O n 22nd February, HH Candramauli Swami gave lecture on S.B. 6.4.15-17. Below is transcript of the lecture.
HH Candramauli Swami: (Pranama Mantras)
We are hearing about Daksa in this particular verse which begins somewhat of a different theme here. Daksa, in his previous manifestation as a Prajapti, committed a very serious offense. What was his position? He had a lot of responsibility and a lot of qualifications to go along with those responsibilities. He was well learned in the sastras and he had sixteen daughters. One was Sati, the personification of the illusory energy of the Lord. He was very handsome. He had all good qualities and a big service, to populate the universe. He was honored and respected for his position and his amazing qualities.
One day, he walked into an assembly of greatly learned and respectable sages, saints, and even Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. Everyone got up to honor Daksa’s presence. It is explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam that they automatically rose, simply by seeing him. It was by spontaneous impetus. In other words, they did not think. It just happened. They rose simply because of his presence. Except for one person, Lord Siva.
Now for Siva, it was not that he did not want to honor Daksa. He was just absorbed in meditation on the lotus feet of the Lord. In one sense, he was not even aware of the external environment. He was simply absorbed in his devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But Daksa could not see this. He became unhappy. He then became outspoken about his unhappiness.
I won’t narrate all of the details, but in essence he began to speak negatively and offensively of Lord Siva, his own son in law. At that time, the assembly became quite divided. Some were becoming very upset and some remained silent. Lord Siva did not say anything. Why did Daksa do such a thing? Because of pride.
It is explained that there are six enemies of the conditioned soul: lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride, and envy. Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that in anger, lust is there. In greed, lust and anger are there. In illusion, lust, anger, and greed are there. In pride, lust, anger, greed, and illusion are there. In envy, you get the whole package. So Daksa, also, was affected by envy. But at the same time, he was so proud. Because he had so many good qualifications. He did not understand the principle of how to honor a great personality. Because he got so much respect, honor, and attention, and had so many good qualities, he committed an offense to a great soul. Not only a great soul, but a person who is practically on the same level as Lord Visnu.
Siva is exalted in all aspects because he is practically non different than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here, as is mentioned, because of this offense, there was great turmoil in the whole assembly. The assembly was disbanded. Later on there was a great fight and Daksa ended up loosing his head.
I’d like to speak a little bit about offenses. There are four categories of offenses that the vaisnavas and Bhaktivinoda Thakura explain. There are offenses to the Lord in His deity form. There are offenses to the holy name, which is non different from Krishna. There are offenses to vaisnavas. There are also offenses to living entities who are not devotees. Somehow or other, by the mercy of the Lord, one can rectify and nullify the effects of offenses to the Lord and the holy name by absorbing oneself in the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. But when it comes to offenses to vaisnavas, even the holy name cannot fully alleviate the effects and reactions of that type of offense.
It is also mentioned by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in another sastra that there are six ways to offend a vaisnava. Would you like to hear these six? They are quite scary. But it’s good to know because we should be very careful when it comes to dealing with vaisnavas. The most serious and grievous of all vaisnava aparadha is to kill a vaisnava. So some of you are laughing because no one would think of doing that, but it’s happened in our society.
I do prison preaching so I know many devotees who are in jails who have committed some pretty grievous offenses. So that is the most severe for of vaisnava aparadha. It’s an offense on all levels of existence, materially and spiritually and legally. Daksa did not do that. What was his offense? The next one down. He blasphemed a great soul. What is blasphemy? A question was asked to Srila Prabhupada in one discussion. “What does it mean to blaspheme? How does it differ from criticism?” Srila Prabhupada said that, “Blaspheme means that you have all good qualities, but that the offender looks for some negative quality and makes that the character description.” So by trying to find some little fault, or whatever fault you may create, and making that the character description of that person, that’s called blasphemy. That was Daksa’s offense.
Down from that is to become envious of the vaisnavas. To become angry with the vaisnavas. To not honor the vaisnavas. The last one, and least offensive, but still an offense, is to not become happy upon seeing a vaisnava. So what do you do in that case? When you see a vaisnava and you do not become happy, you should immediately offer your obeisances. That counteracts the tendency for that offense to take effect. The essence of the consciousness which helps us to avoid offenses is respect. We should respect vaisnavas no matter what category or level of spiritual practice that they are in, respect should be given accordingly.
In fact, our how society is based, at least in its social essence, and the interaction of its spiritual practice, on the culture of respect. Respect is given, understood, and enhanced by how we address each other. For instance, we address ladies as “Mother.” This is a term of respect. It is a term of honor. It is a term for seeing the ladies as someone who is honorable and worshipable. One who is called Mother, that terminology, has such deep affectionate and spiritual affection of regard for that living entity who has taken the body of a lady. I’m speaking on this because today is Mother’s Day. Did you know that? Tonight we are going to have a program to honor the mothers. Bhakti Purushottam Maharaj made an announcement today that today we will honor our ladies as mothers. This is a moment to moment process of honoring those living entities who are in female bodies.
Here is a verse from the Taittiriya Upanisads from the shikshavalli 1.20.
“Be one for who the mother is God. Be one for who the father is God. Be one for who the teacher is God. Be one for who the guest is God.” In other words, mother comes after Krishna. I remember growing up that there would be a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day. This is in the USA. Mother’s Day was always the second Sunday in the month of May. And Father’s Day, we couldn’t remember when it was. Somebody would say, “Oh it’s Father’s Day.” “Oh. Really?” But we never forgot Mother’s Day. In all cultures, even though western culture does not really know how to respect and honor the women, Mother’s Day is still considered a time when you honor that personality who has given you the body in this particular birth.
My point is that the culture of respect denotes reverence to different types of entities by giving them honor by calling them in a way that is respectful and honorable. I’ll give you a little story on something that is very much related. How the Vedic culture really only adheres to the principle of giving respect according to title or category.In one ashram, the brahmacaris are encouraged to call each other prabhu. If you’re not doing that, you’ll be corrected. So there were two boys who had grown up and joined the ashram together. One boy was practically in tears when he heard that he had to call his best friend, who he had grown up with, prabhu, master. He came crying to the devotees to express his feeling. He said, “I grew up with this person. How can I call him prabhu? He’s my friend, not my prabhu.”
The point I’m trying to make is that the terminology that we use to address each other is the way to show respect and avoid coming down to this platform of ordinary and material. When we address the ladies as Mother, we are seeing that personality as a mother.
I’ll read one thing. This is interesting. This is Brahmananda Prabhu speaking to Srila Prabhupada. He says, “In your lecture, you quoted Chanakya Pandit that a man must see every woman other than his own wife as mother. How should a woman see another man?” Srila Prabhupada answered, “As son.” Brahmananda, “That was my idea.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes. If I see a woman as mother, she must see me as son. That’s all. That is the system. The brahmacaris, the sannyasis, go begging alms from door to door.
‘Mother, give me some baksheesh, alms.’ In this way, the duty of the grihasthas is to treat brahmacaris and sannyasis as their sons.” The conversation goes on and then finally a devotee says, “When you address a woman, do you use the word Mataji? Is that the proper word for her?” Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes. Mataji. Very good. Mother. Alright. Chant Hare Krishna.”
It helps and encourages us to get off of the bodily platform. That is what we are trying to do in all aspects of our devotional service. These terminologies help us to show respect and to get away from the sensual platform. On the sensual platform, the mind becomes disturbed and one cannot think of Krishna.
The culture of respect goes for all categories, but especially towards the ladies. The woman has a source of energy and strength. So the more we honor our ladies and respect them, the more they will accept that and give strength, honor, encouragement, nourishment, and affection to all aspects of our devotional process. This is a broad subject. We will discuss it in detail this evening at a program at the goshala at 4:45 this evening. If you have time in your schedule, please come. With the limited time now, I will stop here and see if there are any questions.
Dhanesvara Das: Maharaj, you mentioned in class about offenses. But we didn’t hear about dhama aparadha.
Candramauli Swami: Bhaktivinoda Thakura talks about the anarthas. He mentions sixteen types of anarthas in categories of four. These are the four he mentions in terms of aparadhas. But that’s the fifth category. It wasn’t mentioned by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in this particular case. I just quoted what he had written.
If you are committing any of the other offenses in the dhama, then you are committing dhama aparadha also. It goes along.
Gaurangi devi dasi: One devotee, younger than me, I called my dear son. He got all offended and said, “No, you call me Prabhu.” So we need to be clear, you know. If he’s my son, he’s my son, you know? It’s not enough to just call Mataji. You have to see the rest of it.
Candramauli Swami: You have to say it, and mean it. Not just “Prabhu, you’re in maya. Mataji, what are you doing here?” It’s not like that. It’s not a terminology that we just throw around because it’s convenient. The terminology helps bring about the proper mood. If we do not develop that proper mood then the terminology itself is not enough.
You responded according to sastra. What does Chanakya Pandit say? Who is a learned person? Srila Prabhupada says that a learned person is not one who has all kinds of degrees and education. Srila Prabhupada quotes Chanakya Pandit many times: matrvat para-daresu,para-dravyesu lostravat. He says that a learned person has three qualities. A learned person, in this verse, the last line is that he’s a pandit. He’s actually a great scholar. What is that? It is to see all women, other than ones wife, as mother. Not only to see it, but to treat them in that same way. You see other peoples property as something that you are simply not interested in, garbage in the street.
In America we have a saying: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We call it the golden rule. Srila Prabhupada uses the example that if I pinch you, that hurts. I don’t want anybody to pinch me, so why would I do it to you? I do not want it, myself. Therefore you should treat others as you would have them treat you.
This is the quality of a learned person. Give respect to everyone. What are we respecting in them? Really, when we give respect to another living entity, it is explained by Srila Prabhupada that you are actually respecting Krishna within the heart of that living entity. When one disrespects, minimizes, neglects, or commits an offense to another, it also goes to the heart of that living entity where super soul resides.
This is a very broad topic. It’s a very important topic, this mood of respect. In our day to day practice, to respect women is considered to be glorious.
Krsnaupa DD: Thank you very much, Maharaj. It’s a point of some contention within ISKCON amongst women. We are very confused, or some of us are, about how to address each other. I was raised in ISKCON in the early 70’s that everyone was prabhu. As time progressed, then you could no longer call women prabhu. So then we have to call them mataji. I still feel a bit odd calling women, especially younger women, mataji. Then a learned sannyasi suggested, a godbrother of mine, then why don’t you say prabhvi, which is the female form of prabhu. So I would be interested in your opinion on what’s the proper way to address women, junior women and your peers, and senior women.
Candramauli Swami: I have heard from senior ladies who have also discussed this that the word mother includes the word prabhu. It is a sign of both reverence and affection. It is not devoid of the principle of honor which is also there within the word prabhu. So a mother is also a prabhu, but a prabhu is not a mother.
Srila Prabhupada has given us that even young girls, we see, even though a person may be older, it is written that they address even younger girls as mother. My feeling is that we should stick with Srila Prabhupada’s directions. It may seem a little bit awkward because we are not accustomed to it, but if we practice, it is actually very pleasing to both the ladies, and those who express that feeling.
I think that we are minimizing the role of ladies when we call them prabhu.
It brings them down instead of glorifying them. I’ll probably get smashed for that, but anyway.
Devotee: Thank you for your wonderful lecture, Maharaj. As you mentioned, that ladies should be respected as mother, I would request you to put some light on how mother’s should be responsible in a cultured way. So how should a woman, if she thinks that she should be respected, how should she be cultured and responsible. What is the duty of a woman also, to be dressed nicely, respectfully. To be cultured in a society and as per the scripture notes.
Candramauli Swami: What is the culture of a mother? What is the culture of a vaisnava? The first duty is that she is a servant of Krishna. Her bhakti is first. She should make that her first priority, how to develop her Krishna Consciousness by following the processes given by the acharyas. How she exhibits that is according to her womanly qualities and characteristics.
We are not this body. Still, for the sake of social function, etiquette, and practice, we have to act accordingly with the body that we have been given. Do you want to hear a revolutionary statement? I know I’m going to get smashed for this one! Generally, a married woman does not talk to any other man besides her husband. If she has to, it is very brief and to the point. Does that help? That is Vedic culture. A woman’s power is her shyness and her chastity. A woman’s power is her devotion.
Who are the best devotees? The altar has nine women and one man on there. I think they are called Krishna’s eternal parts and parcels who are His intimate associates in Madhurya bhava, called the gopis. Women have so many outstanding qualities. When they exhibit that, they give strength to everything around them, including and especially the men. If somehow or the other they use their feminine charm in an attractive way to allure the attention of men, then everything goes down. That’s why we say that shyness is the power of a lady.
Still, ladies can have all kinds of responsibilities as far as service is concerned. They can do all of the services, while still keeping their feminine quality, the characters, and expressions that they have to do in terms of their service. This is socially revolutionary. We can discuss this topic for days.
The main point is to learn how to respect each other. Each of us become respectable when we act according to how we are supposed to act. A brahmana is respected for his knowledge, a ksatriya for his prowess, a vaisya for his ability to increase the economic substance of a society, and sudra is respected for his dedication to those three higher orders in his service. Even in the varnashram system, the quality of respect is given according to the power of that living entity to exhibit those qualities. The more that a woman exhibit those qualities, the more powerful she becomes, spiritually, materially, and devotionally.
Dhanesvara Das: Srila Prabhupada sometimes addressed his female disciples as daughter. So what about older men addressing very much younger women as daughter? Or older women addressing very much younger girls as daughter?
Candramauli Swami: That’s guru – disciple. Srimati, Jagaddhatri, Pashupati, Salogati and Prema devi dasi. “My dear daughters,” in Srila Prabhupada’s letter. “Please accept my blessings.” And then he goes on to write his letter explaining to them how they should behave on sankirtan. So he addresses his disciples as daughters. A spiritual master’s relationship with his female disciples is like father to daughter.
Anuttama Das: Maharaj, just so I’m clear, I was always trained as a man that it was at least my equal responsibility to not dally with or talk whimsically with the ladies. It wasn’t so much that the ladies have to be quiet and the men can speak to the women whenever they want, or assume that they are the quiet ones and I’m supposed to be the verbose one.
Then the second part of my question is how does this formula work? For instance, I can say that I’m in Washington, DC. At this time, we have a woman temple president. In all honesty, I don’t agree with everything that she does. I’m her GBC and I don’t agree with everything that she does. But I would say that in the last fifteen years, she’s the best temple president that we have had. So, how would she understand that, “Don’t talk.” I would think there would be some special context for that. I wouldn’t want the ladies to think that if they have a position that they are supposed to, you know, write on chalkboards or something. I’m not disagreeing with the principle. I’m wondering if you can expand a little bit on how it might apply in different circumstances.
Candramauli Swami: The etiquette for carrying out devotional service according to our responsibilities should be done graciously and with respect. It’s not that men don’t talk to women, but only for the sake of devotional service. I think that if the element of respect is always there then there is no difficulty. As soon as we loose respect, or start seeing each other on the bodily platform, that’s when we start loosing respect, when things become ordinary again.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!