The editors of BACK TO GODHEAD welcome correspondence pertaining to spiritual enlightenment. All letters will receive personal replies, and correspondence of general interest will be published regularly.
In the Ninth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, “O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me though they be of lower birth—women, merchants, as well as workers—can approach the supreme destination.” (Bg. 9.32) Why are women designated as inferior? If she wishes, a woman can be an author, a scientist, or a theologian. I fail to see how this kind of discrimination can occur in a text of such high, holy wisdom. Can you explain it to me?
In the verse you’ve quoted, Lord Krishna is referring to the Vedic social system, which was organized to promote spiritual realization. In Vedic culture, persons who were inclined toward spiritual life and austerity were considered more advanced than those attached to material comforts. Generally, women, merchants and workers were in the second group, and therefore Krishna refers to them as “of lower birth.”
In the present age, however, virtually no one is inclined to practice strict spiritual discipline, and thus no one is considered advanced by Vedic standards. Even highly acclaimed achievements such as becoming a great author, scientist or theologian are insignificant compared with the attainment of pure spiritual enlightenment. Self-realization is the highest goal of life, and as Lord Krishna explains, is available to all, regardless of sex or social position. The only qualification is that we adopt the principles of bhakti-yoga enunciated in the Bhagavad-gita In this way we can actually transcend all temporary designations, such as male and female, and realize our position as eternal loving servants of God. This understanding is the ultimate liberation and the essence of the holy wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita.
I would like to start practicing some form of spiritual discipline. How can I become adept at meditation?
John C. Gallamar
Columbia, South Carolina
Before taking up a system of meditation, you should first understand the real aim of spiritual practice. You’re probably aware that there are many forms of “meditation” by which one can relax or improve his body or mind. But the Bhagavad-gita, the most comprehensive manual on spiritual life, states that the ultimate goal of meditation is to realize one’s eternal relationship with God by absorbing the mind in thought of Him.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
In the present age, the most effective means of meditating on the Lord is chanting and hearing His holy names. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Lord Krishna who appeared in Bengal, India, five hundred years ago to propagate the chanting of the holy names, specifically recommended chanting the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By vibrating these transcendental names, your heart will become cleansed of all material contamination, and you’ll very rapidly realize your true spiritual identity as part and parcel of God.
Although there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra—you may chant it anywhere, anytime—you’ll find the following procedure helpful in starting your own program of meditation. First, obtain a set of japa beads. (Chanting on the beads will help you concentrate.) Next, set up a regular schedule for meditating on the Hare Krishna mantra, and try your best to stick to it. When you chant, pronounce each word very carefully, and listen intently. Try to visit a Krishna consciousness center and consult with those who are also practicing this form of meditation. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will surely make rapid progress on the path of spiritual realization.