This article is on Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on marriage. Related articles are listed at the bottom of this page.
- A monk is not forbidden to marry, but if he takes a wife she becomes a monk with the same powers and privileges and occupies the same social position as her husband.[Source]
- According to the Hindu way of thinking, marriage is rather a duty than a privilege.[Source]
- Forget not that thy marriage, thy wealth, thy life are not for sense-pleasure, are not for thy individual personal happiness.[Source]
- In countries where there is no marriage, there is no duty between husband and wife; when marriage comes, husband and wife live together on account of attachment; and that kind of living together becomes settled after generations; and when it becomes so settled, it becomes a duty.[Source]
- In Tibet there is no marriage, and there is no jealousy, yet we know that marriage is a much higher state. The Tibetans have not known the wonderful enjoyment, the blessing of chastity, the happiness of having a chaste, virtuous wife, or a chaste, virtuous husband. These people cannot feel that. And similarly they do not feel the intense jealousy of the chaste wife or husband, or the misery caused by unfaithfulness on either side, with all the heart-burnings and sorrows which believers in chastity experience. On one side, the latter gain happiness, but on the other, they suffer misery too.[Source]
- Just as man must have liberty to think and speak, so he must have liberty in food, dress, and marriage, and in every other thing, so long as he does not injure others.[Source]
- Marriage and sex and money the only living devils.[Source]
- Marriage is an institution very safely guarded.[Source]
- Marriage is not for individual happiness, but for the welfare of the nation and the caste.[Source]
- Marriage is the truest goal for ninety-nine per cent of the human race, and they will live the happiest life as soon as they have learnt and are ready to abide by the eternal lesson — that we are bound to bear and forbear and that life to every one must be a compromise.[Source]
- Marriage or non-marriage, good or evil, learning or ignorance, any of these is justified, if it leads to the goal.[Source]
- The West regards marriage as consisting in all that lies beyond the legal tie, while in India it is thought of as a bond thrown by society round two people to unite them together for all eternity. Those two must wed each other, whether they will or not, in life after life. Each acquires half of the merit of the other. And if one seems in this life to have fallen hopelessly behind, it is for the other only to wait and beat time, till he or she catches up again![Source]
- The natural ambition of woman is through marriage to climb up, leaning upon a man; but those days are gone. You shall be great without the help of any man, just as you are.[Source]
- This doctrine of prenatal influence is now slowly being recognized, and science as well as religion calls out: ‘Keep yourself holy, and pure.’ So deeply has this been recognized in India, that there we even speak of adultery in marriage, except when marriage is consummated in prayer.[Source]
- What is marriage but the renunciation of unchastity? The savage does not marry. Man marries because he renounces.[Source]
Main article: Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on child-marriage
History of marriage
From Swami Vivekananda’s book The East and the West (Bengali: প্রাচ্য ও পাশ্চাত্য, Bengali pronunciation: prachyo o pashchatyo)—[Source]In the primitive stage there was no marriage, but gradually matrimonial relations sprang up. At first, the matrimonial relation depended, amongst all communities, on the mother. There was not much fixity about the father, the children were named after the mother: all the wealth was in the hands of the women, for they were to bring up the children. In the course of time, wealth, the women included, passed into the hands of the male members. The male said, “All this wealth and grain are mine; I have grown these in the fields or got them by plunder and other means; and if anyone dispute my claims and want to have a share of them, I will fight him.” In the same way he said, “All these women are exclusively mine; if anyone encroach upon my right in them, I will fight him.” Thus there originated the modern marriage system. Women became as much the property of man as his slaves and chattels. The ancient marriage custom was that the males of one tribe married the women of another; and even then the women were snatched away by force. In course of time, this business of taking away the bride by violence dropped away, and marriage was contracted with the mutual consent of both parties. But every custom leaves a faint trace of itself behind, and even now we find in every country a mock attack is made on such occasions upon the bridegroom. In Bengal and Europe, handfuls of rice are thrown at the bridegroom, and in Northern India the bride’s women friends abuse the bridegroom’s party calling them names, anti so on.
Marriage: New India’s concept vs Old India’s concept
This one is very interesting. Excerpt from Swamiji’s Modern India (originally published in Bengali as বর্তমান ভারত, Bengali pronunciation: bortoma bharot)—[Source]On one side, new India is saying, “We should have full freedom in the selection of husband and wife; because the marriage, in which are involved the happiness and misery of all our future life, we must have the right to determine according to our own free will.” On the other, old India is dictating, “Marriage is not for sense-enjoyment, but to perpetuate the race. This is the Indian conception of marriage. By the producing of children, you are contributing to, and are responsible for, the future good or evil of the society. Hence society has the right to dictate whom you shall marry and whom you shall not. That form of marriage obtains in society which is conducive most to its well-being; do you give up your desire of individual pleasure for the good of the many.”
Excerpt from letter written to Mrs.Ole Bull, dated 14 June 1902, from Belur Math, India (note this letter wes written only 18 days before Vivekananda’s death)—[Source]
. . . In my opinion, a race must first cultivate a great respect for motherhood, through the sanctification and inviolability of marriage, before it can attain to the ideal of perfect chastity. The Roman Catholics and the Hindus, holding marriage sacred and inviolate, have produced great chaste men and women of immense power. To the Arab, marriage is a contract or a forceful possession, to be dissolved at will, and we do not find there the development of the idea of the virgin or the Brahmachârin. Modern Buddhism — having fallen among races who had not yet come up to the evolution of marriage — has made a travesty of monasticism. So until there is developed in Japan a great and sacred ideal about marriage (apart from mutual attraction and love), I do not see how there can be great monks and nuns. As you have come to see that the glory of life is chastity, so my eyes also have been opened to the necessity of this great sanctification for the vast majority, in order that a few lifelong chaste powers may be produced. . . .
Is there no happiness in marriage?
A lady named Alberta Sturges asked Vivekananda this question “Is there no happiness in marriage?” And Vivekananda’s reply was—[Source]
Yes, Alberta, if marriage is entered into as a great austerity — and everything is given up — even principle!
Marriage, marriage, marriage. . .
We have not added this quote in the quotes list above, because this quote needs some details. Alasinga Perumal was one of the most prominent disciples of Swamiji. But he was married. Swamiji had his “Madras boys” (a group of young men from Madras including Alasinga who thoroughly helped Swamiji in his mission), but a good number of them were married. Vivekananda wrote in a letter to Alasinga in 1896 from London—The Madrasis have more of go and steadiness, but every fool is married. Marriage! Marriage! Marriage! . . . Then the way our boys are married nowadays! . . . It is very good to aspire to be a nonattached householder; but what we want in Madras is not that just now — but non-marriage. . . . Our beautiful hopeful boys — they have everything, only if they are not slaughtered by the millions at the altar of this brutality they call marriage.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda and marriage
Firstly we though to name this section “Swami Vivekananda on his own marriage”, but felt that it would sound absurd. We know that Swamiji did not marry. In this section we are going to make a collection of Swamiji’s comments on his own life’s comments on marriage.
On 30 September 1893, an interview of Swami Vivekananda was published in the Boston Evening Transcript. In that interview he was asked if he had an plan to get married. Vivekananda’s prompt reply was—[Source]
“Why should I marry, when I see in every woman only the divine Mother? Why do I make all these sacrifices? To emancipate myself from earthly ties and attachments so that there will be no re-birth for me. When I die I want to become at once absorbed in the divine, one with God. I would be a Buddha.”
On another occasion Swamiji wrote to Swami Saradananda (letter dated 20 May 1895, from Chicago)—[Source]
I hate the very name of marriage, in regard to a boy or a girl. Do you mean to say that I have to help in putting someone into bondage, you fool! If my brother Mohin marries, I will throw him off. I am very decided about that. . . .