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For Seven Lifetimes

An East–West Journey to a Spiritually Fulfilling and Sustainable Marriage

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

How to cultivate a successful marriage based on shared values and spiritual growth

• With new chapters on their past 15 years together, stories of happy marriages modeled on the book, marital “obedience,” and the family way to world peace

• Reveals how a couple can become an engine for higher spiritual experiences

• Includes more than 60 letters written between the authors during their courtship and over 100 full-color photographs, including their traditional wedding in India

Defying the norms of her culture and tradition, a highly educated Tamil Brahmin woman decides to arrange her own marriage. Simultaneously, an American book publisher--disillusioned with love in the Western world--looks to India to find a wife by placing an ad in an Indian newspaper. A dialogue between two souls, two families, and two cultures, For Seven Lifetimes chronicles the year-long written courtship of this pair as they share their beliefs on sexuality, desire, gender roles, careers, parenthood, spirituality, and religion. By appreciating the similarities and differences in their worldviews, they initiate a union that reflects their ideals as a couple and the life they will create together.

Revealing the secrets to a fulfilling relationship based on shared values and spiritual growth, Vatsala and Ehud outline the principles needed to truly understand the roles of husband and wife and the questions to ask to recognize true spiritual compatibility. With new chapters on the 15 years since their wedding day, stories of happy marriages inspired by and modeled on the book, marital “obedience,” and how a couple can become an engine for higher spiritual experiences, this new edition shows how the successful marriage reflects the greater union between the masculine and the feminine.


Chapter 2

Reaching Out

So I had to deal with this Mr. Ramakrishnan before getting to know who Ehud Sperling was. It did not bother me not to have a direct connection as yet with the advertiser. After all, in my scientific inquiries, I had gotten used to trying and trying again until I found the answer I was looking for. . . .

I read the clipping from the Metropolis. Though Ramakrishnan’s letter said nothing about Ehud Sperling, the interview clipping, biographical sketch, and accompanying photograph gave me something to think about. Here was an unusual man! I replied to Ramakrishnan, thanking him for his letter and telling him that my mother and I would be delighted to meet him at our home.

One afternoon my mother was taking her nap on the living room couch. Hearing the doorbell, she woke with a jolt and approached the door with unsteady steps. “I am Ramakrishnan,” said a gruff male voice with a strange British accent. Amma gaped at him in astonishment, wondering who he was. I came to the door and greeted this tall, distinguished, neatly dressed man. . . .

[Ramakrishnan] rolled his eyes in all directions trying to assess the living facilities of our household. Soon I noted a sense of relief on his face, perhaps because he did not have to deal with stinking rich people with a fortress for a household and an army regiment for a family.

We soon got into the usual conversation. He said he liked my smile (this compliment wasn’t new), and he was impressed to find that I was balanced and stable and did not get excited at the prospect of dealing with his highly esteemed American friend. On my part, no, I did not specialize in getting excited without a tangible, genuine cause. And even when such a cause came my way, I was always aware of the transient nature of everything, and that helped me maintain a balanced approach to people and events. Ramakrishnan asked me to get my photograph album and fished out a few pictures of me that he liked. He then scribbled down a name and an address and told me to get in touch with Ehud Sperling at my earliest convenience. . . .

Dear Mr. Sperling,


As best as I can think, I do not know what means other than letters exists for getting to know a person who lives on another continent. . . . So let us see where these letters take us.

Two days ago, your friend Dr. Ramakrishnan called on me at home. We had a pleasant exchange of news and views. He gave me your name and address and asked me to write to you. Hence this letter.

May I tell you something about myself? I am B. R. Vatsala, a tall, slim, brown-skinned woman with a “good smile,” to quote your friend. In fact, he left my home with a series of strongly positive observations about me. Instead of quoting them, I would prefer if with passage of time people who are concerned about each other make genuine efforts to discover and understand each other on the basis of their own observations and interactions. This is more scientific, right?

By training and profession, I am a clinical microbiologist. Besides bugs, many other topics interest me deeply. My present job in a hospital is challenging and stimulating, and quite often it jolts me severely about the role of God in our lives.

I am positively looking forward to meeting a compatible gentleman with whom to grow and share life. I do cherish family life. It instills a sense of belonging. In the future I envisage myself as a competent homemaker (a good wife and a good mother to kids). . . .

Enclosed please find a few pictures of me. Some of these were selected by Ramakrishnan. Also, I apologize for writing to you by hand. My handwriting is not one of the very best. I could use the computer terminal in my laboratory, but it would be possible for anyone to get the file name and enjoy finding out whom Dr. Vatsala is writing to. . . .

Then may I look forward to receiving a reply from you? I have enclosed my office phone number and the time I am around, so you could call, if you feel like it, that is. I think it would be interesting to hear your voice.



Amma and I stared at the name and address for a long while. “Good for you; go ahead and try. Maybe something good is in store for you,” Amma said, trying to break the silence that descended on our household after this sudden coming and going of Ramakrishnan.

The letter written, read over to Amma, and posted felt like a big job done. In the flow of time, the letter and its contents subsided into the back of my mind as I got busy again being a microbiologist and a devoted daughter to my mother.

About The Authors

Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D., fluent in a number of Indian languages and Sanskrit, learned these traditional stories at her mother’s feet and enjoys introducing them to children of the Western world. Before marrying and moving to the United States, she was the chief of Clinical Microbiological Services at the largest children’s hospital in India. The author of Classic Tales from India, she lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Ehud Sperling is founder and president of Inner Traditions International, one of the world’s largest publishers of books on spirituality, religion, and alternative health. He lives in Vermont with his wife and son.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (December 21, 2010)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594773730

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Raves and Reviews

“Full of inspiration and sage advice . . . a must read for anyone involved in or seeking a true partnership!”

– John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

“Restores marriage to its eternal status . . . inspiring, challenging, and hauntingly beautiful.”

– Barbara Hand Clow, author of The Mayan Code and Liquid Light of Sex

For Seven Lifetimes gives us pause to consider our own rituals of love, courtship, and child-rearing, and lays bare both the functional and dysfunctional beliefs held in our world about these issues . . . thoughtprovoking and personally transformational.”

– Thom Hartmann, author of Rebooting the American Dream and The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

“An amazing chronicle by two brilliant mavericks of love. To witness these strong-willed, reflective, and tender souls weave themselves together allows us to discover the essential qualities that make relationships work.”

– Alex Grey, author of Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations

“A unique, remarkable, and moving book, showing the growth of love and understanding in slow motion; an intimate chronicle of a literal marriage of East and West.”

– Rupert Sheldrake, author of Morphic Resonance and Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home

“The letters probe every aspect of a committed relationship, including attitudes toward raising children, sexual compatibility, the need for a sense of humor, decision-making, career, and conflict in the home. They find the intrinsic ideals and beliefs they share far outweigh the initially apparent differences in skin color, religion, and cultural mores.”

– Woodstock Times

“This book is just terrific . . . highly recommended.”

– ABC News

“. . . intimate and inspiring glimpse into the unconventional birth of their union.”

– Whole Life Times, January 2011

For Seven Lifetimes shows us that we can live with each other and have productive fulfilled lives regardless of our faith; all that matters is the love for each other. As it has been said before many times “love conquers all” and Vatsala and Ehud Sperling are ones that show us the true meaning of that statement”

– Irene Watson, Reader Views, February 2011

“I started reading For Seven Lifetimes the day it arrived in the mail, and I stayed up half the night with it, thoroughly engaged, touched, and uplifted. What was so compelling that night - what makes up the bulk of the book, is a collection of letters exchanged between two beautiful people, over the course of nearly a year. These letters were an expression of a courtship unique in many ways. They were the way in which two people met, grew to know and love each other, and ultimately, the way they came together in marriage. . . I can't imagine anyone who would not come away from it enriched.”

– Nellie Levine, Mind Body Spirit Odyssey, February 2011

“It [For Seven Lifetimes] beckons the reader to contemplate a values oriented relationship, rather than one based purely on attraction and romance. It offers encouragement to savor the ’getting to know you’ process, with their marriage as example. Together now for a decade and half, one could safely say that theirs is a marriage made in Heaven and lived fully here on Earth.”

–, March 2011

“. . . an an extraordinary account of an unusual couple who are making it work despite wildly disparate backgrounds. Fifteen years means a lot of this day and age of 50% divorce rate, perhaps they have something to offer you?”

– Lisa McSherry,, April 2011

“. . . a beautifully-written narrative . . .”

– Awareness Magazine, May 2011

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