The Vision Of A New Society: 10 ►Attack on Joint Family Tradition

Published: 15.10.2019

The seed has its own identity. Nevertheless, it aspires to grow into a plant. In order to grow into a plant it has to give up its identity and after dispersing itself, it has to mingle with the earth. It cannot become a plant without undergoing that process. The process of growing cannot begin with the anxiety to protect the identity.

Man is born alone and also dies alone. Still, he lives by maintaining the link with the family. For maintaining his link with the family, he has to sacrifice his desires and interests and has to stick to his resolve to live for others. The garden of family cannot bloom unless he accepts this situation.

Definition of Family

Family is the concomitant group of many individuals. It takes many forms:

  • Concomitant group of individuals having blood relation.
  • Concomitant group of individuals inspired by the same objective.
  • Concomitant group of individuals engaged in common activities.
  • Concomitant group of individuals sharing the same religious belief.
  • Concomitant group of individuals connected with an organization or institution.

Among these various kinds of families with the exception of the first kind, there may or may not be mutual dialogue, because they are short-time relations and are for the duration of the work involved. But blood relations are natural and informal. Hence, the family in the usual sense involves only the persons, who have blood relations. Unity is always necessary in a family. When there is no unity, the family members cannot carry out any big job. Nor can they solve any big problem.

A trader, when he was faced with economic hardships, ordered his entire family to accompany him to a forest. All the members of the family went to the forest and camped under a huge tree. The trader asked them to twist the ropes. All of them, young and old were soon at the job. That tree was the abode of a yaksha. He got suspicious and asked them why they were twisting the ropes. The trader said, "We would tie you with the rope. The yaksha was no longer suspicious, but he truly believed what he was told. He gave a lot of money to the trader and saved himself from being tied. Had the family of that trader not been united, they would have been forced to face more difficulties.

Attack on Joint Family

There was a time when the institution of family was organised naturally. No special training was given for that purpose and no symposia were organised. The training to run the family was inherited from the preceding generations. Till about three decades ago, the tradition of joint family in India was a matter of pride.

Quite often, one family consisted of 30-40 members or even more. In some families that figure reached even one hundred. Income and expenditure were collectively counted in those families. Land and other property, houses, wealth were all collectively owned. If any member of the family fell ill or lost his job or something untoward happened, the person concerned was not overburdened with anxiety. A woman, after the death of her husband, was not reduced to a state of helplessness. The relations among the children in the family were not confined to their own brothers and sisters. A strange kind of harmony existed among all family members. Hence, all of them shared the combined responsibility in moments of joy and sorrow.

The first attack on the culture of joint family came when cohabitation of too many people was supposed to be the cause of pollution. Had this been the brain child of some Indian, it would not have probably attracted so much attention. But the opinion was voiced in the Western atmosphere and from across the border, it reached India. That increased its importance. During the past two or three decades, almost every Indian has come to believe that large family brings disorder and mismanagement. The concept of as many households as the brothers and as many kitchens as the daughters-in-law came to be so widely accepted that two or more brothers living under the same roof became a matter of marvel.

Benefits of Joint Family

Difficulties about too many people living together cannot be discounted. But how far was it appropriate to sacrifice larger interests in order to avoid a little inconvenience? More important than the immediate convenience or inconvenience is the question of shaping the character of the future generations. The children, who have grown in large families, tend to have a broad outlook. They are the recipients of the fond affection of their elders which they   share with   other younger members of the family. They develop an attitude to tolerate others. It is not possible to check the impulsive behaviour in small families as much as it can be done in large families. According to psychologists, the children in small families tend to be naughty, pretentious and destructive. They naturally feel insecure which gives rise to all kinds of frustrations.

There is an assurance of security in a joint family, in which one has a greater contact with the elders like his grandfather and grandmother than even with his parents and there are far more occasions of enjoyment and celebrations. On these occasions, the impact of the family culture is evident. If one gets encouragement from everyone while doing some good work collectively, one is also pulled up now and again while doing something wrong. A person may or may not commit a mistake himself, he becomes cautious because of the treatment received by others. The attitude of service and cooperation also develops in a joint family. In small families, too much proximity with the parents creates a psychological distance in the minds of the children. In a joint family, there is a certain distance between the children and the elders, but it brings them psychologically closer. In short, it can be said that the breaking of the families has affected not only the thinking and behaviour of the individual but also his social values and criteria.

Causes of Diffusion

Harassed by the problems created by the diffusion of family and social life, some people wonder why families break? This question is very important in the present situation. It would be best to invite the opinions of the old and the young generations in this matter. Let the people, who have passed through the trauma of the breaking of the family narrate their experience and let those people too express their view, who, though unwillingly, are compelled to live that kind of life. During this exchange of experiences and opinions, a point may be reached when the dimmed hope may be revived once more.

In my view, there are three main causes of the diffusion of family, society or any organisation:

  1. Absence of competent leadership
  2. Absence of appropriate management
  3. Absence of mutual correlation.

An incompetent leader can never run any organisation for a long time. Some of his decisions can break the organisation. Therefore, the leading figure of any group has got to be fully qualified and competent.

Even if the leader is competent, the laxity in management can weaken the foundation of an organization. This is the only reason why extra emphasis is given to good management in the professional world today. For good management of an organization, it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to t entire administrative structure.

The leader may be competent, the administration may be proper, but if there is no harmony among the individuals connected with that body. It can lead to the diffusion of that body. The first requirement to establish such harmony is to extend the limits of oneself. So long as the individual associated with the family does not rise above the individualistic mentality, he would not be able to give due importance to collective interests. The second requirement is tolerance. The individual, who cannot be tolerant, can never adjust himself to any situation. One must practise control over his impulses in order to develop tolerance. This practice can be further confirmed by the persistent efforts to create harmony.

In an age, when the nuclear families are given the prime importance, any talk about collective life-style or joint family sounds curious indeed. But the picture of the families that emerges in their absence causes concern to everyone. It is not even easy to change this way of life. Nevertheless, one feels certain that the benefits of collective life that are brought to light through short-term camps, would attract the attention of the people.


Title:  The Vision Of New Society
Author:  Acharya Tulsi
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Brain
  3. Cooperation
  4. Pride
  5. Tolerance
  6. Yaksha
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