[Advaita-l] Duties of Son, and Son-In law

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Oct 18 13:36:14 CDT 2012

On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 9:23 PM, shriharsha chatra <hschatra at gmail.com>wrote:

> Pranam Swamiji,
> I have question with respect to duties of Son, and Son-in Law.
> The reason I am asking this question is, I will be marrying in few months,
> and due to grace of Acharya's and Guru's like you
> I wanted to know, what all duties Vedas or Smritis prescribe if Son-in-law
> to be done for his in-law.
> And who should be prioritized, his own parents or in-laws. If you can
> please list the reference from Veda's and Smritis I would be thankful.
> Sadar Pranama,
> Harsha

Dear Harsha,

It is indeed the grace of God that you have the attitude to even ask about
this.  Well, while the part 'duties of a son to his parents' is quite
general and well known, the part regarding parents-in-law requires some
special consideration.  In my opinion and observation, almost the same
duties towards your parents will be applicable to the parents-in-law too.
They are giving their daughter as 'dharma patni' or 'sahadharmiNi' or
'sahachAriNi' and this is a very great gift or dAna from them to you. In
case of need, like if they have no son to care for them, it becomes your
duty to fulfill that void.  Even in the case of their death, the son-in-law
has the right to perform their last rites.  In some communities when one's
own parents are alive they will not permit the son to perform the rites for
the in-laws. Nevertheless such a duty is there.

The Upanishad says: 'मातृ देवो भव, पितृ देवो भव..’  ’देवपितृकार्याभ्यां न
प्रमदितव्यम्...’ [Revere your parents as God, never swerve from your duties
toward them...]

When it comes to prioritizing, of course your parents will come first.  But
tactfully situations will have to be handled where both are given the
appropriate care/comfort.  On the lighter side a son-in-law can be seen as
the 'tenth planet' -  'jAmAtA dashamo grahaH'  when he causes untold
problems  to the in-laws.  Taking appropriate care of the wife itself will
give her parents great joy.  Their blessings will always be on both of
you.  There is a saying:

अभिवादनशीलस्य नित्यं वृद्धोपसेविनः ।
चत्वारि तस्य वर्धन्ते आयुर्विद्यायशोबलम् ॥

For the one who is ever respectful towards and intent upon serving the
elders (both in age and other respects) these four will be in abundance:
long life, knowledge, fame and power/strength.

In the famous 'TirukkuraL' it is said: magan tandaikkaaTRum udavi avan
thanthai ennOTRAn kollenum chol'.  [When people see a son serving his
father dutifully they would try to estimate the quantum of penance that his
father might have undertaken to beget such a son.] Such should be our
conduct towards our parents (in-laws included).

On the negative side, I have heard an old father of seven sons lamenting:
'I would have been happier if seven serpents had been born to me instead of
these sons.'

warm regards and best wishes,
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः  [dharma practiced will protect the practitioner]


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