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Response to Bhakta Matt's 
Concern about Women

By Urmila devi dasi
Hare Krishna 
Hare Krishna 
Krishna Krishna 
Hare Hare 
Hare Rama 
Hare Rama 
Rama Rama 
Hare Hare

Dear Bhakta Matt,

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

It is good to question and examine before surrendering. Such submissive, honest questions are not only welcome, but required according to the Lord Himself. At the same time, we will not be able to understand everything immediately. Most of us have learned to put various questions in a mental "holding place" until we find the answers, or until we mature enough to understand the answers we find. Otherwise, will you desert your guru at the next point you cannot immediately understand?

Prabhupada is quoting Canakya Pandit, a famous moralist. Canakya states that one should not trust rivers, animals with horns or claws, women, or political rulers. Does this mean that we don't keep and milk cows because they have horns, or that we don't live near and use rivers? Canakya himself spent his life as a government advisor. The nature of all that Canakya mentions is that these people, things, and animals can (and do) suddenly change, and can be dangerous when they do so.

For example, if a ruler suddenly dislikes you, in former times he could have you imprisoned or executed. In modern times you may quickly lose your position. A river may flood or dramatically change course. And women are changeable. We women have a rising and falling tide of biochemicals that affect our emotions, our desires, our intelligence, and our general functioning. What we are able to tolerate one day drives us crazy a few days later. Such is medical fact.

Canakya and Srila Prabhupada do not think or suggest that you cannot bathe and wash in a river. Nor do they think or suggest that you cannot trust a woman or a political ruler to pay back loans, come to a meeting on time, or in general act with integrity. In fact, in Canakya's time rulers had much more integrity than they have today. All the items Canakya cites are simultaneously changeable and powerful. Therefore, be careful. A woman should be careful with herself also, not trusting her conclusions or feelings automatically, but asking herself, "Are these feelings influenced unduly by my bodily condition? If so, maybe I should wait until the tide turns and then make my decision." A woman is truly intelligent if she can think this way.

And, the "less-intelligence" has nothing to do with IQ. It has to do with other factors, such as to what extent the intelligence is guided by emotions, whether a person will make a wrong decision just to be pleasing and cooperative, how easily a person can be deceived, and to what extent a person is covered by the modes of nature. Please also keep in mind that women have varna, or class. Therefore, when comparing individual men and women, you need to do so within the same class. In other words, compare brahmana women to brahmana men. A brahmana woman is generally much more intelligent, less lusty, etc. than a sudra man. The scriptures do not suggest, for example, that an uncivilized, tribal man is more intelligent and less lusty than a ksatriya woman in a highly civilized culture.

When a person comes to full Krsna consciousness, above the modes of nature, he or she is no longer conditioned by these bodily and mental distinctions, which only operate on the material level. On that spiritual platform, any human being— any living being— is full of spiritual knowledge and intelligence, and is the embodiment of integrity. It is that position to which we aspire, whether men or women, from a civilized or uncivilized background, and of a brahmana or sudra nature. While we are in the process of achieving that position, it would be truly "intelligent" to recognize both the strengths and limitations of our own psychophysical nature and the mundane natures of those with whom we interact. We can then engage ourselves and others in the Lord's service according to our strengths, and compassionately and lovingly make allowances for our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others.

I hope this is helpful.

Your servant,
Urmila devi dasi

[See "Women: A New Devotee Asks" Chakra May 23, 2002]

© CHAKRA 28 May 2002

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