Vedic Training:
How To Become  A Krishna Conscious Wife
For ISKCON Brahmacarinis

"Advice On Arrangement Of Mariage" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual.  >Contents Page

Advice On Arrangement Of Marriage:

I thought it would be good to include a little advice on how to get one’s self married. This section is just my personal advice. Srila Prabhupad instructed that arranged marriages are best. It is the only system that he instructed us to follow. However, he has also said that without the father taking the responsibility to get the daughter married, it is almost impossible for the girl to get a good husband. In absence of father Srila Prabhupad has recommended that the temple presidents or GBC (or guru) or a person they appoint make an arrangement. Each temple has their own system. Personally he did not check astrologically for compatibility, but he has recommended this as being the Vedic system.

The point about marriage without the father is important. I have had the experience that sometimes other authorities make suggestions for arrangements that do not have the best interest of the girl or the boy, but are often based on other criteria.

For example, I have seen a manager try to convince a man who worked under him to marry a certain girl because the manager wanted the girl to become his secretary. The boy and girl were obviously totally mismatched. The arrangement was not at all properly based, it was not made with either the girls’ or boy’s best interest in mind. Fortunately they rejected it.

In the same way, I have seen a boy who seemed qualified for a certain girl, the manager turned down the request because the girl was the manager's secretary and he didn't want to loose her. The girl was finally married to a devotee who also worked with that manager. But, it was such an obvious mismatch, the marraige ended in divorce a few years latter.

In 1993 in Alachua one mataji was telling me how, when her daughter reached puberty at 12, the girl naturally became agitated for a husband. The mother knew that Srila Prabhupad has instructed that the parents marry the girls at such young age, so she asked the boy's ashram teacher if he could help her find a husband for the daughter. The teacher obliged and came back with his suggestion. There was one boy in the ashram who was totally out of control, he did not respect or obey authority. Irresponsible, not at all interested in his studies. He was a disturbance to the ashram. The teacher was thinking, this boy is already fallen, and since married life is a fall-down, he is the idea best choice for this girl. He told the mother, just see, this obviously is "Krsna's arrangment". I was wondering what to do with this boy, and now your daughter is agitated for marriage, so just see, Krsna's 'perfect' arrangment.

Fortunately the poor girl's mother had more intelligence then the boy's ashram teacher.

This illustrates that as Srila Prabhupad has said, except for the father, it is almost impossible for the girl to get a good husband. This teacher did not posses the mind-set that this girl is like his own daughter and thus he had no concept or idea or desire to assure that he made very best arrangement for her. Instead, what was nothing more than the most materially convenient situation for 'himself', he grossly and foolishly took that to be 'Krsna's divine arrangement'.

The point I am making is that the father is the only one who has the real personal interest of his daughter in mind. That is the father's only concern. Or should be. (Some well-to-do or publicly known families may make arrangements that are for the "family's" financial or social or political interest. Even such marraiges can still be proper and good, but only if the father makes the decisions also based on what is the best for the daughter. That the boy is fully qualified, properly trained, etc. Therefore, father is best to find the right person. As Srila Prabhupad says, without father, it is almost impossible for the girl to get a qualified husband.

What is my advice? Srila Prabhupad has said to accept what Krishna has given, and to let the authorities make the decision. He has said that generally the boys and girls, especially the girls, are not able to make a proper decision on their own. My advice is to follow this, but to use some personal discretion. If you are convinced that your authority has your best interest in mind, then accept what they are suggesting (although submissive inquiry to help determine that their choice is best for you may be considered wise). In smaller temples there may be fewer choices, unless a GBC is looking far and wide. If one’s initiating or instructing guru is making the arrangement, they 'should' have your best interest at heart, but again, submissive inquiry to try and confirm that, asking why they feel their choice is best, is, in my personal opinion, not bad advice, especially in today's ISKCON.

And, for the temple authorities who read this, I beg that you please consider the seriousness and far reaching implications and that you act on behalf of the girl, as her father. More for the girl, protection of marriage is to protect the girl, so in an arrangment the emphasis is what is best for the girl.

Some times people make their own arrangements, or find someone they think they like. Marriages based on like and dislike of the bodily features and movements and character behavior are not at all good as the basis for marriage. It is practically impossible for a young person who is agitated by the strong urging of the senses to make an unbiased decision in these matters. Often, if the person has bodily features that attract one’s mind and senses, the mind will work its best magic to convince you that that person is the most qualified for you. That is called maya, and falling under the spell of maya. The mind, under maya's influence, will convince you that the person is divinly perfect, when in fact, the mind is simply infatuated on some material temporary beauty. It is best to seek help in this from a proper and authorized devotee who can make the arrangements on your behalf.

When the choice is made on the basis of material attraction, of like and dislike, it is a very thin foundation for a marriage. As soon as some difficulty arises and one becomes disenchanted with the spouse, there is nothing for the relationship to fall back on. If attraction was the basis and one temporarily becomes un-attracted then the relationship is finished. Or as soon as someone comes who attracts you or your spouse more, again finished.

The basis of a Krishna Conscious marriage must be duty. I accept this wife or this husband as my duty. I have taken a vow to be life long responsible or life long surrendered and that is now my duty to fulfill that sacred vow. It is my duty to Krishna to remain responsible and to give my children, young devotees of Krishna, the best Krsna Conscious family life they can have. That is my service, my duty. This duty never changes. When one makes this duty the basis and foundation of the marriage, then no mater what happens in the marriage, even if all material attraction temporarily is gone, this duty never changes. The basis and foundation does not change and the marriage stays strong and healthy in good times, and in bad, for better or for worse. Then the marriage will succeed.

Unfortunately many of our children have not learning this in the gurukula. I spoke with one boy, he was about 22, and was born an ISKCON devotee, his father being a disciple of Srila Prabhupad. I discussed this point with him and his response was that if he wasn’t attracted to the woman’s body, then he wouldn’t want to remain married to her. It is so sad to see that he has had no good training, or no good realization, in this matter. Material attraction will never last for long. It will fade away in hours, days, a few years, but it will never last. About 6 months later he married a devotee's daughter who was very attractive. I pray that he made enough advancement to base the marriage on more than her temporary so-called good looks.

I saw one report on TV several years ago where they interviewed older couples who were married for over 50 - 75 years. They asked the couples what was the one thing that held their marriages together for so long. What the interviewers were expecting were wishy-washy love stories, how much they loved each other. And they were expecting to hear how ideal their marriages had been, with no major crisis or trouble that might tear apart relationships. Instead, one after the other, the single most common underlying reason for their marriage's longevity was found in one word. Duty. They took marriage vows seriously. The words and concepts that came up most often were duty and responsibility and duty to God was also common.

SB 3.22.11 (Marriage of Kardama and Devhuti)

Therefore please accept her, O chief of the brahmanas, for I offer her with faith and she is in every respect fit to be your wife and take charge of your household duties


The words grhamedhisu karmasu means "in household duties." Another word is also used here: sarvatmananurupam. The purport is that a wife should not only be equal to her husband in age, character and qualities, but must be helpful to him in his household duties. The household duty of a man is not to satisfy his sense gratification, but to remain with a wife and children and at the same time attain advancement in spiritual life. One who does not do so is not a householder but a grhamedhi. Two words are used in Sanskrit literature; one is grhastha, and the other is grhamedhi. The difference between grhamedhi and grhastha is that grhastha is also an ashrama, or spiritual order, but if one simply satisfies his senses as a householder, then he is a grhamedhi. For a grhamedhi, to accept a wife means to satisfy the senses, but for a grhastha a qualified wife is an assistant in every respect for advancement in spiritual activities. It is the duty of the wife to take charge of household affairs and not to compete with the husband. A wife is meant to help, but she cannot help her husband unless he is completely equal to her in age, character and quality.

Srila Prabhupad says the boy and girl should be completely equal in age, character and quality. This point, made here in this purport, that the girl and boy be of ‘equal’ age is interesting, and I will explain my understanding of it.

As I have pointed out before. The girl must not be more ‘advanced’ than her husband. If the man has sudra like qualities he should not marry a girl with brahminical training and qualities. Being of equal quality and character are very important.

However, what about completely equal in age? By research we have found that Srila Prabhupad has only instructed that the boy must be ‘older’ than the girl. Time after time he has said the ideal age for the boy is 20 to 25 years and for the girl, at puberty or before. Never later than 16 years old she is to be married. Once, a devotee, Radhaballabha, specifically asked Srila Prabhupad what ages are recommended for marriage. Srila Prabhupad indicated that for the girl, before or just after puberty, no latter than 16. He asked what was the minimum age for the boy, Prabhupad said he had to be 5 years age older than the girl. Strictly, he said, the girl must not marry a boy who is younger than herself. 8 to 10 years older he said is most usual. When asked what was the maximum age difference, Srila Prabhupad said there is no maximum limit. An 80 year old man can marry a 16 year old girl.

But, best ages were 8 to 10 years older. Manu Samhita recommends the girl to be 12 and the man to be 30, 18 years difference.

He has also said that a girl should be given a child as soon after she reaches puberty as possible. That is generally 12 to 15 years old, but could even be 11. If we take this purport to mean the boy and girl should be of the ‘same’ age, then this would mean the boy would be 11 to 15 years old.

No. We know Srila Prabhupad never taught this.

Therefore, the way I understand this one statement that boy and girl should be completely equal in age is in relation with all his other instructions. We must see with eyes of shastra, so taking all other instructions into consideration, I see this to mean that the boy and girl be of ‘equal age’ to be married, in accordance with and in relationship to scriptural injunction, not in relationship to each other.

That is, a girl can be married as a child. Srila Prabhupad has said that 6 years old is not too young (don’t misunderstand, she does not live with husband until she reaches puberty, but as soon as puberty comes, she is to live with husband, according to Srila Prabhupad). That means that if a girl marries at, say 10, she will not reach puberty, say, for 3 years. So, a boy of ‘equal marriageable age’ for her would be a boy who is no less than 5 years older, or 15. That means that he will be 18 when they live together. Preferably he should be 8 to 10 years older, meaning he would be 18 or 20 when she is 10, and he would be 21 to 23 when they live together. That is considered a proper and ‘equally marriageable age’ by Vedic standards. The boy and girl are of ‘equal’ age to be married, not that they are the same age. A boy 13 and a girl 13, although being the ‘same age’ are not of equally of age to be married. A girl can be, and should be, married at that age, but not a boy. Or even 16 and 16. A girl 16 is of marriageable age, a boy at 16 is not mature enough yet. And, Srila Prabhupad says the boy must be at least 5 years older. That means they are not of ‘equal’ age to be married. The boy needs to be at least 21 to be of equal marriageable age for a girl who is 16.

So, what about a girl in her 20’s or even over 30? What is the right age for her husband? He must be no less than 5 years older. If she is 25, she should not marry anyone under 30. There is no maximum age. That means if she is 20, even a man 40 or 50 is not too old (at least technically speaking, as there is no maximum age difference limit).

There are many other quotes and references to the topic of marriage and training. And there are many other related topics that need to be studied. Some I give in the Kany Daya book. My wife would also like to add a section on how to be a good devotee mother, but the most important part we covered, and that is the mother has to set the proper example.

I will add that Srila Prabhupad has said that if the baby can be fed only the breast milk of her mother for the first 6 to 12 months, then he says that person will be healthy for life. That is very interesting. If the baby is fed only the mother’s milk, it appears that this will create such a strong healthy condition that the body will be able to maintain it’s good health throughout life. Mother’s should keep this in mind for their own children. It can seem like an inconvenience, but really, it is not. Our three children have never had a rubber nipple in their mouths ever. (Once they could hold a cup, we used those plastic cups with the hard plastic spout on them, only because they minimized the spill factor. Otherwise, in a village they would have gone from mother’s breast to a cup with no ‘bottles’ and rubber nipples ever). For over 6 months they lived only on mother’s milk, and over 12 months that was their main diet. None of the children have had any serious illnesses.