Vanity thought #942. Scratching the itch

For the past couple of days I’ve been writing about woes of feminism, how it destroys lives of women and children. My conclusion was that feminism is irrational and that modern society, which prides itself on following the scientific method, fails to implement logic and reason but acts rather out of strong attachment to self-destructing ideas.

Seeing people doing this to themselves immediately irritates the itch to start blaming them for their stupidity and lecturing them on what to do. Should we scratch that itch? What are our solutions anyway? Do we know how to run this world better?

As devotees we spend a significant amount of time castigating materialists for all their faults. We need to hear this in order to break our own bond with and trust in science. We also need to know this because it’s the truth about this world, materialism IS an erroneous philosophy and we need to know how it is so. We also have example of Śrila Prabhupāda who loved to berate scientists and call them rascals and other names, so it’s legit.

Or maybe not – we are not in the same position as Śrila Prabhupāda, his heart was free of envy and his criticism did not affect his ego, did not make him feel superior himself. This could be the area were we should follow footsteps but not imitate. We need to know how materialism is wrong but we should be careful about effect of this knowledge on ourselves. If it makes us proud we should stop and change our attitudes and direction of our attacks.

Materialists might be wrong about many things but they are also sensitive towards hypocrisy, they can smell self-aggrandizement a mile away and so our preaching can quickly become counterproductive. Śrila Prabhupāda could get away with it but we cannot. He once said that this is the natural advantage of children and old men – they can say anything and go anywhere.

There’s also one very instructive verse in this regard (SB 11.28.1)

    One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.

This was spoken by Kṛṣṇa Himself so it’s as authoritative as possible. We can try to explain how Śrila Prabhupāda complied with this instruction while ostensibly criticizing materialists but we should not try to find a wiggle room for ourselves.

So, when we see materialists doing something wrong it should not be an excuse to criticize them, we shouldn’t scratch that itch.

Okay, what about offering solutions? In case of feminism it’s very simple – there shouldn’t be any to begin with, it’s a non-Vedic concoction and it can’t be fixed, it must be abandoned. We need varṇāśrama instead.

Women should act according to their nature, ie be raised and trained to become nurturing mothers, not try to imitate and compete with men. To me it doesn’t even need quotes from Manu samhita or any other Vedic literature, it seems like a perfectly reasonable solution on its own strength. If materialists want science, there’s a game theory which, according to wikipedia, is meant for intelligent and rational decision makers, and which calls for men and women to adopt different roles for the sake of mutual benefit rather than try to outdo each other in the zero sum game of feminism.

Actually, feminism is worse than zero sum game because when women perform duties of men it leads to a host of side effects, it affects how men perform their duties in other areas, it affects how women perform their remaining duties, too.

If, for example, you need to clean the house it doesn’t really matter who does what as long as the house is clean, the amount of work is the same even if men and women could argue who did more and who did less. That would be zero sum outcome. With feminism, however, house would remain dirty and men and women would be angry at each other, and the fact that instead of cleaning a lot of other work had been performed would be irrelevant because no one really asked for it, it’s just a distraction.

So, women scientists, soldiers, fire-fighters etc are distraction. Great that they can do that but it’s not really necessary, especially if we get less wives, mothers, and children as a trade off.

Anyway, we propose varṇāśrama dharma instead but I’m not sure it’s the correct answer. Dharma for this age is harināma sañkīrtana, not varṇāśrama. If we want to fix people’s problems we should teach them to chant, not force them to follow rules they strongly rebel against.

One could say that varṇāśrama has never been a yuga dharma so the argument is incoherent, it’s not an either/or proposition, but I could answer that practicing yuga dharma would naturally lead to varṇāśrama, not the other way around, and that varṇāśrama was created by Kṛṣṇa Himself so it’s not up to us whether to establish it or not – it exists perfectly fine in one form or the other without our interference.

We can try to implement it better, ie we can try to suggest how people should perform their existing duties in whatever situation they find themselves in but if we want a complete revolution we need to start with chanting, not Manu Samhita.

Consider this, for example. In China and Taiwan they just started using something called baby hatches – a specialized areas with boxes where people can come and drop their unwanted babies. It is illegal to abandon a baby and it also illegal to have more than one so there are plenty of mothers who find themselves in a twist. In places like Shenzhen an abandoned baby if found every day, often in sewers or dumpsters and with umbilical cords attached, many of them die before being discovered.

We can flatly say that abandoning babies is unlawful, from the POV of varṇāśrama, but our declaration wouldn’t matter because people would still be doing it, so it needs to be regulated instead. It’s the same logic as with jails – the king needs to build them even though he doesn’t plan for his subjects to become criminals. It’s the same logic with goat sacrifices, too, or consuming liquor – can’t stop this and so Vedas propose a regulated solution.

Baby hatch is a regulated solution to child abandonment, so it’s good. Will it encourage more mothers to abandon their babies? Probably, but we have to weigh it against how many babies would be saved. Some countries in western Europe have pretty comfortable jails and so some people from less developed countries come to Europe specifically to commit crimes because they’d get better living conditions in jails there. It’s an unfortunate side effect but, afaik, no one proposes to roll jails back to the times when it was really uncomfortable there. Main purpose of jails is to correct the criminal behavior, not to make people suffer needlessly.

Same with gay marriage – many of us would flatly deny such a thing but if we consider it as a regulated sex life, however illicit, it beats gays blowing each other in public toilets, so it’s good. I mean, what is a better way to reduce one’s sex drive than being married? It’s only half a joke, btw, marriage DOES decrease sex drive pretty fast – five six years and that itch is almost gone.

It would seem that I’m against varṇāśrama but, actually, I am not, I’m only pointing out that implementation should be suitable to the modern age, which will definitely come short if compared to varṇāśrama of the Vedic times. Following some sort of varṇāśrama is unavoidable and I would conclude this post with another instruction given by Kṛṣṇa Himself (SB 11.10.1):

    Taking full shelter in Me, with the mind carefully fixed in the devotional service of the Lord as spoken by Me, one should live without personal desire and practice the social and occupational system called varṇāśrama.

What could be clearer? What is not clear is implementation. We’ve been told that Kṛṣṇa’s own description of varṇāśrama is impossible to implement in present day and ago so precedent for re-considering old rules is there. In the absence of an ācārya telling us exactly what to do we have only principles and our own intelligence to go on, it’s not the best way but we have no other choice.

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