Lecture audio, this passage starting about 19:20
HH BVPS Maharaja: Men there is sanyasa, women there is reclusion. Because it’s just a matter of, you just kind-of fade into the background. Because the point is is, the woman is prominent when all the facility is there, the emotions, the senses, all these things are engaged, then she is prominent. But as soon as all those are reduced, then what’s there? There is no variety, there is no other things. Does that make sense? So it’s just kind-of like fades into the background and you find some little place that you have, one is comfortable, one has one’s associates that one knows and that one is inspired by their also sadhana and other things like that, and one just focuses on that. And so, it’s out of the way, so then dealing with that simplicity of the thing and also balancing the feminine nature with that, all that, then it can go on, it’s not a big deal.
But then sannyasa, it’s a prominent thing, there is expected basic kind-of behavior, dress or other things like that. You have to be available. But for the woman, vanaprastha, she doesn’t have to be available. She doesn’t have to see anybody, she is not obliged to. She is not obliged to come out, give a lecture, talk to anybody if she doesn’t want to. So it’s actually just the nature for the individual, what would be there. So therefore there is no ceremony. Or, she may stay in the house, the husband goes off. But just because he goes off doesn’t mean that he can’t come and visit, or they don’t have interaction. It’s just a matter of whether he is going to be vanaprastha with the wife constantly, or occasionally, or not at all. So there s so much variety how would you establish. Because then if you want to say, ‘He is this kind of vanaprastha, that kind of vanaprastha,’ the shastra gives the names, but there is no ritual. So sometimes we make… We have to be careful about that it’s not an order. All it is is, you are trying to pull yourself more and more out of that dependence upon material facilities, that’s the only consistent element. But what techniques you use for that, that’s… There is so much variety, it probably has the most variety. I mean, grihastha of course has the most, but other than that vanaprastha has the most variety. Is that okay?
Prabhu (1): So they kind-of reflect each other, the grihastha is building the variety, and the vanaprastha is getting rid of the variety?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Reducing, yeah. That’s why before it’s said that the sannyasa is indifference. Because here, equanamity, it’s just there is no good or bad. But for grihastha, this is good. And for the vanaprastha, this is not good. You know what I am saying? So facility is good, facility is not, you are trying to reduce. But for the sannyasi it doesn’t matter. He has facility, he has no facility. That was the point of the python sadhu, they were saying, ‘How come you are so fat?’ He says, ‘Sometimes I am fat, sometimes I am thin.’ [Laughter] ‘People feed me, I am fat, they don’t feed me, I am thin.’ To him it doesn’t matter. To someone else then it would be being fat is good, or being fat is not good, depending upon how fat or how thin.
Mataji (1): Is sannyasa exclusively for, just for the male body?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Didn’t we just explain that?
Mataji (2): If I can ask a question… Maybe sometimes you see these women who are wearing white, they are strong-natured women and they go out and preach. I also see in them that they are disappointed that nobody is looking after them, because it’s going against scripture…
HH BVPS Maharaja: No one is looking after them because they are supposed to be recluses, not out there, you know…
Mataji (2): So but if that’s their nature?
HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s not their nature, otherwise why are they complaining?
Mataji (2): Okay [Laughter].
HH BVPS Maharaja: So their complaining is the nature, not going out there and getting into that, no.
Mataji (2): But they feel like they need to go out to preach…
HH BVPS Maharaja: So, but you work it out. But the point is is, women work well with those they know. The men can work with those they know or not know. That’s the point. So the thing is is when they put themselves out with people they don’t know and may not care, that’s where they are not protecting themselves. Because the point is is, women have to be protected, but the protection of women starts with the women protecting themselves. So they say, ‘No one is protecting me,’ because you are not protecting yourself. It’s like this. You can’t complain that no one is helping you to take a bath when you are not in a shower. You are sitting out in the living room, ‘No one is helping!’ So the point is is, they are not protecting themselves, so therefore then no one else can either. So that’s the point.
They can travel and preach, but the normal thing is, they have a base, they go out to a program, go back, go out to a program, come back. This idea where you just go out and stay out and just keep moving, that’s only for men. Men can do that. Means, read in history. The man, something happened, he gets frustrated, he goes out, gets on a ship, travels around the world for a few years. Do you ever hear women doing that? There are none in history. Why? Because it’s just not part of the mentality.
So, for them to take it that equality means that everybody gets to eat 10 chapatis, that’s where they go wrong. Equality means you act according to your nature. So therefore they have to have a base that’s secure, people they know, people around that care. And then from there you go out how much you can. You can go out a few days, a few weeks, a few months, and then you come back. But if they are saying, ‘Nobody is taking care,’ that’s because they are not taking care. So that’s the thing, they don’t know… The problem is is, these women don’t know what women are. It’s not that going out and preaching is the problem, it’s the whole mentality and the arrangement they are making for it. And that ‘no one is taking care’ shows that they are dependent. Does that make sense? So all these subtleties. That’s why I say, it doesn’t matter how tough the lady is, she still will act exactly 100% as a lady. That’s just the way it is. But you have to know what a lady is to be able to identify that.
Prabhu (2): Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada said about equality, that someone was complaining about equality, then he said, ‘Yes, if you want equlity, you make arrangement that sometimes you get pregnant, and then sometimes your husband gets pregnant…’
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yeah, he can get pregnant. I mean, you share the duties. I mean, why be a… It’s also sometimes he takes out the garbage, sometimes she takes out the garbage. So the whole point is is, the equality, where is the equality? Just as a side point, you look at it, where is the complaints about equality? Right? The men are in the kitchen, you go in most temple kitchens and all that, the pots are being washed by some man, cleaned by someone like that, bathroom being cleaned… So they are really worried that why can’t they do that? The guy that goes out, takes that jalopy that they call the temple car and goes out and does the marketing, or has to drop everybody off here and there, right? The ladies are really fighting for that one, right? Isn’t it?
So you go through anything, there is tons of things that the men do, the women couldn’t care less that the men do. But if we are talking equality, why not do all of those? No, it’s only the ones that put you in a position of prominence, that you will be respected and have facility and interaction, that’s are the ones that women want. To be the manager, to be the one who gives the classes, or to be the guru. Did I miss anything?
Prabhu (1): Head pujari.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Head pujari, that’s also, that was always there. But that you don’t have to fight over. Do you understand? But the point is is, the nature doesn’t fit those so much. To some degree you can do it. Means, if the women are temple presidents, generally it’s a nice temple and they can do nice. It’s like a house. So as long as those in the house like that and as long as it keeps that mood, it works. But if it expanded, started to expand very quickly, it would be very difficult.
Being a guru is great as long as everybody likes you, but how many gurus can… If you check, most all gurus can say they have a lot of disciples that have left and even disciples that criticize them. I don’t think any woman can handle that. You know what I am saying? Give the class, great, but the point is is then, give the class, who would sit in the front, the women or the men? Technically, in the traditional thing, the women would sit in the front, the men would sit at the back, then the woman gives a class. Otherwise, why she has to sit there right in front of a bunch of brahmacharis? You know, there is all kinds of little things like that. So one has to know the nature, otherwise, how do you know what’s equal? You don’t know the nature, you don’t know what’s equal.
It’s just like when the Pandavas, when they were in exile, then when they would go out begging, so they would divide the food equally – half would go to Bhima, and half would go for all the other six of them, that was equal. And even then, for Bhima it was really austere! Does that make sense? So does that answer your question? Yeah. It’s just different natures, so there is a way of going about it, but there is the feminine way of going about it, it’s called the recluse. It’s like this. The sannyasi goes out to people who do not necessarily want to hear what he has to say. But for the recluse, she situates herself in a position that if it becomes known she has got something to say, those who want to hear come to see her. There is a difference.
Means, the point is is, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says, you give a lecture, nobody comes, you lecture to the four walls. That the woman won’t… Why would she do that? Because there is no people, there is no interaction. So the point is is, people wouldn’t appreciate what you have to say, they would argue with you, they would say that what you are saying is wrong, or it’s nonsense, or you are… She would not tolerate that. As a wife, the slightest change in tone in the husband’s voice or the use a wrong word, though it is a synonym, and technically, according to dictionary, it’s not wrong, and then how many days it can go that she won’t talk to him or she will discipline him? So you can imagine somebody who is willing to stand up and use more than one word and one tone, and just say that ‘What you are saying is nonsense, and this is bogus, and I don’t agree.’ Do you understand? So therefore for the woman, she doesn’t subject herself to those things that would go against her nature. Does that make sense? So she is in a situation where people will appreciate what she says.
Because the point is is, if you have something to say, people will want to hear it. So if the woman is complaining no one takes care, that means no one wants to take care. Why wouldn’t they want to take care? Why wouldn’t people want to take care of a lady? Yeah, because she is not taking care of herself, but because the nature is such that you don’t feel inclined. Does that make sense?
Mataji (3): Maybe they do take care of her, but not to the degree she wants.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yeah, also maybe they take care, not to the degree she wants. So that’s the point is that then she is supposed to be a grihastha. The point is is, recluse means, whatever Krishna arranges, that’s all you get.
Mataji (1): I also see that these… All the mothers have a group of brahmacharis that they train…
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yes, because they know how trippy women are, so they don’t want to train them, they want to train the brahmacharis. But the point is is, they actually won’t know how to train the brahmacharis. So all it is is that they’ll consider it successful that they listen to them and they interact nicely with them, so they are good brahmacharis, right? And that would be the… But what they can do after that, that I am not sure, I have never heard of this group of brahmacharis being known as dynamic preachers and leaders and all that.
So it’s not a problem if brahmacharis are around, then when they are speaking they go and hear and stuff like that, they render some service, that’s not the problem. But the whole point is that they, ‘Yeah, we are training brahmacharis,’ that there is no… It won’t happen. The women can’t make men. Men make men, men make women. But the point of inspiration of that – women inspire the men to be men, but they can’t make them into men. You know what I am saying? So that’s the whole point.
These ideas come up, but they are whimsical. They sound great, they come out of some, they are from something they’ve read or heard from some time they were in school that they were exposed to some of these modern ideas of equality. What’s that? Equity, fraternity, liberty, these, like that. That’s what they are working with. But the point is is, it’s nice, but… There was, you could say, an incredible amount of violence to make everything equal for everybody, they didn’t like… It wasn’t like equal in that everybody could get their head cut off. No, they selected only certain people, wasn’t very equitable.
(From Lecture on Nectar of Instruction, 25th Nov 2011, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur )