“It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though they may be faulty, than another’s duties. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.”
PURPORT: One should therefore discharge his prescribed duties in full Krsna consciousness rather than those prescribed for others. Prescribed duties complement one’s psychophysical condition under the spell of the modes of material nature. Spiritual duties are as ordered by the spiritual master, for the transcendental service of Krsna. But both materially or spiritually, one should stick to his prescribed duties even up to death, rather than imitate another’s prescribed duties.” [Bhagavad-gita 3.35]
A woman who acts as instructor guru must “stick to” (as opposed to reject or neglect) her “prescribed duties even up to death rather than imitate another’s prescribed duties”. Female gurus who neglect their prescribed duty confuse society. Spiritual leaders cannot be fallen in the matter of morality as immorality hinders others in the execution of their duties by promoting a spirit of irresponsibility. [Dialectical Spritualism p.15] A female leader, therefore, must possess exemplary chaste character, in addition to being a spiritual adept, in order to guide the general population towards peace and prosperity.
Prabhupada wanted ISKCON’s leaders to become “acarya-like”, ideal representatives of Vedic culture [May 28, 1977 Meeting with GBC], so that by their association, people would become good and responsible citizens in addition to becoming God-conscious.
“From every position, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, sva-karmana tam abhyarcya:
one can serve the Supreme Lord by performing one’s prescribed duty.” [SB 3.29.15]
Men and women have different occupational duties, thus they are qualified differently in terms of being “acarya-like”. The acarya follows the principles of sastra and in so doing teaches others. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. [Bhagavad-gita 3.21] Manufacturing something new that is not evidenced by sastra is condemned by Lord Krsna. [March 15, 1976 Mayapura Lecture]
“The first recommendation is sva-dharmacaranam. As long as we have this material body there are various duties prescribed for us. Such duties are divided by a system of four social orders: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. These particular duties are mentioned in the sastra, and particularly in Bhagavad-gita. Sva-dharmacaranam means that one must discharge the prescribed duties of his particular division of society faithfully and to the best of his ability. One should not accept another’s duty. If one is born in a particular society or community, he should perform the prescribed duties for that particular division. If, however, one is fortunate enough to transcend the designation of birth in a particular society or community by being elevated to the standard of spiritual identity, then his sva-dharma, or duty, is solely that of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The actual duty of one who is advanced in Krsna consciousness is to serve the Lord. As long as one remains in the bodily concept of life, he may act according to the duties of social convention, but if one is elevated to the spiritual platform, he must simply serve the Supreme Lord; that is the real execution of sva-dharma.” [SB 3.28.2]
Krsna conscious men and women must be careful to not transgress the rules and regulations of their constitutional positions [May 27. 1974 Rome], or sva-dharma (stri-dharma for a woman). Followers of varnasrama are called varnasramacaram (Visnu Purana 3.8.9). Srila Bhaktivinoda comments on this verse:
“varnasramacaravata purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam
Sri Visnu is worshiped only by carrying out one’s prescribed duties in varnasrama. There is no other way to please Him.” [Jaiva-dharma p 168]
This VP verse is also given in CC Madhya 8.58 by Ramananda Raya to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and often misunderstood. The ultimate goal of our prescribed duties is to please Krsna. It is a misunderstanding that varnasrama is to be rejected in bhakti-yoga. Srila Bhaktivinoda explains:
“As long as one has a material body the system of varnasrama-dharma must be followed, but it should remain under the full control and domination of bhakti. Varnasrama-dharma is like the foundation of one’s supreme occupational duty. When one’s supreme occupational duty is matured and one achieves his goal, then the process is gradually neglected. Again, it is also abandoned at the time of death.” [Bhaktivinoda Bhaktyaloka]
Being a religious follower means one follows regulative principles/prescribed duties:
“They are not really interested in religion. It is simply show-bottle. If you do not follow the regulative principles, then where is your religion? “ [JSD 4]
Whimsical action performed in violation of Vedic rules is considered capricious work according to Lord Krsna:
“Capricious work means actions without the sanction of authority” [BG 2.47 Purport]
“But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.” [BG 16.23]
Krsna warns against one’s giving up prescribed occupational duty and imitating another’s. Deliberate transgression of a woman’s stri-dharma does not lead to happiness or spiritual emancipation because it does not have the sanction of authority. Capricious action stems from a defiant and competitive attitude which carries us to rebirth:
“He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection nor happiness nor the supreme destination.” (Bg. 16.23) Thus one who is deliberately transgressing the rules and regulations of the sastras is simply involving himself more and more in material existence in the three modes of material nature. Human society should therefore follow the Vedic principles of life, which are summarized in Bhagavad-gita. Otherwise life in material existence will continue.” [SB 4.26.8]
Kings such as Janaka attained perfection solely by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.
Kings like Janaka were all self-realized souls; consequently they had no obligation to perform the prescribed duties in the Vedas. Nonetheless they performed all prescribed activities just to set examples for the people in general. Janaka was the father of Sītā and father-in-law of Lord Śrī Rāma. Being a great devotee of the Lord, he was transcendentally situated, but because he was the king of Mithilā (a subdivision of Bihar province in India), he had to teach his subjects how to perform prescribed duties. Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, the Lord’s eternal friend, had no need to fight in the Battle of Kurukṣetra, but they fought to teach people in general that violence is also necessary in a situation where good arguments fail. Before the Battle of Kurukṣetra, every effort was made to avoid the war, even by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the other party was determined to fight. So for such a right cause, there is a necessity for fighting. Although one who is situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness may not have any interest in the world, he still works to teach the public how to live and how to act. Experienced persons in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can act in such a way that others will follow, and this is explained in the following verse.” [BG 3.20]
The next famous Gita verse states:
“yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas | tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaḿ kurute | lokas tad anuvartate
Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
People in general always require a leader who can teach the public by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher should behave properly before he begins teaching. One who teaches in that way is called ācārya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher must follow the principles of śāstra (scripture) to teach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-saḿhitā and similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society. Thus the leader’s teaching should be based on the principles of such standard śāstras. One who desires to improve himself must follow the standard rules as they are practiced by the great teachers. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also affirms that one should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and that is the way of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the executive head of a state, the father and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependents; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.”
Note- no mention is made of mother in terms of “natural leaders of the innocent people”. Women are considered innocent, as seen in Teachings of Queen Kunti.
Bhagavad-gita 18.47 teaches it is “better” for a woman not to accept the occupation of a sannyasi, even if she can perform it perfectly:
“It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Prescribed duties, according to one’s nature, are never affected by sinful reactions.”
A woman is not to imitate a sannyasi’s duties, imitating his independence. Although she may prefer to do this, it is unauthorized, for she has her own set of duties ie. cooking and assisting her husband throughout his life. If he takes sannyasa and travels the world preaching, she is advised to stay under the protection of her grown up son and continue to serve according to the svadharma prescribed by Narada Muni. Sastra says a woman’s nature is to be subservient throughout her life, not to “graduate” to a post of authority that is contrary to the authoritative Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Manu-samhita.
Krsna did not tell Arjuna to give up his prescribed duty of fighting but to do it for His pleasure, not his own independent whims. Although a woman may be spiritually advanced, internally renounced and dependent on Krsna, the idea of her acting like sannyasi externally ie. independent travel/preaching irregardless of husband’s activities, is not authorized by the Lord. Imitation means it is fake or false ie. artificial and it is a “cause of bondage”, not liberation:
“Anything done for personal sense gratification is a cause of bondage. The conclusion is that everyone should be engaged according to the particular mode of nature he has acquired, and he should decide to work only to serve the supreme cause of the Supreme Lord.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.47 Purport]