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Hare Krsna,

All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Please accept my humble obeisances.I

don't like to stick my nose into cakra's affairs, but I was somewhat

disgusted when a close friend and neighbor of our families, Sridham prabhu,

who is a veteran gurukuli struggling to raise a family, mentioned in passing

that he had sent a letter to chakra and it was chopped up and selectively

reprinted by Madhusudani Radhe. Could someone tell me if this is honesty?

Is it respect? To distort a persons message to the devotee community, by

deleting sections which don't suit one's political motives? I am certainly

not motivated to re-examine my sense of disillusionment with chakra. Hare



Mata Mahalaksmi


Maria Ekstrand <ekstrand (AT) slip (DOT) net>

hanuman <hanuman (AT) spiralcomm (DOT) net>; <cshannon (AT) mdo (DOT) net>;

<ISKCON.India (AT) bbt (DOT) se>; <India.Open (AT) bbt (DOT) se>; COM: Babhru (das) ACBSP (San

Diego - USA) <Babhru.ACBSP (AT) bbt (DOT) se>; COM: Basu Ghosh (das) ACBSP (Baroda -

IN) <Basu.Ghosh.ACBSP (AT) bbt (DOT) se>; COM: Bhadra Balaram (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)

<Bhadra.Balaram.JPS (AT) bbt (DOT) se>

Monday, November 22, 1999 10:43 AM

Humility, Chastity, Surrender, and Protection



> The following paper addresses some of the qualities that have been


> mentioned on this conference as desirable for women. It's written by

> Visakha Prabhu, who is a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada and who was

> fortunate enough to have much of his association.

> Ys, Madhusudani dasi


> Humility, Chastity, Surrender, and Protection


> By Visakha devi dasi


> Humility, chastity, surrender, protection: what do they mean? This

> question refers to the relationship between women and men. To get a


> of what these four qualities mean in that relationship, let us look at


> in the context of the relationships in the Mahabharata, the Srimad

> Bhagavatam, as well as in Srila Prabhupada's personal example.


> Men's view today vs. their view in the days of yore

> First, let us look at Canakya Pandita's famous moral instruction


> a learned man. Canakya, who is repeatedly quoted by Srila Prabhupada in


> purports and lectures, states that a learned man is known by three

> qualifications, one of which is that he sees all women except his wife as

> mother. Now, in our Hare Krishna movement we can say that men often do see

> women in the same way they see their own mother: just as they have little

> interest or concern about what their mother says, thinks, or does, they

> similarly have this attitude toward women. But this is not what Canakya

> Pandita meant. In his day the way a man viewed his mother was on a totally

> different platform, a platform indicated in the Bhagavad-gita where


> says, "Austerity of the body consist in worship of . . . superiors like


> father and mother." (Bg. 17.14)


> From the Mahabharata we get a sense of how mothers were respected in a

> Krishna conscious culture:


> On the occasion of Radheya's (Karna's) sixteen birthday, he told his

> foster mother that he was eager not to drive a chariot but to wield the


> and arrow. Radheya said: "Why mother, why should this unnatural desire


> a place in my heart?" Tears sprang to the eyes of his mother, Radha. She

> sat silent; her tears flowed on. Radheya put his arms around her and said:

> "Mother, have I wounded you? I love you more than my life. If anything I

> said has hurt you I am sorry. I would rather kill myself than cause you so

> much pain." The citizens of Ekachakra, who were unknowingly hosting the

> disguised Pandava brothers and their mother Kunti, decided among

> themselves: ". . they [the five brothers] distinguish themselves by their

> behavior and their devotion to their mother."


> When Arjuna returned from the svayamvara with Draupadi, Kunti, hearing

> from Arjuna that he had brought alms and without looking at the so-called

> "alms" said, "All of you share whatever alms you have brought." When she

> realized that Draupadi had been jokingly referred to as the "alms," she


> horrified at the words she had spoken. On thinking over the situation,

> Yudhisthira decided, "Mother has said that we should all share Draupadi.

> She has spoken. There is nothing more sacred than the words of mother. She

> is our guru. Let us obey her . . ."


> These and many other passages reveal the degree of respect that a man had

> for his mother. Similarly, the mother held her son in the highest regard.

> For example, after she had unknowingly asked her five sons to share

> Draupadi, Kunti privately expressed to her eldest, Yudhisthira, her


> at having instructed them in that way. Yudhisthira reassured her and

> promised to resolve the difficult situation. The Mahabharata reveals a

> woman-man relationship that has an extraordinary dimension of mutual honor

> and heartfelt deference. The women in this historical narration want to


> only greatness in their men. To be somebody, they had no interest in

> becoming more like a man, but to be more of a woman. Thus they understood

> their husband's temperament and pleased him. This was their victory.

> However great the woman, she placed herself before her husband in this


> that is to say, she was ready to carry out her husband's orders and please

> him in all circumstances. Then her life was successfu; then she conquered

> the heart of her husband. And the powerful heroes who grace the pages of

> the Mahabharata honor their women and are prepared to lay down their lives

> for them not out of petty bodily attachment, but out of the greatness of

> dharma. Women were acknowledged as the inspiration for men, as the bedrock

> and nurturers of the next generation. Men were aware that the happiness


> spiritual advancement of women was a prerequisite to the happiness and

> spiritual advancement of the entire society, for women were responsible


> society's children, and even more than religion, a happy childhood created

> a good citizen. If the hearts of women were vacant and unfulfilled, the

> society would soon be filled with a generation of vacant-hearted, unhappy

> adults; it would no longer be a society, but a group of unfulfilled people

> in disarray. Thus these men, as the protectors of women, accepted

> responsibility for their happiness. This is important: the man on whom the

> woman depends is responsible for her happiness. And in turn, by looking to

> their greatness, the women enabled the men to be all that they could be.

> The human heart yearns for the beautiful in all ranks of life, and the men

> and women of the Mahabharata were trained to see that beauty in each



> Humility, chastity, surrender.

> As far as the specific qualities of humility, chastity, and surrender, we

> turn to the example of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava heroes and


> emblem of these qualities. When Draupadi's hand in marriage was won by an

> unknown brahmana, her father was horrified. He had intended her to be the

> bride of Arjuna and none other. Determined to discover who had won his

> beloved daughter, he asked his son, Dhrishtadyumna, to spy on the


> Pandavas. Dhrishtadyumna did so and, on watching the goings-on in their

> house saw his sister, a princess born in the royal household and used to

> all comfort, happily eating the meagre alms that the "brahmana" brothers

> had begged. Dhrishtadyumna was surprised to see the smile that lurked at

> the corner of Draupadi's lips. The sun had set. Still Dhrishtadyumna


> on. The five young men now spread kusa grass on the floor and lay down to

> sleep. Kunti lay down at the head and Draupadi was pleased to humbly lay


> their feet as a foot-pillow. Now let us fast forward a few years. Draupadi

> is the ideal wife, one of greatest chaste women in history, and able to

> please five husbands. Here she speaks to the elders in the Kaurava court


> the time of the ill-fated gambling match between her husband Yudhisthira

> and his cousin, Duryodhana:


> "You are all present and yet unrighteousness has reared its head. Can it

> be possible? Here is a man drunk with power, asking for a woman to be

> dragged to the court. And you are all looking on! . . . The righteousness

> for which the House of Kurus was noted has now overleaped its boundary and

> is now flowing away from here. . ."


> And later, in talking with Krishna about the terrible injustice done to

> her in the court that day, Draupadi said, "The old dotards Bhisma and

> Dhritarastra were there, but they did nothing to prevent this outrage.


> did nothing and they said nothing. I will tell You about these husbands of

> mineÉ Duhsasana tried to disrobe me. These men were silent. Can anything


> more horrible than that?É Yudhisthira talks glibly about dharma but is it

> not the highest dharma of a husband to protect his wife when she is being

> insulted? Even if it had been just any woman, they should have leaped to

> her rescue, as it is written down in the book of rules. . . Chivalry is

> dead in the hearts of men. They are not men."


> Is this the voice of a chaste woman? Is this how a surrendered wife acts

> toward her revered husband? Is this our example of a humble Vaisnavi? Yes.

> For the spiritual elevation of a society, its women must be peaceful and

> happy. For women to be peaceful and happy they must be respected,

> cherished, loved and protected. When these are absent, as they were in the

> Kaurava court, there is no religiosity, no dharma, no culture. And

> therefore Draupadi had to speak out fearlessly. And Krishna agreed with

> her. Srila Prabhupada writes, Arjuna "need not be afraid of killing his

> grandfather. When the sons of Dhritarashtra tried to disrobe Draupadi in

> the assembly of the Kurus, Bhisma and Drona were silent, and for such

> negligence of duty they should be killed." (Bg 11.49 purport) And,

> "Duhsasana, a brother of Duryodhana, insulted Draupadi, an ideal chaste

> lady, and therefore the miscreants died untimely." (SB 1.8.5 purport) One

> may think of Draupadi as hot-tempered and given to unreasonable words. And

> besides, her circumstances were extreme. So, let us hear from Gandhari,

> another exalted emblem of chastity who, Srila Prabhupada says, is no less

> than Grandfather Bhisma in character. (Grandfather Bhisma is one of the

> twelve mahajanas or authorities in devotional service.) Here she is in the

> Kaurava court addressing her husband, the blind Dhritarastra:


> "This kingdom does not deserve to be ruled by a man who is full of

> avarice. My son Duryodhana is full of avarice. But, my lord, you, more


> my son, have to be censured for this unfortunate happening. In the extreme

> love you have for your son, you have been unheeding to the rules on

> conduct. Knowingly and willingly you have accompanied him in the path of

> sin. He has been possessed by greed and pride. You cannot control him now.

> It is now too late. In spite of my warning words, you made him the ruler


> the kingdom. You are now reaping the fruits of your own foolishness."


> And to her eldest son, Duryodhana, she says,


> "My dear son, listen to my words. I want you to be happy. It is not easy

> to be the king of a great land like the Kuru land. You must be fit for it.

> A man who has these qualities, avarice and pride, cannot rule a kingdom.

> You are ill-fitted to be a king. You have not conquered self. . You think

> that Bhisma, Drona, and your Radheya will be able to defeat the Pandavas.

> Do not be so foolish. Think of Krishna and Arjuna. They are Nara and

> Narayana. They have dharma on their side. Where there is dharma there is

> victory. They are here to kill all of you. Listen to my words and be



> How can we reconcile these powerful statements coming from the mouths of

> ideal chaste ladies? One who is chaste is morally pure in thought and

> conduct. Had they not spoken out when circumstances demanded it, Draupadi

> and Gandhari would have been unchaste . Steeped in dharma, their very

> chastity forced them to speak and empowered their words. So let us not

> mistake humility, chastity, and surrender to mean meekness, acquiescence,

> and blindness. When there is cause to speak, the chaste, humble,

> surrendered woman must speak. Thus Draupadi and Gandhari remained chaste

> and faithful to their husbands and also remained chaste to dharma. Where

> there is dharma there is Krishna; the chastity of these exalted ladies is

> ultimately their unwavering chastity to Krishna. Srila Prabhupada writes

> how an exalted lady "is described as chaste due to her unalloyed devotion

> to Lord Krishna."


> Protection; part one

> To protect means to keep from being damaged or injured. That woman who is

> ignored, intimidated, treated with [image] disdain and an attitude

> of superiority, is unprotected. She is damaged and injured even while

> surrounded by those who should be her well-wishers. To protect a woman

> means to love, honor, and cherish her as Drupada loved his beautiful

> daughter, Draupadi; as the Pandava brothers honored their mother, Kunti;

> and as they cherished their qualified wife, Draupadi. Those who are not

> respectful to women injure not only women, but themselves as well. As long

> as a man ignores and denigrates women, he ignores and denigrates some part

> of himself. His own condescending attitude prevents him from soaring as he

> otherwise might. On the other hand, the more that women are empowered, the

> more empowered will men be. Because when you strengthen another's

> character, your own character is strengthened. One of the questions that

> Yamaraja, disguised as a Yaksha, asked Yudhisthira, was "Who is the friend

> granted by the gods to man?" To which Yudhisthira correctly replied, "The

> wife is the friend bestowed on man by the gods."


> Scriptural statements Many scriptural statements may make men may feel

> justified in their demeaning attitude toward women. Let us look at some

> prominent ones along with balancing statements on the same topic:


> 1) a woman's birth is low "O son of Pritha, those who take shelter of Me,

> though they be of lower birth women, vaisyas, and sudras can attain the

> supreme destination." (Bg 9.32) On the other side, "Kalau sudra sambhava,"

> in this age of Kali, everyone is born a sudra. Srila Prabhupada comments,

> "This age is called Kali. So it is the statement of the sastras that in

> this age the whole population is sudra. In this age of Kali practically

> there is no more any brahmana, ksatriya, or vaisya. Maybe by name, but in

> qualification they are not existing."


> 2) women are less intelligent ". . . generally all women desire material

> enjoyment. They are called less intelligent because they are mostly prone

> to material enjoyment." (SB 3.23.54) On the other hand, ". . . if a man's

> and woman's attachment is not to each other but to Krishna, then both of

> them are equally eligible to get out of the material entanglement and


> the abode of Krishna." (SB 3.31.41 purport) And, "Women, sudras, and

> vaisyas are ordinarily regarded as less intelligent, but if one takes to

> Krishna consciousness one is the most intelligent." (Teachings of Queen

> Kunti, Chapter 3) And, "Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a

> man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually

> everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of

> higher and lower." (letter to Jayagovinda February, 1968) And finally,

> "Ordinarily women is taken less intelligent; sudra is taken less

> intelligent; vaisya is taken less intelligent. But if he takes to Krishna

> consciousness, he is the most intelligent. Krishna yei bhaje sei bada

> catura. This is the statement in the Chaitanya-charitamrita. Anyone who


> taken to Krishna consciousness, he is the most intelligent." (Srimad

> Bhagavatam lecture 1.8.20)


> 3) women are inferior "Here is a difference between male and female that

> exists even in the higher statuses of life; in fact, even between Lord


> and his wife. Lord Siva could understand Citraketu very nicely, but


> could not [therefore she cursed him]. Thus even in the higher statuses of

> life there is a difference between the understanding of a male and that of

> a female. It may be clearly said that the understanding of a woman is

> always inferior to the understanding of a man. In the Western countries

> there is now agitation to the effect that man and woman should be

> considered equal, but from this verse it appears that woman is always less

> intelligent than man." (SB 6.17.34-35 purport) While discussing the same

> pastime, Srila Prabhupada also comments, "Mother Parvati was justified in

> punishing Citraketu, for Citraketu impudently criticized the supreme

> father, Mahadeva, who is the father of the living entities conditioned

> within this material world." (SB 6.17.15 purport) In another place he

> writes, "Women in general are unable to speculate like philosophers, but

> they are blessed by the Lord because they believe at once in the

> superiority and almightiness of the Lord, and thus they offer obeisances

> without reservation. The Lord is so kind that He does not show special

> favor only to one who is a great philosopher. He knows the sincerity of

> purpose. For this reason only, women generally assemble in great number in

> any sort of religious function. In every country and in every sect of

> religion it appears that the women are more interested than the men." (SB

> 1.8.20 purport)


> 4) women are emotional and lack discrimination "Women as a class are no

> better than boys, and therefore they have no discriminatory power like


> of a man. Asvatthama proved himself to be an unworthy son of Dronacharya


> of a brahmana, and for this reason he was condemned by the greatest

> authority, Lord Sri Krishna, and yet a mild woman [Draupadi] could not

> withdraw her natural courtesy for a brahmana. . . We should not follow the

> mild nature of a woman and thereby accept that which is not genuine." (SB

> 1.7.42 purport) On the other hand, "Draupadi desired that Asvatthama be at

> once released, and it was all the same a good sentiment for her. This


> that a devotee of the Lord can tolerate all sorts of tribulation

> personally, but still such devotees are never unkind to others, even to


> enemy. These are the characteristics of one who is a pure devotee of the

> Lord." (SB 1.7.43 purport) Not only that, but "Maharaja Yudhisthira, who

> was the son of Dharmaraja, or Yamaraja, fully supported the words of Queen

> Draupadi in asking Arjuna to release Asvatthama. . . Draupadi was herself


> mother, and therefore her calculation of the depth of Kripi's grief was

> quite to the point. And it was glorious because she wanted to show proper

> respect to a great family." (SB 1.7.49)


> 5) women should not be trusted Srila Prabhupada quotes Canakya Pandita,

> "Never trust a woman or a politician." He also says, "On the spiritual

> platform, however, when one is elevated to the platform of Krishna

> consciousness, whether one is a man, woman, sudra or whatever, everyone is

> equal. Otherwise, Urvasi, who was a woman herself and who knew the nature

> of women, said that a woman's heart is like that of a sly fox." (SB


> purport) And, "Never the trust the politician and woman. Of course, when

> woman comes to Krishna consciousness, that position is different. We are

> speaking of ordinary woman." (Bhagavad-gita lecture 1.40) Also, Srila

> Prabhupada writes, in the Krishna consciousness movement since "both the

> boys and the girls are being trained to become preachers, those girls are

> not ordinary girls but are as good as their brothers who are preaching

> Krishna consciousness." (Cc Adi 7.31-32 purport) And, "Actually male and

> female bodies, these are just outward designations. Lord Chaitanya said

> that whether one is brahmana or whatever he may be if he knows the science

> of Krishna then he is to be accepted as guru." (letter to Malati)


> This dialogue of quotes is not meant to be like counter-Brahmastras


> to nullify Brahmastras. It is simply to present something of a balance, to

> turn the priceless gem of Krishna consciousness to reflect different


> of beautiful light. However, generally we are exposed to only the negative

> half of the woman picture. All the quotes are there for all to see. Why


> some emphasized at the expense of others? Could there be some some

> unconscious motivation, some benefit to a certain group of people from


> unspoken selection policy? Is our conditioning coloring which quotes we

> remember?


> Protection: part two

> Three of the four qualities that are the topic of this discussion:

> humility, chastity, and surrender concern the way women relate to men (as

> well as the way disciples relate to the guru and the living entity to the

> Supreme Lord). The fourth, protection, concerns how men relate to women

> (and the spiritual master's and Krishna's relation to surrendered souls).

> Let us look at Srila Prabhupada's example in this regard. By enthusing and

> encouraging us in our service to Lord Krishna, by teaching us the

> magnificent science of Krishna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada protected

> his women disciples from the spiritual damage caused by the influence of

> three modes of material nature. By his words and example, we became

> detached from our flawed body and mind. Because he evoked our spiritual

> consciousness, his was the greatest protection. And as our protector he


> personally concerned for our happiness. Srila Prabhupada spoke not to our

> meanness and baseness, but to our greatness. By doing so, he evoked that

> quality in us; our spiritual identity as part and parcel of Krishna and of

> belonging to Him. We as women rose to his view, leaving aside our

> disqualifications. Srila Prabhupada embued us with the desire to be all we

> could be and do all we could do for Krishna. His calling impelled us to

> stretch beyond our boundaries; to acquire a "can do" mentality; to

> repeatedly bring our consciousness to the highest, most protected platform

> of enthusiastic devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. Thus

> propelled, Yamuna and Kausalya led kirtanas before thousands, Malati and

> Hemavati lectured, Palika and Vishaka became part of Prabhupada's personal

> entourage touring America. In his personal dealings with us, Srila

> Prabhupada was a gentleman with the nobility and gratitude of the


> In response, our chastity to him as our guru, our savior, was


> Our humility before and surrender to him was a given. And there reposed,

> these very qualities were sources of ecstasy.


> Conclusion: We've discussed humility, chastity, surrender, and


> in the cultural context of the Mahabharata. We've looked at negative and

> positive scriptural statements regarding women, and we've tasted Srila

> Prabhupada's personal example in this area. Now kindly allow me to express

> some personal feelings. This Women's Conference is a genuine cry from

> women. It is a cry to our men to become the learned leaders they are meant

> to be. To become men who respect women as mother in the Vedic, not


> sense. To become men who want women to love their life in devotional

> service to Lord Krishna. In Srila Prabhupada's words, "our leaders shall


> careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is


> and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some

> atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree

> enthusiastically to rise and meet it." (letter to Karandhara 12/22/72) At

> the moment tremendous amounts of talent are being lost to our Society just

> because that talent wears a sari. We humbly request our men to be on our

> side. To want women to be empowered to be all they can be for Krishna, to

> do all they can do for Him, to realize their full potential in every area

> of their genius, for as Srila Prabhupada stated, "every person is his own

> genius." In this way our women will blossom and our men will blossom even

> more than they have already. This will be good for the women, good for the

> men, and good for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

> Thank you very much.




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