Relationships are an integral part of our lives. It is the union of two people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Success in this coming together is measured by the happiness and well-being in all aspects of their existence. People often get into trouble with their lopsided attitude and over expectation from a married life. They forget that accepting a person to share their life is also accepting their beingness which naturally constitutes both good and bad. This we take for granted.
In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang — “bright-black”, “positive-negative” is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Absolute goodness is only hypothetical in the relative world and cannot become a concrete reality. We have all sorts of physical demands, emotions, moral and aesthetic value-appreciation and responses to situations — all of which when combined makes our personality complete. When two people come together both the yin and yang undergoes a double assertion and there is a one-to-one relation between partners in all aspects of human personality and existence.
From an Absolutist point of view, neither the husband is dear to the wife, nor the wife is dear to the husband. What is dear is a condition which they try to bring about in their mind by that relation. It is for their own self-happiness that they accept each other. This need not bring a flavor cynicism that everyone is selfish. The idea is that even when we are genuinely selfless, we are aiming at the highest happiness of our self.
In Hinduism, texts which lay down do’s and don’ts are called Dharmashastras-they generally deal with code of conduct; not in an authoritarian way however. For example, Bhagavad Gita is a central canonical text for the Hindus which is written in the form of a dialogue between a wisdom-teacher who is called a siddhantin (one with confirmed knowledge) in sanskrit, and his student who happens to be undergoing a dialectical conflict when he is faced with the challenges of his field-of-action. The student here takes up the position of an anterior-skeptic (purva-pakshin).
After imparting the Science of the Absolute and unitive living, Sri Krishna who is the wisdom-teacher in the great epic says:
iti te jnanam akhyatam guhyad guhyataram maya
vimrishyaitad asheshena yathechchhasi tatha kuru
“Thus, the ‘Wisdom’ which is a great secret than all secrets, has been declared to you by Me; having reflected upon it fully, you now act as you choose.”
Our enquiry here is how to be successful in a relationship. Texts such as Srimad Bhagavatham gives us a clear direction in the form of values which we can accept in our lives, all of which can be easily assimilated and followed:
1) Visrambhena (with utmost attention): Even though Visrambhena literally means trust, here the author presupposes that there is no question of breach in trust and gives an altogether new flavor of meaning to the word. Simply, it means that we should attend to each other with utmost care and good empathy.
2) Atma-sauchena (Purity): Purity of body, mind and intellect is pointed out here. Abiding by moral and ethical values is unavoidable for a peaceful life.
3) Gauravena (with respect): This is self-explanatory.
4) Damena (Self-control): Without respect there cannot be self-control in the relationship. Domestic violence has become a painful reality for many only due to the lack of self-control.
5) Sushrushaya (Service): Serving each other without selfish motives uplifts any relation to nobler heights.
6) Sauhrdena (Friendliness): Unity becomes the pillar of a relationship when partners treat each other with respect and friendliness.
7) Vacha-Madhuraya (Soft spoken): Words cannot be taken back, so we have to be very careful how we handle a situation and respond to it.
Now the list goes on to tell the negative traits that we must avoid: Lust, False-pride, envy, Greed, wrong or evil actions, Vanity. The list is then reinforced by one more positive trait with a strong emphasis on doing it at all times:
8) Appramatha (Careful, attentive, vigilant): Lack of this can result in emotional unbalances or even confusion which might lead the way to strife.
The idea of marriage is given great importance in Hinduism, because it is the central pillar of a healthy community. The human dharma is to be the masters of nature, not to exploit them but to become guardians of the world. A person can only follow his Dharma (true nature) if he lives a healthy and balanced life, and therefore proper guiding values become unavoidable for such a life.
Hence, the words of wisdom-teacher (Krishna) must not be forgotten: “vimrishyaitad asheshena yathechchhasi tatha kuru” — having reflected upon the teachings fully, you now act as you choose.