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Pls forgive me for the below question. I ask this question not out of Ego but purely to clarify my doubts
Certain texts in the books of Srila Prabhupada indicate women to be low born as compared to men. Why so, please explain.
Example in Bhagvad Gita
O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth--women, vaisyas [merchants], as well as sudras [workers]--can approach the supreme destination.
The books also specify that attraction to women is the biggest distraction for a devotee. why is it not specified generically as attraction to the opposite gender which then becomes applicable to both men and women.
Pls forgive me incase this question has offended anyone. Request the devotees to not misunderstand my query. I truly appreciate Srila Prabhupadas books and sincerely read them. However, I always had these questions on my mind. Hence, seek clarifications from advanced devotees.
Very nice, Please pray for me that I can also overcome lust as You did
I think Srila Prabhupada is implying that men over-intellectualize everything, whereas women more naturally are in touch with their feelings. Because ultimately Krishna Consciousness is all about pure love, he is saying that women have an easier time of this, where sometimes for men their biggest obstacle is to truly get in touch with their feelings. Hare Krishna!
Hare krishna Mihir Prabhuji
Just to add more substance to the quote you mentioned from Krishna book..
I hope you have read the story of Brahmana's wives. The so called most intelligent Rishis failed to recognize Supreme Lord though Lord himself has sent his friends to ask for some food. However supposed to be less intelligent (womans) then those Brahman rishis immediately recognize Krishna as the supreme Lord and eagerly rushed to meet him with lots of Food as an offering.
On spiritual level the intelligence of soul is same whether the soul is in female clothes or male clothes. Off course materially women are less intelligent as described in scriptures.
So it seems if women take to KC seriously, no power can stop them from love for Godhead.
"Although the ingredients of sacrificial performance — the place, time, particular paraphernalia, mantras, rituals, priests, fires, demigods, performer, offering and the as yet unseen beneficial results — are all simply aspects of His opulences, the brāhmaṇas saw Lord Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary human because of their perverted intelligence. They failed to recognize that He is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the directly manifest Personality of Godhead, whom the material senses cannot ordinarily perceive. Thus bewildered by their false identification with the mortal body, they did not show Him proper respect."
The ritualistic brāhmaṇas could not understand why the sacrificial food should be offered to Lord Kṛṣṇa, whom they considered an ordinary human being. Just as a person with rose-colored glasses sees the entire world as rose-colored, a conditioned soul with mundane vision sees even God Himself as mundane and thus loses the opportunity to go back home, back to Godhead.
SB 10.23.3: [Lord Kṛṣṇa said:] Please go to the sacrificial arena where a group of brāhmaṇas, learned in the Vedic injunctions, are now performing the Āńgirasa sacrifice to gain promotion to heaven.
SB 10.23.4: When you go there, My dear cowherd boys, simply request some food. Declare to them the name of My elder brother, the Supreme Lord Balarāma, and also My name, and explain that you have been sent by Us.
SB 10.23.5: Thus instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cowherd boys went there and submitted their request. They stood before the brāhmaṇas with palms joined in supplication and then fell flat on the ground to offer respect.
SB 10.23.6: [The cowherd boys said:] O earthly gods, please hear us. We cowherd boys are executing the orders of Kṛṣṇa, and we have been sent here by Balarāma. We wish all good for you. Please acknowledge our arrival.
SB 10.23.7: Lord Rāma and Lord Acyuta are tending Their cows not far from here. They are hungry and want you to give Them some of your food. Therefore, O brāhmaṇas, O best of the knowers of religion, if you have faith please give some food to Them.
SB 10.23.8: Except during the interval between the initiation of the performer of a sacrifice and the actual sacrifice of the animal, O most pure brāhmaṇas, it is not contaminating for even the initiated to partake of food, at least in sacrifices other than the Sautrāmaṇi.
SB 10.23.9: The brāhmaṇas heard this supplication from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet they refused to pay heed. Indeed, they were full of petty desires and entangled in elaborate rituals. Though presuming themselves advanced in Vedic learning, they were actually inexperienced fools.
SB 10.23.10-11: Although the ingredients of sacrificial performance — the place, time, particular paraphernalia, mantras, rituals, priests, fires, demigods, performer, offering and the as yet unseen beneficial results — are all simply aspects of His opulences, the brāhmaṇas saw Lord Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary human because of their perverted intelligence. They failed to recognize that He is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the directly manifest Personality of Godhead, whom the material senses cannot ordinarily perceive. Thus bewildered by their false identification with the mortal body, they did not show Him proper respect.
SB 10.23.12: When the brāhmaṇas failed to reply even with a simple yes or no, O chastiser of the enemy [Parīkṣit], the cowherd boys returned disappointed to Kṛṣṇa and Rāma and reported this to Them.
SB 10.23.13: Hearing what had happened, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the universe, simply laughed. Then He again addressed the cowherd boys, showing them the way men act in this world.
SB 10.23.14: [Lord Kṛṣṇa said:] Tell the wives of the brāhmaṇas that I have come here with Lord Sańkarṣaṇa. They will certainly give you all the food you want, for they are most affectionate toward Me and, indeed, with their intelligence reside in Me alone.
SB 10.23.15: The cowherd boys then went to the house where the brāhmaṇas' wives were staying. There the boys saw those chaste ladies sitting, nicely decorated with fine ornaments. Bowing down to the brāhmaṇa ladies, the boys addressed them in all humility.
SB 10.23.18: The wives of the brāhmaṇas were always eager to see Kṛṣṇa, for their minds had been enchanted by descriptions of Him. Thus as soon as they heard that He had come, they became very excited.
SB 10.23.19: Taking along in large vessels the four kinds of foods, full of fine tastes and aromas, all the ladies went forth to meet their beloved, just as rivers flow toward the sea.
SB 10.23.20-21: Although their husbands, brothers, sons and other relatives tried to forbid them from going, their hope of seeing Kṛṣṇa, cultivated by extensive hearing of His transcendental qualities, won out. Along the river Yamunā, within a garden decorated with buds of aśoka trees, they caught sight of Him strolling along in the company of the cowherd boys and His elder brother, Balarāma.
Hare Krishna Mihir Prabhuji
Most of the discussions with you end up at this stage where you say
"They are gopas, eternal friend of Krishna", "They are gopis, eternal maid servants", "They are eternal parents" etc. And its absolutely true. No question about that.
I am not in that stage of spiritual consciousness to even understand them a bit . But I see a very simple picture of Krishna and his associates from Bhagvatam.
His Leela is eternal in spiritual world with his associates, but he is very compassionate and kind enough to manifest those leela in the material world to remind us how fortunate it is to be with Krishna all the time. I see him picturing "Come and join with me, like all these associates who are with me eternally."
There is always a very good lesson to be learn from all his leela's and not that every time we need to compare ourselves. In fact there cannot be any comparison between even those souls who saw Krishna personally what to speak of gopis and gopas and mother Yashoda.
It is said that all those soldiers including Duryodhan in kurushetra war got liberated, all those demons whom Krishna killed were very fortunate. Krishna was merciful to them.
Putana got the same position as mother in spiritual world for Krishna drank her milk.
By lifting govardhan hill, he showed how he is always there to protect his devotes.
By performing rasa lila, he showed how is always eager to fulfill his devotees desires. He is supreme .He doesn't care if under ignorance anybody is saying " he is flirting with gopis".
So it all depends on what lesson we learn from his leelas ( which he does to attract us to spiritual world) and not to compare.
I am not at that stage of spiritual consciousness to understand whether Brahmanas wife flesh , or hormones was their flesh,blood or not , whether gopis kids were not their kids .
even those prostitute who showered flowers on Krishna and Krishna gave then a loving smile are so much fortunate then us( who cannot understand the full potency of word Krishna also). even they achieved love for god. They were not "nitya mukta" souls.
Not all souls whom Krishna met during his 125 years in this material world were "nitya mukta" "nitya siddhas".
Even among gopis, there were few rishi charu gopis , they were not considered "nitya mukta". However later they achieved that stage because of association with other elevated (nitya mukta" gopis.
This material body is the instrument to understand spirituality.
In this material world, the material body and spiritual body work together until we reach to a stage of pure spiritual consciousness. Until we reach to that stage , we tend to see/perceive everything somewhat materially and whats wrong with that ? we are progressing step by step. We should learn good lesson from Krishna's leela . ITS NOT ABOUT COMPARISON. SOULS NEVER COMPARE. THEY ARE ETERNALLY BLISSFUL
jai Shree Krishna.
ITS NOT ABOUT COMPARISON,ITS ALL ABOUT KRISHNA'S AND GURU'S MERCY. WE ARE UNFORTUNATE THAT WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED THAT MERCY YET.
AND THERE IS NO CAUSE FOR FORTUNE. WHEN KRISHNA BECOMES MERCIFUL ON A SOUL, THE MOST SINFUL PERSON CAN ALSO BECOME HIS ETERNAL ASSOCIATE/SERVANT.
Hare Krishna Mihir Prabhuji
I have read somewhere in Bhagvatam..
The hunched back women you are talking about is depicted as Mother Earth who became bend at three places( also called trivakra) because of the burden of sins she was carrying . And Krishna straightened her and freed her lust indicating that he is now going to free the mother earth from the burden of bad kings which resulted in adharma(sins) everywhere.
Everything you are saying is correct. But I love to take the very simple and beautiful message from each of Krishna's leela rather then complicating it.
jai shree Krishna.
Great Vaishnava Women
by Satyaraja Dasa
An address to members of the International Network of Women and Religion (INWAR) at their headquarters in New York City.
I'll begin by defining two words: Vaisnava and women. A Vaisnava is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, more personally known as Visnu or Krishna. In India this term is quite common, and there are millions who follow the path of Vaisnavism. Ultimately, Vaisnava refers to the natural state of the soul, since all living beings are constitutionally related to God in a mood of loving devotion.
The second word, although more familiar, is more difficult to define when used with the word Vaisnava. The man/woman dichotomy relates to the body, whereas the "Vaisnava" designation refers to the nature of the soul. In one sense, a Vaisnava is not really a man or a woman, and so reference to "women Vaisnava" or "male Vaisnava" is inaccurate.
For the sake of common parlance, however, it is practical-if not downright necessary-to acknowledge the bodily distinctions that exist within the material world. After all, a woman can serve God, i.e., act as a Vaisnava by having children, for example, whereas a man cannot. So while women and men are spiritually equal, they may serve God in different ways. Worldly differences can thus be acknowledged and should be used in divine service. In this sense, then, we may rightly speak of "women Vaisnava."
WOMEN IN VEDIC CULTURE
For a clear understanding of Vaisnava women and the activities that led them to greatness, we look to ancient India's Vedic literature, the spiritual classics upon which Vaisnava dharma rests. In the earliest Vedic texts, we find that the woman was mainly seen as the wife or mother. The emphasis was on her place in the home, and her work was given divine status. Her religious duty was to maintain the spiritual environment of the home and to raise children as devotees of the highest order. This she could do only if her own spiritual practices were strong and if her meditations were profound. Guidelines are given in the scriptures that can assure perfection on this path.
It might be asked why the woman rather than the man was given the service of homemaker. One answer offered by the Vedic texts is that since the child came from her body, she would naturally take very seriously the service of raising the child in God consciousness. She also could not bear to be away from her child-flesh other flesh. The husband had a less difficult time going out-away from the child -and making a living. The wife, in general, felt more comfortable at home. It was natural and pleasing. Both parties, playing their respective roles, served to create a spiritual atmosphere within the household. Especially when they both learned to see their roles as service to Krishna. In this sense, the roles are absolute-the roles they play are equal in that they are merely different ways to serve the Supreme.
The Vedic epic Ramayana explains the social hierarchy that existed within the spiritual home: strinam bharta hi daivatam. That is to say, the husband is the guru for the wife, even as the wife is theory for the child and the spiritual master is the guru for the husband. In other words, in the Vedic household everyone had a spiritual authority, and in this way social sanity was maintained and everyone in the family could progress toward the ultimate goal of life: spiritual realization.
There were, however, exceptions to the traditional roles of men and women, and as we delineate the great vaisnava women throughout history, we will elucidate upon the ascetic tradition that made clear the spiritual equality between men and women.
It should be noted that the greatest vaisnava of all time is Srimati Radharani, who is female. She, of course, is also known as a manifestation of the Supreme and so does not really figure into our discussion.
Among the women described in the Vedic literature, the most important for her representation of ideal womanhood is Sitadevi, the wife of Lord Ramacandra. She embodies all of the qualities to be found in the ideal Vedic wife. Although goddesses such as Parvati and Laksmi devi and other heroines from the Vedic literature such as Savitri and Damayanti are also good examples, it is Sita who is particularly remembered as the ideal in conventional Vedic womanhood. Indeed, even today one hears the Indian mother tell her daughter. "Be like Sitadevi.”
GREAT WOMEN VAISNAVA
Vedic culture gave rise to many great women. In addition to Sitadevi there were the likes of Draupadi, Kunti, and Gandhari The great women of the Vedic period are often considered prehistorical personalities, many of them gracing the earth more than five thousand years ago. Since that period is now shrouded in antiquity, and since many of the stories surrounding their lives are often confused with mythological tales. I will restrict my discussion to women Vaisnava within the last five hundred years.
Sacidevi appeared in Bengal in the mid-fifteenth century. Playing the role of the perfect mother and wife, she was glorified as the mother of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the wife of Jagannatha Misra. Sri Caitanya, the founder of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, is a combined manifestation of Radha and Krishna. Sacidevi was the daughter of a well-known Bengali family that migrated from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and settled in Navadvipa. Her father, Nilambara Cakravarti was a very influential man because of his knowledge of astrology and the Vedic scriptures.
After marrying Jagannatha Misra, Sacidevi went through great austerities as a mother. In fact she lost eight female children during successive pregnancies, and she wept in anticipation of further offspring. Sacidevi's next child was a boy-Visvarupa, who survived. Some years later, she gave birth to Sri Caitanya. But while little Nimai (as Caitanya was called in His youth) was still an infant Visvarupa renounced the world and became an ascetic. This brought untold regret to Sad, for now Visvarupa would no longer bring joy to the Misra household. He would now wander the countryside, preaching and visiting temples in service to the Lord.
Jagannatha Misra did not survive the trauma of Visvarupa's renunciation. Saci, however, managed to carry on, and she resolved to raise little Nimai to the best of her ability.
Because of the purity and intensity of her devotion, her aspirations for her last surviving child would be more than fulfilled. As Nimai grew He developed exceptional features, profound scholarship, and a devotional attitude. His concealed divinity began to blossom, as the scriptures had predicted it would.
But Saci's domestic happiness was short-lived, for at the age of twenty-four Sri Caitanya, too, became a renunciant, following in the footsteps of His brother, Visvarupa. Despite this final blow to her hope of familial bliss, Saci's perseverance as a devotee remained unscathed.
Sri Caitanya, in fact, had asked for His mother's permission to lead the life of a renunciant in service to God. Although it was difficult for her, she nonetheless relented, the only stipulation being that He makes His headquarters in nearby Jagannatha Puri, so she would regularly hear news of His activities.
Although Sri Caitanya's renunciation is remembered as a pivotal event in the history of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, Sacidevi's renunciation is glorified in the annals of Vaisnavism history as unbounded. For in allowing the Lord her son-to live the life of an ascetic, she made the ultimate sacrifice. According to the Lord's desire, she agreed to Worship Him in separation. Sad thus experienced the highest, most esoteric relationship with the Lord, and Vaisnavas throughout the world seek to emulate her uncompromising devotion.
If Sacidevi the perfect mother, Visnupriya was the perfect wife. Laksmi devi, Sri Caitanya's first wife, died prematurely when she was bitten by a snake. Mother Saci then pleaded with her divine son to remarry. He did, and the bride was Visnupriya, daughter of the aristocratic Sanatana Misra, a well-known politician.
When Sri Caitanya soon left to pursue the life of an ascetic. Visnupriya made the same commitment and sacrifice as did Sacidevi. Visnupriya, however, also had to take care of Saci, who was now becoming old and infirm.
Visnupriya spent as much time with the name of God as with her beloved mother-in-law, and her reputation soon grew as a prominent ascetic in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line.
It is said that she would set aside one grain of rice each time she would chant the Hare Krishna mantra 108 times. When her utterances of the name were complete for a particular day, she would boil the accumulated rice and take that and only that as her daily meal.
As her austerities and exemplary behavior became known within the Vaisnava community, she was glorified for being the model of a chaste wife and also for being an ascetic of the mystical tradition. This made her a leader in the Vaisnava community.
Important women Vaisnavas soon took leading roles in Lord Caitanya's movement and even assumed the position of guru. One of the more prominent woman gurus was Jahnavadevi, wife of Nityananda Prabhu. Sri Caitanya's intimate associate and plenary expansion.
When Nityananda Prabhu married the two daughters of Sarakhala Suryadasa Pandita, the entire Vaisnava community was overcome with ecstasy, for the two girls were extremely pious and were known as great Vaisnavas. The younger wife, Vasudha gave birth to two children: a boy, Virabhadra; and a girl, Gangadevi.
The young Vasudha soon passed away, however, and Jahnavadevi resolved to raise her sister's children. In addition, She adopted a boy named Ramacandra. So Jahnavidevi spent much of her youth taking care of the three children, making sure they became great devotees.
Virabhadra, especially, grew t be a leader in the Vaisnava community, and when accepted Jahnavadevi (his step mother) as his guru, many prominent Vaishnavas did so well.
Much of Jahnavadevi's fame began as a result of her relationship with Nityananda Prabhu. but her activites soon revealed her greatness, and she was respected as a superlative Vaishnava on her own merit.
Her devotion to the famous Gopinatha Deity of Lord Krishna was so intense that this endeared her to pious and impious alike. It was Jahnavadevi, to, who had the insight to keep close contact with the goswamis of vrdavana Lord Caitanya's chief followers there. In this way she sought to keep solidairity and unification between the branches f Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Bengal and in Vrndavana ( Uttar Pradesh ). The cohesive form of Gaudiya Vaishnavism that exists today is largely a result of her efforts.
One other phenomenon in the life of Jahnavadevi is pertinent to our discussion. Devotion to her mission and purpose became so strong that in her own lifetime a deity was made other, and this was to be placed alongside the Gopinatha Deity, Who was the object of her veneration. A council was convenced in Jaipur and the assembled Vaishnavas decided unanimously that the deity should be established, and it was indeed placed next to gopinatha within Jahnavadevi's lifetime. Such a distinguished honor is uncommon among vaishnava men and women alike.
HEMLATA AND GANGAMATA GOSWAMI
In the next generation after Sri Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu (1600s or as late as the 1700s), many great female vaishnavas followed the example of Jahnavadevi, two of the most prominent being Hemlata and Gangamata Goswami.
Not much is known about Hemlata Thakuani. She was the eldest daughter of Srinivasa Acarya and had many disciples, both men and women. She was a mystic of the highest order and developed a profound sense of love for god.
Gangamata Goswami, on the other hand, is written about quite often in the pages of Gaudiya Vaishnava history, especially in the historical record of teh Nityananda vamsa (from which she desends). Her guru was Haridasa Pandita, a disciple descents is traced to Nityanand Prabhu.
She was the daughter of King Naresa Narayana of Puntaya, of the rajsahi district of Bengal. Unlike most great women vaishnavas, even the mystics, Gangamata never married, and so she was given the title "Goswami" (" controller of the senses") for her strict celibacy and profound wisdom. She did not take formal sannyasa (the renounced order of the life in the Vedic social system), for she felt that the scriptures recommend sanyasa solely for men. But in spiri she adopted this path is received the itle "Goswami".
The Deity of her heart was Madana Gopala, and she woshiped this form of Krishna with great devotion. In her youth, she studied in vrndavana, and after many years she moved to Jagannatha Puri, where she lived at the great scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. The bhattacarya had been a prominent disciple of Sri Caitanya and although his house was now, almost two hundred years later, merely a run down facsimile of its former self, gangamata stayed there for the spiritual inspration it bestowed.
At that house she foud that sacred Damodara-sita (a Deity of Krishna in the form of a stone) once worshiped by Sarvabhauma Bhanacarya himself. She worshiped this Deity with the same intensity with which she had worshiped Madana Gopala in Vrndavana.
Mukundadeva Maharaja, the king of Puri once came to h ear her recite Sri madBhagavatam, the sacred scripture of the Vaisnavas . He was so taken by her pure recitation and her elaborate explanations that he became her disciple and encouraged much of Puri to do the same. He financed a special temple to be built for her, and she became one of the prominent Vaisnavas of Orissa.
I have given only some preliminary examples of great women Vasnavas. Nonetheless, we have seen examples of a great Vaigtava mother, a wife, mystics, celibates, and gurus. In short, the Vaisnava tradition has established precedents for women to assert themselves and distinguish themselves as outstanding Vaisnavas, both in traditional roles more commonly ascribed to women and in very independent roles that would perhaps be the envy of men.
Great women Vaisnavas have existed throughout the ages, and they have demonstrated that the qualities of leadership, scholarship, intelligence, wisdom, and devotion are affairs of the heart and mind, irrespective of sex.
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Question: I enjoyed the lecture very much. But I feel that feminists in general will be slighted. You've described the positive elements in the milieu with which you're familiar Vaisnavism, the Hare Krishna religion. But don't the women of even that tradition feel exploited? Aren 't they still the product of a male-dominated society?
Satyaraja: There may very well be ample justification for the dissatisfaction of the feminists. Perhaps they have indeed been oppressed and exploited by a male-dominated society. Let us not forget, however, that it is a materialistic society in which this takes place. Exploitat ion is a symptom of selfishness. And selfishness is a symptom of the bodily concept of life. My contention is this: It is this bodily concept of life that is at the heart of materialistic thinking, and it is this rather than male domination that creates the exploitative mentality.
Q: I see.
S: Yes. If one identifies himself or herself as nothing more than a material body, the external self becomes of central interest more important than the person within. Bodily differences are accentuated. Spiritual unity is overlooked. It would seem that the solution to exploitation the major problem facing the feminists is to obliterate materialism, not sexism. Sexist thinking is a symptom of the disease the disease
Q: OK, but the great women Vaisnava whom you've mentioned and, more important, the rank-and-file women who follow Vedic culture how have they risen beyond exploitation!
S: I've explained that already: by rising beyond the bodily concept of life. Men and women will rise beyond exploitation to the degree that they rise beyond the bodily concept and become established in the self- the actual, spiritual self.
Q: But devotees do not live in a vacuum! They may rise beyond the bodily concept, but they are still subjected to the exploitation of those who haven't attained that level.
S: I see what you're getting at. It's actually a very good point On the other hand, a woman who pursues spirituality is protected by her discipline and the strictures of her religious tradition. She can never be exploited- even by members of society still on a lower level because she never engages in sinful activity. Especially if she's not engaging in illicit sex-who can exploit her?
Actually, she plays a leading and honored role within the social parameters of her family and community. In short, she avoids exploitation by being thoroughly devoted to God, Krishna, and she thus sees a spiritual equality, not a contrived material one. She knows that she is spiritually equal.
She feels that feminism betrays a narrow understanding of the purpose of existence, that it is predicated on competition between men and women. She knows that the only competition worth pursuing is between a person and his or her own conditioning. She has a role to play in her service to God, and it is this which concerns her not some petty squabble about bodily differences.
So, in answer to your question, no, women who adhere to Vedic or Vaisnava practice do not feel exploited. To the degree that they are accomplished in Krishna conscious realization, they transcend the ability to be or feel exploited. In fact, they are unable to be exploited, because they give no room for exploitation. You must submit to materialistic life in order to be exploited. And a dedicated devotee will never do that.
Q: But do devotee women have equal positions? I mean, do they ever take service from men!
S: Not if they're advanced. You see, according to Manu's Dharma-sastra, there is a hierarchy, and in Vedic culture all members happily followed the system for social sanity. Everyone played his or her role. Everyone had an authority, and everyone was subordinate to someone else. In this way, one learned submission, culminating in submission to God. But the Vaisnava tradition added something special, an underlying and esoteric message of the scriptures: the true devotee wishes to be the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. So, in actuality, you have material culture in reverse. Not "Who is serving me?" but "Who can I serve?" This is the devotees' motto. So advanced devotees desire to be the menial servant not the master. And in this way they develop humility before God.
Incidentally, just so you don't think I'm simply skirting the issue with some abstract philosophy. I will tell you that advanced devotees do accept service from neophytes, and in this way a neophyte can make advancement on the spiritual path. This holds true for both men and women. Many of the great women I mentioned in my lecture were gurus of both men and women and consequently accepted service. You see. Vaisnavism is not at all sexist Not really. But you must get beyond superficiality. In the ultimate analysis it is not gender but spiritual advancement that is the criterion.
Q: Do you believe that men and women are inherently different! OK. granted men and women are spiritually equal, but you alluded to bodily differences, and this is certainly true. What about more subtle qualities, though? How are we different on the subtle level? For instance, do you give credence to the theory about the right and left sides of the brain!'
S: Why not! I think that the research in this area leaves a great deal to be desired, but the basic premise is reasonable. In the Bhagavad-Gita, for example, it is said that speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness, and patience are feminine qualities. Is this sexist? These are admirable qualities. And this information is being confirmed by research into the right and left sides of the brain. There is scientific evidence that certain subtle functions of the brain are more characteristic of women than of men.
Q: Oh, come on! Men and women are perfectly equal, at least mentally. We have the same potential. Bodily differences I can give you. But subtle, mental differences? That's going too far. It's just an old wives' tale, Or should I say an old men's tale. [Laughter.]
S: I can appreciate your concern. To acknowledge mental and intellectual differences can lead to exploitation. But don't misunderstand me. I am saying that our mental and intellectual faculties are equal, but that our mental and intellectual forte may vary from body to body. Just the forte. Just our point of emphasis. This can be and is heavily influenced by the kind of body we have. I'm not merely giving you some dogmatic rhetoric. These ideas have been substantiated by some of the leading physicists and psychoanalysts in the world. For example, Dr. Georgene Seward, professor emeritus at Columbia University, has written two fascinating books on this subject: Sex and the Social Order and Psychotherapy and Culture Conflict. Have you seen these books!
S: I suggest you research your subject before you discuss it. These books were the landmark scientific publications that proved once and for all that "cerebral asymmetry" definitely exists between men and women. Dr. Seward, by the way, is a woman. So I don't think you can call this "an old men's tale." (Laughter.)
You see, in our search for perfect egalitarianism, we are terribly afraid to admit that there are differences between sexes, or races, or nationalities, or living beings of any group at all. Somehow the possibility that physical or psychological differences of any sort exist strikes fear that this will be equated with superiority or inferiority of certain groups. But the denial that differences exist, whether biological or otherwise, only leads to absurdities. Indeed, it is the denial of our own humanity. We cannot respect differences among people unless we first admit them. This is not sexism or racism it is merely common sense.
KC & Women
By Vraja Kisor Das (108)
Now here you asked about women. A devotee of Krishna sees him or herself as
a servant of everyone. Everyone. So how could a devotee see someone as being
inferior??? Noway. trinad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena,
kirtaniya sada harih. We devotees must cultivate the mood of being humble and
seeing everyone as worthy of our respect. Man, woman, ant, it doesn't matter.
Another Vedic verse: yas tu sarvani bhutani, atmany evanupasyanti... This verse
is one that we just made into a new 108 song. It means that a Krishna conscious
person sees that everyone is a part and parcel of Krishna, and that Krishna is
in everyone's heart. Therefore a devotee never sees or treats anyone in
a derrogatory way.
The reason why I am quoting Sanskrit is so that you understand that I am not
making this up in my head : it is authentic. Another verse, you will find it
in the Bhagavad Gita (5.18): vidya vinnaya sampanne, brahmani gavi hastini...
A Krishna conscious person sees the soul within everyone, and therefore sees
everyone equally (Equal Vision) regardless of the differences in their bodies.
If you study Vedic women you will find that they were extremely powerful and
self-satisfied human beings. A Krishna conscious lady is very very powerful
and self-situated. She is exemplary.
Today, women are bewildered and treated in such a way that they are very
confused and have become very week and easily exploited by men. This is so
insideous and unfortunate.
If you have specific questions about this subject, please always feel welcome
to ask me about them.
One thing it this: Although we are not the body, the body is not meaningless.
It is true that you are not the body, but if you went into the forest without
clothes, and never ate or drank anything again, and became a living skeleton.
Do you think you could do it? I know I couldn't. Although we are not these
bodies, we are connected to the body. We identify with it. This is unfortunate
for us, but it's a fact we have to honestly deal with.
So although we are not the body, we still have the body, and we have to deal
with it. The body affects us. As we gradually advance and make genuine progress
in spiritual realization, the body will affect us less and less. And things like
gender will become more and more meaningless. But depending on how much we are
not free from identifying with the body, we do need to take at least a bit of
care in feeding it, maintaining it, living with it healthfully, etc.
The relationship between men and women is the metal with which the bars of
illusion are cast. It is not a fact that we like to hear, neither do I like to
hear it: but it's true nonetheless. So we do need to pay a little bit of
attention to how we interact between the genders, especially when we are still
affected by bodily demands.
Vedic culture is set up in such a way to ensure mutual respect, and therefore
there are guidelines of social behavior for the purpose of the spiritual sanity
of society at large. Today, society doesn't care about respecting each other,
and therefore they don't want any regulations on how they relate to each other.
They want to relate in whichever way is convenient for their sense of enjoyment
at the present moment. Vedic people, though, love each other deeply. They are
concerned that they maintain repect for each other. And therefore there is
some consideration of social behavior in terms of the body.
The more one is Krishna conscious, though, the less important these regulations
are. We perceive Vedic culture as demeaning towards woman because we view it
through the spectacles of our own value-system. The modern culture has
indocrinated us with a one-way value system. I mean to say that there is one
ideal of "success," and everyone is judged by how they measure up to that one
Black people become like white businessmen to be sucsessful. Women take
the roles previously had by men, and count it as success... If you are a doctor
or a lawyer, you are "sucsessful." If you have a swimming pool, etc. etc.
There is one ideal of "success" and everyone must mold to it. Vedic culture,
as you know better than I, is not like that at all. It truely values people
"for who they are." The Vedic culture values the role of the man very highly.
And the Vedic culture similarly values the role of the woman very highly.
The Vedic woman plays a traditional role - but this is misinterpreted by
the modern audience as inferior, or unsuccessful. This in and of itself is
sexism. It is tantamount to saying that if a woman can not live like a man,
she is not living up to her potential, she is unsucsessful. The Vedic culture
is not sexist and therefore, the women play traditional feminine roles, and are
respected for that. The womans role is respected.
There is more to be said about this, but I'll stop here and see if you have
some questions with which you'd like to direct our conversation on the topic.
What is the outlook of Krishna consciousness towards women, and why is it
deemed sexist by so many people?
Vraja Kishor das
Generally according to Sastras, Sudras , Women and Children are considered to be of lesser intelligence; however in the same breath there are exceptions. This consideration is by design and hence one cannot question it. However if a man gets prejudiced by the statement and starts behaving whimsically his intelligence is destroyed.
In the light of modern philosophy women are considered to be more equipped to handle tough situations as compared to men. In matters of the heart ; females are more equipped. The same cannot be said about men.
But in the Light of Vedic Knowledge , Spiritual perseverance requires one to be more stable and not get carried away by emotions or heavy perceptions due to emotional disturbance. Sudras because of their food, Women because of their inherent nature and Children because of their age suffer from emotional maturity usually!! Hence the statement from the Vedic Scriptures. But this is a general rule and there are exceptions.
all men are born unto women; calling them lower birth makes such men born from lower birth beings; but then again this is a lower birth world hahahaha
prabhu cheer up, the lord is always smiling even as he says all these things, the scrutinizing eye of devotees obsessed with pleasing the lord fail to see his comical ways when sometimes... it is most needed.
in any case, b***** and nothing but h*** and tricks.
at the same time prabhu, how extensive is your experience with womanhood (i am not asking you to write this down, but rather look on it with self criticism); the original idea is: well, what have women given or brought to you? so far...
for spiritual realization, they and other sense pleasure objects that we seek, are a very big challenge. for those who seek realization, women are obstacles to be gotten rid of. why? cuz thats the simplest thing oNLY in what pertains to those goals.
women at the same time when looked into contrast must be venerated and respected; grandmother's eternal effort to support and unite family, mother's loving nurturing nature with us and the care for us. that love in women at times is considered even beyond the love of one's father.
in any case, one should not consider women inferior; it is easy to say: OOH THIS GREAT YOGI, like Tulsidas?! He was obsessed with his wife! It was his wife who made him reason on his obsession! After which he was able to become a great devotee of Lord Ram!
It is funny that people may think Lord Krishna thought women were inferior, and then he married more than 10000 of them. well, i think them even more inferior i hope this will allow me to marry even more hahaha.
the company of women is very pleasant prabhu, but that pleasure comes in the sensual and sexual discrimination and desire which lingers in the back of the mind, as the template for reproduction, it starts first with just looking, then with the desire to establish rapport or "just a talk", etc. etc. much planing, and desire and longing for eventually just a moment of bliss. truly, note all we men are willing to sacrifice for sense pleasure with women. it certainly is very easy for us to then say: its her fault! when we are the ones at fault for falling unto lust after having being told that such things would happen.
who cares how many women have been famous devotees; those things are irrelevant, famous people mean nothing in human history; how many absolute devotees have there existed that the annals of history cannot even account for, because they were or too poor, or too wtv.
in any case prabhu, purpose of scripture is to help you be a better person, not to puzzle you.
i heard from an christian before: "philosophers die confused".
In terms of salvation, women cannot help you, guru can ; and in isckon guru is krishna.
dont surrender to anything other than Krishna; yet ask submissively form guru, isn't that appropriate?
also prabhu, the books you love so much are books on yoga. all of bhagavad gita is on Yoga.
it was krishn'as description of yogic doctrines as his friend needed. to other men, prabhu shri krishna would give different advise; just as a doctor adapts his treatment to the individual in question.
devotees of krishna through isckon chant, krishna never mentioned chanting; so devotees say, krishna is their guru, and guru said chant, therefore krishna said chant. these things are confusing; i recommend studying gita alone... that is until you begin to know it by heart.
you know it by heart when you can sing along the rest of the conversation along with lord krishna.
sometimes prabhuji, understanding is not sufficient and impossible as well therefore the confusion. prabhuji, some things such as pleasure require no understanding, bliss neither; the outcome of yoga is union and it requires discipline; if out of regular practice and love for God, you have the energy to use that drive instead of religious discipline, then your faith saved you prabhuji. in other case; don't try to understand gita completely; i think i can tell u u will enjoy it more that way;
i have heard as of now gita more than 70 times. even the dreams and quality of dreams change. lucidity, kundalini etc... just by listening prabhu. you will overcome the confusion which is born from trying to understand.
i think this is part of the doctrine which is to some extent "ignored" or "abandoned" or "neglected". also, people should sing in languages that they understand, that is more important than singing in sanskrit.
prabhu i actually play the gita as arjun and krishna speaking to myself their own dialogues. the experience i get from gita is completely different from people who read commentaries. this may not be what you are looking for, but the understanding u have, i think is not what you seek in the end. u seek experience; even though you've chose intellectualization as a means to approach the supreme; but the supreme looks at u and me and jokes that its in our face already and yet we are trying to see around it and pushing it aside so we can discuss about not understanding it...