I also found time to continue working on my next book entitled "Entering the Grihastha Ashrama".
"Generally a man should marry at around twenty-five years of age, and a girl should marry no later than sixteen. If this is the case, when the man is fifty years old, his eldest son should be around twenty-five, old enough to take charge of the mother."
Again, in a letter to Trivikrama dasa, dated 7 March, 1970, Srila Prabhupada expresses a similar point:
"Married life does not mean that one should continue to live with the wife throughout the whole life; at a certain stage, say between 20-25 years, one may accept a wife, live with her to the maximum age of 50 years, and then there should be no more sex relationship - stringently."
The varnashrama system is an ideal arrangement by which human beings can receive an opportunity to perfect their lives by reaching detachment from material sense gratification and attachment to Krishna in pure bhakti, thus returning back to Godhead. However, it requires that we follow the suggested time line so that family duties are significantly reduced by the time we reach 50 years of age, allowing us to move on to the next ashrama - vanaprastha - the retired order of life.
As a rule, girls mature much earlier than boys, at the age of 17 or 18; especially if a girl grows up in Krishna consciousness, she will be mature enough to become a mother and wife, and will desire to play those roles. For this reason, we can understand why it is very natural for a girl to want a man next to her; however, it should be her husband - not a boy-friend, as it is common nowadays.
This is not to say that a girl of this age must immediately marry, live together with her husband, and serve as a wife. She may prefer to receive further education or learn a profession, before entering family life. However, if her mind is fixed on one boy with whom she will marry one day, she will be protected from the danger of engaging in illicit relationships with other men. Her mind will be peaceful, because she already knows who her husband will be when she does get married.
A boy matures later, around 25 years of age. Then he will be ready to accept the responsibilities necessary to become a husband and father. At a younger age, he will likely not be sufficiently mature, preferring instead to superficially engage with girls without making a serious commitment. In this way, Krishna's system suggests that the boy and girl have an age difference of around 5 to 10 years.
A young person's mind is more flexible and therefore can easily adjust to new circumstances. This is especially important for a girl - signing the marriage contract, she promises that she will follow and assist her husband in his mood. The longer a woman has lead an independent life, the more set she will be in her ways, making it more difficult for her to adjust to his mood and ways of doing things.
Fixing the girl's and boy's mind on a particular spouse at an early age cultivates chastity - especially on the part of the girl - and also avoids sexual contact outside of marriage. Srila Prabhupada clearly states this in his purport to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.27.8):
"It is the duty of a father and mother to arrange for the marriage of their sons and daughters. That is the obligation in Vedic society. Sons and daughters should not be allowed freedom to intermingle with the opposite sex unless they are married. This Vedic social organization is very good in that it stops the promulgation of illicit sex life, or varna-sankara, which appears under different names in this present day. Unfortunately in this age although the father and mother are anxious to get their children married, the children refuse to get married by the arrangement of the parents. Consequently, the number of varna-sankara has increased throughout the world under different names."
We can find a similar point in his purport to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.25.42):
"As soon as a woman attains the age of puberty, she immediately becomes very much agitated by sexual desire. It is therefore the duty of the father to get his daughter married before she attains puberty. Otherwise she will be very much mortified by not having a husband. Anyone who satisfies her desire for sex at that age becomes a great object of satisfaction. It is a psychological fact that when a woman at the age of puberty meets a man and the man satisfies her sexually, she will love that man for the rest of her life, regardless who he is."
The importance of a woman's chastity and protection is considered to be the highest principle in most spiritual cultures, since this maintains both a good moral standard and a high level of purity within human society. If women lose their chastity and shyness, they will create havoc within humanity, as can be seen in these modern times. Such is the power of the feminine energy!
After reading these statements of Srila Prabhupada's, we may realize how far we have moved away from Krishna's culture. The fact that Srila Prabhupada mentions these things many times throughout his books, conversations and lectures, clearly indicates that he expects us to eventually live according to the values and directions which Krishna has given us for our protection and well-being. It may take several generations to move closer to Krishna's system...
I was invited to offer the morning and evening lecture, and the boys had prepared a drama showing Lord Nityananda delivering the thieves. It was well played - with humility and sincerity.
This year's theme was Lord Nityananda saving us from the dangerous ocean of material existence. Dhara Mataji made a cake in the shape of a boat, with the dark blue ocean being a part of the cake. A true piece of art...!
On the 1st of March it was time to say good-bye and move on....
Your servant, Devaki dd