For a married person… there could be two perspectives in life relating to spirituality. Either one indulged in spirituality before marriage and wanted to continue the same path ever after. Or one developed a desire to pursue path of spirituality after marriage.
The one who had an inclination and pursued path of spirituality before marriage was on right path. The one who wants to pursue spirituality after marriage is primarily based on compulsion… mainly to distortion in relations with spouse or other family members.
There are examples in history of Hinduism that seekers even after marriage abandoned the family and succeeded in travelling path of spirituality to reach God in their lifetime. Such abandonment was not primarily their doing. It was from both sides. They amicably parted. Such examples are one in billions… totally rare.
People who tend to be spiritual after marriage must never trust their inclinations. Based on number of queries I receive from people wanting to travel path of spirituality after marriage… I can say with conviction that such thoughts of spirituality were short lived. We were inclined to be spiritual only because we found solace in spiritual writings. Instead of wasting time, married people must concentrate more on family life than anything else.
Reading spiritual literature in pastime is a good habit but it must never reflect on married life ever.
Spirituality is not a field to be pursued part-time. Serious travelers of spiritual path, seekers indulged in spirituality when very young. If we look back in history, we would find Mahavira, Gautama Buddha… Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed… even Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana started their pursuit of God early in age. I went in search of God since six years of age. Even while deciding my absolute goal of life around eight or nine years of age… I was very sure that spirituality would consume most of my time.
Even while walking, jogging, swimming… indulging in studies and for that matter all regular day-to-day life activities… I indulged in spirituality. I indulged in spirituality through path of chintan (contemplation) which could be realized any given moment of life. I never had to go to a meditation or a spiritual retreat to indulge in yoga meditation. Remaining wherever I was, I indulged in chintan (contemplation) to find answers to queries within.
Spirituality as ordained by God was never meant to be pursued after marriage. We just could not ride two boats at the same time. When we were materialistic, we could not pursue spirituality. When we indulged in spirituality, we could never be materialistic. If we try to mix the two, we would suffer in life at any given moment of time. Being a spiritual person, we would most of the time get cheated by people following materialistic tendencies.
A misconception in Hinduism that path of spirituality must be followed only after completing Vanprastha ashram i.e. 75 years of age… is an absolute misnomer! What do we expect… a person 75 years of age could achieve on path of pure spirituality… practically nothing! Something that was destined to be reached in a time span of 1.1 million manifestations in human form… the stage of enlightenment… how could we try achieving it after 75 years of age? Such a probability does not exist in spiritual system.
We have to be absolutely realistic in our spiritual approach. Our life goal if spiritual must definitely be finalized before 15 years of age, sooner the better. In a limited time span of 70 to 80 years of earthly life… we have a lot to do. And at this stage teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita and primary Upanishads (independent treatises) come to our rescue. While indulging in material pursuits of life… we must never try to become spiritual. The most we could do was indulge in philanthropic, charitable activities by associating with social, charitable groups… NGOs!
As a householder we could try helping others, the path pursued by Swami Vivekananda… helping the community to its level best. When Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa asked Swami Vivekananda why he had come to him if his goal of life was not gaining enlightenment… he point-blank replied I just wanted to confirm presence of God Almighty. My goal of life was and is community service.
Community service though related to spirituality was an indirect path to serving God. As a married person, we could indulge in community service, charitable works wholeheartedly. We could also indulge in spiritual literature to keep ourselves in check from over indulgence in material activities. We could not be too enthusiastic towards spiritual activities lest friends and relatives with materialistic bent of mind cheat us at every available opportunity.
We must never fear getting cheated by outsiders. We feel the pain only when our own cheat us, the biggest predicament of spiritual life.
Some of the commonly asked queries –
As a Married person how do you improve your Spirituality?
Married person must never indulge in spirituality. The most we could do was indulge in charitable works, helping others. A spiritual person all the time works for welfare of entire mankind. By helping others, we were paving our way for spiritual life in next manifestation.
As a married person if we attempt indulgence in path of spirituality, chances of ruining marital relationship increased phenomenally… what if children suffered because of this. Because of our karma, we must never let others in the family suffer.
If we think Siddhartha Gautama did right by quitting his family in the midnight just by touching feet of wife and child… we are totally mistaken. Karma needs to be burnt in totality before we finally embark on spiritual journey. This was not followed by Siddhartha Gautama. Without clearing his karma, leaving his family midway… he jumped into the spiritual fray.
Result… he badly suffered on account of this. Nor in the community he gained jnana wisdom, learn cosmic truths of life or while in isolation of jungles (forests). Around 80 years of age Siddhartha Gautama was too perplexed about unveiling cosmic truths of life and finally sitting under a bodhi tree… he finally gained enlightenment.
By this time the body of Siddhartha Gautama was too frail to sustain any further. At 81 years of age he finally quit his body to gain nirvana (moksha)… liberation from cycle of birth and death forever.
Prime reason why teachings of Siddhartha Gautama are also termed as middle path… neither remaining in community nor in jungles could one gain enlightenment… it is better one followed middle path to reach our spiritual goal of life.
As a married person it is extremely difficult to progress spiritually. Journey of spirituality is always started very young. Most enlightened masters right from Mahavira, Gautama Buddha… Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed… even Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana started young and so did Swami Vivekananda. It is a different story that Swami Vivekananda did not gain enlightenment in his lifetime.
By saying so… I am not dissuading married people from indulging in spirituality. Choice of travelling this path always rests with the individual. We are the best judge of the present circumstances. Without disturbing routine of the family if we are able to advance spiritually… then why not. Whatever we do or indulge… we must always do it wisely. In the journey of spirituality likelihood of our getting a spiritual master was nil, hence the precaution.
They are always the judge of our circumstances.
As a Married individual is it important to be Spiritual?
Spirituality is not a science that could be taught as a textbook. Nothing in field of spirituality could be learnt literally… everything comes from within indulging in chintan (contemplation) all the time.
Spirituality is a full-time job. Something that was destined to be achieved in a time span of 1.1 million manifestations in human form, achieving the same in a limited time span of 70 to 80 years of earthly life is nothing short of a miracle. And for this very purpose… we need starting young.
As a married individual… we need not be purely spiritual, the most we could do was indulge in social, charitable activities for welfare of mankind… particularly within the community. Helping others also forms part of spirituality. Maybe not in this life, but our helpings of this life would go a long way in next manifestation to pursue spiritual goal of life.
All spiritual persons, seekers all the time worked for welfare of entire mankind. No enlightened person ever worked for welfare of self. Such a thing was totally prohibited on path of pure spirituality. Unless we had a helping attitude, we just could not travel path of spirituality successfully. If we were not spiritual in totality does not mean we become religious.
Indulgence in… Unmindful religious practices (rituals) gained nothing on spiritual platform. Going to a temple church or mosque was not the call of day. Instead of spending our time in religious activities… we must be helping others all the time. That is how we could make God happy and better our materialistic life. If we were not spiritual, we may not be religious either.
Maintaining our faith in God (Brahman in Hinduism)… we could just indulge in daily routines of life, helping others whenever possible. Taking care of family was foremost. We must attend to our karma in the best manner possible by serving our family and others whenever possible. Serving others does not mean serving an alcoholic in times of need.
Using our free will, power of discrimination… distinguishing right from wrong we must exercise our intellect to help others in need. Materialistic life lived meaningfully goes a long way in paving our spiritual goal of next life. Keeping God as our judge all the time… we must indulge in daily routines of life. This way we would not only appease God but also our inner instinct.
Indulging in good karma, positive karma all the time must become our daily habit.
Practicing Spirituality in Married Life
If we strictly go by scriptures of Hinduism, practicing spirituality even when married was not a taboo. But the strict discipline of spiritual life dissuades most in travelling this path. I know many who started in search of God while in married life. All quit midway… some after five years, others after 10… And some sustained until 15 years. What use indulging in spirituality… if we are to quit midway! Spirituality demands highest level of patience, persistence and perseverance that could ever be practiced by mankind.
To give an example, I took 3 to 5 years to learn the distinction between religion, spirituality and dharma. Some answers came to me after a gap of 15 years. As I was never after fruits of karma performed… I continued indulging in my part of karma all the time. Married people often fell prey to fruits of karma performed… the biggest hurdle on path of pure spirituality.
Furthermore practice of Brahmacharya Vrata (absolute celibacy) was necessitated on path of pure spirituality… something householders could not strictly follow. Physical aspects of celibacy, indulging in sensual activities hardly constitute 10% of total job. Absolute celibacy always was practiced mentally… eradicating flow of negative thoughts to our brain in totality is what absolute celibacy all about… something extremely difficult for married people to practice.
Married people can indulge in understanding spiritual terminology with clarity. This helps us refraining from indulgence in bad karma. As a married person we must never forget… path of spirituality always was irreversible… whatever spiritual we accomplish could never be reversed. Path of spirituality always has to be treaded with caution.
In present times how many married people we truly find indulging in spirituality… perhaps none or a limited few. Most people in present times indulged in religious activities calling it spiritual. We can fool others but why our true inner self? It is better to feign ignorance than indulge in ridiculous, unmindful path of religion (rituals) that never leads to anything.
Path of spirituality demands our curtailing desires and wishes, establishing total control over Moha (extreme emotional attachment). For a married person this was almost impossible to practice. We could curtail our desires and wishes but what of Moha towards our children, parents… relatives and friends. If we were to cut all our earthly ties… what use remaining in vows of marriage?
While married, we must always practice spirituality indirectly… by helping others in the community.
After Marriage can I become Spiritually Enlightened?
Thinking in terms of spiritual enlightenment… as a married person was feigning ignorance in matters spiritual. How could married person gain enlightenment! Such a possibility did not exist in present times. Even Mahavira, Gautama Buddha… Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed… or Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Maharishi Ramana could not accomplish such a feat in present times. Examples even in yesteryears are rare.
Sage Yajnavalkya (composer and compiler of most voluminous brihadaranyaka Upanishad) was one such individual who succeeded in reaching stage of enlightenment even while married. The best part is… even his wife Maitreyi (to whom Sage Yajnavalkya was not willing to impart Brahma jnana) succeeded in gaining enlightenment in her lifetime.
Lord Krishna, an avatar of his era was already enlightened before he got married. In present times to reach level of Sage Yajnavalkya is next to impossible. Many people must never think in terms of spiritual enlightenment. So was just not possible. Very little spiritual uplifting is possible in case of married people. Helping others in their pastime should be their motto.
Enlightenment does not mean spiritual uplifting of the self. Enlightenment is gained helping others, working for welfare of mankind all the time. To gain enlightenment… we need demolishing our karma to zero. For this we need establishing total control over desires and wishes and control over mind follows automatically. If we can do this, we can travel path of spirituality successfully as ordained in scriptures.
We must never remain under an illusion that anything spiritual could be gained while remaining a householder. This was just not possible. People who claim to be spiritual were merely practicing rituals, indulging in religious practices to no avail. In present times none could reach stage of enlightenment indulging in bhakti yoga. Our travelling path of jnana yoga was necessitated. Jnana yoga demands our indulgence in chintan (contemplation) most of time.
We must not forget… even a 1000 Noble prizes could not equalize stage of enlightenment. Spiritual enlightenment is reaching stage of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa or Maharishi Ramana.
Marriage and Spirituality in Hinduism
Sacred texts in Hinduism were open in matters relating to marriage even while practicing spirituality or vice versa… indulging in spirituality when married. Sacred scriptures of Hinduism do not disallow marriage for travelers of spiritual path. It was purely dependent upon the individual concerned… whether or not to indulge in spirituality when married and if having spiritual bent of mind before marriage… to take vows of marriage or not.
Scriptures lay out the dos and don’ts. For a married person… practicing spirituality definitely was very difficult, something impossible! If we were to diligently fulfil vows of marriage, we must never indulge in spirituality whatsoever. We just could not mar our married life for the sake of spirituality. Ladies particularly must take precaution marrying a person with a spiritual bent of mind.
Practicing spirituality means becoming a Swami Vivekananda in real life. How was that possible if we were married! We need possessing willpower exhibited by Swami Vivekananda to travel spiritual path successfully. For a married person this was almost impossible to practice. Everything in field of spirituality was permanent, irreversible… every single gain! Chances of returning to material modes of life… were practically nil.
As a spiritual person one must think, analyze all prospects… the predicaments before indulging in marriage… to escape the bitterness of future married life.
We must never go by the analogy what people say or did. No Swami or pundit, so-called religious preacher could ever guide one in the matter. The final answer must always come from within.
By: Vijay Kumar “Atma Jnani”… The Man who Realized God in 1993 – (Ref. 171209)
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