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

"Brahmacari Training" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual.  >Contents Page

Brahmacari Training:

Marriage is a partnership between the husband and wife. In a Krsna Conscious marriage it is foremost a spiritual partnership. Although the specific duties and roles are different, the responsibility to make the partnership work is shared by both parties. Just as training is required on the girl’s side, proper training is also required on the man’s side.

SB Purport 3.14.17

"A faithful wife is supposed to cooperate with her husband in fulfilling all material desires so that he can then become comfortable and execute spiritual activities for the perfection of life. If, however, the husband is progressive in spiritual advancement, the wife undoubtedly shares in his activities, and thus both the wife and the husband profit in spiritual perfection. It is essential, therefore, that girls as well as boys be trained to discharge spiritual duties so that at the time of cooperation both will be benefited. The training of the boy is brahmacarya, and the training of the girl is chastity. A faithful wife and spiritually trained brahmacari are a good combination for advancement of the human mission."

The thrust of this book is, obviously, training required on woman's side. But, the often heard complaint is it was the man who left, or the man who fell down, etc. The man who is unreasonable, or the man who is not responsible, abusive, etc.

Above we see that logically Srila Prabhupad agrees, the ideal or good combination for marriage is a girl trained to be faithful to her husband, and the man spiritually trained in brahmacari principles.

The ideal married life is when both man and wife have been properly trained and both behave and act properly according to their prescribed duties.

What are the principles a brahmacari are trained in? All good qualities of a brahman, he learns austerity, cleanliness, honestly, integrity, responsibility. He takes his vows to guru, Krsna, social duties, with the highest personal honor. Utmost he develops loving devotion to God.

These qualities in the man, combined with faithful submissive qualities in the girl are the ideal marriage combination.

The character of the brahmacari is that he builds true responsibility. He sets out to carry out his duty despite any and all mundane difficulties, just as he sets out to fulfill the orders of his spiritual master regardless of how materially difficult it becomes. This is the proper character.

With that training his conviction in married life will be that of becoming life-long responsible for his wife and children regardless of whether the material situatios are good or bad.

To install such a noble spirit of conviction requires cultural training.

One of the most profound things a young boy is to learn is how to properly respect women. From early boyhood he must be trained to see all women (other then his own wife) as mother. This does not mean he must see older women as mother only, but all women, even girls younger than himself, as mother.

When the boy reaches 10 to 15 years old, the training has to be there, he should not just see women who are over 20 as mother, but he should see the 15 year olds, the 10 year olds, as mother also. This way when he reaches his teen years he will not be so agitated by the girls his own age. He will see even teenage girls who are the same age as himself, he will be able to see and respect them as his mother.

This, I see, is sorely lacking in our gurukula schools, at least what I have seen in America.

What does it mean to respect someone as ‘mother’? Vedic culture has a very high respect for mother. A child (and latter the adult) is trained to touch his mother’s feet to his head each day. He bows his head at her feet. He approaches her with folded hands. This is the mood and respect he should naturally develop toward his own birth mother, and brahmacari training must be there to carry this same respect in his heart toward all other women, and girls, who are not his own wife.

The wife is to have the greatest respect toward her one husband. So, the man is to allow the wife to give him that respect. But, all other women, the man is to give them the same respect his wife gives him. At least, he should approach them with folded hands and be very respectful.

Men who have this training will make ideal husbands. They will be trained no to see other men’s wives as objects of their own sense enjoyment. And it will be more natural and easy for them to also have compassion and a sense of responsibility and respect in dealing with their own wife.

The man will not see his own wife as his mother, but he will see her as the mother (or mother-to-be) of his children. Thus, he must also treat her with the highest respect as well.

This is a key-training for the brahmacaris.

For the unwed girls desiring a good husband, the above characteristics and behaviors for the prospective husband are the most important to look for. The system in ISKCON is that the temple authorities will make the arrangement for the brahmacarini - since she has no devotee father to perform this duty. It is imparative that the temple authorities be most diligent in observing these principles.

Actually, let me stress how the temple authority must carry out their duty in the marriage of the brahmacarinis under their care. This is a very grave and very important duty to the peace - purity - integrity and potency of Srila Prabhupad's mission. To make bad choices in marriage combinations will creat so much havoc and disturbance. If a marriage does not make it, so much energy is misdirected. Lives are uprooted. If children are there, their very lives can be totally disrupted. Services get disrupted, etc. It can be disasterous, very distrupting to the whole society for generations. Stable marriages and healthy family lives are crucial to the future of our society.

The mind-set of the temple authority who makes such marriage arrangements has to see himself as the girl's guardian / father. He has to treat the situation that this is my very daughter, so who is qualified to marry her. And, he must consider the above qualifications of the boy. If he is lacking in responsibilty, etc. then he should not be consider. He need further training. If such men do not qualify themselves, do not come up to the first-class level, then the temple authority must not get them married. They should not even be allowed to remain at the temple/ashram.

Satsvarüpa: Well, the other difficulty, you brought this up several years ago, was that the men who take many wives have to be very select. Otherwise men will be attracted to join our movement for sex life, having different wives.

Prabhupäda: No, no, unless our men are trained up, why you should allow to stay here and to wife. We want trained up men, not third-class picked-up. We want men who will follow the rules and regulations and fully trained up. Otherwise we don’t want. We don’t want ordinary karmés and... And if he agrees to be trained up, then we’ll take. Otherwise what is the use of bringing some useless men? He must agree to produce his own food, and work. Our rules and regulations, he must follow. Then it will be ideal community. Otherwise, if you bring from here and there some men and fill up, that is not good thing. This is a training institution, to become devotee.

-- - Aug 1, 1975 New Orleans farm - Varnashram Dharma talk.

A major problem in ISKCON is too little proper understanding of dharma.Often one idea is misapplied to something else. For example, it is also taught as part of our philosophy that married life is a 'fall down' from spiritual life. This is taught strongly in the brahmacari ashram. And, it is a fact, those who are sannyasis and brahmacaris are free from all family responsibilities and thus they are able to devote their full time and energy toward devotional service and carrying out the spiritual mission. For a sannyasi, it is complete fall down to again take up married life. For the brahmacari it is also a 'fall down', but not in the same sense. It is not against the principles of dharma for a brahmacari to marry. Rather, it is expected, it is fully in line with the religious principles. Yet it is a fact that one who marries can no longer dedicate full time and energy to spiritual service, in fact, the majority of ones time and energy will now be diverted to family life. So, it is a set-back or fall down of such to marry, but for the brahmacari it is allowable by the laws of dharma. For a sannyasi it is a very grave and serious violation of the laws of dharma.

But, since it is taught that for a brahmacari to marry is a fall-down, I have seen many times in ISKCON this is misapplied.

In the chapter on Arranged Marriages I gave the example of a boy's ashram teacher who had tried to make arrangement for a young devotee girl, giving her to the ashram's most troublesome boy. The teachers misapplied concoction was that marriage is a fall-down, and since this boy was irresponsible, causing trouble in the ashram, not interested in studies, he was the most fit for marrying the young girl. All backwards application of the actual Vedic science. No real knowledge of actual dharma. No wonder ISKCON has had so many trials and tribulations over the past 25 years.

This is not how one selects a qualified, trained, responsible man to marry one's daughter?

The main point of this short chapter, however, is that the person choosing the man, whether it be the father, the temple authority, guardian or if the girl should have to seek out her own husband, the main criteria to look for is the persons character, intregrity, responsibility, and devoutness to honor and vows. Does the devotee see and properly act as he should seeing all women, other than his wife, as his mother. That is, with honor and respectfulness. With a mood of wanting to take responsibility and take best care. Cleanliness, honesty, all good qualities are desirable, and devotion to Krsna and guru is shown by his devotion to follow the instructions. These are all desirable qualities.

Remember, it is the trained submissive girl combined with the trained responsible man, trained in the brahmacari ashram, which creates the most ideal marriage with the best chance of success. That success will be both material and spiritual.

However, lets be honest. Especially in current day ISKCON such men are not so plentiful. I did not plan to end this writing on this topic, but by need, it has to be said. Even though many devotees argue that with all the current marriage related problems, this is no time to bring up the idea of polygamy. Yet, Srila Prabhupad himself argued just the opposite. He had pointed out how so many marriages had failed and said that polygamy was the best solution, the best idea, to deal with these problems. He said the many failed marriages is proof that not all men are qualified for marriage. As I noted above, not many men have all those desirable qualities that will make for a good and caring husband. Therefore, let the men who are qualified, let them protect via marriage as many wives as they can maintain. From a letter dated January 9th, 1973 to Karandhar:

..."according to the Vedic system polygamy is not prohibited. But it is not a farce also. Every wife must be provided for sufficiently." ... ..."It doesn't mean to marry many wives and maintain none of them. If anyone is able to keep more then one wife and give all the comforts of life, there is no objection for having more then one wife. But if he creates trouble by marrying, he should not marry even one wife, this is my judgment. Now you can do the needful, taking into consideration the circumstances of the laws of your country, the customs of your people, the reputation of our society, the examples which will be set for future devotees to follow, like that."... ..."It is advised that all women get themselves married, and if there is any man who is better able to maintain wife and family, he is advised to marry as many women as he can maintain and thereby free other men in the society to remain brahmacari. So I can understand that many men of our society have got themselves married only for some disastrous result. That means that not all of our men are meant for married life, but because there are so many women we may not leave them unprotected without husband, that will also not serve us well. Therefore it will be the best idea if those who are well-qualified as husbands to keep more than one wife very much satisfied in every respect. If such men can marry more then once, that will free the others to remain brahmacari."

In Srila Prabhupad's own words, it will be best idea for those men who are well-qualified as husband to keep more than one wife very much satisfied in every respect. The point is, the best marriage is for the girl to marry a well trained, responsible and caring man. The problem is, there are too few such men. If we insist on monogamy only, then many women will be stuck settling for less the ideal husband. Meaning they will be forced to marry men who really are not qualified to make good husbands. As Srila Prabhupad saw even in the marriages he personally arranged. Many such marriages ended in disastorous results. Forcing monogamy simply prolongs the problems. Monogamy will not sovle the social imbalance, it cannot solve the problems of providing a majority of good marriages. This is crucial need for women and their fathers to consider this in today's modern culture.

As I said, I did not plan to end this essay on this topic. It did not end this way in the original writing. As I wrote the revision I had no plan to end the article in this way. I was just going to advise the unwed girls to take on due diligence to assure that the husband that is selected for them, or that they choose, has the qualities needed to make her marriage be a lasting success. Polygamy just happens to be the system that Srila Prabhupad and Vedic Dharma put forth as facilitating this. So, the advice is, also consider this as a viable, authorized and Krsna Conscious option.

However, one caution to temple authorities. Due to the laws against this, temple authorities must NOT make such arrangments. Srila Prabhupad has said he does not object even if his men take 16,000 wives each, but they must make their own arrangements, due to the current laws, the temple authorities cannot be involved in such arrangements.

Hare Krishna,  Your Servant,

Ameyatma das

I welcome any and all correspondence with parties interested in this and related topics. (Questions, advice, or discussion or criticism, etc.)

(I have, in the past, received email and also mailed letters from both newly married and even longer time married devotee women thanking me for these writings. All credit belongs to Srila Prabhupad. I am just trying to convey his message.)

Ameyatma das {acbsp} 

407.901.4077 (as of June - 2004)