Asceticism in Family Life

family life

Married people hear this saying, “getting married and raising a family is getting entrapped in the shackles of Maya (illusion, worldly attachment)” every now and then. To the bachelors, family life and household is like being trapped inside a web of problems and tensions.For them remaining unmarried seems like being in heaven. But if you think about it, this statement turns out to be quite frivolous and meaningless. This is because Maya is not cast through external objects or other human beings. It is our own attitudes and thoughts which engulf us into maya and illusion.

If your mind is impure and filled with sensual desires, anger and greed, then whatever happens within household would also happen outside. We have seen many so-called religious men who lived in poverty throughout their lives and after their death a huge sum of money was recovered under their possession. We have seen several men who choose not to marry but possess sensual desires leading to illegal sex or in some cases rape.We have seen several men who are mesmerized by sound, taste, beauty, smell and touch, who have special attachment towards their hut, clothes, books, utensils, disciples and friends. The same materialistic tendencies can be found in everyone in different forms.Absence of all desires and sacrifices are directly related to our mental feelings. If the feelings are parochial, polluted and self-centered, then even if a person lives in a sanctified place, his mental distortions will drive him to sin. If the feelings are pure and generous, then even in unsuitable and undesirable conditions, the person would reflect purity and virtuousness.Emerson, the renowned philosopher, used to say, “Send me to hell even there I would create a heaven for myself.” Every person sees a reflection of his own self in a mirror that this world is. If his mind is engulfed in maya, then he would see Maya everywhere, at home or outside, in jungle, in temple and even in heaven. If the mind is clean and there is purity, love and selflessness in sight, then every nook and corner of the house would look no less sanctified than a hermitage. There have been many great rishis like King Janak who did the Practice of Grahastha yoga (Family life) and attained the highest spiritual state.

Bravery is not in running away but in standing up to fight and face what is coming. If Married Life has more problems then it is not right to stay away from it out of fear. How can one learn to swim without entering in the pool of water?

It would be futile to say that I want to be a body-builder but won’t go to gym.or won’t exercise. It is important to first observe your self for all the bad qualities that you possess, like sensual desires, anger, greed, and selfish attachments, understand their workings, and then fight to eradicate them. Married Life is the best stage to do this.All the great rishis of yore have lived a successful Family life and then only did they proceed to the next stage of life..

Just imagine, if Married Life, which fools call names like Maya or worldly ties, wasn’t there, then where would Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Mohammad and so on, whose names are the glittering jewels of spiritual world, appear from? It won’t be an exaggeration to say that all the other three Ashramas or stages of life are kids or nothing, Grahastha is their father,the supreme stage of life. To call the father a worldly tie, hell or worth abandoning, is a sign of total indiscretion and stupidity.

Till a person is loaded with responsibilities he does not become mature, sincere and responsible. Childish calves keep flitting and prancing around. When a person gets loaded with responsibilities he begins to put every step forward with great precaution only after putting a lot of thought into it. When an elephant treads through deep waters, it puts one foot ahead, carefully gauges the firmness of the ground underneath and then only puts the next foot forward. In doing this all his mental powers get concentrated on each step.

Sage Patanjali has rightly said, concentration or the control of the agile tendencies and thought patterns of the mind (chitta vritti nirodhah) does not come about by just talking about them. A responsibility or an inspiration is required for this. When the weight of Married Life falls upon one’s shoulders, he begins to take careful steps towards handling responsibilities. He leaves aside his careless ways. His responsible thinking and decision making, converts into wisdom and discretion with time. Just as a king has to tread carefully when managing the affairs of his kingdom, a common householder has to take steps forward with foresight, wisdom, patience, care and self-control. Just as a trainer trains an unruly horse with a whip and makes sure it becomes a perfect race horse, Married Life with its several bitter and sweet experiences gives a man self-control, foresight, maturity and equipoise. All these are signs of yoga. A ripe fruit detaches itself from the branch of a tree on its own. Similarly a person attached to the branch of household gradually learns the concepts of selflessness and sacrifice on his own, and finally turns into a yogi.

Attachment, greed, lasciviousness, obsession, indiscretion are qualities that one has to get rid of. These can exist in Family life well as in other Ashramas. So Married Life is not to get renounced,but it offers you a path to renounce these bad qualities by yourself.The proper method to create peace, satisfaction and order in family is to adopt the principle of self-sacrifice in personal conduct.

We must present ourselves as an example to everyone. This would inspire other family members to adopt self-sacrifice in their conduct as well. As and when we start giving importance to the principle of ‘less to me, more to others’, peace, harmony and orderliness is attained. A Yogi living his family life must present himself to others as a selfless, impartial, well-meaning attendant of the family. We must not let thoughts like, ‘what benefits do I get from my family’ and ‘do my family members value my self-sacrifice or not’, ever enter our minds. Instead we should be concerned about whether we are an honest gardener, trying our best to develop our garden beautifully or not.

We must always answer the following questions related to our family life

Am I ever holding back some of my efforts towards my family life?
 Am I being selfish or partial towards my family?
 Am I being lethargic, or am I procrastinating in fulfilling my duties?

If the answers to these questions are negative then it is a matter of great joy and accomplishment. The positive or negative answers to other questions like, whether anyone appreciates me or not, whether anyone feels indebted to me or not, and whether success has been achieved or not, are not yours to worry or debate about.It is the doing you have to be concerned with and not its results or praises.If you are worried about answers to such questions,it is demeaning your Sadhna.

A Practitioner/yogi must never let his happiness depend on others. To feel happy only when others appreciate you is a state of bankruptcy and demeaning your abilities. We must try to locate the source of happiness within our soul itself. There is nothing in this world that can give you more happiness than the fact that we have earnestly fulfilled all our duties. Scriptures say that Guru has to share one-tenths of the sins or virtues of his disciples. When students of a class fail, the reputation of the teacher of the class also goes down, while, if the students pass with good marks, the teacher also gets promotion. This is so because in the failure or success of students, the efforts of the teacher also get counted.

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Thus student’s failure or success brings disrepute or appreciation for the teacher as well. In the same way if family members become righteous or unrighteous, the head of the family also has to share the virtues or sins that they accrue. If we manage to make our family life and members righteous and truthful by our efforts, good-will and sacrifice, then this high quality deed of ours would not be inferior to any other benevolent deed in the world. If everyone decides to reform their family, it would take no time to reform the entire world. If everyone sincerely fulfills their responsibility, heaven would descend upon the earth in no time.

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