The goal of Devi Mandir is to teach people how to attain peace for themselves. The methods taught are Hindu rituals that purify our minds and bodies, inspire us toward awareness and ultimately bring us to conscious realization.
Devi Mandir is a family of householders as well as individual renunciates. Shree Maa and Swamiji, although renunciates themselves, have accepted the roles of parents to this diverse, divine family.
While it is practical for some to renounce the world and live the path of a renunciate, it is not practical for most. Bearing this in mind, the scriptures are full of wisdom about building healthy relationships, love bonds, marriages and families.
This section of the website presents various of Shree Maa and Swamiji’s ideas and advice about healthy ways to live in a family and how to build healthy relationships according the practices and principals taught in Hinduism.
Once, when asked by a devotee how to find a spiritual wife, Swamji replied, “become a spiritual husband!” So to be healthy doing anything, one must first be healthy.
The first and most important precept of the Hindu way of life is, “You must make a plan!” If you don’t make a plan with tangible goals you will be like a leaf blowing in the wind: your desires will draw you this way and that, your selfish needs will weigh you down or drag you places you never wanted to know existed. Without some goal or goals your life will not have any meaning and selfishness will bind you to your attachments.
Shree Maa and Swamiji were once asked:
What are some ways to find a purpose if we are totally clueless about what we want to do?
Swamiji replied: “Travel is an amazing education. Explore different cultures and different ways that other people are making their contributions to society. See if any of those ways appeal to you. Develop a questionnaire to ask people you meet, and then ascertain the sincerity of their answers.
“Some things to ask [yourself]:
“Why do you love to do what you do?
“Would you do it even if you didn’t get paid?
“Do you get sufficient compensation from doing what you love so that you can live the standard of living you choose?
“Do you need a special talent, temperament, education or training to make a contribution in the way that you do?
“How long would it take to become proficient at making such a contribution? “Also, try to put together a list of things that you would like to incorporate in your life style. For me, that list is as follows:
- “I like to sing
- “I like to dance
- “I like to chant Sanskrit
- “I like to write
- “I like to create
- “I like multimedia projects
- “I like to meditate When I put all these ingredients together, I chose to be a sadhu.
“Make your own list, and in it you will find your purpose.”
Figure out what you’d like to do, set a goal and make a plan, then execute the plan. You can change your goals and your plans at any time for many reasons. It may be that one plan takes you to the realization of a new goal instead of the goal you thought you wanted or you may find something you love even more. It is important to have tangible goals derived from a plan and to be working toward those goals, but its okay for the goals to change, because goals come and go periodically according to our desires and other karmas.
When you understand your self well enough to know your goals and to have a plan in place and you secure enough in your self understanding to want to share your life and your goals with another then you are ready to include marriage in your plans.
Shree Maa and Swamiji have answered many questions over the years related to marriage partner seeking, here are a few:
How do we know when we’ve progressed enough in our purpose that having a relationship would be productive, not just a way to avoid loneliness?
“As we progress in our purpose, we will naturally come into contact with others who share a similar purpose. We will find ways to work with those people to compliment each others’ goals and aspirations, and then find that our whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That means, in essence, that sharing together creates a greater joy and efficiency for both partners than either partner could attain alone.
“If the aspiration of our interaction with our partner is merely social and does not generate itself towards any greater contribution to life, then the avoidance of loneliness is the major focus of the relationship. But when partners work together and take joy in inspiring ever greater creative expression in each other and themselves, know that the relationship is a partnership, a friendship, which seeks to make each partner a better person.”
What is the best way to choose a partner?
“The best way to begin to search for a partner is to clarify your goals. What do you want? What are your values? What is important to you? What is your life-style? From that understanding of what you want, you can ask potential partners what their goal in life is. You can develop a list of issues that are important to you. Then you have to determine if people are giving you the answers they think you want to hear, or if they are sincere.
“Next, get involved in pursuing your goal. When you do that, you automatically come into contact with other people who have similar goals. You are liable to meet someone in the context of that pursuit, rather than finding someone who has no long-term goal or vision.”
When people’s goals align, they feel mutual affection and a desire for commitment, they can design and build a marriage contract for themselves. Combining their spiritual goals, helping each other, and working together can bring balance to their lives and efficiency to their work.
As Shree Maa put it in a response to another devotee’s question: What is the purpose of men and women having a relationship?
“For the illumination of true consciousness and bliss, it is necessary for the masculine and feminine principles to unite, for men and women to harmonize their various natures to work together.
“When you put the qualities of men and women together, you have a more dynamic capacity for working effectively in creation. If a man can treat a woman like a Goddess, she will turn him into a God. If a woman can treat her man like a God, he will make her into a Goddess.”
The aspirant continued this line of thought with this question: How do you treat someone like a God or a Goddess?
“Love and respect them with all your heart. Completely surrender to your partner. Your body is not eternal. Inside is God. You have to wake up! How do you see God within? How did you get here? Do you think you decided to come here, or did somebody send for you? The divine power sent you here.
“Who told you to come to this ashram? The consciousness within you. The divine spark said, “I want to find out what those people are doing, to see if they have something I can add to my life.” That was the divine being within you. If we can pay respect to that being within our partner, we can recognize his or her Godliness.”
Do you have any suggestions for how people can see God in their partners?
“Having a relationship is a sadhana, a spiritual discipline. Learn a puja or worship that will train you to see the God within. Perform that puja to your spouse to help you see the God within him or her.
“Let’s say you are with your partner and she is doing something that irritates you and you are upset with her. For instance, she left her dishes in the sink. How do you see God in her at a moment like that?
In these kinds of situations, we want to develop the kind of communication where we can discuss any problems that arise. Those moments will occur, but they can be diffused with appropriate communication. In a healthy relationship, we will find a way to talk about everything.
You have to prepare yourself internally first, so that you can see everyone as God.”
Once you find yourself, at least to the extent of having goals and plans to work toward them, then you are ready to find a partner. Once you find a partner and start merging your goals and plans, once you know you add up to a wonderful team, its time to plan the wedding.
A Vedic wedding is rich in symbolism and it all starts with a contract that you and your betrothed write together. It includes rules for the relationship, spiritual and worldly goals and any special consideration you’d like for each other.
Swamiji talks about the Vedic Ceremony in these two videos:
Our first relationship is with Mother. Our second is with father. Our third relationship is with ourselves, although it won’t be until we are adults that we realize that. After we form an intimate marriage of ideas, ideals, goals, aspirations, and merge our plans with another we consider adding more to the team.
A devotee asked Shree Maa and Swamiji: How do a couple know they are right to have kids? What makes a good parent?
“Unfortunately, too few people ask this question before they begin families, and I appreciate your asking it in advance. It is time to begin talking about the possibility of having children when a relationship is not just secure and stable but also has so much love that that love calls to be manifested in a greater commitment of sharing. When we feel so full to overflowing that we want to share our abundance, that is the time to begin the discussion of how we might share ourselves by having children.
“A good parent would be an individual who has tremendous patience, knows their goals in life, and wants to sacrifice one way of life for another, in order to demonstrate the sincerity of his or her devotion. A good parent is simultaneously both a good teacher and a good student, and will rejoice in sharing the learning experience of family growth.”
Shree Maa and Swamiji teach a process for having children that includes making a plan, making a sankalpa (spiritual commitment), and redesigning the family to include its new members.
Once a plan is made, special ceremonies cement the goals of the pairing and begin to build a momentum toward the realization of the goal. Our desire to be spiritual will necessarily rub off on our children, but by designing a spiritual process and performing sadhana to worship Shiva and Kali we can influence the lives of our children and call forth spiritual children from the realm of possibility.
Our children arrive with much anticipation, much love and much caring. Because of our careful planning, our spiritual resolve and a desire to love without attachment, our children are given a boost up from the very beginning. Shree Maa and Swamiji give us the tools we need to enhance healthy qualities within ourselves so we can pass them on to future generations.
Our goal is to bring peace to the world and we do that by planning our spiritual lives and passing our practiced wisdom to future generations. We will succeed over selfishness because we are in this maya we call life for the long haul. Our attitude is cemented in a long term goal of raising the awareness of every single human being until everyone can experience true peace if they wish to.
All these topics are covered in great detail in the book “From Birth to Death” by Shree Maa and Swamiji.