Vanity thought #556. And what of women?

Yesterday’s episode with Amogha has another interesting dimension to it – the possibility of divorce. That’s what Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya demanded of his daughter right away – abandon her husband, Amogha, and become a widow.

All in all I think Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya was a little bit hot-hearted in this story, even Lord Chaitanya said as such – Amogha is very young, he is your dependant, he is practically your child, you can’t take his offences seriously. There was even talk about how punishment of Amogha would tarnish Sarvabhauma’s own reputation, too.

Still, the recommendation to Sathi to abandon her husband was there. In the comments Srila Prabhupada cites the verse from Bhagavatam where it’s said that unless one can deliver his wife or children from material existence one should not become a husband or a father, and that such fallen husbands can be abandoned for the sake of service to Krishna.

By criticizing Lord Chaitanya Amogha certainly could have been considered the most fallen. Even Sarvabhauma’s wife couldn’t accept his behavior, quite unlike Draupadi who saved Ashvatthama from death (both Amogha and Ashvatthama were brahmanas).

I guess people can interpret this episode in a way that suits them as we don’t have a final verdict from Srila Prabhupada.

Personally I prefer the mood of Draupadi in her instructions to Satyabhama in Mahabharata, but I’m not the one who has to follow them, of course. Still, they appear perfect to me, though certainly not easy.

The entire Draupadi-Satyabhama Samvada can be found here, scroll down to page 473.

I don’t know what they mean by “wiked” females, I guess it’s women who get what they want by playing on men’s weaknesses towards the fair sex. Draupadi rejects such attitude altogether. In her mind there’s no place for exploiting her husbands in any way, and she had five of them!

Her attitude of completely selfless service is remarkable. There’s simply no time in her life where she would think “I deserved the rest, a down time, some me-time”, or that she thought she could ask her husbands for any kind of presents or gifts or anything.

Today’s women have absolutely no qualms about asking men to provide them with this or with that but Draupadi’s outlook is completely opposite. She doesn’t see her husbands as the source of her pleasure, all she thinks about in her life is the pleasure and convenience of her husbands, service to them is the source of her happiness. I don’t think I can even say “satisfaction” here because it appears there’s no place for satisfaction in her outlook whatsoever.

This is how we should serve Krishna, too – without as much as a thought of getting anything in return. Unfortunately it’s not so easy to find examples of devotees behaving just like that. There’s Srimad Bhagavatam, of course, but Draupadi provides a much more detailed description of her service in such a way that it’s very easy to relate to.

When we think about serving Krishna we have no idea what it means. We have a better idea of serving our guru but that is not for everybody, most of us have to contend with serving guru’s instructions, and that’s where it gets fuzzy. Draupadi, on the other hand, describes uninterrupted, 24/7 service to her husbands, and for women that is supposed to be their main mission. From Draupadi’s example every woman can understand how to do it herself.

One could argue that Draupadi had Pandavas for husbands, best devotees in the three worlds ever, and Satyabhama was Krishna’s wife, so they both had no concerns about qualifications of their husbands. This implies that if our modern women were married to Krishna or Pandavas instead of fallen souls like us, modern men, then they could serve in the spirit of Draupadi. That is the same “If you want me to behave like Sita, behave like Rama yourself first” argument.

I believe it has little to no merit – it’s our own service we are talking about, we can’t justify slacking off because someone else does. Having husbands like Pandavas is a blessing, not a pre-condition. Nowhere in her speech Draupadi gave any indication that less exalted husbands deserve less dedicated service. In fact in one place she mentioned something that could be considered as her husbands faults and told Satyabhama to persevere with praising them regardless.

As a man I don’t have my service set out for me with such clarity, that’s unfortunate but at least I can try to imbibe the spirit. What I do have is an unassailable example of how women should behave in case someone starts arguing their “freedom”. There’s no such thing, not for them, not for me, not for anybody. Our own interests must be sacrificed fully and unconditionally and interests of our gurus or husbands must occupy not only central, but all available place in our hearts.

We ourselves might be fallen but our standards should not be compromised.

2 comments on “Vanity thought #556. And what of women?

    • I wish I knew similar stories for men. There’s no encouragement for us in family life whatsoever. Women can dedicate themselves to their families and make progress, men cannot, we must seek shelter in pure devotional service, nowhere else.

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