Pramukh Swami Maharaj gifted two wonderful ways to defuse family conflicts and other issues through the practice of satsang and ghar sabha: understanding others and being broad-minded Pramukh Swami Maharaj introduced the efficacious practices of satsang and ghar sabha (home assembly) for all in overcoming discontent, enmity, spats, fights and a wide range of other problems. Through these two means Swamishri stated that one would be able to understand others and also develop a broad, generous outlook. Let us try to fathom the importance of understanding others and having a broad-minded outlook through the medium of ghar sabha.
Ghar Sabha for Developing Understanding
Every person has a deep desire to be understood by others. Whenever you experience that someone understands your perspective or your feelings you feel happy and relaxed. Hence, your relation with that person becomes cordial and robust. Other than that your relationship remains dry and formal.
Parents often have a common complaint that their teenage child speaks less with them. Whenever parents ask a question to their child he or she replies briefly, and often coldly, whereas with friends their child talks enthusiastically for hours. The child reluctantly bonds or deals with parents, whereas with friends he or she bonds naturally and fluidly. What is the reason behind this? How come teenage children relegate their relations with their parents, who have taken care of them for years, and instead bond more with their friends? The reason behind this seems to be that a teenager experiences that his friends understand him. Whereas, with his parents, he experiences a yawning generation gap.
So, understanding one another is an indispensable aspect of healthy and flourishing relationships. Ghar sabha provides a conducive environment in developing mutual understanding. In homes where family members talk to each other only when some work is to be done or something is required, then ghar sabha facilitates conversations and dissolves the generation gap.
Diptesh Patel, a satsangi youth in New Jersey, narrates his experience, “My retired parents live with me. Often, one finds gaps and bitterness in relationships between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and between a son and his father. The case between my parents and us was similar. My parents were adamant about certain things, whereas my wife and I thought differently. My parents insisted that we raise our children the way they had raised us. But in America our situation was completely different. Additionally, there were small communication gaps between us and them. For example, I never informed them that I had planned to visit my friend’s home the next day. On the contrary, my parents had planned something else for all of us. My wife would often cook something and my mother wished to eat something else. Gradually, through ghar sabha, we were able to solve our problems due to lack of communication. After completing the ghar sabha we would discuss our schedules for the next two to three days and what meals to cook. Subsequently, the problems between my mother and wife and my father and myself were defused.”
Another issue that arises in a family is mostly related to retired parents or seniors in the house. They complain that they are never informed or consulted about the social affairs of the family. As a result they feel they are not valued or considered as members of their own home. On the other hand, the youth who has the responsibility of running the home feels there’s no need to inform or consult their parents about every matter. When the youth is told to at least inform whatever is possible or important, then the youth answers that he or she does not purposefully abstain from informing them but that there’s simply no time or opportunity to do so. Here, ghar sabha provides the opportunity and time to share whatever it may be with one’s seniors or parents.
Hareshbhai Patel of Houston shares his experience in this matter, “By doing ghar sabha the distance between me and my parents was bridged. Mostly, I never talked to them about my business and social matters. Consequently, there was a distance between us. But now, during ghar sabha, such matters are shared, discussed and answered. By talking candidly during ghar sabha our distance disappeared.”
One of the reasons for family discord is doubts or suspicions. Many times, due to lack of frank talks with the family, doubts arise and grow to disproportionate levels, eventually leading to quarrels, fights or divorce. Casual conversations during ghar sabha resolve suspicions and dissolve prejudices. Quite often a family on the verge of a break-up is salvaged due to such conversations during ghar sabha.
Shaileshbhai Dhanani of Rajkot relates his experience, “Some time after my marriage troubles started between me and my wife. I worked in a factory. Sometimes, due to an overload of work, I used to come home late. As a result my wife became suspicious of me and this led to heated arguments and increasing conflicts. My parents become fed up with her bickerings, hollow suspicions and unfounded accusations. I found my life hellish and our relationship came to the point of breaking up. One day, the conflict climaxed to such a point that my exasperated wife attempted suicide. But she was saved because of Vinubhai, our landlord, who came and calmed her.” Thereafter, Shaileshbhai witnessed the ghar sabha carried out at Vinubhai’s house next door and the resulting joy and ease in their family. He was inspired and started ghar sabha in his home. Shaileshbhai adds, “In the beginning, I used to do ghar sabha on my own. But, gradually, all the members joined me. Slowly, my wife became interested in satsang. Our differences started to dissolve and our problems were solved. Finally, there was peace and joy between us.”
In this way, ghar sabha mended a broken family with trust and love.