Chastity Defined

The qualification of sadhvi (“chaste, faithful wife”) overrides all others in terms of importance in a woman’s life. Therefore, practically speaking, although a woman may be used to living in a wealthy environment and be well-educated, she will adapt herself to serving a husband of different “class” and assist him in his work and household affairs. This principle is demonstrated in Srimad Bhagavatam 3.23.1. Devahuti and Bhavani, both daughter of kings, accepted poor devotee husbands. In subsequent verses, 3.23.2- 5, we read about the example of Gandhari, who although “a powerful ascetic”, “was living the life of a faithful wife and a kind mother”. She voluntarily gave up the use of her eyes due to the blindness of her husband.

The attitude of equality or superiority in a wife is not encouraged because, as explained in these verses, a man’s natural instinct is to be naturally superior to the wife and the wife “naturally inferior to her husband” which, in the opinion of our Srila Prabhupada and other great Acaryas, “must be observed.” 

“The word samanuvrata indicates that it is the duty of a wife to adopt the special circumstances in which the husband is situated.” [SB 3.23.4-5]

Chastity is upheld as a regulative principle and was upheld by great liberated chaste female spiritual teachers such as Queen Kunti, Anasuya, Jahnava and Uma/Parvati/Bhavani.