Defending Srila Prabhupada's Integrity

srila_prabhupada.jpg - 20342 Bytes A concern was raised: "It sometimes appears that Prabhupada and the scriptures criticize women, saying that they are lower than men or that they are always compared with sudras." The quotes below have been compiled to assure such readers that this is not so. He does not criticize any particular class of persons. Rather he criticizes all consciousness other than Krsna consciousness, and his purpose of doing that is to encourage everyone to become Krsna-conscious and give up the fearful and miserable bodily concept of life.

The purpose of this compilation is to defend Srila Prabhupada's integrity and the integrity of the Vedic literatures (including Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita). Moreover, it is to help the devotees who have this doubt, because they don't really want to have it. They love Prabhupada and they want to serve the mission of his guru-parampara. They find some of his statements pinching, and that makes them sad because they don't want anything to come in the way of their devotional mood towards him. The purpose of this compilation, then, is to assist the devotees in reading those quotes in a different way in the truly positive way in which Prabhupada intended them to be understood.

The following document does not claim to be an exciting literary exposition. The quotes are arranged, not in the form of a dramatic literary article, but like a document, or something like an index. The excitement is in the quotes themselves. You will find the editors' comments in bold italics in brackets, and Prabhupada's statements in indents and normal font.]

I. "Woman" may mean "Man"

[The following doubt raises itself: "It sometimes appears that Prabhupada's books state that women are stumbling blocks for men on the path of spiritual life. This seems like a bias against women." In that regard it may be noted that Prabhupada and the scriptures often mean "man" when they use the word "woman":]

The training was that he was training to become a brahmana, samo, dama, but the progress became checked on account of being attached to a woman. Therefore according to Vedic civilization, the woman is accepted as hindrance to spiritual advancement. The whole basic civilization is how to avoid... Woman... You do not think that only woman is woman. The man is also woman. Don't think that the woman is condemned; man is not. Woman means enjoyed, and man means enjoyer. So this feeling, this feeling is condemned. If I see one woman for enjoyment, so I am man. And if woman also sees another man for enjoyment, she is also man. Woman means enjoyed and man means enjoyer. So anyone who has got feeling of enjoyment, he is considered to be man. So here both sexes meant for... Everyone is planning, "How I shall enjoy?" Therefore he is purusa, artificially. Otherwise, originally, we are all prakrti, jiva, either woman or man. This is outward dress.
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vrndavana, 1 September 1975)

Two things: woman and money. If we become attracted... Woman means for man the woman is woman, and for the woman the man is woman. Not that woman means a particular class. Woman means which are enjoyable. So in this material world, the man is enjoyable by the woman, and the woman is enjoyable by the man. For both of them, visayinam sandarsanm atha yositam. Yosit means enjoyable.
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vrndavana, 10 September 1976)

I always say, man is good, and woman is also good, but when they combine, then they become bad.
(Letter to Gurudasa. Bombay, 22 December 1975)

Illusioned by Your external energy, everyone, whether man or woman, is attached to this material existence, and all are engaged in cheating one another in a great society of the cheaters and the cheated.
(Krsna Book, Chapter 51)

II. Spiritual Equality of Men and Women

The spirit soul is equal in either a man or woman. In the Bhagavad-gita, 6th Chapter, 1st Verse it is stated "anasritah karma..." One who is actually engaged in the service of Krishna, there is no such distinction... phalam karijam karma karoti yah/ sa sannyasi ca yogi ca na niragnir na cakriyah. Anyone acting for Krishna, he is a sannyasi or sannyasini. It is also stated: striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te'pi yanti param gatim. So spiritually everyone is equal. But materially a woman cannot be given Sannyasa. But you should not be bothered because you are serving on the spiritual platform.
(Letter to Aditya. Mayapur, 4 February 1976)

In Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Movement, everyone is preacher, whether man or woman it doesn't matter. I do not know why Kirtanananda Maharaja is encouraging our woman devotees not to go out on Sankirtana for book distribution. Everyone should go out.
(Letter to Karandhara. Bombay, 6 October 1976)

Female Reporter: "Swami, I saw a television program about your movement once, and they said that the men make the decisions and the women follow. Is that true?"

Prabhupada: "I do not follow."

Srutakirti: "She hears that the men make the decisions and that the women follow these decisions."

Prabhupada: "Not necessarily. We follow the decision of Krsna, men and women both. We follow the decision of Krsna. That is applicable both men and women."
(Interview. New York, 5 March 1975)

Just a moment before, we were dancing and chanting equally, the boys, the girls, the men, the women. So there is no distinction. Even if we do not understand the language, what is the meaning of Hare Krsna, but because it is transcendental, because it is spiritual, from the spiritual platform, everything is equal. We forget that we are American, or we are Indian, we are child, we are youth, or man, or woman, because in the spiritual platform there is no such bodily distinction.
(Lecture. Montreal, 11 June 1968)

He may be a man, he may be a woman, he may be a sudra, he may be a brahmana or he may be black or he may be white. Everyone can approach to the highest platform of devotional service. It is open field."
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam. Montreal, 19 August 1968)

III. True Devotee Women Are Most Intelligent

Although Kunti had the body of a woman, she was a devotee. Therefore she was not like an ordinary, unintelligent woman. Rather, she was the most intelligent, for she recognized Krsna to be the Supreme Godhead.
(Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 3)

Suniti, the mother of Dhruva, was a farseeing woman, and therefore she advised her son to worship the Supreme Lord and no one else.
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.23, Purport)

The Gopis Are the Topmost Intelligent

Uddhava is described as the most exalted personality in the Vrsni dynasty, being almost equal to Krsna. He was a great friend of Krsna's, and being the direct student of Brhaspati, the teacher and priest of the heavenly planets, he was very intelligent and sharp in decision. Intellectually, he was highly qualified. Krsna, being a very loving friend of Uddhava's, wanted to send him to Vrndavana just to study the highly elevated ecstatic devotional service practiced there. Even if one is highly elevated in material education and is even the disciple of Brhaspati, he still has to learn from the gopis and the other residents of Vrndavana how to love Krsna to the highest degree.
(Krsna Book, Chapter 46)

The gopis are the epitome of this perfectional stage of knowledge.
(Krsna Book, Chapter 47)

IV. Prabhupada's letters to his spiritual daughters

My Dear Govinda Dasi,
Please accept my blessings, and offer the same to Gaurasundara. I am so much pleased by reading your letter of June 26, 1969, describing your preaching activities in Hawaii, both husband and wife together... I was so much enlivened by hearing of your spirited preaching activities. I am proud that a little young girl like you is so much spirited in preaching Krishna consciousness... The whole world is full of fanatics and atheist classes of men, so sometimes we have to face such difficulties. But this is all tapasya. Without tapasya, nobody can approach Krishna. So preachers who boldly face all kinds of difficulties are considered to be under tapasya, and Krishna takes note of such tapasya of the devotee, and the devotee is recognized by Him. I have asked the BTG men to publish your heroic preaching activities under the heading of 'Heroine Govinda Dasi.'
(Letter to Govinda Dasi. Los Angeles, 7 July 1969)

Now you have got a good wife who is also intelligent girl and devotee, so live peacefully working together for pushing on this Krsna consciousness movement for the ultimate benefit of all concerned.
(Letter to Krsnakanti. Los Angeles, 1 August 1970)

In London, the six couples who are working very hard there have been very much appreciated by the people of London, and their character, behavior, and devotion are attracting sincere people to our movement. I want similar thousands of couples for my disciples to propagate our movement throughout the world. You can always help me in this matter because you are an intelligent girl and you have many talents. So you can utilize your god-gifted qualities for utilizing in Krishna Consciousness.
(Letter to Govinda. Los Angeles, 26 January 1969)

Being in the disciplic succession of Prahlada Maharaja certainly we are not interested for our personal liberation as much as we want to work for the liberation of the conditioned souls because Krishna desires it. So you are an intelligent girl, I need not talk much, and be happy in Krishna Consciousness business. I am very glad to learn that Muralidhara, Devahuti and Bharadraja are working together. You simply supervise them. I know Bharadraja is a very fast working painter and if he sticks to his work, certainly he will do wonderfully.

So far Devahuti is concerned, she is elder woman but very nice and sober as well as qualified. Because she is of the age of all of your mothers, she should be treated very respectfully. Nothing should be ordered to her but simply suggested so that she may work in her own way. You should personally see to the comforts and conveniences so that she may feel very happy to stay with you all young boys and girls."
(Letter to Jadurani. Los Angeles, 14 January 1970)

V. Women as spiritual master

My Dear Silavati...Your description of the course you are giving to the interested girls about the role they play in Krishna Consciousness is very nice, and I am pleased that you have begun this project. Actually the role of all conditioned souls is the same; to chant Hare Krishna, tell others to chant, perfect our lives in Krishna Consciousness, and to go back to Godhead when this body is finished. Now if you can induce all the women of Los Angeles to place an altar in their homes and help their husbands have peaceful, happy home life in Krishna Consciousness, that will be very great service for you. The actual system is that the husband is Spiritual Master to his wife, but if the wife can bring her husband into practicing this process, then it is all right that the husband accepts wife as Spiritual Master. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that anyone who knows the science of Krishna, that person should be accepted as Spiritual Master, regardless of any material so-called qualifications; such as rich or poor, man or woman, or brahmana or sudra. So if you can show the women of the community how to help their husbands and children to perfect their home life, and all aspects of life, in Krishna Consciousness by chanting, aratrik ceremonies, and eating Krishna prasadam, then you will improve the conditions of the neighboring communities to an incalculable extent. Your ever well-wisher.
(Letter to Silavati. New Vrndavana, 14 June 1969)

Prof. O'Connell: "Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession"?

Prabhupada: "Yes. Jahnava devi was Nityananda's wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection.... Yei Krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei Krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. In our material world, is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.
(Interview with Professors O'Connell)

Prabhupada: So a crazy man's statement is not accepted. Child's statement, crazy man's statement, unauthorized person's statement, blind man's statement, we cannot accept."

Atreya Rsi: "A woman's statement"?

Prabhupada: "Huh"?

Atreya Rsi: "A woman's..."

Prabhupada: "If a woman is perfect in Krsna consciousness... Just like Jahnava-devi, Lord Nityananda's wife, she was Acarya. She was Acarya. She was controlling the whole Vaisnava community."
(Interview. Toronto, 18 June 1976)
The prostitute shaved her head clean in accordance with Vaisnava principles and stayed in that room wearing only one cloth. Following in the footsteps of her spiritual master, she began chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra 300,000 times a day. She chanted throughout the entire day and night. She worshiped the tulasi plant, following in the footsteps of her spiritual master. Instead of eating regularly, she chewed whatever food she received as alms, and if nothing was supplied she would fast. Thus by eating frugally, and fasting she conquered her senses, and as soon as her senses were controlled, symptoms of love of Godhead appeared in her person. Thus the prostitute became a celebrated devotee. She became very advanced in spiritual life, and many stalwart Vaisnavas would come to see her.
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 3.140-142)

VI. Who is less intelligent?

[Sometimes the doubt is raised that Prabhupada writes that women are less intelligent than men. This is not true. The following quotes show that he does not single out women, and not even material women. He says that all non-devotees or materialists are less intelligent.]

A. Every non-devotee is less intelligent

Abodha means fools, rascals, ignorant, born foolish rascals, ignorant. We are all born foolish. So if we are not properly educated, then we remain fools and rascals, and the activities of fools and rascals, this is....