In 2005, Smt. & Shri.Prasanna, an IT Professional, with their little daughter Shwetha, migrated to live in Bengaluru from Chennai. Shwetha, now working in a MNC in the Finance department, was married to a businessman in the same city, in 2017. Both the parents were happy, as the girl’s parents could visit their only daughter often & the boys’ parents lived with the newly married couple.
Recently, Shwetha got a promotion from her company that gave her an appreciable salary hike & a challenging senior level position, but with a work transfer to the country HQ at Mumbai. She was ecstatic, till she learnt of her husband’s disapproval. She questioned how he could ask her to deny accepting the lucrative promotion & even suggested, if her husband can shift his business base to Mumbai. She was insisting & didn’t wish to let go off this ‘golden opportunity’ to climb the corporate ladder.
Smt. & Shri.Prasanna were crestfallen to see Shwetha come back to them with all her belongings and complaining about her in-laws & her ‘un-cooperative’ husband, who refuses to support her aspirations. A close friend, a marriage counsellor, whom the Parents approached, agreed to talk to Shwetha .
The finding was startling: Shwetha revealed that she was constantly goaded by her parents, from her childhood, to excel in studies with an aim to land in a successful career. She was taught to dream of reaching her desired social status, professionally. Future family demands or compromises were least discussed. She had received fullest attention & support from her parents till marriage. Little, was she prepared, for post-marriage compulsions or adjustments.
About our Nation, Bharat:
Family is the most important social unit of our country. It is also our economic back-bone. It’s the largest paying elder-care that, in other more prosperous countries, usurps a significant percentage of government budget. The family in Bharat, is also the most crucial unit where kids learn most; often more than what is taught in schools. Parents’ evaluate the family background of prospective spouses for their children. The neighbourhood knows most of the details of every family. The family is & rightfully remains the epi-centre of the lives of most.
Bharat or India, is not a Political Nation & never was. Its’ unifying factor has always been the commonality in culture, practices & beliefs. Our Rashtra – has a soul, many believe. Bharat Rashtra’s many political units, whose geographic territories keep constantly changing, have had its borders defined from time immemorial.
Uttaram yat samudrasya
Varsham tad Bharatam nama
Bharati yatra santatih.”
(Vishnu Purana, II, 3.1.)
“The country that lies north of the ocean
and south of the snowy mountains
is called Bharata;
there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”
From such Vedic times, Bharat Varsh had had in-numerous constants that continues till date. The only flourishing pre-Abrahamic civilisation, is now slowly, beginning to regain its original colours of glory & being recognised for its achievements & civilizational progress. The social attitude has not only remain unchanged but has been the same throughout this country & so, we call ours as a Cultural Nation.
What makes this Nation special?
- Diversity –
# Every 50-100 kms or so, the accent of the language spoken would change. There are subtle change in words & its meaning. One would observe these connected local vocabulary change on travels with people interaction.
# Grama Devatha, Kula Devatha, Sthana Devatha would remain localised & keep obtaining various names.
# Small community groupings could be found everywhere. Many such huddled communities but belonging to one caste, live within a certain geographical boundary, with intricate sub-caste groups, unknown beyond their spheres. This does conveys how all of such groups come from one common lineage. All their rituals & practices are the same. A little further ahead, another community with varied ritualistic practices would be thriving.
However, all these variances are connected by an ‘Oneness’, respected & revered by all. The abundance of diversity seems to knit this trust in ‘Oneness’ of all. All of them worship Nature, Animals & Human, as manifestation of that One Supreme Being.
Ishavaasya Idham Sarvam. (Everything is Ishwara)
In all Hindu families, the birthday of a child, is celebrated with a unique act. Elders ask the child to do a Namaskaram or prostration to God’s first & then to others in the family. The Puja has many pictures of various forms of God. Neither do elders specify, which God is to be prostrated nor does the child ask. The child imbibes the concept of ‘Oneness’ without being explicitly informed of the philosophy.
The learning for the child continues. A temple visit is another ‘must do’ for the day. The Child would be made to offer salutations to a friend who passes by; at the door of the temple; to the many deities inside the temple and also to the pradhaana devatha. The visit is termed only by the name of the pradhaana devatha but, the salutations would be too many. The learning of ‘See God in everything & in everyone’ gets conveyed. The knowledge of that ‘Oneness’ manifested as so many Interconnected, Interdependent & Interrelated cannot be taught better.
The Child is taken to the scores of relatives, all considered as one family, and made to prostrate to all the elders. ‘We are not different. We form one family’.
This is just one of the many ‘OneNess’ lesson taught to a child without being aware that it is teaching. We see divinity in all & everyone.
A Child gets this in a family. The child learns to help all, respect all & treat all as one family.
- Thyagam or Sacrifice – We live for others; work for the sake of others. Duty pervades all. An elder brother would refuse to get married even before his sisters’ marriage. The monthly Salary cover is handed over to the elder in the family and expenditure is controlled by that elder’s decision. Many times, the earner requests for extraneous needs. The humility upheld, while even sacrificing passion, desire, needs etc., is considered as a duty & not a lofty virtue.
- Dharma – Our nation is bound by Dharma. Dharma is not about offering financial help to charity or religion. Dharma is a natural & a very obvious expectation, rather a demand for all to observe & practice. The basis of Dharma is ‘OneNess’ again. It is considered out of place or jarring when one brags about the ‘dharma’ he/she performed. The now widely prevalent ‘I, Me, Mine’ narrowness, is known as ‘Adharma’ or against Dharma. The ‘I’ is not my body, mind or intellect. How one is reflects in that family; how families are reflects in society and how society is, reflects in our nation. So, the manifestation of ‘I’ has an important impact in our nation. ‘I’ is acceptable only when spoken connected with ‘my duty to my family / to my society / to my nation’. The ‘I’ has to depict selflessness when & if at all uttered. Therefore, what ‘I’ do as ‘my duty’, is ‘my Dharma’. A child learns this Dharma in a family only. The dharma towards ‘my parents, my siblings & everything around, including nature’.
Akhaṇḍa-maṇḍalākāram vyāptam yena carācaram
Tat padam darśitam yena, tasmai śrī gurave namah
(Which) pervades the entire unbroken form of the circle (of creation), moving and unmoving.
To that beautiful and benevolent Guru through whom that state was revealed (to me), salutations.
So, ‘I’ whom I think is my Body, mind & intellect is not the real me but I am a part of an ever expanding consciousness. Therefore, what ‘I’ do for my personal interest but that which bothers my family should be sacrificed as individual interest for the sake of the extended or manifested ‘I’.
4) Philosophy of family Life –
Dhaanameva Gruhasthaanaam Dharmaha
To give, is the duty of a family man.
What we practice as a philosophy of life, starts in the family. So, what we are, is what we have been told or made to understand, from our childhood. The practice of such deep philosophies explains many complications with clarity, generating often, a natural introspection to find deeper meaning to the Interconnected, Interdependent & Interrelated web that all of us are in.
Breaking Bharat – A millennium old continuous Act
We have been continuously invaded. Most of the invaders lost all their worth. Yet, recent designs of history wrongly makes us believe that we have been subservient to invaders for a millennium. The Muslim invaders have succeeded only a little more than for a couple of centuries. However, a common man has been made to believe Muslims ruled us for a 1000 years. Their invasions attempts’ were consistent though & whenever it succeeded, it was very destructive. How Hindus were treated – the violent threats of unimaginable proportions or the Jaziya tax or by malicious lure to a secure life, all compounded to dramatically alter mind-sets and change lifestyles. The storm of destruction affected schools of learning too, to make the cycle of horror complete. There was an open declared war on the continuance of the dharmik approach to life.
ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
1: Om, May All be Happy,
2: May All be Free from Illness.
3: May All See what is Auspicious,
4: May no one Suffer.
5: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
स्वस्ति प्रजाभ्यः परिपालयन्तां न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः ।
गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ।
May there be well being to the people;
May the kings rule the earth along the right path;
May the cattle and the Brahmins have well being forever;
May all the beings in all the worlds become happy;
Peace, peace and peace be everywhere!
As a result, these goodness that had been practiced as a daily life methodology are today confined to lip service & ritualistic practices alone. This dramatic change, resulting in a contradiction between daily practices to daily recitals, is the success of the barbaric oppression on the noble-minded Hindus.
When the varna of ‘Kshatriya’ ie the Ruler, got replaced by marauding Muslims & later on by regressive approach of Christians, slowly, families that practiced nation/society/culture as their own responsibility, started, as a first priority, safe-guarding their near & dear ones. So, everyone began thinking only immediate family & the national perspective was lost, not to mention the ‘global perspective’ that the Hindus had had, since time immemorial.
The ‘sarve janaaha sukhino bhavantu’ concept was lost. ‘Vasudaiva kudumbakam’ no longer made sense to the Hindus.
Now, in our country, narrow minded concepts of life is commonly found in many because national vision is absent. As a result, though we retain ourselves to be culturally strong, we have nationally become weak.
Every brick plays its role in a strong building. If one brick is faulty or placed wrongly, then we do not appreciate a semi-strong building.
We have given freedom in our culture even to atheism. But, our Shastras would not permit any compromise in the progress of the nation; that was unacceptable.
जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी
Mother and motherland are superior even to Heaven
These words of Sri Rama to Sri Lakshmana aptly conveys the national outlook that was integral in our thought & culture.
So, despite having lost this National perspective, we should be thankful that even now, families do observe the rituals, traditions and teachings, keeping intact, many hereditary practices, out of an emotional connect with their inheritance. But, these were initiated as we had the duty to keep the country / society together. The purpose of many practices were based on a national theory. This purpose should be re-gained again.
Fortunately, OneNess, Thyaga, Dharma & Philosophy of life – is still there. It is the ‘Family for the Nation’ cause that we have deviated from.
Materialistic, westernised, individualistic ideas are taking over society. These days, what parents and grandparents do, the kids do not want to follow. This family system is breaking & is being invaded.
Reasons are: (i) Women Liberation Movement (ii) Individualism (iii) Marriage
- Women Liberation Movement (WLM)
WLM is a western concept & may arguably be true for the societies there. While we wish to stick to the Indian context alone, we need to admit its far-reaching ability & therefore a need to study it. The Western influence on the Indian women has had a deep disturbing effect what with an ego-pampered & so, a demanding approach to life. So, it is important & pertinent to study the Western concept of WLM.
WLM of the west talk of 3 bondages that is restricting women.
- Family (b) Religion (c) Culture
It encourages women to liberate from the above three. She should live for herself. Off late & now, we find these concepts having very popular patronage amongst the women of our country as well.
In comparison, our ‘Gruhalakshmi’ conceptualises a women as the spine of the family. Everything around the family revolves around the woman. She is the ‘Kutumba Devatha’, each familys’ devatha. A new entrant into the family, either by birth or by marriage is welcomed as ‘Mahalakshmi’, in belief that she would bring prosperity to the family. In ‘Durga Sapthasathi’, the woman is referred as ‘Kriya samastha thava devi bedhaha , Hey Jagat Janani’, meaning ‘Hey Mother of this World, your divinity is manifested in each woman’.
Women have always been considered, more near to divinity than men. She is the embodiment of love, of compassion and of many other virtues that is associated with the Divine. That sanctity & purity of being a Mother, is related with every woman in this land.
In Bruhadaranya Upanishad, Yajnavalkya Rishi addresses his wife Maitreyi, ‘As two parts of a grain, you are one in me & without you, I’am not complete’.
Ramakrishna Pramahamsa says ‘If through any of my action, should Sarada’ma feel even a tinge of sorrow that brings a tear in her eyes, then all my tapas would have gone in vain’.
These very well-known philosophies have made this country, respect the woman. Only when she is respected she delivers her duty well.
The recent centuries of cultural Invasions has brought problems to women; but, this is a social problem and a problem of the recent few centuries. The problem is not a perennial one & therefore can be considered temporary. The wait, to the beginning of a social pattern, where the woman takes her rightful place in the family & therefore in the society, concludes only when the changes that ought to be made in our present life-styles undergoes a course correction.
Every social perspective of Bharat is different from West. We cannot apply here what is applied in west for women. To us, she is not an appendix to a man. She is complementary not supplementary. She is considered as the one who balances the imbalances of her man. Many husbands’ realise the futility of their personal pursuits without the guidance of his wife. Yet our Shastras, in a cautious act of enforcing humility in a wife, describes her as a ‘Dharma Pathini’, wife of a dharmik & her path to moksha is led only through the dharmika pursuits of the husband. This subordination, despite higher intellectual & emotional prowess, balances the familys’ without giving way to domination of one, over the other.
Our Shastras profusely thank the family system. ‘Dhanyo gruhasthasramaha’. Only from a good family, the society gets good students, good researchers, good leaders & goodness of all kinds that the humanity so badly needs. Therefore, it is of paramount importance, for the sake of a good society, we need a good family.
Understanding Women Liberation Movement
It is important to understand what created this shift in the minds of Indian women. There can be no denying of the impact of the practices of the West over Indian society, today. So, what happened in the West & in its’ society, assumes significance.
The seed to WLM was sown by one Betty Friedan, whose very popular book, ‘Feminine Mystique’, advocates’ a woman to live for herself & to abandon her bondage over Family, Religion & Culture. However, after a few years, she realised she was wrong. In 1981, she released her 2nd book on the same subject of WLM, ‘The Second Stage’, where she professes that real liberation is in caring for all & not by competing with men. She called for a change in the direction of WLM.
However, the simmering heat of a disturbed society that adopted her first book advocacies could not return to the change suggested in her second. Much like a broken glass cannot be put together, the broken family system, stayed that way. Till date, neither has that individualised approach within an American family changed nor has the direction of WLM.
To prove this statistically, in 1996, David Blankenhorn released his famous book ‘Fatherless America – Confronting our Most Urgent Social Problem’. He says 48% of children have single parent. Can we imagine the emotional plight the children would be stressfully put under! In a school, teachers have stopped talking about a family system to avoid embarrassment. They find it difficult to answer when questioned about ‘Which Father’ – my Biological father or adopted father or the present father or the ‘would be’ father.
In any country today, it is not easy & demands extra-ordinary sacrifice to keep a family intact. It is not easy to bring a family together, after it has been broken up, once.
David Blankenhorn also says in case of divorce of parents, there is a 50% probability the child would also have divorce & the probability increases to 80% if the child’s grand parents have also had a split. The kids, when they see their warring parents’, assume that confrontation as a way of life. They do not understand ‘compromise’, as a duty in life. Forgiveness and Acceptance are not in the vocabulary of those in a broken family. Due to this ignorance, they fail as a family.
‘I live for me’. This attitude has caused more devastation in the last 100 years- more than all the wars fought.
‘I don’t need to be married. I prefer my conveniences’ including ‘Live-in’ relationship’ – this has caused more heart-burn than the harm of global warming.
This ‘I, Me, Mine’ approach is an intellectual restriction of ones’ thought; restricted to viewing everything through the narrow prism of whether it suits ‘my Body’, acceptable to ‘my Mind’, passes the selfish-evaluation of ‘my Intellect’.
Little is it understood that Body, Mind & Intellect is not limited to self but is a part of an ever pervading truth. Without even a trace of such spiritual intelligence, the questions of ‘Why should I’ takes prominence even when asked to assist people within the family.
When the Body wants sleep and the mind does not permit, little do the sufferer realise that the consonance with which the Body & Mind should act or the lack of such conformities is the root cause. The society should be awakened before these become irreversible.
While the threat of such diseases entering our country, specifically through the urban elitists’ is huge, responsible & sane people within the society ought to take extra care in identifying the enemy & keeping it at bay. For no reason whatsoever, should we allow these to enter our country. The threat, though, is real.
A Simple Solution:
Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha which when translated would, at best, be defined as Righteousness, Material pursuits, Desires, Oneness with God.
This is a very common, much understood concept in our nation. All pursuits in life is led only by these 4. This simple concept would govern the contentment & happiness with which a human could lead life.
Dharma is ‘Our’ love for others. It is not limited to personal choice but a universal concept that is right for all living & non-living beings.
Artha & Kama is common for all, including for animals. If a dog has some bread, it eats to its fill & any balance, digs to safe keep it, for later use. Just like we take up insurance. These are Artha. The Artha is to be governed by Dharma. Our Dharma Shastra does not approve of Artha acquisition through adharmik means.
Kama is the desire to be or have. Krishna says in the Bhagwad Gita, He is the kama for a Yogin. Kama supported by Dharma is welcome.
However, it is widely accepted with remorse that Dharma is gone and Moksha is forgotten.
Artha & Kama is what man is pursuing, just like animals. Even loyalty between husband & wife is not considered an absolute necessity. The depth we have plunged to is a matter of great concern to any sane mind.
The TV serials of today depict stories built on immoralities within families. A gullible family, believes this is the way the society is functioning. The sanctity of duty of a married couple, to each other, is an uncompromising expectation. But, this is getting diluted. We are destroying our family by pursuing Artha & Kama without any focus on Dharma.
We have forgotten the purpose of our life that this birth is for my pursuit to Moksha, which can be attained only through observing Dharma. Are we practicing ‘my duty towards my family and towards my society and therefore to my nation & to the whole creation’?
Our nation is in a delicate stage now. Our society has never been pushed to the level of ignorance to our proven concepts, as much as we are in today. Many have adopted cross-cultures & adopted cultures of convenience. This confusion has often led to a listless life for many, specifically amongst urban elites. This threat is real & growing. Therefore increasing the Dharma quotient within a family i.e. duty & recognition of such righteous duties is a rule of necessity and not a choice.
Purpose of married life has to be engrained.
- Supraja – Progeny that are better than us physically, mentally, intellectually, spiritually. A paramount parental duty is to contribute such children to the society.
- Striving for Purushartha – Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha, as has been explained above.
- Samaaj Dharana – Allocating some time for good work in the society. The manifestation of a good family for the goodness of the society is a duty. We have a duty to leave back a better society / nation for our children. Much the same way we do not enjoy a half-cooked meal, we cannot leave a half-baked society to our next generation. So, a good society to leave our children is our duty. A caring, compassionate society is our common aim.
In a public place, when a child gets hurt but is unattended by those around, wouldn’t we feel upset with the society. And if the child is ours? Wouldn’t we fume at the society? Humanity expects compassion as a rule. Compassion exists only when there is love at heart. Love exists only in the abode of those selfless.
Family is a unit of the society. A smaller unit. The love we share within the family has to extend to the larger family too. The society should be taught to feel this love.
Grandparents spend their time teaching kids in their family & in their neighbourhood. They teach our calendar, our puranas stories, our culture, shlokas etc.. A capable person who realises his / her duties, extends their cultural & spiritual knowledge to others.
National consciousness should be there in every family. What are we doing about it?
- Do we celebrate the Jayanthi of Mahaans’ at home?
- Do we know & share the stories about such greats’ with our kids?
- Do we have some of our favourite Heroes like a Chanakya or a Shivaji Maharaj or a Bharathiyar etc photos in our home?
- How else are we inspiring ourselves & our kids?
Dharma should be practiced in our lives. My dharma for my parents, my neghbours, the under-privileged & therefore to my extended me ie to the whole universe. Artha & Kama must be pursuits in the path of Dharma. Moksha is the sole final aim of every human. This realisation must dawn.
A good friend, a businessman, hurriedly on his way to an important meeting which would decide a large transaction, heard the cry, for help, of his aged neighbour. He had either the choice to ignore & rush for the meeting or volunteer himself to help the neighbour. The meeting was worthy enough to keep him & his business fed well for long. But, he decides to help his neighbour, foregoing the lure of his personal Artha. When asked what made him take this decision, he said ‘The choice was to either earn money for the next one year or live with guilt forever’.
This is practice of Dharma. Now, he sleeps peacefully.
Strength of our family alone will enhance the strength of our nation. This is true for our nation & is true for the universe as well. Ours has always been Universal Truth. We need to win this war.
Dhanyo Gruhasthashramaha !
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