This is my reply to a young woman who is new to the path of Bhakti. She has been regularly attending temple programs in one city in the US. Sometimes she is discouraged hearing a sectarian or misogynist slant coming from the speaker during the morning class. With her name omitted, I thought to share my reply to one of her emails. I hope you will find my reply to her helpful in your life as well. ~ All the best, Rukmini Walker
My very fond affection to you. Jaya Prabhupada.
There are always many reasons to become discouraged, especially when interacting or serving in a multicultural international community or environment where people have different values and cultural norms. Please always remain vigilant to be a seeker of the essence and don’t lose the precious baby when throwing out the bathwater. It’s most important. Never allow yourself to become isolated from the temple sanga, no matter how discouraging some voices may be. Find the ones there with whom you find resonance. Prabhupada has shed many gallons of blood to establish these communities for you- and for all of us, without discrimination.
Certain speakers at the temple might be speaking with a sectarian perspective, or sometimes you might think the Bhagavatam itself is that way. Actually, Srimad Bhagavatam exposes materialistic thinking wherever it appears – in men, in women, in high caste people, in low caste people… Generally, it will tell stories that bring down the proud, the high and mighty; and uplift the humble people – time and time again. We have to read it all in context. Like water, grace flows down. Like water, keep flowing down, keep going around any obstacles, keep seeking your Source – Sri Krsna, the origin of us all.
You and I – and so many others – love the ideal of the worship of Sri Radha, but we also always have to remember that she is divine – and also that we are ourselves are not women – we are atma, jivatma, beyond this material body. The controlling, dominating ego must be given up – whether it appears in the mind and heart of a man or a woman. Of course, we hear that spiritually all living beings are of the feminine nature, in relation to the one Supreme male, Sri Krsna.
There is the beautiful story of Mirabai when she came to Vrndavan and sought the darshan of an esteemed holy man. She approached the ashram and asked the brahmacarya disciple if she could have the saint’s darshan. The disciple said that his guru doesn’t see any women. Then Mirabai, in her deep wisdom and realization replied, “But I thought that Sri Krsna was the only male in Vrndavan!” The disciple was stumped and said, “Ok, let me go ask”. Then he came back and said to her, “Yes, you are welcome, my guru said to come immediately!”
So what an example she is. Mirabai was certainly humble in herself, in her prayers, and in her outlook. But her ardent love made her bold also. She could not be dissuaded from her love for Krsna. When Srila Prabhupada was asked by one woman book distributor, how can we be both humble and bold at the same time? He replied, “Be a lion on the chase, and a lamb at home”. Not easy, but these dichotomies can be resolved with deep realization.
In order to understand Sri Krsna, we seek the compassionate sidelong glance of Sri Radha. But today, on the Appearance Day of Nityananda Prabhu, we seek His blessings in order to achieve the grace of Lord Caitanya. Grace flows down like water, seeking the lowest place, seeking those who are humble.
There is a pivotal verse given in the Sri Caitanya Candramrita of Prabhadananda Sarawati. It says:
yatha yatha gaura padaravinde
vindeta bhaktim krta-punya-rasih
tatha tathotsarpati hrdi akasmad
When a pious person attains the dust of the lotus feet of Lord Gaura (Lord Caitanya), the ocean of nectar from the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani suddenly floods his heart.
You are a deep thinker, and you are also trying to enter deeply into the consciousness of loving Krsna. Our candid conversations are a joy and an honor for me. Let’s please keep these conversations going, ok?
With all my love and prayers for your continuing advancement in Krsna Bhakti,
Your sister in service,