Question: I ask this question mainly because I wonder why the greater part of the holy men or yogis that I know are unmarried or do not have a family life. I just wondered if marriage would be a deterrent.

Sri Chinmoy: No. It depends on each individual soul. You were saying that most of the Indian yogis are not married, but at the same time, there were many great spiritual Masters who were married. For example, Sri Ramakrishna, one of India's greatest spiritual figures: He was married. And many of the ancient Rishis, the greatest sages of the Vedic era, were married. In fact, only ten or twelve, some say six — of the Vedic rishis were unmarried.

Then in India, there is something called a spiritual partner, a collaborator. The Sanskrit term is shakti. They are not legally, or in the human sense, married, but on the highest spiritual level, they are divinely one. For God's Creation, man and woman must go together in some cases, and some spiritual Masters have a feminine counterpart.

But there are some spiritual figures who agree with our silly scriptures that woman is the door to hell. Our scriptures say, Nari narakesya dwara, "Woman is the door to hell." Women, on their part, can say and feel the same thing: "Man is the door to hell." But that is not the thing. The reason that men say this, is that they feel that women, in general, being bound to Mother-earth, have tempted them, pulled them down and bound them. But who is at fault here? Men. Why? By nature, women think of earth more than they think of Heaven. That is, they are always thinking of their children and family and they do not get the time to enter in the deeper world. But men have never given women the opportunity to cultivate their inner life, their spiritual life. And, of course, when the question of temptation arises, who tempts whom?

Apart from all this, many Indian seers and yogins think that it is an extra burden to get married and have children. They say, "We are going to our Father. Why should we have a heavy burden on our shoulders? " If one is married, he may say, "Let me save myself first and let her come in her own time. When she is ready, she too can see God." This is how they reject women. The ones who said, "Woman is the door to hell," when they finally achieve their own realisation, understand that it was not their women or wives who were the problem; the defect was in their own consciousness. With the others, it is a question of how much they can carry, how much responsibility they can bear.

If they feel that they can get married and have children and still lead a higher life, the life of true fulfilment, then God tells them to carry on. They are absolutely doing the right thing according to their inner understanding and their inner necessity. God's door is open to all. But I must say that this is an extremely difficult process.