Trying to comprehend the vast reservoir of Vedic knowledge with our limited abilities and then imagining ourselves to be in the position to correct previous acharyas is just one manifestation of frog like behavior. Another area where it has become quite prominent is re-evaluating gender relationships.
Sometimes we refer to it as feminism but that is really unfair to devotees because while feminist influences might be there we are far from being proper feminists, maybe only in some outlying cases. These outlying cases can stretch very far, however, all the way up to offering critique of Lord Ramachandra’s relationship with Sita Devi.
There are devotees who don’t feel there’s anything wrong with passing their own judgment on Lord Ramachandra’s behavior and finding Him lacking in qualities He is specifically praised as an incarnation of God in human form – maintaining social order and being exemplary king and husband. I’m not going to repeat it here but I’ve seen people passing hipster like comments about Him – He was okay but not to my high standards of coolness. And that’s coming from devotees. What is it if not projecting our frog like mentality on the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself?
Ordinarily, though, we don’t go that far. We can go after a few lines in Srila Prabhupada’s purports or something that Chanakya Pandit said, or the laws of Manu. They don’t make sense to us in our “enlightened” state therefore they must be wrong. Women must have the same freedom to conduct their lives as men. We can’t compromise on that no matter what shastra says. We cannot accept that women could be happy and fulfilled otherwise. It’s impossible because it doesn’t work in our own lives, or wells, to be correct, because I’m still talking about frogs in wells pontificating on the quality of the ocean.
So what happens is that we, as ordinary “serial monogamists”, give it our best shot, make sure we don’t overstretch ourselves, give up, and extrapolate our experience on the ideal society. We don’t even make hard efforts of trying to stay loyal and faithful to our partners, it is considered adharma to go against one’s self interests like that. If you happen to fancy another man or a woman you just have to have him or her, there’s no other way.
What is considered dharma is to enter into relationship being prepared to break it off at any minute, and divorce is not only an option, it’s an obligation! If you don’t divorce you’ll be torturing yourself and your partner and your children. In modern culture you MUST divorce a man or a woman you “don’t love” anymore.
This is the background that we think enables us to reassess the shastra. We can’t image marriage can be had any other way. From this position it’s understandable that arranged marriages are considered crimes against humanity. From this position it is also understandable that women need a high degree of independence, high degrees in education, and all kinds of vocational training. In our world, which is perverted, btw, a woman can’t survive without any of that.
Once we commit ourselves to this world view we become very defensive about it, just as we are very defensive about all our choices, and then comes criticism and denial of any alternatives.
What ocean? What arranged marriages? What chastity? What loyalty? What treatment of husband as your guru? None of that can’t possibly work because we don’t want to live that way ourselves.
It’s a sad, sad situation. Our lives might be screwed up but we shouldn’t project our failures on shastra, and what’s more important – we can’t demand keys to the Kingdom of God if we refuse to live by His laws and deny them in every possible way. We even go as far as deny their very existence, calling shastra and explanations by our acharyas as materially conditioned, like they do with Prabhupada’s comments on rape or racism.
Unless we give up this demoniac mentality we can’t have any hope of making actual spiritual progress. All what would happen is the show of being devotees without any substance, and it won’t satisfy our hearts.
The choice is ours.