Following in the Footsteps of Devahūti and Bhavānī

maitreya uvāca
pitṛbhyāṁ prasthite sādhvī
patim iṅgita-kovidā
nityaṁ paryacarat prītyā
bhavānīva bhavaṁ prabhum

maitreyaḥ uvāca—Maitreya said; pitṛbhyām—by the parents; prasthite—at the departure; sādhvī—the chaste woman; patim—her husband; iṅgita-kovidā—understanding the desires; nityam—constantly; paryacarat—she served; prītyā—with great love; bhavānī—the goddess Pārvatī; iva—like; bhavam—Lord Śiva; prabhum—her lord.

Maitreya continued: After the departure of her parents, the chaste woman Devahūti, who could understand the desires of her husband, served him constantly with great love, as Bhavānī, the wife of Lord Śiva, serves her husband.

The specific example of Bhavānī is very significant. Bhavānī means the wife of Bhava, or Lord Śiva. Bhavānī, or Pārvatī, the daughter of the King of the Himalayas, selected Lord Śiva, who appears to be just like a beggar, as her husband. In spite of her being a princess, she undertook all kinds of tribulations to associate with Lord Śiva, who did not even have a house, but was sitting underneath the trees and passing his time in meditation. Although Bhavānī was the daughter of a very great king, she used to serve Lord Śiva just like a poor woman. Similarly, Devahūti was the daughter of an emperor, Svāyambhuva Manu, yet she preferred to accept Kardama Muni as her husband. She served him with great love and affection, and she knew how to please him. Therefore, she is designated here as sādhvī, which means “a chaste, faithful wife.” Her rare example is the ideal of Vedic civilization. Every woman is expected to be as good and chaste as Devahūti or Bhavānī. Today in Hindu society, unmarried girls are still taught to worship Lord Śiva with the idea that they may get husbands like him. Lord Śiva is the ideal husband, not in the sense of riches or sense gratification, but because he is the greatest of all devotees. Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: Śambhu, or Lord Śiva, is the ideal Vaiṣṇava. He constantly meditates upon Lord Rāma and chants Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Lord Śiva has a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, which is called the Viṣṇusvāmī-sampradāya. Unmarried girls worship Lord Śiva so that they can expect a husband who is as good a Vaiṣṇava as he. The girls are not taught to select a husband who is very rich or very opulent for material sense gratification; rather, if a girl is fortunate enough to get a husband as good as Lord Śiva in devotional service, then her life becomes perfect. The wife is dependent on the husband, and if the husband is a Vaiṣṇava, then naturally she shares the devotional service of the husband because she renders him service. This reciprocation of service and love between husband and wife is the ideal of a householder’s life.

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gauraveṇa damena ca
śuśrūṣayā sauhṛdena
vācā madhurayā ca bhoḥ

viśrambheṇa—with intimacy; ātma-śaucena—with purity of mind and body; gauraveṇa—with great respect; damena—with control of the senses; ca—and; śuśrūṣayā—with service; sauhṛdena—with love; vācā—with words; madhurayā—sweet; ca—and; bhoḥ—O Vidura.

O Vidura, Devahūti served her husband with intimacy and great respect, with control of the senses, with love and with sweet words.

Here two words are very significant. Devahūti served her husband in two ways, viśrambheṇa and gauraveṇa. These are two important processes in serving the husband or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Viśrambheṇa means “with intimacy,” and gauraveṇa means “with great reverence.” The husband is a very intimate friend; therefore, the wife must render service just like an intimate friend, and at the same time she must understand that the husband is superior in position, and thus she must offer him all respect. A man’s psychology and woman’s psychology are different. As constituted by bodily frame, a man always wants to be superior to his wife, and a woman, as bodily constituted, is naturally inferior to her husband. Thus the natural instinct is that the husband wants to post himself as superior to the wife, and this must be observed. Even if there is some wrong on the part of the husband, the wife must tolerate it, and thus there will be no misunderstanding between husband and wife. Viśrambheṇa means “with intimacy,” but it must not be familiarity that breeds contempt. According to the Vedic civilization, a wife cannot call her husband by name. In the present civilization the wife calls her husband by name, but in Hindu civilization she does not. Thus the inferiority and superiority complexes are recognized. Damena ca: a wife has to learn to control herself even if there is a misunderstanding. Sauhṛdena vācā madhurayā 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.

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visṛjya kāmaṁ dambhaṁ ca
dveṣaṁ lobham aghaṁ madam
apramattodyatā nityaṁ
tejīyāṁsam atoṣayat

visṛjya—giving up; kāmam—lust; dambham—pride; ca—and; dveṣam—envy; lobham—greed; agham—sinful activities; madam—vanity; apramattā—sane; udyatā—laboring diligently; nityam—always; tejīyāṁsam—her very powerful husband; atoṣayat—she pleased.

Working sanely and diligently, she pleased her very powerful husband, giving up all lust, pride, envy, greed, sinful activities and vanity.

Here are some of the qualities of a great husband’s great wife. Kardama Muni is great by spiritual qualification. Such a husband is called tejīyāṁsam, most powerful. Although a wife may be equal to her husband in advancement in spiritual consciousness, she should not be vainly proud. Sometimes it happens that the wife comes from a very rich family, as did Devahūti, the daughter of Emperor Svāyambhuva Manu. She could have been very proud of her parentage, but that is forbidden. The wife should not be proud of her parental position. She must always be submissive to the husband and must give up all vanity. As soon as the wife becomes proud of her parentage, her pride creates great misunderstanding between the husband and wife, and their nuptial life is ruined. Devahūti was very careful about that, and therefore it is said here that she gave up pride completely. Devahūti was not unfaithful. The most sinful activity for a wife is to accept another husband or another lover. Cāṇakya Paṇḍita has described four kinds of enemies at home. If the father is in debt he is considered to be an enemy; if the mother has selected another husband in the presence of her grown-up children, she is considered to be an enemy; if a wife does not live well with her husband but deals very roughly, then she is an enemy; and if a son is a fool, he is also an enemy. In family life, father, mother, wife and children are assets, but if the wife or mother accepts another husband in the presence of her husband or son, then, according to Vedic civilization, she is considered an enemy. A chaste and faithful woman must not practice adultery—that is a greatly sinful act.

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sa vai devarṣi-varyas tāṁ
mānavīṁ samanuvratām
daivād garīyasaḥ patyur
āśāsānāṁ mahāśiṣaḥ
kālena bhūyasā kṣāmāṁ
karśitāṁ vrata-caryayā
prema-gadgadayā vācā
pīḍitaḥ kṛpayābravīt

saḥ—he (Kardama); vai—certainly; deva-ṛṣi—of the celestial sages; varyaḥ—the foremost; tām—her; mānavīm—the daughter of Manu; samanuvratām—fully devoted; daivāt—than providence; garīyasaḥ—who was greater; patyuḥ—from her husband; āśāsānām—expecting; mahā-āśiṣaḥ—great blessings; kālena bhūyasā—for a long time; kṣāmām—weak; karśitām—emaciated; vrata-caryayā—by religious observances; prema—with love; gadgadayā—stammering; vācā—with a voice; pīḍitaḥ—overcome; kṛpayā—with compassion; abravīt—he said.

The daughter of Manu, who was fully devoted to her husband, looked upon him as greater even than providence. Thus she expected great blessings from him. Having served him for a long time, she grew weak and emaciated due to her religious observances. Seeing her condition, Kardama, the foremost of celestial sages, was overcome with compassion and spoke to her in a voice choked with great love.

The wife is expected to be of the same category as the husband. She must be prepared to follow the principles of the husband, and then there will be happy life. If the husband is a devotee and the wife is materialistic, there cannot be any peace in the home. The wife must see the tendencies of the husband and must be prepared to follow him. From Mahābhārata we learn that when Gāndhārī understood that her would-be husband, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, was blind, she immediately began to practice blindness herself. Thus she covered her eyes and played the part of a blind woman. She decided that since her husband was blind, she must also act like a blind woman, otherwise she would be proud of her eyes, and her husband would be seen as inferior. The word samanuvrata indicates that it is the duty of a wife to adopt the special circumstances in which the husband is situated. Of course, if the husband is as great as Kardama Muni, then a very good result accrues from following him. But even if the husband is not a great devotee like Kardama Muni, it is the wife’s duty to adapt herself according to his mentality. That makes married life very happy. It is also mentioned herein that by following the strict vows of a chaste woman, Princess Devahūti became very skinny, and therefore her husband became compassionate. He knew that she was the daughter of a great king and yet was serving him just like an ordinary woman. She was reduced in health by such activities, and he became compassionate and addressed her as follows.

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ye me sva-dharma-niratasya tapaḥ-samādhi-
vidyātma-yoga-vijitā bhagavat-prasādāḥ
tān eva te mad-anusevanayāvaruddhān
dṛṣṭiṁ prapaśya vitarāmy abhayān aśokān

ye—those which; me—by me; sva-dharma—own religious life; niratasya—fully occupied with; tapaḥ—in austerity; samādhi—in meditation; vidyā—in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; ātma-yoga—by fixing the mind; vijitāḥ—achieved; bhagavat-prasādāḥ—the blessings of the Lord; tān—them; eva—even; te—by you; mat—to me; anusevanayā—by devoted service; avaruddhān—obtained; dṛṣṭim—transcendental vision; prapaśya—just see; vitarāmi—I am giving; abhayān—which are free from fear; aśokān—which are free from lamentation.

Kardama Muni continued: I have achieved the blessings of the Lord in discharging my own religious life of austerity, meditation and Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Although you have not yet experienced these achievements, which are free from fear and lamentation, I shall offer them all to you because you are engaged in my service. Now just look at them. I am giving you the transcendental vision to see how nice they are.

Devahūti engaged only in the service of Kardama Muni. She was not supposed to be so advanced in austerity, ecstasy, meditation or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but, imperceptibly, she was sharing her husband’s achievements, which she could neither see nor experience. Automatically she achieved these graces of the Lord.
What are the graces of the Lord? It is stated here that the graces of the Lord are abhaya, free from fearfulness. In the material world, if someone accumulates a million dollars, he is always full of fear because he is always thinking, “What if the money is lost?” But the benediction of the Lord, bhagavat-prasāda, is never to be lost. It is simply to be enjoyed. There is no question of loss. One simply gains and enjoys gaining. Bhagavad-gītā also confirms this: when one achieves the grace of the Lord, the result is that sarva-duḥkhāni, all distresses, are destroyed. When situated in the transcendental position, one is freed from the two kinds of material diseases—hankering and lamentation. This is also stated in Bhagavad-gītā. After devotional life begins, we can achieve the full result of love of Godhead. Love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest perfection of bhagavat-prasāda, or divine mercy. This transcendental achievement is so greatly valuable that no material happiness can compare to it. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī said that if one achieves the grace of Lord Caitanya he becomes so great that he does not care a fig even for the demigods, he thinks of monism as hellish, and for him the perfection of controlling the senses is as easy as anything. Heavenly pleasures become to him no more than stories. Actually, there is no comparison between material happiness and transcendental happiness.
By the grace of Kardama Muni, Devahūti experienced actual realization simply by serving. We get a similar example in the life of Nārada Muni. In his previous life, Nārada was a maidservant’s son, but his mother was engaged in the service of great devotees. He got the opportunity to serve the devotees, and simply by eating the remnants of their foodstuff and carrying out their orders he became so elevated that in his next life he became the great personality Nārada. For spiritual achievement the easiest path is to take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and to serve him with heart and soul. That is the secret of success. As stated by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura in his eight stanzas of prayer to the spiritual master, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ: by serving or receiving the grace of the spiritual master, one receives the grace of the Supreme Lord. By serving her devotee husband, Kardama Muni, Devahūti shared in his achievements. Similarly, a sincere disciple, simply by serving a bona fide spiritual master, can achieve all the mercy of the Lord and the spiritual master simultaneously.

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anye punar bhagavato bhruva udvijṛmbha-
vibhraṁśitārtha-racanāḥ kim urukramasya
siddhāsi bhuṅkṣva vibhavān nija-dharma-dohān
divyān narair duradhigān nṛpa-vikriyābhiḥ

anye—others; punaḥ—again; bhagavataḥ—of the Lord; bhruvaḥ—of the eyebrows; udvijṛmbha—by the movement; vibhraṁśita—annihilated; artha-racanāḥ—material achievements; kim—what use; urukramasya—of Lord Viṣṇu (far-stepping); siddhā—successful; asi—you are; bhuṅkṣva—enjoy; vibhavān—the gifts; nija-dharma—by your own principles of devotion; dohān—gained; divyān—transcendental; naraiḥ—by persons; duradhigān—difficult to obtain; nṛpa-vikriyābhiḥ—proud of aristocracy.

Kardama Muni continued: What is the use of enjoyments other than the Lord’s grace? All material achievements are subject to be annihilated simply by a movement of the eyebrows of Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By your principles of devotion to your husband, you have achieved and can enjoy transcendental gifts very rarely obtained by persons proud of aristocracy and material possessions.

Lord Caitanya recommended that the greatest achievement of human life is to achieve the grace of the Lord, love of God. He said, premā pumartho mahān: to achieve love of Godhead is the highest perfection of life. The same perfection is recommended by Kardama Muni to his wife. His wife belonged to a very aristocratic royal family. Generally, those who are very materialistic or who possess material wealth and prosperity are unable to appreciate the value of transcendental love of God. Although Devahūti was a princess coming from a very great royal family, fortunately she was under the supervision of her great husband, Kardama Muni, who offered her the best gift which can be bestowed in human life—the grace of the Lord, or love of God. This grace of the Lord was achieved by Devahūti by the good will and satisfaction of her husband. She served her husband, who was a great devotee and saintly person, with great sincerity, love, affection and service, and Kardama Muni was satisfied. He willingly gave love of God, and he recommended that she accept it and enjoy it because he had already achieved it.
Love of God is not an ordinary commodity. Caitanya Mahāprabhu was worshiped by Rūpa Gosvāmī because He distributed love of God, kṛṣṇa-premā, to everyone. Rūpa Gosvāmī praised Him as mahā-vadānya, a greatly munificent personality, because He was freely distributing to everyone love of Godhead, which is achieved by wise men only after many, many births. Kṛṣṇa-premā, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is the highest gift which can be bestowed on anyone whom we presume to love.
One word used in this verse, nija-dharma-dohān, is very significant. Devahūti, as the wife of Kardama Muni, achieved an invaluable gift from her husband because she was very faithful to him. For a woman the first principle of religion is to be faithful to her husband. If, fortunately, the husband is a great personality, then the combination is perfect, and the lives of both the wife and the husband are at once fulfilled.

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