Saturday December 15, 2018

Marriage is a commitment, not contract

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By Nithin Sridhar

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to grant a divorce by mutual consent to a couple after it found out that the couple had decided to part ways because the husband had promised to pay for his wife’s treatment if she gave her consent for divorce.

The couple married in 2010 and applied for divorce by mutual consent in 2013. The Apex Court observed that the woman, who was suffering from breast cancer, agreed for the divorce after her husband offered to give an alimony of 12.5 lakhs so that she could use the money for her treatment.

Upholding the sanctity and sacredness of the marriage, the bench headed by Justice MY Eqbal stated: It is a duty of the respondent (husband) to take care of the health and safety of the petitioner (wife). In the instant case also it is a primary duty of the husband only to provide facilities for the treatment of the petitioner. This is a pre-existing duty of the husband, provided the husband has sufficient means and he is diligently doing his part in taking care of her.”

The SC judgment is very significant on multiple counts. Firstly, it sent a strong signal that divorce could not be used as a medium to run away from one’s responsibilities. Secondly, it upheld the fact that though homemakers do not earn money, they do contribute towards the family and equally share happiness and sorrow thereof. Thirdly, it upheld the sanctity and sacredness of marriage.

What is marriage after all? Is it just a contract that can be broken anytime, anywhere on a whim? Or is it a commitment, a bond that has a higher purpose?

The Sanskrit term for marriage is: ‘Vivaha’, which means ‘that which imparts special rights’ (vishesena vahati iti vivaha). But, what special rights is it speaking about? The ‘special rights’ here refers to the right of each couple to share their life, their goals, their duties, and their destinies with each other. In other words, ‘Vivaha’ gives the couple ‘Right’ to enter Grihastha Ashrama– the stage of married life, which is vital not only for achieving social welfare but also for individual spiritual uplifting. This is best highlighted in the marriage vows uttered during the Sapthapadi ritual of marriage:

Let us walk together, hand in hand, the seven steps symbolic of the aspirations below;
May We take the first step together for sap (nourishment);
May We take the second step together for vigor;
May We take the third step together for thriving wealth;
May We take the fourth step together for comfort;
May We take the fifth step together for offspring;
May We take the sixth step together for the various seasons;
May We take the seventh step together for everlasting friendship;
You be my unswerving partner; let us have many auspicious progeny who shall see long life crossing 80 years.

Thus, marriage is not just a contract similar to business deals. It is a bond, a commitment between husband and wife to share the body, mind, and soul for the purpose of achieving the fourfold goals of life: Dharma (duty), Kama (desire), Artha (wealth), Moksha (liberation).

It is for this reason that the Court observed: “Hindu marriage is a sacred and holy union of husband and wife by virtue of which the wife is completely transplanted in the household of her husband and takes a new birth. It is a combination of bone to bone and flesh to flesh.

This commitment cannot be one sided. Both the spouses are bound to keep the commitment. Such a marriage, wherein the couples stay together in times of happiness but separate when their spouses fall on bad times, is no marriage at all.

This does not mean, divorce as such is wrong. It is just that divorce should not be used as a self-serving tool. The husband who wants to have a divorce because his wife is suffering from cancer is disregarding the very first two vows of providing nourishment and vigor to his wife.

Instead of supporting his wife in difficult times, he is promising to give her money in return for a divorce, thereby making a complete mockery of the sacred institution of marriage.

Alas, the fact is that a large number of people today in this secularized fast moving world, have reduced marriage from being a sacred commitment to being a self-serving contract that is devoid of love, selflessness, and dedication.

The Court rightly addressed this particular case by asking the husband to first fulfill his duty towards his wife by getting her treated and then ask for a divorce. But, the society is yet to address the continuous downfall of marriage from being all about commitment, duty, and love to being a business contract.

(Photo:www.trinetra.org.uk)

Also Read: Vivaha Panchami: Celebrating Rama’s marriage to Sita

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.