Vedic Training:
How To Become  A Krishna Conscious Wife
For ISKCON Brahmacarinis

"Equality of the Soul" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual.  >Contents Page

Equality Of The Soul - Male and Female Differences 
& Executing Our Prescribed Duties - The Basis Of Varnasram-Dharma:

Room Conversation Philadelphia, July 13, 1975 

We give Krsna consciousness both to the woman and man equally. We do not make any such distinction. But to protect them from this exploitation by man, we teach something, that "You do like this. You do like that. You be married. Be settled up. Don’t wander independently." We teach them like that. But so far Krsna consciousness is concerned, we equally distribute. There is no such thing that "Oh, you are woman, less intelligent or more intelligent. Therefore you cannot come." We don’t say that. We welcome women, men, poor, rich, everyone, because in that platform equality. ...We do not refuse anyone. That is equality. 

We do not refuse anyone, that is our equality. We do not say that because you are less intelligent, a women, whatever, that you cannot join and engage in devotional service. But, we do have separate roles for men and women. Both are engaged in service, but different duties within society are still there. "You do like this, you do like that".

We first have to give some basic idea of why Vedic culture treats men and women entirely differently. Yes, first and foremost we are eternal spirit souls. Equal on the spiritual level. The idea of recognizing the material differences is based on the fact that the soul is conditioned by contact with material energy. As long as we have a material body, we, the souls, will be conditioned by the modes of material nature. The soul is not human or demi-god or animal, neither is the soul male or female. By contact with material nature the soul becomes conditioned accordingly.

We see there are differences in animal behavior and human behavior. Modern psychologists have quantified differences in the way men and women think and emotional tolerances, etc. Doctors can give a man large quantities of female hormones and the man will change his psychological behavior and become more feminine, less aggressive, etc. (men can even grow breast if given large quantities of female hormones). Similarly women who take large quantities of male hormones change their behavior and become more aggressive and masculine (women even grow mustaches and hair on their chest if given large quantities of male hormones). The living entity is neither male or female. The soul is conditioned by it’s contact with material nature. Chemicals can affect those modes, which in turn affect our mind and actions. LSD or alcohol are chemicals, but when we consume them into our body our mind, intelligence and actions are affected. The soul remains always the observer, but our conditional state is affected. In this way, the make up of the male and female chemistry of our bodies has profound and direct influence on the way we think and act. Therefore, men and women are practically 2 different species. The Vedic scriptures and realized souls recognize this and organize society and family life around these differences.

I have heard it argued that since Krishna Consciousness is a spiritual movement that devotees are transcendent to such distinctions. Therefore devotees shouldn’t see the bodily differences and shouldn’t set different roles for men or women, based on the material body. These devotees are referring to an elevated state that is rarely seen in the material world, and is not possible to achieve for an entire society due to this being the material world. Suka Dev Goswami was the son of Vyasdev. He was such an elevated soul. He made no distinction between male or female, man or animal, etc. When he was 16 he decided that he didn’t want anymore to do with family-life. He literally ran away from home. He didn’t even bother to clothe himself and ran naked through the forests. His father, Vyas Dev took off running behind him to catch him. Vyas Dev noticed that when Suka Dev ran past a group of women who were bathing in a lake that the women, despite being naked, and despite the fact that Sukadev was a fully developed boy of 16 and also naked, the girls didn’t feel threatened and didn’t bother to hide themselves or cover their bodies. But, when Vyasdev, one of the greatest saintly rishis, the compiler of the Vedas, when he ran by fully clothed the girls immediately grabbed their garments and hide their private parts. Vyas dev himself was puzzled by this. He stopped, and went back to the girls and asked them why they did this. Why did they not feel ashamed when his son ran by naked, but quickly covered themselves when he ran by fully clothed? The women replied that they could immediately see that Sukadev was completely transcendental to the material world. He saw only their souls and did not distinguish between male or female bodies. He was fully renounced from all bodily concepts. Therefore there was no degree of desire for material sense gratification in him. The simple women of the forest could sense this immediately. But, they said, Vysadev was a married man who dealt with worldly matters. and therefore he had to distinguish between male and female. Therefore, the girls immediately felt ashamed and had to cover themselves.

The point is that if all, every single one, of our members are on the same level as Suka Dev Goswami (which would also mean not one of our members were married), than we can all act on that level of spiritual vision, seeing all souls equally. But, that is not possible to achieve in this material world. If even one person were even on the level of Vyasdev, than we must recognize the male and female material differences and live accordingly. Virtually 100% of us are not even any where near the level of Vyasdev, what to speak of Suka Dev. There is no question of us being above such distinction. We are closer to the level of hippies than we are to Vyasdev. We must organize our society along the principles of varnasram dharma.

Bhagavad Gita lecture in Hawaii, February 3rd, 1975 

..To understand Brahman is not the business of tiny brain. Alpha-medhasan. There are two Sanskrit words, alpa-medhasa and sumedhasa. Alpa-medhasa means having little brain substance. Physiologically, within the brain there are brain substance. It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to 64 ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than 34 ounce. You’ll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher, among women. You’ll never find because their brain substance cannot go.

Artificially do not try to become equal with men. That is not allowed in the Vedic sastra. Na striyam svatantratam arhati. That is called sastra. You have to understand that woman is never given to be independence. Independence means just like child has to be taken care, similarly, woman has to be taken care. You cannot get your child go in the street alone. There will be danger. Similarly, according to Vedic civilization, Manu-samhita, woman should be given protection. In this way, acara, this is called acara. So the demons, they do not know. The demons, they do not know what is what, how one thing should be treated, how... They do not know. In the Western countries there is no such distinction between man and woman. But there is. 

We have to accept it and construct this social institution in that way. Then it will be perfect. So everything should be learned from the standard Vedic literature, and society and other things, economic development, everything... So that is here in the Bhagavad-gita. All problems, whatever you want, you consult Bhagavad-gita—you’ll have perfect answer. That is called Vedic literature. Perfect without any flaw you’ll get.

One should only preach what he has heard from his guru maharaj. But… If I repeat these words in Bhagavatam or Gita class today many matajis will get upset. Yet, Srila Prabhupad said these things in class, preaching to his male and female disciples. As his disciple it is my duty to repeat what he has said, to teach what he has taught.

Srila Prabhupad very clearly instructs us, his direct followers, to make distinction between male and female. He clearly defines separate social roles for women. He instructs women in general, his followers and all others, not to try to become artificially equal with men. He plainly states that this is "not allowed".

First Srila Prabhupad points out that women are less intelligent and therefore are not able to fully understand brahman. (Imagine what would be the fall-out if I said this in a class?) All of the world’s greatest thinkers have been males. He instructs that women are to remain dependent on a man and gives reference to the Manu-Samhita about this.

He states that demons don’t understand or accept these things. (Who will dare repeat these words given by ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya in a Bhagavatam class today - and live to tell about it? - at least in America!). The demons don’t know what is what. They don’t make distinction between man and woman. According to Srila Prabhupad we have to accept these things and construct our Krishna consciousness society in this way. These statements are very clear.

Srila Prabhupad made distinction between men and women and he taught us to accept such distinctions based on the Bhagavad Gita. He did not teach us to act artificially equal as the unintelligent demoniac non-devotee society tries, unsuccessfully, to do. We must either follow Srila Prabhupad or get behind someone who is following, or we should not call ourselves followers of Srila Prabhupad. We cannot reject statements like this and choose to hear only what we want to hear, rejecting what we do not like. That is not how one makes advancement in spiritual life. Srila Prabhupad was the perfectly God-Realized soul. He knows what is right and wrong, what is best, what Krishna wants. We must change our own non-enlightened way of thinking and take up the views presented by the fully realized souls.

Even if one cannot follow everything, at least, to be a follower, one must theoretically accept all of Prabhupad’s teachings and then admit that it is ones’ own weakness for not being able to follow everything. But, we must not simply reject such statements as these and pretend that Srila Prabhupad never taught this.

[Note about brain sizes.  Srila Prabhupad had mentioned a number of times a man's brain to be 64 oz, a woman's to be 32. This is what Srila Prabhupad was taught in his college days.  And, it may be that the actual study found that the largest brain of adults was a mans at 64 oz, while the smallest mature adult was a woman's at 32 oz. The exact size is not at issue here and should not be misused as an issue to reject totally what Srila Prabhupad is saying. He used the reference to substantiate a Vedic principle, that of sumedasa and anumedasa.  Even if he quoted an imperfect mundane example, that does not diminish the Vedic context and purport.  The point being that in general women are not as intelligent when it comes to very high thinking.  Yes, many women today get Phd degrees in our universities, but in what fields of science?  Psychology, basic medicine, etc.  How many female heart surgeons or brain surgeons are there?   How many nuclear physicists?  In the areas of science that require more higher or lofty intelligence, women are virtually not to be found.  And in the past 10-15 years many universities saw this, and tried to 'rectify' the situation by making arrangments so that more women would be in those courses.  The results were that virtually all of the women taking the more stringent medical or physics classes all dropped out.  It was too hard for them to grasp.  They changed their majors and took degrees in other areas which do not require more lofty intelligence to grasp]

In my own defense I must request, don’t think this is what ‘Ameyatma das’ says. Don’t say this is ‘Ameyatma das’s’ opinion or ‘my’ idea and therefore you can reject it. I may be writing this book, but I am only repeating, as best I can, what Srila Prabhupad said. The reason I say this is that I have heard it already a number of times. Devotees actually say, that is Ameayatma’s idea, and by removing it from Prabhupad, they can then try to blast these ideas to pieces. (even though what they are actually trying to do is blast Prabhupad’s teachings and ideas, not ameyatma das’s),

Srila Prabhupad is the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. The members of ISKCON are to follow his instructions, and his instructions alone. My advise is that if we cannot accept what he taught, then we should live outside. ISKCON members have not got the privilege to accept what we like and reject what we don’t like. 

Morning Walk May 1, 1974, Bombay 

Prabhupad: Put problems. I’ll solve. 

Yogesvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied? 

Prabhupad: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Krsna conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Krsna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that "I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupad." They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises) 

Bhagavan: They say that our women are unintelligent because they submit so easily, but... 

Prabhupad: Subway? 

Dhananjaya: No. This is also public transport, other trains. 

Bhagavan: But actually, our women are so qualified in so many ways, but these girls who simply work in the city can do nothing. They can’t cook, they can’t clean, they can’t sew. 

Prabhupad: All rubbish. These modern girls, they are all rubbish. Therefore they are simply used for sex satisfaction. Topless, bottomless...

Prabhupad says that our women do not want equal rights with men. This is due to their being Krishna Conscious. They are satisfied with their service to Krishna. Krishna Consciousness means to work in one’s constitutional position. Men executing the duties of husband / father, the women executing their duties as wife / mother. This is varnasrama. This is what will please Srila Prabhupad because it will create a peaceful family and peaceful society. Conversely, if someone is demanding equal rights materially this must be seen as a lack of proper understanding of Krishna Consciousness. Materially there is no question of equal. Only on the spiritual plane is there such equality. Marriage, (and organizing of society) however, is a material relationship and must be regulated according to the prescribed material duties of men and women.  (One time Prabhupad was walking and said something like they are demanding no distinction, then why do they demand separate men’s and women’s public toilets? Everyone makes some distinction).

We can clearly see here how Srila Prabhupad feels if a woman has no good training. If she can’t cook, clean, sew (and take the subordinate position to their husband), he calls such girls ‘rubbish’. He vividly has made his point. They have no training to be good wives therefore men simply abuse them for sexual pleasure. Don’t be rubbish in the eyes of Srila Prabhupad, become trained up in accordance with his teachings. 

Television Interview July 9, 1975, Chicago 750709iv.chi 

Woman reporter: But you say women are subordinate to men? 

Prabhupada: 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 not subordinate to men? 

Prabhupada: 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? 

Prabhupada: 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. 

Prabhupada: 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... 

Prabhupada: 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? 

Prabhupada: 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? 

Prabhupada: 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? 

Prabhupada: Yes. Every woman, at least, should be married. Therefore, according to Vedic conception, polygamy is allowed. 

Woman reporter: Is allowed? 

Prabhupada: Yes. Because every woman must be married. But every man may not be married. Therefore man has to accept more than one wife.

Srila Prabhupad didn’t hold back. Here the woman is a modern ‘liberated’ TV news reporter. Srila Prabhupad doesn’t try to paint some artificial image. He is asked very controversial questions and he gives straight-edge answers. No cover up, no hiding from the truth.

The reporter states that in America they are trying to make men and women equal. Prabhupad simply states, "I am not trying". This is not the agenda of Srila Prabhupad’s mission. Rather, Srila Prabhupad is preaching the formula that will save the world. 

Even though this female reporter was cynical of Srila Prabhupad’s views and was totally at odds with him, she asked very good questions and actually was able to understand some things. She asks what is the result if women do not become subordinate to the men? This is an important question and the women who enter grhasta life must be conversant with the answer. Srila Prabhupad repeats over and over, there will be disruption. Social disruption. Therefore there are so many divorce cases because the wife does not become submissive to her husband. This is the cause. The cause of broken hearts, the cause of broken families, the cause of a broken down, degraded, society. No one wants to get married and have children only to wind up fighting and divorcing. Take these instructions by the greatest enlightened Acharya of our time, HDG Srila Prabhupad, seriously and follow them. It is possible for the women to make a home that is peaceful and where there are no fights.

The reporter then asks if all social problems will be solved if women become subordinate. Prabhupad’s answer, ‘Yes’. Men want that women be subordinate and faithful. Then he is ready to take charge.

This should be properly understood. Men want the wife to be subordinate. It is the natural position of the male ego. Many men don’t sit around and think about it, and many don’t realize they are like this until they get married and are living with wife. The man’s nature is to want to be in the superior position. He wants his wife to be subordinate. When she is not all hell can break loose. And most often the men aren’t even aware of how or why they are acting like this. It is simply the nature of the male ego.

When fighting begins in a marriage, externally it may appear that the man is entirely at fault. It may appear that he gets upset over nothing, that he fights over little things. It may appear that he is unreasonable. However, what is actually taking place is that his natural male disposition wants his wife to be submissive and subordinate, and when she is not, he naturally becomes frustrated. In frustration he becomes quick to anger. Thus, the true underlying cause for the anger and fighting lay with the wife, for she is not properly executing her natural position of being submissive and subordinate.

When the wife is subordinate, it is also the nature of the man to want to take charge and become responsible for those who are surrendered under his care. The more the wife is surrendered, the more the man takes responsibility. The more peaceful life becomes. And this is really what the wife wants. She wants her husband to take charge of her. She wants to be treated with compassion. Unfortunately most women don’t know the process of how to achieve this. Here it is given. Take it.

Srila Prabhupad explains, this is not just the peace formula for individuals or for married life, but it is the peace formula for all of society, for all of humanity. It is a science and requires study and training.

Morning Walk December 10, 1975, Våndävana 751210mw.vrn 

Indian man: Tilaka’s(?) wife, she told me... She was very upset you know. One day she, when she came to see you and that one rascal yogi was there and he said that in the Vedas everything is mentioned that we can drink and woman and the man have equal right. Then you answered her, and she was also saying the same thing and you answered her, "Okay, if woman and the man have equal right, then why not your husband begot the children... Why not you begot the children in the womb of your husband?" And she was very upset, you know. She said, "Prabhupada sometimes say the things like that which are unreasonable, you know." 

Prabhupada: It may require... No, I said that "If you are equal rights, then make some arrangement: sometimes you become pregnant; sometimes he becomes pregnant. Why there is not right, equal right?" 

Indian man: She was telling me when... She... I said that "Prabhupada sometimes says these things that we feel all ashamed, you know, because..." 

…Prabhupada: But in speaking spiritual understanding we cannot make any compromise. What to speak of in Mauritius, in Chicago I told. There was great agitation in papers. 

Harikesh: In the TV, on television. 

…Prabhupada: They were very upset. And when I was coming, I think, in Chicago, in the airplane, one of the host girl, she was seeing... (laughter) I asked her to supply one 7-up. And, "I have no key." She was so angry. But all the captains and others, they gathered around me. (laughter) 

Harikesh: I think that was the same stewardess who came in the back and asked us, "Why the Swamij doesn’t like women?" 

Prabhupada: No, no, I don’t say that I don’t like women, but I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show that you equal rights—your husband becomes sometimes pregnant and then you become pregnant, alternately. …No, it is truth. I am speaking the truth, that "If you have equal right, then let your husband become pregnant. Make some arrangement." 

Harikesh: Vishakha was preaching to her. She said that "Actually we are less intelligent." (laughter) That started a big scandal... 

Harikesh: Well, in America they have women senators now. ..Women are in charge of companies sometimes. 

Prabhupada: No, that is possible. That it requires education. That is another... By nature the woman’s body is different from man’s. 

Indian man: Women are subordinate. 

Prabhupada: Not subordinate actually. The occupations are different. It does not mean... That is another mistake. Just like the leg is walking, and the head is directing, so although the occupation is different, both of them are important. We require the head and leg also. If simply head is there, if there is no leg, then who’ll walk? This is the understanding, not equal. Everyone must have his separate duties to serve the whole. That is the arrangement. This is real understanding. The most important part of the body is head, but that does not mean the leg is not important. Leg is important in its work, and head is important in its work. So we require both, head and tail both, not that simply leg or simply head. But when we make comparative study, we can understand that head is more important than the leg. If you cut your leg, you can live, but if you cut your head, you’ll die. Therefore the conclusion is: head is more important than the leg. Comparative study. Otherwise head is also required and leg is also required. You collect some flowers, nice flowers, and, add with it some green foliage, it becomes more beautiful. Simply flower is not so beautiful. When it is arrayed with some green foliage, then it becomes more beautiful. So we have to take in that sense. But comparatively, the flower is more important than the foliage. But the both of them are required.

The whole thing is nicely explained in the above conversation by Srila Prabhupad. Although the speech is somewhat broken at first. One Indian man is telling how some woman was upset with Prabhupad’s stand concerning women and so-called equal rights with men. Srila Prabhupad says that when speaking about spiritual knowledge we cannot make compromise.

It is not a question that they are subordinate, actually. A woman can also become a Senator or company manager. That simply requires education. Prabhupad is not saying that women are not capable (although he does at times claim women are less intelligent). The point he is making here is that we all have different prescribed duties. Because women are the ones who get pregnant and must breast feed the baby, it is their prescribed Vedic duty to become housewives. To raise the small children, stay at home and cook, clean, etc. It isn’t that they can’t become big, big managers, but that is not the duties Krishna has prescribed for a woman to engage in.

Prabhupad gives the example of the body. There is need for one to be like head and another to be like foot. It is not that we are all head or all feet. If you joined a temple and you are told that everyone is the temple president, that means no one actually is. Nothing will get done. If the people hold an election and by vote they say that from today, everyone in America is the President. That would mean there is no more president. If I am president, I will tell someone else to please scrub the toilet, someone else to cook, someone else to act as ambassador, someone else to be soldier, etc. But, who would I tell, because everyone else is also president. Everyone will be telling everyone else what to do, but no one will be doing anything. Similarly in marriage, someone needs to be in the superior position and the other in the subordinate position. In a family, as in a nation or business, there has to be a clearly designated head, a leader. Not that woman is no good or insignificant, but Krishna has given her duty to be one thing and a man’s to be another. 

The women who come to our movement must be trained to understand these things. As one older gurukula graduate told me, the boys and men read these things and have no problem with it. They agree immediately. But, the girls, they have not been trained nicely. Not only have they not been trained to accept these things, many parents, especially mother’s with no husbands, and many teachers often teach the young girls just the opposite. They will say that women and men are equal in Krishna Consciousness, they will try to instill in the minds of young girls that they should not let men take advantage of them (which, in the proper way is good, not be become exploited by unscrupulous men, but in the wrong way this is often translated to not become submissive to any man, even the husband). Many devotees reject the idea of women being submissive to their husband as being not practical in modern times in the West. Therefore the boy and girl enter marriage and before long there are fireworks. The boy is expecting a surrendered and submissive wife and the girl is expecting equal rights. Fireworks. The marriages fail. Everyone looses. But, if the girls were properly trained, than everyone will win. 

Interesting to note about the above incident with the stewardess is that she totally misunderstood the real point. The stewardess asked, "Why the Swamij doesn’t like women?" They think that by teaching women to take the subordinate position, that this is debasing to women. They are misled by the popular idea that anything other than artificial material equality is bad for women. Srila Prabhupad’s concern is for the eternal benefit of all. One has to understand this from the broader perspective. If, by being non-submissive, their is only fighting and misery that ends in divorce and broken families, resulting in misdirected children who grow to further degrade society, and that by encouraging women to become submissive there will be peace in the family, peace that makes everyone ultimately happy, where the family remains intact, where the children grow up in a healthy family atmosphere which leads to a peaceful society that ultimately will solve all of society’s problems, it is totally wrong to think that this Srila Prabhupad’s motive for this is because he ‘dislikes’ women.

Morning Walk March 19, 1976, Mäyäpura 760319mw.may 

Ramesvara: The women argue, Srila Prabhupada, that they can be given.... If they are given a good chance, they can make equal contribution in business, in science. So they are demanding equal rights, equal employment. 

Prabhupada: So why.... Why not equal rights that you stop producing children like the man? The man does not produce. Why you are obliged to produce? 

Rameshvara: That is their special qualification. 

Prabhupada: That is.... Similarly, everything is special. You are a different entity. You must have different engagements. That is your perfection.

Women a different entity, therefore they must have different engagements.

It isn’t that a woman can’t be educated to become leader. They have the capacity to become independent and manage (to a point, as even Srila Prabhupad had stated that women did not make good leaders for society), but it is not their prescribed duty. Therefore it will fail.

Krishna teaches in Bhagavad Gita there are four primary differences in the behavior of men. The behavior or qualities of sudra, vaisya, ksatriya and brahmana. The differences are mental capacity, level of intelligence, etc. which cause one to think and act differently. Therefore Krishna teaches different duties for these four classes of men. 

Arjun is one of the greatest devotees of Krishna. At the start of his conversation with Krishna in the Gita he says that rather than fight with his relatives it would be better if he laid down his weapons and left for the forest to engage in yoga meditation and austerities. This would sound to be appropriate activities for a great devotee of Krishna. But Krishna taught differently. He reminded Arjun that his duty in life (based on his varna) was to act as a ksatriya. For a ksatriya to flee a battle would be total ruination of his fame and good fortune. If a king becomes weak in execution of his duties, miscreants will flourish. It is one’s duty in life to act according to his position in society and not to try to artificially act differently. He reminded Arjun over and over about his duty, based on his varna. If he were a brahmana, then Krishna would have advised him differently. Krishna taught varnasram-dharma. Different roles and duties based on one’s varna. Gender is another physical form of varna. 

From Prabhupad’s purport to BG 2.2 

Although Arjuna was a ksatriya, he was deviating from his prescribed duties by declining to fight. This act of cowardice is described as befitting the non-Aryans. Such deviation from duty does not help one in the progress of spiritual life, nor does it even give one the opportunity to become famous in this world. Lord Krsna did not approve of the so-called compassion of Arjuna for his kinsmen.

From Prabhupad’s purport to BG 2.14 

In the proper discharge of duty, one has to learn to tolerate nonpermanent appearances and disappearances of happiness and distress. According to Vedic injunction, one has to take his bath early in the morning even during the month of Magha (January-February). It is very cold at that time, but in spite of that a man who abides by the religious principles does not hesitate to take his bath. Similarly, a woman does not hesitate to cook in the kitchen in the months of May and June, the hottest part of the summer season. One has to execute his duty in spite of climatic inconveniences. Similarly, to fight is the religious principle of the kñatriyas, and although one has to fight with some friend or relative, one should not deviate from his prescribed duty. One has to follow the prescribed rules and regulations of religious principles in order to rise up to the platform of knowledge, because by knowledge and devotion only can one liberate himself from the clutches of maya (illusion).

Even if a woman does not like the idea of taking to the subordinate position of a man, it is her prescribed duty in society. Krishna, the Vedic scriptures, have prescribed for the wife, for women, different roles and duties in society. Therefore, just like Arjun, she must accept it, even if it is difficult. That is the way to raise up to the platform of knowledge of devotional service and get freed from maya. We don’t just execute our duty to get some mundane result. Krishna teaches not to be attached to the results. But, we do so in the mood of devotional service in that we are carrying out the order of Krishna and Srila Prabhupad. Done in this way, when the wife takes the submissive, subordinate position she will be making spiritual advancement. She will be executing her duties and carrying out the order of Krishna and his pure devotees. 

BG 3.35 

It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.


One should therefore discharge his prescribed duties in full Krsna consciousness rather than those prescribed for others. Materially, prescribed duties are duties enjoined according to one’s psychophysical condition, under the spell of the modes of material nature. Spiritual duties are as ordered by the spiritual master for the transcendental service of Krsna. But whether material or spiritual, one should stick to his prescribed duties even up to death, rather than imitate another’s prescribed duties. Duties on the spiritual platform and duties on the material platform may be different, but the principle of following the authorized direction is always good for the performer. When one is under the spell of the modes of material nature, one should follow the prescribed rules for his particular situation and should not imitate others. For example, a brahmana, who is in the mode of goodness, is nonviolent, whereas a ksatriya, who is in the mode of passion, is allowed to be violent. As such, for a ksatriya it is better to be vanquished following the rules of violence than to imitate a brahmana who follows the principles of nonviolence. Everyone has to cleanse his heart by a gradual process, not abruptly. However, when one transcends the modes of material nature and is fully situated in Krsna consciousness, he can perform anything and everything under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. In that complete stage of Krsna consciousness, the ksatriya may act as a brahmana, or a brähmaëa may act as a ksatriya. In the transcendental stage, the distinctions of the material world do not apply. For example, Vishvamitra was originally a ksatriya, but later on he acted as a brahmana, whereas Parasurama was a brahmana but later on he acted as a ksatriya. Being transcendentally situated, they could do so; but as long as one is on the material platform, he must perform his duties according to the modes of material nature. At the same time, he must have a full sense of Krsna consciousness.

We must take these instructions by Krishna and Srila Prabhupad and apply them to, what Srila Prabhuapd calls, the ‘Special’ qualifications and special duties for the women.

If there is some disagreement with her husband and she demands to come out on top, and fights to the bitter end in order to come out the ‘winner’, she has, in reality, lost everything and has completely abandoned her prescribed duty. She is, by her misdirected actions, trying to usurp her husbands position by trying to be the leader, by trying to be the winner. A woman’s duty is to take the submissive position when their is a disagreement. Right or wrong. Her duty is to deal with her husband with respect. Her duty is to relate to her husband as his disciple, to accept him and deal with him as her instructing spiritual master. Her Prabhu.

If a mataji were to see a disciple of a guru arguing and fighting and screaming at his guru, name calling, etc., just to ‘win’ an argument, she would have no problem in seeing how offensive this is and how misdirected the so-called disciple is. Simply, women have to keep in mind that their husband is their guru and their duty is to relate with him as any disciple should relate with their guru. Then family life will become happy and peaceful. Even if it is difficult to do at times, it still remains her duty to do so.

Of course, Prabhupad says that when one has transcended the modes of material nature and is fully Krishna Conscious (which he said does not happen abruptly, but is a gradual process) he can engage in any actions under the guidance of his spiritual master. The last part is most important. Not whimsically. It must be done only if authorized by his/her spiritual master. Prabhupad has requested girls to be trained to be submissive to their husband’s. This should be the general rule, as long as she is married. Even if she is on a higher transcendent level, without the direct sanction by her guru to act differently, she must still abide by the guru’s instructions.

(BG 18.47 is a reiteration of the above verse) 

It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.

Normally we think of varnashram in relation to only the four varnas, brahamana, ksatriya, vaishya and sudra. But another distinction is between men and women. Men and women, husband and wife are prescribed different duties in society and in the family according to their physical gender. 

This is the basis of varnasram. Spiritually we are all equal, but materially there are definitive differences. Vedic culture recognizes these differences and organizes society and family life around them in order to create a more peaceful society which can then engage more easily in the spiritual goals of life.