My wife Guru Carana Padma on pilgrimage in India: warmer than Canada!
I talked to my wife on Skype last night. She is in Canada right now, way over in Winnipeg where the temperature is 35 below zero. She told me she can only stay outside for eight minutes before her face starts freezing. She has to wear a very thick coat and hat and boots. Otherwise the sun is shining very brightly and the sky is blue. I can’t even imagine a temperature like that.
She is there visiting her father, 86, who is unwell. Her great-grandparents travelled there from Romania more than a century ago. The Canadian government gave each family 150 acres and they developed the land and made a new life for themselves. Today’s city of ‘Windy’ Winnipeg, set in the grain-growing prairies of central Canada, is proof of several generations of sheer hard work in bitter conditions.
My wife has also been working very hard studying recently – as usual – and was awarded with a first class BA in Educational Management. It was a great achievement for her as a mature student and I am very proud of her. As well as giving her great personal satisfaction, her studies have helped her to see her work as a teacher and school administrator from a fresh perspective.
We have been together for a quarter of a century this year, and I think that is also something worth celebrating. I would say that at least three-quarters of the credit for our marriage belongs to her. She has certainly needed every ounce of tolerance and perseverance with me as a husband. Still, twenty-five years is not actually very long. We vowed on our wedding day that we would remain as husband and wife for ‘a hundred autumns’ so we still have seventy-five years left to run. Please give us your blessings.
This week is National Marriage Week here in our United Kingdom. For kingdoms and couples to remain united there is a need for constant compromise and a general sacrifice of self-centred interests so that something greater can prosper. For a marriage to not only survive but thrive, the marriage must be treated as a separate entity from each partner; something with a life of its own, separate from the couple. Each partner is required to consider what is good for the marriage, not necessarily what is good for my partner, or what is good for me.
The marriage – the state of union rather than the partners – will remain strong if it is nourished as you would feed a delicate flowering plant. During the Indian wedding ceremony, this is symbolised by the knot which is tied between the bride and groom. The knot is ceremonially worshipped as one would worship a sacred image. While this is going on, names of happy and successful couples throughout history are read out.
Marriage is an art and so much good advice for a happy married life is offered in the scriptures known as Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is unfortunate that even couples who profess Vaishnavism as their chosen path do not sometimes take sufficient advantage of these teachings. I hope that as the years go by, and many couples find happiness as devotees, there will be a flowering of the art of marriage and family life. The children of the future will surely thank us for it.