The Grihastha Vision Team is offering an online Q & A on “Creating Meaningful Relationships” from 5:00 to 7:00pm on Saturday February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day. The session will be broadcast live on the Grihasta Vision Team Facebook and Youtube, and via Zoom.
The GVT, established in 2004, is a group of Vaishnava couples who have all been in healthy marriages for over twenty-five years. The team members, who work professionally as premarital educators, psychotherapists, youth counselors and mediators, focus on helping devotees in ISKCON to have healthy marriages and happy families.
Pre-COVID, the team facilitated a Couple’s Retreat at Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania every year. During the pandemic, they have switched to offering bi-monthly question and answer panels on Zoom, Facebook Live and Youtube. The variety of topics they’ve covered have included preparing for marriage; harmonizing conflict; how to help men access emotions; dealing with in-laws; becoming exemplary parents; and the evolution of expectations in marriage.
This Friday’s panel will featureGrihastha Vision Team members and couples Uttama Devi Dasi and Partha Das; Vrajalila Devi Dasi and Ekavira Das; and Chintamani Devi Dasi and Jagannatha Pandit Das. It will be facilitated by Yadunath Das and Ekanta Bhakti Dasi.
The late Krsnanandini Devi Dasi, who passed away in November and was the driving force in starting the Grihastha Vision Team, and her husband Tariq Saleem Ziyad, are honored as GVT Members Emeriti on the event poster.
Sadly, longtime Grihastha Vision Team members Arcana Siddhi and her husband Karnamrita will also not be attending on Saturday.
“On February 9th, Karnamrita Prabhu left this world,” says Partha Das. “Karnamrita was someone who cared about connecting with others in deep meaningful ways. He was also lighthearted and jovial. He understood the nature of love, how it must be received as blessings and shared abundantly. He made everyone feel relaxed, valued, and accepted. He and his wife Arcana Siddhi mentored so many couples, sharing their mature realizations. This session will be dedicated in his honor and a date for a memorial service will be announced shortly.”
Saturday’s panel, which will center on the theme of “Creating Meaningful Relationships,” will first cover how to ensure you’re ready for marriage, and what qualities to develop before getting married.
Next, the panel will discuss maintaining connections, and simple skills and attitudes couples can adopt to ensure the ongoing health of their marriage.
They will also talk about how couples can repair a disconnect in their marriage, and bring it back into harmony.
“Often couples start to veer apart, and just don’t bother trying to realign themselves, so they can end up getting more and more distant,” Partha says. “We’re going to try and reinforce the importance of keeping the couple on a parallel track together to maintain their relationship in a healthy way.”
In addition, panelists will talk about how Krishna consciousness is integral to one’s marriage, and how to avoid negative paradigms. Some of these come from unrealistic portrayals of relationships in movies and TV – that all one has to do is get married in order to automatically live happily ever after, with no work needed. Others come from within ISKCON itself.
“In the early neophyte days of ISKCON, we were quite immature, and there was a super strong emphasis on renunciation, with this idea that grihastha life was something second class – if you got married, it was like a falldown,” explains Partha. “It’s definitely better now than in the seventies and early eighties, but these ideas are still prevalent in some places.”
He points out, “Let’s say you’re exposed to those kinds of negative paradigms, even subtly. Then when the challenges that everyone experiences in the grihastha ashram, which are just part of life, come along, you may remember those negative paradigms. And you may start to actually believe, maybe it’s true – maybe marriage is a deep dark well. Maybe grihastha life is second class.
“So we want to help couples realize that you can bring Krishna into your relationship, and that Srila Prabhupada wanted exemplary grihastha couples. We’re going to try to reinforce that not only do we want a healthy relationship, but that it’s a very important responsibility in the context of Prabhupada’s mission. And if you make that effort to have a good relationship for Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, to help benefit the sankirtan movement, Krishna can actually help you in your marriage.”
During the Q & A, attendees will be able to submit questions via chat on Facebook, Youtube and Zoom. Those who want to send confidential questions will be able to enter them into a Google Form, via a link posted in the opening chat. Questions that don’t get answered will be addressed in the next bi-monthly session.
Grihastha Vision Team seminars and workshops have been extremely powerful for many devotees all over the world. Partha Das and Uttama Devi Dasi, who toured their course Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us in twenty-one countries pre-COVID, say some have told them it transformed their lives, and others that it saved their marriages. That education has continued in a different format during the pandemic – Uttama and Partha have been busier than ever, offering about 400 online seminars and couples’ counseling sessions since the beginning of COVID. And that’s not including all the training and counseling by others members of the GVT.
Next up, the team is working on a course that will help those not yet in relationships to learn the necessary skills and qualities needed to enter the grihastha ashram.
They’re also training other happily married couples to become marriage mentors and offer premarital education to devotees in their areas.
And the GVT course Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us will be available online at the Bhaktivedanta College website, starting in April.
“Devotees have told us that when they embrace and apply the values and skills from the course in their lives, it’s been very helpful for them,” Partha says.
Attend “Creating Meaningful Relationships” via Zoom here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87439095744. Meeting ID: 87439095744
Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GrihasthaVisionTeam
Attend the Q & A and watch videos on marriage tips here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoL2KI76rF4e14_sU0iIYQw
For information on counseling, mentoring, seminars and premarital education, please visit: https://vaisnavafamilyresources.org/en/[ grihasta-vision-team ] [ marriage ] [ vaishnava-family ]