The Mangala Sutra of the Hindus as an illustrative example of ‘A Kavach’
Here we wish to touch upon the spiritual significance of the Mangala Sutra, not only because of its striking similarity to the ‘Kavach‘ in so far as its function is concerned, but also because it is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, with Hindus no longer being even interested in remembering what it actually stands for.
Culturally and etymologically, it would mean an ‘auspicious golden string’, blessed by the elders and Isvara and worn by the Hindu bride at the time of the wedding ceremony, signifying mutual-faithfulness, loyalty and a life-long commitment to the auspicious continuity of the marital bond, through mutual devotion & self-sacrifice. This is the barest minimum of the Samkalpa underlying a Hindu marriage, though it goes much further than this, as we shall presently see. This rudimentary form pertains only to the field of Artha & Kama, whereas the latter part which is to follow belongs to the higher spiritual spheres of Dharma & Moksha.
The Mangala Sutra was intended, in its vital role as the sacred symbol of the Samkalpa, to carry upon its physical presence the spirit and power of this Samkalpa and in this way, by being an embodiment of that Samkalpa, and by being in contact with the body, uninterruptedly, it served to ‘educate and enlist the loyalty’ of every cell of the physical body and with it also ‘every cell’- even of the light of human consciousness, for which the body forms a veritable temple and vehicle. ‘Educate and enlist’- only for bringing to fulfillment that Samkalpa, for this cannot happen, without the co-operation of the body and the accompanying consciousness.
The Hindus were highly imaginative people and had a profound understanding of how symbols and mythic images could be made to work wonders for us – provided of course, we learn how to approach them with reverence and how to relate to them as sacred objects. In this spiritual art, they were consummate masters and adepts. They went even further than this, for they had discovered that symbols and mythic images and talismans behaved differently in different hands, becoming very potent and acting as sources of grace in the hands of Sages, Saints & Avatars.
It is for this reason, wise Hindus, who have still retained their Samskara of ancient wisdom, give the Mangala Sutra into the hands of a holy personage, asking him to invest his blessings and his Samkalpa into the same, thereby investing it with even more spiritual power and converting the same, thereby into a sacred object of even greater potency. My intention in bringing to light the hidden significance of the Mangala Sutra is only to prepare the ground, by way of a relevant example, for unveiling the hidden power of the Samkalpa of the astrologer behind the sacred object of the Kavach.
To continue with the theme of the Mangala Sutra a little further, for the Hindus, marriage was always established only on the ground of such an auspicious Samkalpa, with whose first part we have just made a brief acquaintance. The deeper aspect of the Samkalpa, pertaining to Dharma & Moksha goes much further in its scope. Marriage being never entirely for pleasure or personal fulfillment; but on the other hand more a natural means to reach the goal of Moksha, or the highest goal of life; any amount of self-sacrifice or tyaga, which a marital life might entail, is to be deemed in fact only as a blessing in disguise, only as an opportunity for shedding the petty-self – so that one becomes better qualified to serve the family, and the world, and in this way qualifies in the best possible manner for the highest goal of Moksha.
The Mangala Sutra being a physical embodiment of this powerful Samkalpa, its continuous contact with the body was absolutely necessary for transmitting to and training the body and the consciousness to obey and align themselves with this Samkalpa, which is practically a blueprint for life itself. Now, when the symbol has got separated from its inner meaning and Samkalpa in so far as the recognition of the wearer is concerned, then the Mangala Sutra loses all its Divine power and it then degenerates into nothing more than “a garland that is put into the hands of a monkey.” Sadly, the root reason behind the multiplying number of divorces in our Hindu society is to be traced to the symbol having got divorced from the spiritual Samkalpa and even the complete absence of the Samkalpa itself in the individual’s consciousness, in very many cases.