There are times when the direct line of progress might not be the best approach, and a seeming back step is necessary to move forward. I wrote previously about how the shakahara vrata (vow of vegetarianism) was harder for my wife than for me, because avoiding eggs prevents her from using many of her recipes. A lot of her vegetarian recipes use meat substitutes such as Quorn which contains egg white. As time went on this continued to be very difficult for her, and the impact was making her feel negatively towards Hinduism. I delayed doing anything about this for quite a while, but when I realised that it was a continuing issue I contacted the Himalayan Academy monks. I told them that I was considering asking Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami to release me from the Shakahara Vrata, and allow me to take a lesser vrata which allowed eggs as an ingredient in meals cooked by my wife. I would still avoid eggs whenever possible and the flesh of all creatures. I said that I would understand if that meant that I would have to stop the stage two master course on being released from the original vow.
The monks quickly came back saying that they had consulted Satguru Bodhinatha, who had said that family harmony was of the utmost importance. Hinduism is very strongly family oriented, and for householders maintaining the Dharma of the household is a primary concern. He said that I should take the lesser vow, but still continue the master course.
If I were to uphold the vow at the expense of my family Dharma this would not be a step forward but three back. My wife feels that she may follow the path Hinduism herself one day but she is not ready to do this yet. There are many areas where I should make an effort to improve before doing something that mainly impacts my wife. Perhaps sometime I will take the full shakahara vrata again, but this time with my wife fully understanding the impact.
In the mean time my wife continues to avoid eggs in my diet for the most part, cooking an egg-free alternative if it is easy or when making ready meals. There are a small number of family dishes that don’t work without eggs, and being able to cook these makes a big difference to her. I am very grateful to her for trying to keep my diet as close to the ideal as she feels able. I feel that the “step back” of allowing a limited amount of eggs into my diet has been followed by three steps forward in restoring family dharma. I also think it shows how Hinduism is about spiritual development rather than laws and rules.
Let there be faithfulness to each other until death. This, in short, should be known as the highest duty of husband and wife. So let husband and wife ever strive, doing all their duties, that they may not, separated from each other, wander apart.
Manu Dharma Shastras 9.101-2. SD, 161