This is an excerpt from a lecture by Srila Prabhupada on Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.2.1) given in Los Angeles during the summer of 1974.
Another symptom of Kali-yuga: dharma-nyaya-vyavasthayam karanam balam eva hi: “Religious principles and justice will be determined by a show of strength.” [Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2.2) If you have some influence, then everything will be decided in your favor. You may be the most irreligious person, but if you can bribe a priest he will certify that you are religious. So character will be decided by money, not by actual qualification. Next is dampatye bhirucir hetur mayaiva vyavaharike: “Marriages will be arranged according to temporary affection, and to be a successful businessman one will have to cheat.” [Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2.3] The relationship between husband and wife will depend on abhiruci, their liking each other. If a girl likes a boy and a boy likes a girl, then they think, “All right, now let the marriage take place.” No one ever knows what the future of the girl and boy will be. Therefore everyone becomes unhappy. Six months after marriage—divorce. This is because the marriage took place simply on the basis of superficial liking, not deep understanding.
Formerly, at least in India during my time, marriages did not take place because the boy and girl liked each other. No. Marriages were decided by the parents. I married when I was a student, but I did not know who my wife would be; my parents arranged everything. Another example is Dr. Rajendra Prasada, the first president of India. In his biography he wrote that he married at the age of eight. Similarly, my father-in-law married when he was eleven years old, and my mother-in-law when she was seven. So the point is that formerly, in India, marriage took place only after an astrological calculation of past, present, and future had determined whether the couple would be happy in their life together. When marriage is thus sanctified, the man and the woman live peacefully and practice spiritual culture. Each one helps the other, so they live very happily and become advanced in spiritual life. And at last they go back home, back to Godhead. That is the system. Not that a grown-up girl and a grown-up boy mix together, and if he likes her and she likes him they get married, and then he leaves or she leaves …. This kind of marriage was not sanctioned. But of this Kali-yuga it is said, dampatye bhirucih: marriage will take place simply because of mutual liking, that’s all. Liking one moment means disliking the next moment. That is a fact. So a marriage based on mutual liking has no value.
The next symptoms of this age are stritve pumstve ca hi ratir vipratve sutram eva hi: a husband and wife will stay together only as long as there is sex attraction, and brahmanas [saintly intellectuals], will be known only by their wearing a sacred thread.” [Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.2.3] Brahmanas are offered a sacred thread. So now people are thinking, “Now I have a sacred thread, so I have become a brahmana. I may act like a candala [dog-eater], but it doesn’t matter.” This is going on. One doesn’t understand that as a brahmana he has so much responsibility. Simply because he has the two-cent sacred thread, he thinks he has become a brahmana. And stritve pumstve ca hi ratih: a husband and wife will remain together because they like each other, but as soon as there will be some sex difficulty, their affection will slacken.
Reproduced from Back to Godhead Magazine, Volume 13, November 05, 1978.