My meditation today comes from a lecture given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur on 25th September, 1925. I read his words in the English book, Prabhupada Saraswati Thakur, published by Mandala Publishing.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur spoke about women:
"All of you please perceive everything in this world as ingredients for serving Krishna. Everything of this world is actually meant for Krishna's service. Please see the whole race of women as beloved consorts of Krishna, and help them to always engage themselves in the service of Krishna....They are to be enjoyed by Krishna; they are never to be enjoyed by the living entities."
Later in the same lecture, the Thakur mentions that he wants to build a "Visnupriya Palli" (palli means neighborhood and Visnupriya Devi is the wife of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) in Sridham Mayapur, for women who have been impeded in their devotional practices by bad association. He wanted them to have a place in Mayapur where they could live peacefully near Yogapith (Mahaprabhu's birthplace) and practice devotional service free from exploitation.
Walking down the street today on my way to buy groceries, my meditation as i passed women was to see them as part of "an eternal race" who were meant for Sri Krishna's enjoyment. It is a novel way to process familiar sense impressions. It is not easy to override my conditioned response system. Every man subconsciously looks at women as objects of attraction or aversion. And women are tuned in with a kind of internal radar to pick up any signals of interest. So this exercise (of seeing women as an eternal race belonging to Krishna) is counter-intuitive to the normal dance between the sexes. But that dance is actually a hallucination, a trip. Maya always promises to take you to a mystical, wonderful world. And in the end she brings you mediocrity and misery. Always.
Of course, our Srila Prabhupada also taught us these essential truths: to see that everything belongs to Krishna, and is meant for His service. By his example also, Prabhupada taught us to always respect women, as he respected his own female disciples. He never exploited them in even the slightest way. He offered them protection as brahmacarinis and he also respected them when they married. He rarely engaged his female disciples directly; rather he encouraged them to accept their temple authorities or husbands as spiritual guides. This is in contrast to less advanced gurus who take on a subtle but intimate role in their women disciples' lives. This has become quite popular these days, with some gurus acting as 'surrogate' husbands. That is distasteful and dangerous and disturbing, as it upsets the already difficult balance of household life.
Much worse, however, are those false gurus who grossly exploit their female disciples. Incest between guru and disciple is even more abominable than the ordinary brand of incest. It is beneath all moral codes, what to speak of spiritual etiquette. Amorality of that kind is for animals. Guru is the spiritual father for progressive members of the human race. If he acts like an animal for personal sense gratification, he is not guru at all, but a 'shmuru', a bogus cheater. The Isopanisad says such a rascal is headed for the darkest regions of the universe-- animal or plant life.
For the rest of us who are aspiring to be progressive humans, our responsibility is mostly to ourselves. If we want peace, we must develop the vision to see all women (or men) in this world as expressions and energies of Sri Krishna, meant eventually for His company. They are His creation, His race, meant for Him to maintain and enjoy, eternally.