coz of the purity of relationship. I had enjoyed teaching this for years to school children .
    This article will be inspiring for a long time.

    Thank You so much and do keep enlightening us .

    January 15, 2017 at 5:11 am Reply
  • saurabh kumar tailang

    Thanku Daaji for this article , it reveals the higher purpose of Marriage

    January 15, 2017 at 5:36 am Reply
  • Penti Muralidhar

    I liked very much this article, I was very much inspired, Everyone life marriage is turning point of life. This is very nice article.

    January 15, 2017 at 5:45 am Reply
  • RAJKUMAR THOTA

    Thank you DAAJI for a precious article on the essence of marriage life in the progress and evolution of humanbeings and harmony and ease in the entire life together as single soul as it is revealed in sathvik marriages..

    January 15, 2017 at 6:12 am Reply
  • Durgesh Singh

    Thank you Daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 6:26 am Reply
  • Aanchal Verma

    Thankyou daaji , marriage is full of unfolding petals of flowers

    January 15, 2017 at 6:31 am Reply
  • sabine marty

    Wonderful !
    It goes straight to the heart . May it help many of us …
    Thank you

    January 15, 2017 at 6:31 am Reply
  • Anshu Sharma

    Thank You,in its simplicity the article conveys a profound wisdom for the young and the old alike.

    January 15, 2017 at 6:37 am Reply
  • Jatinder

    Beautifully said daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 6:39 am Reply
  • Pawan Tikandar

    Thanks for the guidance Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 6:42 am Reply
  • Ramprasad

    I pray that, All the couple who get married in Heartfulness way get this “Sattvik” stage, much before their wedding. THANK YOU DAAJI..

    January 15, 2017 at 6:48 am Reply
  • Arpan Das

    Beloved Daaji,

    This is a beautiful article. Indeed it is simple and profound. Have seen, so much learning through this topic.

    Pranams
    Arpan

    January 15, 2017 at 6:57 am Reply
  • Gurunathreddy kaki

    Beautiful articles, Thank very much daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 6:57 am Reply
  • Pragnya Patil

    Awesome article !

    January 15, 2017 at 6:57 am Reply
  • Rajesh Kothari

    * We have become a ‘me’ rather than ‘we’ culture.
    * There always needs to be at least one giver for a marriage to work, and if there are two it can thrive.
    * But this is exactly why the institution of marriage brings so much hope for the future.

    I love above three points by Daaji. It summarises nicely the problem, its solution and hope for the future.

    January 15, 2017 at 7:00 am Reply
  • Kalbana subramaniam

    Thank you for this beautiful article daaji. Marriage is all about LOVE

    January 15, 2017 at 7:05 am Reply
  • Subashini S

    Thank you Daaji! I really needed this gem of wisdom…

    January 15, 2017 at 7:06 am Reply
  • Jyoti Agarwal

    I think the young couples about to get married in near future should read this article before taking seven vows of marriage round the fire. EXCELLENT. To me marriage means surrender and accept your partner in totallity.

    January 15, 2017 at 7:09 am Reply
  • Akhil dubey

    Thank you very much beloved daaji for the wonderful teachings which are priceless…..
    We hope and wish that people would try to absorb the essence of your teachings in this modern life.

    January 15, 2017 at 7:12 am Reply
  • Dilip Patil

    Thank you Daaji!
    Wonderful article and simple to read too.

    January 15, 2017 at 7:31 am Reply
  • Archana Sharma

    Thanks daaji.for giving ans of my questions with this article..thanq

    January 15, 2017 at 8:51 am Reply
  • Annaji Rao k

    Thank you Daaji.Every new married couple , about to get married boys and girls,and even old couple can draw inspiration from your thought provoking, informative article and live an ideal married life,filled with Divine love.

    January 15, 2017 at 9:32 am Reply
  • Lalita Sreenivasan

    What a beautiful article – full of softness and tenderness – and rich in values! May all couples strive to bring such a harmony and grace into their relationship

    January 15, 2017 at 11:02 am Reply
  • Madhuri Manivannan

    This was truly inspiring for the young minds to understand the sole purpose of marriage.
    Thank you Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 11:47 am Reply
  • Rishabh Kumar Saran

    Speechless!!
    Thanks a lot..

    January 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm Reply
  • Amit Badam

    Thank you Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm Reply
  • parvati mittapalli

    This is very good and needed for the present generation Thank you Daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 1:51 pm Reply
  • Jyotsna Verma

    Thanks Daaji for giving us a new vision of thinking and give a new dimension to relationship.

    January 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm Reply
  • Anil Vashisht

    marvellous ! so beautiful analysis of marriage life…every youngster should read this…Thanks Daaji

    January 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm Reply
  • Kristam siva kumar

    Thank you Daaji for a beautiful and simple article especially for the present generation.

    January 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm Reply
  • Kristam siva kumar

    Thank you Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm Reply
  • Reddy Parvata

    It was a wonderful piece of advise for all of us.Thanks Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm Reply
  • Hina and Dhiraj Mullick

    Beautiful and so meaningful way to express marriage and how to live with your partner with love. The way relationship matures and the way acceptance is required as the essence to evolve. Thank you Daaji.

    January 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm Reply
  • Pooja Singla

    So beautifully explained….it is like a soothing balm to heart…great words of wisdom with so much love….

    January 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm Reply
  • rakesh wangoo

    The institution of marriage so delicately explained with examples of outer world of the Old Couple and the inner nature of human being. Beautiful. Greatful

    January 15, 2017 at 3:07 pm Reply
  • Malini Doshi

    Thanks Daaji ,for giving answer of my question with this article .

    January 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm Reply
  • Rajani Bidikar

    Thank you Daaji, understanding of marriage and love was much needed. Thank you for the enlightenment. 🙂

    January 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm Reply
  • Nishanth TS

    Thanks Daaji for the wonderful article, this really emphasis on where we need to evolve to succeed in the institution of marriage.

    January 16, 2017 at 4:13 am Reply
  • Reena

    Thank you so much Daaji, there is a great meaning and lesson inside this artice!

    January 16, 2017 at 7:16 am Reply
  • umesh padala

    First time saw an article based on three gunas in Humans & wonderfully correlated with marriages and current times. Deeper insights… it is awesome to see from a simple observation… so much to learn.. thanks for the article..

    January 16, 2017 at 9:24 am Reply
  • Piyush Agarwal

    How simple and beautiful. The article so nicely gives us a peep into what should be our attitude in a married life.

    January 16, 2017 at 11:13 am Reply
  • Shalak Joshi

    Perfect article at the perfect time! Just starting with married life; hardly been a year. These are the best guidelines for me personally. I can relate to a lot of what has been said in the article and will definitely work towards making the relationship more sattvik.

    January 16, 2017 at 2:43 pm Reply
  • Bhavana Gupta

    I have been married since 5 years and I appreciate every single word written here…
    ACCEPTANCE is difficult but can be achieved thru meditation.. nothing else can make the marriage work..
    Thank you so much for lovely article.. I never thought about beauty and the beast in this way 🙂

    January 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm Reply
  • sankarakumarc

    Thank you very much Daaji.

    Anyone can review themselves.
    Also resurrect themselves if needed.
    Throw some light to others.
    Must to take inside and introspect.

    January 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm Reply
  • Sithanandam A

    A needy article for young couples. Without sacrifice there is no Love.

    January 16, 2017 at 5:59 pm Reply
  • Margareta Koscs

    Now was understand some of my mistakes from my marriage,better,then after my divorce.Thank you Daaji.

    January 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm Reply
  • Priti pipalia

    Very much impressed thank u Daaji

    January 18, 2017 at 1:06 am Reply
  • Priti Pipalia

    Thank u Daaji very much impressed reading it

    January 18, 2017 at 1:12 am Reply
  • Roopa Gatte

    hmm , Thank You Daaji for inspiring..

    January 18, 2017 at 8:14 am Reply
  • SRAVANTHI

    Great words….. thank you so much Dadaji

    January 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm Reply
  • prakash venugopal

    Thank you Daaji for this great article. It helped me to understand the significance of marriage in a person’s life.

    January 18, 2017 at 6:34 pm Reply
  • Anisha Vijayan

    Thanks Kamlesh Bhaiyya for a very guiding piece of article , especially for people looking for a direction midway through marriage .

    January 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm Reply
  • Uma M Mullapudi

    Such profound thoughts put so simply for us to understand and implement. Thank you Sir.

    January 20, 2017 at 4:28 pm Reply
  • Dr keerthinmayee karimaddela

    Full of real love and wisdom DAAJI…thankyou.

    January 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm Reply
  • Priya

    Thank you daaji

    January 25, 2017 at 10:37 am Reply
  • Kesavan. V

    Really awakening for me. Thank you Sir.

    January 28, 2017 at 7:47 am Reply
  • Narayan Dutt

    Very enriching article on a topic of utmost importance for successful married life. It will help and guide the conflict ridden married couples. Thanks Daaji.

    February 3, 2017 at 3:30 am Reply
  • Sivakumar Krishnan

    Such clarity and practical advice. Deeply grateful.

    February 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm Reply

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