In every human interaction it’s important to clarify expectations; so, as you are starting this course, we wish to clarify some essential information and what we expect from you.
This Course Is for Prabhupadanugas
As we already said, we believe that to have a healthy, happy marriage you need to follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings; in other words, this course is for Srila Prabhupada’s followers or Prabhupadanugas (anuga means follower). This course is based on his instructions and it is enriched by the realizations of many of his senior followers. We assume you accept Srila Prabhupada as your friend and well-wisher and that you aspire to shape every aspect of your life according to his teachings.
Crossing the Ocean of Youth on the Ship of Marriage
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.21: “Living the conditional life is just like plying a boat in the middle of the ocean. One is completely at the mercy of the ocean, and at every moment there is every chance of being drown in the ocean by slight agitation. If the atmosphere is alright the boat can sail very easily, undoubtedly but if there is some storm, fog, wind or cloud, there is every possibility of being drowned in the ocean.”
We use the image of the ocean as an analogy for the years of youth, the time from early adulthood to the mature years. In one sense this period is the most dangerous part of life: The senses are very strong, driving us to sexual attraction and emotional involvement; and we have not yet developed the experience, the wisdom of the elders. Married life is compared to the boat that helps us safely cross the ocean of youth.
Srila Prabhupada explains in Srimad-Bhagavatam: “Of the four orders of human society – the student, or brahmacari order, the householder, or grihastha order, the retired, or vanaprastha order, and the renounced, or sannyasi order – the householder is on the safe side.” (SB 3.14.20, purport)
As a single man thinking about marriage, you are now “on the shore” – facing the expanse of water in front of you, looking at your future years and considering boarding the ship of marriage to cross the ocean of youth. Therefore you need to learn about sailing. Starting your journey with no preparation, with no clear idea of the sea or of the art of sailing, would be very dangerous. The ship may capsize or your journey might be super-slow. So, it would be a very bad idea to board the ship without training – to get married without preparing yourself.
This Course is Mostly about Looking at Yourself
We believe that even before you start looking for your partner – or before you take a serious commitment with the person you may have in mind – you need to take a deep look at yourself and assess your level of preparation – spiritual, emotional, economic, social, etc.
Please don’t think you are ready to get married just because you feel agitated by sex desire, or because you feel lonely and need companionship, or because living as a brahmacari is too austere for you, or because your parents are pushing you to marry… These might be legitimate factors, but by themselves they do not guarantee a peaceful, successful marriage. There is much more to learn and consider. Instincts and hormonal changes might be sufficient for the mating of animals, but they are not enough for civilized human beings.
Training is Essential
Srila Prabhupada said: “Both the girls and the boys should be trained up. Then they’ll be responsible husband and wife and live peacefully. (Room Conversation, Nouvelle Mayapur, France, 3 August 1976) Therefore we believe that pre-marital education is crucial.
Traditionally, boys would go to guru-kula and serve under the direct guidance of the spiritual master for years. Girls would grow in households following millenary traditions and be trained in chastity, cooking and other domestic arts, while witnessing the interactions of their cultured elders.
We assume that only a very small fraction of those taking this course would come from such background.
Some might simply have been (or still are) students in secular society; some might have been living in temples for some time; some might have never lived in temples; some might be working a job; some might have extensive exposure to the opposite sex and some not. Among those who take this course some might be already engaged and some might be already married. And some might be divorced… In any case, this course will be an opportunity to meditate on Srila Prabhupada’s instruction and reflect on how they apply to you. We humbly suggest you take these lessons very seriously because even a few good ideas, advices or insights you will get might have a very deep impact on your life.
Something will be More Relevant for You, Something Less
Because the course is designed for the whole world, and because devotees have different cultural backgrounds, different experiences, different mentalities, different inclinations, different social or financial situations, different ages, different levels of intelligence and of spiritual sincerity, different personal challenges, you will feel that some of the lessons are more relevant to you and some are less. That’s natural.
Be Honest and Go Deep
This course is not only about information; it’s also about transformation. Therefore we recommend you approach the lessons with an open mind and an open heart, willing to deeply consider how to improve yourself to prepare for the grihastha-asrama, spiritualized household life.
You may approach the course in a mechanical way, just reading one lesson after another simply to “finish” them; you might answer the questions just to get done with them; but with that approach you might miss some of the benefits of introspection.
You might want to discuss the subjects presented in the course with your friends and seniors, asking questions to better understand principles and applications. Different people will, of course, say different things; but the point is that talking about these topics may help you remember and internalize what you read.
Due to different circumstances, different people will go through the course at different speeds. Some will be able to dedicate more time and will complete it more quickly; some will take more time.
Database of Graduates
When you finish the course you will have a solid idea about marriage life. This course will have stimulated your introspection and you know what fundamental questions you need to address for a lifelong committed marriage with your soulmate. We feel that there is non-other course certification needed than that. And we feel honored that we could assist you in your course graduation.
We keep a database of all Bhakti Marriage Course attendees and your privacy is secure with us.
The Five Sections
Each section contains various lessons. The sections’ themes connect with the overall allegory of sailing across the ocean:
1. Art of Sailing
Broad, general principles of married life in Krsna consciousness.
2. Sailor’s Fitness
Aspects of your outlook and personal circumstances that need to be developed to have a successful marriage.
3. Mapping your Journey
Elements of preparation and orientation.
4. Storms, Sharks and Other Dangers
Threats to smooth, progressive sailing; things that can badly affect or even destroy your marriage.
5. Choosing Your Shipmate
Guidelines to consider in looking for your life-partner.
After each lesson you’ll find some questions to answer. These questions are for your personal introspection and will help you to deepen your understanding of the discussed topics. Most lessons are for both men and women; but, considering the particular needs of each gender, some lessons are specifically for men or for women.
Have a fruitful and transformational study!