Something which would be unimaginable in countries like Germany or Australia.............
On the weekend of the 8th and 9th, the third weekend after the Chemo, I felt healthy enough to do a bit of preaching. For Saturday evening the devotees invited me to give the lecture at a program in a new extention center of the Nrsimhadev temple. The audience was mainly new people, and everybody was so eager and excited to receive a visiting preacher.
Sunday morning I gave the SB class in another ISKCON temple - the ISKCON Convention Centre, which is on the other side of Bangalore. It took me around one hour to get there, which I felt was worth the endeavor, since there are many nice and serious devotees in the congregation. The SB class is at the same time their Sunday feast lecture, so the entire community was there. The verse was SB. 2.7.8. - Prince Dhruva being insulted by sharp words spoken by Suniti, the co-wife of King Uttanapada. What a nice topic! I decided to discuss one aspect, which is difficult for a man to speak about, and which has to come from a woman's mouth: the painful effect of the sharp arrows of a woman's harsh and insulting words.
Since women's energy is very powerful - so much more powerful than men's energy, her insulting words are so much more powerful and painful than a man's insulting words. Suniti's sharp words pierced Dhruva's ksatriya heart - so much so that he left to the forest.
SB. 11.23.3: "Sharp arrows which pierce one's chest and reach the heart do not cause as much suffering as the arrows of harsh, insulting words that become lodged within the heart when spoken by uncivilized men."
Of course, here the term "uncivilized men" includes women - it refers to human beings. The violence to the subtle body is often undetected because we can't see any gross results, as we can see with violence to the gross body. A wife who was beaten by her husband might show a black eye and other injuries, but a husband who was a victim of subtle violence by his wife will have nothing to show. One needs to be able to look deeper in order to understand the effects of subtle violence, and one needs to understand a man's heart - how painful it is for him.
We women are very expert in dislodging these sharp arrows of insulting words. We find this confirmed in Prabhupada's purport to SB.9.18.16.
"...It is the nature of women to fight verbally at even a slight provocation. As we see from this incident, this has been their nature for a long, long time..."
Intuitively we know the power of our sharp words, and we use this weapon very frequently - almost every day. Statistics in America show, that around 80% of all women living with a partner make one mistake: as soon as he comes home from work, within the first five minutes when he enters the door she gets on his case, "Oh, you are again so late, why didn't you ring me? You again forgot to buy the milk....! This morning you didn't bring the rubbish down...." Within the first five minutes she is harassing and chastising him, without realizing how devastating the injuries are to a man's heart inflicted by her harsh and cutting words.
Therefore Vaisnava etiquette instructs us, that a wife should never speak harsh and insulting words to her husband. And this is not only in the marriage relationship, but in all relationships between men and women. It is considered to be very low class and uncultured for a woman to speak harshly towards a man.
My humble suggestion is the following:
Men should give up violence to the gross body - especially towards a woman. It is considered very disgraceful and shameful to perform violence towards women. To beat a wife or any woman is a very perverted and desperate way of establishing one's superiority - simply through one's physical strength. A man who takes to such measures will receive reactions, punishment and suffering for committing Vaisnava aparadha. There is no possibility for pure bhakti to sprout in such a person's heart.
Women should give up violence to the subtle body - especially towards a man. Let us remember, that it is our false ego prompting us to do so. The urge to speak is very strong - one of the most difficult urges to control. These are the moments when we factually make spiritual progress: when we become more aware of our false ego pushing us to say things we should not say and don't want to say, and which are painful and devastating to others, especially to men. Just that little remark we might make, showing that we know it all better and thus establishing our superior position, is cutting up a man's heart into a thousand pieces. Therefore Vaisnava etiquette tells us, that we should never answer back - especially to a husband or any other superior. As men take to the perverted means to establish their superiority through gross physical violence, in the same way we women try to establish our superiority through subtle violence. It is Vaisnava aparadha, and we will receive reactions, punishment and suffering for our activities. There is no possibility for pure bhakti to sprout in such a person's heart.
Needless to say, the discussion was well received by the devotees - men aswell as ladies. I shared more details from the course "Men and Women in Spiritual Culture", which was very interesting, humerous and thought provocing to my audience.
After breakfast we continued with a question/answer session for the ladies, which was again well attended and received.
I took my lunch in the association of nice ladies who asked so many more questions, and finally made my way back to Apara Mataji's home - it had been a busy day......
Your servant, Devaki dd