By Vishnupriya Devi Dasi
Vishnupriya: “Hare Krishna mataji! It’s so nice to see you! How are you and your good husband?”
Mataji: Well, I’m fine. But my husband, well. we just got divorced.”
I’ve had similar exchanges to the one above at least six times this past year. Usually a list of justifications follows the news. After hearing many unpleasant details, in four occasions I have been immediately introduced to a new lover. Yes. a “favorable” non-devotee! Some of the former spouses feel ashamed or sad, but others sound like they’re making a toast: “Free at last!” Interestingly, four of these six couples did not have any children, although they had been married for several years and were apparently healthy. These facts make me think that the main reason for the breakup was due to misconceptions about the purpose of marriage according to our tradition. Certainly there might be legitimate reasons for a divorce, like domestic violence or infidelity, but often the main reason seems to be dissatisfaction in sense gratification.
Divorce is unacceptable to Srila Prabhupada. In Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.38 we find, “The divorce act is encouraging prostitution, and this should be abolished.” Further, in a letter to Rupanuga das he wrote, “Regarding remarriage, no, remarriage should be always discouraged. Remarriage means encouraging sense gratification. Our mission is to curtail sense gratification. Three times marrying in a year, this is not good, and they are doing this.” Simply because devotees were already misbehaving in front of Prabhupada does not mean we should not improve our condition. Relying on his mercy is an ungrateful way of practicing spiritual life. Besides, as Prabhupadanugas we must follow his instructions. It’s alarming how divorce has become a common practice among devotees. We all know about the negative effects of divorce on children, and as devotees, we should give the example that our sacred vows are not to be taken lightly. If we care about our children and spiritual life, then divorce should not be an option. As responsible and honest friends, we should also talk to devotees with marriage problems and help them understand in practical terms the purpose of marriage. We must remember Prabhupada’s words in Bhagavat Gita 1.40 Prabhupada states, “Good population in human society is the basic principle for peace, prosperity and spiritual progress in life. [.] Therefore, both children and women require protection by the elder members of the family. [.] On the failure of such varnasrama-dharma, naturally the women become free to act and mix with men, and thus adultery is indulged in at the risk of unwanted population. Irresponsible men also provoke adultery in society, and thus unwanted children flood the human race at the risk of war and pestilence.” This reflection is meant to be a call for introspection for devotees considering divorce. Try talking to devotees in stable marriages to give you advice. Remember that Prabhupada teaches us that marriage is meant to maintain social order and to advance in Krishna consciousness. We must be consistent and practice what we preach. Moreover, as spouses and parents, we should understand that being steadfast in our marriage vows is vital to being faithful to our children’s education and to the welfare of the Vaishnava society we are struggling so hard to create.