What Is Marriage and Is It Necessary?
Sadhguru explains that marriage should not be a social prescription but an individual choice based on the needs of each person. He also touches on live-in relationships, divorce and how a marriage ceremony should be conducted.
What is Marriage?Sadhguru: Let us understand why marriage exists. As a human being, either as a man or a woman, you have certain needs. When you were eight years old, if I had asked you about marriage, the question would not have meant anything to you. If I had asked you when you were fourteen, you might have been a little shy because you were considering. Because your body started growing in a certain way and hormones started infecting your intelligence, you were thinking about it. If I had asked you at eighteen, there would have been a clear "yes" or "no, not now" or "not at all", depending on what happened to you between the ages of fourteen to eighteen.
The word “marriage” might have acquired a very negative aura around it in certain parts of the world now, because there is a sense of juvenile freedom. Young people in some societies perceive marriage as a bad thing. When you are young, you are against it, because your physical body is in a certain mode. Marriage looks like a bondage and a chain. You want to do things in a certain way. But slowly, when the body weakens, once again you wish there was someone with you in a committed way.
This is a very juvenile feeling – “When I am strong I do not need anyone, when I become weak, I wish there was someone with me.” I think a partnership should be formed when you are at the peak of your wellbeing. When you have fallen, you will make desperate partnerships. When you are well, when you are at the peak of your life, that is when you must make a partnership which will take you through all those ups and downs.
As a human being you have physical needs, emotional needs, psychological needs, social and economic needs. People may not want to consciously think about these things because they think their marriage will become ugly if they do. But these needs and considerations do exist.
For women today, the world has changed to some extent. She need not necessarily get married for social and economic reasons. She has a choice. She can take care of her own economics and social situations. It was not so a hundred years ago. There is a little bit of freedom now. At least two of the reasons why you need to get married are out. You have to consider the other three.
Psychologically, do you need a companion in your life? Do you need emotional companionship? And how strong are your physical needs? You must look at this as an individual. This is not a social prescription – everyone gets married or no one gets married. It is not going to work that way. As an individual, how strong are your needs? Is this some kind of a passing need that you can easily go beyond? If it is, do not get married because it is not worth getting tied up. If you do, it is not just two people but a family that has to face the consequences. I am not saying marriage is wrong. Do you want it, that is the question. Each individual should consider this for himself or herself, not by the social norm.
There is nothing wrong with getting married. But if you get married without you having the need to do so, then it is a crime, because you will cause misery to yourself and at least one other person. When someone asked Gautama the Buddha, “Should I have a companion?” he said, “It’s better to walk alone than to walk with a fool.” I am not that cruel. I am saying: if you find a similar fool, then something can be worked out. But based on your need – not because of what society is saying, not because others are getting married.
Marriage or Live-in?
I would say, at least 25 to 30 per cent of the people do not need to get into marriage because it is just a passing interest for them. For another 30 to 40 per cent, it may be a little longer and they get into this. For 10 to 12 years they feel good and after that they think it is a burden. But there are some people for whom the need is very strong. About 25 to 30 per cent need partnerships for a much longer period – they definitely need to get into such arrangements.
Right now, people have found other kinds of solutions. “Okay, I won’t get married, I will just live-in.” If you are just living with one person, it is anyway a marriage, whether you have a certificate or not. But if you think you can choose your partners every weekend, you are causing serious damage to yourself because just as your mind has a memory, your body has a much stronger sense of memory. The body imbibes and retains experiences beyond the memory that you carry in your mind.
The Importance of Marriage
In the Indian tradition, physical intimacy is called Runanabandha, which refers to the body’s physical memory. The body develops a deep sense of memory through physical intimacy. It will respond and react in many ways, based on this memory. If you imprint too many memories, there will be confusion in the body and a certain level of misery. You can clearly see this with people who are loose with their life and their physical body. They never know any real sense of joy. Please watch this carefully around you. They can never laugh totally nor can they cry totally. They become like this because confusing memories in the physical body in one lifetime will create a lot of impressions. A live-in relationship is not the solution to handle your needs.
Either you go into marriage or you simply go beyond these needs. But this is something that you have to look at individually – how strong is your need. If you want to look at this with clarity, without social influence, it is always best that you take some time off, let's say a month. When you make this decision, you must be in a state of clarity. You must not be influenced by anyone. Just meditate and bring yourself into a certain state of clarity. In that clarity, look at how strong your needs really are.
If you find that marriage is not necessary, that is it, once you make a decision, do not look that way. If you make a decision to go one way, do not look the other way. You must do one of these things. If you hang around in between, you will remain in a constant state of confusion. “Which is the best thing?” There is no best thing. Live your life in such a way that whatever you are doing, you are doing that absolutely. If you have this quality, whatever you do, it is fine.
The Institution of Marriage
Questioner: Today, many youngsters do not want to marry, and those who are married are getting divorced. Would you like to throw some light on this situation, Sadhguru?
Sadhguru: One aspect of marriage is about bringing a certain sanctity to the simple basic needs that every human being has. Marriage is to bring some organization, aesthetic and stability, because man and woman coming together naturally used to bring fresh life.
The nature of human offspring is such that because of the possibilities that a human being carries, compared to any other creature, it is the most helpless life and needs the maximum amount of support. You could leave a puppy on the street – as long as it gets food, it grows up into a good dog. But not so with human beings. They need not just physical support but a variety of supports, and above all, a stable situation. When you were three-four years of age, you were 100% for marriage – your parents’ marriage. When you become 45, 50, again you are 100% for marriage. Between 18 and 35, you are questioning the whole institution.
If at the time when the physical body is dominant, you give in to it, you will question every institution. This is hormone-fired freedom. Your intelligence has been hijacked by hormones, so you question the fundamentals of everything. I am not saying marriage is the thing, but do you have a better alternative? We have not come up with a better alternative, because a stable situation is a must for a child.
Marriage is about Choosing Consciously
It is not compulsory or necessary for everyone to get married and have children. We would advise everyone to get married if the human race was in danger of disappearing, but the human population is exploding. If you do not reproduce, you do humanity a great service.
But if you get into marriage, and especially if you have children, it is a minimum 20-year project. That is if they do well. If they do not do well, it is a lifelong project. If you want to get into such projects, there must be a commitment to create a stable situation for at least 20 years. Otherwise, you should not get into such projects, drop it halfway and walk away.
And there is no need to talk about marriage and divorce in the same breath as if they come together. No one thought of divorce in India until recently. If it so happens something went entirely wrong between two people, there is no way to fix it, and they have to separate, it is unfortunate, but it happens. But you do not have to plan it at the time of the wedding!
How to Make Marriage Work
Questioner: How do I choose the right person for companionship and marriage.
Sadhguru: Trying to find the perfect partner is expecting the impossible. One reason why marriage can be tumultuous is because you have to share so many things in this relationship. The issue is neither marriage, nor is it about a man and a woman, husband and wife. In any situation where you are forced to share a lot with other people, you will face similar problems.
In a marriage or cohabitation, you usually have to share the same space, the same everything. Consequently, every day, you are treading on each other’s toes in one way or the other. In other relationships, if someone is overstepping the boundaries, you can create a distance. Here, you do not have a choice. The greater the overlap, the greater the possibility of friction.
There are many couples who are living beautifully together, who are profoundly in love, and who are fantastic companions to each other. At the same time, this relationship can assume the ugliest forms. One contributing factor is that generally, no one gets to know the ugly things that are happening behind closed doors. If someone on the street steps on your feet, you will react in a different way, because everyone is watching. But in this relationship, no one is watching, so anything can happen.
What is needed to make a marriage successful is not the perfect person – there is no perfect person on the planet. What you need is absolute integrity. Whether someone is watching or not, you should act in the same way. Who you are should not change depending upon where and with whom you are. Once you have established your way of being, interacting with another person can be a joy. Another aspect is that if you try to extract something out of each other, and you or the other person does not get what he or she wants, there will be constant conflict.
Another point to remember is that you are not getting married out of charity for the other person. You get married because you have needs. If the other person is willing to provide them to you, and you live in gratitude, then there will not be too much friction. Do not look for the ideal man or the ideal woman. There is none. If you understand that it is your needs that make you seek a companion, find someone who is reasonably compatible with you, if you accept, respect, love, include, care for, and take responsibility for each other, it can be a beautiful relationship.
A Sacred Marriage Ritual - Bhuta Shuddhi Vivaha
Questioner: Recently, you introduced the Vivaha process, and I just wanted to know, how does this process enhance the couple and all the people who are participating? What is their experience and how can they benefit from it?
Sadhguru: Because I believe in efficiency of human activity, when someone says they want to bind themselves to someone else, I thought I should do it more efficiently. People bind themselves and it does not stick. If you have no intention of binding, that is up to you. But when you show an intention of binding, you better learn to bind yourself well. Vivaha is just that, a more efficient way of binding.
In furniture, different pieces of wood are bound together. There is something called a screw with which you can bind two pieces of wood efficiently together. The advantage of the screw is that you can unscrew. With a nail, you cannot really un-nail it – once you nail it, you generally only have to break it.
I was just surprised when I was watching some houses being built – the whole house is just nailed. If you had used screws, instead of using a thousand nails, probably with fifty screws you could have done the same job; only thing is, a little more engineering would go into it.
In India, a traditional carpenter would be banished if he used nails like that. Traditionally in Indian carpentry, they always used wooden batons in a certain way. They are not permanently fixed; they are very well fixed, but not permanently fixed – if you want, you can tap it out. But it will take a certain amount of skill and effort to get it out. They mastered this in the East. That is how all binding should be. Binding should be really fast and proper, but for some extraneous reason if it has to be undone, with a certain amount of effort, we should be able to undo it. Otherwise it means we do not care a damn for the material we are using.
That goes for human beings too. When we bind someone, we must bind them in such a way it is quite permanent. But for some extraneous reason – let us say one person died, then the other should not follow immediately, because if you bind it absolutely fast, that is what will happen.
In the past, many people exhibited that kind of desire: “If my husband or my wife dies, I also want to die.” Those days are gone. If you do as much as something that they don’t like, they are gone. In a world like this, you should not bind so fast. It must be fast enough that tomorrow morning, when quarrel arises over the toothpaste, the binding should hold. But if something extraneous happens, then with a little bit of effort, you must be able to undo the binding. But, once you have bound something, if you want to unbind it, unless it is not at all bound properly, unbinding will inevitably extract a price from us. Whatever it is, whether it is physical, material or human beings, it will extract a price when you want to unbind.
If you want to unbind this furniture, some holes will be left inside, which are not easy to cover. It will take a lot of work to fix those holes. Similar things will happen to human beings also. I know today the slogan is, “I have moved on.” Moved on does not mean, “I got liberated and I went up.” Moved on means, “I am in the next pit.” So you may say “I have moved on,” but certain gaping holes are left, which will get you once in a way.
You may manage, you may handle the evenings with drink, mornings getting up just five minutes before you have to leave for the office, office time managed with grumbling and rumbling and being busy; people are managing their life like this. If you make them sit in one place without anything to do for three days, you will see, they will go quite crazy with all these holes inside of them.
Glossing over a hole and fixing a hole are two completely different things. Fixing it is not that simple. It is like the termite – if you have painted furniture, you have to keep checking because one day, when you touch it, only the paint will be there, because he does not like to eat paint, he eats only organic. He is not like you, he does not eat chemically infested food. He just neatly eats up all the wood. When you poke with your finger, your finger goes straight in, because only the paint is left.
What is the Purpose of Marriage?
Binding of anything has to be done well, otherwise what is the point? We can bind in such a way that if one dies, the other will also die; if one gets enlightened, the other will also get enlightened. There are positives also. But, on an average, the number of people who get sick, the number of people who die, the number of people who go crazy are more than the number of people who ever get enlightened, so we do not take that risk.
With a certain amount of effort and a certain price attached to life, it should be possible to untie, but there will be a price. Vivaha is an organic process of tying two organisms in such a way that, at least there is a segment of them where they cannot make out which is which – and that is good because they experience some sense of union. We are hoping they will use this as a stepping stone for a larger union. Well, whether they do or they don’t is another matter.
For those who conduct it, it will be very beautiful, because it can become a great sadhana for them in their life, that you bring two organisms together and make them feel like one. It has a certain beauty and a certain contribution to your own life.
For those who witness also, we can do it in a much stronger way than the way we are doing it right now. We are not going that far because of the percentage of divorces, deaths and diseases happening. We can actually bind it much stronger, or the overlap can be much bigger. You have to take social realities into consideration, always. But still, no matter how many divorces happen, no matter how many people go about talking in terms of “marriage has an expiry date,” when some union happens which is beyond body and beyond just psychological companionship, there is a certain beautiful energy around there.
Those who have come to witness, they have come to lick that little bit of honey that spills over. For example in the Bhava Spandana Program, even if some of the people did not experience anything, there is a lot of benefit by just looking at someone else who was in a certain state – simply because you saw someone else in union. You do not know what they are uniting with, but they have somehow redrawn their boundaries so that at least the boundary is a little larger. When that process is happening, even those who witness benefit immensely.
Similar things are happening in Vivaha, but on a smaller scale. We can scale it up, but then we will have to face various consequences which we will see, because people have to live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years. In today’s world, where people are counting microseconds, fifty years seems like imprisonment, they cannot even think about it. A whole lot of people would back out of marriage, “Oh, my whole life!” Previous generations very easily said, “Till death do us apart.” I do not think any priest is saying that anymore, he would not dare!
Taking social realities into consideration, we have calibrated Vivaha to a certain extent – one step more than what the society expects. But if you do more than that, it will not be nice.
Is Matching Horoscopes Important in Marriage?
Questioner: Sadhguru I want to know the truth about astrology. They say it is a science but when one has to match horoscopes for a wedding or a manglik girl is supposed to wed a tree before she marries the groom, it seems a little strange to me.
Sadhguru: When horoscopes are matched, the stars might be matched, but how do you match these two idiots? It is not possible. No one can match these two idiots. Only if they take responsibility for each other, if they show some sense of involvement and invest their lives in each other, then something wonderful may happen. Otherwise, it does not matter how you match them, nothing is going to work out. This is why for most people, all love affairs and marriages are beautiful only for some time. After that, it is one big anxiety or nonstop friction simply because people are trying to match each other. You cannot match people. No two human beings are same. It will not work that way. It is just that if you hold the other person's well-being above your own, then you will find that everything works out.
If your life is about extracting happiness from someone else, you will see that it will become bitter over a period of time. If your life is about sharing the joy that you are, then everything will work out. It does not matter what the stars say. Stars can speak what they want, but once you have come here as a human being, you are supposed to create this life. This is the only creature on the planet who can structure its own life. If you want to give that up and allow inanimate things like planets and stars to decide the future of who you are, it is a tragic way to exist. Please take your life into your hands.
How silly is it that a third person that you do not even know is going to tell you whether you will live happily or not with your husband or your wife? How vulgar is that? It does not matter what kind of fool you marry, you take up the responsibility that you will live well and that is the only way you will live well.
Keys To a Successful Marriage
#1 Take Two “Heartfuls” of Love
The English expression, “Falling in love,” is significant because you don’t rise in love, you don’t fly in love, you don’t walk in love, you don’t stand in love. You fall in love, because something of who you are has to go. It essentially means someone else has become far more important than yourself. Only if you don’t think too much of yourself, you can be in love. When what you consider as “me” falls, a deep experience of love can happen within you.
#2 Add a Liberal Dose of Understanding
The closer the relationship with someone is, the more effort you should make to understand them. Someone becomes closer and dearer to you only as you understand them better. If they understand you, they enjoy the closeness of the relationship. If you understand them better, then you enjoy the closeness. If you are expecting the other to understand and comply with you all the time while you don’t understand the limitations, possibilities, needs and capabilities of that person, then conflict is all that will happen.
In everyone, there are some positive and some negative aspects. If you embrace all this in your understanding, you can make the relationship the way you want it. If you leave it to their understanding, it will become accidental. If they are very magnanimous, things will happen well for you. If not, the relationship will break up. It is not that the other person is totally bereft of understanding. With your understanding you can create situations where the other person would be able to understand you better.
#3 Work On It A Little
A marriage is not an absolute thing that you can do once and forget. It is an active partnership. Two separate people have chosen to come together for a common purpose and build a life together, live joyfully and multiply their wellbeing. Two human beings weaving their lives into one has a certain beauty.
In Indian culture, a marriage was renewed once a year just to remind you why you came together. It is a fresh marriage again on that day. Otherwise, you think you have been stuck in this forever. No. You came together consciously, and you have to conduct it consciously too.
#4 Warm It Up With Some Joy
If relationships have to be really beautiful, it is very important that a human being turns inward and looks at himself in a very deep way before he looks at someone else. If you become a source of joy by yourself and your relationships are about sharing your joy, you would have wonderful relationships with anyone. Is there anyone in the world who would have any problem with you if you are going there to share your joy with them? No. If you want to experience the profoundness of being with another human being, your marriage should never be about you – it should always be about the other person. If both of you think like this, your marriage will not be an arrangement, it will be a union.
#5 Offer It To Each Other
If your marriage is just a bundle of expectations about how to extract happiness out of someone who should make heaven for you, you will be disappointed. They say marriages are made in heaven. They say that because most people created a hell out of their marriage! If your relationship is about extracting something out of someone, it does not matter how much you manage, there will be constant trouble. But if your relationship was an offering to the other person, then everything would be fantastic.