When certified marriage and family educators Krishnanandini Dasi and her husband Tariq Ziyad were flipping through an in-flight magazine on their way back from a conference in California recently, they saw something that jumped out so violently at them it was almost like a physical slap to the face.
“Who would dream of looking at the Hare Krishnas as an example of anything?” read a sentence in the magazine’s front-page article.
Krishnandini and Tariq—who are both members of the Grihasta Vision Team, a group of certified marriage and family therapists dedicated to the health of ISKCON devotee relationships—saw the statement as a direct challenge to the Vaishnava community.
“It’s time for us to take up that challenge to be exemplary people,” Krishnanandini says. “To have marriages and families so warm and loving and God conscious that people in the larger community will ask us, ‘How do you do that?”
The Grihasta Vision Team’s mission is to give devotee individuals and couples the tools to become such exemplary people—and now they’re planning to compile all their resources in a new book set for release this autumn.
Heart and Soul Connections: A Vaishnava Guide to Love, Service, and Marriage will feature eleven chapters covering every aspect of a healthy, happy and Krishna conscious marriage. And there will be something in the book, Krishnanandini feels, for every variety of couple in the Vaishnava community.
There are chapters on preparing for marriage; on the personal and social responsibility of Grihasta couples; on the principles and values upon which healthy Krishna conscious marriages are based; on how to practically incorporate daily spiritual practices into your marriage; on how to raise your children to be healthy, happy and Krishna conscious; and on the roles of husband and wife in a Krishna conscious marriage.
The book does not shy away from practical realities either: there’s a chapter on dealing with serious difficulties within marriage; one on sex and personal intimacy; one on how to communicate in healthy ways; and one on how to deal with finances—which can sometimes be a big issue for couples.
The book aims to teach these skills in a readable and interactive way—it will be sprinkled throughout with humor, cartoons and illustrations, while readers will be invited to participate through doing exercises and practicing various techniques.
“Another element that adds variety to it is the fact that although we’ll have a standard format, each chapter will be written in a different style by different members of the Grihasta Vision Team,” says Krishnanandini. “Jagannath Pandita Dasa and Chintamani Dasi, a husband and wife team from Gita Nagari, Pennsylvania are writing the introduction. Sridevi from Louisiana is writing one chapter, as is Praharana Dasi from Canada, Mantrini Dasi, Karnamrita Dasa from North Carolina, his wife Arcana Siddhi, Partha Dasa, his wife Uttama, myself, and my husband Tariq. All of us are either certified marriage and family counselors or educators, or trained therapists with years of experience.”
Heart and Soul Connections was originally conceived by this dedicated group five years ago to reference and support another Grihasta Vision Team effort, the course Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us. Now finally on its way to fruition, it’s another invaluable offering as the GVT continue to provide whatever services they can to strengthen marriages and families in the Vaishnava community.
“Great devotees in our line, such as Bhaktivinode Thakura and Srila Prabhupada, often extolled the virtues of family life,” Krishnanandini says. “Srila Prabhupada said that as Krishna was a great family man, taking up family life is a great service to Him. So we really want to give devotees hands on practical support in their marriage and family life—a book that can be used over and over again by individuals, couples, and groups to solidify their skills.”
Probably the only in-depth, comprehensive book about marriage and family life in Krishna consciousness ever written, Heart and Soul Connections is set to become a definitive guide to help devotees develop and sustain healthy, happy marriages and families.
“We’re very excited about it,” Krishnanandini grins.
To pre-order Heart and Soul Connections: A Vaishnava Guide to Love, Service, and Marriage please visit vaisnavafamilyresources.org and email the Grihasta Vision Team through the Contact Us page.
The Grihasta Vision Team is currently looking for a publisher or publishing assistance for Heart and Soul Connections. If you are a publisher or can assist with bringing the book to print, please email the GVT at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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