April 2017 Nandini Sarkar traces the trajectory of her successful marriage whose basis has been a spiritual outlook, as well as mutual love and care My favourite niece is all of 25. She holds a good job in Pune, has a nice apartment, and now desires to get married. She was in a long-term relationship but fell out of love. Her version is that the boyfriend became possessive and abusive, which destroyed her love. Recently, my husband and I received a request from her to help her find a husband online, through a matrimonial site. Initially, I was amused. So much for her “modern, independent woman” posturing. Apparently, nothing much has changed from Victorian times, when Jane Austen famously wrote: “It is a fact, universally known, that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in search of a wife.” (Pride & Prejudice). Fast forward to modern times, substitute the word man with woman and the same universal truth still prevails! Marriage remains an eternal social craving that’s never going to go away. However, in most cases, it remains an eternal barter or a purely physical arrangement, rather than a joyful partnership between kindred souls. I started searching online for suitable boys for my niece right away. I was looking for nice boys with values, spark and a sense of humour. I imagined she was looking for the same. The great divide I diligently read the “About Myself” section under each profile, and picked the ones that seemed to exhibit these qualities. My husband, Sushoban, called several boys/fathers/mothers, and shortlisted the ones that appeared bright, sensible and committed to family and values. But that was our first disconnect! Our niece rejected them all or spoke to them half-heartedly, only because we insisted. So, what were her parameters for a happy marriage? Height: Minimum 5’11” Salary: Minimum 25 lakhs pa Other desired qualifications: good looking, suave, and should be willing to stay without parents. The second disconnect came from her mother, who rejected certain profiles based on horoscope matching. My mind flashed back to my own wedding, 22 years ago. We didn’t do any horoscope matching nor looked for auspicious dates. In 1992, when we were married, December 4th wasn’t even a marriage date in the Panjika or Bengali astrological calendar, much to the surprise of our relatives! However, we went ahead and got married on that day, just because it was a Sunday and we didn’t have any other leave! I was very happy to be marrying my husband and it showed. My mother came up to me and whispered: don’t smile and laugh so much: it’s your wedding! Traditionally, an Indian bride is expected to be weepy and glum at her wedding, because of the impending bidai from her parents, and her anxiety about life at her in-laws. I felt no such anxiety. I felt very sure and secure about my relationship. I had known him for two years before we got married, and my overriding feeling from the first date, was one of deep friendship and comfort. Stay hungry, stay foolish At the time of our marriage, we had no bank balance, came from different family backgrounds, and had no idea what the future held in store for us. We didn’t really care. We felt that we could depend on each other, hard work and grace to see us through. Our biggest intangible assets were our mutual trust and shared values. Till my dying day, I won’t forget what my husband said when I asked him why we should get married. He replied that he would always look out for me, even if I was maimed/old/sick/a lost cause. He said he felt a tender concern for me and worried that I would not be happy if I married someone else! 22 years down the married line, I thank him from the bottom of my heart and bless him from the core of my being for being the perfect husband and a perfect gentleman. I always say he should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for putting up with me for 22 long years. Look up Linda Goodman and you will find that Geminis like me make very difficult spouses. With our strong, independent nature, restlessness, impatience, moodiness and a certain detachment, Geminis are not perfect spouse material. Despite my many shortcomings, my husband treated me with respect, oodles of patience, unfailing concern and forgiveness for my many mistakes. On the other hand, I grew to respect his wisdom and intuition under all circumstances; his business acumen; his ability to defuse tense family situations with a great sense of humour; his sense of justice and fair-play towards all. Along the way, he also gave me what I never asked him for: an extremely comfortable lifestyle, jewellery, apartments in different cities, a fleet of cars, multiple credit cards and a sustainable business. I did not base my marriage on social status or looks or money, but nevertheless, the perks came, unasked. Amen! A most suitable boy My husband was a born leader, a National Scholar, accomplished sportsman, belonged to a well-known family of social workers, and was considered a most suitable boy by many parents. In fact, the parents of a brilliant girl, who was a scientist and Rabindra Sangeet singer, were very keen to have him as their son-in- law. Another established businessman offered him a partnership in his flourishing business if he married his daughter. Not to be left behind, my father-in- law had also selected a tall, lissome and beautiful teacher in one of his schools, to be his bride. So, my husband was asked by curious onlookers why he chose me over a great talent, a great business offer and a lissome beauty? My husband wanted a wife who had a heart, a conscience, and would be a great friend. He appreciated the fact that my nature is inherently to be of service to others, my spiritual moorings, and the fact that I agreed to stay with his parents after marriage and look after them. He appreciated my contribution to my brother-in- law’s business when he was completely down and out. He appreciated my voluntary contribution to my in-laws’ schools for underprivileged children. My husband always enjoys the various surprises I have for him at the dining table, and even today, I make the effort to tickle his taste-buds with something new. Even today, he expresses the same delight at a new dish, and never takes me for granted. I try not to look dowdy or unattractive when he is around. I’ll always make the effort to wear the perfume or the sari that he likes. My husband also applauds the fact that I am an equal partner in our business, taking my fair share of responsibility, and supports my independent and fearless thinking. My husband is a Leo; Leos are considered dominating. But visitors to our office find that the best room with the best view is allotted to me, and I have always been projected to clients as the soul of the business, though nothing could be further from the truth. Master all the way Nandini and Sushoban with their children: Aishi and Riddhiman Even 24 years after knowing each other, we still look forward to seeing each other when we have been away for some time. When we meet, my husband does not see a lissome beauty, and I don’t see a handsome hunk but our hearts still skip a beat. It’s an invisible cord that runs from my heart to his and it has nothing to do with externals. So, did I get plain lucky? Well, yes and no. I ardently thank my Master, Parmahansa Yogananda, for teaching me the spiritual basis for marriage and showing me the spiritual way to find the perfect husband. I thank my good sense for keeping faith, and praying and believing that with Master’s blessing, I would be led to my soul mate. I was never impatient for results. That’s why I did not go out on dates in my college or schooldays, or indulge in flings or casual relationships, whereas many of my friends did, thinking that was the only way to get a husband. I am deeply thankful that Master’s influence and protection spared me many emotional bruises in my growing years. Master did not make me wait long though. I met my husband when I was 23 and we were married when I was 25. Today, when I look back, I also thank Master for being the invisible third in our marriage and holding us tightly together, despite the innumerable quarrels, fights and misunderstandings that are an integral part of any marriage. How easy it is to drift apart and to give up on each other, especially if both are financially independent. How difficult it is to forgive, nurture, pray for healing, be patient and give the marriage another chance, each time. At the height of our irritation and dissatisfaction with each other, Master steps in invisibly and recreates the bond. My Eternal Beloved We have both learnt from each other and imbibed some of each other’s qualities, good and bad. Ironically, at the start of our marriage, I was the impatient and hot-tempered one. Today, the tables have turned and I often find my husband on a short and irritable fuse. Of course, most of it has to do with the pressures of a growing and demanding business. Since he does not meditate regularly, my husband has really not learnt to handle stress at the workplace calmly or to be detached during unfavourable situations. However, I see this as payback time. I see that Master asks me to demonstrate the same unconditional love and patience that my husband gave me all these years. Another epiphany hits me. I realise that He who has watched over me lifetime after lifetime is my Eternal Beloved. He is my Eternal Spouse. The great romance I have experienced in this lifetime through the physical form of my husband makes me intensely conscious today of the divine love of my Eternal Beloved. I weep to think of His many kindnesses to me, who am so undeserving; I weep to think that the Divine Beloved has never abandoned me, although I have forsaken Him many tim
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