Woman can not be elevated to goodness

Forums Forums Vedic Texts and Verses Woman can not be elevated to goodness

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    Sunil Sharma

    Hi Ashish

    In one of the lectures Shrila Prabhupada says “Woman, they are generally equipped with the qualities of passion and ignorance. And man also may be, but man can be elevated to the platform of goodness. Woman cannot be. Woman cannot be. Therefore if the husband is nice and the woman follows—woman becomes faithful and chaste to the husband—then their both life becomes successful. There are three qualities of nature: sattva, raja, tama. So rajas-tama, generally, that is the quality of woman. And man can become to the platform of goodness. Therefore initiation, brahminical symbolic representation, is given to the man, not to the woman. This is the theory.”

    Can you please explain or elaborate more upon this in detail?

    Ashish Dalela

    One simple illustration of the three modes of nature is as follows:

    • Sattva – giving without taking; supply without demands; duties without rights.
    • Rajas – giving with taking; supply with demand; rights with duties.
    • Tamas – taking without giving; demand without supply; rights without duties.

    In general, almost everyone at present is in tamo-guna, which means a lot of demand with little supply. Everyone wants to fulfill their rights and nobody wants to fulfill their duties. So, the distinction between man and woman is disappearing as everyone is going down to the lowest level. If we talk about the man-woman distinction at present, people see not much difference because everyone is in tamo-guna, which means demands with no supplies, rights without any duties.

    But, traditionally, men were trained from childhood for austerities, hardships, sacrifices, and difficulties. For example, a child barely 5 years old was sent to the gurukul where he would go to the forest to collect fruits and firewood, and then go to the village to beg for grains and vegetables. Then they will serve the guru in whatever way he wanted, such as cleaning the Āśrama and preparing for Yajñá. They would sleep on the floor, get up very early in the morning, and spend most of their day working. A little time was reserved for play, but most of it was hardship, austerity, sacrifice, and difficulties. Gurukul doesn’t mean that the guru will teach and you will learn. Who is going to sweep the floor, wash the vessels, milk the cow, fetch water from the well, and get firewood, grains, and vegetables?

    When the children are trained like this from an early age, then they develop sattva-guna, namely, giving without taking, supply without demand, and duties without rights. Today people will call that “child abuse” because the children have become demand with no supply, taking without giving, and rights without duties. All these children are trained from childhood (often by parents) to be in tamo-guna.

    If we try to train girls from childhood in this way, then they cannot bear it, mentally and physically. Similarly, when they grow up, women like comforts, luxuries, relaxation, abundance, and enjoyment. Even if you ask a woman something, you have to ask it very nicely. Until a few years ago, when men and women would go dating, the woman’s expectation would be that the man will bring the car, take the woman to a restaurant, open the door for the woman, sit on a chair only after she has been seated, and pay for the food. This used to be the dating ritual, which means that the man was mostly supplying and the woman was mostly demanding. This ritual set the expectations for what was to come later on in life. If after marriage the situation changed, then the woman would ache for that same type of dating ritual again, which means an asymmetric demand-supply equation.

    Now, you can talk about the reversal of this demand-supply equation where the woman becomes only supply and the man becomes only demand. But it is very hard for a woman to do it, because of the domination of tamo-guna. There is a famous saying that captures the mentality of most women: “My money is my money, and your money is also my money”. That is only demands and no supplies.

    With this understanding of the man-woman psyche, the ideal marriage was where the men were taught to perform austerities and have literally no demands. They would instead supply a woman’s demands to a large extent, or whatever extent that they could supply. The woman would be trained from childhood to not demand a lot, and meet the husband’s demands. This means that the man is elevated by training them into sattva-guna, and the woman is elevated by training them into rajo-guna, at the very least. Under rajo-guna, there is both supply and demand, and a good wife is one who can balance her demands with her supplies. This means, if she wants more in life, then she has to learn to also give more in life.

    Now we come to the qualities of a Brahmana. A true Brahmana is in pure sattva-guna, which means very little demands and a lot of supplies. They are trained from childhood for austerities, hardships, and self-denial. It is not forced externally. It is a Brahmana’s nature. He doesn’t demand. If something is available, then he will take the minimum required. If not, then he will manage without it. Likewise, Kshatriyas have a little more demand and a little less supply. So, a Kshatriya would lead a more luxurious life, have more wives and children, acquire a bigger house, and so on. But if called to fight, then he has to sacrifice his life. A lifetime of luxurious living, and then potentially sudden death. Then Vaisyas are even more demand and lesser supplies. Their demand-supply equation is more or less balanced, which is why it is called a “business life”. So, they are the primary source of tax collection. They have to pay 30% of their earnings regularly in taxes and charity for the upkeep of society, and the rest they can enjoy. The Sudras don’t like to give anything away. So, there were no taxes on Sudras, nor were they expected to give charity to anyone. They were engaged in low-paying jobs like weavers, cooks, carpenters, blacksmiths, etc. Whatever they earned, they could keep it. But they don’t earn much because they don’t like to give. So, their demands are curtailed simply by low-paying jobs.

    Today the situation is that both men and women don’t want to give away anything. Nobody wants to do any charity. They pay taxes out of force. And they keep demanding more and more without increasing their supply. I have seen the new generation of employees in corporations. They want less work, more money, more holidays and vacations, and more respect, rewards, and recognition. They expect that someone will train them, guide them on what to do, their shortcomings are someone else’s problems, they will haggle and negotiate work to the least amount, and then deliver that reduced amount of work after the negotiated date, and demand a reward for finishing the job. This is the symptom of increasing tamo-guna. It means constantly reducing productivity along with rising costs.

    In this environment, men and women have become equal, because both are falling downward. And due to that continuous decline, the differences are reducing, and we don’t have a proper reference to distinguish between men and women. So, to understand what Prabhupada is saying, we have to put ourselves in the correct context of what the definition of a man and woman was previously.

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