A few days later I wound up with Mark and Dave in the girl’s wing again – this time to watch some type of hippie movie. A hippie girl in her third year of school was there and within minutes we spontaneously decided that we were boy- and girl-friend. I wound up watching the movie with my head in her lap.

Thus, the three musketeers expanded to four: Marianne joining Dave, Mark and myself as the hippie-Krishna-vegetarian-philosophers of Cal Poly.

My mom and dad seemed to love Marianne; I think they were pretty relieved that I was finally showing some slightly normal social behavior. She majored in Horticulture and lived alone in a small house in that section of campus. Hanging out in the greenhouses with her, I realized that plants and gardening made me feel very calm and centered. Being a recovered alcoholic, Marianne was totally into my straightedge schtick. She would come to Inside Out shows, frightened at first, but smiling from ear to ear most of the time once she got used to it. And she was a full blown later-day hippie so she was totally into my guitar playing and fascination with Hare Krishna. She would often come to the Krishna temple with me.

She was smart and eagerly took to reading Prabhupāda’s Bhagavad-Gītā, until she came across something she really didn’t like towards the end of the first chapter. Prabhupāda’s translation of the verse itself:

When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Kṛṣṇa, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, comes unwanted progeny.

And, in his comment on the verse:

As children are very prone to be misled, women are similarly very prone to degradation. Therefore, both children and women require protection by the elder members of the family… According to Cāṇakya Paṇḍita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy.

“What the hell, Vic?” She protested. “I know Prabhupāda is supposed to be enlightened and everything, but this is just sexist. Women are like children? Women have to be ‘protected’ like children? Women are not very intelligent? What? What is all this?”

I didn’t like the sound of this stuff either, but I was hooked on Krishna and knew there had to be some way to resolve this in a sensible, acceptable way. I brought up some other sections of Gītā that describe wise people as those who see everyone equally. “So this must not mean that women are inferior. They are just different from men.”

“Yeah,” she retorted, “different in that men are adults but women are like children and need to be ‘protected’ from themselves. If that’s not inferior, Vic, what is?”

I groped for some way to make sense of it, “Maybe women are more easily misled and deceived because they are more naturally trusting and loving than men?”

“Then why does Prabhupāda explain it by saying ‘women are generally not very intelligent’? It’s obvious that he thinks we are not intelligent,” she said. “We are ‘like children’, so have to be ‘protected’ so we don’t have our way and degrade society by having sex with everyone and making unwanted children. Come on, Vic, that is completely out-of-touch with the real world. And, it’s blatant sexism!”

Ever since I was old enough to think straight, I saw sexism as one of the ugliest, stupidest things in existence, so I just couldn’t accept the idea  that the founder of the Hare Krishna movement was actually sexist. The fault must lie with us, I thought, with how we interpret his words.

I sat down and tried to work through it. “The Vedas talk about different kinds of intelligence,” I said, slowly. “The most important kind is the intellect that discriminates between the soul and the body. When Prabhupāda says that women are ‘less intelligent’ he is talking about this type of intelligence, not school-intelligence or practical-intelligence.”

“Do you think women are less intelligent then men in discriminating between body and soul?” she asked.

“Well, in this day and age,” I said, “I think everyone is less intelligent in that way. Prabhupāda says that, too. But, in previous ages, maybe women were less intelligent – in that way. I think that’s just natural,  because women are the ones who have children, and they have to have strong attachment and love for their children, the products of their body, otherwise they wouldn’t take very good care of the kids, or even want to have kids, and the human race would be in danger of extinction.”

She looked at me sideways, trying not to show her frustration.

“Or maybe its some other kind of intelligence,” I offered, “some left-brained type of thing.”

She took a deep breath. “Even if that’s what Prabhupāda really means,” she said, “its definitely not what the Hare Krishna’s think Prabhupāda means.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Oh, come on!” she replied. “How many times have you gone to the temple? Have you ever seen a woman up on the altar? Have you ever seen women doing the kīrtan chanting? Have you ever seen a woman give the class? No, the women are always stuck in the back of the room like black people sent to the back of the bus!”

Shit. There was no arguing with that. 

The next Sunday I went to the Los Angeles temple alone and approached a female devotee at random. She was maybe ten years older than me at most, with a very simple sort of beauty without hairdo or makeup.

“In Bhagavad Gītā,” I asked, “Prabhupāda says women are not very intelligent and therefore have to be protected. Do you believe that?”

To my complete surprise, she not only accepted the idea but was completely in favor of it. “Oh yes!” she declared, “Women are less intelligent then men! We are nine times more lusty and nine times more attached to our bodies than men are. That’s why we are so obsessed with dressing nice and looking pretty.”

I couldn’t tell if this was really happening or if I was hallucinating. She seemed to actually relish the opportunity to declare her inferiority, and was completely unfazed and unimpressed with the disbelief and shock written all over my face.

“So,” I asked, slowly and incredulously, “You’re less intelligent than I am? Even though you are a devotee?”

“Probably!” she said, and burst out laughing.

Maybe she noticed I wasn’t laughing and instead was on the verge of tears. “Well,” she offered, “Prabhupāda did say that devotee women are not less-intelligent like ordinary women.”

“Then why don’t women ever give class in the temple?” I asked.

“Well, devotee women are not less intelligent like ordinary women, but we are less intelligent than devotee men.”

What logic! I just stared at her and kept blinking, as if she might disappear between blinks and prove this whole thing a bad dream.

She compassionately leaned a bit towards me, “You’re brainwashed by the propaganda of the women’s lib’ers,” she explained patiently. “Woman’s liberation is a cheat invented by men. It claims to give women freedom and equality, but actually it only gives women the so-called freedom to be equally exploited by anyone and everyone. In Vedic society women are protected from exploitation, first by their father, then by their husband, and finally by their sons.”

I had nothing else to say. She pointed out the temple doors to a sliding glass door in the building across the street and explained that she lived in that apartment, and was very happy serving her husband there.

I left quietly – exhausted, confused, and disappointed – and dedicated the next few weeks to trying to make all of this make sense. Despite all of what my high school Advanced Placement teachers had praised as “uniquely sharp analytical abilities” I couldn’t reach any resolution beyond what I had reached in the original conversation with Marianne. Certainly there were ways to understand Prabhupada’s comments in a non-sexist manner, and it was even easier to see the enlightened egalitarianism in the original texts he was translating (since he gave word-for-word translations of every Sanskrit text – something I always really admired and benefitted from), but as for the Hare Krishna’s themselves… it was practically impossible not to ascertain their (somewhat eager) acceptance of sexism.

This was the first time I was forced to see that Hare Krishna World wasn’t utopia. But I was in love with Hare Krishna, really, so I decided there was too much good in it to let this one black spot ruin the whole thing for me. Like a “less-intelligent” woman in love with a flawed man, I chose to believe that, if I stuck with them, I would one day be able to help the Hare Krishna’s see Prabhupāda’s words in ways that weren’t so… well, weren’t so ignorant. Certainly there must be many devotees like the woman I had spoken to, who would dismiss any such understandings in preference for the sadomasochistic thrill of sexism, but, out of gratitude to Prabhupāda I felt I should stick with it for the long term and try to do my part to improve it.

– Excerpt from the first draft of
Train-Wrecks and Transcendence:
A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna

by Vraja Kishor dās

VrajaKishor.com

you-mean-a-woman-can-open-it

36 thoughts on “My Very First Tangle with Hare Krishna Sexism

  1. Its actually simple if a person goes beyond political correctness and accepts the simple fact that generally speaking, women are less intelligent than men. If someone thinks this ‘opinion’ makes a person sexist then yeah, I guess it does. Because, such a person is able to discern the differences between the sexes.

    People in ignorance of bodily self-identification always try to equalize themselves on others on that (material) platform. They then think of themselves as learned and liberal. But actually, they are simply creating more confusion.

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    1. On what basis do you decide what is a “fact” and what is not?

      If empirical evidence or logic is your basis: the scientific fact is not that women are less intelligent, its that men and women have different types of intelligence.

      If śāstra is your basis: how do you explain the fact that the deity of words (words are the tool of intelligence) is a woman, Goddess Vāk? How do explain the fact that the deity of intellect and learning is a woman, Goddess Sarasvatī.

      If guru is your basis, you have not taken the effort to learn Vedic epistemology – which declares that Guru’s authority is due to his or her representing śāstra, therefore śāstra is the ultimate authority. If guru says something that seems to contradict śāstra either he or she is not actually a guru or we are not clearly understanding what the guru is saying.

      It is true that we are equal on the spiritual platform and different on the material platform, but it is not true that therefore one type of material body is categorically inferior to the other. Different means different.

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      1. Thanks. Actually, I was having technical difficulties and thought my original post was lost. So I summed it up the second time around, only to now see that both were posted.

        Srila Prabhupada is sastra, is sadhu, is guru. There is no distinction between the three in his case. If one must twist his words to suit their likes, and if one thinks their ability to understand sastra compares with his, perhaps it’s time for that person to do some reevaluation.

        The woman equality and the gay equality issues are both based in bodily identification. You could be pro equality or anti-equality and in both case a person could be on the material platform.

        Different types of intelligences? Totally. I agree with Tatjana’s post practically without exception. What we’re talking about here is the general form of intelligence that separates a sudra from a brahmin. Again, it’s simple.

        If people try to equalize all things before they are actually spiritually situated on the topmost platforms of realization, their philosophy becomes void and empty of positive spiritual substance. Just another form of Mayavadism.

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        1. Srila Prabhupada is sastra, is sadhu, is guru. There is no distinction between the three in his case.

          By saying this you violate the Vedic tradition – which unanimously declares that śāstra is śāstra, and guru and sādhu are those who represent and teach the śāstra.

          If one must twist his words to suit their likes, and if one thinks their ability to understand sastra compares with his, perhaps it’s time for that person to do some reevaluation.

          I agree. If you interpret Prabhupāda in isolation all you have is your own opinion. If you understand Prabhupāda in the context of the ācāryas and the śāstra he represents, then you have an accurate, faithful interpretation and understanding.

          We must understand guru with reference to śāstra, and we must understand śāstra through guru. Not that we only select one (guru or śāstra) and claim that this one is equal to all the others.

          What we’re talking about here is the general form of intelligence that separates a sudra from a brahmin. Again, it’s simple.

          Read Prabhupāda’s books more carefully. You will find that the śāstra he gives us are FULL of women who are perfectly enlightened. Your insinuation that all women are śudras or less is a big fat insult to all of them.

          I won’t continue to approve your comments if they continue to violate Vedic tradition and insult Vedic saints while claiming to uphold both.

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          1. Prabhupada – “Sādhu and guru means on the basis of śāstra. And śāstra means the statements of sādhu and guru. Therefore sādhu and guru and śāstra, they are identical.” [Prabhupada NOD Lecture, Vrndavana, Nov 13, 1972] They are identical. Perhaps it would be in good conscience to re-ponder this principle.

            “Read Prabhupāda’s books more carefully. You will find that the śāstra he gives us are FULL of women who are perfectly enlightened. Your insinuation that all women are śudras or less is a big fat insult to all of them.”

            Vraja Kishor prabhu, seriously? Are we really having that hard of a time differentiating between body and soul? These women in sastra are just that, fully liberated, exemplary souls. LIGHT YEARS of difference from the conditioned souls in women’s bodies we see around us today, to say the least.

            From the beginning, I have said that GENERALLY speaking. Never have I insinuated or purposefully meant to imply that actually, I think ALL women are of sudra intelligence.

            On the spiritual platform all is equal, we are all united in harmony. But for those of us who are still under the influence of the modes of material nature, we need to understand, respect and uphold the social structures and patterns which keep society functioning as a means to a metaphysical end.

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          2. “Sādhu and guru means on the basis of śāstra. And śāstra means the statements of sādhu and guru. Therefore sādhu and guru and śāstra, they are identical.” [Prabhupada NOD Lecture, Vrndavana, Nov 13, 1972

            Exactly. One is considered a sādhu or guru only insofar as they are firmly situated in śāstra. The śāstra gives authority.

            “And śāstra means the statements of sādhu and guru.” Yes, the “guru” and “sādhu” here is Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Vyāsa. And, since sādhu and guru follow śāstra, their statements are identical to the statements of śāstra.

            People may prefer to give some other interpretation or see some other meaning, but that would only reveal that they are ignorant of how Vedic darśan’s and how our own Gauḍīya darśan has unequivocally described the situation in straightforward and plain words. (See, for example, the first major section of Śrī Tattva Sandarbha). This illustrates my point, that if we don’t see guru through śāstra we see him however we see him according to whatever concept of reality we already have.

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          3. It’s unclear to me whether or not you accept that yes, Srila Prabhupada was saying and did mean that generally speaking, conditioned souls in female human bodies are less intelligent than their masculine counterparts. Do you accept this or not?

            Also, after I stated that sadhu, guru, and sastra are identical, you rejected that idea and then later agreed with it, after I supported it with a direct quote from Prabhupada. Looks like a flip flop to me, or a bias against persons who challenge your attempt to equate the sexes.

            If sastra does not support this idea about mortal women being generally less intelligent than their masculine counterparts, and that this understanding is therefore my own reading-into Prabhupada’s words, then please provide quotes from Prabhupada that support your idea that men and women are of equal intelligence.

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          4. It’s unclear to me whether or not you accept that yes, Srila Prabhupada was saying and did mean that generally speaking, conditioned souls in female human bodies are less intelligent than their masculine counterparts. Do you accept this or not?

            Yes, Prabhupāda said that. No, I don’t accept your interpretation of it.

            “Less intelligent” is an easily misinterpreted phrase. If women are “less intelligent” then man in the way we usually think of the English word “intelligent” – why is Devahūti the 1st ācārya of the extremely philosophical saṁkhya darśan of Kapila? Why is the Vedic personification of intelligence a woman, Sarasvatī. She is the very form of the Veda itself (as Vāk, and also as Savitrī), and is the mantra-guru without whose help Brahmā’s attempt to meditate would not likely have succeeded.

            In Sanskrit there is a word “Buddhi” and a word “Vivek” these are both considered essential components of Jñāna. Jñāna is a difficult word to translate, but it has to do with the fruit of intelligence: knowledge. Buddhi we could more easily translate as “intelligence” and Vivek we would translate as “discrimination.” Vivek produces detachment by the negative analytical process (neti neti – “This is not important, That’s not important”). As such it is essential to practice the yogas on the jñāna-mārg. Women have significantly less Vivek then men (speaking as a class, individuals, of course vary) because they are, by bio-emotional design, the mothering gender and are much more rich in positive intellectual and emotional functions which create an atmosphere of cohesion, family, unity, and love which is essential for human beings, especially when we are young.

            This is the sense in which women are “less-intelligent.”

            Also, after I stated that sadhu, guru, and sastra are identical, you rejected that idea and then later agreed with it.

            They are not identical, but they can function identically. An iron rod is not identical with fire, but can burn like fire if it is deeply in contact with fire. Still the fire is the source of the energy and the iron is the transmitter of it.

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          5. What is the point in playing word games? Stop squirming about trying to juggle words to woo your audience.

            Srila Prabhupada is talking about the intelligence that differentiates a sudra from a brahmin. Again, simple. He’s talking about the differences amongst conditioned souls, who exist in a state of relativity to one another. Stop trying to void that reality with your sahajiya-like sentiments and portraying yourself as if you are on the highest platforms of realization, while you also try to flatter your audience with sentiments implying that they too are on that platform.

            You bring up so much flowery words yet you cannot support your claims by quoting your original source, Srila Prabhupada. Why don’t you clarify your position? You have not done so. You simply dance around and avoid making a clear statement about your position on this matter. At best, you create a smoke screen by saying this discussion involves different types of intelligence when in reality it doesn’t. Prabhupada is not speaking about different types of intelligence. He’s talking about the intelligence that differentiates a sudra from a brahmin.

            Prabhupada isn’t talking about the emotional sensibilities of women, or different types of intelligence we may whimsically bring into this issue. I’ll say it again, he’s talking about the intelligence that differentiates a sudra from a brahmin. The same intelligence that stratifies and provides structure to the varnasrama-dharma society. In trying to void that, you are essentially undermining that system.

            In this, the real issue, women are in fact declared to be less intelligent by Srila Prabhupada and you are only creating havoc by putting words in Srila Prabhupada’s mouth.

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          6. To not be a mysogynist is not to be “on the highest platform of realization.”

            A position will never be clear to a person who doesn’t want to see it clearly.

            The Prabhupāda that YOU believe in defies Vedic culture, wherein, for example, Devahūti is the ācārya of the extremely intellectual and philosophical śrī-kapila-saṁkhya darśan, and for example, the very form of the veda is female (Goddess Vāk) and the patron deity of intelligence is female, Sarasvatī. I do not believe in YOUR version of Prabhupāda, Varṇāśrama, Bhakti-yoga, etc. etc.

            I request you to consider the discussion ended.

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          7. A woman-hating bigot… And you still can’t back up your phantom position with anything substantia from sadhu, guru, or sastra.

            The only thing keeping me on this forum (after purchasing your Gita for a family member, by the way) is that you don’t seem to be as honest a person as I had thought.

            And when people insist on pushing their own interpretation of Prabhupada without even attempting to back up their position with his own words and instruction, they deserve to be put down and challenged.

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    1. As long as we ISKCON devotees conspire to promulgate this notion of male intellectual superiority over females – we will always be regarded as fundamentalist, conservative misogynists – akin to the three Abrahamic religious traditions that also subjugate women. Gaudiya Vaisnavism is actually liberal and transcends every material cultural societal tradition.

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      1. I know Abhay. But facts are facts and those who cater to the masses cannot purely serve the Absolute. Srila Prabhupada said it over and over again. Women are not equal to men, men are not equal to women. Men are more intelligent, generally, than women. Intelligence here means that faculty which dofferentiates a brahmin from a sudra. People who get their koupin in a bunch over this issue are chasing something other than Krsna.

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        1. Intelligence cannot be accurately measured and therefore it is difficult to prove or disprove the existence of sex difference. This view emerges every so often usually perpetuated by educators, journalists or politicians who are ideologically opposed to testing. If you believe you can neither define nor measure intelligence accurately you have little to explain. Further, you can claim that all who make assertions based on actual scores or misguided and worse malicious.

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  2. I’m a female devotee and in the beginning it was a bit weird for me to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and their take on women. However, when I joined the movement and experienced how women devotees were being taken care of and appreciated in Indian families, I began to understand something. In the West, women were much happier when they were housewives and participating in social charities or taking care of communities. It’s like in our blood to keep this cohesiveness between people. Whereas men do more rational things such as provide the necessities. However, we’re in Kali Yuga, where women also need to learn to take care of themselves, and actually learn to become independent.

    I completely agree that we’re much more attached to our bodies and everything to do with our bodies than men. Well, maybe except for the gay men. We’re also emotional. Our rational thinking is mostly dictated by emotions rather then facts.

    Also, Srila Prabhupada never treated his female devotees in a condescending manner. He gave strict instructions, where he asked his female dovotees to cover their bodies. I mean that’s very understandable. He’s teaching the science of self-realization, where the first lesson is to realize we’re not these bodies. You see, we need to take into consideration that most of his followers didn’t know Krsna until early 20 to late 30. Traditionally, in Vedic times or even now in certain communities in India, children are being taught values of Krsna consciousness early on. But it’s hard to teach new tricks to an old dog.. So strict measures had to be placed to bear results. And these results are to make people aware of the internal life, rather than the external to which we’re sooooo accustomed to.

    Another example, women are gentle creatures, so are children. In this respect, yes, I agree, it’s always children and women who need protection. Just being arrogant and say, hey, I can do this and this. Yeah, no doubt. What I’m saying it’s tougher for females than males to keep a cool head, because of strong attachment.

    That’s why Srila Prabhupada was teaching Krsna consciousness, because Krsna accepts everyone. And there are many examples of exalted female devotees, but at the same time they grew up according to Vedic values, e.g. Mira Bai.

    What I know is missing in the movement today are the internal practices. Srila Prabhupada emphasized Chapter 2 of Bagavad-gita, but it’s not being taught or even talked about today. Because no contemporary ISKCON guru is teaching what is consciousness and how to realize that we’re spirit soul and not this body. Their answer is to just chant and go to the temple. Well, there is more to it.

    You see, once more and more devotees realize the brahma-bhuta stage, there won’t be any discussion about male and female inequality. Because in the end, Krsna is the one and only Man.

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    1. Most of what you write, I agree with. But please consider this – if it is really a “Vedic” value that women should be subordinate, background and inferior – why are there so many goddesses, and why is it forbidden for a man to practice a yajña without a wife? If it really is “Indian” that women should serve men and be quiet, why was Indira Gandhi (a woman) elected president of India?

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      1. We all have to serve. What I’m trying to say it that in Vedic times there were many self-realized men, who knew Krsna and abided by His law. Now a days, that’s not the case thus women in Kali-Yuga have to learn to be independent. However, it’s tough for us to do so and strive for self-realization at the same time. Because, as Srila Prabhupada said, we’re nine times more of everything, and I agree with that, because I notice that on myself. And indian women are not just quietly serving, they know what needs to get done in the household, it’s their duty and they actually make their voices heard. I have lived with an indian family for a while. Even though the mataji wasn’t holding up a regular job, she spent most her time at home. Sure she was bored at times, but mostly she loved being there for her family.

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        1. Mostly I agree with you, but a few points have a little different orientation than what I feel. In Vedic times there were many self-realized men AND WOMEN. I think that point is missing from your comment.

          Regarding “nine times more…” please see: https://vicd108.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/women-are-nine-times-more-lusty/

          If Indian women are really primarily just staying at home – why did Indian people elect a woman president decades ago, while supposedly liberal America still has not accomplished that?

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  3. I remember stumbling across this passage while reading the Gita for the first time and some other parts complementing this opinion. I just recently discussed this topic with a friend of mine who is a devotee. We concluded that this point of view is not actually derived from Vedic wisdom but rather from the general opinion of the period of time that Prabuhpada was growing up in. At least we wished for it to be that way. I’ll have to ask him next time if women are still “stuck in the back of the room” when they visit the temple. But I would be rather surprised if that were still the case. He always tells me that a lot of things changed for the better since the eighties/nineties.

    Another thing that surprised me reading this passage was that it is somewhat contradictionary to the way Prabhupada actually acted. He integrated women into the movement and was being criticised for it. He gave them the second initiation (sorry I don’t remember the right words for this) and granted them the same rights as the male gurus. At least that’s what I read.

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  4. Dear Vraja, Hare Krishna,

    Thank you for being so honest in your writing (like in this instance on sexism). I hope this turns out not just to be ‘therapeutic’ for you as for others as well.

    I recognize what you write that through the years I ran into quite some disfunctionalities in the Krishna Society, but in a way tried to always find a way to stay connected to the essence and some form of healthy practice. You writing about these things with the honesty and, as far as I can tell, sincerity like you do, is helpful for me to face these things further and mature in my understanding. Furthermore I hope this will contributes to have some forum in the worldwide Vaisnava community to have an exchange on these matters…

    Wishing you well, warmly, Lilavatar das. Holland

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    1. And, here in Israel (I’m from Israel), women devotees lead kirtans, perform arati and give classes. Everybody welcome🙂

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  5. Let us not misunderstand Srila Prabhupada,

    Srila Prabhupada was very happy with man and woman who join the Krishna Consciousness , we are here is the material world and we have to get out. Let us take this philosophy seriously and not try to get of the main thing ” WE ARE NOT THIS BODIES .

    Feminism is not the solution

    New York
    My Dear Jaya Govinda,
    Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you very much for your letter dated Feb. 5. Your attitude of humbleness is praiseworthy. A devotee should always remain humble and meek especially to the authorities and devotees. Lord Caitanya’s philosophy is not to become God, but to become servant, servant, servant of God. The more one becomes the lower grade servant of the Lord, the more he is devoted nearer to the Lord. This is our philosophy. I have all my hearty blessings upon you, please do your duties nicely, and Krishna will be pleased to shower His Blessings upon you. He is very kind to sincere souls, and He gives intelligence from within to sincere devotees. We require only to become sincere in the service of the Lord, then everything is there ready for our convenience.
    Regarding lecturing by woman devotees: I have informed you that in the service of the Lord there is no distinction of caste or creed, color, or sex. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord especially mentions that even a woman who has taken seriously is also destined to reach Him. We require a person who is in the knowledge of Krishna, that is the only qualification of a person speaking. It doesn’t matter what he is. 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. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.
    Hope you are well.
    Your ever well-wisher,
    A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

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  6. It’s true that a great many of devotees misinterpret prabhupada’s meaning of ‘less intelligent’ and as a consequence end up behaving in a sexist way. i have found it useful how to translate prabhupada’s use of the word ‘intelligent’ to ‘rational’. men do tend to have a more rational type of intelligence and this is even taught in university. women tend to have more of an emotional intelligence. this is a generalisation however as a generalisation it tends to hold true. both emotional and rational intelligence is useful, and both men and women have wonderful ways in which they can contribute to society. men and women are however different. It’s not always best to be rational but it is considered useful for overcoming the restless mind and senses and for developing sattva guna. In that sense it is an advantage in spiritual life. However as we know, bhakti is not absolutely dependent on sattva guna although it is generally beneficial.

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  7. Haribol, V.

    We were the Three Musketeers. Funny story: I just passed thru the Pomona area last week with my family on the way back to Northern California from San Diego. We stopped at the vegan Tastee Freeze, and he’s still there, serving vegan food. He’s retiring soon, but he remembered me and took great delight that my daughters are lifelong vegetarians. It’s a lot easier to find vegetarian food now than it was all those years ago, and we don’t have to fill a Yugo with people and drive 90 miles an hour down I-10 to get it.

    Wishing you well, old friend.

    Dave

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    1. Definition of intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. When it comes to spiritual matters, men and women alike are less intelligent unless one becomes sincere in his efforts and follows gurus instructions to the smallest detail, even if no one is watching.
      In a conditioned state our mind is not our friend. This very topic came up at my local temple the other day. And the temple president had a funny story to tell. Back in the day, men devotees were too much in anxiety about their own lust, that some of them developed unhealthy attitudes toward women and would actually spit whenever they had to pass one. That’s maya. Instead of working out one’s internal state of mind, they remained external and judge according to body instead of soul.
      Even though Srila Prabhupada said that women are less intelligent, he never considered women devotees less intelligent. There are pastimes when he called out Yamuna devi dasi in this respect. She agreed to his statement. Did she actually believe that? I believe she did. And I agree. Material women are too body conscious and act only according to their bodies. When they get married and have children their state of consciousness does change and they mature by serving their children and husband. As long as the husband is qualified in his role as husband. You see, it’s the identification with body that makes us, men and women alike, less intelligent.

      This is something from my own experience. I have worked in a women only environment. And it was the most horrific experience I have ever had. The environment was high on judgement, lust, gossip. There were 2 women, who were older in their 40s whom I could get along with. Anyways, I quit that work because I couldn’t handle the association of women.
      Now I work in an environment where men are in majority. Don’t get me wrong, there are fights and tempers do come out. Lust also abounds plentifully, but as soon as they’re aware that a women is in a relationship, she is left alone. What is interesting, men bring out issues, deal with them on the spot and let go. They don’t get stuck on issues for days/weeks as women. See, the vedas are right, when they say women are 9 times more attached than men, and that applies to everything. Most men don’t go behind your back gossiping, unless they’re insecure. But it’s a common with women, I have a feeling it’s even considered normal, because a woman cannot show her temper openly, to get stuff out of her system, because it’s an undesirable trait, she’s no longer shy, right? So naturally we’re wired differently and we should respect that instead of fight for superiority. But better yet, we should become devotees, then we won’t even have time for such non-sense topic.
      Oh, men on this forum who talk from false ego platform saying that YES, women are less intelligent. Dudes, you haven’t realized a thing and should be quiet. You cannot compare yourselves to Srila Prabhupada.

      And that’s what Srila Prabhupada meant, the identification with body is stupid. For men and women alike. Instead of looking externally, we need strive to realize what it means aham-brahmasimi. Srila Prabhupada said, someone who can control their senses is able to realize the great Brahman. Second stage of realization is Paramatman realization, Who gives us knowledge and intelligence. And only through rendering pure and loving devotional service to Krsna, doesn’t matter what your body is, can you transcend these material identifications and obligations. And by reviving your relationship with Krsna, automatically, you understand Brahman and Paramatman.

      Sorry, but have to mention, many so called devotees forget that there is only one true man🙂

      Also by observing myself and talking to other women devotees. I find it is a natural phenomenon for us to look for an authority whom we can trust and serve/surrender. This comes natural to a women. Which is a bonus, compared to men. That’s why we’re keen on protection and become dependent on men. It’s tough not to but possible if we’re sincere. So that’s our intrinsically wired emotion. And this is important to understand to not to serve and surrender to someone unqualified. Thank goodness, that we have vedic texts that exactly describe the qualification of a good man/husband and good woman/wife.

      End note, really, what Srila Prabhupada meant was that it’s time to get out of false ego and strive to realize one’s position as a servant of a servant of a servant.

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