The woman with a mundane, exaggerated sense of independence thinks: “I can do everything myself, people may hang around me, but I don’t need anybody. I make my own decisions and I like it. I don’t need to ask anybody anything. I am the controller of my rules and my boundaries within relationships. I get irritated when people distract me, taking my time or territory.”
“We are not independent. If we want to live independently that means we voluntarily become dependent on the influence of material nature. That’s all. Actually, we are not independent. If I think I am independent of Krishna, then I am dependent on the influence of material nature.” (Lecture on BG 4.19, New York, 5 August 1966)
Thinking oneself absolutely independent is just illusion. The self-sufficient woman thinks: “I feel good to be alone with myself, I’m not bored. My happiness doesn’t flicker whether I am married or have children or a job. I carry responsibility for my life and actions. I know my limits, I am clear about my values, principles and goals. I feel joy and pleasure from relationships. I allow other people to take care of me and I also express my care towards them. I can put my faith in the important decisions that are made by a well-wisher, a man.”
A self-sufficient woman can make decisions on her own and do everything herself, but she values relationships and, being next to her care-takers, she happily relies upon them and doesn’t worry anymore. She is happy and satisfied in any situation, whether she is next to the man or not, whether somebody takes care of her or she does it herself. She has deep faith in Krishna’s protection that He manifests through her care-takers. She is internally grounded. She is not running around neurotically searching for who would make her happy, as her happiness doesn’t depend on external circumstances. She is happy within and she wants to share it with others and serve devotees.
“Always remember that. Unless you become perfect in Krishna consciousness, there is no self-sufficiency. All self-insufficiency. Hare Krishna. [break] So you give me a description, what he is doing. [break] …thinking, ‘I am independent,’ but he is kicked by his mind every moment. This is his independence—‘Go there. Come here. Do this. Do that.’ The mind is dictating, and he is thinking, ‘I am independent.’ This is the position of conditioned soul. Therefore he is called conditioned. He is conditioned by the mind, and he is thinking ‘independent.’ Mudha. (Morning Walk Vrndavana – September 3, 1975)
Self-sufficiency means having confidence about her identity as a devotee. Manifesting self-worth, dignity and never forgetting humility. To believe “I am a servant of Krishna and a beautiful spirit soul, ready to love and be loved”. When she has a mentality of giving, of serving, then her focus is not on what she can get from others. Such mood and focus, combined with low expectations, makes a woman self-sufficient and satisfied.
Draupadi was a perfect example of a capable and self-sufficient woman, her humility did not compromise her dignity and self-worth.
This is an excerpt from the Bhakti Marriages Course “Get Ready for Married Life for Women” from ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry, prepared by Sri Radha Govinda Dasi.