Chakra Discussions

A Call for Non-Sexist Purports

by Sylvia Milleding (Gothenburg, Sweden)

Posted January 19, 2009

Dear devotees: Please give me input on this text. It would help me and my husband Petter tremendously in our spiritual understanding.

I am a devotee who is chanting and who has been doing so for about two years now. I am also studying the holy scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. I am a modern woman who has a high education and is also ambitious to develop intellectually as well as spiritually.

I find in the scriptures over and over again many thought-provoking issues. Almost every purport on the verses puts men in the center and women on the side. Women are just sweet and nice but not fierce and wise. Vyasadeva and numerous incarnations of Krishna are male, and everyone lacking in spiritual intelligence appears to be either sudras or women.

Half of the world population is being put to the side spiritually in comparison to men. Apparently we cannot attain higher understanding of Krishna without the help of men, while men can attain higher understanding without the aid of women. I think that we on a materialistic arena are vital to one another and of course different but on a spiritual level I think that women are equal to men, and if we choose to live the life of a sannyasi we can do so with the same amount of success according to our individual spiritual yearning and growth, regardless of gender.

Is Krishna really a man, and if Krishna is, why would he elevate men over women in a spiritual context? (Many kind of texts say "she" when they mean men and women, and sometimes they say "he," also referring to men and women, so how can we say, in an old scripture indicating Krishna as a man, that Krishna is in fact either male or female, or maybe a mixture of both, or neither? How do we know that this is not a language translation problem? Since Krishna is all transcendental and not in the least material, is this not a possibility?)

The whole social structure of women being at home with children enables them to take sannyas if they have the desire. Men have for ages tied women to the home for their own male benefit instead of caring for home, work and spiritual development equally and encouraging women to be independent spiritually (materially, I believe it is good for both men and women to bond in order to sustain the social strains of day-to-day life) and seekers for truth, knowledge and love of Godhead.

Please give me some thoughts on these matters and on how I can approach the scriptures without feeling resentment and anger. If I should approach everything, including the purports, as absolute truth from God, then I am a sceptic. I believe in God but not in gender alienation on a spiritual platform. The materialistic problems we have between men and women in society are enough (uneaqual wages for same work, sexual exploitation of women, ridiculing them for their softer approaches, etc.). I don't want to see it spiritually as well. Hare Krishna.