Role of a father-in-law

Bhishmaka, the King of Vidarbha, was the father of Rukmini. He had five sons, all of whose names had the prefix “rukma.” Rukma means that which is radiant or glitters, like gold, for instance, explained V.S. Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. Srimad Bhagavatam describes Rukmini as saintly. She was, therefore, deserving of her name. But her brothers did not deserve to be described as radiant. They made a foolish decision to get their sister married to Sisupala, a most unsuitable choice.

Srimad Bhagavatam uses the adjective “mahaan” for Bhishmaka. How could he be called a great king, when he did not stop his sons from carrying out their plans for Rukmini? He was, after all, the king, and could have stopped his sons, but he did not. And yet sage Suka calls him a mahaan. The reason for this was that no matter what his shortcomings, Bhishmaka had the good fortune of eventually becoming Krishna’s father-in-law. What greater honour can there be for a man?

Vishnuchitta, father of Andal, is referred to as Periyazhvar. “Periya'' refers to his greatness. Periyazhvar sang verses to ward off evil eyes from the Lord, something that showed his maternal concern for the Lord. But Vedanta Desika felt that Periyazhvar’s greatness stemmed from the fact that he was the father-in-law of Lord Ranganatha. A father-in-law has an important place in a man’s life. No ritual can be performed by a grihastha without his wife by his side. So it is the father-in-law, who, by giving his daughter in marriage to a man, ensures that the man’s duties as a householder are performed as prescribed. While an Acharya instructs a man, it is the father-in-law who makes it possible for him to carry out his duties as a householder. This gives a father-in-law a status equal to that of an Acharya.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 9:03:54 pm |