Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: In ISKCON there was a problem because, supposedly, according to the ISKCON members’ understanding of varṇāśrama-dharma, ladies are less intelligent and in a lower position.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, no. Never think like this.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is saying that in ISKCON they used to think like this, and they proclaimed that their conception was according to the principles of varṇāśrama.
Śrīpāda Nemi Mahārāja: That conception created a big problem.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, certainly. They don’t give respect to ladies, but I give respect, and I want everyone to do so. We give respect according to an individual’s qualification.
Mahāprabhu dāsa: Can ladies take management positions in this society?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Oh, so much. In India, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister.
Mahāprabhu dāsa: So ladies do not just make babies?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They can make so many babies. Indira Gandhi had two very beautiful sons, and one of her sons became the Prime Minister. Her daughter-in-law, Sonya Gandhi, also has one son and one daughter, and her son may also become Prime Minister. In America, Clinton’s wife may become the President.
Mahāprabhu dāsa: I am a family man, Śrīla Gurudeva. I have a family, and I see that the girls are always more intelligent than the boys.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, sometimes they are.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Some people think that śūdras and women are very low. This is actually a wrong idea – a very wrong idea. You should know you are neither male nor female. The soul is transcendental, a servant of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but we have now accepted a female or male form. It is not that the intelligence is low in ladies and high in men.
It is also not true that black people are necessarily śūdras. Who are śūdras? Those who eat cow-flesh and drink alcohol, and those who cheat others. Śūdras are those engaged in diplomacy, duplicity, hypocrisy, and envy – whether they are black or white. I will speak something more on this topic, with reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
We are all spirit souls. The soul is not white or black. All souls are very beautiful. Regarding the transcendental form of the soul, there is no question of who is less intelligent or more intelligent. If ladies are so low-class and so low in intelligence, how could the gopīs have defeated even Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Why does our guru-paramparā, beginning from Brahmā and Nārada, worship the gopīs? Why did Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu – Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself – adopt Śrīmatī Rādhā’s mood? Śrīmatī Rādhikā always defeats Kṛṣṇa in beauty, in intelligence, and in all other ways. If ladies are less, why do we Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas want to be gopīs? We want to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa and Śrīmatī Rādhikā in a female form, not a male form. So how is it possible that this female form is lower? Don’t think like this.
Śrīla Vyāsadeva appeared in a family of śūdras, and Śrī Nārada Ṛṣi was also born in a śūdra-family. However, whoever calls them śūdras will go to hell. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was born in a Muslim family. He appeared in a family in which cows were slaughtered and their flesh eaten, but he is not a Muslim.
Rāmānanda Rāya said about himself, ‘I am śūdra.’ This is tṛṇād api sunīcena – humility. Mahāprabhu said about Himself, ‘I am a Māyāvādī sannyāsī.’ Was He a Māyāvādī sannyāsī? Of course not. One may say that He Himself said so, but He said so only out of tṛṇād api sunīcena.
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