"We have to practice remembering the Lord always, twenty-four hours a day, by chanting His names and molding our life’s activities in such a way that we can remember Him always.

"How is this possible? The ācāryas give the following example. If a married woman is attached to another man, or if a man has an attachment for a woman other than his wife, then the attachment is to be considered very strong. One with such an attachment is always thinking of the loved one. The wife who is thinking of her lover is always thinking of meeting him, even while she is carrying out her household chores. In fact, she carries out her household work even more carefully so her husband will not suspect her attachment. Similarly, we should always remember the supreme lover, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and at the same time perform our material duties very nicely. A strong sense of love is required here. If we have a strong sense of love for the Supreme Lord, then we can discharge our duty and at the same time remember Him. But we have to develop that sense of love. " - A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita As Is Is, Introduction

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Monday, May 18, 2009

When a Man Comes Home


There are valuable things one can learn from even the lowliest of creatures, such as a dog. One thing particularly interesting is that when a loved one comes home, it always runs to greet them. Once, a magazine article entitled "The Two Minute Marriage Saver" challenged wives to do the exact same thing. In other words, turn off that computer or put that book down, stop what your doing and greet your husband when he returns home each day. This is a special time to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated. Funny, that they had to write an entire article about such a simple thing, but simple things can be very important and therefore need a good reminder now and then.

There is reference to a husband's homecoming in sastra as well. "It is the duty of the wife to dress herself up very nicely, so that when her husband returns home he becomes attracted by her dress and cleanliness and thus becomes satisfied. In other words, the wife is the inspiration of all good intelligence. Upon seeing one's wife dressed nicely, one can think very soberly about family business. When a person is too anxious about family affairs, he cannot discharge his family duties nicely. A wife is therefore supposed to be an inspiration and should keep the husband's intelligence in good order so that they can combinedly prosecute the affairs of family life without impediment." --SB 4.27.2p

"Sauhrdena väcä madhurayä means always desiring good for the husband and speaking to him with sweet words. A person becomes agitated by so many material contacts in the outside world; therefore, in his home life he must be treated by his wife with sweet words."--SB 3.23.2p

And here is what may happen when there is no affectionate greeting or offering of service:

"The King, not received by any formal welcome by means of being offered a seat, place, water and sweet addresses, considered himself neglected, and so thinking he became angry."--SB 1.18.28

And beyond a simple greeting, there are other things a wife may do to provide for the comfort of her beloved husband after a long day. Here are suggestions that got written down in a 1959 Home Economics textbook and adapted by Helen B. Andelin, author of Fascinating Womanhood:

WHEN A MAN COMES HOME
HAVE YOUR WORK DONE:
Plan your work with the finish time in mind. Quit about an hour before your husband's expected arrival. Your desperate cry, "Are you home already!" is not a very warm welcome.
HAVE DINNER READY:
Plan ahead to have a delicious meal on time. Men love walking in to the smells of a delicious dinner. This is one way of letting him know you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs. It helps to have a reminder in your day planner, on a list, or in your card file that says "Think About Dinner". It's no fun to have no clue what to cook at 4:30 in the afternoon. It also helps to have the table set and ready to go.
PREPARE YOURSELF:
Take a little time to rest so you won't feel so harried when he arrives. Put things aside and compose yourself. Think about your attitude toward him and how you will treat him when he gets home. After resting, go freshen up - touch up your makeup, fix your hair, change clothes if you need to. Put on a cheerful face.
CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER:
Just before your husband arrives home, make a quick trip through the main parts of the house and remove unsightly clutter. You don't have to put all the stuff away, but move it out of sight.
PREPARE THE CHILDREN:
Take a minute or two to get the children cleaned up some, too. Just a quick wipe with a cloth will usually do, but if their clothes are a mess, change them.
MINIMIZE THE NOISE:
Most men have spent a hectic day with a lot of tension and probably a hectic drive home to go with it. He may be longing for only a few minutes of peace and quiet. Don't have loud appliances running like the vacuum or the washer. Take a cue from your husband about the children. He may be extremely glad to see them, but still need a few minutes to unwind.
BE HAPPY TO SEE HIM:
Greet him with a smile and let him know you are glad he's home.
AVOID THESE:
Complaints and problems - save the ones you need help with until later after he has had some time to rest.
MAKE HIM COMFORTABLE:
Lead him to his favorite chair. Have a cool drink or a drink ready for him. You can rub his neck or shoulders if he likes.
LISTEN TO HIM:
You may have several things to tell him, but let him talk first. Ask him about his day.
MAKE THE EVENING HIS:
Don't complain if he doesn't take you out in the evening. Try to understand his need to relax and realize that home is his haven. Try to understand the stress and strain he is under. YOUR GOAL:
You want home to be a place a man wants to come home to. Home should be a place of peace and order where the family can grow in body and spirit.

WHEN LORD KRISHNA COMES HOME:
"We should always remember that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, was playing exactly like a human being; although He showed His extraordinary opulences by simultaneously marrying more than sixteen thousand wives in more than sixteen thousand palaces, He behaved with them just like an ordinary man, and He strictly followed the relationship between husband and wife required in ordinary homes. Therefore, it is very difficult to understand the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead...

"In their dealings as husband and wife, Krishna and His queens would smile, talk, joke, embrace and so on, and their conjugal relationship ever-increasingly developed. In this way, Krishna and the queens enjoyed transcendental happiness in their household life. Although each and every queen had thousands of maidservants engaged for her service, the queens were all personally attentive in serving Krishna. Each one of them used to receive Krishna personally when He entered the palace. They engaged in seating Him on a nice couch, worshiping Him with all kinds of paraphernalia, washing His lotus feet with Ganges water, offering Him betel nuts and massaging His legs. In this way, they gave Him relief from the fatigue He felt after being away from home. They fanned Him nicely, offered Him fragrant essential floral oil, decorated Him with flower garlands, dressed His hair, asked Him to lie down to take rest, bathed Him personally and fed Him palatable dishes. Each queen did all these things herself and did not wait for the maidservants. In other words, Krishna and His different queens displayed on this earth an ideal household life." - excerpt from Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Sounds like treatment only God should receive? Well, I heard a class one day by Kadamba Kanana Swami that changed my view of things. He said that we shouldn't just provide Krishna with five star service, but when it comes to dealing with His devotee we think the devotee is only worthy of three..or at most, four stars. No! When a devotee is in our midst we should think, "Here comes Krishna in the form of His devotee! Quick, let me serve or assist this devotee very nicely, so that the Lord, who is residing within his heart, will be very pleased."

Then I thought, "Well, is my husband not a devotee also?" Duh! Of course, I do try to treat him with respect, but its easy to become forgetful, and so it was a good reminder for me.

We live in a world where offering respect to another is increasingly diminishing. The media is full of such images all the way down to the cartoons watched by children. But in our homes, it doesn't have to be that way, and a husband's homecoming can be a regular opportunity to show that this is true.