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Women in varnasrama

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 / Published in Articles / 3,127 views

By Siddhi-lalasa dasi

We have heard the statement that women should be protected by parents in childhood, by the husband in youth, and by the son in old age. We should also add that besides these three male figures, the brother has a major role to play too. In absence of father or husband, a brother takes responsibility for the female members of the family.

India, right now, is in a state of social decay. The varnasrama system started to crumble 5,000 years, and most probably it crumbled first and fastest in the Western world. But now we are witnessing the same phenomenon of Kali yuga in the cities of India and surely in its villages also.

Basically, or in general, the nature of the woman is to be dependent on male figures. This is very much evident among the Indian women. But I won’t say it is not true for the Western women also. It is just that varnasrama dharma collapsed in their part of the world first. By force they have become habituated to take charge of their lives. Now as we watch the fall down of varnasrama dharma in India, we see the women becoming more and more aggressive and self reliant. If the trend of Kali-yuga continues in India, very soon, the Indian women will be in the same plight as the Western woman. Observation and surveys in India, however, shows that mostly the women are not happy. At the end of the day, the Indian woman wishes to have a reliable companion in her life, or a guardian.

The collapse of varnasrama dharma has its implications. As the women are victims of the anomaly of a varnasrama system improperly practiced, similarly, all its members are victims in some way or the other. The victimized members of a social structure that is decaying, are not well versed in how to set it up properly again. Even if a small group of individuals try to apply its principles to its members, the group has to encounter the rest of the world and systems that oppose it. Consequently, there is a tendency to concoct ways how to do it and hence unwittingly cause serious inconveniences to others.

From what I have understood from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, varnasrama dharma will not be set up again until the next yuga. However, Srila Prabhupada does mention that the Krishna Consciousness movement is meant to reestablish varnasrama dharma, because it is the most organized system that allows a conditioned soul to flourish and reach its maximum potential to progress in spiritual life. But what do we do if we don’t know how to set it back to its original state? It is such a complex system that unless we have the expert guidance of the brahmanas and the cooperation of the ksatriyas (the rulers or government), it cannot be implemented. In Kali-yuga, the principle is to allow anyone, without discrimination of race, caste, sex, and so on, to chant Hare Krishna. This is our prime religion, over and above varnasrama dharma.

At the end of the day, the members of the Hare Krishna movement want the women section to progress and go back to Godhead. The moto is to “make the best use of a bad bargain”. The rest of the world is not interested in serving Krishna. But those women who are coming forward to worship Krishna and serve Him with their lives are beyond varnasrama dharma. Despite the fall down of varnasrama dharma, which gave them so much protection, they are still coming forward to serve Krishna. This proves that they are beyond varnasrama dharma. The eternal dharma of the soul—sanatana dharma—is absolutely manifest in their hearts, and it is forcing its way through the chaos of a social decay. For such women every facility—according to capacity—need to be given so that they may progress in spiritual life and participate in the sankirtana movement.

Narada Muni instructs that in case of emergency, one varna can do the work of another varna. Our varna is the preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That is the only occupation for those who want to please the Supreme Lord—samsiddhir hari tosanam—the goal of varnasrama dharma.

Siddhi-lalasa dasi


  1. 0
    Prabhava Vigraha das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Very nice article. Simple, direct, to the point and sincere.

    Srila Prabhupada has given us the understanding that the chanting of the maha-mantra can bring about the adjustments that society needs.

    What is impossible to figure out by our tiny brain, is how the curtain of maya can be lifted by Krishna’s mercy. The sankirtan movement has the power to bring this about. We have to carry out our duty of being fully Krishna conscious ourselves and at the same time doing good to others. If we have an army of such serious and sincere devotees, fully convinced of being Krishna conscious, wonderful things can be made possible. Nothing can be achieved successfully without this basic formula. Chanting is the beginning, the middle and the end of our individual and collective success.

    Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada, ki jaya!

  2. 0
    Puskaraksa das says:

    Very nice article Mataji !

    Indeed, we are transcendental to the body and are there to serve and please Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna, according to our capacities, which may relate to our varna and ashrama, but mostly by engaging in the 9 processes of devotional service… sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, vandanam pada sevanam…

    In relation to the topic you were initially commenting on, I feel that as Kali yuga progresses, couple members have less and less patience with one another… When there is some disagreement due to the differences of opinion and conditioning and even arguments due to ahankara, false ego, instead of sticking to each other despite the storm and work it out, they are prompt to split up and separate…

    Hence, they go from one temporary relationship, to another quicker one… Less and less commitment, less and less fidelity, less and less mercy for each other… More and more selfishness… “Me, my desires, my satisfaction” tend to become the moto and supersede all other considerations…

    It is sad, for by doing so, the conditioned souls do not realize that they become more and more entangled in samsara… Instead of being in an ashrama meant to facilitate spiritual advancement, grishastas turn into, not only grihamedis, materialistically attached people, but even into wandering souls, without any shelter…

    By being too selfish to shelter and protect anyone, they also become without any shelter and protection…
    They fail to understand that husband and wife are meant to give good association to one another and help each other develop and nourish their bhakti lata…

    So, whether one has a brother or not, one has to take shelter of the Great… Srila Prabhupada created this ISKCON Movement to host and shelter the whole world… As we become more and more structured as an organization, we have to set up more and more ladies’ ashrams, so that those, who have been wounded during the Kali yuga war amongst genders, can take shelter and engage in seva at the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani and Her sakhis and manjaris…

    Hare Krihsna

    Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
    Puskaraksa das

  3. 0
    Puskaraksa das says:

    PS : Besides, if I may add, we should consider that in ISKCON, besides being uncles and nephews or aunties and nieces, we are all spiritual brothers and sisters…

    Therefore, we are all there to help and assist each other, lead a Krishna conscious life and go back home, back to Godhead, be it from far of closer, according to our ashrama and the spîritual role one plays both in the Society and in our Society…

    Hare Krishna

  4. 0
    Visakha Priya dasi ( User Karma: -17 ) says:

    “We now have mathas at many places, whereat numerous sannyasis, grhastas, and brahmacaris have facility to reside and receive training in sadacara, yet for a long time we have also been trying to provide the mothers similar opportunities for Hari-bhajana. Of course those mothers who have the opportunity for Hari-bhajana in their own homes do not need a separate residence. But we often hear that they get impeded in their Hari-bhajana due to bad association. It will be highly beneficial for them if we can build Sri Visnupriya-palli in Sridhama Mayapur, near the abode of Sriman Mahaprabhu, wherein they can live apart from their families and perform Hari-bhajana. They belong to the group of Sri Visnupriya-devi, so it is proper that they live in the house of Sriman Mahaprabhu and serve Him under the shelter of Sri Visnupriya-devi. There should not be any bad association or mundane male relationship for them. Only a few devotees who are like Isana [Mother Saci’s male servant in Caitanya-lila] should stay at a distance and take care of them. If the mothers do not quarrel, and live only for the sake of serving the Lord—by daily reciting sastra and discussing devotional subjects, always chanting the holy name, taking care of the paraphernalia for Sriman Mahaprabhu’s service, giving up all luxury, living a model saintly life, and serving Mayaprabhu in all ways—then it is necessary to have such an ideal neighborhood. ”
    (Excerpt from a lecture given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura on 21 September 1925)

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