Bhāgavata 4, Chapter 17, tells the tale of King Pṛthu ending a severe famine. During this tale, the earth manifests as a Cow-woman and says several very important things, especially about how women should be treated…
The philosophers had coronated Pṛthu and declared him the protector of the people, so the citizens – emaciated from the famine spread across the faceof the earth – came to beseech him. “O King, hunger torments us, like fire burning a tree from the inside. You can protect us, and now we beg your protection, for you are the one who will bring about our prosperity. Please find some way to give us food, oh god of the gods of men. If we cannot get nourishment, the tormenting fire of hunger will devour us. We trust in your protection, for you protect the prosperity of everyone.”
Hearing the pitiful citizens, Pṛthu cried. Thinking carefully and patiently, trying to discover the cause of the famine. When his intellect became firm and decided about the cause, he picked up his bow, nocked an arrow, aimed at the earth, and drew back the bowstring – as angry as Śiva, the destroyer of three cities.
Seeing his immanent attack the earth began to quake. He would not lower his bow, so she manifest as a cow-woman and ran from Pṛthu in fear, like an animal pursued by a hunter.
Vidura had just previously asked why the Earth had become a cow, of all things. The answer is that she was in fear of her life, and so took the form of a creature against which any form of violence was forbidden. This creature was gauḥ satī – a “cow-woman.” (The Surabhi / Kāmadhenu is a divine creature that manifests the physical form of both a cow and a woman – along with the tail of a peacock and wings of a beautiful bird.)
But Vena’s Son, his eyes red with rage, would not let her go – the arrow on his drawn bow followed her wherever she fled. The goddess fled in every direction, on the earth and into caves – but wherever she ran, she always saw the king right behind her, with his arrow drawn. Like a person unable to escape death, there was no place in the world she could escape fro Vena’s son.
Maitreya repeatedly addresses Pṛthu here as “Vena’s son” to imply how fearsome and relentless he could be when necessary.
Then, trembling with a terrified heart, she turned to face him. “O most opulent and blessed knower of morality and father of those who seek your shelter,” she said, “your majesty protects all creatures, including me. So please spare me from your wrath!
“Why do you want to kill a poor creature who has committed no crime? Everyone knows the saying, ‘How could a knower of morality ever harm a woman?’ Women must certainly never be physically punished, even if they have committed a crime. All people know this, so certainly a learned person like you must also know it, for you are a merciful king, like a father to the poor.
This is the verdict of śāstra, directly stated by the goddess earth, who is the eternal śakti of bhagavān, an expansion of the adi-śakti Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. No one who strikes a woman can ever be considered a moral person – for a woman must never be physically punished, even if she has committed crimes!
No one who values Śrī Rādhā or cherishes the ideal of transmorphing in liberation into a functional assistant of Śrī Rādhā can ever condone or ignore the instructions of Goddess Bhūmi.
If Canakya Pandit (or whoever may have interpolated his nīti sūtra) says something to the contrary, followers of the Bhāgavatam know it to be trash, and reject it. If any so called sādhu or guru says anything to the contrary, directly or indirectly implying that “physical discipline” is applicable to women, followers of Bhāgavatam denounce that person – loudly if necessary. Or, as far more likely, if any inept, inexperienced, and uneducated followers of a genuine sādhu or guru insist on representing their guru as condoning violence and threats towards women – we instantly and without second thought reject those useless person as far away as possible.
If anyone want to become an object of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s mercy, a genuine sādhu, but if that person has committed the heinous act of violence towards women, the first order of duty is to repair the evil they have done. To a subtle extent, all men behave violently towards women by the instinct to enlist them in their personal gratifications. And all creatures have been men at some point. Therefore no one is exempt from the need to repair the evils and exploitations of women.
“Anyway, think carefully!” the goddess concluded, “I am the ageless boat upon which the whole world stands. If you destroy me, how will you keep yourself or your citizens from drowning in the universal waters?”
– Translation of Bhāgavata 4.17.8 ~ 21
a rough-draft for Part 4 of Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive
by Vraja Kishor