Can I marry a devotee seeing his outlook and cativities only in the temple, NOT OUTSIDE?
A Girl devotee (Name hidden) asked like this:
“Hare Krishna prabhuji. A devotee who is initiated proposed me in my temple. He looks like a good guy wearing devotee dress and symbols. Only problem is another girl also told me that he proposed her but she refused 3 months ago because he is not a serious devotee. Now, he proposes me. Can I believe him with his appearance? Can a devotee behave differently later in life? I m confused prabhuji. Please help”
Most of the devotees are sincere, but, there are erring devotees also. So, you should take some survey of the proposing guy even if he is a devotee. Observe him and enquire about him from different sources and then decide.
Why I advise so?
Because, in this kaliyuga, it is mandatory to make thorough enquiry. Even acharyas have said so.
Symbols and clothes alone are not criteria for identifying a devotee. They should be mentally matured and should fear for sinning and they should be HUMBLE and he will never attack or abuse or accuse any other person even though he is attacked.
I have seen an initiated devotee physically attacking another for a position/ honour in the temple. I have seen an initiated devotee having physical affairs with a girl. I have also seen an initiated devotee speaking like a materialistic persons. I have seen an initiated devotee who always tortured his wife.
If a person is wearing devotee symbols, devotee clothes, etc., he is considered as a surrendered or atleast a good devotee. Some times, they are unable to access his life in the outer world. So, the diksha is given with a belief that he will be a qualified person or because of his rapport with any senior devotee. But, later, some of them are unable to be perfect in saadhanas and discipline and hence fall down.
So, I am of firm view that initiations should be given based on the discipline and dedication, not just for dress. And , the dress code may be relaxed based on the profession of the devotee. If a devotee is maintaining all the regulative principles and chanting, but is unable to wear vaishnava dress and sikha, he must be encouraged to get diksha. This is the need of the day.
But, what happens now? I am seeing some devotees shave their face and cut 50% of their hairs only at the time of taking diksha. After that, some of them grow their hairs again throughout the face and wear jeans.
In reality, there are many very good orthodox devotees who are working and are unable to wear Vaishnava clothes because of company/ office rules, but are following all other rules. So, the system of insisting on sikha and “all time” devotee dress should be relaxed atleast for the first initiation, but, they should just be advised to wear a simple dhoti even in the simple South Indian style. That is enough. Because, everyone is working now and the career scenario is changing. They can not quit jobs for wearing devotee symbols. This is the reality.
Changing the character/ discipline is very difficult, whereas changing the appearance requires just 3 minutes. So, considering internal qualities will be the fool proof system.
In my case, even after taking shelter, I follow two types of dressings. I wear official/ casual dress outside that makes me comfortable and decent. When I go to the temple, I wear some simple devotee outlook.
Big organizations like ISKCON has a certain way of strict dress codes. Most of them evaluate a devotee based on the outer appearance. Only the external appearance plays major role in deciding the merits of a devotee and in giving diksha, positions, etc.
I have a humble and prvate opinion in these codes.
The dress codes may be insisted only for Brahmana initiation, not for Hari Nam initiation. Because only those who take Brahmana initiation can take part in any position and in the direct services to the Lord. So, outer appearance can be made compulsory for the Brahmana diksha.
There are thousands of Hari nam initiated devotees who are working in different places and countries where such symbols are prohibited. The purpose of hari nam initiation is following Hare Krishna Maha Manthra under the guidance of a guru.
So, such relaxations may be made official after thorough discussion in the meetings. A devotee for initiation must be selected based on his character alone, not blindly on dress code. I myself am praying for this practice to be implemented within the sathsangha and it, I believe, may become a practice in long future, though not soon. Right now, I am following it atleast in my case.
So, how can we judge that a person is having all the qualities of a devotee? So, whether he is wearing a devotee dress or not, if he has all the INNER QUALITIES of a devotee, you can marry him without bothering about caste. If he is a devotee who has not mentally matured and do not behave as a devotee, how can you believe him and marry?
So, give importance for inner values, not just outer appearance. Of course, outer appearance such as the devotee dress and symbols gives the good first impression about a devotee. But, it needs to be ascertained with the thorough enquiry.
This is my humble view and the managements too may consider my ‘practically reviewed’ request made above.