Dharma - Marriage of the
Srila Prabhupad has defined the Vedic process of marriage as a science(* F). Many aspects of this science are very foreign to the modern Western way of thinking. For instance, marriages are to be arranged by the parents. There is no dating prior to marriage. And, once an arrangement is made, it is final. The boy and girl do not associate on a trial basis (dating) and if it doesn't work out, make another arrangement, date, then another and another. Girls are to be married very young, even before puberty. Boys must be at least 5 years older then girls. Polygamy, men taking more then one wife, is acceptable means and option for a father to get his daughter married (the technical term is polygyny, which is the man taking more than one wife). There is no such thing as divorce. There are many aspects of this science which may be considered strange and controversial (and many will argue even immoral) by modern standards.
However, it is these very same controversial principles that differentiates the Vedic science of marriage (based on Dharma Shastras) from the modern Western socially acceptable ideas and standards of marriage. Thus, if we really want to benefit socially from the religious and spiritually beneficial end results that are achievable via the Vedic culture and system, if we at all want to introduce and follow a system based on Dharma, varnashram-dharma, as Srila Prabhupad asked us to, then it is exactly these same very foreign and controversial principles of Vedic marriage that we must come to understand and accept and apply to our lives, families and in our social structure. It is these very same controversial ideas that distinguish Vedic marriage from what is thought to be normal and acceptable in today's a-dharmic, Western, industrialized, mechanized, impersonal society. Today's social relations of dating, divorce, remarriage, shacking up, permiscious beavior are all considered immoral and degrading by Vedic understanding. This article is an attempt to show that the it is the same controversial principles that govern marriage set forth via Vedic Scripture that form the foundation of Vedic culture. Of course, the goal of such a marriage system is self-realization and to help facilitate a culture and lifestyle that encourages spiritual realization and understanding of God. Helping us take up the path of Bhakti-Yog.
The purpose of this essay is, therefore, to educate what are these controversial principles and why are they important, what are the results of following them, what are the results of not doing so. All of this, of course, is written in context and based on what was taught to us by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. It is my desire and hope and effort that what I have written here is in-fact what he wanted us to accept and follow.
The following excerpt of a Room Conversation, June 28th, 77, in Vrndaban India, is the last and final instruction that I could find that Srila Prabhupad gave on marriage. Especially the marriage of the daughter:
Later in the conversation Srila Prabhupad instructs that the wife must not grudge her husband. Women should know, Prabhupad says, the mans psychology that he is not satisfied with just one woman. So the wife must allow him more than one wife. But the wife, she must be chaste. She cannot have more than one. Srila Prabhupad says, "Then their relation is all right. If woman allows husband - He likes, let him have more than one woman, but I must be chaste ".
Many devotees have asked me, "Why bring up the topic of polygamy when you are supposed to be writting about the marriage of our daughters?" I am not. Not on my own. Srila Prabhupad is the one who did so. I am trying my best to faithfully present what he taught. Srila Prabhupad spoke many times in favor of polygamy, and most often when he did so, it was in direct connection with that of the father's duty to get the daughter married in her youth. All I am doing is repeating the words of my spiritual master and pointing out this fact that I have found, and giving the logic and cultural understanding, explanation and justification for it. A fact that virtually no others, or extremely few others, noticed before I began writing about this and propagating these facts.
Who Is This Essay Written For?:
It is written specifically for the fathers, whose duty it is to protect their daughters via proper religious marriage. It will also be of relative importance to temple authorities whose duty is to assure the protection via marriage of the unwed women under their authority. Yet, this essay deals specifically with Srila Prabhupads instructions concerning the marriage of devotee's daughters, and not about the marriage of newer bhaktins who have no devotee parents. There is a distinction. Girls who are just joining whose parents are not devotees or have no understanding of Vedic principles will have no father who will arrange their marriage. Temple authoritties, sannyasis, GBC or gurus should do their best to act on the best behalf of the girl, but still, there will remain differences and limitations in such arrangments. This article should help in fostering a better and deeper understanding, however. And temple authorities should understand the obligations of the fathers so that they can properly guide and encourage the fathers in their temples or zones.
This essay does not deal with the re-marriage of mothers who have once been married in Krishna Consciousness, as this is not allowed by the principles of dharma anyway
The girl is not to mix with a second boy. She is married. That means no dating and no period of association. (I will say more about this latter because Srila Prabhupad gave specific instructions about this regarding the marriage of our daughters - he was very specific about this.).
These marriage things, Srila Prabhupad says, are very scientific. It is an exacting science. And Srila Prabhupad calls this science Varnashram-Dharma. But, currently, no body cares, as a result everyone is suffering.
In Srila Prabhupads last instruction on marriage of the daughter (see above), a number of standards are mentioned. He is talking about the father arranging the daughters marriage. He indicates the age of the girl - before puberty!. He says no mixing, no second boy or girl (meaning no dating or associating prior to marriage). And then, still speaking about getting our daughters married by young age, he starts speaking favorably about polygamy. I will discuss this in more detail later in this essay, but I want to point out here in the beginning, as I already have, that this is a point Srila Prabhupad brought up numerous times when speaking about marriage of the daughter. One day I was researching quotes he gave on marriage of the daughter and I was surprised by the frequency that he would also mention polygamy when instructing about getting the daughter married. So, I made a count of the quotes speaking about marriage of the daughter and noted how many times he also mentioned polygamy. I have since lost that list and will have to redo it, but I was very surprised as it came out right around (+ or - 5% or so) 50%. 50% of the time when he spoke about getting the daughter married he also spoke favorably about polygamy. Even if it were 10% of the time that would be significant, but it was around 50%.
That is not just significant, but it is very significant. Such a fact cannot be ignored. Even if it were only 10% of the time he mentioned polygamy along with the father's duty to get the daughter married that would be significant and the fact must be given respect and proper consideration. But, it was much more often. Close to 50% of the time. If you are a father and you care about your daughter and you care about trying to follow Srila Prabhupads instructions, then how can such a thing be ignored? For the sincere follower of Srila Prabhupad this fact can not be ignored. It must be given proper understanding and and it must be considered a viable and authorized option.
But, aren't there other instructions by Srila Prabhupad wherein he speaks out against polygamy? Yes, there are, and I will mention these later, but the main thing is those instructions were very few, were specific about a person or specific circumstance, and those instructions were years prior to this one. This was his very last instruction on the matter, and he was promoting polygamy, if it is needed, as a means to assure that father's can find a qualified husband for their daughter. In this context, it is actually desireable.
Don't misunderstand the main purpose of this essay. I am not herein wanting to promote polygamy or to promote that it is something every father should arrange for his daughter. The purpose of this essay is to educate and promote what Srila Prabhupad taught in regards to the marriage of our daughters. That is all. It is Srila Prabhupad who taught and promoted not just polygamy, but child marriage (before puberty), arranged marriage, etc. Each of these are controversial on their own. I am only trying to repeat and promote what he taught. Nothing more and nothing less. It may appear to be different then the mainstream in ISKCON, but it is NOT different then what Srila Prabhupad taught. I am trying my best to put forth what he taught, and explain why it is needed to follow what he taught. If what I am presenting is 'different' then what others in ISKCON currently put forth, the differences must then be that they are not presenting exactly what he taught. Actually, for the most part I have observed a lack of any promotion by ISKCON authorities in regards to marriage of the daughter. And when it is encouraged, rarely would a father be encouraged to adhere to Srila Prabhupad's instruction to get the girl married by puberty. And, virtually there is a void of encouragement by any ISKCON authority suggesting polygamy as an authorized and permissible, even at times desirable, means of fulfilling the father's obligation. This is an attempt to provide, therefore, much needed information for the father's who desire to faithfully follow and implement the standards that Srila Prabhupad taught..
Another reason why my presentation may seem different is that I have studied this science of marriage, as Srila Prabhupad refers to it, this science aspect of Varnashram-Dharma, and I full-heartedly agree with all these 'controversial' aspects of marriage that he taught. Others have read or heard this or that from time to time, like girl is to be married in youth, or that Srila Prabhupad may have allowed polygamy, but they never took the time to study why these marriages standards are needed. Thus, such devotees (the majority of ISKCON leaders would fall into this catagory) currently have no conviction that such things are needed or that important, and thus they do not promote such standards. They see the "controversial" aspect as being so great, they feel there would be significant fall-out, public scanda, if even a few of these principles were followed. Thus they can't imagine that there would be enough benefit from them to justify promoting these things. The result is to ignore these aspects of Srila Prabhupad's teachings, not to give them any significance at all.
An ISKCON leader may show concern over the education of the youth, expressing concern that the youth remain engaged in temple functions, want to see special programs to engage them, etc., but rarely will such leaders encourage the fathers to abide by the Vedic standards that Srila Prabhupad taught us to follow as the leaders see them as far too controversial. Thus little or no effort made to enforce the importance of this duty, that fathers have such a pressing and inexcusable duty to protect the chastity of their daughter. And that protection means she must be married. No encouragement to the fathers that the daughter must have husband before or just after puberty. Or to assure that the father understands that polygamy is a viable and authorized option for fathers to fulfill those obligation. an ISKCON guru may accept a man as his disciple, the man marries and has daughter, the guru may be familiar with this girl since birth. He may become her guru. But, may never preach or encourage the father to get the girl married in young age in strict accordance with Srila Prabhupad's instructions. Rather, I have personally seen, some times a guru has purposefully taught something totaly different. Such as teaching that the girl wait until she is 20-24, something that Srila Prabhupad not only did not teach, but that he taught was wrong. These sort of things have gone on, and are still going on in ISKCON today.
I am herein going to document several actual instances that illustrate this. This is not presented here to find-fault with the leadership, but to make a factual report of events that took place. The purpose is to show why these standards have not been passed on to the new devotees. It is not to find-fault, but to deal honestly with the factual history.
In the referrence I gave at the start of the article, the last instruction on marriage of the daughter given June 28th, 1977, Tamal Krsna is present and is engaged in this conversation with Srila Prabhupad, agreeing with Srila Prabhupad that fathers in our society must arrange the marriages of their daughters at such young age, by puberty. In 1977 Tamal vocally agrees to this, supports it in his conversation with Srila Prabhupad. Not just that fathers should get the daughter married by puberty, but when Srila Prabhupad adds to this the idea that some men can take more than one wife if it is needed in order for the fathers to find enough men, we see that Tamal again agreed and gave his support to these instructions. But, in 1996 my wife and I were in Detroit and 2 girls were traveling alone/together in a van performing traveling Sankritan/book distribution. One girl was born devotee from devotee family, the other had just joined. They were ~ 18-20 years old. My wife asked the born-devotee girl, "When are you getting married? You should have been married by now". The girls replied, no, they were too young, My wife insisted, no, Srila Prabhupad instructed girls are to be married by 12, no later than 16. You are not too young, you are way past the age to marry. No, they insisted that their guru, Tamal Krsna, teaches that is way too young, that girls are not to marry until at least 24 years old. (As a side note, actually, I was more than disappointed at the mood of the girls toward Srila Prabhupad's instructions. What I mean is that I was also there, so when they first objected to the idea that they should marry so young I actually recited several quotes of what Srila Prabhupad actually taught, what he actually said, and these girls had no hesitation, no second thought, they simply rejected it as totally unacceptable and then quoted what Tamal Krsna's instructed standards were. There was no hesitation to reject Srila Prabhupad's teachings.).
I immediately wrote Tamal Krsna a letter quoting what these girls told me he was teaching, and I included the transcript of the June 28th conversation and several others where Srila Prabhupad taught that girl is to be married young. I aksed him, respectfully, why he was teaching something totally different then what Srila Prabhupad taught him on this point? I asked if we could discuss this issue in more depth. Hhe never replied to that email. I wrote a separate email at the same time about the guru issue and that one he immediately responded to.
At the same time, in 1996, a devotee who knew that I preached favorably about polygamy showed me a book Satsvarup wrote, One chapter was entitled "What Srila Prabhupad Actually Taught Regarding Polygamy" (or something close to that). In this chapter Satsvarup gave only the very few quotes where Srila Prabhupad wrote unfavorably toward it's practice at that particular time. Those letters were written for a very specific reason. They were written in 1973. But, in 1975 Srila Prabhupad again brought up the topic saying that he had no objection to the men in ISKCON taking more than one wife (see full conversation). Satsvarup was present, and objected. In fact, he made a number of classic objections, such as it is illegal, it will encouarge men to increase sex life, the public will turn against us, etc. And Srila Prabhupad defeated all such arguments establishing his view that polygamy be allowed. So, I respectfully wrote to Satsvarup and gave the transcription of that conversation, plus a long list of other quotes to show that Satsvarup's conclusion he wrote in his book was wrong and misleading. In the final end, Srila Prabhupad was not opposed to this, and Satsvarups' own direct objections were defeated directly by Srila Prabhupad. Satsvarup wrote back a rather startling and disturbing letter to me. He wrote saying that he cannot remember that converstation. He did not deny it took place, rather, he admitted since it was recorded, it did take place, and he admitted that Srila Prabhupad did, at that later time, allow polygamy, as he said, he cannot deny it, the recording is there that proves it. Yet, Satsvarup told me that his books are his "Personal Rememberances" of Srila Prabhupad. Since he cannot personally remember that taped conversation, which he admitts actually took place, and since he can only remember readng the negative letters (written years earlier, even letters not written to him, he 'remembers' those, and has to copy the text from them) he argued he will continue to write and instruct his followers based on what he remembers. Meaning, he was admitting that he really did not care to actually represent what Srila Prabhupad actually taught. Satsvarup only wanted to promote that which he agrees with. If he doesn't agree or like something, then he won't teach that. This is not acting as a transparent via-media. It didn't matter to him that Srila Prabhupad actually later defeated him and argued for polygamy to be allowed.
After this, he said that polygamy was a very degrading topic (even though he just read the transcript I sent showing that Srila Prabhupad had preached favorably and actually wanted it to be accepted and allowed, and personally and directly defeated Satsvarup's objection against it), and he reminded me that he was a sannyasi, and therefore he asked that I never write him about such a fallen and disgusting topic again. If I did so, he would not reply.
The point is that there are senior devotees and leaders in ISKCON who are well aware of what Srila Prabhupad taught, and when Srila Prabhupad was present, they let on to Srila Prabhupad that they agreed, but after Srila Prabhupad's disappearance they no longer either agreed, or fully understood the importance of these things and did not hesitate to ignore what Srila Prabhupad actually taught in these regards, and even promoted just the opposite, on purpose. Tamal had agreed in Srila Prabhupads's presence that the fathers of 12 year old girls should arrange for their marriages, and he agreed and supported that polygamy was also an acceptable option for them, and that some of our men may taken additional wives and Satsvarup admitts that Srila Prabhupad defeated his objections to allowing polygamy, but the both of them, after Srila Prabhupad left, knowingly chose to ignore what Srila Prabhupad taught and instead chose to promote and teach a different standard. It is for reasons like this that this valuable information has not been properly promoted, taught and encouraged in ISKCON.
How many parents today in ISKCON are trying to get their daughter married before she reaches puberty? How many would ever consider giving her to a married man as a second or additional wife? Not very many. Yet, these things are a part of Srila Prabhupad's instructions to us in the matter of getting our daughters married. The sincere devotees must stop burying their heads in the sand and come to terms with these aspects of this science of marriage. That is the purpose of this essay. It is not just about polygamy or any other single aspect, it is about the whole science that Prabhupad taught, and an explanation of that science and why it is needed for our society.
On April 15, 1975, from a SB (5.5.3) lecture, Srila Prabhupada says:
In other words, our duty is to follow the latest instruction. This Srila Prabhupad had said a number of times. The latest instruction takes precidence over previous instructions. And this was one of Srila Prabhupad's last and final words on the marriage of the daughter, if not his actual last and final instruction.
Back in 1993 I wrote a more complete book on getting the daughter married called Kanya-Daya (I will explain more shortly). Because I had found so many instructions where polygamy was given as a solution to finding enough husbands for the girls, and because I felt the whole idea of polygamy and Srila Prabhupads actual stand on the topic was misunderstood, I included one whole chapter on the topic in that book. That drew a lot of criticism and questions from a number of devotees. They questioned why a whole chapter on polygamy in a book that is supposed to be about getting our daughters married? This was not an acceptable option parents wanted to consider in their search to get their daughter married. But, I set out to write a book based on Srila Prabhupads instructions about getting the daughter married (as I am doing here, in a more abreiviated form). If I were to have left the topic out of the book entirely it would have been sorely incomplete. It would not have been a proper representation of what Srila Prabhupad instructed. Since he mentioned polygamy many times when he spoke about getting the daughter married, then how can we ignore the topic? Rather, because this is not a very well known fact and because there are so many biases and bad opinions regarding polygamy I felt it was necessary to dedicate a whole chapter to it just to try and over come the negative bias. Actually, I was wrong, I now understand that it requires much more emphasis because the bias is so strongly opposed. And that is why I am going on and making the emphasis here. But, again, this is not the main emphasis of this essay, so I will discuss more about this latter on, for now lets move on to a more broad understanding.
The process of getting the daughter married lays at the very root of culture and society itself. It defines a culture as it defines the acceptable and unacceptable social relationships and the social interactions of the two social entities, men and women.
These principles of marriage shape and form the whole infrastructure of a society. Night clubs, bars, and the like have mostly arisen out of the concept of dating. Going out to party on the weekend, again is born out of the idea of dating. In earlier times in the West dating was very much "supervised" by the parents. There were supervised dances or shaparoned events. In the not so distant past in the West allowing young unwed girls and boys to go out on the town at night alone-together unsupervised was unthinkable. It would have put a major stain on the girl's reputation. A cultured man would avoid considering such a girl for a wife because in time not so distant in the West virginity at time of marriage was still considered religiously important. Today, that is all but lost in modern society.
Today, girls and boys freely mix at school, in the public market places and streets.
By contrast in India, or in Vedic culture, one socializes mostly with the larger 'family'. The children and unwed young adults do not mix freely. Rather then parties or night clubs, families would meet at homes or temples and engage in social or religious gatherings that were wholesome, religious and family oriented. There simply was no social mixing of unwed boys and girls, of any age.
The family is the basis of social culture. In morden times the "family" is becoming an endangered species. "Families" were once the immediate family of father-mother-brothers-sisters and also the aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and second cousins. The "extended famiy", which stayed together and associated together as family because they remained living in the same physical areas, villages or towns. Modern society has changed all that.
In Vedic culture the society comes together to observe holy days and religious festivals / ceremonies and functions In fact, marriages and weddings were open to the public, not just invited family and close friends. So, marriages, which are also Religious Ceremonies and events, were one of the most common and often attended gatherings. Again such gatherings were wholesome, family and religiously oriented. The goal of such events and gatherings was ultimately to please the Supreme Controller, God (both in the older West but especially Vedic culture).
Today, people gather to "party" or enjoy themselves separate from trying to please God. Often getting drunk or intoxicated is a common aspect of how people "socialize" in the West or modern Godless culture. Whether it is to view the latest movie, or to hear the latest rock concert, or go to the weekend party bash, the mood and atmosphere is gross sense-enjoyment in which having sex is most often the direct or indirect goal or highest acheivement of such an event. .Juxtopposed, devotion to Krishna is the center of a Vaishnavs social life. In the West the central deity for the youth is their own material body and mind. The modern temples are the massive malls where they adorne their bodies with clothes and perfumes, the night clubs where they gyrate their bodies and enjoy the bouncing of the breasts and shaking of the hips of the women, and their beds where they perform the goal of their sense-enjoyment. And, we should not leave out the bathrooms. In many modern homes the greatest thrown of the their castle is the toilet seat. No joke. Although that is really a real pathetic joke. One Shiek (prince, king, president, what ever) in the middle east once had a toilet bowl carved out of a single solid slab of dark blue semi-precious stone (lapis lazuli) and all fixtures and pipes were made of solid pure gold, rubies and diamonds on the flush handle. His thrown, from which he could regally pass stool and urinate. This is a perfect symbol of the madness of modern culture. So misguided and misdirected. Heading full speed down the wrong path, going in the wrong direction.In many homes, the palace throne is the toilet bowl.
Today music is centered on sense enjoyment or the illusion of so-called mundane love. Dating encourages sense-enjoyment, while arranged marriages restricts it and controls it. In Vedic culture the music is centered on Krishnas pastimes and true love and devotion to the Supreme Godhead. To hear bhajan, kirtans, glorifying the Supreme Godhead has a peacful uplifting and soothing effect on the mind and soul. Even to hear the sound of the flute, santoor, vina, mrdungam, etc., playing the Vedic ragas and melodies uplifts and sooths the soul and mind. It puts the mind in peacful mood. Modern music has gradually become more and more degrading as it fixes on gross sense enjoyment.
It is extremely crucial to our society, the followers of Vedic culture and Srila Prabhupad, that we properly understand the importance of the standards and principles of marriage as were taught by Srila Prabhupad for us to follow, and which are corroborated by the Vedic literatures. Taking up chanting and devotional service will help us individualy, and individually we can overcome the demoniac nature within our own selves. But, socially, we will not be able to change society or the world until we also take up the social religious Vedic values of social dharma. And the foundation of such social dharma is the marriage standards and values. Once arranged marriages are established as the norm, dating will decline, and so too will night club and drinking, unwanted pregnancies, and all social crime will vanish.
We have all heard a lot of talk about Varnashram-Dharma in ISKCON and Prabhupads instruction to us to establish it in our temples. There are all sorts of ideas as to what this all means and how to do it. Some focus on self-sufficient farming, others on cow protection, others on the system of management or government of such a community, others on the varnas or occupations, the businesses or employment, others on the ashrams, the teaching and education. And all of these things are vital and integral parts of the overall system of varnashram-dharma, yet all of these deal with only the varnashram aspect of it. Many of us tend to focus our energy and time on only one aspect in order to more fully understand it or implement it, such as some devotees may focus on cow protection, on farming, education, etc. I too have focused in on one aspect, that of the Dharma aspect of Varnashram-Dharma. Dharma means laws or duties or the principles of the social orders. Dharma defines the duties of the varnas and ashrams. Dharma establishes the foundation of varna and ashram. In order to establish VAD it is imperative that we first understand what is dharma, why it is needed, what the resuls of following or not following are, then we will appreciate and desire to follow the proper social dharma. Only then will varnashram-dharma be properly established. It cannot be established in any other way. As we read from the quote on the first page of this essay that Srila Prabhupad defines the system and principles and standards of Vedic marriage as varnashram-dharma, he says such marriage system is the plan of varnashram-dharma. And that is what this essay deals with specifically. The Dharma of Vedic marriages.
Dharma is a broad term. Srila Prabhupad generally translated it as constituent duty, however, he has also referred to it as religious duty or religious principles, such as the laws of dharma or dharma-shastra, such as Manu Smrti (which he has called the laws of varnashram-dharma as well)..
In his Purport to BG 1.40 Srila Prabhupad states:
As we can see by this instruction varnashram dharma and the chastity of the women are tightly related. Dharma, at least in the sense of religious piety, the spiritual equilibrium of the social body, cannot come into being unless and until the chastity of the women of a society is strictly protected. Or, from the other perspective, that of Dharma meaning duty, you cannot establish the strict chastity of the women until society accepts that we each have specific and different Duties, Dharmas. The duty of the husband is one thing and that of the wife is another. Spirtually men and women have equal opportunity to engage in devotional service. But, socially men and women have different roles, differnet prescribed duties.
Looking into the future of Srila Prabhupad's mission we must seriously consider the all importance of creating a generation of saintly children, a good population which will be attracted to spiritual advancement and who will be eligible for taking up and living by the principles and standards of the Varnashram system. So, how to create this good population? How to assure that our children, or the children of our children, will be saintly? Srila Prabhupad says that Chastity and Devotion of the women will give birth to a good population. Chastity and devotion to Krishna, devotion to duty in Krishnas service. Chastity, loyalty to the husband, purity of the mind and senses, keeping the women engaged in family traditions and religious activities. This is the formula to create saintly children. This is a most important formula for the upliftment and purification of society. Women should not be encouraged to become big managers or leaders, or encouraged to work outtside the home like men. If one wants saintly children, he must select a wife who is trained in the way of dharma, who will agree to be engaged in religious and family duties. A father has a duty to his family and the society, to Krsna, to train his daughters in the way of dharma.
Sending girls off to school, sending them to work outside the home, not keeping them full-time engaged in household-family activities and religious functions, the children born of such women will not be as inclined to saintly behavior, they will not be as inclined to take up the principles of Varnashram-Dharma.
Therefore it is imperative that we, as a society, come to terms with this and understand how crucially important protection of the chastity of our daughters is to the entire future of our ISKCON society. If we want to do Srila Prabhupad a most loving service we will work to see that the chastity of our women is properly protected. This will give birth to future saintly generations. This is a most important foundation that will carry ISKCON forward for generations and generations into the future. This is why I have dedicated so much time studying and writing so many articles on this one topic.
Currently many devotees either do not understand what is real chastity, or they do not understand its important purpose in a spiritually oriented society. The duty of protecting the womens chastity is not the womans herself. It is not supposed to be left to the 14 or 18 year old unwed girl to protect her own chastity, that is the duty, Srila Prabhupad says, of the elder members of society, especially the men. It is the mens duty in society to protect the chastity of the girls.
I will insert here a comment one Indian devotee recently told me in this regard. Actually I mentioned to him that at times in India some Western women had been attacked. He said in India, if the girl appears to be properly trained in chaste behavior, then even the lowest sort of men automatically respect her chastity. But, if she is seen to freely mix with boys, laughing and talking freely, then other men will consider her loose', already no longer chaste and basically 'available' for a good time. In this regard my wife pointed out that even teenage brothers and sisters, while at home they may joke, laugh, fight, or whatever, in public they should not hardly even talk to one another. The boy must show respect for her chastity and the girl must present her chaste behavior in public. Otherwise men who dont know they are brother and sister may take her to be unchaste. So strict is this idea of chastity, that in public even brother and sister observe it nicely.
From a Room Conversation 7/7/76 Srila Prabhupad says,
Prabhupad pointed out that in modern India girls now keep many boys friends, we have seen the same now in ISKCON. Teenaged boys and girls mix freely. But, at least in modern India they still try to get the girl married. In ISKCON very often fathers, parents, let the girls mix with boys and we dont even bother to get her married. Buy our inaction we force our daughters to try and find someone on her own. Prabhupad has likened this process to that of a dog, going from one house to the next in search of finding a master. This is a complete failure to properly protect the young unwed girls. At least in India they will arrange for a husband, but even just allowing the girl to associate with many boys, Srila Prabhupad says, the society will degrade. To stop this degradation we must take up the principles of giving proper religious protection to the women in society, and marry the girls by young age.
It is not the girls who are at fault. It is the whole society. Srila Prabhupad says it is the elder members of society whose duty it is to protect the chastity of the women.
Prabhupad said, speaking about our schools, April 29, 77,
From the very beginning, Srila Prabhupad said, the boys and girls must be educated separately. No coeducation. I know that Srila Prabhupad said it was allowable back in the early part of the 70s, but this is his later and final instruction and he says it was a mistake to allow girls and boys to be educated together. It is dangerous. He says it simply trains the girls how to be prostitutes. No chastity. I have sadly observed the results of this in Iskcon youth as they grow older. From 5-6 years of age devotee boys and girls were coeducated and became too familiar, too close. When they become young adults they remain too familiar, giving one another hugs, freely talking and mixing. All proper chastity is lacking in these girls. How loyal wives they will make? How fixed in family traditions will they be? How saintly will their children be? If we do not follow the formula very closely we will not get the desired result.
Srila Prabhupad saw this in 77 and told us to no longer co educate the girls and boys AT ALL. We call ourselves followers of Srila Prabhupad, so why dont we just follow what he taught? When I was in LA some years ago one girl, a gurukula grad, who was 17 was baby sitting our children. I saw that she was freely speaking with the boys, whom she called her spiritual brothers. I told her this is not chaste. She should not be so free in her association. She told me that it was perfectly all right because they were her God Brothers. She said they see her as their sister. Sister? Just see the problem. Boys are to be trained to see all women, other than wife, as mother, not as sister.
One desired feature of protecting the chastity of the women is that good population will come forth. But, there are many other important consequences of this as well. A chaste girl makes a better wife. A chaste girl will remain faithful to her husband and be less likely to get involved with other men, simply because she is so chaste. Chastity must be taught, specifically. If a girl is trained her whole life how to be chaste, then what a wonderful wife she will make. And a chaste wife makes a very good mother who sets a very good example for her saintly children. (Mother is called the first guru).
It is so important that we understand the importance of protecting the chastity of our daughters.
Take this imaginary, but can be very real, scenario. Say a girl is very chaste. 15 years old. She is youthful and materially attractive to the boys. Devotee boys want to associate with her. Well, first of all, what is that? Where are the brahmacaris ? ? ? That in and of itself is a bad reflection on the training the boys have got. Yoga means to control the senses. Where is the brahmacari training for our sons? To associate with the girl means the girls chastity must be broken down. "No, the boy only wants to talk and joke with the poor girl, just be friends, he isnt looking to sleep with her, I mean, give the devotee boys and girls a break." Here is the reality. The girl may be chaste, but the boy only wants to be friends, to talk and laugh - associate. The boy is thinking, Who knows, may this will be the girl he will want to marry, if I can't joke and talk and associate, how will I now?. Strict chastity is like a protective brick wall. When a girl is strictly chaste, her chastity helps to protect her. But, for the girl to respond to the boys who want to associate with her, she has to tear down some of the bricks from that wall of chastity. First, it is to smile and talk a little. The she gets more accustom and she finds herself talking and laughing more freely. More and more the protective wall of chastity is taken down.
But, their association isn't serious. They aren't going to marry. Another boy comes, she is now more free around boys, more 'relaxed', meaning no longer chaste. Her chastity shield and shyness is gone. The third boy wants her association and by now she really is liking all the attention and has totally lost any idea of what it is to be chaste. By the time the 4th boy comes by she is the one who throws herself onto him and now she wants his association. Chastity and shyness, the real beauty of a woman, is totally lost.
Chastity is also a womans self-defense. Without her chastity she is now totally vulnerable - totally without protection. The first 5 boys have been good enough natured to not have tried anything with her, but what about another boy? Some boy will come and he will want more then just a few laughs with her. And she will be 100% vulnerable for she no longer has her chastity to protect her. He is a playboy, makes the girl laugh, she is thinking he is serious about her, but he is like the honey bee, he is after a lttle nectar, once he gets it, he's on his way to the next flower. The boy gets what he was after and then he moves on. He is no longr interested in her, he has found another girl. Now the girl has lost her virginity. Maybe she did not get pregnant, but she knows it isnt the same anymore. And, if she did get pregnant, the father of her child is an irresponsible, immature playboy. Not able to be a reponsible father or husband. Now what? What an unfortunate mess for a girl who only a few months earlier was a very chaste girl. Even if the girl doesn't get pregnant, it can be just as bad. A typical response for a playboy who is able to have sex with a girl is that he will boast about his "manly" deeds to his friends. He may do this just to brag about what he was able to do. But, the result is the girl's reputation is shattered. Any saintly boy who may have like the girl will now no longer consider her qualified to make a chaste wife or good mother. And, the other less scrupulous boys will now see the girl as being "loose", "easy", "permissive". They will now want to associate with her so they too can get what they want. The only boys now interested in her are the ones who want to exploit her for their own sense-gratification. Her life is ruined.
What started it? The first boy who only wanted to innocently talk with her and get her association as a devotee friend. He was just friends, that's all. But, he started it because he broke down her chastity. But, more what started it is the community for allowing such free mixing of the boys and girls. This is why Srila Prabhupad said these things are dangerous. All degradation of the society will come from this, from not properly protecting the chastity of our women. Especially the chastity of the unwed girls.
Even if the girl remains virgin and simply talks with the boys, still, this can ruin her life. Why? Because it will dramatically increase the chance of affairs latter in life, it will increase the chance of divorce and remarriage for it gives her all wrong training. Srila Prabhupad said this is training for a prostitutes life. She will become accustomed to having many male friends, accustomed to speaking freely with so many boys. This becomes her habit, her lifestyle. Marriage will not change that. She may get married, but when she sees an old school friend, a big warm hug will not seem inappropriate. Along with that big hug a few good old memories spring up and suddenly a desire for association stirs up and a flame starts burning. This can lead to a little more and more association and her current marriage is history. Therefore, a girl who may remain virgin up to marriage, but who is not strict in her chastity, is nevertheless increasing her chances of divorce and or fall down later in life. And, Society Degrades.
As Srila Prabhupad has said, marriage is a science. All of these things are important and serves an important purpose in society. Especially the proper training of chastity for the girl.
The point is that we have Srila Prabhupads instructions on the matter of protection of the chastity of the women. We must follow his instructions, which are 100% based strictly on the Vedas and on Manu Smrti. Then we will achieve peace, but to concoct our own idea, to toss out his instructions in favor of our own mental concoctions, we will be doomed to spiritual and material failure.
In a conversation with Tamal Krishna Gosvami (April 29, 77), while speaking about the schools, after Prabhupad says they must be kept separate from the very beginning, and for girls, no school, later in the conversation Prabhupad says:
This is the solution. Dont send them to the ashram, get them married, even if it means one man, three wives. This is also a latter instruction of my guru maharaj. He is the self-realized soul. And his teachings are in full agreement with the srutis and smrtis. And this is what he instructed us to do. He wasn't just speaking about old days, he wasn't speaking theoretically. Sending our daughters to school is a mistake, no more school for the girls, no ashram, no brahmacarini schooling. For the girls, marriage. Even if one man must marry three girls, the girl must be married.
Although he gave this as an instruction to us in 1977 regarding our own daughters, it wasnt something he only said in 1977, SB lecture, Oct. 23rd, 1969 Prabhupad says:
What is the protection for the girls? For women, no ashram life, for women, protection means marriage. One man, three wives, let them be taken care of. That is what ISKCONs Founder-Acharya instructed that we do, just months before his physical departure, in April of 77. .
Devotees often reject this instruction by Srila Prabhupad of no school for the girls. Some will say their daughter must learn an occupation. Occupation, you mean like varna? Or occupation like dharma, or duty? Women have their prescribed occupations, to become mothers and housewives. That is Prabhupads whole point. Women already have that as their occupation and that doesnt require year after year of schooling. He said this they learn best from their mother while living at home. Of course, you can follow the advice of the sages, like Srila Prabhupad, or you can toss out his instructions thinking he is just some old senile man from Bengal who just didnt know what he was really talking about, and then invent your own concoctions. Maybe you dont agree with me, but someone has to repeat and try to promote these instructions Srila Prabhupad gave us to follow.
Well, okay, we all know the girls are supposed to be married. But not until they at least reach 16, right? (And what father is even doing that? ? ?)
There are too many quotes, I dont have time to include them all, so I will put only a few.
SB 2:3:15 Lecture June 1, 72:
SB Lecture June 12, 74
Wedding Lecture, May 6, 69, in this lecture Srila Prabhupad says that if the girl is not married by age of 13 the father will go to hell.
Morning Walk, 11/2/74 Prabhupad says that when the girl is 12 that is very late
marriage. He didnt say late marriage, he said very
In the Purport to SB 4:25:42 Srila Prabhupad states that a girl who has no husband is called anatha unprotected, or one without a master. He said as soon as the girl reaches puberty she immediately becomes very agitated. Therefore he said it is the fathers duty to get the daughter married before puberty. Otherwise she will be mortified by not having a husband. That is the fathers duty. It is his duty to his daughter as well as to the society.
So many similar instructions. He also has said no later then 16 a girl must be married. And not just engaged or betrothed. As soon as she reaches puberty he has said the girl is to be given a child by her husband. Earlier we read that Prabhupad said all of human society is to follow the laws of Manu. In Manu Samhita it is said that if the girl is not married by 3 years past puberty the father is to be known as a failure in society. 3 years after puberty is about 16. The absolute maximum age given by Prabhupad and shastra. [I consider this an important factor that parents must reconcile with. Srila Prabhupad never once said that 17 years old or older was even okay, he has only instructed no later then 16 the daughter must be married. How many parents are following these instructions by Srila Prabhupad? Not many. I see that as something that must change.]
Also in Manu Samhita it lists the ages for marriage. The ideal age is given as 30 years old for the man and 12 for the girl, 18 years difference !!! Then it states if the man cant wait, then 24 and 14, and even earlier if he just cant control his senses. Note that a younger girl is even listed for the older man, and a few years older girl for the younger man. I think the reason is that if a man has waited till he is 30, he can wait a little longer until the girl reaches puberty. But, if a younger man is so agitated he cant control his senses any longer, then he should marry a girl who has already reached puberty so he will have no further wait.
Is this practical for today in America? Just follow Prabhupads instructions. It is possible, legally, at least in America. Will this create a scandal in society if all our girls are married so young? I dont fear such confrontations with the society, rather, I think we should boldly preach these things. In the karmi world there are public schools that give condoms to 12 year old girls. The non-devotees realize that many girls at that age can and do engage in illicit sex, so we must preach that the religious solution is legal marriage at that age, not illicit sex and condoms. There is no question "should we follow Srila Prabhupads instructions?". If we call ourselves his followers, we must follow his instructions. I say dont try to hide it, but we should preach it boldly. Shouldn't we avoid scandal? Avoid what scandal? Caitanya Mahaprabhu didn't avoid confronting Chand Kazi. Those who are afraid of what the non devotees might think simply shows, IMHO, that these devotees dont really understand the importance of these religious principles of protection nor the potency of simply following the orders and instructions of such a great Acharya. When one has actually realized them, then he has no fear of either practicing them or preaching about them. I would more fear not doing something Krishna and his pure devotee want rather then fear non devotees who have no real knowledge anyway. It is more of a scandal to call one's self a follow of Srila Prabhupad, and not follow his instructions. The true scandal is these non-devotees do not know what is really right or wrong, what is good or bad. The scandal would be to abide by their all wrong non-sense and not follow and accept the instructions of the great Acharya, Srila Prabhupad. If it creates controversy, then take it as a great opportunity to preach and help educate the masses.
One devotee told me that one day in Srimad Bhagavatam class in the Purport Srila Prabhupad had written that daughter must be married by early age - 12 to no later then 16, and for girls, "no school" (something like that). So, this devotee had a daughter 12 and his friend also had a 12 year old daughter. So when class was over they both walked out and the devotee asked his friend, "According to Srila Prabhupad we must find husbands for our daughters soon, and we shouldn't send them to school." The other father didn't hesitate, he snapped back, "NO WAY. My daughter is not going to be married so young. No way. She is going to college, and after college she can decide if she wants to marry". The other devotee was shocked. "But, prabhu, we just got through reading what Srila Prabhupad instructed us to do, how can you just reject his instructions like that?" The other devotee just walked away. And, it was the devotee who knowingly rejected Srila Prabhupad's instructions who was involved with ISKCON's Child Abuse programs, and he also was on the temple board. This is wrong. The leaders of Srila Prabhupad's mission must be chaste to Srila Prabhupad's instructions. They must take them up, even the difficult ones, and uphold them and follow them. Not reject them.
Similarily, one day I approached the temple president, Mother Nanda, a female, disciple of Srila Prabhupad (she has since resigned as TP of Alachua temple). I was speaking about getting the girls married, so I reminded her, Srila Prabhupad has only taught that girls must be married no later than 16, 10-12 to 15 is more ideal. I suggested that as Temple President of such a large temple that had so many families with girls of that age that it was her duty, as TP, to encourage the father's of these girls to follow Srila Prabhupad's instructions in this regard. Her reply? "Oh, I could never do that!. I think that is disgusting, for girls to be married so young, it is simply wrong. I could never support such an idea". What sort of leader is this? What sort of follower of Srila Prabhupad is this? That was several years ago, but I strongly suggested that she resign as Temple President. I asked her, if she cannot uphold, follow and encourage others to accept and follow Srila Prabhupad's own direct instructions, then she had no right occupying the post of TP or any position of leadership in Srila Prabhupad's mission. I think the mataji is a wonderful devotee, I have nothing against her. But, this is a principle that applies to proper management of the society. If you have a policman of the city who refuses to uphold or support certain laws, how can they remain in that post?
But, on these marriage issues, it is very common and widespread that many of those who currently occupy positions of leadership in ISKCON do not support, uphold or follow these dharmas of proper marriage and protection of the women. Eventually this will change.
Training To Be Chaste
SB Purport 3.14.17
Morning Walk July 10, 75
This statement by Srila Prabhupad alone changed my whole outlook on how I shall train my daughters. Srila Prabhupad gives his personal guarantee - he guarantees that if the girl can be trained to become expert in only 2 things, how to cook first-class and how to be chaste wife, then Srila Prabhupad guarantees that he personally will arrange for a good husband for the girl. That is all I need to hear for me to know how to train my daughters. If I train my daughters to become first-class cooks and how to submissively serve a husband and become chaste and faithful wife, then Krishna has absolutely no other choice in the matter, for His pure devotee has promised, given his "personal guarantee", that he will find such girls a good husband. I take those words of my guru maharaj seriously. And I will hold Krishna personally accountable for this. If I can train my daughters in this way, Krishna and Prabhupad are now bound by contract to get for them good husband(s). All fathers should take this seriously as well. If they do send their daughter to some devotional school, the parents must demand that Srila Prabhupads instructions be carried out, the girls must be taught these 2 things. How to cook first-class and how to submissively serve their husband. But, these things do not require big school, they can be taught best from the mother at home. In training our girls, the emphasis must be on chastity, faithfulness, submissiveness, and how to cook. Academics is not so important. Especially sending them off to college to learn how to work for others outside the home is no less than "irreligious", Adharmic, fully outside the teachings of Srila Prabhupad and directly forbidden by him. Such training for the daughter will not help her, it will hinder her spiritual advancement. It lies outside the instructions of Srila Prabhupad. The girl will be sharply hindered from giving birth to saintly children. She will be hindered from having the most qualified devotee husband, she will not be given the result of the guarantee that Srila Prabhupad gives. Srila Prabhupad will personally guarantee a good husband for a girl who is trained to be chaste, how to serve a husband and how to cook, with just enough academics to be able to read his books. No big, big education.
SB 6.18.42 From Purport :
Room Conversation, June 23, 75:
Room Conversation June 28, 77:
By not getting the girls married young, when they go through so many years of school, what is the use? What have they learned? Older girls allowed to talk and mix with the boys. No chastity. Prabhupad said, I quoted earlier, you send girls to brahmacarini ashram and not get them married, then first chance they get they will try to become prostitute, unchaste. First chance they get they will want to mix with boys. Even after marriage that tendency will be there if they have not been trained properly. Therefore, Prabhupad said, one man three wives, let them be taken care of.
I dont have time here, but there are so many other instructions by Srila Prabhupad that the girls must be trained in cooking first class, how to raise children nicely, how to do the household affairs, and how to be chaste, submissive and faithful to her future husband and how to accept whom ever Krishna gives you. That is a very important point. The girl must be trained how to accept what ever husband (or wife for the boys) that Krishna gives you. These are the absolute most important topics that should be taught to the girls. Above being a devotee, these are the most important, normal academics is not important.
But, what about the argument that the girl may wind up with a bad husband and wind up with children at 14 and the husband leaves? If she has no modern education, how can she get a job, or how will she survive?
These are common arguements. The answer to these questions is what this whole essay is dealing with. To show that there is such important benefit to taking up the proper Vedic Dharma on these issues, and there is so much at stake if we continue to not take these things seriously.
What sincere member of ISKCON does not want to see a bright future for Srila Prabhupad's mission? Who does not want to see that the next generation or two will all be pure and saintly? Srila Prabhupad has given us the formula to create saintly children. If we are serious about this and have full faith in his divine instructions, we will gradually take this up. For those who still lack full convinction and faith, who still want to pick and choose which instructions you will follow and accept and which you will not, all i can say is, keep chanting, keep advancing, but do not falsly or wrongly occupy seats of leasership in ikscon, give those posts to those who do not lack in such faith and conviction. Do not hinder those who do want to follow and establish true varnashram-dharma,
Iif we follow these injunction there may be some failures. But, if we do not follow at all, there will be many more failures. And the biggest failure will be our failure to faithfully follow Srila Prabhupad's instructions.
Regarding girls not marrying at young age: When the girl reaches 17 + she really starts maturing and without a husband she becomes more and more independent minded. Then, when she does marry, look out No husband had better want her to be submissive. Actually several older gurukula boys were telling me that was one of the biggest problems in marriages not working out among the older gurukula kids, the young devotee adults. And it is exactly what Srila Prabhupad has said. The boys were saying that they have all heard all their lives how Krishna Conscious wives are (supposed to be) submissive to their husbands, dependent on their husbands. So the gurukula boy marries what he expects to be a humble and submissive dependent gurukula girl. "God have mercy". She has not been trained that way AT ALL. Rather, she has spunk in all the wrong places. She has got "attitude". She is very independent minded, very strong headed. Within months the fireworks start flying all over the place and the marriage winds up in hell. Many times Srila Prabhupad has said this is what causes divorce and the older gurukula grads have confirmed this is so.
Training our girls to become independent goes 100% head to head in full opposition with all Vedic injunctions and Srila Prabhupads teachings on the matter and the results will be no less disastrous then can be expected for deviating from the instructions of guru-sadhu-shastra. Rather then this being of any benefit at all to the girls and to our society, it is instead a step toward ruining the lives of our next generation. It may seem like such a noble and good idea, but it is not.
The thing is by keeping the girls in school and artificially keeping them from getting married and giving them a vocation and so much useless education, it becomes practically a guarantee that their marriages will fail. And, as Srila Prabhupad instructed, if you try to keep them in an ashram as Brahmacarini, then as soon as they get the chance, boyfriends and mixing with boys, and all chastity is finished. Instead, he said, for the girls, protection. Therefore one man, 3 wives, let them be taken care of. That is what is needed. That will be to their and societys benefit. it requires a sense of urgency. Oh, daughter is now 15-16, I MUST get her married, I must find her a husband, I must fulfill my duty and obligations to her, to Srila Prabhupad, to the society and to Krishna. If I cannot find a suitable young man, then find a man already married who is proven responsible, that is the urgency and mindset that is proper and required. Today, most fathers' have no idea, they have no such thinking.
Another arugment, especially from the Indian side, the mothers have had a college education. They argue it was good, and they want this for their own daughters. The Indian matajis also argue that they remained chaste (virgin), even, up to 25 or so, so why not their daughter? Here is my argument for this, and I, gave it in my Kanya-Daya book 5 years ago. Up until 50 years ago the culture in most of India was to marry the girl young. There was the influence of the British, but many of these principles were followed by the majority of Indians up to about 50 years ago. Polygamy was allowed, girls were married by 10-14 or so. This provided a recent safty net in the society. Most of the older society was still from the "old school". And schools in India were mostly separate, boys and girls. So that is also a big factor. Now 1, 2 generations have passed and with each generation the society is dropping more and more of their ancient principles and taking up the principle-less and more degraded Western ideas and social habits and culture. Dating, marriage at much later date, the girl must go to school, must get 4 years of college education. Now we are seeing the same problems taking over the modern Indian communities. Divorce - remarriage, more social degradation.
Send the girls to college for what? So she can work? Then who will be the mother for the children if she works? Who will be the housewives and mothers that make families real families? It is the housewife that transforms a house into a warm and pleasing home (ashram) for our children to grow up in. Without housewives the family tradition falls apart. Without the full attention of a full time mother, children grow up lacking in moral discipline. When women are not properly protected the whole society will degrade. That is the important point. Those who are sincere and serious, they will see, they will understand, they will start taking this up.
Again, so many quotes on this, virtually every time Srila Prabhupad spoke of getting the girl married he mentioned it is the duty of the father. He never said it is the duty of ashram teachers, the guru or the temple authorities or the GBC. Not once did he say this in regards to our children. ( for new bhaktins who have no devotee parents, then it is the duty of the Temple authorities, but that is not what he instructed for us to do in regards to our own daughters). Only he has said father, or in absence of father, her elder brother. Sometimes he has said the parents, and may have mentioned mother, but virtually always he stressed it is the duty of the father. Never has he said the guru or temple authorities or school teachers were to be involved.
On Feb. 9th, 76 Morning Walk Prabhupad said:
Bhag Gita 1.40 lecture July 28th, 73
Room conversation 7/7/76
SB Lecture August 19, 72
All of these instructions by Srila Prabhupad stating that before puberty, by 13 or 14, etc., she must be married. My wife and I have encouraged a number of times young girls, even not so young, like 18, and recently one 15 year old girl to get married. The 15 year old girl replied not now, she was too young. What too young? Who is the rascal that has told this girl she is too young? Who is that rascal? Not Srila Prabhupad. 12 years is very late marriage, over 13 and the father will go to hell. This is what he has said. Who is following Srila Prabhupad in this way? Who is promoting this or encouraging others to follow and take it up? Who? Why not? Why are our leaders silent, why do they concoct something else? Before puberty, that is what ISKCONs Founder-Acharya says. You find just ONE quote where he even hints that our daughters should not be married at such young age. I challenge, you find just one such quote!!! You will not find, because he never said that. So, I ask, who is the rascal who is telling girls who are 15 that they are too young??? What father, what guru, what GBC, what temple president, who calls himself a follower of Srila Prabhupad can be so duplicious? Today no one is preaching what Prabhupad instructed on this topic. The parents should know this is the standard and they must make the arrangements themselves. Dont wait for the temple or ashrams to do it for you, it is not their duty. It is not the duty of the temple authorities, it is not the duty of sannyasis, or teacher's, or GBC's, or gurus. It is your duty, the fathers duty to marry his daughter. The fathers duty is to get his daughter properly married. By any religious means, including polygamy.
SB 3:21:28 Purport
Very important points. The selection is always entrusted to the parents. Prabhupad says without the father, or the parents, it is almost certain the girl will choose wrongly. Based only on lusty desires. Young girls like entertainment. They like someone who can make them feel happy, who can make them laugh. But, this is not the criteria. This is not a qualification for becoming a responsible husband and father. The most nonsensical irresponsible playboy rascal can make a girl laugh and entertain her, that is not a qualification for being a good husband. But, left to select on their own, girls will make all wrong selection. It is wrong. It is child abuse to leave it up to the poor daughter. It is abuse. Prabhupad said you dont allow a small child to play with a sharp razor, similarly you dont allow girls to find their own husbands. It is wrong. The karmis will say we are wrong. So, we think, oh, we don't want to make the non-devotees think badly about us, so we follow their lost misguided culture. We must stop this non-sense thinking. We must follow shastra and the great acharyas, we must do what is actually the most beneficial for our daughter, according to what the great acharyas say, and to hell with all bad advice the non-devotees give.
Another serious problem that comes from not properly protecting the girls I have noticed that it is the more uncontrolled, the more lusty, the more non-brahminical, less responsible devotee sons and boys who rather than become fixed in brahmincal studies, as soon as they hit teen years, they are the most persistent of all the boys who constantly talk and associate with the girls. And if you stop and think about it, that is natural. That is the nature of the irresponsible play-boy type. This simply re-enforces the whole point that girls HAVE to be PROTECTED. If a father throws his daughter out on to the public street (as Srila Prabhupad worded it) and allows that his daughter can associate and mix with boys to search for her own husband, he has to understand that she is now open prey to the most irresponsible of all the boys. Because it will be the playboy type who will be the first, and the most persistent ones, who will try their very best to break down the chastity of as many girls as they can. That is simply their nature. That is why unwed girls require to be protected.
That means before the girl becomes agitated the father already arranges a husband.
What about the argument that in Vedic times there was Svayamvar, that a girl of a king could select her own husband? Misinformed speculation only. First of all that process of marriage is forbidden in the age of Kali. But besides this
SB 1:10.29 Purport excerpt
Are the fathers who try to get out of their inexcusable duty to marry their daughter by saying their daughter can choose their own, are these men powerful kings, and are their daughters that exceptionally qualified? But even then, Srila Prabhupad points out that the princes were invited by the father'. That means that, first of all she was not thrown out onto the public streets to find just anyone, but only qualified princes were allowed, and there was some qualifications they had to first meet. Karna was not allowed to try for Draupadi because he was thought to be non-ksatriya. The father pre-selected who was allowed to part-take, so even in the Svyamvar the father had a hand. Only those he allowed to come could the girl pick from. The girl was allowed to date one then antoher, freely talk and associate like unchaste prostitutes. No, Vedic culture is very strict. The father would select a few good men, and from those the girls could choose.
We have already mentioned the age difference from time to time. But, what did Srila Prabhupad actually teach, and why are the ages he gave significant?
A most assertive reference, if not the most, occurred on Feb. 27, 77 when Radha-vallabha, who was then in charge of the BBT in LA, asked Srila Prabhupad specific questions about this. There was one devotee, 19 years old, Parasatya das, who worked for the BBT in the Sanskrit dept. and he wanted to marry the daughter of the gurukula head master in LA, Dwarakanaths older daughter Kameshi, who was only 12 years old at the time. Radha-Vallabha presented to Srila Prabhupad that this was the first such marriage in ISKCON of a father giving his daughter at such a young age in marriage and the devotees wanted to make sure it was being done properly as per Srila Prabhupads instructions:
Several important points are made above. First of all somehow it has got started in ISKCON that young boys and girls can associate first - before marriage. That has become the standard in ISKCON. I have even heard a GBC insisting that this is what Srila Prabhupad wanted. No, he did not sanction this. It was wrongly introduced by some GBC. At least in my research of getting the daughter married by the father, I have NOT found any such instruction. Rather, it goes against all his instructions and all Vedic injunctions in this matter.
Here Prabhupad is asked if there should be No Association prior to marriage and he emphatically agrees, "No No, [before] marriage they do not speak." No speaking, even, no association before actual marriage. Then he says that in America (the West) this is our disease. Our culture is bad. After a few days, he said, the marriage will be finished, they will separate. The reason for the separation is our bad culture, and what is that? That the girls are not properly trained how to be Chaste and Submissive. That is the real problem. The girls do not know how to be chaste, that requires good education. And until we get that point done properly, even if a girl is married very young, still there is chance of failure. However, Srila Prabhupad is NOT AT ALL saying that the problem is increased if the girl marries very young, rather at other times he makes it understood this problem will increase if the girl is NOT married young. The older she gets, the worse the problem gets.
Actually, it was unfortunate that these two devotees did marry and some years later, after there were children, the marriage did fail, just as Srila Prabhupad predicted that it woudl. [Actually Krishna has been exceptionally kind to me and protected me by arranging for me to marry a truly chaste girl for a wife. I did not want to marry someone who might wind up not being chaste causing the marriage to fail, as it did with Parasatya and Kameshi]
But, Srila Prabhupad stressed the point that the system in the West of boys and girls allowed to intermingle, that is the source of the problem. Then it becomes adulterated. Yet this is what we is going on in ISKCON in America now. We are allowing that boys and girls can intermingle before marriage. We are allowing boys and girls to talk and associate prior to marriage. In Srila Prabhupads own words, that is Dangerous, the system will become adulterated. He did NOT sanction this, not for our daughters. These are the things that cause the problems. This is unchaste behavior, it will lead to further degradation. It will cause problems latter on in the marriages, as happened in the above case. And by not strictly protecting the proper chastity of the girls, the saintliness of the children who are born will be less if their chastity is not strictly protected. Thus it harms our society far in to the future.
We should also note that Prabhupad said their ages, 19 and 12, was a "very good combination". If the marriage were to stick, he fully agrees that this was a very good combination and age for marriage. Those with daughters who are 12, they should note that Srila Prabhupad fully approved of marrying the girl to a boy at least 19.
Another point to be noted, again Srila Prabhupad is speaking about the marriage of our
daughters and again he mentions polygamy. If the boys and girls can make their
marriages stick, then such men can marry more than one wife. That is all right, as
long as they can make the marriages stick.
Then Radha-Vallabha asks that even if they were married at this age, they should wait to live together until they are older and Prabhupad says they are to wait until she reaches puberty. The point is not some magic number like 16, or wait until she is out of school, 18, but at puberty, that is the proper time. Many girls reach puberty early, by 12 or even 11, so for them it is not just allowable, but wanted that they live with husband even at that age. That is the proper Vedic system. Some girls not until 15 or 16, so for them they will wait longer. There is no fixed age, it is up to the girl, when she becomes physically able, that is when the boy and girl associate and live together.
Radha-vallabha then asks what is the minimum age difference for the man.
This is a point that I will elaborate on shortly. Just after I finish the rest of the relevant part of this conversation. Next Radha-vallabha asked what is the maximum age difference allowable.
Prabhupad is told that Dwarakanath actually wanted to marry his daughter to a man who was 26 years old, but he was afraid it was too great a difference in age. Prabhupad agrees that that is too much difference and says ,"But eight years, ten years usual That is healthy And in no case The girl must not be older than the boy. Thats not good at all."
Even though when Srila Prabhupad is told that the devotee thought it was too great an age difference, still, when he is first asked he originally stated there was no maximum. And at other times he has also stated there is no maximum, that older man can marry younger girl. One point to keep in mind about this particular conversation is that this was presented to Srila Prabhupad as the first such marriage in ISKCON and Radha-vallabha said he was asking these questions so as to Standardize for future such marriages. Therefore I think both things are there and have to be taken into consideration. First of all such marriages where man is much older, girl is very young, are not forbidden, they are allowable, but Prabhupad agreed it was too much difference to be the standard for all future marriages. It is not the standard that he wanted to see set up as the example or standard for all other marriages of devotee's daughters to follow. Yet, it is acceptable. Such conclusion is fully supported by shastra.
In Srimad Bhagavatam there is the story of Cyavan Muni. Once Srila Prabhupad stated the age difference between Cyavan Muni and his wife was as great grandfather and great granddaughter. Still, Srila Prabhupad never says anything unfavorable about their age differences (neither does the scripture), rather Srila Prabhupad praises Sukanya, the girl, for being so chaste, even despite getting such an old husband. Even though Cyavan Muni asked the king for his daughter in marriage, and the girl was only just at marriageable age, 13 or 14, neither Vyasadev nor Srila Prabhupad make any comment that such a marriage is disgusting or degrading in any way, or that Chyavan Muni was disgusting - a 'dirty old man' for asking for the daughter's hand. It certainly is not common, it certainly was not the standard, but it is clearly tolerated by the laws of dharma.
As a more recent example Srila Prabhupad told the story of one of his father's friends whose wife died when he was 65. At that age he married a second wife. She was a very young girl. He once said when the man was 75 the wife was no more then 24 or 25. If he married her when he was 65, that would make the girl was only 14-15 at the time of marriage. 15 year old girl marrying a 65 year old man. 50 years difference in age! Srila Prabhupad never made any objection to their age difference. Rather, he told Tamal Krishna that this man was a 'great devotee'. In a conversation on July 1, 1977 he said of this marriage, "Old husband, young wife, but the relationship was so nice, great devotee and the wife devoted". Srila Prabhupad actually called their relationship as being 'so nice'. Srila Prabhupad spoke with great fondness and respect for the man, saying, "yesterday I was thinking of him... ...I am being purified by thinking of him". Even 50 years difference in marriage, even a man 65 and a girl of only 15, 75 and 25, Srila Prabhupad did not at all in the slightest suggest such a relationship was unhealthy, unclean, immoral, irreligioius, disgusting or degrading. But, it is not at all common. Yet, in this conversation Prabhupad said, "Formerly even 80 years old, they used to marry... ...there were many cases... ...the custom was that."
Here is the essential point, older men can marry, in Caitanya Caritamrita Purport to Adi Lila 14.58 Srila Prabhupad says:
The point is that it is not immoral or irreligious. It is acceptable by Vedic law. But, it is not that common.
The normal, or best age, is that the boy be at least 8-10 years older. At least 5 years old, and at no time should the girl be older than the boy.
Back to the conversation, Radha-vallabha again asks for confirmation that when there is an agreement for marriage there should be no association at all. Prabhupad agrees, and says they can be married at that age (before the girl reaches puberty) but still, no association. And Radha-vallabha confirms that even if the girl attains puberty at 13 or 14, then it is all right to associate and live together and Prabhupad agrees and the conversation moves on to another topic.
These are important social and cultural concepts that are not being preached or promoted enough (at all in many cases) and are not being followed in Srila Prabhupad's ISKCON mission. No Association Prior To Marriage. This is Srila Prabhupad's direct instruction concerning our daughters. We should not follow this system of getting the girl engaged and then let the boy and girl associate prior to marriage. For our daughters Srila Prabhupad said NO. NO. Not before marriage. No association at all!!! (Today, most temples and families do not adhere to this, they allow, even encourage association before marriage.). And the other point is, he says they can associate and live as man and wife as soon as she reaches puberty, even 13 (or even younger if she reaches puberty younger). Again, this is the standard that Srila Prabhupad taught.
And it was no secret at that time. Note that Radha-Vallabha was the one who asked Srila Prabhupad if there should be no association after engagment, and that they can associate after puberty. He asked these things because this is what Srila Prabhupad had earlier written and instructed was the proper Vedic system. Radha-Vallabha and so many devotees were fully aware this was the proper Vedic system. The reason for the questions was simply to confirm if this was what Srila Prabhupad actually wanted us to do in ISKCON at the present time? Srila Prabhupad fully confirmed this.
So, who is doing it? If devotees are not following these standards, devotee fathers not marrying their daughter ~ 12 to boys 8-10 years old, not considering polygamy as a viable option, why not? Why no one is encouraging what Srila Prabhupad clearly instructed we are supposed to do?
Some time ago I saw one gurukula grad associating with one girl. I asked him if they were engaged? He replied something like, "yeah, at least that is what the older devotees want to think of it in that way". He said if he and girl didnt publicly say they were engaged then they wouldnt be able to associate. But, he said as far as he and the girl were concerned, they were just dating, just friends, it was not a serious relationship. This is modern Western social garbage. The gurukula graduates are a lot more intelligent then their parents, they could see that betrothing, engaged, promised, etc., are used in place of marriage, because marriage is FINAL, it is SERIOUS. And engaged, associating or promised, etc. is a non-committed relationship. It is not final, it is NOT serious. It is a roundabout way of saying they are dating. But, this is not the system Srila Prabhupad taught us to follow. Not for our daughters. It is not the plan of varnashram-dharma. The psychology of the boy is, he takes "dating", "engagment" as not serious. But, the psychology of the girl will be, girls take the relationships as very serious. Girls will be thinking in terms of marriage. When society allows men to have non-serious, non-committal relationships, many men will take advantage of such a weak society. Non-serious and non-committal means irresponsible. Therefore, just this one principle represents a whole different culture. The girl and boy must be married, final, serious, and responsible before any association is allowed.
Now about this point of the boy being at least 5 years older We see today in ISKCON so many times the boy and girl are the same age or only a year or two difference. This is not the system that Srila Prabhupad taught. This is not what he asked we do.
Srila Prabhupad himself did not approve of such marriages. He refused to sanction such marriage.
The following illustrates how serious he was about this point:
In a letter to Hamsadutta on April 18, 1970, Srila Prabhupad writes:
Here Srila Prabhupad says, specifically, that for the boy to be any less then 5 years older then the girl this is not hygienic. It is unclean. And Srila Prabhupad would not sanction it, he would not allow it.
This is the difference between Vedic culture and Western culture. In America if the boy is 8 to 10 years or more older and the girl is only 12, the non-devotees consider it unhealthy, unclean. If a 22 year old man associates with an 11 year old girl, that is considered "dirty", unclean. Yet, Srila Prabhupad himself was 22 and his wife 11 when they were married. Dharma, the Vedic law, does not see it this way. Even if girl is 15 and man is 65, Srila Prabhupad did not see this as unclean. There is incidence of this.
Even among ISKCON devotees often it is considered unacceptable if girl is young, say 13, and husband is 24. In the West they think marriage is acceptable if the boy is within 1 or 2 years of the girl, even the same age, then it is considered 'normal'. But, here Srila Prabhupad instruct us clearly that such marriages are to be understood as unclean and unacceptable. He would not approve such marriage. He stopped it. If the boy is not yet mature and the girl is, then the boy will be at a disadvantage and more girls will be born to that marriage. And it will not improve as the man ages, but Srila Prabhupad says the man will only get weaker with age in such a marriage.
Note also that Srila Prabhupad suggests that when the brahmacari does marry, he should marry a girl 15, 16, at the uttmost 17. For brahmacaris, uttmost age they should consider for marriage, according to Srila Prabhupad, was uttmost 17. Preferably 15, 16.
Those who are honest and want to think of themselves as followers of Srila Prabhupad must come to terms with these things. To follow means to accept and follow. Still, so many in ISKCON want to be known as follower of Srila Prabhupad, but reject these things. Temple authorities also, they arrange marriages that do not meet this basic standards, boy is not at least 5 years older. Srila Prabhupad stopped such marriage, he would not sanction it. We must be careful that we understand these things properly before we make decisions and take actions based on a lack of proper understanding.
Especially parents and fathers of the daughters have the direct duty to understand the correct thing and act properly. Today in ISKCON if the boy is 18-19 he will look to the 15 to 19 year old girls. Yet this should not be tolerated either by the boy, his parents or the girls parents. According to Srila Prabhupad such marriages are unhealthy, unclean and he personally would not sanction it. Vedic culture and Western culture are just the opposite on these points. 80 year old man and 16 year old girl is not considered unclean, but 20 year old boy and even 16 year old girl is considered unclean and unwanted, for the boy has to be minimum 5 years older. That is why I say, it is these very same controversial principles of Vedic culture that make Vedic culture different from the West. So, who should the 18 year old boys consider for marriage? No girl older then 13. And preferably let them remain brahmacari for some more time, as Srila Prabhupad indicated here, and become more strong, because the ideal age would be 8 to 10 years younger, or at 18 for the boy, then 8 to 10 year old girl. That is desireable, that the parents should arrange, not turn away from. That is the proper standard. Let the boy be married to a 10 year old girl, but strictly, no association at all, not even speaking, until she reaches puberty, maybe by 13 or so. Then the boy will be 21. No need to talk to any other girls, no need to look here and there and waste those years in mental agitation and meditation on the objects of the senses. Rather, the matter is solved, so he can then remain serious in his studies. He has a wife, so his mentality will be thinking how to get a varna, how to be responsible. He will gain in spiritual strength even though he is married, he will not be concerned with women, while those who are agitated simply wither away in their weakness, he will go on and gain in strength.
And the girl who is already married at 8 or 10 years old, she will now have her husband, and the whole matter is also finished for her even before the agitation starts. No batting her eyes here and there looking at this one, "maybe that one. Oh, he is nice, and that one just looked at me, maybe he will be the one to save me," etc. Thus, getting the girls married at that age will reduce the agitation for the whole society, for the girls will now be properly protected. The whole game is over before it starts. This is the ideal system.
Of course this means that the girls who are now 14 and older, to properly marry them, they need young men no less then 19. And, those girls who are now 18-20, they should not marry anyone less then 23-25, ideally 30. That is the system - in full accordance with Prabhupads instructions. Some of the more successful devotees, maybe 30 years old or older, they may need to take 2 or 3 wives. That is acceptabe, the purpose is to see that all the girls are properly and religously protected.
There is one mention in a SB, I think regarding the marriage of Kadamba Muni, there Srila Prabhupad says that the boy and girl must be "of equal age". Sometimes devotees quote that verse and say that it is acceptable and desireable for the boy and girl to be the exact same age - what they define as "equal age".
We must weigh such concept or idea with all other instructions. Such a conclusion does not fit. Therefore, I conclude that what is meant by 'equal age' means they must be of equal age to be married, not necessarily the same exact age. In other words a girl 12 years old is of marriageable age, and so is a young man of 22. They would be of equal age to get married. 8 to 10 years difference is 'of equal age' to be married. Not exactly equal in age. This understanding now fits in with all the other instructions Srila Prabhupad has given.
We have read that a girl is to be married and live with husband at time of puberty, and this could be as young as 12. If we insist that the boy and girl must be the same exact age, that would mean a 12 year old girl marries a 12 year old boy. That is not good. A 12 year old girl is actually mature enough to become a wife and mother (proof of this is the culture of India where this was the standard right up to Srila Prabhupads days, including his own wife. My mother-in-law was married and lived with her husband when she was barely 13. In the history of the world there are billions of such examples of such marriages. As soon as a girl reaches puberty, that is the signal that she is mature enough to become mother and wife). But, a 12 year old boy is not mature enough to become a husband and father. Thus, equal age means equal age to be married, not exact same age.
This is sort of a reiteration of what has already been said, that girls must be married early, and why their chastity needs to be protected. But, it is so important that we will try to say the same thing in a different way again.
Why is better for the girls? Because, as Srila Prabhupad says, without a husband (anath) girls will become frustrated and mortified. The Vedic system is that the girl is to go from child to wife and mother with no gap in between.
Why no gap? Because of the same principle, to protect her chastity. Vedic culture takes no chances. Getting the girl married before she reaches puberty assures that there will be far less chance of her falling prey to her senses or a boys senses before she is married. It helps to assure that she wont be cheated out of her chastity by the play boys of society.
Why is it so important to protect a girl's chastity? In Vedic culture a young unwed chaste girls is considered the most prescious thing to the society. The idea is for society to create saintly citizens. Thus, the protected chastity of a young girl is a most valuable thing. Such chaste and well protected girl is able to give birth to saintly children. Her chastity must be preserved, it must be protected, it has such high value. It is most precious.
I have also observed that if a girl has no husband and no child by 18 or so, at least I have observed in several girls over the years, that often they start focusing on furthering their education and creating some sort of career for themselves. Cementing their full independence. Their desire to become a mother, which Srila Prabhupad has said is there naturally at the moment of puberty, has been frustrated for so long, that out of such frustration the girl turns to other pursuits in life, and in this day and age the most acceptable thing is a career.
What is so bad about that? Several things. If she is not yet married then she becomes even more vulnerable to adultery. And if she has a boyfriend or even a husband, she will put off having children because a family and being a mother would ruin their chance to have a career. Going into colleges and the work place more and more puts her at risk of committing illicit affairs. There is virtually no question of chastity left. Once a career is started, then when and where do children come into the picture? The whole balance of family life and motherhood becomes distorted. All of this simply creates more disturbances for the society.
The greatest loss for the society is that as the girls loses her chastity, also the saintliness of her children becomes less viable.
Why is it better for the boys that girls marry early? Here comes an important concept. My observation and analysis is thus: The Vedic system is that boys should not marry until at least 20 - 30 years of age. But, how many boys in ISKCON remain fixed up, staunch brahmacaris, full of tejas, keeping their senses controlled, up to that age? But why arent there so many boys who make it that far? Because, unwed, unprotected girls in the society creates too much disturbance. Too much agitation. When the girls hit the magic age of puberty, they become full of desires for wanting to be in the association of boys. They cant take their eyes or minds off of the subject. And the teenage boys notice this. The unchecked desires of unprotected girls agitates the young mens minds and they too can no longer fix their minds on becoming staunch brahmacaris.
Therefore, it is my conclusion that if a high percentage of the girls were to be married before puberty, and the majority married by 13 or 14, with only a few not wed until 16, but ALL the girls married no later then 16, then the younger boys will not melt from the agitation. The cause of the disturbance and the cause of their not remaining staunch and fired up in the fire of brahmacari life, will be gone. Thus, if we really want to see that our boys become fixed up and fired up brahmacaris our society will have to remove the disturbance, we will have to encourage that all fathers properly marry their daughter early, in accordance with Vedic injunctions.
We can pour all sorts of time and energy into trying to improve their training, which does need improvement, but it will not solve the problem because the real problem is the unprotected older girls.
How is it better for society that girls be married young?
Because a young girl is more likely to be chaste, she will have known no other boys association. Thus she will be more likely to have saintly children.
Yes, if the girls are to be married early, before they loose their chastity, then it must be taken as an emergency on the part of the parents. Again this is just a reiteration of the same points already discussed. As Srila Prabhupad has said (Aug, 19, 72), "Someway or other, find out any husband."
The Manu Samhita states if the father fails to marry his daughter before 3 years after puberty (approx. 16), then he is to be seen as a failure in society. Why, because of all the points made above. He has not done that which is most beneficial to his own daughter, by allowing her to remain unprotected his daughter will be creating disturbance for the other members of society, causing agitation for the boys, etc. For all these reasons society must encourage parents to follow these injunctions.
Even Srila Prabhupad has said that if the daughter is not married by 13, the father will go to hell. If the girl has first menstruation before the father marries her, then the father must drink it. Srila Prabhupad said this shows how strict scripture is on this point.
Fathers who understand this will naturally take it up very seriously. The will take it as an emergency.
I heard that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur once walked from village to village for a month or longer to seek out someone he felt was qualified to marry his daughter.
Srila Prabhupad gave the example of his own sister. The girl had reached 12 years old and the father had not married her yet, the mother, Srila Prabhupad's mother, was so upset, she told her husband, Srila Prabhupad's fathr, if you don't get our daughter married quickly I will drown myself in the Ganges. So serious this is to be taken.
Father's who do not see the situation as actual emergency are blind to what is their proper duty. They do not know what is dharma, religon.
Now this is an interesting point. Many times Srila Prabhupad has stated it as a fact that the women outnumber the men. period. This was his argument for the need of allowing polygamy. However, in my research I found this not to be directly so. Census data shows that in nearly all countries the men slightly outnumber the women, by a fraction of a percentage. At first I was about to close the book on polygamy and considered that at least for now the numbers just didnt support it. But, I felt something else was missing from the equation, because when I looked around, things just didnt add up. Even Srila Prabhupad himself had said in every country he went to he observed that there were fewer men then the girls (not just in ISKCON, but in all societies). How to reconcile this? I guess Srila Prabhupad and I just werent seeing things properly. The census data tells us there are an equal number of men to women, but when I and Prabhupad looked around we saw more unwed girls of marriageable age then boys of age and qualifications to marry them. Was Srila Prabhupad wrong? What was missing?
Here is what I finally concluded. In Jan 73 Srila Prabhupad wrote a letter to Karandhar advising Karandhar that polygamy was the best system for protecting the women in our society. He wrote that those men who were better able to maintain wife and family to marry as many wives as they can. He says, in that letter, that many of our men got themselves married for disastrous results and so many ISKCON marriages were failing. He says this means that not all of our men are meant for being married.
The point is that not all men are qualified for married life. The duty of the father is that he must find a husband who is qualified to best provide for, care, guide and protect the father's daughter. What became clear is that there is a shortage of such qualified men, married or single. It may be that there is close to equal number of men and women, and an equal number of boys and girls even in our movement (although a study was published in England some years back that found that in vegetarian families there was a much higher number of female children then boys, something like 6% more!), but there are NOT an equal number of qualified young men to the number of potentially qualified young girls. That is where the equation becomes lop-sided.
Look around and make a list of all the boys who are of marriageable age. Prabhupad has said the boy should be 8 to 10 years older then the girl. Marriageable age for the girls is 10 to 16 (or even earlier then 10). At least 12 to 16. So, you count up all the girls of marriageable age, 12 to 16, that are potentially qualified to make good wives IIIFFF (that is a BIG IF) they were able to marry qualified devotee husbands. Generally girls of that age are chaste, innocent, eager to become mothers, etc. Now count up all the equally qualified boys who are 20 to 26 years old who are the ideal age to marry these girls. If your math and your criteria for qualified are the same as mine, then you will easily see there is a big problem. There is a much larger number of potentially qualified young girls needing qualified husbands then there are equally qualified young men to marry them.
Even if you match all 16-18 year old unwed girls with all the 16+ year old boys, the numbers are lop-sided. But, as we have read, the boy MUST be at least 5 years older then the girl. Srila Prabhupad would NOT sanction a marriage when he knew the boy was not at least 5 years older.
Lets say you are the father of a 12 year old daughter. Lets assume that you want to follow Srila Prabhupads instructions and will only consider a boy 5 years older, or more. You are looking for someone 17 to 22+. Lets just give some number and say there are 20 girls who are between 11 and 16 whose fathers also need to find them a husband in the same community. At that age the girls are still chaste, and most have the potential of making good wives (IF they had specific training on how to be a chaste and faithful wife - what training they have not got, then even more they will need a more advanced husband who will be able to complete the guidence and give them the training they maybe lacking). How many boys of proper marriageable age would there be? Lets say there are 12 to 15. These are the more realistic numbers I have seen from my own observance at different temples. But, lets be generous, lets even it up and say there are 20 boys for the 20 girls (maybe there are, but I certainly dont see them, and neither did Srila Prabhupad). Of all of these boys how many would the fathers of the girls consider are qualified? Again, I am going to be very generous and say 10 (but you talk with the girls fathers and most of them will tell you they cant find even one they really feel is qualified - especially if you apply proper standards, are these qualified single young men of high integrity, responsible, dedicated to vows, austere, have good brahmcari training, properly respect and honor all women as their mother, etc.) - but we are going to be generous and say there are 10 such boys. 10 boys who are fairly qualified to make good husbands for the 20 girls in need of good husbands. If you are among the fathers of these 20 girls, then you have got a real problem. If you are one of the 20 girls and really want a nice and qualified devotee husband, you really do have a problem.
Do you remember playing musical chairs when you were a child? 20 kids, 19 chairs, when the music stops one person gets left out. Then only 18 chairs next time. Well, the above mathematical equation plays the game of musical chairs, but it only goes around one time, and there are only 10 good chairs for 20 girls. When the music stops at least half of the chairs are missing or arent good enough to support the poor girl. If we insist on monogamy for our daughters, then half of the girls will be forced to be left out. Or left to marry unqualified men and their marriages are virtually guaranteed to fail. What are the alternatives? To date boy after boy and become more and more unchaste until the girl gets a reputation for being easy. Or some girls who can't find a man will try to take a husband away from another married women, they become home-wreckers and in the end it creates such disturbance in society. Other alternatives for the girls, let the girls find her own husband, after all they are smart and bright, they can do it. Then the first irresponsible playboy comes along and swoons her heart away, she marries and after a few tough years and a few children, hes gone for someone he thinks is better then your daughter. Or, she will go on to college and date non-devotee boys, but will try to make them devotees. How many times has that succeeded?
So, what is the Vedic alternative? Polygamy. And the above mathematical equation is the scientific proof based on the hard cold facts that in today's world especially there are too few qualified boys to the number of potentially qualified girls. This is scientific proof, mathematical proof, that polygamy is absolutely required to be accepted right now in our society, and that without it it is not possible to properly protect all the women. Forced monogamy simply will breed more and more disruption and failed marriages.
This is the only real solution, based on Prabhupads instructions and Shastra. As Prabhupad said, the father must get his daughter married, somehow or other, he has to find some qualified boy, so where to find so many? Therefore it is nice system if those men who make better husband that they take as many wives as they can maintain.
It may seem that I virtually stand alone in presenting this idea as an authorized option for devotee fathers to consider. Yet, the fact is, I am not alone. I didn't come up with these ideas. It is shastra and Srila Prabhupad who presented them. I am simply repeating what he has taught.
There are a number of points in the above purport. One is that man, even more than 50 years old can marry (additional wives). Secondly, Srila Prabhupad says that unless polgyamy is allowed it will not be possible to get all the girls married. That is important. Hegoes on to say that if the girls are not married this is chance of adulty, and in society where adultry is present cannot be peaceful or pure. Without allowing polygamy there will be no peace of purity. Then Srila Prabhupad ties this to our ISKCON society and says that in our Krsna Conscious society we restrict illicit sex. The practical thing is for the father to find a husband for the daughter. He concludes by saying that We are therefore in favor of polygamy.
Srila Prabhupad says that "we", the Krsna Concious society, himself and his followers, We are in favor of polygamy. I want Srila Prabhupad to count me in as one of his followers, I include myself in the "WE" that he refers to. Any genuine follower of Srila Prabhupad would do so as well.
But, how to assure that only the better more first class men are the ones who take more than one wife? How to assure that it is not the irresponsible playboys who take 3 or 4 wives, then leave? Some argue that this is a major concern. It is no concern, not if proper Vedic culture is established. Vedic culture automatically solves this problem as well. How? Because it is not the girls who are to decide, but the fathers. The father will have to judge, he has to decide, is this man truly responsible, will he be able to guide my daughter in her spiritual life? Will he be life long responsible for her and their children? That is the fathers duty to assure this.
A man may approach the father and request, but it is the father who has to decide, is this man going to give his daughter the protection and spiritual guidance she needs and will he be life long responsible. However, it is more proper that the father approach the man, not that a man asks for the girls.
I realize that many devotees will not enthusiastically agree and accept many of these ideas and principles with wide open arms. Not right away. Eventually there is no alternative but to accept because the science is exact, and this is what Srila Prabhupad taught. The day will come when these principles are widely accepted and practiced. Maybe not in my life time, but that day will come. These writings are an attempt to get started in this direction, to help others come to understand and accept these principles. At the very least we need to preach what Srila Prabhupad actually taught in this respect. I am hoping these writings will help devotees in making some very difficult but correct choices in regards to the training and marriages of their children.
One thing I didnt mention was astrological compatibility charts in arranging the marriages. I would (without too much emphasis) recommend considering having them done. Even though Srila Prabhupad mentions that it is the Vedic system to do them, he himself never bothered to have them done for his disciples. Why? Because Srila Prabhupad also said that these things are not needed for Vaishnavas. Devotees of Krishna, he said, are above such mundane laws. Our underlying compatibility is that we each have put Krishna in the center of our lives, thus, in the service of Krishna, a Vaishnav should be able to fully accept and be compatible with any other Vaishnav. The ultimate bottom-line as far as any marriage is concerned is that we must simply accept who ever Krsna gives us. That is all. So, astrology is an additional help, but it is not essential, so I do not place a whole lote of emphasis on it.
One last word: I must thank my wife, Ragalekha dd, who has tolerated the long hours sitting at my computer while I wrote this. Without her help I would not have been able to study and write such things, and her input as a chaste Vaishnavi from an Indian (Hindu) family has been a great source of practical information and inspiration.
That is all for now. Please forgive me for any offenses I may have made.
All glories to Sri Sri Guru-Gaurangero Prem.
December - 97 Last revision: December 16, 2004
I look forward to discussing any of these points further with anyone who maybe interested. My wife and I are also willing to counsel devotees on marriage matters, etc. You may reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't be shy - send me a reply.
I have never taken another wife. For various reasons, although I have made a number of offers. I keep the idea open, however, it is not so likely due to my age (currently, June 2004, I am 53 yrd old).
(Quotes of Srila Prabhupad's teachings are taken from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust CD Folio whose sole copyright is by the BBT - the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust)
Last modified: December 16, 2004