The enemies in our family

rëa-kartä pita çatrurmätäcavyabhicäriëé

There are four kinds of enemies in household life: a father who is a debtor, an unchaste wife, a wife who is beautiful, and a foolish, ignorant son.

Normally we do not expect to have enemies inside our immediate family circle. Chanakya Pandit however warns us that in reality there are not less than four types of them.

First is the father who dies in debt. According to the traditional Indian laws the diseased father’s debt must be paid by the son. Therefore such father is considered an enemy.

The second type is the mother whoaccepts another husband in the presence of her husband or son. According to Vedic civilization this is a greatly sinful act.

A great deal of the peace and prosperity in the society depends on the proper education and protection given to women. According to the Vedic tradition women should be taught from an early age to be chaste and shy. When women loose these qualities they become easy prey to immoral men. The vital importance of women’s purity for the proper functioning of society is described in Bhagavad-gita:

With the destruction of the dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion. When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Kåñëa, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Våñëi, comes unwanted progeny. An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped. By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.

What is this family tradition all about? According to the Vedas, the eternal family tradition represents the God’s rules how we can live peacefully on earth fulfilling all of our material desires and at the end of life go back to the Spiritual World where we can eternally enjoy the highest pleasure of loving service to God. The destroyers of this supremely beneficial for all humanity institution are the people who oppose God and his instructions. Such people, among other things, propagate that having free sex without emotional and social commitment is an expression of women’s liberation and independence, a sign of progress and civilization. In the name of such “progress” women, instead of being protected, are cruelly exploited. What such proponents miss out is that by their intrinsic nature human beings cannot be satisfied by animalistic activities. One of the best examples of such animalistic behavior, sexual promiscuity, being pretty much the norm in contemporary western society, puts enormous pressure on women to conform to it, or to be discarded as out of date weirdoes. As Fred Reed remarks in his article “Life on the Meat Bourse”:

Hovering like a ghost over all of this is the long-forgotten Sexual Revolution, in which feminists commoditized sex and made women more or less fungible. While women are as sexual as men and often more so…men are more plagued by the necessity. Back when a fellow needed to say “I do” to get laid regular, he had an incentive to say it. The Revolution almost forced a woman to say Yes, since if she didn’t, someone else would. For men, this was wonderful, but it sorely reduced a gal’s bargaining power…Why buy the cow, they said, when the milk is free?

The third type of enemy is the beautiful wife, or to be more precise, the excessivelybeautiful wife. The first implication of this advice is easy to grasp. Everything valuable attracts unwanted attention. It might be pleasing when we notice that others appreciate something we own, that adds to our sense of self-worth. But attracting too much attention is unwise because the one who is attracted might be stronger or more resourceful than us with all the obvious negative consequences. Many wars have been fought for the sake of beautiful women and large number of the crimes nowadays have a sexual context.

Therefore Chanakya Pandit advises us that we should not be very worried if our partner is not very beautiful. It is much more important that he or she has a good character. Thus we gain both peaceful and happy family life. As La Rochefoucauld said, “The chaste wife is a hidden treasure: those who found it should not boast about it.”

In order to understand the deeper meaning of Chanakya’s warning against having an excessively beautiful wife we need to remember that according to the Vedas the goal of human life is not the insignificant and transitory material pleasures available through our senses on this planet. Rather it is the attainment of spiritual emancipation which is defined as realizing our constitutional position as eternal spirit soul, part and parcel of God. Therefore, if we are too attracted to our partner in life, or for that matter, to anything in this material world, this will become a stumbling block on the path of our self-realization. Of course, that does not mean that one cannot have feelings for his family members, it means that one should always see his dear ones in connection with God. For example one should consider that all of his relatives are given to him by God’s grace to satisfy one’s longings for society, friendship and love. He should deal with them properly so that God, who is the origin of all human relationships, will be pleased with him. In fact this is the only way human interactions can be successful and pleasing. Thus by understanding and applying God’s laws of proper interaction one can live happily in the material world and attain the spiritual world at the moment of death.

The foolish and ignorant son is the fourth type of enemy.

It is important to note that by describing these four types of enemies the sage Chanakya does not urge us to fight or destroy them, he simply points out an aspect of reality which we may otherwise overlook. In ultimate sense nobody is really our enemy; the so-called enemies we meet are only projections of our past misdeeds. According to the Vedic wisdom the only real enemy of the soul is lust which controls the mind of a materialistic person. In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says:

It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world. As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust. Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire. The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him…For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his [lusty] mind will remain the greatest enemy.

In other words we do not have real enemies outside ourselves or, as Bhaktivedanta Svämé Prabhupada remarks in his book The Perfection of Yoga:

We have to raise ourselves to the spiritual standard by ourselves. In this sense I am my own friend and I am my own enemy. The opportunity is ours. There is a very nice verse by Cäëakya Paëòita: “No one is anyone’s friend, no one is anyone’s enemy. It is only by behavior that one can understand who is his friend and who is his enemy.” No one is born our enemy, and no one is born our friend. These roles are determined by mutual behavior. As we have dealings with others in ordinary affairs, in the same way the individual has dealings with himself. I may act as my own friend or as an enemy. As a friend, I can understand my position as spirit soul and, seeing that somehow or other I have come into contact with material nature, try to get free from material entanglement by acting in such a way as to disentangle myself. In this case I am my friend. But if even after getting this opportunity I do not take it, then I should be considered my own worst enemy.

Start typing and press Enter to search