Sister Nivedita on Contextuality of Marriage

Marriage is always the sacred institution in each and every society throughout the globe.  It sanctifies the relationship of a male and a female (heterosexual relation) lawfully, socially and culturally. It is evident that the family exists because of marriage institution. Society exists due to the existence of the family institution. Both the institutions- marriage and family are the prime statute of society. By a marriage, two souls are made for each other. It is not only the bonding between two. It is the bonding of society at large. Mutual respect, faithfulness, mutual understanding and adjustment are the determinants of a happy marriage and marital relation/conjugal relation for a happy and peaceful family as well a disciplined society.

Sister Niverdita expressed her feeling about importance and validity of the marriage institution in a letter of her to Miss. J. Mac Leod. She opined:

‘The husband is a motive of self-consecration, just as the alter is. Marriage, to be kept ideal, means walking on a path long and difficult, sharp as the edge of a razor, and the way so hard to find! It is, for good women,……………….no yielding to a thirst, no yielding, or self-indulgence of any kind. It is a great giving, an infinite tenderness, a solemn quiet and joy- and such a compassion!

Its whole sacredness and beauty comes from the long abstinence and solitude before, and this treasure has to be guarded, and wrought in to the texture of daily life with much serve, much silence, much prayer. Sweetness and steadiness at once. Motherhood and worship at once. These things it is and more’

Further, she expressed in this same letter referring to her master Swamiji (Vivekananda)-

‘…………..marriage is a puja - a ritual – a temple – a worship; Marriage has its temptations – not the crude temptations………They are temptations to Philistinism, to dullness, to love of being. First, and other sins of psychic kind.

I am sure too that there is no special thing called a wife, or a wife’s love. Love is one undifferentiated, when it is true – and the thing that the child cries out for to the same that the husband needs.

………………that to me even the strictest monogamy does not constitute purity in marriage, but the always making experience an experience of the soul, does.

The love of body must be, of course, but it should be the result of the love of the mind, not the cause.’

Sister Nivedita realized it from customs and rituals of Indian Society. She was impressed about this because culture of Indian Society teaches to cope it generation after generation. It is the basis of disciplined gender relations and responsibilities. It was obviously excluded discrimination and patriarchal domination. 

But in the present era of globalization of greed, in India, marriage loses its purity. Complex society produces complexes in structure and function in daily life of human being. It becomes an agony to the individuals, family and society due to the cause of changing value and importance of human relations. Media and want and identity status are derided to the society.  Today it is a tool of luring opposite partner because of instability of conjugal relation. Un-failfullness, misunderstanding and others (i.e.poor relational representations, etc.) between two parties (conjugal partners) are determining as serious crisis and it may be a threat to the marriage institution. Further, it is also a crisis of the family institution in Indian Society.  Consequently, the incidents of marital torture, violence, divorce, even murder are in alarming threat.

There is lack of tenderness between the two, and love of body becomes vital rather than love of mind among conjugal partners.

Will it not be realized  considering the importance of the marriage in true sense? Violence between two is the cause of family violence and broken family. Will it not significant to cultivate and accelerate a violent society?

What would be the future of Indian Society when validity of marriage as sacred institution is in crisis? Is it only an institution of granting a temporary relation between two opposite sexes? Or is it an institution for fulfillment of temporary sexual greed? All should rethink its essence from the spiritual context as Sister Nivedita realized. For a peaceful union between man and woman, for a happy family and for a non-violent society, it needs urgent attention. It needs special consideration for women’s justice and equity in global society because women’s participation in the workforce and economic empowerment are in vain to protect women from patriarchal domination. Economic empowerment is not a single factor for women’s equity. In India, women need a mate with whom they could live happily with respect in happy family. The family is a safe and secured place for women. Women should be protected from false sense of security from their male partners. The selection of a partner would be a parameter of happy relation.


More by :  Dr. Harasankar Adhikari

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