Q.1: It is said that a woman should serve Krishna through husband, and only in this way she will return to the spiritual world. What to do if due to various circumstances woman is alone, without a husband?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, the devotee is serving Krishna. They are chanting their japa, they are performing their sadhana, they are worshiping the Deity. This is all done to spiritual master and Krishna. Then we have various material distractions or attachments that take away time from this full time service to Krishna. So then the idea is is that those distractions, we see them in connection to Krishna. Therefore from that, following the directions given by Krishna, we engage those distractions in the Lord’s service. So it’s not that the woman can only approach Krishna through the husband, means, you can approach through Guru. Means, the husband is there to help the wife in her understanding, in her practices, but he is not the medium of serving Krishna, it’s the spiritual master. So whether she is married or not, then that service of chanting, hearing and all that is being done through the Parampara. Husband is helping, but as an assistant to the spiritual master, he doesn’t replace the spiritual master. So this all process of connecting everything to Krishna, in that then we see that it’s Krishna’s masculine potency, one is interacting with that properly, and similarly the husband with the wife.
Q.2: What does it mean that the wife should be humble and submissive to husband? Could you give proper understanding of what should be the role of the husband in that regard?
HH BVPS Maharaja: So, the husband, basically, according to the Vedic literatures, the husband is leading, the wife is following. So this means, whatever qualities or responses or reactions that the husband wants from the wife, he must be the first one to do it, because he is leading.
Translator: Husband should act in such a way that the wife should follow, this is what you said?
HH BVPS Maharaja: No, we are saying… Means, yes, he should act in a way that she will follow, means that what qualities he wants her to have, he first displays them. Means, he wants her to be respectful, that means, he is respectful towards her. He wants her to be submissive, he is also very careful and considerate of what are her needs, so in this way manifest his submission to her needs. If a fight starts between the husband and wife, then the husband, he takes the humble position and in this way tries to make the wife peaceful, and that way then she will take the humble position. So, in this way then it works.
At the same time is, the wife is trying her best to speak nicely, speak pleasantly, say what she likes, if she is upset, she can present it, but try not to be cutting or nasty in her comments. In the same way then, in the discussion between Maharaja Dushmanta and Shakuntala then the point is brought up that the man, even when angry, never speaks or behaves in a way that’s displeasing to the women of the family. So if this element of consideration, as we are discussing it, is maintained, then each one is careful to see that the other one is taken care of. But the natural course is, the husband starts the interaction first, the wife can then respond to that. Is that clear? Okay, next one.
Q.3: Are there any examples in ancient or modern history when woman alone, without husband and children attained the results of spiritual life?
HH BVPS Maharaja: The point is is that if one chants and one absorbs oneself by remembering Krishna at the end of life, one goes back to Godhead. So that’s the principle, but generally women are more comfortable in a family environment, so that’s the natural choice for situating oneself for performing devotional service. So therefore for a woman it’s not something to avoid. But if it somehow or other doesn’t work, then by performing one’s devotional activities then things will work. Next question?
Translator: He is asking, he hasn’t heard any examples in ancient or modern history.
H BVPS Maharaja: No, you heard the philosophy behind it, yes, that’s true.
HH BVPS Maharaja: I am not an entertainer. I give you an answer that works for you. If I gave an example of Gangamata Goswamini, what would that mean to you? Or Gargi, what does it mean to you? Therefore I gave you the principle on which it’s based, so that you could use it in your own life. Do you understand? Thank you.
Q.4: According to which scenario woman is developing in that case, according to masculine or feminine?
HH BVPS Maharaja: According to which scenario? Means, feminine. Means, they are women, so they situate themselves in an environment that’s friendly to women, but simple, and in that then perform their service. So therefore it’s as comfortable as it needs to be, and then they spend their time engaged in devotional service.
Q.5: Who is Pingala and what exactly she did to make Krishna accept her as His wife? Is it possible in the modern age, are there examples?
HH BVPS Maharaja: His wife? Pingala was never Krishna’s wife. She was a girl who was realized, she is in one of the stories that Krishna is telling Uddhava as an example how one, understanding there is no satisfaction in the material world, then one gives up that endeavor. So Pingala was trying to satisfy her needs in the association of men, but found that she was only becoming frustrated. And so then she understood that in history no woman has ever been satisfied by any man. And so, she understood that only by surrendering to the Lord, that He is the only one that can really satisfy the needs of the living entity, for security, for eternal relationship. So in this way then she became self-realized and became very peaceful. So this opportunity is open to everyone.
Q.6: What’s the reason you are defining moment as one eleventh of a minute?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Minute?
Translator: This is what’s written.
HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s 1/11th of a second. It’s called lava-matra, means “just a matra”. It comes from that verse “lava-matra sadhu sanga.” So Srila Prabhupada mentions himself in the Purports that matra is 1/11th of a second, so that’s where it’s from.
Q.7: Could you tell about forms of time more elaborately? How many forms of time you are using, three, four or five?
HH BVPS Maharaja: I am using?
Translator: Yes, that’s what’s written.
Question continued: What do you think which form of time Krishna prefers? Please tell about time everything you know. Thank you very much. With respect, Svetlana
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, time, for us then starts with the moment, also known as a nimisha, which is the blink of an eye. Then you have muhurtas, which are 48 minutes, then you have day and night of the human beings. Then the 15 days of the waxing moon and 15 days of the waning moon, that’s the day and night of the forfathers. Then the 6 months of the Uttarayana, that’s the day of the demigods and the 6 months of the Dakshinayana, that’s the night of the demigods, so one of our human years is one of their days and nights. A thousand years of the demigods then is the calculation on which you base Yugas. Kali-yuga is 1,000 years of the demigods, Dvapara-yuga 2,000, Treta-yuga 3,000, Satya-yuga 4,000. So 10,000 years of the demigods is one Mahayuga, or cycle of the 4 yugas. 72 Mahayugas then make the time of a Manvantara, or how long Manu is ruling. Manu, there are 14 Manus in a day of Brahma. So, and in a day of Brahma then the Universe is functioning, during the night then it’s destroyed. And like this then a hundred years of Brahma goes by, and then his lifetime ends, which is the end of the time of the Universe. Which, Bhagavatam mentions, is 3/4 of a second for Maha Vishnu. So that’s time. So someone who knows these spans of time, someone who knows this calculation, knows time.
Q.8: Could you please explain what are the exceptional cases when divorce is acceptable for grihastha devotees? And in which cases we can just use common sense?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Common sense can always be used. The point is is, if the man is sense-controlled and considerate towards the woman in all circumstances, this will generate chastity and satisfaction in the woman, then relationship can work. So, one should focus on these points and then make that work, rather than find an excuse why not to make it work. Does that make sense? Yeah, because I am not gonna give you excuses, so that you can just break off your marriage and say, “Well, Maharaja said so.”
Q.9: Often it happens that family devotees trying to develop relationships with other devotees start associating, visit each other, chant together holy names, discuss scriptures, and by starting doing that they discover that it’s very burdensome and difficult, and sometimes even obstructs their individual spiritual practices, sadhana. They discover that they have to sacrifice for these people their time, but sometimes it is necessary to help others, sacrificing our own activities, but many are scared of this. Could you please explain us how to overcome this?
HH BVPS Maharaja: The point is, as you are saying, develop relationships with others. So friendship means, there is something in common. So you have to find what’s in common that works. So here you mentioned chanting together, hearing Bhagavatam together. And by the sounds of the letter, it means, that’s not working as a medium. So, the difficulty comes is that chanting and hearing Bhagavatam class works nicely at the temple. Means, if it works through chanting and reading together, nice, but if it doesn’t, maybe try Prasad, you know, something that is common that the two families find interesting to do together. If it doesn’t work with that family, try a different family, it’s not necessarily one will have close relationships in this way with many families, so you find those families that it works with. If you wanna base it on hearing and chanting, then find those families that you like hearing and chanting with, rather than those that it’s difficult to do it with.
Q.10: Can we say that spiritual practices within the family is sufficient to call it a grihastha ashrama, or grihastha ashrama means community, consisting of many families?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, grihastha ashrama is a family. Many families is called a community. So if you call it grihastha ashrama, means, your family is practicing Krishna consciousness, Krishna is the center. Then a group of such families, that’s called a grihastha community. The community is based on common values. If the values aren’t common, then it’s not community.
We are giving short answers, because the long answers I gave in the past seem to be more confusing. So, we’re sticking to the point. Plus, there is a lot of questions.
Q.11: How important it is to have husband and wife being equally interested in spiritual practices and association, because it’s often happening that either husband or wife is inspired, and the other spouse is not, and family cannot have common interest.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, your sadhana is one things, and your proper relationship between the husband and wife is a different thing. Means, ideally they are connected. But you didn’t get married to do sadhana with somebody. You got married because of emotional and other family-oriented needs. Therefore, as long as the other person is supportive of the other’s practice in Krishna consciousness, then there won’t be any problem. Duties between the husband and wife and their relationships, that remains the same whether one is Krishna conscious, another is Krishna conscious, or both are Krishna conscious. The dealings between husband and wife don’t change. It’s just being clear that this is important and that it’s supported by the other person. Does that make sense?
Q.12: How to make relationships in a family complete despite of husband and wife being different?
HH BVPS Maharaja: I mean, if husband and wife aren’t different, then you kind-of got a problem. They should be different persons, right? You don’t marry yourself. The whole point is is, that’s what makes things interesting, is that they are different. Because they are different, then there is something to discuss, something to interact about. But if it means that their interests and everything are so different that they are not in common, then the husband should interact with the wife based on her interests. Then the wife will be happy, and what the man married a woman for he will obtain. In other words, if he just wanted to be independent, do his own thing, why did he get married? Does that make sense? If the man takes interest in the woman’s activities, things will go nice, and with time you might find, she might take interest in his. But if it doesn’t, still it will be a nice relationship. And as we mentioned, if he wants to lead the family, then he takes interest in her interests first, then with time, it will… the other… it will be reciprocated.
Q.13: What is the danger of sexual contacts without the purpose of procreation?
HH BVPS Maharaja: It can be very distracting. And then one will think that this becomes more important than other aspects of the relationship and other aspects of sadhana. Right?
But the main point is that interaction is emotional. For the men, believe it or not, women aren’t actually interested in sex. Woman is interested in romance. Means, basically intimate emotional exchange with the partner that may have a physical element, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. As we mentioned before, for the woman it’s the experience of any activity that’s interesting, not the activity itself. For the men, he’s looking at it as a sense of accomplishment. So he’s looking at it “I did this, I touched here, I touched there, I passed semen, day successful.” Women don’t think like that at all. Anything before that, anything after that, that’s interesting, but that part of it, that’s not interesting at all.
For the women, there is a difference between sensuality and sexuality. Generally most men can’t tell the difference. Women are sensual. But that doesn’t mean it’s sexual. It’s just the way they sit, the way they move, the way they act. You can watch a three, four year old girl, she’ll still do, if she is there, she is comfortable, she trusts, she’ll still do the same movements that an elder woman would do that the men would consider are sexual. Therefore you can understand, it’s not the sex that’s important. It’s a matter of it’s the medium for exchange. So, preliminary, conclusion, that’s what’s important for the woman. When there’s intimacy, it generates an excitement in the woman, but that’s the potential for being happy. But that happiness is preliminaries and conclusion, it’s not the sex itself. Sex removes an itch, but it’s not what the woman’s looking for.
So if you keep this in mind then the men might reconsider re-interpreting what they think is going on that the woman wants sex and stick to something more romantic. That way then you might not be so disturbed by so much illicit sex in your relationship. Romance is for relationship, sex is for kids. Did that make some sense? No? Makes sense on this side [the ladies’ side], so you guys on this side [the men’s side] should take it seriously. You may say, “No, no, I’ve a different idea,” but what I just said was shastra, so that means if your idea isn’t what I just said, your idea is useless.
Q.14: On the first class you spoke a lot about attire, about dress code. Is it so much important for developing our Krishna consciousness?
HH BVPS Maharaja: The dress code isn’t so important for developing Krishna consciousness. Chanting Hare Krishna is what’s important. But we do choose our dress code according to our identity. So if we think we are cool and tough, we dress cool and tough. And if we got a big chest, we think we got one and we wanna show everybody in Moscow that we got one. So the dress code isn’t actually what makes the Krishna consciousness, it just reflects who you actually think you are. You know what I am saying? So it’s who you think you are that’s the problem for Krishna consciousness. Does that make sense? Means, the gross is simply a manifestation of the subtle. As we were discussing before, Pingala became self-realized, she was a prostitute. So if our women like to dress like prostitutes, that’s their own choice. And if the men like to dress like street booms, that’s, hey, that’s their choice. But the point is is, it’s the consciousness behind it that’s the problem. So the question is not, “Do I need to dress devotional or can I just wear street wear?” The question is is, “Why do I wanna dress the way I dress?” That’s where the problem is. The dress is simply an external manifestation of the mentality. As we said, Prabhupada said, you can wear devotional dress, or dress like a cultured, gentle person. Because both signify someone who is cultured.
Q.15: You are approached by many people at once, all different people are right there, how to give them all attention so that they all feel comfortable without anyone feeling neglected?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Well, if they are all coming at once, then kind-of look who is either more senior or more intimate and kind-of make contact with them first. And then move from them out to the others and then back. If it’s one of those things where you are talking with one, then another one comes, then depending upon what the position is of the other person, then you give attention. If the distance is very great between them in respectability or intimacy, then stick with the person that you are talking to who is more important, maybe make a smile or nod that they are there, and then go back and then finish the conversation with who it is you are with. If they are more kind-of equal or they don’t really have so much connection, then you talk with one, you acknowledge the other, if there is something you can finish, finish that, move back and forth. So, in other words, everyone else is acknowledged, it’s basically the quality of the eye contact and the fullness of it, so even if it’s only a moment, there is a recognition of them according to their stature. So basically this all will work nicely, trying this, but you have to… it’s practice.
So all this will work very nicely, unless the person you are talking to happens to be your wife, she is very possessive, and she is in a mood of jealous anger, then you don’t look at anybody else, you just pay full attention, because even a nanosecond will just increase the intensity of the nuclear holocaust. It’s not worth it, any other relationship you can work out later. But if it’s not that, then you try just seeing how much balance, how much time and all that, and with practice it will start to come. So more important than time is the quality. So just a glance of quality will balance it with the other persons. Does that work? But main thing is just practice. Then you understand how long you have to… Because if you do talk to the second, you can’t forget the first one. It’s like cooking, you have something on the fire, even though you have to go get something else, you never for a second forget the fire. So, in other words, how many people are there, you’ve always got to keep that mood of all of them.
And if you see too many people coming at once, you can just suddenly have to run to the toilet, if it’s too much for you. Pull out your phone, or look at your watch, and “Oh, no!” or something, you know. Or you can use the typical British one, “Oh, I wouldn’t wanna keep you, I wouldn’t wanna take up all your time,” even though they approached you. “Oh, no, sorry to keep you so long, and I talk so much, so I’ll let you go now,” and like that.
Q.16: How normal is the situation if a woman is engaged in temple services under the guidance of men besides her husband?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, as long as the etiquette is followed, I mean, that’s the way the world works. I mean, you go to work, then you have to work under men or women, everything is like that. So as long as the etiquette is followed, then there is no problem.
Q.17: How lady can develop relationships with spiritual master? What is proper and what helps in that regard?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Instructions. But instructions that come from classes and other things. The spiritual master is there for spiritual guidance, not for the emotional support that your family should be giving you. So take spiritual inspiration from the spiritual master, and any other material things you need, take from others.
Q.18: What is the importance of chastity in our age? Is it important for a young man to marry a virgin girl? What is the importance of being virgin for man and woman?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Tradition is, virgin girls marry virgin boys. Loose girls marry desperate boys. But chastity means, there is focus. In other words, material life is a distraction from spiritual life. So if you can keep your focus in one place, means, you can also focus on Krishna. So therefore chastity is always expected. Because it generates the focus needed to keep fixed on the spiritual master, on Krishna, on one’s service, like that. Krishna is a man, if we can’t focus on somebody here, how we are gonna focus on Him? So in other words, you marry someone of similar nature and then maintain mutual fidelity. Does that make sense?
Q.19: It’s known that women have many material attachments. How they can develop their spiritual consciousness in this sense?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means, attachment is not actually the problem. The problem is, the attachment is not to Krishna. The perfection of spiritual life is being attached to Krishna. So therefore one is trying to transfer one’s attachment from the material sphere to the spiritual. So the principle of attachment is not the difficulty. So, attachment then means, what it is you are attached to, you deal with it according to the directions given by Guru, Krishna and Shastra. Then it becomes… It’s no more a source of distraction. In other words, you have activities that go towards Krishna. Your material attachments are taking you away from Krishna. So if you connect those material attachments to Krishna, then they are also going in the same direction as Krishna. So they no longer become a distraction.
[Loud motorcycle sounds]
HH BVPS Maharaja: I was always thinking, they should make a special helmet, the motorcycle industry should make a special helmet that has an audio system inside that’s connected to the throttle, so the more you do it, you get this loud sound inside, and then the manufacturer can put a very nice muffler on it, so it makes no noise. So then you can have a scooter, but get the satisfaction of a sound of a 1200 cc.
Q.20: Amongst men there is an opinion that if wife became steady devotee, chanting mantra, has spiritual master, she doesn’t need anything else, especially his (husband’s) protection, and many so-called “friends” in Krishna consciousness inspire them to “save” another woman, and divorce and non-performance of duties in family, meaning, ignoring family, is justified by “preaching” and “saving souls.”
HH BVPS Maharaja: I mean, there is the element that women need some space. Just like men need some space. Sometimes men need to do what they need to do with their friends, and women need the same also, to be able to spend some time with other women or do activities that they wanna do. So, that should be discussed between husband and wife, so it’s very clear about that kind of… about their needs. That’s why in the Vedic culture men and women in much of the social situations are split up, because that way men have time with men, women with women, and then so much of the time is where they’re together. So that’s one aspect. That aspect is important whether things are going nicely in the house or not. Generally women are the ones that are the most attached, need the most time, but they also need time to themselves.
But then there is another element is that, we see, then a girl before marriage is, you know, “Guru Maharaja ki jaya!” everything is right there, and everything. Then she gets married, and you never hear from her again. Because naturally, family takes up time, children take up time. So, if we noticed that that was the tendency and now it’s going out again, then there could be… The husband would have to look at what is the quality of his interaction. Perhaps, he would be finding that the quality of his interaction isn’t that good, so the wife is naturally turning to somewhere else for it, for that attention. So one has to check that that’s not what’s going on. Because if that’s an inspiration, then the husband then should be more careful that his dealings are such that they were interactive like they were previous to that.
If it’s just a matter of there has been a lot of time that they have spent together, their children are growing up and this and that, then it just may be the natural tendency towards going back into spiritual activities. So then the husband can work with the wife, they can both be engaged in more spiritual activities and in this way then keep themselves working together.
Another scenario may be that, when they say here “Guru”, means Guru comes and visits here is Moscow once every two years and stays for a few days or a few weeks and then since it’s so rare, then the wife is busy always doing service and the husband feels neglected. So in that case, the wife should just, in the moments that they are together, try to make it a very full intensity, but at the same time is, since it’s such a rare thing, then the husband should appreciate that she is interested in serving, and spiritual and all those different things. Then, after a few days, the spiritual master will go away and then the wife is at home for the next one, two, three years, until he comes again. Because if you break the attachment or relationship with the spiritual master, you break it with any authority, so that means, including the husband. So one has to be very careful with that.
So I we will end here and we’ll continue tomorrow, but I think also tomorrow is Wednesday, there is something, more people come, or something like that. So then… So we’ll continue with the questions, but we will also will be addressing, Maharaja asked us to speak on the point of inattentiveness in relationships. Jaya!