The inner voice of sanity
Posted January 12, 2005
I would like to share my opinion with all former, present or future Hare Krishnas. I myself am a lover of Srila Prabhupada's books and a chanter of the maha-mantra.
After reading the hardships of Rambhoru prabhu, sorrow came to my heart. However, Yasomati- stanya-payi prabhu's words in reply sounded completely unnatural. It was like listening to something completely cruel -- a brainwashing attempt, as all too often heard in temples. We have no right to demand that all women suffer painfully for the sake of becoming saints. So I would like to share these few words with ladies and gentlemen in the movement.
For those who have their mouths full of words like "vedic" and "Vedas", I suggest that the term "vedic" cannot be an excuse for bad or irrational behaviour. Many aborigines and native-cultured peoples in the world have high morality codes in their day-to-day lives, perhaps a heritage from the vedic times of more than 5000 years ago, when some of our ancestors were living under the rule of saintly vedic kings in Bharata-varsa (from which they migrated later, if we can believe the book).
Try studying those role-models -- for instance, Northern American Indians, known for their respectful and contemplative attitude towards nature, God (the Great Spirit), ancestors and women. Women had (or were given) a strong position in society, along with the right to choose their husbands, or to leave them, and were included in their tribe's parliament, respected for their wisdom and intuition. These cultures knew that woman's inner voice is precious.
In a lot of institutions, and in the world, women are treated as second-class, and their creative powers and inner voice are silenced. They often fail to stand up for themselves, because there is so much of this unholy tradition. I mentioned the first North Americans, and I am sure they are not the only example in history. So let us study such examples, not some twisted and repressive models of society. In a few of the Muslim societies, for example, women are treated like slaves, almost erased from the world, veiled, uneducated -- pushed into the weirdest archetype of what woman should be. No woman should willingly accept this kind of misery. Please let us use our intelligence and reason as a gift from God, not throwing it away like some garbage, worthless.
I doubt comments like those of Yasomati-stanya-payi dasi are written from her true inner voice. If they really are, then something is wrong and we have to rediscover our sanity. Otherwise, we will set a bad example for generations of women to come, whether devotees or not. We must live with responsibility and conscience. Even Manu declares that, if women are not given proper treatment and respect, misery and misfortune immediately follow. Let us not be primitive -- a woman has far more capacities than simply being a perceived threat to some man's spiritual advancement. She can develop her own abilities if given a chance.
Rambhoru did not choose to perform austerities that will elevate her now that she is expressing concerns for her power of forgiveness; after all, forgiveness is one of the basics of spirituality, which she thinks is presently blocked. One cannot be peaceful when his or her heart aches, or hates. No one can compare her hardships to the penances of a yogi, living in a cave. Rather, I feel that her basic human rights were neglected.
I admire Rambhoru prabhu for sharing her story and for keeping her
faith; I hope everything goes better for her from now on. May she
develop her self-esteem and raise her voice occasionally. Let us
remember that Krsna is strong and daring Himself, and we all are
trying to be godly in our behaviour.