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Please enlighten me on this statement from the Bhagavad-gita: "According to Chanakya Pandita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy." (Bhagavad-gita 1.40, Purport)

Since I am a woman I will make some effort to answer, please forgive me if I'm unable ;-)

These types of statements appear here and there in various books. Often after a long discussion on the topic Srila Prabhupada will say something like:

"But these women are not ordinary women. They are preachers. They are preachers. They are Vaishnava. By their association, one becomes a Vaishnava." (Morning walk, Bombay 1974)


Hrdayananda : Even some of these women, they're not married but they are serving Krishna.

Prabhupada: Yes. Striyo vaishyas tatha shudras [ Bg. 9.32]. This striya, generally they take it, "Even she is prostitute," striya. Te 'pi yanti param gatim: "They can also go back to home, back to Godhead." Mam hi partha... If he takes Krishna very seriously, then everything is possible. No impediment. Ahaituky apratihata. Krishna's devotional service is so strong that it cannot be checked by any material impediments. The smartas, they are thinking like that, "How these mlecchas and yavanas can become a brahmana?" But they do not know that by Krishna consciousness one can jump over.

Mayam etam taranti te. Daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [ Bg. 7.14]. Maya is very strong. Therefore there are gradual process. Varnasrarama-dharma, karma-tyaga, this, that, so many things, pious activities, rituals. But this is the process, step by step, to cross over maya. But Krishna said, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te. Anyone who surrenders to Krishna sincerely, immediately he crosses over. As Krishna says in another place, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: [ Bg. 18.66] "I'll do immediately." So maya means papa. Unless one is sinful, he cannot be in maya. So if one surrenders, then he, means, immediately crosses over maya. So these smarta brahmanas, they consider this thing. They are thinking, "How a person born in other families, they can become brahmana?" (Morning walk, 1976, Mayapur).


"In Kali-yuga, everyone is unintelligent—both men and women: Kalau sudra-sambhavah: in the age of Kali, everyone is a sudra. Because the whole population of the world consists only of sudras, there is a decline of spiritual knowledge, and people are unhappy." ( Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.12.48, Purport)

People aren't very intelligent because they're thinking they are this body. This is the problem. And generally, women are more "into" their bodies; they worry about their hair, makeup, dress, etc. very much. They're valued for their beauty and consider themselves worthy only if they are beautiful, by one standard or another. Very few really escape this misconception. This is less intelligent. So, to the degree a woman or a man thinks like this he/she is less intelligent. This thinking is more common in women—at least it has been in the past—but men are catching up :-).

On the spiritual path, however—once someone has begun to take Krishna's service seriously and is strictly following the prescribed vows and rules—then Krishna is equally available to everyone, regardless of their karmic qualification. We get our bodies, intelligence, wealth, beauty, etc, due to previous karma and so having a women's body can often be problematic. Problematic also is having a stupid body, ailing body, ugly body, etc. etc. These things can make it difficult for us to progress outside of the material consciousness.

Being born in Kali Yuga is a difficulty in itself as people are "lazy, misguided, unintelligent and prone to quarrel over nothing" ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:1:10). However, this difficulty may also inspire us to leave this unfavorable material situation and get serious about looking for something better. Furthermore, by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, spiritual life in Kali-yuga is made easier for everyone by offering the opportunity to chant Hare Krishna and serve the Lord in simple devotional activities.

I hope this is helpful.
Laxmimoni dasi