Ideals of a Hindu Marriage
At the outset let me establish that according to Hinduism man and woman represent the two halves of the divine body. There is no question of superiority or inferiority between them. However, it is a scientific fact that the emotional side is more developed in the woman. This does not mean that intellectually the women are inferior. Our scriptures have the examples of Gargi, Maitreyi and Sulabha whose faculty of reasoning was far more superior to that of an ordinary man. But owing to organic differences in their physical and emotional constitutions women are in general temperamentally more emotional. Having recognized this fact our scriptures (Shastras) have allotted certain specific duties to Hindu women. These duties include maintaining domestic peace, adjustment of social relations and attainment of spiritual perfection.
The idea behind the institution of marriage in Hinduism is to foster, not self-interest but love for the entire family. Practice of self-restraint is the ideal of marriage in Hinduism. It is the love and duty cultivated for the entire family that prevents the marriage break-ups. Men by nature are less capable of self-restraint than women. That is why after marriage the Hindu women lead the men by keeping the lustful propensities under control. While married, thought of any other man does not enter the mind of a Hindu lady until she loses her faith in her husband due to his consistent misbehavior and less caring attitude.
The present-day Hindu husbands fail to recognize the sacrifices and lofty ideals of Hindu wives and thus compel them to follow in the footsteps of the western culture. During the nuptial ceremony in Hinduism, both the bride and the bridegroom take oath for the practice of self-restraint, to work together for the welfare of the family and to help each other to attain spiritual peace. This lofty ideal of sanctity is a great gift of Hinduism to the world at large.
It should be a matter of great concern that we have begun to ignore the ancient and lofty ideals of Hindu marriage and are anxious to follow in the footsteps of other cultures. No wonder, the number of divorce suits filed by the Hindu couples is on the rise. Instead of strengthening the traditional ideals that for thousands of years have helped us prevent marriage and family break-ups, we are misdirecting our energies towards promoting the ideal of sense enjoyment and self-interest. In my opinion it is still not too late to be proactive to protect the sanctity of Hindu marriage.