Çréla Prabhupäd called the process of getting the daughter married a science. It seems that most parents don’t seem to know much about it. Therefore I wrote the Kanyä Däya book giving not just quotes, but as I do here, I explain things in order to make more sense of each separate instruction. I wrote this book on polygamy as this seems to be one of the most misunderstood aspects of marriage. At least in reference to what Prabhupäd wanted or did not want.
How we can encourage this at a time when even most monogamous marriages end in failure? Isn’t the lack of qualified men all reason to discourage polygamy? Many devotees argue that this is full reason why polygamy must not be allowed. They argue that this proves we simply aren’t ready for this yet. Because so many marriages have not worked out, no way can we allow men to take more than one wife.
Instead, Çréla Prabhupäd gave this as reason for introducing polygamy. Let those (few) men who have already proven to be good husbands, maintaining wife and children nicely, let them take as many wives as possible. Then the girls will be protected.
This is another point that fathers should consider if they are thinking of giving their daughter to a man as additional wife. Rather than finding a young man who just got married and has no track record, they may be better to consider someone a little older who has a good track record. One who has children, a home, and has nicely maintained his wife. That person is a much safer candidate than one who has no record at all. The only other problem may be the age difference, but that is also acceptable by the laws of dharma.
It was pointed out to me that one young girl in our movement was married to an older man. He was single, so she was his only wife at the time. Unfortunately, however, he was abusive and the marriage didn’t last. I am told that because of this one most unfortunate incident many young people think it is a mistake for young girls to marry older men. However, this was only a single incident. How many young girls have married young boys who also turned out abusive? Using this logic all marriages should be avoided (and why not? That is best advice to the brahmacari. But, for the unwed girl, Prabhupad’s advice was she must get married.). However, the situation where the man may be older but married with a wife and children and who has a proven track record of not being abusive, but rather who has been a good husband and good father, that is a much safer alternative. Daughter must have husband, Prabhupad has said, somehow or other, father must find any husband. Therefore if men who are able and proven good husbands, if they can maintain more than one wife nicely, then it is a good system. We are, therefore, in favor of polygamy.
I have mentioned that polygamy can become the cure, the solution to society’s marital problems, as opposed to adding to the problems. The logic for this is as follows: What is the actual cause behind most failed marriages? Çréla Prabhupäd teaches marriages fail mainly due to one reason only. The women are not trained properly to remain submissive to their husbands.
There are many examples, for instance, July 9, 1975 talk with TV reporter in Chicago:
Woman reporter: But you say women are subordinate to men?
Prabhupäda: Yes, that is also natural. Because when the husband and wife are there or the father and daughter is there, so the daughter is subordinate to the father and the wife is subordinate to the husband.
Woman reporter: What happens when women are notsubordinate to men?
Prabhupäda: Then there is disruption. There is disruption, social disruption. If the woman does not become subordinate to man, then there is social disruption. Therefore, in the western countries there are so many divorce cases because the woman does not agree to become subordinate to man. That is the cause.
Woman reporter: What advice do you have to women who do not want to be subordinate to men?
Prabhupäda: It is not my advice, but it is the advice of the Vedic knowledge that woman should be chaste and faithful to man.
Woman reporter: What should we do in the United States? We’re trying to make women equal with men.
Prabhupäda: I am not trying. You are already not equal with the man because in so many respects, your functions are different and man’s functions are different. Why do you say artificially they are equal?
Woman reporter: Is the social unrest in this country caused because...
Prabhupäda: Because of these things. They do not know that.
Woman reporter: And if women were subordinate to men, it would solve all of our problems?
Prabhupäda: Yes. Man wants that woman should be subordinate, faithful to him. Then he is ready to take charge. The man’s mentality, woman’s mentality different. So if the woman agrees to remain faithful and subordinate to man, then the family life will be peaceful.
Woman reporter: You have different schools for men and women, is that correct?
Prabhupäda: Yes. Man is regulated to become a first-class man, and woman is regulated to become very chaste and faithful wife.
… Then the life will be very successful. And marriage, compulsory. Marriage, compulsory.
Woman reporter: Everyone should marry?
Prabhupäda: Yes. Every woman, at least, should be married. Therefore, according to Vedic conception, polygamy is allowed.
Woman reporter: Is allowed?
Prabhupäda: Yes. Because every woman must be married. But every man may not be married. Therefore man has to accept more than one wife.
(Television Interview -- July 9, 1975, Chicago --
Jaya Prabhupad. All social problems hinge on this one thing only. Women being submissive or non-submissive. Everything hinges on this. When the woman reporter asked what happens when women are not subordinate to men Prabhupäd replies, “Then there is disruption. There is disruption, social disruption. If the woman does not become subordinate to man, then there is social disruption”. He repeats 4 times, there will be disruption. Social disruption. Then he says that in the West there are so many divorce cases becauses women are not subordinate to men. Prabhupäd says, “That is the cause”. The followers of Srila Prabhupad, especially the female followers, wake up! If you claim to be a follower, then follow, other wise do not profess to be a follower. Prabhupäd’s position is crystal clear here. The cause for divorce, for all social unrest, is women are not subordinate to men.
The reporter ask what about Americans? In America we are trying to make women equal with men. Prabhupad’s uninhibited reply, “I am not trying”.
And what advice does Prabhupäd have for women who do not want to be submissive to men? There is no other advice. Vedic knowledge and Prabhupäd teach that women are to be chaste and faithful. There is no other advice. Actually the female reporter didn’t agree with anything Prabhupäd was saying, and when the report aired she tried to make Prabhupäd look bad. But, by Krishna’s arrangement, she asked very good questions which allowed Prabhupäd to give very informative answers.
She asks what if women were subordinate to men, would that solve all of societies problems? “Yes”, replied Prabhupad. Man wants the wife to be subordinate. He wants to take charge. When the wife agrees to remain faithful and subordinate than family life will be peaceful, and all of societies problems will subside.
Another example is the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.4.3
"Generally, separation between husband and wife is due to womanly behavior; divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. The best course for a woman is to abide by the orders of her husband. That makes family life very peaceful. Sometimes there may be misunderstandings between husband and wife, as found even in such an elevated family relationship as that of Saté and Lord Çiva, but a wife should not leave her husband’s protection because of such a misunderstanding. If she does so, it is understood to be due to her womanly weakness."
A woman should not leave her husband. Especially she should not take instructions from anyone other than husband. Prabhupad states that divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. I am not saying this, Srila Prabhupad is saying. His real followers will accept his insight and wisdom and will understand this and then do what he suggests to do. (Women must take the subordinate position).
And the verse and Purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 9.3.10. Verse:
Cyavana Muni was very irritable, but since Sukanyä had gotten him as her husband, she dealt with him carefully, according to his mood. Knowing his mind, she performed service to him without being bewildered.
This is an indication of the relationship between husband and wife. A great personality like Cyavana Muni has the temperament of always wanting to be in a superior position. Such a person cannot submit to anyone. Therefore, Cyavana Muni had an irritable temperament. His wife, Sukanyä, could understand his attitude, and under the circumstances she treated him accordingly. If any wife wants to be happy with her husband, she must try to understand her husband’s temperament and please him. This is victory for a woman. Even in the dealings of Lord Kåñëa with His different queens, it has been seen that although the queens were the daughters of great kings, they placed themselves before Lord Kåñëa as His maidservants. However great a woman may be, she must place herself before her husband in this way; that is to say, she must be ready to carry out her husband’s orders and please him in all circumstances. Then her life will be successful. When the wife becomes as irritable as the husband, their life at home is sure to be disturbed or ultimately completely broken. In the modern day, the wife is never submissive, and therefore home life is broken even by slight incidents. Either the wife or the husband may take advantage of the divorce laws. According to the Vedic law, however, there is no such thing as divorce laws, and a woman must be trained to be submissive to the will of her husband. Westerners contend that this is a slave mentality for the wife, but factually it is not; it is the tactic by which a woman can conquer the heart of her husband, however irritable or cruel he may be. In this case we clearly see that although Cyavana Muni was not young but indeed old enough to be Sukanyä’s grandfather and was also very irritable, Sukanyä, the beautiful young daughter of a king, submitted herself to her old husband and tried to please him in all respects. Thus she was a faithful and chaste wife.
Someone may think that a great saintly person would be above demanding to be in a superior position and that he should be above becoming irritable. But here we read Cyavana was like this and Srila Prabhupad teaches that great personalities do have such a disposition. It is man’s nature to be domineering. Male is the dominator, female is the dominated. The science of marriage that Prabhupad taught is that the wife is to understand this. It is part of varnasram, the duty of the wife. The Vedas recognize different duties and roles in society for the different classes, and also for men and women (souls conditioned by contact with a male or female body).
Srila Prabhupad explains everything very nicely. If the woman wants a happy relationship she must understand her husband’s temperament and then submissively serve him. Prabhupad says this is the victory for the woman. Then married life is peaceful. Otherwise, if she argues, then all is lost.
In the interview with the female TV reporter Srila Prabhupad is very explicit. All social problems stem from this, women not being submissive. And the cure for all social problems is this; women must become subordinate to their master, their ‘prabhu’, the husband.
My advice to the women is don’t reject Srila Prabhupad’s teachings. If you do, your life will become most unfortunate.
When a woman gets married she wants that her husband will never leave her. She wants that he will always be kind toward her, and take care of her and support her. She wants family life to be happy. She doesn’t want an abusive husband. Here, Srila Prabhupad is giving the science how this is possible. At least those women who claim to be followers of His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupad, at least they must accept his teachings and follow him. As Prabhupad says, it is not his personal opinion only, but it is the verdict of the Vedic shastra.
The golden key to making the marriage work, keeping it peaceful, according to the laws of dharma, according to Srila Prabhupad, is that the wife must remain fully surrendered, submissive, subordinate to her master, her Prabhu, her husband. That is the key.
Why is this? As Prabhupad explains in the Bhagavatam purports quoted above, man’s and woman’s nature are different. Spiritually we understand the souls are equal, but the mind and material intelligence are conditioned by contact with material nature. The mental and emotional nature of a man and woman are different, just as the bodies and bodily functions are different.
Scientists have found that when a man is given large amounts of the female hormone estrogen he becomes more passive. His decisions are more affected by sentimental emotions. Even his breasts start to enlarge. When a woman is given large amounts of the male hormone testastrogen she becomes more aggressive. More philosophic, less sentimentally emotional. Even she starts to grow facial hair. In this way modern science has proven that bodily chemistry affects the male and female mental and emotional states of being. Physical chemicals can make a man more woman like or a woman more male like. Obviously, the living entity is neither male nor female, but is marginal energy. When in contact with the different modes of nature the mind and emotions become tainted one way or the other.
The Vedic science accepts these things and organizes social life accordingly. It recognizes that men are by nature more aggressive. They demand to be in a position of superiority. Women, by nature, are more passive, and by nature seek to be taken care of. Today, artificially, women force themselves to be more like men. But, they are not any happier in life for all their hard and artificial endeavor.
Because a man’s nature is to be the master in a relationship, when the wife doesn’t take the passive position of being submissive and surrendered, by nature some men may loose their temper. First a man will ask for something. If the wife refuses then he will try to convince her by logic. If she still argues and refuses, then, by nature, he wants to show to the wife that he is the master, and that she should take the subordinate position, so he may slap the wife. For men this response is by nature and many are not aware consciously why they are acting this way.
The man will also feel let-down by the relationship. Most men don’t realize they are so dominating with women until they are in the position of husband. For many men in the modern world, they may feel a bit bewildered by their actions as well. But, they are driven by their natural tendency to dominate, and by nature they want a subordinate wife. So, many men become frustrated in marriage when their wife turns out to be quarrelsome. This frustration adds to their short tempers. When the wife keeps refusing to take the subordinate fully surrendered position, the man may go over the line and physically abuse. That is horrible. For everyone. Worse is that once that line has been crossed over it becomes quicker and easier to cross over the next time. And each time he becomes more and more dissatisfied and frustrated with the relationship, making it easier to want to reject or abuse the non-submissive wife. Soon it appears that the man is simply beating his wife for no reason. All that is left is divorce and the man will be pointed to as the cause. A wife beater. In today’s world, he alone will be seen as the failure and the cause of breaking the marriage.
But, the real cause, according to Srila Prabhupad and the dharma shastra, is the wife. Men who act this way are not blameless. But they are being urged by their male natures. When the wife does not take the position of being fully surrendered and submissive, it triggers more and more aggressiveness on the part of the man. If he cannot dominate the wife easily, and if by anger and loud words he cannot dominate, he may then use physical force as the last effort to dominate. The problem is not the man, really, because that is man’s nature. It is the woman, for her duty, according to the laws of dharma, is to become subordinate. Then it becomes a compatible situation.
What is the result if the wife takes the fully submissive role? First, the nature of men is to want to take control. To be in charge. To dominate. So, when the woman fully surrenders the man becomes immediately satisfied, pacified. The natural response is to become more responsible. The more he feels he is in charge, that he is the master of the relationship, the more he takes up the responsibility of being in charge. That is also man’s nature. If the wife never argues, then there is never any reason for him to beat or abuse. Then the home becomes peaceful.
Amazingly, this is exactly what the woman wants in the first place. She wants that her husband will care for her. By being fully submissive, always speaking with sweet words and approaching husband with folded hands, this is the natural result. The man will feel more compassion for his wife. The more she is dependent on him, the more he will feel affection for her. Which is, after all, what she wants. Prabhupad teaches that this is the science. Still, many of the female followers of Srila Prabhupad reject this part of his teachings. They put all blame on their husband’s for the marriage going bad. They say the husband beat them for no reason. Maybe in the end it appeared that way, but that generally was not the fact in the beginning. Most people don’t see this. It can be seen when one accepts Srila Prabhupad’s instructions, then study to see how it is true.
Another argument is that the women claim their husband’s are not first-class, therefore they shouldn’t be submissive to them. Prabhupad explains that a woman takes up the nature of her husband. If the man is 3rd class, she will become 3rd class, if he is 2nd class, she will become 2nd class, and if he is 1st class, she will become 1st class. Manu Samhita 9.22 states: Whatever qualities the husband has, the wife will attain as the river unites with the sea.
Therefore it is ill advised in shastra for a woman of a higher class to marry a man of a lower class. She then must come down to his level.
So, it is important for the father to find out a husband who is at least as advanced or more advanced than the daughter. If he marries her to someone less advanced, then she must go down to his level.
A wife must be submissive to her husband, regardless of his nature. (Manu Samhita 5.154, “Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, a husband must be constantly worshipped as good as God by a faithful wife.”)
For ISKCON devotees Srila Prabhupad says the wife must remain with the husband as long as he is sincerely trying to be a devotee of Krishna. Even if he has some fall down or is not so able to carry on in a first-class way, if he remains devotee of Krishna and follower of Prabhupad, she must remain faithful to him. It becomes an individual issue at what point a wife should leave a devotee husband who is falling. But, Manu recommends she should remain faithful to the end. That is her duty. Prabhupad gave some additional instructions concerning devotees. I cannot say beyond the basic principles they present. But, my encouragement would be that the woman must remain as submissive as possible up to the point where a fallen husband turns against Prabhupäd.
Manu Samhita says that the woman who leaves her husband should be shunned by the society. No other man should ever marry her. Prabhupad has also written that only sudras divorce and remarry. If men were to behave in this way, not to associate or remarry another man’s wife, then women will not so easily leave their husbands. Because they see men marry other men’s wives, so many women take marriage vows cheaply and at some slight provocation they leave one man and go looking for another. Contrary to what some women think, it doesn’t always work out to their liking.
I have seen, for instance, one Indian mataji was married to a very sincere devotee. After a few months the mataji left her husband. The reason, she wanted a more advanced devotee, an older devotee. But, her husband was such a nice surrendered humble devotee. What a fool. He remarried in a matter of months. It has been over 10 years, the mataji, sad to say, is still single. She is getting to the age now that no one is interested.
This system must be followed. The peace of the whole human society depends on this. When women are insubordinate most marriages will fail. When the family is broken the children suffer. Many such children are psychologically scarred and strike back at society. Women become independent minded and loose all chastity. Unwanted, unloved, children are born, and when society becomes full of such unwanted children the whole society becomes terrorized and goes to hell. Such is the condition of many modern cities. The key is for women to become submissive and to be properly protected.
In Manu Samhita there are many laws which are aimed at encouraging women to be so submissive. It is stated (9.78) That a woman who shows disrespect to her husband should be deprived of her ornaments and furniture and deserted by the husband for 3 months. However (9.79) it states if the man is mad, an outcast, destitute of manly strength or under punishment of a crime, these are exceptions.
MS 9.80 states that a wife who drinks alcohol, or is non submissive and is rebellious toward her husband, or a wife who is wasteful, the husband may at any time take another wife and make the other wife the prominent wife. Normally the first wife is the prominent wife and is given special respect by the co-wives and by the husband, but a wife who fights with her husband can be immediately superseded with a new wife.
MS 9.81. The wife can be superseded if she is barren for more then 7 years (during the 8th year), or the 10th year if all the wife’s children die, the 11th year if she has given birth to only girls, but for a wife who is quarrelsome, without delay the husband can take another wife to supersede her. (Note: This does not mean that he leaves his first wife. It does not mean that she is totally rejected. She remains as a wife, but she will no longer be the main wife. The new wife will then become the favorite or principle wife.)
However, MS 9.82 states that if the wife is sickly, yet is submissive and always kind to her husband, she can only be superseded with her own consent, but she must never be disgraced. (At any time, according to the law of dharma, a man who can maintain more than one wife can take additional wives, even without wife’s consent, what is discussed here is the first wife is being superseded and must take a lower position to the new wife. Normally the first wife is given special respect by the other co-wives.)
MS 9.83 states that a woman who is superseded in accordance with the above laws of dharma, if she becomes angry and leaves her husband’s house, she must be either locked up by the family or totally rejected as a wife in presence of family members.
The laws of dharma, Manu Samhita, the laws governing varnasram-dharma, are very serious in regards to the duty of women. The purpose is not to be misunderstood. There is no intent to be diminutive toward women. There is no intent to take advantage of women or to keep them suppressed. The whole purpose is to assure peace in society, to assure good population. To assure the happiness of everyone. A father may be very strict with a child, but he has to be at times for the child’s and family’s own good. These stringent laws are meant to be applied as controlling measures. MS 9.22. “The whole world is kept in order by punishment, for a guiltless man is hard to find; through fear of punishment the whole world yields
the enjoyments which it owes”.
In his Purport to Bhagavad Gita 16.7 Srila Prabhupad states:
Actually, a woman should be given protection at every stage of life. She should be given protection by the father in her younger days, by the husband in her youth, and by the grownup sons in her old age. This is proper social behavior according to the Manu Saàhitä. But modern education has artificially devised a puffed-up concept of manly life, and therefore marriage is practically now an imagination in human society. Nor is the moral condition of woman very good now. The demons, therefore, do not accept any instruction which is good for society, and because they do not follow the experience of great sages and the rules and regulations laid down by the sages, the social condition of the demoniac people is very miserable.
Women must remain chaste and submissive to their husband. These laws are given under the direct guidance of Lord Krishna just for this purpose. Fore when women are of good chaste and submissive character then, and only then will all of human society become peaceful.
Previously, even in the West, nearly all marriages did not fail. Previously women were more submissive. The two go hand in hand together.
Based on this understanding if a man wishes to take more than one wife, the man must become first-class husband. He must take extra steps to see to it that his first wife is happy, is maintained nicely and has no undue complaints. Then he can take more if he desires. Then he is giving actual protection. Then it is religious and satvic to do so. Otherwise it is based on increasing his sex life only. Then it is not so good.
Women must allow, they must come to the platform of being fully submissive. This is their duty. The dharma of men is to responsibly maintain, support and guide, the dharma for women is to submissively serve.
The logic, therefore, that polygamy can be the cure to all of society's ills is that submissiveness of the wife is a most crucial key to the success of any marriage. In order to enter into a polygamous marriage it requires that the wives need to be very submissive. It cannot be done at all if the wives are not. If she allows, it means she is trying to be submissive. Therefore polygamy is not possible if wife is not submissive. The other wives automatically take a more humble and submissive role since their husband already has at least one wife. Polygamy encourages submissiveness, the golden key that is needed to make any marriage succeed.
Secondly, it is natural desire for men to want a relationship with more than one woman. If polygamy is accepted in society, then there is no need to cheat on one’s wife, no need to find a secret lover.
The father who gives his daughter to a man for additional wife will agree to do so only if he knows the man is first-class husband. That he keeps his other wife or wives very happy and satisfied. This provides impetus for the men to become first-class husbands. It encourages women to become submissive. These are the required ingredients for making any and all marriages succeed. Men working hard to make his wife happy. Even if the reason is so that he can take a second wife, still, how can the wife complain if he trying his best to make her happy? And wife who is so well treated, how can she not remain submissive? Women want their husbands to treated them nicely. An intelligent wife should make a deal with the husband. If he treats her nicely and gives her nice house, children, everything within reason for the husband’s varna, then she should agree to remain faithful and submissive and let him take additional wives. Based on this logic polygamy can become the impetus or catalyst for making marriages peaceful and making them succeed. It is catalyst for the solution to all the problems facing society today, not an additional impediment. It is rooted in the principles of dharma, protection of the women.
But, it must be performed properly. One very misunderstood point in modern society is that only chaste virgins are to be accepted as wife for a gentle brahmana (or ksatriya or vaishya). Woman with child, Prabhupäd instructs, strictly she cannot remarry. A mother who takes another husband becomes the enemy of her children.
Men must become first-class responsible and women must become submissive. Still, most women will not like, but they must not become too angry. If husband is providing everything nicely, than it is Srila Prabhupad’s instruction, they should allow their husband to take. From the Mahabharat we read that Draupadi didn’t like it when Arjun came home with Lady Subhadra as his second wife. Draupadi was at first angry with Arjun and Subhadra. Arjun was gone for a while and returned with a new wife. But, Draupadi could not remain angry long as Subhadra took the position of Draupadi’s maid servant. If the first wife goes crazy and totally will not surrender, that is no good, for her or her husband. She is failing in her duty.
It is stated that a surrendered wife automatically shares in the advancement of the husband. The key to that law of dharma is that it is the surrendered and submissive wife who shares in her husband’s spiritual advancement. Prabhupad has taught that generally speaking woman cannot make any spiritual advancement on her own. Therefore she must surrender to a husband and accept him as her guide (quotations for all these instructions are given in the Kanyä Däya or can be found in the BBT VedaBase Folio). Just as the disciple is fully surrendered to the order of his spiritual master, just as he is fully submissive to carry out his desires, in the same way is the wife to surrender to her husband as her spiritual authority. It is this sort of fully surrendered wife who shares her husband’s spiritual advancement. Not the wife who is not surrendered, who argues and fights.
If the husband is good. If the wife is being maintained nicely. She doesn’t have to work outside because the man can support her. If he provides for her all necessities, then she must allow him to give that same protection to more than one wife if he desires. That is woman’s duty, to remain submissive. Man’s duty is to provide, maintain and guide. As Prabhupäd says, it is a very scientific system, based on the higher principles of dharma, daiva-varëäçram-dharma. It is not a farce.
Varëäçram-Dharma. Çréla Prabhupäd told us that only one half of his work was done. The incomplete half, he said, was to establish varëäçram-dharma. Protection of the women, starting with marriage of girls by puberty, is an absolutely required principle of varëäçram-dharma. This is required first. All girls are to be properly married in their youth. As Çréla Prabhupäd has said, this cannot be possible unless polygamy is allowed and practiced. It has therefore become a mission in my life, to preach to the devotees about this. It is our mission to assist Çréla Prabhupäd in the establishment of varëäçram-dharma. I understand this to be one of the essential foundations for doing that, so I have written these books.
Your Humble Servant,