Women in varnasrama
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.
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