The story of Dina Sarana mataji doesn’t let go off my mind yet, I think it could be made into an educational case study in modern day varnashrama. I don’t know anyone involved in it and I don’t know any details but that is actually a good thing because now we can focus on driving principles and ideas rather than get boggled in the minutia and various “what ifs” of real life twists and turns.
As I said earlier, the fact that they had a forty year old marriage proves that Dina Sarana was more than qualified to serve as a wife and it couldn’t be her fault. Of course no one is absolutely faultless in this world but for practical purposes she is blameless.
Their marriage could have been imperfect, it could have been lacking this and that and lots of other things could have been done differently but forty years is a testament to endurance and dedication. It trumps all other considerations.
If Dina Sarana is not to blame, who is? The obvious choice is her husband, of course. I’m guessing he must be well in his sixties and it’s definitely not the time to start new relationship and break your old family. If he wasn’t satisfied in his marriage to Dina Sarana he should have tolerated it for just a few more years rather than ruin it completely.
At this ripe age he should be arranging for his complete retirement from sense gratification, not plunge head first into the dark well of family life. He should be ashamed of himself. Hmm, no. That’s an easy way out, the situation is a bit more complicated than that.
First of all, we can’t order our hearts who to love and when. It just strikes and overpowers us whenever it feels like doing it. We can’t order ourselves to stop being in love, we can only try to manage it.
Of course one could say “Don’t expose yourself to temptation and nothing will happen” but this rarely works in real life. Somehow or other love takes over our hearts and finds its way to unleash itself on our lives. Resistance is futile and it’s not even recommended.
Just think of it – if a twenty year old brahmachari falls in love we can give him some advice on how to shake it off and regain his strength but we know that as far as brahmacharya goes it’s a lost cause, it’s only a matter of time, not a matter of efforts to keep it under wraps.
One could say “But he is not twenty, he is sixty, his hormones are not as strong, he should be able to keep it under control.” Yes, this could be the case, but other factors play against this scenario.
Older people are acutely aware of losing their grip on life. They know that some things will never ever happen to them anymore. They will never run like in their youth, they will never jump, they will never be as strong and energetic, their eyesight isn’t coming back and every time they get pain somewhere in their bodies they are afraid that it might never go away until they die. “Bucket list” quickly becomes an essential part of their consciousness and their attitude towards their lives and the world around them.
With such a gloomy perspective on life every chance they get to feel young again looks like a golden opportunity that must not be missed and falling in love is the strongest motivator of all. We can say whatever we want about Krishna consciousness being superior to everything else, our bodies have their own minds and they demand their own tributes.
Aging bodies sensing a chance of a second life? You can’t stop that monster when it comes, you can only manage the damage.
So, what to be done if it happens? I’m afraid nothing out of the ordinary, varnashrama or not.
In Satya yuga everyone was a brahmana, happily absorbed in meditation on the Supreme. Then, as modes of passion and ignorance asserted their influence, people started to slip from their paths and other varnas gradually evolved to accommodate their less than purely spiritual interests.
I would say that any new varna and every new rule was invented to deal with unintended consequences of bad decisions. Polygamous marriage was invented to keep man with extra strong sexual appetite in check, for example. They wanted to have relationships with women other than their wives and it was accommodated. Similarly, new rules were invented for people who wanted to eat meat and drink liquor. The whole karma kanda section of the Vedas deals with regulating sense enjoyment that shouldn’t be there if not for the degradation brought about by time.
Taking these developments into consideration we would see that practice of serial monogamy is just a way to regulate what is not supposed to happen but it does and to a large number of people. It’s not Vedic but Vedic corpus has been fixed five thousand years ago while the degradation hasn’t stopped, in fact it really intensified. We can’t possibly expect Srila Vyasadeva to keep up with issuing authorized rules and it’s probably not even necessary, we have to manage ourselves.
By ourselves I don’t mean us as ISKCON, these things have been going on without our input whatsoever and it looks like the world has some inbuilt ways of regulating itself, or maybe it’s how the Lord maintains whatever is left of the principles of religion, without our help.
This means that when we talk about establishing varnashrama we should realize that it hasn’t been lost but it’s been degraded to suit the modern times. We don’t need to introduce it as something new, we need to elevate what we already have to its previous, pure state.
So, when an old man falls in love we don’t have any other choice but allow him to marry. Should he maintain two wives? That would be perfect. He doesn’t have to be polygamous but he has to make sure his first wife is well cared for in whatever arrangements are made for her. I have no idea what will happen with Dina Sarana mataji but I hope her husband feels responsibility for her well being, and that is all that should be expected of him.
Should we still be passing blame around? I don’t think so, things happen, as long as devotees are not making any serious offenses there should be no real reason for concern or for condemnation.