What does it mean? What is it?
Maryada simply means to respect! When we value something or we hold something in high regard, we respect it, we call this Maryada.
Within Dharma there are many things that we have Maryada for but here we will look at a few main points:
4. Gadivala Baa
There are many ways in which Maryada is kept for Bhagwan and those things which are dearest to Him such as Shastra, Gadivala Baa, Elders, etc. If we maintain respect for these points then Bhagwan Swaminarayan will be happy with us and will shower His blessings upon us.
Respect for Murti is given by making sure one does not sit with their back towards it. This is because Bhagwan is the main focal point and by not looking at him it is very difficult to maintain your concentration. We have to remember that the Murti IS Bhagwan, and that He reside inside it, so if at any point you turn your back on Him it is the equivalent of turning your back on someone. Finally you should always insure that everything associated with the Murti like his clothes, his cutlery is always clean!
Respect for the Mandir is given by acknowledging that the Mandir is not just a building but Bhagwan's Dham. As the Mandir is Bhagwan's house it should be clean at all times and all political and personal issues should be left outside so as to get the full benefit of being in the Mandir in Bhagwan's presence.
There are a number of reasons why we keep Respect for Shastra, mainly because Bhagwan has said He resides in them; they are dear to Him and they are a respected source of knowledge. Putting shastra in a proper place, such as a clean book shelf is one way of keeping respect for them. Other ways are by not touch the Shastra with dirty hands. At all cost we should try to avoid touching the Shastra with our feet as they are Holy Scriptures and again Bhagwan resides in them. We should bow down to the Shastra before beginning to read and avoid talking or standing up whilst a chapter is being recited or before completing the reading of a chapter. Wetting fingers with saliva to turn the pages or folding the pages is not allowed, book marks should be used instead.
Respect for Gadivala Baa - Why should we respect Baa? Because she is the wife of the Acharya and the Acharya's are direct descendants of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. She has been installed by Bhagwan to lead us along the right path to salvation. She is there for us like our mothers are, and just like our mothers who never wish bad upon us and always protect us, she does the same. Through her we will have divine darshan of Bhagwan as He says He personally resides in them. By giving us Guru mantra, not only does she help us get to Akshardham but also washes our sins away and continues to do so by taking upon herself what ever sins we may persist to make. Our Baa is very loving and humane and by obeying her it is as equal to obeying Bhagwan's command.
Respect for Elders - Gadivala Baa, Acharya, tyagi saints, brahmachari, parents and superiors are all categorised as elders. We can speak politely with those who are higher in wisdom, age and authority than ourselves, for example elders should be addressed as "aap" or "tame" and not "tu!" Bhagwan Swaminarayan states in the Vachnamrut Sarangpur 2 that if a discussion with God or a great saint results in an argument and one is on the verge of winning one should give up the argument in favour of the elder. One should treat elders as gurus and serve them. When one serves the devotees of God with mind, heart and soul one achieves great spiritual benefit and happiness. No other means can provide such happiness. Even if one is angry with someone, they should consider them as Shri NarNarayan Dev's devotees and immediately do namashkar - we all should avoid anger and pride (Vch. Ahmedabad 8). By giving respect to others you will gain the same respect in return.
This does not mean that a friendly relationship cannot be kept between you and your elders, but that when respect is due it should be given and not lost or even forgotten.
As women living in today's society we need to make sure we keep Maryada for all the points mentioned. Through us, the way we portray and reflect ourselves in Dharma our Children, Husbands, Friends, and loved ones will learn and do the same. Therefore it is imperative that we instil these qualities and nature our children so that they follow the true path.
Shikshapatri Shloka 38 states
"One shall not wear clothes that expose parts of one's body. My followers shall discard such indecent garments".
Shikshapatri Shloka 161 states
"All devout wives shall never expose their chest, navel or thighs to other males and shall cover herself with proper garments"
Both these shloka are very important and more important that we follow them in today's society as the media, fashion and peer pressure all encourage disrespectful behaviour i.e. exposure of body through certain garments. As women it is important that we take care and cover ourselves. We have a reputation for being caring, considerate and most importantly showing respect for others. We take pride in ourselves and our family, this is so special why should give it up.
Bhagwan is protecting us by saying "cover our bodies" - He realises that if we do not then people with bad intentions will be attracted towards us, hence creating unwanted problems.
Now you have read why we need to place emphasise on the topic of Maryada, hopefully a better understanding has been gained. Always remember, respect yourself as a women, elders, fellow satsangi and more importantly, Bhagwan and those things that are dearest to Him. All this will help your concentration in your Bhajan, Bhakti and Dhyan.