Solygamy — Marrying Oneself

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 13 Aug 2018

Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

One has heard of polygamy — a man marrying more than one wife — it could be even four or five wives. In the Indian epic Mahabharata, a woman named Dropadi has more than one husband — five to be exact but one generally does not hear of women having more than one husband.

But I read about solygamy in a recent newspaper report about a woman named Linda marrying herself in Australia in front of her three friends. The report said that she had had an unhappy marriage and then Linda decided to wed herself by reciting a few marriage vows.

Marriages often break down all over the world and the reasons are quite common — incompatibility, cruelty, financial problems and many other common factors for the wife and husband separating. There usually is a formal divorce to end such a marriage but even without this legal procedure, men and women start living separately.

Being a bit curious I tried to wonder about the factors behind this unusual step of solygamy taken by Linda.  Of course her earlier marriage would have broken down due to some well known factors.  Was it because her former husband was a bit jealous of her doing better than him in her career and also making more money than him? Was he cruel and treated her harshly, was he a drunkard or what?

But being in her mid thirties, a few men could still be interested in proposing marrying Linda. How to prevent such a possibility so that she does not again get into a cruel and unhappy union? Instead of just saying NO to such a prospect, she could honestly say she is already married.

Occasionally even when a marriage is reasonably stable and there is no fear of a split, the husband may be a bit suspicious of what his wife does when he is away or how she overspends on clothes or shoes. He may try to find fault in her and persuade her not to spend so much money on useless things. A single woman would not  have to  justify her actions. Perhaps Linda thought of marrying herself to avoid being told what to do or what not to buy.

Is it possible that she has now become a bit spiritual and acquired an element of Hindu ideology? Both Buddhism and Hinduism ask people to look within to acquire peace and tranquility; to avoid materialism and to concentrate on your inner self to understand the true meaning of life.

The woman’s decision to marry herself could perhaps be a means of looking within her to gain spiritual strength.

Osho whose real name was Rajneesh was a controversial guru who died in 1990 but who has millions of devotees even today. He once said that any type of dependence, including spiritual dependence is similar to slavery. He used to inspire people to be aware of their individuality, to meditate and to seek freedom from any type of constraint, within themselves. Is it possible that Linda had heard of Osho and was seeking spiritual freedom by being alone without anybody (even her husband) telling her what was the best way for meditation and achieving freedom?

Buddha had relinquished his wife, child and princely comforts to search for the meaning of life which is full of DUKH — sorrow, lamentation and unease. In the Hindu epic, Ramayan, Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman leave their comforts and willingly go into a 14 year exile as ordained by Ram’s father Dashrath. The jungles, the rivers, birds and animals provide them an inner peace that their kingdom would have failed to do.

Life is complex and full of challenges. Some of these are the common ones — to get a good education, a good career, a good job and a compatible married life. But there are a few persons in many parts of the world who go out to help society and ignore their own mundane comforts — to try to help people in need of a decent life; to become spiritual gurus, poets or scientists or doctors or try to climb the world’s highest mountain— the Mount Everest .

All what I have written are speculations. What remains a fact is the unusual step that Linda has taken to try to live a life of her own choosing and hopefully to acquire peace, harmony and freedom in her life.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.  ravipbhatia@gmail.com

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Aug 2018.

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