Vedic Training: How To Become A Krishna Conscious Wife
For ISKCON Brahmacarinis
"Equality of the Soul" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual. >Contents
Equality Of The
Soul - Male and Female Differences & Executing Our Prescribed Duties - The Basis Of
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. Dont 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
dont 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 its 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 shouldnt see the bodily differences and shouldnt 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 didnt want anymore to do with family-life. He
literally ran away from home. He didnt 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 didnt feel threatened and didnt
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
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. Youll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist,
mathematician, philosopher, among women. Youll 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.
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-gitayoull have perfect answer. That is called Vedic literature.
Perfect without any flaw youll 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
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 worlds 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 dont understand or accept these
things. (Who will dare repeat these words given by ISKCONs Founder-Acharya in a
Bhagavatam class today - and live to tell about it? - at least in America!). The demons
dont know what is what. They dont 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 Prabhupads 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
[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, dont think this is what
Ameyatma das says. Dont say this is Ameyatma dass
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
Ameayatmas 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
Prabhupads teachings and ideas, not ameyatma dass),
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 dont like.
Morning Walk May 1, 1974, Bombay 740501mw.bom
Prabhupad: Put problems. Ill solve.
Yogesvara: Heres 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 dont 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...
Dhananjaya: No. This is also public transport,
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 cant cook, they cant clean, they cant
Prabhupad: All rubbish. These modern girls,
they are all rubbish. Therefore they are simply used for sex satisfaction.
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 ones 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 mens and womens
public toilets? Everyone makes some distinction).
We can clearly see here how Srila Prabhupad feels if a woman has
no good training. If she cant 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. Dont 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
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
Woman reporter: What should we do in the United
States? Were 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 mans
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
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
mans mentality, womans
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
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 didnt hold back. Here the woman is a
modern liberated TV news reporter. Srila Prabhupad doesnt
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 Prabhupads mission. Rather, Srila Prabhupad is preaching
the formula that will save the world.
Even though this female reporter was cynical of Srila
Prabhupads 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. Prabhupads 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 dont sit around
and think about it, and many dont realize they are like this until they get married
and are living with wife. The mans 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 arent 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
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
dont know the process of how to achieve this. Here it is given. Take
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: Tilakas(?) 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
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 doesnt
Prabhupada: No, no, I dont say that I dont like
women, but I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show that you equal
rightsyour 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
Harikesh: Vishakha was preaching to her. She said
"Actually we are less intelligent." (laughter) That started a
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 womans body is different from mans.
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 wholl 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, youll 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
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 Prabhupads 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 isnt that they cant 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 mans 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 mothers 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,
Interesting to note about the above incident with the stewardess
is that she totally misunderstood the real point. The stewardess asked, "Why the
Swamij doesnt 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
Prabhupads 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 societys problems, it is totally
wrong to think that this Srila Prabhupads motive for this is because he
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
Women a different entity, therefore they must have different
It isnt that a woman cant 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 ones 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 ones varna. Gender is another physical form of varna.
From Prabhupads 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
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
From Prabhupads purport to BG 2.14
In the proper discharge of duty, one has to learn
to tolerate nonpermanent appearances and disappearances of happiness
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 dont 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
It is far better to discharge ones prescribed duties, even
though faultily, than anothers duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of
performing ones own duty is better than engaging in anothers duties, for to
follow anothers 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 ones 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 anothers
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 womans 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
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 husbands. 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 gurus instructions.
(BG 18.47 is a reiteration of the above verse)
It is better to engage in ones own occupation, even though
one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept anothers occupation and perform it
perfectly. Duties prescribed according to ones 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.