I arrived in Kolkata on the 17th of November to offer a two-day seminar for the ladies over the weekend. The local devotees had chosen the topic “Being a Homemaker: Honor or Disgrace?” – a highly relevant subject for the young generation of ladies in modern India.
We had dedicated the entire Saturday and Sunday for this seminar – with a morning and afternoon session, and the temple provided the lunch prasadam for all participants. More than one hundred ladies eagerly participated, and we conducted the event in a spacious flat near the temple. I had compiled course materials, which were also translated into Bengali and Hindi. In this way we could welcome a maximum of participants, offering simultaneous translation into Hindi and Bengali.
I have certainly noticed, that the young generation of ladies in India are very eager for a professional career, thinking it to be great progress for a woman to enter the work force and earn money. Even amongst practicing devotees I have observed a strong trend towards economic development and material progress being the main and foremost goal in life. In a country like India, where spiritual traditions had been strictly maintained until recent days, it indeed seems so appealing and progressive for young ladies to abandon these seemingly old-fashioned customs of ladies being mainly engaged in the home taking care of the husband and children. Thus the ladies in India are now dreaming of becoming independent career women, and it appears all so attractive and glittering!
In countries like Germany the big economic boost came after the Second World War. Nowadays, more than 70 years later, many women realize that a career and money does not make them necessarily more happy, and we can observe a trend back to being a happy mother and home maker. Especially devotee women are not so keen at all to sit in an office and work for a non-devotee boss, surrounded by materialistic persons. Only those ladies who absolutely have to work to survive will accept this style of life. Others are rather at home with the children and do some service at the temple.
During our seminar we were collecting the effects of a wife having a professional career and working full-time. This exercise was rather an eye-opener for our participants.
The most important role of a mother and wife is to create the spiritual atmosphere in the home, and thus within society at large. She is also the first Guru to the child. If she has a professional career, she has no time and energy to play these roles. The home cooking is of the greatest importance – her love and devotion enters the food she cooks, and the whole family will be uplifted. If she has a career, she simply will not have time and energy left for these things. As a result the home will be neglected, the children will be neglected, and the husband will be neglected.
I remember from my own childhood how important it was for us kids what our mother cooked for us. It was the very first question when coming home after school: “What’s for lunch today? And did you make a sweet?” If the wife and mother works full-time, she will be exhausted when coming home in the evenings, and deep within her heart she feels frustrated, because she cannot give the love and attention to her family which they deserve. Often she ventilates her frustration by letting it out on the children: being impatient with them and chastising them heavily. We can see the scenario in a Supermarket in the evenings, when the mothers have picked up their children from the day-care center and quickly have to do some little shopping on the way home. And the child was missing his mother throughout the whole day, and now he wants some attention, but the mother simply screams at the poor child, dragging him through the Supermarket. Especially when a child is 5 years or younger, they need the full attention and affection of the mother. These days, mothers drop of their 6-week-old babies at the day-care center, just so they can pursue their career and earn lots of money for sense gratification. We cannot even imagine what kind of traumas and emotional damages such childhood leaves on a person’s heart and mind!
She will also spend more time with other men at work than with her own husband. In the working world there is unrestricted mixing between men and women. This leads to intimate relationships outside of marriage. Statistics show that 25% of all people working in offices have sexual relationships – at work! In the copy room, in the toilets! These are the facts of reality, which confirm our philosophy of “butter and fire coming too close, and the butter melting”.
In spiritual culture it would be a dishonor for a man if his wife has to go out and work. It would be considered low class. The poor woman – her husband cannot provide enough for her! She is meant to enjoy life at home, like a princess, surrounded by children and family members, going to the temple, doing some puja at home, etc. She is not meant to compete with the men in the working world.
Whenever we think that our system is better than Krsna’s system, we get all kinds of social disturbances as a global reaction. Therefore Krsna says, better to do one’s own purifying duty imperfectly, rather than somebody else’s purifying duty perfectly.
A woman might be able to earn some little extra money from home, or with part time work once the children are older. Nevertheless, it easily undermines her husband’s duty of maintaining the family, and it easily cultivates a mood of independence in her. But a husband will feel inspired to give care, if his wife depends on him.
There is the opinion that nowadays one salary is not enough to support a household, and thus both husband and wife have to earn an income. This is the modern propaganda – simply so the government gets more taxes, and the whole consumption of buying all kinds of junk which is not required, continues. Devotees should be intelligent enough to recognise these matters, and not get trapped in all kinds of Kali Yuga trends. It is rather a question of being willing to live simply. If we agree to keep a simple life style, then one salary will be sufficient. Sudama’s wife did not go out and work. The problem is, that most devotees are attached to the idea of living just as fancy of a life style as non-devotees, if not even a higher standard of life.
We have to educate our ladies and uplift their consciousness, giving them a different perspective to life. And it is simply amazing to see how it transforms devotees’ world view. After taking this course many ladies have happily given up their careers and joyfully accept their roles of mothers and home-makers. And as a rule the husbands are very happy about it, since it strengthens their position as sole maintainer of the family. Often it inspires a man to even earn more money. Also, I have seen several couples sitting down and calculating, and they realize that they end up having only a little more money per month when both work. By the time they take off all expenses and taxes, costs to maintain a second car so she gets to work, etc, etc, there is hardly anything left.
Interesting to see – in the Western world even non-devotees realize these things and are writing books about it, urging the women to go back to their traditional roles of being mums and homemakers. In India this will probably take some time, since here it is now a big new thing of women entering the workforce. In Germany for example it’s an old hat, and the women are sick and tired of it, discovering that they are simply being cheated through all this nonsense propaganda..