Love marriage versus arranged marriage. Both work; both fail. In the West the concept of falling in love with that special person, usually through a chance meeting, is strongly programmed into the mind from early life. In the East, the girl’s father traditionally seeks out a suitable husband, and if both girl and boy agree, the marriage is made, often within a matter of days. New Agers are searching for their “soul mate,” someone they are destined to join with and with whom they will enjoy love eternal. While from a Western philosophic point of view, the choice of a husband or wife is essentially a matter of individual free will, from the Eastern point of view, it is a matter of complex interconnected social karmas.

For example, a troubled young man under therapy recalled a past life in Egypt married to a beautiful woman. They were deeply in love, living an ideal marriage until she suddenly died, leaving him so devastated that he eventually committed suicide. In his present life he had deprived himself of close attachments to any woman, subconsciously telling himself, “I never want to love again if I am only to eventually lose it.” He was also not able to communicate love or affection to his mother, until he realized that he had actually been reborn to the same woman he once loved so much. His previous experience of loss, loneliness and suicide had etched a deep samskara, or impression, in his mind that molded his reactions in this life, totally changing how he felt about the same soul. When he saw that his ancient love could be recaptured in the present life on a different level, he began to make a renewed connection with his mother.

In most marriages, two souls have come together because of a close relationship in a previous life, drawn together again by divine forces of karma. This can happen both through arranged marriages or chance meetings. A couple may not have been husband and wife before, but rather brother and sister, son and mother or simply friends, any close relationship that developed into an intense attachment or created unresolved issues between them. Inherent in the system of arranged marriage is the concept that there are several suitable matches for a girl or boy. There are also numerous unsuitable but karmically possible matches. The problem with “love marriage” is that only one factor is paramount–the initial emotional attraction of the couple. The genius of the arranged marriage system is the inclusion of dozens of other factors, many based on the astrology of the potential couple, that count far more in the ultimate success of the marriage than superficial first impressions.

Many couples nowadays end up in marriage from simple animal magnetism. And after a few years they get divorced because the magnetism wears out. In these cases, there is only a harmonious blend between a few aspects of their natures, creating a surface attraction, but at the deeper levels of their psyche the sum total is incompatible. If the couple separates with ill feelings, an unresolved karma must be faced at a future time, often magnetizing them together again in another life in a new relationship. Thus the wheel of life goes on and on.

How does one know if it is “true love” that will last a lifetime? The future compatibility of two people can be accurately determined through astrology, though few take advantage of it. There is a basic method from Vedic times of comparing the birth stars of a couple, in which ten different agreements are considered. Some deal with a single factor, e.g., physical compatibility, others with complex interactions of karma. Each agreement is weighted in importance by giving it a certain number of points possible. Attraction, for example, is given two points, while ganam, which relates to agreement of temperament, is given six. If the couple receives at least half of the total 36 points, the marriage may be approved.

The system of ten measures is limited, because it considers only the nakshatra, or moon’s placement. A far better prediction is possible when the entire horoscope is studied. We have seen marriages fail that were based only on the star matching system, even though they received a high number of points, because there were many difficult combinations among the other planets in their horoscopes. The full horoscope will reveal whether real love will develop in the marriage, or even if it will be there “at first sight.”

Here is one way to think about astrological compatibility. It is similar to creating music. Each planet has a unique sound that changes as it moves around the Sun. The Greek philosopher Plato intimated this when he declared that man’s rhythm and melody imitate the movements of heavenly bodies, thus delineating the music of the spheres and reflecting the moral order of the universe. Astrology teaches that every person is a conglomerate of sounds, vibrations or colors according to the planetary positions at birth. A new-born captures the positions and melodies of the heavenly bodies, becoming an embodiment of its sounds throughout his lifetime. How two people relate and get along depends on how the sounds of their planets blend, creating either an irritating noise or a wonderful symphony of music.