How is a Woman to be Treated in Varnashrama System?

The success of grihastha ashram depends on how a woman is treated. What is the position of a woman? In the Mahabharata Bhismadev instructs Yudhisthir Maharaj on this very subject. This important subject is also dealt with Manu in his Manu samhita.

Bhismadev states:

It is very important that every single woman must be given love, adored and honored and the shastra says that where women are honored, even the demigods are pleased.

A home in which the women- folk are not honored, all acts become fruitless.

If the women in a family live in grief, then that family will become extinct, the house will be destroyed. Such is the power, unleashed when a woman is displeased or dishonored.

Women are deities of prosperity. They are the very embodiment of Laxmi devi.

Dishonoring a woman is like disrespecting Laxmi devi, who will then not cast her benign glance on such a home.

The virtue of men depends upon women. Men are dependent on women because whatever virtues they have is simply because these were inculcated in them by the women-folk- by the mother, by the sister, by the wife. Hence women are worthy of love, adoration and respect from all men.

The Vedic injunction is that all men should look upon all women, except their wife, as their mother.

Srila Prabhupada said that within ISKCON, a woman should be addressed as mataji, which is a term of respect that we show to our own mother. In Vedic society a woman is a symbol of awe, reverence and worship.

A woman in grihastha ashram imparts samskaras to the children. Thus good children are generated, good population ensured, conducive for a God-conscious happy and prosperous human society. Chaste and pious women can transform the condition of the society into the mode of goodness, which is a platform for spiritual progress.

Otherwise, a hellish condition would be created in the society.

It must be concluded that the woman is always an object of worship in the Vedic society and not an object of exploitation. Lack of this Vedic perspective is the source of many ills in the so called “modern” society.

Reproduced from the Grahastha Manual by Radhanath Swami Maharaj.