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Serving Krishna in a Female Body

When the gopis (Vraja cowherd damsels) met Krishna during the rasa-lila (dance pastimes), He would use the same words which He told the wives of the brahmanas (priests), “Svagatam vo maha-bhagah priyam kim karavani vah—Welcome to all of you—How can I serve you?” Then Krishna joked with the gopis, “You must return to your homes and serve your husbands.” The same words Krishna spoke to the wives of yagnik-brahmanas (experts in making fire sacrifices), He was now speaking to the gopis before Him.

Following Krishna’s instruction, the brahmanis (wives of brahmanas) returned to their homes, yet, the gopis did not go back. One may ask—why has this happened? The wives of the yagnik-brahmanas maintain a mood of opulence towards Krishna; they believe Krishna is Bhagavan. However, Krishna is not fully satisfied with those displaying a mood of opulence towards Him.

For this reason, Krishna did not accept the very simple hearted yagna-patnis. Krishna merely told them, “Return back,” and without question or quarrel, they listened and they left. Another aspect to consider is that Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara has one infallible principle, He only accepts the gopis belonging to a gopa dynasty (cowherd dynasty). Correspondingly, one must aspire to become a gopi by taking birth in a gopa lineage; without taking birth into a gopa dynasty, Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara will not accept you.

Another very relevant characteristic of the gopis is their anuraga (deep attachment) towards Krishna. Due to this intense bond, they refused to go back to their homes, bringing Krishna a great amount of pleasure. Instead, they stayed with Him and consequently, Krishna performed His rasa-lila with them. It should be mentioned, one will not be allowed admission into Krishna’s rasa-lila without accepting sannyasa (renounced order), this goal is only achieved if one receives the gopi-mantra, which is given at the time of sannyasa initiation. Without this mantra, you simply can not attain the rasa dance.

At certain times, women became bothered when they heard this and asked Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, “Oh no, as women we are not allowed to accept sannyasa, which means we can never receive the gopi-mantra. How will we attain the rasa dance with Krishna? How will we receive our gopi form?” Gurudeva quelled their angst, “Do not worry, I shall explain—according to the rules and regulations of the shastras (scriptures), women are restricted from receiving the brahma-gayatri (a Vedic mantra chanted at the three junctures of the day by men only) and gopi-mantras. Our shastras very clearly state that women are not allowed to accept sannyasa nor receive the gopi-mantra. In our Gaudiya sampradaya (disciplic succession), we have never heard of women being given sannyasa.

All factors considered it is reasonable to question—how do women receive their gopi form and attain Krishna’s rasa dance? Gurudeva very nicely reconciled this by teaching us, “The essence of the brahma-gayatri mantra and the essence of the gopi-mantra are contained in both the kama-gayatri mantra, (given for the purpose of worshipping the Divine Couple) and gopala-mantra (given for the purpose of worshipping Govinda).”

Gurudeva further elaborated, “What do you prefer to have, the seed or the fruits? If I give you a seed, it will sprout, then, one day it will become a tree and yield many fruits for you. However, if I just give you a fruit, you can immediately eat it.” Gurudeva clarified this truth with his example. Simply put, the fruits in Gurudeva’s analogy represent the gopala- and kama-gayatri mantras and further signify how both mantras contain the essence of the gopi-mantra within them. You may ask, “Why do brahmacharis (unmarried students), after receiving the brahma-gayatri and gopala-mantra, need to be given sannyasa-mantras?” The reason is to follow the rules and regulations given by the Vedas; if you do not follow the smriti-shastra (type of Vedic literature) or Sri Narada-pancharatra and still think, “I am one-pointed,” you are only creating a disturbance to society. For this purpose, rishis (sages) and munis (ascetics) created these rules and regulations. Do you understand? This is the basis for these rules being set in place. Currently, we see the majority of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotees are ladies and are all very qualified, some more than sannyasis. Who can compare with Nityananda-shakti (potency) Srimati Jahnavi-devi? She is a thousand times higher than sannyasis, also Srimati Ananga Manjari, Srimati Sita Thakurani, Srimati Imlitala-devi and Srimati Madhavi-devi. It is Srimati Madhavi-devi who is considered the half among Mahaprabhu’s three and a half parikaras (associates), and she never accepted sannyasa, yet, is still the crest jewel amongst all sannyasis.

This means, despite women externally not being allowed to accept sannyasa, they are of a higher position. One may still doubt—why did the rishis and munis set these standards not allowing women to enter a renounced stage? One reason is, according to the nature of women’s bodies, they are somewhat contaminated during certain days of their menstrual cycles. With this considered, certain rules and regulations are in place to always maintain purity. What would occur otherwise? If these rules were not in place, things would become contaminated and everything would be disturbed. Considering this, the Vedas provide us with rules and regulations. Gurudeva would give this example, “If ladies chant the brahma-gayatri mantra, it will result in the bad reaction of a male ego developing. If you properly take your medication, it will heal you, although, when not taken correctly, medicine can have the bad effect of causing an opposite reaction.”

Regardless of these truths, some Western ladies still very egotistically think, “Why are women not allowed into the renounced order? Why can only brahmacharis accept sannyasa? We also have to take sannyasa.” Except, shastras clearly contradict this reasoning and for the aforementioned reasons, do not allow women to accept sannyasa or the brahma-gayatri mantra. Thus, in our Gaudiya sampradaya, especially we, who are in the line of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, do not allow women to receive sannyasa. Do you clearly comprehend? Once more, if you properly chant your gopala-, gayatri- and kama-gayatri mantras, you will receive similar benefits, as the essence of all sannyasa-mantras are contained therein.

Devotee: So, this is the fruit?

Srila Gurudeva: This is the fruit.

[Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!]

Date: 13 March 2018 Location: Mathura


Transcriber: Sanatanа dasа (USA)

Editor: Sanatanа dasа (USA)

Integrity Check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia)

Proofreaders: Damodarа dasа (UK), Chandrika dasi (UK)

Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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