Sisters make your life beautiful. They bring in a sense of joy and happiness like no one else. However, the saddest day is when she leaves the house after marriage to build her own family. In Indian tradition, marriages are life-changing events. For the woman especially, it changes her inside out.
The father would have fulfilled his responsibilities when he gives kanya daan (gift of a daughter to her husband). But the role of a brother never stops. For thousands of years, we have a culture where the relationship between the brother and sister is lifelong. They have an unbroken chain of love, care and responsibility. The brother also plays the role of a mama (mother’s brother), who takes care of the sister’s children as his own.
Chanakya, in his Arthashastra, documented this as a legal responsibility. If the brother does not fulfil his responsibilities towards his sister, it is a punishable offence.
“If a person with means, does not maintain his children and wife, his father and mother, his brothers who have not come of age, and his unmarried and widowed sisters, a fine of twelve panas (shall be imposed)” (2.1.29)
Usually there are two kinds of brothers. Those who have a means of livelihood (settled and with financial stability). And the second, who may not be settled.
Here, Chanakya is addressing the kind of a person who has means of livelihood for himself. He is a family man, and has to take care of his family, which includes his children, wife and parents.
He also has to take care of his younger brothers, who are yet to settle in life. The elder brother has to take care of their education, and make sure they get married and start earning for themselves.
Along with the other members of the family, he also has to take care of his sisters. It is his responsibility if the sister is not married or widowed. A fine is imposed if he fails. Of course, even the family of the dead husband has the moral responsibility to take care of the widow as their own daughter.
Sisters have to be loved and cared. They need to be provided safety, comfort and freedom to live their life as they want. This is true women empowerment.
What about sisters? They too should take care of their brothers. Even though they have been married to a new family, they have to take care of the previous family, especially the siblings. This is dual responsibility, which will exist lifelong.
How can we practise this in our modern-day society?
1. Family culture
In the recent days, the family culture has gone through a drastic change. Joint families have become nuclear families. And now, it is just two individuals staying together.
This is one of the primary reasons that many are going through mental health issues. Being alone and not able to communicate with others is becoming stressful. We need to bring back the family culture of care and concern for all in the family.
Sisters have a major role to play here — keep a check on your brothers and their well-being. Sisters also plays the role of a mother in the brothers’ lives.
2. Financial security
We should never earn for ourselves. We should earn for a family. In the modernisation era, we have people earning more as individuals. But, the family fund is limited to the three to four people who stay with us.
We need to create a family fund for our extended families too. If a sister is facing financial crisis, the brother has to pool in resources and vice versa. So, it’s better to plan like a joint family than individuals who build personal assets. In the long run, even if you have made a lot of money, you will still require your family to be around before you die.
3. Meet often
It is important that you meet as often as possible. The more you meet in person, the stronger is the relation. Raksha Bandhan celebrates the love between a brother and sister. Though it is an annual celebration, the bond should be lifelong.
Once you build your emotional bank account with each other, financial bank accounts will be taken care of. Finally, for a brother and a sister, more than anything else, they need each other’s emotional security, love and care.
“Brother and sister, together as friends, ready to face whatever life sends…”
(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his twitter @rchanakyapillai)
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