At the wedding of Bhavatarine and Govinda Ghosh
Govardhana Puja, New Vrndavana, 10/25/02
Today is a very auspicious occasion. These two very wonderful devotees, Govinda Ghosh Prabhu and Maharani Bhavatarini devi have earned the respect and love of so many Vaisnavas all over the world, that New Vrndavana has become a place of pilgrimage. Actually, (it is) due to all these devotees love and respect for you .The blessings of Vaisnavas is the blessings of Krsna. With these blessings we can cross all the obstacles of this world.
Today is a very auspicious day, Govardhana Puja. There is something we could learn about marriage from the pastime of the Govardhana lila. Indra sent many obstacles, storms, lightening, high winds, massive rains, freezing cold, flying ice and from my understanding all these things will come within marriage life also. (laughter) But because the Brijbasis remained together under the shelter of Lord Krsna’s mercy, they all remained united in the service of Lord Sri Krsnaand they were always protected from all these obstacles. That is an eternal truth.
Marriage is a sacred offering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Today, as Kali-yuga progresses it becomes nothing more that a legal formality. But marriage is a sacred offering of devotion. The husband and the wife come together to take vows before the deity and before the sacred fire and all the assembled Vaisnavas to live in faithfulness and dedication with Lord Krsna’s service in the center. This is the key to all success in any responsibility in devotional service – to keep Krsna in the center. As long as Krsna was in the center of the Brijbasis, there was no Indra or any demigod or any factor could do anythingvto disunite them. How to keep Krsna in the center? That is a science.
In 1969 when Prabhupada was here in New Vrndavana, he performed a marriage. And in his lecture he spoke something that fascinated me a lot. He explained how the duty of the husband and the wife were to dedicate each other to make their partner happy. Because Prabhupada said without happiness there cannot really be a growth of bhakti. It is actually the responsibility of husband and wife to keep each other happy in devotional service.
And what does it take to make another person happy? We have a physical being, an emotional being and a spiritual being. And the duty of marriage is to serve the needs of our partner- physical needs, according to the particular circumstance. Traditionally the wife takes care of the house and children, the husband provides. Emotionally- affection, respect is very, very important. One of the big problems in any relationship in this world is that everybody has a very separate and distinct false ego. And the closer two false egos come to each other the more the volatile potential is there. Does anyone have this experience? Therefore, humility in this relationship is actually our responsibility. To satisfy each other emotionally people need to feel cared for, people need to feel loved. We cannot neglect each other. We cannot disrespect each other. Love is a very, very high spiritual realization; it has little or nothing to do with the romantic feelings of this world.
In the American continent, 71% of marriages are divorced within three years. That’s a federal statistic. Because they base the relationship on this romantic attraction, often. But traditional marriage throughout the world is based on responsibility. Do not expect your partner to be what you want them to be, because they will not. When you marry, you have many things in common because you want things in common. But after some time, the differences begin to manifest. I want my wife to be this way and the wife wants her husband to be that way, but the fact is, every person is a unique devotee of the Lord and we have to both adjust with respect, with responsibility and through the process of going through the various storms of life, we actually gain deep spiritual realization and deep love and respect for each other and for Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. That’s really what marriage is about. Human life is meant for tapasya. Marriage life is not meant for sense gratification, it is meant for tapasya. Some sense gratification may be there, but the actual realization comes when we adjust ourselves to help make the other person happy in Krishna consciousness, even if it causes difficulties to myself. And through this process over the years of sacrifice, adjustment, loyalty, faithfulness, we gain tremendous deep spiritual enlightenment. We develop a very deep connection to Krsna. That is the beauty of grihastha life.
Grhastha life is designed so that by living together in a particular spiritual environment we become completely purified and learn to become completely dependent and faithful to Krsna. Srila Prabhupada explained that the primary duty of a man is to protect his wife. This means to protect physically, emotionally and spiritually, by providing the needs of the body and the affection respect and concern of the emotions. And by providing a spiritual example by which the wife feels confident to continue forward on the path of bhakti. Srila Prabhupada explained the duty of the wife is to assist the husband, to remain chaste and faithful to the husband and to inspire the husband in his devotional service.
In Srimad Bhagavatam the wife is compared to a very formidable fort that protects the husband from maya. In Krishna consciousness, the misconception of husband being superior to wife, wife should be slave to husband, has proved to be an utter failure. The fact is marriage is a partnership of respect and responsibility. And when by the grace of God, children come to through this marriage, then what a great responsibility comes in that form,when the Supreme Personality of Godhead entrusts His own beloved devotee under our care.
So please Govinda Ghosh and Maharani Bhavatarini, take this vow very seriously and understand that by having a serious responsibility toward each other with humility, with respect, with care, to help your partner to become actually happy in Krishna consciousness. That is what this vow is all about in this ceremony, isn’t it? And then you will taste the nectar of pure unalloyed devotional service. However many storms, how much thunder, lightening when the downfall comes, always remain under the sacred Govardhana hill of Krsna’s will of your sacred vows, keep your gaze always upon Krsna and He will always protect you.
The holy name of the Lord is the most merciful, munificent manifestation of Krsna in our lives. I know Govinda Ghosh Prabhu is very fond of chanting the holy names. And when he chants he has the power to induce many, many people to dance and sing in ecstasy. So please make your house the spiritual world where the chanting of the holy name is the heart of your life. Prabhupada explained that when the husband and wife are responsible to respect one another and encourage one another in Krishna consciousness, then the house becomes Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. It is my great prayer that all the assembled Vaisnavas offer their heartfelt blessings on this day.