An Insight into the Concept of Pativrata in Hindu Dharma
The Concept of Pativrata Dharma
In Hindu Dharma, there exists certain code of conduct for married women. A wife who possesses all those qualities is called as a “Pativrata.” Pati means husband, and vrata means vow. She is a woman for whom her husband is the world. She should live and die for her husband. Here is the definition of Pativrata, as stated by Brahaspati, a law-giver who lived between 300 and 500 A.D — “She is someone whose state of mind reflects that of her husband. She shares his distress, his delight, grows sickly and dresses unattractively in his absence, and dies when he does.”
A Perfect Example of Pativrata and Sativrata
Qualities of a Pativrata Wife
The following are the qualities of a true Pativrata, according to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the highly revered spiritual leader of India:
- Her husband is her very life and she depends entirely on him.
- She does not talk back to her husband.
- She has no selfish desires.
- Whatever she does is for the sake of her husband.
- She never looks at any male other than her husband.
A true Pativrata is said to have supernatural powers. As an instance, Swamis says, “If a Pativrata prepares food for her husband with saline water of the ocean, it will be changed into sweet water.”
Pativratas of Ancient India
It is believed that in ancient India there lived true Pativratas because of whom Bharat turned to be a sacred land. Here is a reputed Telugu poem based on the concept of Pativrata in Hindu Dharma,
“This land of Bharat has given birth to many noble women, like
Savitri, who brought her dead husband back to life;
Chandramati, who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth;
Sita, who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed,
Damayanti, who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity.
This land of piety and nobility attained plenty and prosperity and
Became the teacher of all the nations of the world
Because of such women of chastity.”
Savitri, Chandramati, Sita and Damayanti are revered and worshipped as women of chastity. If interested in knowing about the individual stories of the above women, read Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Discourse in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam on 18th May 2010.
Is there any Code of Conduct for Married Men of India?
Of course, yes! However, the code of conduct for married Indian men is not as renowned as the concept of Pativrata. Hindus call a noble male as “Purushotthama” or “Eaka Patni Vrata.” Here are the characteristics of a Purushotthama —
- A noble male does not think about other women. Only such men can get Pativratas as their wives. Hindus always consider the example of Sri Raama while discussing about the qualities of a Purushotthama and Mother Sita while discussing about Pativrata.
- A noble husband acts according to the wishes of his wife and treats her with great respect and love. Such men are known to observe “Sativrata” dharma. They help their wives to attain spiritual evolution and purity of life.
Hindu saints recommend psychological and spiritual unity between life partners, so that the home feels like heaven. As Swami Sivananda says this rhyme, “O Ram, Treat your wife like a Devi. She is the queen or Lakshmi of the house. Where woman is honoured there is wealth, prosperity, success and peace. O Lila! Become a Pativrata. Do not quarrel with your husband. Become like Savitri, Anasuya or Sita.”
Do the Modern Indian Women and Men Follow Pativrata and Sativrata Respectively?
For many of the GenerationY men and women of India, Pativrata and Sativrata are “weird” terms that they never ever heard of. But they are quite aware of the concepts like live-in, infidelity, and gay/lesbian marriages. Parents of the mobile generation are more concerned of teaching their teenage daughter/son about how 3D technology work, but not about how to lead a household.
Youngsters want to “taste and try” before they could accept someone as a life-long partner. One of the article titles, in the October 2010 issue of Women’s Era reads, “Live-In Relationship, the Norm of the 21st Century,” with subtitle, “Are Husbands and Wives Now Obsolete?” The sense of virginity loss before marriage, which was a taboo according to Pativrata Dharma, is not a sin anymore, writes M Shamsur Rabb Khan in the article.
Shamsur adds, “Since childhood every girl keeps on learning the stories of kings who had many wives, they have perhaps generated a psychological feeling to have the same rights for women as well. Why should only men enjoy the physical attributes of the opposite sex?” With the availability of a variety of contraceptive measures, women dare to have sex before marriage. Since internet pose no restrictions, teenagers regularly watch porn sites and love to experiment with what they saw.
Also, modern day women are well educated and pursue good careers. They prove to the world that they are in no way the subsidiary of men. Working women have their own attitudes, desires and ways of thinking and doing. They are of the opinion that they have their own life and pursuit. They want their husbands to share the household chores.
On the other hand, many of the modern day men possess a wandering eye and crave for affairs with some other women. They are more likely to fall for work colleagues or women in their circle of close friends. A 13th July 2010 report, titled “Illicit Love: How one in five adults are in love with someone other than their partner,” published in the Mail Online reveals the following statistics of infidelity —
“One in five adults is in love with someone other than their spouse. One in six of those who do fall for another will follow their hearts and embark on an affair. Only 15 per cent of women found themselves in a similar predicament. And 29 per cent of men said they planned to leave their partner for the other women compared to just 19 per cent of women.”
"And the study shows guys are more likely to stray too – with almost a third planning on leaving their partner for another woman." Though OnePoll.com conducted the study among UK men, the result of this statistics applies to Indian men also.
The Hindu Dharma
Mapping Ancient Pativrata Concept with Modern Indian Culture
It is very hard to find a Prativrata or Sativrata in modern India. Through the centuries, technology has brought vast changes in the Indian culture, and the people should not be blamed for not being so virtuous. It is almost impossible in the current society to observe Pati/Sati Vrata. That said, we cannot conclude the topic, because India is a land of rich values and it is the duty of its citizens to preserve that value.
With the cost of living mounting in Indian cities, it has become mandatory for both husband and wife to have a job. In the modern work culture, when men and women have to work close with their opposite genders, it is natural to have a soft corner for someone, but when it turns to be an extra marital affair/ emotional affair, it is definitely not accepted by the Indian society, either be it a man or woman.
There would be some points in life when a courtship seems to be at risk. At those times it is the duty of both to sit, discuss, and find solutions to make the relationship work. Filing divorce or looking for some other relationships won’t fix the problem, but worsen the condition rather; especially when there is a child involved. A live-in relationship is a matter in which we Indians need not imitate the West, whereas infidelity — even Western countries don’t tolerate.
- His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharah, Idea of Married Life.dlshq.org.
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Summer Showers 1990. Indian Culture and Spirituality. ssbpt.info.
- Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Scriptures and Baba. Ramayana. tripod.com
- Sadhu Mukundcharandas. The Pativrata. swaminarayan.org. Published: June 08, 2006. Accessed: April 9, 2011.
- Indumathi Sundareswaran. Qualities of Pativrata. Published: October 21, 2009. Accessed: April 9, 2011.
- TRANSFORMATION. A Fortnightly E-zine published by the Sathya Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia.VOLUME 4. 13th November - 14th December 2010.
- Mail Online. Illicit love: How one in five adults are in love with someone other than their partner. Published: July 13, 2010. Accessed: April 9, 2011.