Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness
Please enlighten me on this statement from the Bhagavad-gita: "According to Chanakya Pandita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy." (Bhagavad-gita 1.40, Purport)
Since I am a woman I will make some effort to answer, please forgive me if I'm unable ;-)
These types of statements appear here and there in various books. Often after a long discussion on the topic Srila Prabhupada will say something like:
"But these women are not ordinary women. They are preachers. They are preachers. They are Vaishnava. By their association, one becomes a Vaishnava." (Morning walk, Bombay 1974)
Hrdayananda : Even some of these women, they're not married but they are serving Krishna.
Prabhupada: Yes. Striyo vaishyas tatha shudras [ Bg. 9.32]. This striya, generally they take it, "Even she is prostitute," striya. Te 'pi yanti param gatim: "They can also go back to home, back to Godhead." Mam hi partha... If he takes Krishna very seriously, then everything is possible. No impediment. Ahaituky apratihata. Krishna's devotional service is so strong that it cannot be checked by any material impediments. The smartas, they are thinking like that, "How these mlecchas and yavanas can become a brahmana?" But they do not know that by Krishna consciousness one can jump over.
Mayam etam taranti te. Daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [ Bg. 7.14]. Maya is very strong. Therefore there are gradual process. Varnasrarama-dharma, karma-tyaga, this, that, so many things, pious activities, rituals. But this is the process, step by step, to cross over maya. But Krishna said, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te. Anyone who surrenders to Krishna sincerely, immediately he crosses over. As Krishna says in another place, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: [ Bg. 18.66] "I'll do immediately." So maya means papa. Unless one is sinful, he cannot be in maya. So if one surrenders, then he, means, immediately crosses over maya. So these smarta brahmanas, they consider this thing. They are thinking, "How a person born in other families, they can become brahmana?" (Morning walk, 1976, Mayapur).
"In Kali-yuga, everyone is unintelligent—both men and women: Kalau sudra-sambhavah: in the age of Kali, everyone is a sudra. Because the whole population of the world consists only of sudras, there is a decline of spiritual knowledge, and people are unhappy." ( Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.12.48, Purport)
People aren't very intelligent because they're thinking they are this body. This is the problem. And generally, women are more "into" their bodies; they worry about their hair, makeup, dress, etc. very much. They're valued for their beauty and consider themselves worthy only if they are beautiful, by one standard or another. Very few really escape this misconception. This is less intelligent. So, to the degree a woman or a man thinks like this he/she is less intelligent. This thinking is more common in women—at least it has been in the past—but men are catching up :-).
On the spiritual path, however—once someone has begun to take Krishna's service seriously and is strictly following the prescribed vows and rules—then Krishna is equally available to everyone, regardless of their karmic qualification. We get our bodies, intelligence, wealth, beauty, etc, due to previous karma and so having a women's body can often be problematic. Problematic also is having a stupid body, ailing body, ugly body, etc. etc. These things can make it difficult for us to progress outside of the material consciousness.
Being born in Kali Yuga is a difficulty in itself as people are "lazy, misguided, unintelligent and prone to quarrel over nothing" ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:1:10). However, this difficulty may also inspire us to leave this unfavorable material situation and get serious about looking for something better. Furthermore, by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, spiritual life in Kali-yuga is made easier for everyone by offering the opportunity to chant Hare Krishna and serve the Lord in simple devotional activities.
I hope this is helpful.
Hare Krishna! Thanks for your question.
A transcendental being is any soul who is not influenced by the material energy, is not driven by the contact of the senses with their objects and who is absorbed in awareness of their spiritual existence.
I hope this is helpful.
If I could answer that in one letter it would solve millions of people's problems ;-) Including my own. Here are some thoughts on the subject:
First, there is a difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. I may believe that I'm a spirit soul, that I'm different from this body, but when I stub my toe, I may become completely bodily conscious in less than a second.
Complete understanding that I'm not this body would be indicated by a dedication to satisfying the real me, the soul, by exclusively serving Krishna by various devotional activities, without any attraction or contemplation of material objects offering any pleasure. Since I can honestly say that now and again I consider deeply the possibility of finding pleasure in material objects, I can conclude that I haven't completely realized my spiritual nature, or my eternal loving relationship with Krishna. Perhaps you're also in that position ;-)
Even if we're not fully realized, we can at least be aware of our shortcomings, and develop a desire to become realized. It's up to us to accept the prescribed medicine, diet, and exercise regimen in order to gain the strength and wellness required to achieve our stated goals. Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession are wise physicians. They have prescribed worshiping the Lord, reading sacred books, associating with devotees, visiting holy places (including the temple) and chanting the holy name as the major curative elements in moving from theoretical to practical knowledge. Based on our faith in the doctors and the process they recommend—as well as our determination to follow their order—we can advance.
Now this idea of "completely" is tricky because our complete surrender is measured not only minute by minute but also over our lifetime. We may advance, and then we may slip, but the continued attempt to return to the path does not go unnoticed! It is a part of the required exercise for making advancement.
Patience, conviction of success, confidence that guru and Krishna are our well wishers and are arranging things so that we will come out okay, and also being humble enough to admit that I am small and the path is long; all of these factors allow us to have the proper attitude so that we can stay with the gradual development of Krishna Consciousness until we achieve success.
And that, too, comes in stages. We gradually acquire the pieces that, when assembled, indicate that we're absorbed in Krishna and willing to follow His order, and surrender. It's rare that this event is an immediate, one-time epiphany, although it can be. Such a sudden and complete transformation is very, very rare.
If we're sincerely praying, looking for opportunities to serve Krishna—and weighing various other options against that one overriding and positive choice—we can avoid misusing our free will. We should know that if we're aspiring for Krishna's lotus feet then He is arranging things to strengthen us, to see how strong we are, to see how sincere we are, and to teach us lessons.
Sometimes we appear to get "misused" when in fact we're simply learning a lesson we need to learn; and if we learn it, it will bring us closer to Krishna! The devotees see challenges and apparent difficulties as stepping stones to spiritual advancement. Because of this, they see Krishna everywhere—that His hand is guiding them. They consider nothing to be outside of His guidance because nothing happens without His will—especially in the life of someone trying to serve Him.
Actually we only have two ways of using our free will; 1) to serve Krishna, the Supreme Person, or 2) to serve maya, Krishna's material energy. Whichever one we choose will determine what happens next. We have this choice every second of the day, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. With each choice there are millions of 'sub choices' but basically these are the two main categories.
The problem is that each choice starts a chain reaction; our next choice becomes determined by the previous one, and we have less control of what our choice will be. For example, let's say I decide not to drink alcohol. But then I make the decision to go to a party where alcohol is served. My friends are drinking, and my determination not to drink diminishes. As the party goes on and people keep encouraging me to drink, my initial decision not to drink will become more and more difficult to uphold.
When we make the choice to serve Krishna, our subsequent choices should support that first choice. Krishna will also assist in building our strength and determination to continue down that path.
So to answer your question specifically, according to Krishna the best way to use our free will is to decide to serve Krishna—to use everything in His service. When we decide that, He becomes pleased. When He's pleased, we also become pleased, and our eternal, loving relationship with Him develops.
And conversely, if we choose to serve the material energy we'll keep moving in that direction. But, since we are spiritual by nature, whatever "happiness" we get from the material energy will be temporary and ultimately end in disappointment.
I hope this is helpful.
The Supreme Person is called parameshwara, the supreme controller. We need His sanction for success in any endeavor. The perfection of inner happiness is to establish a loving relationship with God. He's situated within us, He pervades everything, and He also resides in his original spiritual form in the spiritual world.
Material fame and success can't help anyone attain God. They can be used in God's service—by a God conscious person—but for those who only believe what they perceive with their gross senses, it's hard to make spiritual progress.
Krishna is the source of all incarnations of God like Narayana and Vishnu, and Srimati Radharani is the source of all expansions of Krishna's divine energy, para prakriti, or pleasure potency. Laksmidevi, the goddess of fortune, is one of Srimati Radharani's many expansions that accompany the Lord in His many incarnations.
"The beloved consorts of Lord Krishna are of three kinds: the goddesses of fortune, the queens, and the milkmaids of Vraja, who are the foremost of all. These consorts all proceed from Radhika." (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 4.74-75)
" “The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord.”(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 4.83)
"According to expert opinion, Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, is a subordinate expansion of Srimati Radharani. As Krishna has numerous expansions of vishnu-murtis, so His pleasure potency, Radharani, also has innumerable expansions of goddesses of fortune."
—Krishna Book, Ch. 47)