G\u1e5bhastadharma is the code of conduct that the householder was expected to live by. The very first sacrament that legitimized this dharma was the sacrament of viv\u0101ha or marriage. The term viv\u0101ha\u1e25 arises from the Sanskrit verbal-root \u2018va\u1e25,\u2019 meaning to bear. Contrary to popular understanding, this root does not imply patriarchal dominance, but rather a sacred vow of companionship, camaraderie and endeavor aimed at a common goal. The \u1e5agveda states, \u0917\u0943\u092d\u094d\u0923\u093e\u092e\u093f \u0924\u0947 \u0938\u094c\u092d\u0917\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e\u092f \u0939\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0902 \u092e\u092f\u093e \u092a\u0924\u094d\u092f\u093e \u091c\u0930\u0926\u0937\u094d\u091f\u093f\u0930\u094d\u092f\u0925\u093e\u0938\u0903\u0964 \u092d\u0917\u094b \u0905\u0930\u094d\u092f\u092e\u093e \u0938\u0935\u093f\u0924\u093e \u092a\u0941\u0930\u0928\u094d\u0927\u093f\u0930\u094d\u092e\u0939\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e\u0926\u0941\u0930\u094d\u0917\u093e\u0930\u094d\u0939\u092a\u0924\u094d\u092f\u093e\u092f \u0926\u0947\u0935\u093e\u0903\u0965 g\u1e5bbh\u1e47\u0101mi te saubhagatv\u0101ya hasta\u1e41 may\u0101 paty\u0101 jarada\u1e63\u1e6diryath\u0101sa\u1e25| bhago aryam\u0101 savit\u0101 purandhirmahya\u1e41 tv\u0101durg\u0101rhapaty\u0101ya dev\u0101\u1e25|| I take your hand (in mine) for the good fortune that you may reach old age with me as your husband. You have been bestowed upon me by the Gods, Bhaga, Aryam\u0101, Savit\u0101 and Purandhi, as the mistress of my household. \u1e5agveda, 10.85.36 Consequently, a wife is called a \u2018sahadharmacar\u012b\u2019 or one who is the companion of man, along the path of dharma. A wife is not accepted as a docile complier in the quest for dharma alone. As can be learned from the V\u0101lm\u012bkir\u0101m\u0101ya\u1e47a, a model wife is expected to cajole a straying husband, and at times even admonish him, when he is remiss in his adherence to dharma. Janaka states, as he gives S\u012bt\u0101\u2019s hand in marriage to R\u0101ma, \u201ciya\u1e41 s\u012bt\u0101 mama sut\u0101 sahadharmacar\u012b tava - This is my daughter S\u012bt\u0101, your fellow-traveler along the path of dharma.\u201d As if in explication of these words, S\u012bt\u0101 is often found counseling R\u0101ma, who is glorified in the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition as the very embodiment of dharma. In a nutshell, the role of a wife in the common cause of dharma that is hailed as central to human life, is so profound, man is considered incomplete without her. The Manusm\u1e5bti states, \u0905\u092a\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0927\u0930\u094d\u092e\u0915\u093e\u0930\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0923\u093f \u0936\u0941\u0936\u094d\u0930\u0942\u0937\u093e \u0930\u0924\u093f\u0930\u0941\u0924\u094d\u0924\u092e\u093e\u0964 \u0926\u093e\u0930\u093e\u0927\u0940\u0928\u093e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0925\u093e \u0938\u094d\u0935\u0930\u094d\u0917\u0903 \u092a\u093f\u0924\u0944\u0923\u093e\u092e\u093e\u0924\u094d\u092e\u0928\u0936\u094d\u091a \u0939\u0965 apatya\u1e41 dharmak\u0101ry\u0101\u1e47i \u015bu\u015br\u016b\u1e63\u0101 ratiruttam\u0101| d\u0101r\u0101dh\u012bn\u0101stath\u0101 svarga\u1e25 pit\u1e5d\u1e47\u0101m\u0101tmana\u015bca ha|| Progeny, duty, service, pleasure, other-worldly welfare of both the ancestors and of the self, rest with the wife. Manusm\u1e5bti 9.8 Interestingly, the institution of marriage is pivotal not just to a given family, but to society at large. The householder is commissioned with the responsibility of both the bra\u1e25mac\u0101r\u012b (student) as well as the sany\u0101s\u012b (renunciate.) He supports the student by housing him and educating him, and he supports the renunciant by feeding him when he needs to be fed. The institution of marriage was thus the bedrock of a harmonious and sacred society that was dedicated to dharma. The goal of the institution of marriage is proclaimed to be the attainment of the prime goal of human endeavor, namely mok\u1e63a. The significance attached to the institution of marriage is so central to the Vaidika way of life, avat\u0101ras of the Supreme are conceived of as a divine couple (Divya-Dampat\u012b). This conceptualization is both central and unique to San\u0101tana-dharma. It transforms a disparate creation into a kindred whole (vi\u015bva-ku\u1e6du\u1e43bha\u1e25,) with the Divine Couple assuming the roles of Jaganm\u0101t\u0101 (mother of all creation) and Jagatpit\u0101 (father of all creation). In essence, the perception of Godhood as a couple provides a model of earthly life and purpose. The macrocosmic concept of Divya-D\u0101mpatya\u1e43 as observed in the l\u012bl\u0101s of avat\u0101ras is perceived in San\u0101tana-dharma, as a reflection of the microcosmic sacrament of marriage and marital life (g\u1e5bhasta-dharma). The groom is perceived as Bhagav\u0101n Vi\u1e63\u1e47u, and the bride as \u015ar\u012blak\u1e63m\u012b. Their marriage is perceived as the union of primeval potency (Prak\u1e5bti) with the substrate (Puru\u1e63a), and the birth of offspring, as the march of creation so central to spiritual evolution. Vaidika tradition therefore, does not condemn K\u0101ma (desire) but deems it one of the four primary goals of human life (puru\u1e63\u0101rthas,) reflective as it is, of the icch\u0101\u015bakti of the Paramapuru\u1e63a. In other words, icch\u0101\u015bakti that engenders creation at the macrocosmic level, presents itself as the seedling, k\u0101ma, in the microcosm. Consequently, it is believed that when this seedling of k\u0101ma is destroyed, the individual soul is no longer subject to the vagaries of creation. The ultimate goal of viv\u0101ha and g\u1e5bhasta-dharma as has been stated, is mok\u1e63a, and the l\u012bl\u0101s of divya-dampat\u012bs such as R\u0101dh\u0101-K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a or \u015aiva-P\u0101rvat\u012b exemplify the path to this goal. The tradition makes a clear distinction between k\u0101ma and prema, loosely translatable to lust and love, however. The former is a product of aha\u1e45k\u0101ra (solipsism), and the latter is experienced as a result of the transcendence of the aha\u1e45k\u0101ra. Aha\u1e45k\u0101ra that lies at the very root of man, is a reflection of the aha\u1e45k\u0101ra-tatva (the great I) which engenders the five subtle elements of creation, from which in turn arise the five causal elements of creation. Aha\u1e45k\u0101ra, by virtue of being a reflection of the aha\u1e45k\u0101ra-tatva of creation, inexorably aligns itself with sa\u1e43s\u0101ra. Prema on the other hand, is liberating, as it is the very nature of the soul. It is nirdvandva (devoid of an opposite) and niravadhi (endless.) Journey of man from the limited k\u0101ma to the divine prema seems to be the crux of the journey called marriage. It is a paradigm of this journey that presents itself for emulation in the divya-d\u0101mpatya-l\u012bl\u0101s of Gods, either as avatars or temple deities. In essence viv\u0101ha is the sa\u1e43sk\u0101ra that authorizes the journey from aha\u1e45k\u0101ra to \u0100tma. The tradition as a result glorifies g\u1e5bhast\u0101\u015brama or the order of the householder, as the finest \u0101\u015brama. The Brahmavaivarta-pur\u0101\u1e47am states that Lord \u015aiva declined to adopt the g\u1e5bhast\u0101dharma, fearing that the acceptance of a wife would lead to digression for the path of yoga and tapas. In response, Lord K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a states, \u0917\u0943\u0939\u0940\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0915\u0943\u0924\u093f\u0902 \u0936\u094b\u092d\u093e\u0902 \u0926\u093f\u0935\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0935\u0930\u094d\u0937\u0938\u0939\u0938\u094d\u0930\u0915\u092e\u094d\u0965 \u0938\u0941\u0916\u0902 \u092e\u0939\u091a\u094d\u091a \u0936\u0943\u0919\u094d\u0917\u093e\u0930\u0902 \u0915\u0930\u093f\u0937\u094d\u092f\u0938\u093f \u0928 \u0938\u0902\u0936\u092f\u0903\u0964 \u0928 \u0915\u0947\u0935\u0932\u0902 \u0924\u092a\u0938\u094d\u0935\u0940 \u0924\u094d\u0935\u092e\u0940\u0936\u094d\u0935\u0930\u094b \u092e\u0924\u094d\u0938\u092e\u094b \u092e\u0939\u093e\u0928\u094d\u0965 g\u1e5bh\u012btv\u0101 prak\u1e5bti\u1e41 \u015bobh\u0101\u1e41 divya\u1e41 var\u1e63asahasrakam|| sukha\u1e41 mahacca \u015b\u1e5b\u1e45g\u0101ra\u1e41 kari\u1e63yasi na sa\u1e41\u015baya\u1e25| na kevala\u1e41 tapasv\u012b tvam\u012b\u015bvaro matsamo mah\u0101n|| You shall accept the lovely Prak\u1e5bti and sport with her, for a thousand celestial years, for you are not an ascetic alone, but Lord as I am. Brahmavaivarta-pur\u0101\u1e47am, 1.6.34 This disabuses one of the notions that marital bliss and spiritual evolution are either opposed or divorced from each other. This also clarifies beyond a pale of doubt, that the primary role of an avatar is to be paradigmatic.