Marriage as a Rite of Passage – a Hindu Perspective
“And So They Lived Happily Ever After” – thus ends the story. From our very early childhood we have been conditioned to define marriage as an end to a story. All the Cinderellas, Snow Whites, Sleeping Beauties, and their Princes suffered no more from heartache, sorrow, disappointment, and etcetera. In a nutshell, after their marriage there were no more thorns in their lives. Life was all roses.
As a child, I did not question it then. You may have not questioned it either. In our ignorance, we were brainwashed to believe that marriage was a synonym for happiness – happiness ever after – unperturbed happiness.
The reality, however, proved to be not as rosy as we were made to believe. The realization dawned upon us much, much later – when we were married. Infatuation and physical as well as emotional attraction, which we mistook as love, did not last too long. With such infatuation and attraction gone, romance flew away too….
Then, Depending upon Our Upbringing, family traditions, social norms, and etcetera – either we embarked upon another journey, looking for new princes or princesses; or, resorted to our fate and carried on with the romance-less dull marriage. In both the scenarios, all the same, love would still be missing.
From one marriage to another, from one divorce to many others, from one complicated relationship to yet more complicated ones – we keep searching for “the life lived happily ever after”, which, in the end, proves to be a futile search. For, marriage is not a synonym for happiness.
The Sanatani Hindu Mind defines marriage quite differently. Our ancestors, our forefathers – now referred to as Pagans in the Western Hemisphere; Aborigines in the Australian Continent; Orang Aseli in Malaysia; Practitioners of Sunda Wiwitan, Kejawen, Kaharingan, Permalim, Pemena and other faiths in the Indonesian Archipelago; Balamon in Vietnam; Taoists in China; indeed, the original inhabitants of this planet earth, Warga Bumi or the Earth People – consider marriage as one of the rites of passage that empowers men and women to face together challenges of life.
They define marriage as a journey from egoistic and individualistic I to We; from narrow mindedness to expansive consciousness; from infatuation, physical and emotional attraction to unconditional love, togetherness, and sharing both the joys and sorrows of life.
Thus, for Most of Us, who otherwise would not be able to undertake the journey from I to We – marriage becomes a compulsory rite of passage. Marriage becomes a means to an end that is ever expansive consciousness. Marriage is never considered as an end, a goal.
There are many who do not have to get married to achieve the end. It is not a necessity. Those of us who have done some homework before, who have experienced marriage previously or in previous lives, may retain the memory. They do not have to repeat the same lesson.
Marriage is a choice. Those who choose it must choose wisely. We have the old Javanese dictum of “Bobot, Bibit, and Bebet”. Those who opt for marriage must consider all three.
Marriage, to Our Forefathers, was a Science, an Art of Living…. One must learn the formulas and principles before “rising in love”- yes, rising in love, not falling in love. Here, we can clearly see the difference between the fairy tale marriages and the sanatani marriage principle as expounded by our ancestors.
The Javanese expression “Bangun Trisno” is very unique. Translated literally, it means “Love is Rising”. So, when you are in love with someone, truly in love, it is love that is rising. It is the energy of love, the power of love that is guiding your steps, leading you from the realm of conditioned mind and passion to unconditional consciousness, and LOVE!
Marriage Makes Sense only when such love is rising, when we truly understand its implication. Coming back to the Javanese dictum of “Bobot, Bibit, and Bebet” that must be considered by one and all who opt for marriage.
Bobot means that which makes you heavy. Your content. And, that is your Character, the values you live by. It is further defined as being: 1. Jangkeping Warni – Physically Healthy; 2. Rahayu ing Mana – Mentally Sound and Good-hearted; 3. Ngertos Unggah-Ungguh – Good Mannered; and, 4. Wasis – Hard Working.
Next comes Bibit, meaning the Seed, the Genes, the Inherent Quality, the Embedded Program. It has to do with the Family Upbringing, the Social Influence since one’s early childhood. Anything wrong with the bibit can be fixed by a right kind of education, both formal and informal.
Last but not least, Bebet, which refers to one’s overall personality. It is not about looks alone, as commonly understood, but also about social standing. How does one behave in society, and how does the society reciprocate.
All These 3 Factors are Equally Important, because marriage is not about sexual interaction and intercourse alone. It is not about nuptial union or living together alone. It is about walking together, about treading the path of self discovery and widening of the consciousness.
A marriage that does not serve such purpose is no better than legalized prostitution. The journey from I to We also does not stop at some junction. The We of a husband and wife – of the couple – must go on expanding to embrace entire society, nay, all humanity.
I must keep repeating this. Marriage is not the end. It is a means. It is a Support System. One does not stop at glorifying the system. One makes use of the system to reach the goal.
If You Understand this, then allow not yourself to be dragged down by a partner who detracks and distracts you from the path. Choose your partner wisely.
Marriage is not about you, your partner, and your children also. It is about creating a better society. It is about serving the cause of humanity. It is a learning process for the annihilation of the ego, so you become more humble, so you can serve without a trait of ego.
Consider this…. Think on these things…..