The Position of a Widow

Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3: Chapter Twenty-three, Text 52: PURPORT

It is said that the father himself becomes the son in another form. The father and son are therefore considered to be nondifferent. A widow who has her son is actually not a widow, because she has the representative of her husband. Similarly, Devahuti is indirectly asking Kardama Muni to leave a representative so that in his absence she might be relieved of her anxieties by a suitable son.

Krsna: Chapter Forty-Nine: Krsna Erects the Dvaraka

After Kamsa’s death, his two wives became widows. According to Vedic civilization, a woman is never independent. She has three stages of life: in childhood a woman should live under the protection of her father, a youthful woman should live under the protection of her young husband, and in the event of the death of her husband she should live under the protection of her grown-up children, or if she has no grown-up children she must go back to her father and live as a widow under his protection.

Prabhupada’s Lectures   Srimad-Bhagavatam 1969 LON

… that man or that woman.” But if you can control, that you be satisfied with woman or with one woman, that is called tapasya. That is austerity. That is, voluntarily, you are restraining himself. Tapasya means voluntary restraint.  In India still, the system is follow in conservative families that a widow cannot marry. There is no widow marriage in India.  They, the… Manu-samhita, the law-givers, the saintly persons, Manu-samhita… Why widow marriage is prohibited?  The idea is generally, everywhere, in all countries, the female population is greater than the male population. So the idea is that she has become widow. She was once married. Now if again she is married, another virgin girl, she does not get the chance of being married. Therefore there is no widow marriage according to Hindu scripture. And a man is allowed, if he is, I mean to say able man, he can marry more than one wife.

Lectures   Srimad-Bhagavatam 1972  LA

That is not bad. Just like a child remains under the control of the parents. That is good. Similarly, woman remaining under the control of father or husband or elderly boy, that is good for them. And still, they are very happy. Just like you see Kunti. Kunti was widow, but she was very qualified woman, so many ways.

Prabhupada’s Lectures   Srimad-Bhagavatam 1973  LA

Widow-marriage was especially allowed only when the girl did not see her husband at any time or she had no children. Formerly, in our days, younger days, although the girl was married at an early age, she was not allowed to see her husband unless she is grown-up

Room Conversation London, August 25, 1971   LON

Prabhupada: Allahabad? Conch, from conchshell? It is especially used in Bengal. A woman… that is an auspicious sign that she is with her husband, to have conchshell bangle. Sankha-sari. A woman dressed sankha and sari, sankha-sari. They don’t require any other ornament. One nice sari and sankha. That is Indian conception of woman having husband. That is distinction between widow and a woman having husband. Widow will not accept sari. All finished. Vedic culture, widow should finish her life after having the husband.

Morning Walk   Melbourne, May 19, 1975 MEL

Prabhupada: Yes. Madhudvisa: Hm. Prabhupada: Powder dal, then I can show you how to do it.

Madhudvisa: Powder dal. We can put the dhal in a grinder…

Prabhupada: Hm. Madhudvisa: …and grind it up.

Prabhupada: Now it is not (indistinct). The widows, because widows, there is no widow marriage. So widows, they earn their livelihood by making papad and guri. They prepare at home guri, papad, and sell and make…

Morning Walk  Nairobi, November 2, 1975  NAI

Prabhupada: Just see. In the Brahma-samaj they call the wife as “sister,” and the wife calls the husband “brother,” address like that.

Indian man (6): Srila Prabhupada, since there is no distinction between “man” and “woman”–these are both designations–is it possible for a woman to become a brahmana?

Brahmananda: Is it possible for a woman to become a brahmana?

Prabhupada: He is… Woman is a brahmana’s wife. Then she is automatically a brahmana.

Indian man (6): Suppose she doesn’t want to get married for the rest of her life, just wants to serve the Lord?

Prabhupada: So in his spiritual position everyone is a brahmana.

Brahmananda: But you give brahminical initiation to unmarried women.

Prabhupada: Yes. But on spiritual point she is brahmana. On the spiritual platform there is no such distinction.

Devotee (7): Oh, it’s not possible for a woman to become a sannyasi.

Prabhupada: No.

Devotee (2): What is the position of the woman in a…, late in life, the wife of a devotee?

Prabhupada: What is that position?

Brahmananda: After the husband takes sannyasa?

Devotee (2): Yes.

Brahmananda: What is the duty of the woman after the husband takes sannyasa?

Prabhupada: So remain a devotee, widow. She is not allowed to marry.

Indian man (4): I know, Prabhupada, one of your Godsisters in Vrndavana. She is very old. She is staying in Tirtha Maharaja’s matha. So she told me she took her initiation when she was about sixteen year old and still she stays in the temple and she… (break) …say you’re the most pious person on this planet.

Prabhupada: Yes. Hare Krsna. (end)

Morning Walk  Mayapur, January 22, 1976  MAY

Nowadays the fashion is the woman has the bakan(?) simanta here, not here. Tamala Krsna: Prostitute. Prabhupada: But that was meant for prostitute. If the woman has simanta here, then you should understand. Then you can freely talk with. She is advertising, “Yes, I am prostitute. You can talk with me.” Without that signboard no man is gentleman if he wants to talk with another woman. He can talk only with that woman. Neither you can talk with widow. That girl, our (sic:) Sivasakti’s mother? She is dressing herself as widow. That is very nice. Very nice. That simple dress will not attract men.

Room Conversation   Paris, August 2, 1976  PAR

Ford, Chevrolet and Buick, these cars were very popular in India. Ford for the poorer class and Buick for the first class.

Hari-sauri: Your nephew was a taxi driver.

Prabhupada: Yes. Nephew was my sister’s son. We had to maintain one sister and her family. She became widow. So this is Hindu family obligation. When the daughter is widow, she comes to the father’s shelter with all family. The father has to maintain. Hari-sauri: You wouldn’t get that in the West. (laughs) They don’t even maintain their own parents.

Room Conversation    Vrindaban, September 6, 1976   VRN

Widow, she’s remaining refrained from. Just like we have now asked our girls not to dress attractively, widow. They should dress not attractively. Because after all, what is this sex enjoyment? It is not very good thing. By outward attraction they attract. Nice sari, nice,–one becomes attracted. Therefore this is psychology, that if the woman does not dress very nicely, she will not be attractive. Unnecessarily attraction …

Roof Conversation     Mayapur, February 14, 1977  MAY

From the beginning she is devotee. She is about fifty years old? Hm? Tamala Krsna: Yes, at least fifty years old. Yes, her hair is gray. Brahmananda: She wears all white sari. Other women that age, they would be looking for another husband, another husband, another husband. Prabhupada: This widow life is also brahmacari life.

Letter to: Govinda dasi : 74-04-30 Bombay

To you my advice is, because you are very intelligent and educated girl, you forget your relationship with Gaurasundara. Now you become mixed up in Krsna business and live like a chaste Hindu widow woman. There are many ideal young Hindu widows who do not dress nicely at all, do not comb the hair, and who take bath three times daily in the Ganges, wear white sari and are engaged 24 hours a day in chanting Hare Krsna Mantra. The vivid example is Visnupriya devi, Lord Caitanya’s wife. When Lord Caitanya left home accepting the renounced order of life, sannyasa, at that time Visnupriya was on the summit of youth, 16 years old, but when her husband became sannyasi she also became greater than sannyasa. She was chanting her rounds on the beads and after one round she was collecting one grain of rice. In this way all day and night, as many rounds as she could finish, that many grains she would cook and eat. Just she how much austerity she underwent! Visnupriya is the incarnation of the Goddess of Fortune but to teach us how much austerity and penance she underwent, I think you should follow the footsteps of Srimati Visnupriya. You have good writing capacity, and good artistic ability. Now devote your life to chanting Hare Krsna and if possible write articles on Krsna Consciousness, as many as possible with your own paintings and send it for publication to BTG. Forget this nonsense Gaurasundara. These are all material relationships and have nothing to do with spiritual advancement.

Letter to: Yamuna and Dinatarine : 76-02-21  Mayapur

Don’t try manual exertion, then again there is mixture and that is not desired. Simply keep yourself aloof from men–chanting, many more times as possible, read books, worship the deity. I am very much pleased with this girl Svati–she has adopted this white dress. She must not be attractive at all. A widow is forbidden to use ornaments, nice sari, decoration, combing the hair nicely. These are forbidden for the woman who is not with husband.




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