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01 Nov 2018 | Thursday

Lessons from #METOO



By His Grace Sudama Vipra Dasa..............

Vedic civilization carefully restricts mingling between men and women. If one cannot understand the basic principle of restraining association between man and woman, he is to be considered an animal. - Srila Prabhupada

 Modern society has been advocating equal rights and freedom for women, but in the name of freedom and equal rights, the women are only being cheated and exploited.  Most instances of abuse of women that were reported in the #METOO episodes were in workplaces, where the participation of women is on the rise, and where free intermingling and intimacy of men and women is the norm.  These incidents are alarm bells to remind society to fall back on time tested Vedic practices which can bring about a sober and civilised society.  Some institutions have already begun restricting private interactions between members of the opposite sex in the workplace, post the METOO episodes.

 Fundamental difference between Vedic society and modern society

The Vedic society was carefully organised and centred around self-realisation, whereas modern civilisation is centred around sense gratification.  Vedic society therefore infused a culture of self-restraint and sacrifice of material desires as against modern culture which aims to maximise sense gratification.  Therefore, such animalistic behaviour seen in the METOO episodes is an outcome of such a sense-gratificatory environment.

Vedic culture restricts intermingling of sexes

In the Srimad Bhagavatam 9.19.17, King Yayati gives the following instruction to his wife amongst a series of insights on the power of sex impulse;

 

mäträ svasrä duhiträ vä

näviviktäsano bhavet

balavän indriya-grämo

vidväàsam api karñati

 

One should not allow oneself to sit on the same seat even with one's own mother, sister or daughter, for the senses are so strong that even though one is very advanced in knowledge, he may be attracted by sex.

…recognising their natural instincts

Again, in the Srimad Bhagavatam 7.12.9, as part of his instructions to King Yudhishtira on the varnashrama dharma, the sage Narada says,

 

nanvagniù pramadä näma

ghåta-kumbha-samaù pumän

sutäm api raho jahyäd

anyadä yävad-artha-kåt

 

"Woman is compared to fire, and man is compared to a butter pot. Therefore, a man should avoid associating even with his own daughter in a secluded place. Similarly, he should also avoid association with other women. One should associate with women only for important business and not otherwise."

Vedic culture recognises the vulnerability of women….

Vedic culture realistically recognises the weakness and vulnerability of women, unlike modern civilisation which gives them a false sense of equality and freedom.  Srila Prabhupada states, “Abalä, another name of the woman. Just like if somebody attacks woman... Any young man, when he has got sixteen years old, he can attack any woman. But a woman, even though she is sixteen years or eighteen years or twenty years, she becomes immediately victim. So abaleva. Even the woman is higher in age, still, she cannot protect. Therefore, woman requires protection.

…casts responsibility on society to protect women

Therefore, in addition to restricting free intermingling of sexes, society is also expected to protect women at all stages of their lives.   The Manu Samhita prescribes that a woman should always be protected by her father, husband and sons, during her childhood, after marriage and during old age respectively.

Men trained in behaviour with women

Cäëakya Paëòita says, mätåvat para-däreñu… yaù paçyati sa paëòitaù: The sign of a truly learned person is when one considers all women except one’s own wife to be one's mother. Therefore, in addition to the above societal arrangements for restricting free intermingling of sexes, boys from a very young age, with a goal towards self- realisation, were trained in the principles of brahmacharya or celibacy and were taught how to respectfully behave with members of the opposite sex rather than view them as objects of sense-gratification.

Krishna consciousness – the practical remedy

Given the highly materialistic consciousness of today’s society it may be difficult to organise society as prescribed above. The aforesaid standard of behaviour with the opposite sex also may seem utopian for many of those who have no experience of spiritual life.  The Vedic scriptures also confirm that sex pleasure is the highest pleasure in this material world, therefore to restrain oneself from the pleasure of engaging with the opposite sex, when presented with an opportunity might appear very difficult.  But for a practitioner of Krishna consciousness, no separate endeavour is required to practice such self-restraint.      As Sri Yamunacharya, a great devotee in Krishna consciousness states, “Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Kåñëa, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste.”  Such is the power of Krishna consciousness.

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