- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
The Vedas recommend that women must always be protected. In her youth, a young woman is protected by responsible parents; in her adult life by the husband and in her old age by elderly children. The protection offered is not in the current sense of exploitation and control , but rather in the provision of an encouraging and suitable environment for the proper material and spiritual well being of the woman . Thus, without being worried about the difficulties that could come from the external environment and being valued for her role in the family a woman would easily give herself to the performance of her dharma(duties) and make spiritual progress.
Often times, women practicing Bhakti who are without the protection of a male family member owing to various reasons beyond their control, do find themselves wondering about how they can adapt to this recommendation from the Vedas. Just like there are numerous examples in our scriptures about women being nicely protected by male family members there are also examples of women who had to live without that. Now what did those women do? How did they live their lives? Where did they find their shelter? Reading about their example can be very pacifying for a heart seeking proper direction.
The Rules And Regulations Of Bhakti and the Holy Names
In the Ramayana, Sita had to be without the protection of a husband , or a father or a son atleast twice in Her pastimes. When She was kidnapped by Ravana and taken to Lanka, Ravana took Her around his opulent palace, tried to attract Her to his riches and also told Her that all his queens would become Her slaves. However Sita was not attracted to any of those things for She was completely chaste to her husband, Lord Rama. As the Ramayana progresses we also find that no matter what Ravana did, Sita remained unshaken in her love and chastity for Lord Rama and thus she was always protected even while being in a very hostile environment in Lanka.
From Sita’s example we can see how she remained true to her values and that protected her from the various allurements offered by Ravana. Her constant meditation on Lord Rama and His qualities gave Her tremendous strength through Her ordeal. This can be a starting point for many single “unprotected” women, i.e. to find their protection in sticking to values based on the rules and regulations of Bhakti and constantly meditating upon the Lord through His Holy Names. In the face of temptation, this is the one thing that can help everyone in remaining protected from succumbing to their own lower nature. Also, if one follows the rules and regulations of Bhakti sincerely, Krishna offers complete protection to them. While some primarily depend upon pepper sprays, self defense techniques and protection dogs many primarily depend upon the Lord and consider the others as secondary sources of protection.
The Guru and The Association of Vaishnavas
Later in the Ramayana , we find Sita was abandoned near the hermitage of the great sage Valmiki. She had to not only deal with the emotions of being cast off by her husband but also deal with the embarrassment of facing questions about her situation from the sages and their wives residing at the hermitage. Along with this, She was also in an extremely vulnerable state being pregnant. Valmiki Rsi arranged for Sita to live with the ascetic women near his ashrama. They took care of Her just like they would care for their own daughter. Not only did Sita live there Herself as a single woman, but she also gave birth and raised her two sons Luv and Kush in that hermitage. By following dharma properly, living in the association of Guru and Vaishnavas and Her own purity , Sita did not harbor any bitterness in her heart and neither did she let her children develop a negative mindset towards their father Lord Rama. On the other hand Luv and Kush were raised as spiritually minded boys by Her with the support of the lady ascetics and Valmiki Rsi.
While the starting point is to take shelter in the rules and regulations of Bhakti, one can follow further in the footsteps of Sita by also taking shelter of a Guru and living in the association of Vaishnavas or like minded spiritualists. A woman maybe alone and not have a father, a husband or a son, but by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy she and everyone else have access to the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness or dharmā. She has the possibility of having the shelter of a bona fide guru who is the representative of Kṛṣṇa. And she has Kṛṣṇa Himself just like Sita had Rama. As said by Narottama Das Thakur in his Nama Sankirtana bhajan,
sri-caitanya-nityananda sri-advaita-sita hari guru vaishnava bhagavata gita
“All glories to Sri Caitanya and Nityananda! All glories to Sri Advaita Acarya and His consort, Sri Sita Thakurani. All glories to Lord Hari, to the spiritual master, the Vaishnavas, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Srimad Bhagavad-Gita. “
This will keep everyone’s sanity, and safety intact so that one can continue in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At www.BhaktiWomen.org we wish the very best strength and protection to all women in their Bhakti.
– With excerpts from a lecture by HG Harivilas Prabhu[ACBSP] on ” Powerful Feminine Qualities”