As I gave Srila Prabhupada his massage this evening he told me about proper marital relations, especially the need for the wife to be faithful. He has been working steadily on his translation and commentaries of the Ninth Canto, and he told me a story from the third chapter illustrating the ideal attitude a woman should have toward her husband.
He said that Sukanya was a beautiful young princess, who by circumstance had to marry an extremely old Cyavana Muni. I was massaging his legs and feet and Prabhupada chuckled, saying that his skin was still tight, whereas Cyavana’s was completely slack, so therefore the Muni was even older than him. Yet he explained that the girl still served Cyavana very faithfully.
Prabhupada described how, after Cyavana met with the Asvini-kumaras, his body was restored to a very youthful state. "They dipped down in a certain lake. In this way, he became a very beautiful young man. Then for soma-yajna, his father-in-law, the daughter’s father came. So he was surprised, ‘How is that? My daughter is with another young man?’ He became angry. ‘My dear daughter, what is this? You are defaming your husband’s family and my family.’ He began to chastise like that. Because he sees that ‘I got my daughter married with old Cyavana. How is that, with a young man?’ Just see. Condemned like anything.
"And she was laughing," Prabhupada said. "She knew that ‘I have not changed my husband. A change of body.’ Then she said, ‘My dear father, don’t be angry. He’s your real son-in-law. He has become now young by treatment.’
"Then he was very pleased and embraced his daughter, that ‘You are so nice.’
"This is Vedic civilization. Even one has got old, going-to-die husband, she cannot change. This is the chastity."
I said, "Once a woman was married, then that was the finish of it. No connection with another man."
Prabhupada agreed. "No. That one marriage is sufficient. She must remain very faithful to her husband, chaste. That is wanted. Not that ‘I do not like this husband. I’ll change.’ That is not wanted. Whatever your father and mother has chosen, that’s all. He’s your worshipable husband. This is the point I wanted to bring. And her father was surprised. ‘How is that? I got you married with an old man? Somehow or other, circumstances I was obliged. How is that you have picked up one young man?’ He chastised her like anything. Then when he came to understand that the same old man has become now young man by medical treatment, then he was satisfied.
"So you cannot change," he went to say, "I have seen it. One, my father’s friend, he was very old man. He was at that time not less than sixty-five. But his wife died, and he was married with another young girl. But his sister forced him to marry, that, ‘Unless you marry, who will look after you? You have no children.’ But I have seen that young woman who was married with that gentleman … In our childhood we used to called her didi. Didi means elder sister. So the relationship was very thick and thin. But that old man, not less than sixty-five, and this young woman, utmost twenty to twenty-five, she was serving the husband like anything. We have seen it. There is no question of changing or being dissatisfied."
"Now they bring them up to be independent," I said.
Prabhupada gave a little hum. "It is a question of culture," he said. "She was king’s daughter, royal, and married her with a muni, old, rotten, older than me. All the skin has become slackened. But still she was serving him just like worshipable lord. The age difference is great-grandfather and great-granddaughter."
Then he told me another anecdote to further illustrate his point of the wife’s acceptance of the leadership of her husband. Prabhupada was chuckling as he narrated the story. "Lord Siva, he could not construct even a house. He was living underneath a tree. And his wife, Durga, srsti-sthiti-pralaya-sadhana-saktir eka, she can create a new world, so powerful; she’s living with her husband underneath a tree. Never claims, ‘My dear husband, if you cannot, I can make one.’ There is a story about that. That, ‘People criticize us. All right, let us have some house.’ So Lord Siva, Durga, both of them capable to do anything. So they constructed a very nice gold house. ‘Now we shall live.’ So there is new house entering ceremony. So one Gargamuni was invited and many other brahmanas. So they began to eat so much … Then whatever stock they have-finished. After eating, when they wanted, ‘Give us daksina.’ Because after eating there is…
"So Lord Siva — ‘Where shall I get everything? I have finished.’ Then they became puzzled what to do." Srila Prabhupada started laughing. "So Lord Siva said, ‘All right, as daksina you take this house.’
"Their house entrance ceremony was there. As a result of that ceremony they became again underneath a tree."
- From "A Transcendental Diary Vol 4" by HG Hari Sauri Prabhu