Questioner (Q): Acharya Ji, recently I had a small argument with my parents regarding marriage. They have been pushing me for the last seven years, trying to somehow convince me to get married. I’ve got kind of really sick of it. I’m trying to push it, saying that I don't need it. But now things have become more serious. It looks like the sole purpose of my dad is just to get me married. He has no interest in anything. It seems like he is lifeless without this ambition being fulfilled. I have tried to tell him in multiple ways, for five - seven years, that I will go ahead only when I really feel the need or significance of it but not because of fear. But they try to install fear in me, saying “How will you live after some time? There is no security.” They have a lot of fears and a lot of worry. I have been ignoring their fears but now I am worried about their worry, their health. I don't know how to explain them —I have tried multiple times.
Acharya Prashant (AP): You won't be able to explain.
Q: And I cannot see them suffering.
AP: You won't be able to convince them. In fact, you will just end up doing what they want you to do. It's not so much about them. It's a pre-written script the way a common man lives, and one follows that script chapter by chapter, act by act, scene by scene. If you have been following that script till now, you'll find it very difficult to break away from the script suddenly. When till now you did everything that was socially mandated and sanctioned, how will you suddenly fly away from the script? And to fly away from the script you must have first of all a more attractive, a more compelling chapter ready with you. Only then can the script be modified, edited. Remember that it's an old script and it has gained a lot of validity and respectability just by its oldness. Like the old books that are considered so sacred that not even a word can be changed. Such is the social script as well. You are born —you'll be brought up in a certain way —you'll go to a certain type of school —you'll have a certain kind of relationship with parents —you'll have certain kinds of relationships with relatives and neighbours —you will pursue certain kind of disciplines in your studies —you will take a few co-curriculars —then you will probably get a job and then you ought to get married. It’s a track, solidly laid out. Merely wishful thinking won't let you deviate from the track. If you really want a deviation, then it cannot be a small deviation. It has to be a dimensional change. You cannot say “I want to deviate ten percent from the script.” You cannot say “I want a ten-degree deviation from the track.” It cannot merely be a deviation —it has to be an outright rebellion.
The next chapter in your script then has to be about something that is unthinkable as per the current running script. Otherwise, the current script will not leave you. If you deviate by ten degrees, it will pull you back. Those who want to avoid the standard social customs must first of all, ask themselves “If not this, then what?” Rebellion appears fashionable but is rarely sustainable. To sustain rebellion, you must first of all have something tremendously compelling, something so very powerful and attractive that it overrides the usual social norms. Because the social norms aren’t just all idiotic. They have a certain purpose and they fulfil that purpose with regularity. Millions and billions of people are living by the prevalent social norms and they are living decently normal and well-adjusted lives. So, the social norms have a proven track record. You cannot just whimsically beat them. If you want to beat them, first of all tell me: Do you have an alternative in life? If not marriage, then what?
There are so many men and women who keep crusading against marriage and regret it when they reach 38 —because it is not merely sufficient to create a void. The mind does not love voids, the mind needs companionship. If that companion is not a man, who is that companion going to be? Otherwise you will die of loneliness. Marriage has been traditionally, historically performing a certain function —it’s an important function. Men and women, they need companionship of all kinds —mental, physical, social. So, you are given somebody. “Take this fellow. He will fulfil your needs.” Now if you say that you are not okay with that arrangement, that you do not want a man to be present in your life in the shape of a husband, then what exactly are you going to do with your life? Have you thought it out? Because you do need something rich, something powerful, something voluminous to occupy your life and your mind. Do you have such a rich purpose? If not, then no point postponing marriage and regretting it at 40. Marry now, marry today.
Most people desperately need marriage. Marriage is an important institution. Because if marriage is not there, how will they live? They have no purpose in life, they have nothing big in life, so they need to get married. School was there, college was there, university was there —all are over. And now you have a job as well. Now what? Now there is no purpose, there is just a void, a blankness —then you need to marry. Either get something very very compelling and beautiful for yourself, a cause worth living and dying for, or get a spouse. Life does not keep anybody totally deprived. If you cannot have a rich and fulfilling purpose —never mind, you can have a spouse. Go and get married. And if you want to keep the spouse at bay, if you want to avoid marriage, you better find a larger purpose. Otherwise you'll be beaten on both fronts: you will have no great purpose to life and you’ll also not have the carnal satisfactions and the social respectability that society normally offers to everyone. You'll feel a double loser. Many people end up being that. Maaya milee na Ram.
Q: If I do not find right now a compelling purpose, but I still don’t want to go into it for reasons —personally I don't want to go into it because I find the whole thing a trap and I don't want to carry on.
AP: Everything is a trap! Except for that compelling purpose everything is a trap. You are highly mistaken if you think that only marriage is a trap. Let me make it very clear: Except for living a life devoted to a high purpose everything is a trap —be it marriage or whatever.
Q: So, that means marriage is not a hindrance. You can still get married and have a compelling purpose. Will that …
AP: If you are married, why do you need another purpose? Marriage will fill up everything that you have. Where is the space for another purpose? And had you really been keen on a high purpose in life, why would you go and cling to a man or woman?
Q: But a lot of couples do follow the path of spirituality …
AP: That's what —so let's get married.
See, you have glorious examples in front of you. These examples will become more and more compelling. You cannot break away from the script. All these examples are a part of the script and they'll fully convince you to get married. See? Why are you resisting your father, unnecessarily? After all, aren’t there so many couples who are spiritually fulfilled as well? That's exactly what your father is saying. “You can do all your spiritual things, but first get married. And then you can do all your spiritual things but do get me a grandchild. And there are so many arguments. “What? Is your God so pricey and choosy and jealous that he can't tolerate a husband? Why can't you have a ‘husbanded’ variety of liberation? Spiritual husbandry.”
AP: Either plunge into His work or honestly admit that you have nothing to do with Him, so you remain nicely socially adjusted. Get married, have kids. There is no third option. You're searching for the impossible.
Q: It is such an uncomfortable state. Sometimes …
AP: Is it highly uncomfortable to plunge into His work?
Q: No, the state in between where …
AP: So, why are you in that in-between state? Why don't you plunge in His work? Why don't you talk about the real thing? What keeps you away from Him? That you don't want to talk of, huh? You too have debts?
Often people who avoid marriage get into something even worse than marriage. That's why I do not readily advocate abstinence from marriage. Only those who have, I repeat, that great purpose in life are entitled to avoid marriage —everybody else must marry. Otherwise you will land in a situation that is even worse than marriage. Not married but coveting other’s husbands. How does that sound? If you do not have God as your husband and you aren't married either —to a mortal being— what would you end up doing? You would covet other’s husbands. Better than coveting other’s husbands is to get one for yourself. Either have, I repeat, God as the husband or —silently, peacefully— get socially married. There is no third option. There is no in-between state possible. There is a reason why the world detests bachelors.
If you go to Indian metro cities the apartment buildings have prominent displays: “Bachelors not allowed”. Because bachelors are actually in many ways worse than married couples. Bachelorhood befits only those who are committed to something worthwhile. Otherwise bachelorhood is a curse. You will keep disturbing others. Bachelorhood is extremely fine. Bachelorhood is not an ordinary thing. Bachelorhood befits online those who really have very little craving left for the world. Otherwise don't unnecessarily try bachelorhood. You'll burn your hands.
When a great scientist or a devoted politician or a committed author decides to remain unmarried it is wonderful. But only then. So first of all, figure out something great to be immersed and absorbed in. If you can figure that out, then you get the license to remain unmarried. Only then. I think it was Bhagat Singh —when his mother asked him “Why don't you get married?” he replied” I am already married, and her name is Freedom.” Now it behoves a Bhagat Singh to not to get married to a woman because he has committed himself to freedom. Wonderful. But to every Tom, Dick and Harry it does not suit.
Q: Acharya Ji, some of us here are married. Are you saying that there is no liberation for them since they are married?
AP: That is a question they should ask. Hmm? Or are you already committed to going down that road? Let them ask about it. The question itself hints at the inclination. See.
Q: No, it’s just a curious …
AP (ironically) : Fine, I’m mistaken. Thank you.
(towards listeners) It is out of sheer magnanimity and social wellbeing that she wants to ask a question on behalf of the married ones.
AP (again towards questioner): How much are we capable of cheating ourselves?
Q: Earlier today we had some discussions about this.
AP: About? About your married life?
Q: People were telling about their lives.
AP: Don't you have a life of your own? Hmm? Suddenly, have you become so much of a well-wisher to the married ones that you are acting as their representative?
Don't you see what is actually going on? Hmm?
Poor parents —they get all the blame. “You know, I didn’t want to, my mother pushed me into it.” Seriously? Was it the mother? But it's fashionable. Everybody is to be blamed. Even the husband gets the flack: “Who wanted to marry you?
AP: How we weave our web to catch ourselves, and then we pretend to be victims.” Hah, it happened to me.” Did it happen or did you carefully orchestrate it?
Q: Acharya Ji, so there is an inclination for me to get married.
AP: How do I know?
What I know for certain is one thing: There is no saviour except Him and if you don't have Him in your life, I don't need to know the details of your life; it is certain that you'll get trapped. I don't even need to examine minutely. I'll ask just one question: “Is your life committed to Him?” If the answer is “No” I don't want to inquire any further. And if the answer is “Yes” I don't want to inquire any further. Once I ask you “Is your life fully committed to Him? Is your time, your day going in His work?” and you say “No” then the conclusion is obvious.
My advice is very clear: Find something worth dying for. And then you'll be able to live without props. Otherwise you'll need all these props —marriage, husband, kids, career, so many things. If you want to avoid them, if you are sincere, I repeat, find something worth dying for. Q: You said we should be ready to do His work. What are those? Are there any examples of that?
AP: Son, do any work beyond you. Now there is no palace etc. being built above, that you will do some volunteering. Any work that is beyond your personal scope or personal interests, something that is bigger than you, do that. What do we usually do?
(continues in English)
What is it that we are usually engaged in? Feeding our stomachs and feeding the stomachs of those who are related by blood to us. That is what our life really is. Hmm? Fundamentally that's what we live and work for. Feed your stomach and feed the stomachs of your little family. Fulfil your desires and fulfil the desires of those who are related by blood and semen to you. That's how we live. What is it to live in His service? Do something a little beyond yourself. There Is a universe beyond you, your kids and your wife and your parents. Is there not? And it's a burning universe right now. It’s crying for help. You better realize your responsibility. That is what I mean by God’s work. By God’s work I do not mean that you have to go and perform service in a temple or church. What is godliness? That which is beyond your little personal ego boundary.