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Thread: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

  1. #1

    The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Some time ago, in a conversation I had with one of our Western members, I made a point about how the traditional guru-disciple relationship in Vedic Hinduism was generally between brahmin-males and other twice-born males, and that women in traditional culture were supposed to accept their husbands as their gurus. I did not have shAstric pramANa for this statement at the time. However, I did read some verses recently in which this is explicitly stated.

    patir eva hi nārīṇāṁ daivataṁ paramaṁ smṛtam |
    mānasaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ vāsudevaḥ śriyaḥ patiḥ || bhA 6.18.33 ||
    sa eva devatā-liṅgair nāma-rūpa-vikalpitaiḥ
    ijyate bhagavān pumbhiḥ strībhiś ca pati-rūpa-dhṛk || bhA 6.18.34 ||
    tasmāt pati-vratā nāryaḥ śreyas-kāmāḥ sumadhyame |
    yajante ’nanya-bhāvena patim ātmānam īśvaram || bhA 6.18.35 ||

    "The husband is considered the worshipable deity of the woman. Vâsudeva who, situated in the heart of all as the husband of the Goddess of Fortune, is worshiped as the Supreme Lord by men through the forms and names of the different divinities, is there also for women in the form of the husband. Women who with respect for the will of their husbands desire a happy life oh slender-waisted lady, therefore worship with devotion their spouse as [a representative of] the Lord who is the Supersoul." (bhAgavata purANa 6.18.34-35)

    patirhi devatA nAryAH patirbandhuH patirguruH || VR 7.48.17 ||

    "The husband is the deity, the kinsmen, the preceptor for the (wedded) woman." (vALmIki-rAmAyaNa 7.48.17)


    This latter statement is uttered by sItA-devI after being taken across the ganga river to be exiled to the hermitage of vAlmIki. Like many statements in the rAmAyaNa, there is so much more here than simply the statement about how dharma is (e.g. the general principle that the wife must serve the husband as a guru and/or deity).

    sItA, who was blameless and who had endured so much hardship simply for the sake of rAma, was exiled unfairly. The citizens of ayodhya suspected her of infidelity and believed rAma's act of taking her back would encourage more of the same. rAma knew very well that sItA was pure, as the devas headed by brahmA, indra, and agni attested to this in public (as well as the fact that He is the all-knowing nArAyaNa). Neverthless, He acted out of concern for the citizens' welfare, and in so doing set the example that a king's personal happiness is secondary to the duty of leading the citizens to uphold dharma.

    sItA understood this also, and after lakShmaNa confessed what He was doing, she refused to censure her husband in any way, instead giving lakShmaNa instructions to convey to rAma. In those instructions, sItA stated that rAma is her only resort, and that He should always conduct Himself to uphold dharma, treating the citizens as He would do His own brothers.

    sItA is truly a remarkable figure in the rAmAyaNa, not merely because she behaved as the ideal wife, but because her unmatched selflessness exemplified the principle of sharaNAgati. She entered forest exile to follow her husband and Lord, then tolerated being abducted on account of rAma's hostility towards the rAkShasa-s, and again tolerated a second exile because of the wrong beliefs of ayodhya's citizens. She demonstrated through her conduct, whether it be in refusing rAvaNa's advances, her attachment to rAma's wishes, or in her refusal to abandon Him even when He had seemingly abandoned her to fire, that she would under no condition have any other Lord but rAma. This is the essence of sharaNAgati, and it reminds us of why we perform our dharmas. It is not that the husband must be served simply for the sake of serving the husband. In this regard, the bRihadAraNyaka upaniShad states:

    II-iv-5: He said: 'It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one's own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one's own sake that she is loved. It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of wealth, my dear, that it is loved, but for one's own sake that it is loved. It is not for the sake of the Brahmana, my dear, that he is loved, but for one's own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the Kshatriya, my dear, that he is loved, but for one's own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of worlds, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of the gods, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of beings, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one's own sake that it is loved. The Self, my dear Maitreyi, should be realised - should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. By the realisation of the Self, my dear, through hearing, reflection and meditation, all this is known.
    In other words, our worldly duties, which invariably involve doing service to another, have the goal of understanding and serving the paramAtma who is the indweller within all of us. But it is not just any service that qualifies - we are enjoined to serve those whom shAstra ordains us to serve in order to attain this supreme goal (gItA 16.23-24). This is because the service itself is a meditation and a path to self-realization and ultimately to paramAtma-realization. And the fruit of that service culminates in more of the selfless devotion to paramAtma which even the great sages hanker for.

    Getting back to sItA's example, we see how her behavior exemplified this standard of selfless devotion, in which her every thought and deed were fully in step with those of her Lord. There is a verse in the rAmAyaNa in which sItA stated that she could have destroyed rAvaNa herself, but refrained from doing so:

    asaMdeshaattu raamasya tapasashchaamapaalanaat |
    na tvaaM kurmi dashagriiva bhasma bharmaarha tejasaa || 5-22-20 ||

    "O Ravana! Although you are suited to be burnt into ashes, not having the mandate of Rama and preserving austerity, I am not reducing you into ashes with my glory." (vALmIki-rAmAyaNa 5.22.20)


    Indeed, we can take it as a given that sItA could have burned all of Lanka, the entire rAkshAsa race, and quite possibly all the three worlds by her angry glance had she chosen to! Similar to the verse in which sItA declined to be rescued by hanumAn, these verses remind us that the surrendered soul makes no effort of her own to improve her situation. Rather, she depends always on her worshipable Lord and only acts when He ordains it. In one sense, her glories consist not in (unlicensed) action, but in restrained inaction, based as it is on an unsullied motive of pleasing the Lord only and not acting independently.

    Living in post-modern culture, we have a tendency to see any kind of service as deplorable. We value independence and free-thinking, and perhaps these are very good in some contexts. But we err in thinking that the service and dependence of wives to their husbands in Hinduism is something to be criticized or looked down upon. After reading the rAmAyaNa, one thing becomes abundantly clear: kausalyA is glorified to a far greater degree than dasharatha, tArA is glorified to a far greater degree than vALI, and sItA is glorified to a far greater degree than rAma. The service of these high-souled women to their Lords is not something to be criticized. It's a lesson to all of us to remind us of what it is that we seek in our spiritual endeavors.

    All glories to the exalted women of the rAmAyaNa, who show us the true path of surrender and devotion!
    Last edited by philosoraptor; 12 December 2012 at 02:28 PM.
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  2. #2
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    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    I find interesting the purport of Swami Prabhupada:
    http://vedabase.net/sb/6/18/33-34/en

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    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Quote Originally Posted by orlando View Post
    I find interesting the purport of Swami Prabhupada:
    http://vedabase.net/sb/6/18/33-34/en
    Namaste

    I think Swami Prabhupada's point is different than philosoraptor's:
    As long as one is very much attached to material sense gratification, the worship of the demigods or the worship of one's husband is recommended.
    Hari Aum
    With our ears may we hear what is good.
    With our eyes may we behold thy righteousness.
    Tranquil in body, may we who worship thee find rest.

    AUM Peace Peace Peace

  4. #4

    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Namakar philosoraptor, it is very nice and wonderful information about Hindu women,every married Hindu woman should frame it and keep in their home.Sita is an exemplerary sacred woman in Ramayana depicting rules of sanatana dharma.This shows how well defined is sanatana dharma,but over years it got diluted and distorted and people lost the fundamentals of it and we are now facing terrible social problems by disrespecting sanatana dharma.
    I think the heading could be 'Husband is the Guru and deity for the Wife'.

  5. #5

    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Quote Originally Posted by sanatana View Post
    Namakar philosoraptor, it is very nice and wonderful information about Hindu women,every married Hindu woman should frame it and keep in their home.Sita is an exemplerary sacred woman in Ramayana depicting rules of sanatana dharma.This shows how well defined is sanatana dharma,but over years it got diluted and distorted and people lost the fundamentals of it and we are now facing terrible social problems by disrespecting sanatana dharma.
    I think the heading could be 'Husband is the Guru and deity for the Wife'.
    How funny, I just realized that the title is incorrect. I meant for the title to be, "The Husband is the Guru and the Deity of the Wife." However, considering my conclusions, the incorrect title isn't so incorrect. Then again, I could have entitled it, "The Faithful Wife is the Guru of the Aspiring Devotee" and that would have made it more accurate.
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa worshipped his wife as a deity.

    Although it is not so popular to say wife is the deity of the husband, it could actually be so. Sri Ramachandra was a ekapatni-vrata and he is praised until today for this virtue. Though not known much, in a recent spiritual discourse, I learnt that though a bad guy, Duryodhana had the excellent virtue of being an ekapatni vrata. It is said when he had fallen counting his last breath, (after taking the beating on the thigh by Bheema), when someone asked him how he thought his wife would take the news, he is said to have praised her saying, "how do you think she will still be alive after hearing the news of my anytime-to-happen demise?". (whereas one of the Pandavas - Arjuna is said to have taken a wife everywhere he goes..). So it is not incorrect to say that wife could be the deity of the husband. But popularly, she is always known as the 'deity of the household' - 'grihalakshmi'.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

  7. #7

    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    The husband's position as "head of household" is a secular consideration, but one with spiritual consequences. The wife who serves her husband faithfully gains the benefit of performing yagnas and is rewarded by entrance into Vaikuntha. This is the statement of the Bhaagavatam. A similar statement is there in the end of the Vishnu Purana in which Vyasa states that the position of women and shudras is superior to that of the twice-born in Kali-Yuga. Again, the reasoning there being that the service of women and shudras is not as regulated as those services which are ordainted on twice-born males, and thus there is less potential for committing offenses. Hence, while I pointed out that shAstras hold the husband to be the guru and the deity for the wife, it is the pious wife's example of selfless devotion to their husbands that men should learn from when they want to understand what it means to be devoted to the guru or to nArAyaNa Himself.
    Philosoraptor

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  8. #8

    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi Swamiji of Kanchikamakoti peetham mentions in his book"Hindu Dharma" about the enormous powers possessed by Hindu women far greater than those of sages.According to puranas Sati Sumati could stop sun from rising to save her husband and Sati Savitri prevented Yama from taking the life of her husband. They are called Pativratas.Pativrata, a word which may sound new to Hindus outside India. Pati means husband. Vrat denotes vow. A woman who staunchly remains loyal to her husband is a Pativrata.Sati is another word for Pativrata - one who preserves her Sattva (purity) - physically, mentally and spiritually.Sati also has a greater meaning. Sat means Paramatma - God. "E" means gati - journey. Hence a woman who dedicates herself totally to attain God is also termed sati.
    The scriptures also proclaim another five women as satis: Ahalya Draupadi Sita Tara Mandodari tathă, Panch kanyaha smaret nityam mahăpătaka năshineehi.
    "The daily remembrance of the five Pativratas, namely, Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara, and Mandodari eradicates great sins. If sins are eradicated in remembering their names this gives us an inkling of the remarkable nature of and power latent in a Pativrata."
    The existence of any human society depends on the good bondage between husband and wife in a family,if that is broken or becomes adharmic ,the society collapses.

  9. #9

    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    A deity can only be described as a powerful supernatural being. Otherwise, anything could be a deity. No man is a god.

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    Re: The Wife is the Guru and the Deity of the Husband

    Quote Originally Posted by sanatana View Post
    Sri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi Swamiji of Kanchikamakoti peetham mentions in his book"Hindu Dharma" about the enormous powers possessed by Hindu women far greater than those of sages.
    Does this mean that if your wife is not having the powers wielded by these women, then she is not a pativrata?

    There is much more yogic to these esoteric stories than the power of chaste women. Nearly every woman who is made to undergo "agni-parixa" that Sita underwent will be reduced to ashes regardless of her pati-bhakti. That should warn us not to take these stories literally.
    Guard your Dharma, Burn the Myth, Promote the Truth, Crush the superstition.

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