Regression of Women’s Rights
What follows is an extensive list of quotes from Bhaktivedanta Swami, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, on the topic of women. Bhaktivedanta Swami had among his disciples many women, who for the most part were fairly equal to the men early on. Over time, however, this equality slowly waned. Despite his talk of spiritual equality, his greater body of writing, lectures, and conversations show a deep rooted sense of misogyny. It should be no surprised, then, that this was eagerly picked up by his disciples and expanded to Talibanesque proportions.
BG 1.40, purport
As children are very prone to be misled, women are similarly very prone to degradation. Therefore, both children and women require protection by the elder members of the family. By being engaged in various religious practices, women will not be misled into adultery. According to Chanakya Pandit, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy. So the different family traditions of religious activities should always engage them, and thus their chastity and devotion will give birth to a good population eligible for participating in the varnasrama system. On the failure of such varnasrama-dharma, naturally the women become free to act and mix with men, and thus adultery is indulged in at the risk of unwanted population. Irresponsible men also provoke adultery in society, and thus unwanted children flood the human race at the risk of war and pestilence.
BG 16.7, purport
Now, in the Manu-samhita it is clearly stated that a woman should not be given freedom. That does not mean that women are to be kept as slaves, but they are like children. The demons have now neglected such injunctions, and they think that women should be given as much freedom as men.
SB 1.7.42, purport
Women as a class are no better than boys, and therefore they have no discriminatory power like that of a man.
SB 3.7.29, purport
Mahabharata is also a division of the Vedas, but it is meant for women, sudras and dvija–bandhus, the worthless children of the higher section. The less intelligent section of society can avail themselves of the Vedic instructions simply by studying the Mahabharata.
SB 3.23.2, purport
Here two words are very significant. Devahuti served her husband in two ways, visrambhena and gauravena. These are two important processes in serving the husband or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Visrambhena means “with intimacy,” and gauravena means “with great reverence.” The husband is a very intimate friend; therefore, the wife must render service just like an intimate friend, and at the same time she must understand that the husband is superior in position, and thus she must offer him all respect. A man’s psychology and woman’s psychology are different. As constituted by bodily frame, a man always wants to be superior to his wife, and a woman, as bodily constituted, is naturally inferior to her husband. Thus the natural instinct is that the husband wants to post himself as superior to the wife, and this must be observed. Even if there is some wrong on the part of the husband, the wife must tolerate it, and thus there will be no misunderstanding between husband and wife. Visrambhena means “with intimacy,” but it must not be familiarity that breeds contempt. According to the Vedic civilization, a wife cannot call her husband by name. In the present civilization the wife calls her husband by name, but in Hindu civilization she does not. Thus the inferiority and superiority complexes are recognized. Damena ca: a wife has to learn to control herself even if there is a misunderstanding. Sauhrdena vaca madhuraya means always desiring good for the husband and speaking to him with sweet words. A person becomes agitated by so many material contacts in the outside world; therefore, in his home life he must be treated by his wife with sweet words.
SB 3.31.41, purport
A woman’s attachment to her husband may elevate her to the body of a man in her next life, but a man’s attachment to woman will degrade him, and in his next life he will get the body of a woman.
SB 4.4.3, purport
Generally, separation between husband and wife is due to womanly behavior; divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. The best course for a woman is to abide by the orders of her husband.
SB 9.3.10, purport
However great a woman may be, she must place herself before her husband in this way; that is to say, she must be ready to carry out her husband’s orders and please him in all circumstances. Then her life will be successful. When the wife becomes as irritable as the husband, their life at home is sure to be disturbed or ultimately completely broken. In the modern day, the wife is never submissive, and therefore home life is broken even by slight incidents. Either the wife or the husband may take advantage of the divorce laws. According to the Vedic law, however, there is no such thing as divorce laws, and a woman must be trained to be submissive to the will of her husband. Westerners contend that this is a slave mentality for the wife, but factually it is not; it is the tactic by which a woman can conquer the heart of her husband, however irritable or cruel he may be. In this case we clearly see that although Cyavana Muni was not young but indeed old enough to be Sukanya’s grandfather and was also very irritable, Sukanya, the beautiful young daughter of a king, submitted herself to her old husband and tried to please him in all respects. Thus she was a faithful and chaste wife.
SB 9.6.53, purport
As stated in Bhagavad–Gita (9.32), striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te ‘pi yanti param gatim. Women are not considered very powerful in following spiritual principles, but if a woman is fortunate enough to get a suitable husband who is spiritually advanced and if she always engages in his service, she also gets the same benefit as her husband. Here it is clearly said that the wives of Saubhari Muni also entered the spiritual world by the influence of their husband. They were unfit, but because they were faithful followers of their husband, they also entered the spiritual world with him. Thus a woman should be a faithful servant of her husband, and if the husband is spiritually advanced, the woman will automatically get the opportunity to enter the spiritual world.
SB 1.2.6, Montreal, August 3, 1968
Yes. So psychology… I was student of psychology in my college life. Dr. Urquhart said, I remember still, that the brain substance has been found up to 64 ounce, while brain substance of woman has been found, highest, 34 ounce. Therefore woman class (laughs) is not so intelligent as man. There is no question of competition. It is actual, scientific fact.
SB, Sept. 13, 1969
In India still, the system is follow(ed) in conservative families that a widow cannot marry. There is no widow marriage in India. They, the… Manu-samhita, the law-givers, the saintly persons, Manu-samhita… Why widow marriage is prohibited? The idea is generally, everywhere, in all countries, the female population is greater than the male population. So the idea is that she has become widow. She was once married. Now if again she is married, another virgin girl, she does not get the chance of being married. Therefore there is no widow marriage according to Hindu scripture. And a man is allowed, if he is, I mean to say able man, he can marry more than one wife. Not that simply marry. To get more than one wife does not mean sense enjoyment. The wife must be maintained very respectfully. She must have good house, good ornaments, good food, good servants.
Letter to: Paramananda, Tittenhurst 27 October, 1969
I am so glad to learn that a Krishna Conscious male child has been born now.
Lecture at Harvard University, Boston, December 24, 1969
According to psychology, there is difference of brain substance. Not the brain substance equally, of equal weight, in every man’s brain. You know, you are all educated students, psychology students. In our boyhood when we were a student in psychology class, Dr. Urquhart explained this brain substance. The man has got the highest brain substance — not all — up to sixty-four ounce. And woman has got the highest up to thirty-six or thirty-four. Of course, we are not discussing that point. Our movement is a spiritual movement, Krishna consciousness. That is beyond brain.
Room Conversation — August 15, 1971, London
Prabhupada: Yes. That is psychological. They develop… Sex life, sex urge is there as soon as twelve years, thirteen years old, especially women. So therefore early marriage was sanctioned in India. Early marriage. Boy fifteen years, sixteen years, and girl twelve years. Not twelve years, ten years. I was married, my wife was eleven years. I was 22 years. She did not know what is sex, eleven years’ girl. Because Indian girls, they have no such opportunity of mixing with others. But after the first menstruation, the husband is ready. This is the system, Indian system.
Syamasundara: So they are not spoiled.
Prabhupada: No. And the psychology is the girl, after first menstruation, she enjoys sex life with a boy, she will never forget that boy. Her love for that boy is fixed up for good. This is woman’s psychology. And she is allowed to have many, oh, she will never be chaste woman. These are the psychology.
Letter to Chaya, 16 February, 1972 Calcutta
Complete separation from the boys is not necessary for girls at such young age, so I don’t require that they must be educated separately, only that they should live separately. What do they know of boy or girl at such young age? There was one question by a little girl like Sarasvati to her father: “Father, when you were young were you a boy or a girl?”
So when they are grown up, at about 10 to 12 years old, then you can make separate departments for teaching also. But while they are so young, although they must live in separate boys and girls quarters, they may be educated sometimes together, there is no such restriction that little girls should not have association with little boys, not until they are grown up.
All the children should learn to read and write very nicely, and a little mathematics, so that they will be able to read our books. Cooking, sewing, things like that do not require schooling, they are learned simply by association. There is no question of academic education for either boys or girls — simply a little mathematics and being able to read and write well, that’s all, no universities.
Their higher education they will get from our books, and other things they will get from experience, like preaching, SKP, etc. Alongside the regular classes in reading and writing, the other routine programs they should also participate in, like arati, kirtana, preaching, Sankirtana, like that.
You ask about marriage, yes, actually I want that every woman in the Society should be married. But what is this training to become wives and mothers? No school is required for that, simply association. And it is not necessary to say that women only can instruct the girls and men only can instruct the boys, not when they are so young. At 12 years, they may be initiated.
A woman’s real business is to look after household affairs, keep everything neat and clean, and if there is sufficient milk supply available, she should always be engaged in churning butter, making yogurt, curd, so many nice varieties, simply from milk. The woman should be cleaning, sewing, like that.
So if you simply practice these things yourselves and show examples, they will learn automatically, one doesn’t have to give formal instruction in these matters.
SB 1.3.13, Los Angeles, September 18, 1972
So dealing with woman… Especially instruction are given to men. All literatures, all Vedic literatures, they are especially meant for instruction to the men. Woman is to follow the husband. That’s all. The husband will give instruction to the wife. There is no such thing as the girl should go to school to take brahmacari asrama or go to spiritual master to take instruction. That is not Vedic system. Vedic system is a man is fully instructed, and woman, girl, must be married to a man. Even the man may have many wives, polygamy, still, every woman should be married. And she would get instruction from the husband. This is Vedic system. Woman is not allowed to go to school, college, or to the spiritual master. But husband and wife, they can be initiated. That is Vedic system.
SB 1.3.21, Los Angeles, September 26, 1972
I was student of psychology, and our professor… He was a Scotman. He explained this brain substance, cerebular substance, Dr. Urquhart, that the more brain substance is there, more one becomes intelligent. And it has been found that a woman does not have more than thirty-six ounce of brain substance, whereas in man it has been found that he has got up to sixty-four ounce. Now, this is modern science. Therefore generally, generally, woman, less intelligent than man. You cannot find any big scientist, any big mathematician, any big philosopher amongst woman. That is not possible. Although in your country, you want equal status with man, freedom, but by nature you are less intelligent. What can be done? (laughter)
Letter to Disciple, 23rd October, 1972
…Another item is, you are married wife, so in that position you should serve your husband nicely, always being attentive to his needs, and in this way, because he is always absorbed in serving Krishna, by serving your husband you will also get Krishna, through him. He is your spiritual master, but he must be responsible for giving you all spiritual help, teaching you as he advances his own knowledge and realization. That is the vedic system: The wife becomes a devotee of her husband, the husband becomes a devotee of Krishna; the wife serves her husband faithfully, the husband protects his wife by giving her spiritual guidance. So you should simply do whatever your husband instructs you to do, however he may require your assistance. Of course, the nature of woman is to be attached to her husband and family, so our system is to minimize this attachment by making the ultimate goal of our activity the pleasure of Krishna. Just try to please Krishna always, and no material circumstances will be able to cause you any discomfort.
Bhagavad-gita 1.40, London, July 28, 1973
Canakya Pandita says: visvasam naiva kartavyam strisu raja-kulesu ca. Visvasam naiva kartavyam. “Don’t trust women.” Visvasam naiva kartavyam strisu. Strisu means women. Raja-kula… And politicians. Yes. Visvasam naiva kartavyam strisu raja-kulesu ca. Never the trust the politician and woman. Of course, when woman comes to Krishna consciousness, that position is different. We are speaking of ordinary woman. Because Krishna says, in another place, striyo vaisyas tatha sudrah [BG 9.32]. They are considered, women, vaisya, the mercantile community, and sudra, and the worker class, they are less intelligent. Papa-yoni. When the progeny is defective, then they become less intelligent.
Morning Walk, March 14, 1974, Vrindavan
Satsvarupa: Srila Prabhupada, is this school for women also, or just for men?
Prabhupada: For men. Women should automatically learn how to cook, how to cleanse home.
Satsvarupa: So they don’t attend varnasrama college.
Prabhupada: No, no. Varnasrama college especially meant for the brahmana, ksatriya and vaisya. Those who are not fit for education, they are sudras. That’s all. Or those who are reluctant to take education, sudra means. That’s all. They should assist the higher class.
Morning Walk, May 1, 1974, Bombay
Prabhupada: Put problems. I’ll solve.
Yogesvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied?
Prabhupada: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Krishna conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Krishna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupada.” They never say. This is artificial. So Krishna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises)
Bhagavan: They say that our women are unintelligent because they submit so easily, but…
Dhananjaya: No. This is also public transport, other trains.
Bhagavan: But actually, our women are so qualified in so many ways, but these girls who simply work in the city can do nothing. They can’t cook, they can’t clean, they can’t sew.
Prabhupada: All rubbish. These modern girls, they are all rubbish. Therefore they are simply used for sex satisfaction. Topless, bottomless…
SB 1.2.2, Rome, May 26, 1974
Prabhupada: The duty of Vaisnava is to reclaim these fallen souls. Just like Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah. Find out this verse:
mam hi partha vyapasritya
ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaisyas tatha sudras
te ‘pi yanti param gatim
Krishna says, “Anyone who comes under My shelter, never mind he is the lowest of the low, lowborn…” The striyo vaisyah… Formerly, even the woman and the mercantile community and sudras, they were also considered as papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means whose brain is not very developed. That is papa-yoni. Blunt-headed. What is that?
Nitai: “O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth — woman, vaisyas merchants, as well as sudras, workers — can approach the supreme destination.”
Prabhupada: So the supreme destination, back to Godhead, back to home, is for everyone. It is not that God… God means for everyone. God does not say, “Only the brahmana class of men, please come here. Others all rejected.” No. He is inviting everyone. Even the lowest of the lowest, low-born, papa-yonayah, women, sudra, or vaisyas, everyone.
Bhagavad-gita 4.12, Vrindavana, August 4, 1974
Svarupa Damodara: Cerebrum.
Prabhupada: Yes. I was student of psychology. Our professor, Dr. Urquhart said that the brain, the biggest brain is, by practical psychology it has been tested, sixty-four ounce. And that is the highest brain substance. But for woman it is never more than thirty-six ounce. So they have tested all these practical psychologies.
Bhagavad-gita 16.7, Hawaii, February 3, 1975
Otherwise it doesn’t matter what he is, which family he’s born. It doesn’t matter. Krishna says, you’ll find, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah [BG 9.32]. Papa-yoni. To take birth low-grade family, or animal family, these are called papa-yoni. Krishna says that it doesn’t matter if one is born in the papa-yoni, low-grade family. It doesn’t matter. Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah. In the human society, striyah sudras tatha vaisyah, even woman and sudra and vaisya, they are also taken in the category of papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means their intelligence is not very sharp. That is called papa-yoni. And a brahmana means to become very, very highly intellectual. That is called brahmana. Because he’ll understand Brahman.
Bhagavad-gita 16.7, Hawaii, February 3, 1975
To understand Brahman is not the business of tiny brain. Alpha-medhasam. There are two Sanskrit words, alpa-medhasa and su-medhasa. Alpa-medhasa means having little brain substance. Physiologically, within the brain there are brain substance. It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to 64 ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than 34 ounce. You’ll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher, among women. You’ll never find because their brain substance cannot go. Artificially do not try to become equal with men. That is not allowed in the Vedic sastra. Na striyam svatantratam arhati. That is called sastra. You have to understand that woman is never given to be independence. Independence means just like child has to be taken care, similarly, woman has to be taken care. You cannot get your child go in the street alone. There will be danger. Similarly, according to Vedic civilization, Manu-samhita, woman should be given protection. In this way, acara, this is called acara. So the demons, they do not know. The demons, they do not know what is what, how one thing should be treated, how… They do not know. In the Western countries there is no such distinction between man and woman. But there is.
Interview, March 5, 1975, New York
Reporter: Are men regarded as superior to women?
Prabhupada: Yes, naturally. Naturally, woman requires protection by the man. In the childhood she is protected by the father, and youth time she is protected by the husband, and old age she is protected by elderly sons. That is natural.
Female Reporter: That goes against the thinking of a lot of people in America now. Do you know that?
Prabhupada: No… America, maybe, but this is the natural position. Women require protection.
Female Reporter: Who decides who’s natural? And what’s natural?
Prabhupada: Natural means just like in psychology it is said that woman, the highest brain substance of woman is thirty-six ounce, whereas the highest brain substance of man is sixty-four ounce. So there is difference by nature, of the brain.
Female Reporter: Well (laughter), to get to something else, what do you do for fun when you’re in New York?
Prabhupada: Huh? What is that? I…
Srutakirti: You have defeated her.
Female Reporter: (laughs) But I’m not going to pursue your line of logic. And what do you do for fun?
Prabhupada: No, that is natural defeat. You cannot avoid it. (laughter)
Television Interview, July 9, 1975, Chicago
Female Reporter: But you say women are subordinate to men?
Prabhupada: Yes, that is also natural. Because when the husband and wife are there or the father and daughter is there, so the daughter is subordinate to the father and the wife is subordinate to the husband.
Female Reporter: What happens when women are not subordinate to men?
Prabhupada: Then there is disruption. There is disruption, social disruption. If the woman does not become subordinate to man, then there is social disruption. Therefore, in the western countries there are so many divorce cases because the woman does not agree to become subordinate to man. That is the cause.
Television Interview, July 9, 1975, Chicago
Female Reporter: We have talked to scientists who say that the size of the brain has nothing to do with intelligence. Do you believe that?
Prabhupada: I think that the scientists do not think like that. They keep the brain of a particular scientist to study. They keep the heart of a particular noble man. Why they try to study the heart and the brain if there is no difference?
Nitai: Sometimes they keep the brain of a great scientist to study because they think that he is so intelligent, there must be something we can learn from studying the brain. So if they are thinking like that, then there also must be a difference between a woman’s brain and a man’s brain.
Female Reporter: What they say is that there is difference, but it has nothing to do with the size.
Nitai: Then why do they keep great scientists’ brain to study?
Female Reporter: They keep many people’s brains to study.
Nitai: Especially great scientists, that they want to see what has made this man so intelligent.
Female Reporter: That’s not necessarily true.
Prabhupada: Then why they study the brain? What is the purpose of studying brain unless there is difference? You study different brains. Unless you feel that there is difference between this brain and that brain, why do you study. What is the meaning of study?
Female Reporter: To find differences among men. It’s not necessarily differences between men and woman.
Prabhupada: I don’t say man or woman. But I say you study different brains — why? Unless you think there is some difference?
Female Reporter: There is difference.
Prabhupada: Yes. So if there is difference, then what is the harm if there is difference between man and woman’s brain?
Female Reporter: They say there isn’t.
Prabhupada: They say, but the fact we have to study. As soon as you study the construction of different brain, then you must know that there is difference, different activities.
Female Reporter: In other words, you do not believe this, what they say.
Prabhupada: Then why do you study different brain?
Female Reporter: I don’t study them. I’m just telling you what the scientists say.
Prabhupada: So scientists, the psychologist… As I was a student of psychology and our professor, a big man, Dr. W. S. Urquhart, he said that “By studying the brains of man and woman, we have found the highest brain substance found in man, sixty-four ounce by weight.” You may deny. This is the statement of a big psychologist. You can shake your head, but this is the scientific words by big psychologist. You can note down his name, Dr. W.S. Urquhart, professor of psychology in the Scottish Churches College in 1918-20.
Female Reporter: Oh, dear, no wonder. 1918-1920, that means… O.K. I see now what you’re thinking about. That was many, many years ago.
Prabhupada: So can you give any proof since then that the woman’s… In 1920… She does not take it?
Nitai: She does not take it. Somehow they think that the brain is no longer small. If it was small, then, it is not small today.
Prabhupada: But where is the proof…
Female Reporter: You do not believe that there has been advancement of science since 1920?
Nitai: Well, if the brain has been ascertained as being half the size then why should it change by now? Should it change?
Female Reporter: Well, do you think that the Romans weren’t as tall as men are today?
Nitai: No, but the… But then, within fifty years there is not going to be any change in the brain.
Female Reporter: Not in the 1900’s. Why do you use the technology that you use? You didn’t have cars in those days, this television. Things have changed since 1920.
Prabhupada: So what change has become? Can you give any evidence that woman is more powerful in brain than the man during these years? Can you give any evidence?
Female Reporter: No, what I’m saying is that…
Prabhupada: Now, can you give any evidence that woman has become more powerful than the man during these fifty years?
Female Reporter: Yes.
Prabhupada: What is that? Give me some tacit example.
Female Reporter: That she and I wouldn’t be here if women weren’t more powerful than they were fifty years ago.
Harikesa: Now they are talking louder. (laughter)
Female Reporter: Thank you. Thank you. (woman leaves)
Harikesa: The scientists have the theory that the brain, the intelligence is measured by creases in the brain, creases, not by size.
Prabhupada: Not size, but what is the proof that the brain of woman has increased? Where is the proof?
Harikesa: They think because the ego has increased, the brain has also increased.
Prabhupada: Oh, that’s nice. (laughter) That’s nice. (laughing) So to become angry means defeat. If two persons are in argument the man, the one party, he becomes angry, that means he is defeated. Why one should become angry? It is the argument, logic. They should continue. And to become angry and to go away, that means defeat.
Press Conference, July 9, 1975, Chicago
Reporter (3): (a woman) Where… Do women fit into this social structure? You keep referring to man.
Prabhupada: Woman is not equally intelligent as a man.
Reporter (3): Equal in intelligence?
Prabhupada: Not equal intelligence. In the psychology, practical psychology, they have found that the man’s brain has been found up to sixty-four ounce, woman… Sixty-four ounce, man’s brain. And woman’s brain has been found, thirty-six ounce. So therefore woman is not equally intelligent like man.
Press Conference, July 9, 1975, Chicago
Prabhupada: Now, woman is supposed to be assistant of man. If woman is faithful wife of the first-class man, then she also becomes first-class. If she is assistant of the second-class man then he is also second-class. If she is assistant of the third-class man, then she is also third-class. Because she is assistant, so, according to her husband, or protector, she becomes first, second, third, fourth.
Reporter (3): But she doesn’t have any structure at all until marriage?
Prabhupada: No, she has got structure — she has got brain. I have already told. But not as good as man’s brain.
Reporter (3): You means she’s not qualified as first, second, or third-class until she marries?
Prabhupada: Yes. Woman requires to be protected — in childhood by the father, in youthhood by the husband, and in old age by the elderly sons.
Reporter (2): What is your feeling in regard to Mrs. Gandhi’s actions in India at the present time, particularly in relation to what you’re saying about women? Is what’s happening there because she has a thirty-six ounce brain and is incapable of ruling?
Prabhupada: Well, what is scientific proof, that is equally applicable to Mrs. Gandhi or to any ordinary woman.
Room Conversation after Press Conference, July 9, 1975, Chicago
Jagadisa: Male means predominator, female means predominated.
Prabhupada: Then? Where is the independence? Why artificial independence?
Harikesa: In this brain weight matter, the sixty-four ounce and thirty-six ounce, is that every brain, male brain, is…?
Prabhupada: No, no.
Harikesa: No. That is what they think you’ve said, that every male brain is sixty-four ounces, every woman is thirty-six ounces.
Prabhupada: No, no. The highest brain substance found in man is sixty-four ounce.
Harikesa: They did not understand that.
Nitai: He said it clearly.
Prabhupada: And the highest brain substance in woman found, thirty-six ounce. So that proportion is always there. It may be twenty ounce, forty ounce, but brain substance in man is more than the woman. That is a fact, always.
Harikesa: Is that in the Vedas also?
Prabhupada: No, I am talking of the psychology. I have given the name, Dr. W.S. Urquhart. When I was student, he said. So he is a great authority in psychology. So I have given the date. But they say, “Now they have improved.” Then what can be said? But they could not improve this position: they have become pregnant. For the last hundred and thousands and millions of years, in the history we hear that woman is pregnant. We never heard the man is pregnant. So where is the progress? If you are actually making progress, so millions of years ago, the history we hear… Even Ramacandra, millions of years, Lord Ramacandra. Sita became pregnant, not Ramacandra. If you take history, now where is the improvement? Millions of years ago, Ramacandra. Sita became pregnant, not Ramacandra. The law of woman’s becoming pregnant, millions of years was there. And what improvement have they made now? They say, “We have made improvement.” What is that improvement? Millions of years ago, Sita, she became pregnant, and Ramacandra did not become pregnant. Man did not. So what is the improvement at the present moment? Is there any instance, a man is now becoming pregnant. And not the woman? So where is the improvement?
This is a typical example of a plain nonsensical argument. Switching pregnancy in genders in no way relates to intelligence or cultural status. The dismal cultural status of women in India and other less developed countries relates directly to their patriarchal society structure and associated religious oppression.]
Morning Walk, December 10, 1975, Vrindavana
Indian man: She was telling me when… She… I said that “Prabhupada sometimes says these things that we feel all ashamed, you know, because…”
Devotee (2): The medicine is not always palatable for these people.
Prabhupada: But in speaking spiritual understanding we cannot make any compromise. What to speak of in Mauritius, in Chicago I told. There was great agitation in papers.
Harikesa: In the TV, on television.
Indian man: Same thing?
Devotee (2): In France also.
Prabhupada: They were very upset. And when I was coming, I think, in Chicago, in the airplane, one of the host girl, she was seeing… (laughter) I asked her to supply one 7-up. And, “I have no key.” She was so angry. But all the captains and others, they gathered around me. (laughter)
Harikesa: I think that was the same stewardess who came in the back and asked us, “Why the Swamiji doesn’t like women?”
Prabhupada: No, no, I don’t say that I don’t like women, but I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show that you equal rights — your husband becomes sometimes pregnant and then you become pregnant, alternately.
Aksayananda: That doesn’t mean you don’t like them.
Prabhupada: No, it is truth. I am speaking the truth, that “If you have equal right, then let your husband become pregnant. Make some arrangement.”
Harikesa: Visakha was preaching to her. She said that “Actually we are less intelligent.” (laughter) That started a big scandal…
Prabhupada: Yes. And that is Krishna consciousness. [break] They are in equal right, then… Nowadays, of course, they are thinking like that, that man should remain independent, and they’ll have homosex, and the woman also independent and they will make some… This is most immoral things.
Morning Walk, July 10, 1975, Chicago
Jayatirtha: (in car:) It says, “Forgive me if this story is not well-written. I am a woman. My brain weighs less than a man’s, and I am not equal in intelligence.” So she admits. “His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the seventy-seven year-old founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, said so Wednesday. The Society is dedicated to peace in the world through love of God and relinquishment of all things material. The Swami spoke seated cross-legged on an expensive looking cushion surrounded by fresh flowers, microphones and burning incense in a conference room he rented at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel. He is in town for a Krishna parade at 1:30 p.m., Saturday down State Street in which he will ride on a flower-bedecked float. He then will fly to Philadelphia for more celebration and philosophical chats. He looked occasionally at his gold watch as he explained his life philosophy. His adoring disciple, five men, knelt at his side. ‘The MAN,’ ” capital M-A-N, “he said, ‘who loves God, controls his sense, is clean inside and out, is simple and tolerant and uses knowledge he has acquired in practical life…’ ”
Jayatirtha: No, “and tolerant.” ” ‘Such MEN,’ ” capital M-E-N again, “he said, ‘are first-class citizens and should be advisors to the world. Second and third-class MEN have not found God and should be administrators and workers.’ ” Not exactly right. “He spoke thirty minutes and never mentioned women. I asked how women fit into his system. ‘Women,’ he said, ‘is not equal in intelligence to man. Man’s brain weighs sixty-four ounces; women’s weighs thirty-six ounces. It is just a fact.’ He continued, ‘Women are meant to assist men. That is all.’ He said women do not figure in his class system except as daughters or wives. ‘An unmarried woman presumably is classless. Is that,’ asked a male reporter…”
Prabhupada: (chuckles) That is fact. She is prostitute, that’s all. If you classify, then she is prostitute. (laughter) That’s all. There is no other way.
Jayatirtha: ” ‘Is that,’ asked a male reporter, ‘what is wrong with Mrs. Indira Gandhi?’ The Swami hedged.” Then actually they made a mistake. ” ‘I cannot say. I would be arrested.’ ” That was actually a misquote. (Prabhupada laughs)
Brahmananda: Well, it’s the idea, though.
Jayatirtha: Yeah. “The Swami now lives in Los Angeles, and he trains his followers there. Their income is from sales of his books, magazines and incense. He says he has about ten thousand followers. ‘We do not have so many,’ he said…”
Prabhupada: The inner meaning is there: “I shall be arrested.”
Brahmananda: Yes. (laughs) That shows what is the position.
Jayatirtha: “He said he has about ten thousand followers.” Quote: ” ‘We do not have so many,’ he said, ‘it is hard to find a first-class man.’ ” And then she says…
Prabhupada: Therefore without first-class man, nobody can become my disciple.
Jayatirtha: Then she says, “It’s a pity half the population are women.”
Prabhupada: I didn’t say half the population…
Brahmananda: That’s her comment.
Jayatirtha: That’s what she said. In other words…
Brahmananda: Her comment is that if you hadn’t…
Jayatirtha: …that half of the people are disqualified already because they’re women. It’s not so bad.
Prabhupada: No, no, it is not bad. It is good. Now our policy should be that at Dallas we shall create first-class men, and we shall teach the girls two things. One thing is how to become chaste and faithful to their husband and how to cook nicely. If these two qualifications they have, I will take guarantee to get for them good husband. I’ll personally… Yes. These two qualifications required. She must learn how to prepare first-class foodstuff, and she must learn how to become chaste and faithful to the husband. Only these two qualification required. Then her life is successful. So try to do that. (Car doors open, walk begins) Ordinary education is sufficient, ABCD. This is all nonsense, so big, big, sound education and later on become a prostitute. What is this education? (laughter) To make them prostitute, it doesn’t require education. [break] Yesterday we saw in the television how these rascals are wasting time, talking nonsense. There was nothing, valuable talk. Foot… No, no, hand… What is that? Handprint? And the addicted murder? That was the case? [break] Within two weeks, two divorces.
Devotees: Yes. [break]
Prabhupada: In the Dallas there is no problem. Educate the girls how to become faithful, chaste wife and how to cook nicely. Let them learn varieties of cooking. Is very difficult? These two qualifications, apart from Krishna consciousness, materially they should learn. There are many stories, Nala-Damayanti, then Parvati, Sita, five chaste women in the history. They should read their life. And by fifteenth, sixteenth year they should be married. And if they are qualified, it will be not difficult to find out a nice husband. Here the boys, they do not want to marry because they are not very much inclined to marry unchaste wife. They know it, that “I shall marry a girl, she is unchaste.” What do you think?
Prabhupada: This is psychology. If woman is chaste, even though she is not very beautiful, she will be liked by the husband. So train them in that way: very chaste, faithful wife and knows how to cook very nicely. Other qualification, even they haven’t, that’s all right. And Krishna consciousness is being trained up. Then there will be no difficulty. And boys should be first-class man. Then our gurukula will be successful. What do you think? Am I right?
Letter to: Dhananjaya, Bombay 9 November, 1975
I note that your wife and Visalaini both gave birth to baby girls. That is the defect. I want male children but you have no stamina for it. I expected from Visalaini by her belly that it would be a boy. Anyway, never mind. The name Brijlata is nice. Why do the majority of my married disciples give birth to girls?
Letter to: Bahudak, Bombay 10 November, 1975
I note that your wife has given birth to one girl child. Are all your other children also dasi’s or do you have any das’s? We want more das’s than dasi’s.
Letter to: Madhudvisa, Bombay 10 November, 1975
Regarding your second question, whether a person who is a Negro, Chinese, Indian, etc. are they different species of life making up the 400,000 species. Yes, so far their body is concerned. Your question whether woman in each one of these species is another separate species, no, the species means both man and woman of the same type. Of course, strictly speaking the woman is taken differently, otherwise how would Krishna say striyo vaisyas tatha sudras.
Morning Walk, November 29, 1975, Delhi
Tejas: Their current exhibition is “Women in the World.”
Prabhupada: Yes. (laughs) Some exhibition is going on?
Tejas: It’s “Women in the World.”
Prabhupada: Oh. (laughter) What is that “Women in the World”?
Ambarisa: Sixteen-ounce brain, I think.
Gopala Krishna: They had a world conference of women in Mexico recently, where every country sent a delegation of women.
Prabhupada: To become man? (laughter)
Harikesa: Yes, nowadays we’re doing that also.
Prabhupada: Oh. (laughter) So you become woman.
Morning Walk, March 19, 1976, Mayapura
Radhavallabha: In one BTG article, you described increase in women population as a natural disaster.
Radhavallabha: So when one woman read this article, she became very angry. She came back and was very angry.
Prabhupada: She may be angry. She is woman and man. Actually this is physiological. If a man is too much addicted to sex life, he’ll become impotent, and if he begets child, it will be a girl. With no potency to give birth to a male child…. That requires potency.
Hamsaduta: When we were going around in London making life members, I noticed that in so many families, all the children are girls.
Prabhupada: Yes. The whole world is full of girls, girl children. Why? There is no potency. Potency finished. Or impotent. And if you keep one boy brahmacari, no sex life, and get him married, the first child must be a boy, must be, without any doubt.
Lokanatha: That means, then, woman is more potent than…
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Yes. The Ayur-vedic formula is that when there is discharge, woman’s discharge, more, means girl, and man’s discharge, more, means boy. This is physiological.
Morning Walk, March 19, 1976, Mayapura
Adi-purusam. Govindam adi-purusam, that purusa. Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami. We are worshiping that supreme and original person. And the women are declaring, “independent.” They are begging door to door to a man, “Please give me shelter. Give me a child,” and they’re independent. One American woman, was…. She was speaking that “In India the woman are treated as slave. We don’t want.” So I told her that it is better to become slave of one person than to slave of become hundreds. (laughter) The woman must become a slave. So instead of becoming slaves of so many persons, it is better to remain satisfied, a slave of one person. So she was stopped. She was the secretary of that Dr. Misra. You know that? And our Vedic civilization says, nari-rupam pati-vratam: “The woman is beautiful when she remains as a slave to the husband.” That is the beauty, not the personal beauty. How much she has learned to remain as a slave to the husband, that is Vedic civilization. Kokilanam svaro rupam. The cuckoo, it is black bird, but why people love it? Because of the sweet voice. Kokilanam svaro rupam vidya-rupam kurupanam. A man may be ugly, black, but if he’s learned, everyone will respect him. And nari-rupam pati-vratam. And the beauty of woman is how much she is devoted and obedient to the husband. So it is very difficult.
Morning Walk, March 19, 1976, Mayapura
Ramesvara: But we all have…. The women and men, they all have the same brain, they say.
Prabhupada: No, that I protested in Chicago. Yes. “And no, that is not the fact. The fact is man has 64 ounce. The woman has 36 ounce…. Highest.”
Devotee (2): They’ll say intelligence is not dependent on the size of the brain.
Prabhupada: They say anything because they are rascals. A rascal can say anything. Pagale ki na bale chagale kiba na khaya: “A madman, what he does not say? And a goat, what he does not eat?” (laughter)
Interview with Trans-India Magazine, July 17, 1976, New York
So actually this varnasrama system is meant for bringing the man in the lower status of life to the higher status of life. It doesn’t matter one is born in a low-grade family. That is also said by Krishna: mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah. Papa-yoni, lower grade. Striyo vaisyas tatha sudrah [BG 9.32]. In the human society, woman, the vaisya and the sudra, they are considered in the lower status, not very intelligent.
Morning Walk, January 9, 1977, Bombay
Prabhupada: I condemn everyone, that “You are all dogs and hogs.” And United Nations a pack of dogs barking. That’s a fact. And in Chicago I said, all women, “You cannot have freedom. You have got only thirty-four-ounce brain, and man has got sixty-four-ounce.” I told them. So I became a subject of very great criticism.
Trivikrama: Women’s liberation.
Prabhupada: I denied, “No, you cannot have.” I told them. One girl in the airship, she was seeing like (makes some gesture-laughter). I asked her, “Give me 7-Up.” “It is locked now.” So I frankly said that “No, no. You cannot have equal rights because your brain is thirty-four ounce.” Actually that’s a fact. Where is woman philosopher, mathematician, scientist? Not a single.
Dr. Patel: Apart from that, I mean, they are made for a particular mission.
Prabhupada: How they can have equal rights? Up to date in the history there is not a single woman who is a great scientist or great philosopher or great…
Dr. Patel: Madame Curie was a…
Prabhupada: All bogus. (laughter)
Dr. Patel: You are getting too harsh on them because…
Prabhupada: No, no. How can I give you equal rights, because your brain is less substance.
Dr. Patel: We cannot degrade our mothers that way.
Prabhupada: It is not degrading. It is accepting the actual fact.
Dr. Patel: These girls are misled, these American girls.
Prabhupada: There is no history. There is no history. Just like Kunti’s mother. She produced so many heroes, but she was not hero. She could produce heroes like Arjuna, like Bhima. But not that she becomes hero.
Dr. Patel: Mother can produce heroes…
Prabhupada: That’s all right. Still, nobody will say that Kunti is as good as Arjuna or Bhima.
Dr. Patel: How can anybody say?
Prabhupada: That is… How you’ll get the equal rights?
Dr. Patel: No woman smaller than Kunti could have produced an Arjuna.
Prabhupada: You can produce. That is another thing. A cook can produce foodstuff suitable for rich man, but that does not mean he is rich man.
Dr. Patel: You argue. (laughs)
Room conversation, January 31, 1977, Bhubaneshwar
Satsvarupa: Mainly it’s about the girls who are over ten. They were in Vrindavana and discussed this with Jagadisa, but they couldn’t settle up, so they wanted to know what you think. Their idea is that… As of now, there is no plan for a school for the girls over ten, but just that they should return to their parents and not get any more schooling. But they’re thinking that there should be, and one reason is that you said in France that the girls could learn these sixty-four arts. So they were thinking that there should be a school for girls over ten, and that it should be situated in India. One reason is that in India our teachers can take help from Indian Life Member ladies who know these arts. Our Western devotees don’t know them, the cooking and painting and things like this, but the Indian women do. …
Prabhupada: My opinion is already there according to the… They should be chaste, faithful to husband. Little literary knowledge, they can read. That’s all. Not very much.
Morning Conversation, April 29, 1977, Bombay
Prabhupada: So far gurukula is concerned, that also, I have given program. They have given the name of “girls.” We are not going to do that.
Tamala Krishna: What is that?
Prabhupada: Girls. Boys and girls. That is dangerous.
Tamala Krishna: Gurukula.
Prabhupada: In that article.
Tamala Krishna: Oh, oh, oh.
Prabhupada: Girls should be completely separated from the very beginning. They are very dangerous.
Tamala Krishna: So we’re… I thought there were girls in Vrindavana now. They said that they’re going to have the girls’ gurukula behind the boys’ gurukula. Gopala was talking about that.
Prabhupada: No, no, no. No girls.
Tamala Krishna: It should be in another city or somewhere else.
Prabhupada: Yes. They should be taught how to sweep, how to stitch…
Tamala Krishna: Clean.
Prabhupada: …clean, cook, to be faithful to the husband.
Tamala Krishna: They don’t require a big school.
Prabhupada: No, no. That is mistake. They should be taught how to become obedient to the husband.
Tamala Krishna: Yeah, you won’t learn that in school.
Prabhupada: Little education, they can…
Tamala Krishna: Yeah. That they can get at home also.
Prabhupada: They should be stopped, this practice of prostitution. This is a very bad system in Europe and America. The boys and girls, they are educated-coeducation. From the very beginning of their life they become prostitutes. And they encourage.
What follows here is one of the more well-known issues that sparked further scrutiny into bizarre statements made by Bhaktivedanta Swami and one that has so far received the most attention from apologists, who claim that he meant “rape” in antiquated terms of some kind of amorous conquest when he wrote his purports in 1974. From the material below it is clear, though, that even before and after that time Bhaktivedanta Swami knew perfectly well that rape refers to an illegal act of forced sexual intercourse.
Purport SB 4.25.41
In this regard, the word vikhyatam is very significant. A man is always famous for his aggression toward a beautiful woman, and such aggression is sometimes considered rape. Although rape is not legally allowed, it is a fact that a woman likes a man who is very expert at rape.
Purport SB 4.25.42
When a husbandless woman is attacked by an aggressive man, she takes his action to be mercy. A woman is generally very much attracted by a man’s long arms. A serpent’s body is round, and it becomes narrower and thinner at the end. The beautiful arms of a man appear to a woman just like serpents, and she very much desires to be embraced by such arms.
The word anatha-varga is very significant in this verse. Natha means “husband,” and a means “without.” A young woman who has no husband is called anatha, meaning “one who is not protected.” As soon as a woman attains the age of puberty, she immediately becomes very much agitated by sexual desire. It is therefore the duty of the father to get his daughter married before she attains puberty. Otherwise she will be very much mortified by not having a husband. Anyone who satisfies her desire for sex at that age becomes a great object of satisfaction. It is a psychological fact that when a woman at the age of puberty meets a man and the man satisfies her sexually, she will love that man for the rest of her life, regardless who he is. Thus so-called love within this material world is nothing but sexual satisfaction.
niraye — hellish conditions of life (the government’s prison for criminal activities like rape, kidnapping or theft of others’ property).
The conditioned soul is sometimes attracted to the little happiness derived from sense gratification. Thus he has illicit sex or steals another’s property. At such a time he may be arrested by the government or chastised by the woman’s husband or protector. Thus simply for a little material satisfaction, he falls into a hellish condition and is put into jail for rape, kidnapping, theft and so forth.
Bhagavad-gita 1.36, London, July 26, 1973
Afterward, if the other party is defeated, the victorious party makes some, so many aggression, especially aggression of women. That is still current. Innocent women, they are very much harassed after the war by the victorious party. You know, the soldiers are given freedom to rape the women. And plunder the property. So many things they have.
Morning Walk, April 20, 1974, Hyderabad
Prabhupada: That Central Park, nobody can walk there. I have heard from many women that they rape. The negroes, they capture and rape. Life is unsafe even in a civilized city like New York. So what is this civilization? Our (name withheld) was… [break] …Park. (Name withheld) our. Yes, she said.
Mahamsa: She said?
Prabhupada: No, no, she said. She was captured by a group of negroes to rape her. [break] That girl, what is his name? (name withheld) wife?
Satsvarupa: (Name withheld).
Prabhupada: She was raped.
Prabhupada: Yes. She was raped.
Morning Walk, May 11, 1975, Perth
Devotee (1): They swear on the Bible in the court. And I was reading in the paper the other day that now in England they have passed a law whereby a man cannot be convicted of rape if he honestly believes that the woman consented to be raped.
Prabhupada: Eh? What is that? Woman?
Devotee (1): They said that the man cannot be convicted of rape if he honestly believes that the woman consented to his raping her.
Prabhupada: Yes, that is law always. Rape means without consent, sex. Otherwise there is no rape. There was a rape case in Calcutta, and the lawyer was very intelligent. He some way or other made the woman admit, “Yes, I felt happiness.” So he was released. “Here is consent.” And that’s a fact. Because after all, sex, rape or no rape, they will feel some pleasure. So the lawyer by hook and crook made the woman agree, “Yes, I felt some pleasure.” “Now, there is consent.” So he was released. After all, it is an itching sensation. So either by force or by willingly, if there is itching, everyone feels relieved itching it. That’s a psychology. It is not that the woman do not like rape. They like sometimes. They willingly. That is the psychology. Outwardly they show some displeasure, but inwardly they do not. This is the psychology.
Devotee (1): So what this law means is that anybody can rape anybody.
Prabhupada: There is no law; it is all lusty desire. All law or no law, these are all nonsense. The sastra has… It is lusty desire, that’s all. Everyone wants to fulfill a lusty desires. So unless one is not in the modes of goodness or transcendental, everyone will like. That is the material world, rajas-tamah. Rajas-tamo-bhavah kama-lobhadayas ca ye [SB 1.2.19]. It is all discussed in the sastra. Just like I am hungry man. There is foodstuff. I want to eat it. So if I take by force, that is illegal, and if I pay for it, then it is legal. But I am the hungry man, I want it. This is going on. Everyone is lusty. Therefore they say “legalized prostitution.” They want it. So marriage is something legalized, that’s all. The passion and the desire is the same, either married or not married. So this Vedic law says, “Better married. Then you will be controlled.” Married life… So he will not be so lusty as without married life.
Morning Walk, July 14, 1975, Philadelphia
Therefore they are fools. When a man’s lusty desire is very strong, he commits, what is called, rape, and he becomes complicated in criminal activities.
Morning Walk, January 6, 1976, Bombay
Prabhupada: No, no, San Francisco. There is a lake. So there the ducks, the male duck is attacking the female duck, what is called? When man forcibly attacks?
Prabhupada: Rape, the same thing.
Evening Darsana, July 8, 1976, Washington, D.C.
That is force. (indistinct) prema. In Bengali it is said “If you catch one girl or boy, ‘You love me, you love me, you love me.’ ” Is it love? (laughter) “You love me, otherwise I will kill you.” (laughter) Is that love? So Krishna does not want to become a lover like that, on the point of revolver, “You love me, otherwise I shall kill you.” That is not love, that is threatening. Love is reciprocal, voluntary, good exchange of feeling, then there is love, not by force. That is rape. The… Why one is called lover, another is called rape?