As a father of beautiful twin daughters who have been in my care now for 14 years and a married man who has been “spoiled” by intimate dealings with “woman” as Srila Prabhupada once joked, I feel it necessary to try and help clear up a few misunderstandings that are apparently shared by a small number of men and women in ISKCON today.
The principle of equality between the sexes is to be understood purely from the spiritual point of view. From the material point of view – no two men are even equal! That is a fact. So if there is someone arguing that men and women are equal from material point of view – then they are either ignorant or arrogant. That is all.
Anyone who has actually raised girls from birth would never make such a nonsensical assertion that boys and girls are materially equal. Any man who actually protects and serves his wife would never accept that her material nature – is the equal of his own! They are as different as night and day.
When studied honestly, and Srimad Bhagavatam and thus our Bhagavat culture is reserved for “Purified men who are thoroughly HONEST” one has to admit that woman as a rule is very much expert and indeed “intelligent” in matters that are dedicated to arranging for immediate comfort in this material world. The “tactics” of woman in this regard are legendary! But Bhagavatam is clear on this point – the material world is not our home! We do not belong here! We are pure spirit soul. We have no business setting down roots here and making a comfortable home.
The woman is by nature driven to dedicate her herself to the “illusory task” of pretending that we will live happily ever after in this very, very TEMPORARY WORLD! In these matters woman is more than intelligent – she is brilliant! She so surpasses man in this regard it isn’t a contest! And it is only when man seeks to delight in her company and swim in the bountiful praise and glorification which she is so eager to shower upon him, does he also find meaning or purpose and indeed pleasure in sharing her vision of a permanent home in this miserable and so very temporary material world!
From the hut to the skyscraper, for the most part, all built by men, the primary inspiration is to be found to be woman! That is a fact! Even the women of the most advanced culture in the world – Vaisnava Culture – are more inclined to delay “full commitment” to Krsna and His Representative, until they have their man – home – and children! So whereas, a man upon hearing the instructions of the “sadhu” severs himself from the idea of setting up a nest here in the land of death and disease and destruction – a woman will seek to delay real surrender to the sadhu until the end of life – arguing that it would be better if I set up “camp” here in this miserable place and give birth to a few children and instruct THEM in the spiritual science!
So the essential difference between a man and a woman, from the Bhagavat’s perspective is that a MAN is capable of immediately taking up the service of the senses of the Lord under the direction of the Spiritual Master and and a woman is advised to “dovetail” her senses, her naturally sensual nature, in the service of the Lord in the safe and protected environment provided by the father, husband or son.
When a man takes up Krsna Consciousness from another culture, or is born into it, he is advised by the Spiritual Master first , if possible, to pursue lifelong brahmacari, avoiding the distractions and artificial necessities that go hand and hand with “nesting” in family life. That is described by the Spiritual Master as best! That is a fact. In doing so such a “brahmacari” is available to pursue his devotional service “full time” and more importantly he is at the “beck and call” of his savior, his Spiritual Master! If such a position is not acceptable to a man then it is understood that his intelligence is still covered to some degree and he is still not yet convinced of the flickering and very temporary nature of this material world.
Nothing teaches him “reality from illusion” more rapidly and completely than honest household life! That is a fact. So the Spiritual Master will advise that he marry and go through the “school of hard knocks” and simultaneously continue in his sadhana. Intimate association with a “nester woman” is a CONCESSION for a foolish man who is not yet convinced of the FUTILITY of trading a little bit of sex pleasure for a life of SLAVERY as the provider for the wife and children. That’s all!
In Vrndavana in 1975, His Divine Grace confirmed this fact on two separate occasions. Once he was asked by one of my godbrothers “if marriage was a falldown”? He replied, “What is the question of falldown – for a fallen fellow”! We all delighted in his candor. Another time Srila Prabhupada stopped and commented about the utter futility of life in this miserable material world, “We have traded our natural position as Krsna’s loving servants for life in this miserable place. It is most embarrassing! We have come to this world for two reasons only – TO PASS SEMEN AND STOOL”!
Such comments may appear harsh and exceedingly pessimistic. But they are delivered by the Spiritual Master specifically for the purpose of “cutting” our attachment to this rotten place. All of us recall Srila Prabhupada’s conversation with Hayagriva prabhu, recorded in the Lilamrta and elsewhere. Upon hearing from Srila Prabhupada that Vaisnava grhastas were expected to strictly follow the four regulative principals and only share in sexual relations with their wife once a month and only for the purpose of procreation, Hayagriva prabhu responded “That’s all! Well then it would seem better to just give it up!” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes that is the whole idea!”
So man is advised to avoid marriage if at all possible – even though it is understood that most men will still need to marry and go through the ordeal. Indeed in the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada writes that for the society that wishes to create a congenial and spiritually advanced atmosphere marriage for boys by 26 and girls by 16 is “compulsory”! However woman in general is never advised to remain brahmacari or brahmacarini (whatever). Indeed, in Vedic culture, Srila Prabhupada emphasized that the duty of the father to arrange the marriage of the daughter was so “compulsory” that if the daughter’s marriage was not arranged by puberty then the father was obliged to ingest the daughters’ first menstruation!
“Of course” he said, “they would not actually do, but the point was made to emphasize the importance of early marriage”! Now we know that there is no certainty for anything in Kali Yuga – marriage or otherwise. Srila Prabhupada once said that “we were not specifically interested in social reform but that society would naturally make social adjustments as they became Krsna Conscious”.
Any discussion as to the intelligence of woman, as compared to the intelligence of a man, must be studied from this point. Generally woman is considered less intelligent than man (even those who are attracted to Sri Krsna’s samkirtan movement) on account of her natural enthusiasm for “setting up camp” in the material world. This is reality. Men are initially only willing to undergo the hassle of providing for and raising children on account of the “Heavenly nectar of sex life”. This is confirmed by the Second Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. For women it is more or less the same.
However because women can only enjoy this “Heavenly nectar” for about thirty days and then unless they are not healthy, their enjoyment ends and they are pregnant, they tend to include a far wider range of plans and dreams in regards to the relationship with the husband. And each of these plans and dreams is going to cost the husband dearly – in terms of time, work and most importantly money! The romantic fantasy ends and the work begins! So generally woman’s mind hovers in the realm of PREYAS and a man’s mind will hover in the realm of SREYAS! Even materially – what to speak of spiritually!
Now there appears to be two very distinct points to the controversy. One is the fact that some women and some men have an apparent problem with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on all these matters. Indeed some of these individuals, upon reading some of my comments above, would reject them as being of a highly interpretive nature. One that is perhaps jaded by my own personal perception of His Divine Grace and/or my own experiences in household life – be they good or bad.
Truth be told, however, I am only repeating verbatim His Divine Grace and fortunate fool that I am, my experiences as a married man for the past 18 years as a husband( to the same woman) and father to four sons and two daughters, has served to convince me more now than ever, of the overwhelming enormity and clarity of each and every Golden Nugget of Nectar that I find in Srila Prabhupada’s writings and the treasured memories of His Personal comments and statements that I was so fortunate to hear!
Many of the comments of His Divine Grace that I was fortunately able to personally hear, loom large in my mind and confirm my fallen and foolish nature. But I do not resent them! I do not try to adjust them and I never, never, never, never, ever, ever REJECT THEM!