Varnasrama Differences

Giving women the right to give diksa would give them equal rights with brahmanas, yet such equality is artificial. This point is discussed at length in Prabhupada’s July 9-13, 1975 talks. If a woman was fully equal with a brahmana, she would be eligible to take sannyasa. Women, however, are restricted from taking sannyasa or becoming avadhuta:

“Regarding Swamis and “Swaminies”, you have been misinformed. Among my disciples there is only one Swami or Sannyasi, but there is no “Swaminie”. Woman is never offered Sannyasa in the Vedic culture. Up to Vanaprastha stage the woman may remain with her husband as assistant or friend without any sex relation, and when a man takes Sannyasa the woman has no connection with him.” [Letter to Nevatiaji July 16, 1970]

The FDG paradigm hinges on establishing a woman as a single, independent unit, separate from her husband and fit to assume the role of a brahmana in every regard. On Nov. 2, 1975 in Nairobi, Prabhupada reiterates these points, explaining she is brahmana on the spiritual platform but there is a distinction in that she follows her husband’s vows; if he takes sannyasa, she is not allowed to remarry.  No mention is made of divorce and remarriage in the SAC’s “prerequisites”, although there is a stricture against men becoming GBC’s in such cases.

As seen in the Goswamis section, the qualification for giving diksa is one must be a brahmana with a sacred thread. Since a woman does not receive the sacred thread, even if she is the chaste wife of a brahmana, she is unauthorized to become diksa-guru:

“Women are considered on the same platform with sudras, and although a woman may be married to a brahmana, she is not given the sacred thread.” [TLK 5]

A girl is not allowed the sacred thread because, in all cases, she must follow her husband. If her husband is a brahmana, she is also automatically a brahmana so there is no need for her to undergo a separate reformation. The point is that if by chance she doesn’t marry a brahmana, her so-called brahmana training is meaningless. Therefore, even if born in a brahmana family, a woman is always taken as a woman, not as a brahmana:

“So therefore the, even born in a brahmana family, a woman is taken as woman, not as brahmana.“ [Sri Sri Rukmini Dvaraka-natha Deity Installation Los Angeles, July 16, 1969]

Brahma Bandhu

As seen in Teachings of Queen Kunti:

women, śūdras, and dvija-bandhus are considered to belong to the same category.”
[TQK Chapters 3 and 5]

“Therefore, the Lord is merciful even to the women, śūdras, and dvija-bandhus, provided they agree to visit the temple and worship the different forms made for them…and one should not pose himself as transcending the stage of temple worship while one is actually in the category of the śūdras and the women or less.”

It is important for devotee women to be “playing the part” of chaste women, like Kunti, not imitating men of higher varnasrama rank as it is clear she should “not pose” as being beyond her prescribed womanly regulations.

Women being considered in the same category as dvija-bandhus/ brahma-bandhus is also taught by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta:

“Women, sudras, and brahma-bandhus all belong to a particular category that is inferior to the class of topmost brahmanas.” [SBSST Brahmana and Vaisnava]

Etiquette is an Important of Vaisnava culture. As we see in the Teachings of Lord Kapila:

“Kapiladeva was a brahmacari, and His mother took lessons from Him. That is the prerogative of the male.” [TLK 5]

FDG presents a double standard on male prerogative On the one hand the GBC Law denies women the right to take sannyasa [GBC Law Section 9.5] yet the GBC Executive Committee states:

“The GBC will not tolerate any…preferential treatment given to male devotees in any form.”
“The GBC will not tolerate any…discrimination against female devotees.” 
[Nov. 8, 1999 GBC EC Directive] 

Awarding sannyasa to men and not women is an act of preferential treatment; however GBC Law forbids women from opening all-women asramas:

“because in every case a woman should be protected by a man”.

To say, “in every case a woman should be protected by a man” and women can’t have all-female asramas is different from men who don’t need to be protected nor are they dis-allowed to have all-male asramas.

On the one hand, our GBC condemns “preferential treatment given to male devotees in any form” yet on the other hand we know it is our duty to give “first preference” to men, especially sannyasis and brahmanas [Letter to Jayagovinda Feb. 8, 1968].

We must be careful not to contradict the injunctions of sastra that establish male prerogative in social and spiritual matters:

Here Kapiladeva in a brahmacārī dress, and mother is taking lesson from the son. Now, sometimes it is asked, “How the mother will take lesson from the son?” That is the prerogative of the male.

…In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also said, māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ [Bg. 9.32]… A woman is considered in the level of śūdra. Although a woman is married with a brāhmaṇa, the woman is not offered the sacred thread.

…Strī-śūdra-dvija-bandhūnām: women, and the śūdras, and dvija-bandhu. Dvija-bandhu means born in a brāhmaṇa family, but not qualified as brāhmaṇa. They are called not brāhmaṇa. They are called dvija-bandhu.” [Nov. 5, 1974 SB 3.25.5-6 Lecture]

See Also Guru-patni.