There are many benefits, provided that there are empowered assistants at work helping the two conditioned souls regulate their lives, so that spiritual progress becomes possible.
Recently, yet again, a devotee expressed his lack of faith in arranged marriages pointing to the shockingly high divorce rate in ISKCON. As he was a sincere soul, I pointed out to him in return that karmis are certainly not less affected as devotees are by Kali. The argument that; “unless both, the boy and the girl like each other, how can the marriage work?” is irrelevant from all points of view. It assumes that arranged marriages are conducted by artificial force, which is in itself a wrong assumption.
It also advocates the sensual platform of perception which may quite likely result in unwanted progeny. First of all liking or not liking is entirely a product of the sensual and mental platform and as such can change instantly according to the movement or changes of the modes of material nature.
Secondly, the original Vedic process of the boy and girl growing up together and learning to know each other even before the sex urge becomes prominent, leads to a very mature and “natural” union thereafter. After all, it’s the Varna which is the basic consideration in the marriage, along with of course strong spiritual guarding systems represented by guru sastra and sadhu.
Any serious grhasta will approach his asrama with great caution, knowing the possible risks as deadly accidents may occur even on royal roads. Even after all precautions are carefully met, securing the blessings of the Vaisnavas is still an important ingredient. By the blessings of senior devotees there is at least some hope for a somewhat stable relationship.
Spiritual disasters are often followed by material ones, a divorce is both a spiritual and material calamity. Assistance and blessings are absolutely needed. The “dating, tasting and leaving again” internet life style of today is even below the level of pigeons and few other animal species which are known for their lack of chastity.
And so an arranged and spiritually blessed marriage is a “strategic step” in the right direction for those who cannot fight maya from the “simply blissful” position of a brahmacari and insist on experiencing a far more complicated life pattern. As the grhasta asrama is meant to taste the impact of the material energy in a regulated way with minimal spiritual damage, it needs spiritual guardians, assistants and examples of those who did survived it and can share their realizations with others. Fortunately such rare devotees are available and ready to help those who are endangered by sentimentality.
Consequently the first step towards an arranged marriage should be absolute loyalty to a spiritual authority demonstrated in the form of initiation and surrender to a bonafide spiritual master. If both parties have that kind of spiritual determination and feel deeply obliged to their guru, then the impact of sensuality awaiting them will be tolerable. When such a strong base is established then one day even polygamy might be possible as everybody involved is deeply committed to the principles given by his and her superiors. For women polygamy is acceptable since to be protected is their main need. As one of the practicing polygamist ladies frankly expressed:”Better to share one real husband with five others than to have a fool all to yourself.”:-)
If the partners don’t follow such procedure, depending only on their “like or dislike” perception, they might maintain such relationships only to the degree that their karma allows them to and then, despite all the initial “love”, be separated by its powerful currents and thrown into entirely unregulated circumstances. A risky enterprise indeed.