We have a reader question from Prateek,
I was in love with one girl. Some reasons prevented our marriage. I married another girl under varied circumstances. I tried to be loyal but failed miserably. I don’t find peace in my life. I am in deep pain and wish to associate with my love. But don’t want to hurt my wife and don’t want to spoil her life. At the same time, I am not to do justice to her as mentally I am not stable. What does Dharma suggest in this situation?
So your question is – whom do I choose? The one I love or the one I am vowed with?
You would be surprised to know that nowhere in Vedic literature it is mentioned that extramarital affair is bad and has to be abandoned. If a man loves a woman other than his wife, he is more than welcomed to pursue his interest provided his pursuit is permitted by his existing partner. The same logic is applicable to females as well.
If a woman is interested in his ex-partner or falls in love with another man, she can pursue him if her existing husband permits her to do so. It is also allowed for a woman to conceive a child from another man, if her existing husband has no problems with it.
The mother has the right to choose the father of her child, be it before marriage or after marriage. If for some reason the woman finds out that her existing partner is not suitable to father a child, she can invoke another man to make her pregnant with his semen and this is not a violation of Dharma, provided she gives intimation of the incident to her existing partner.
In both cases, no violation of Dharma shall occur.
Polygamy and Polyandry is a normal thing and there is no harm in having multiple partners at all. There are hundreds of examples of Polygamy and Polyandry in ancient scriptures and nowhere it is mentioned that man and woman have to stay committed to only one partner all through their life. In reality, it is quite abnormal to spend your entire life in the company of one partner. Animals change their partners often and they breed with as many partners as they can to spread their progeny as far as possible.
King Pandu was attracted to Madri after marriage and he promised Madri’s father that he will marry her if his Queen (Kunti) has no problem with it. The Queen accepted Madri for her own reasons and they were a happy family.
Draupadi had 5 husbands and there was no problem at all with the fact that all the brothers have a common wife (except for the fact that Draupadi always favored Arjuna). Daksha’s mother was married to 10 brothers while sage Gautami was married to 7 sages who were not related to each other at all.
The reason Polygamy was more common is that the Kings preferred to breed with women of different tribes and produce children from different mothers so that they can have a wide variety of choices to pick heirs. Mortality rate, strategic alliances with other kings and long age were also some reasons why men had multiple wives.
There were also traditions wherein a princess was offered to two brothers. The reason – if one brother gets killed in a war, the other brother can take care of her. Polyandry was not considered a sin and there were examples wherein a woman was allowed to enjoy multiple partners at once, even after marriage.
There are places in Northern India where Polyandry is practiced in secrecy, although it is not as widespread and mainstream.
Another reason why polyandry was preferred is when the wife was considered more intelligent and worthy of making decisions, compared to the man. The wife’s voice is the dominant voice in the household which keeps the whole family united – the same logic which prevailed for Draupadi’s case.
So coming back to your question – nowhere in Dharma it is mentioned that you have to leave one for the other. Why leave someone you love because you are vowed to another partner (and vice versa). You have the right to balance both. Keeping and balancing both will not violate Dharma if you are not doing it in hiding and not lying to each partner about the other.
So my advice to you is
For now, you keep both of them. You tell your wife that you love another girl. You tell the other girl that you deeply love your wife. Which is the truth, nowhere in your question you have stated that you hate your wife.
See what happens. Try to balance both relationships parallelly. Yes, there will be some problems and feud’s but you need to keep a calm head. You are not abandoning any of them. You love both of them. However, one of the women will themselves abandon you or tell you to abandon the other.
Don’t be dishonest with any partner. Tell both of them the truth and see who stays and who leaves.
Just because you are married does not mean you have lost the right to love another partner. And just because you have feelings of love for another woman who is not your wife, does not mean that that feeling is true (and not an illusion).
A true partner will not object and prohibit you from seeking another partner. If your wife deeply loves you, she will let you go and wait for your return when you have realized her true love for you. An “insecure” partner who has other ambitions with you will try to cage you.
In times of dilemma, don’t make a move. Express the truth to both and see what happens. You will eventually have an answer from one of them.