What Does it Mean “Women are Less Intelligent”?

Because women simultaneously mix rationality, sensuality and emotions, while men deal with them distinctly, when the man looks at something spiritually, he can completely separate from emotion and senses; his spiritual vision will not be clouded by emotion and senses. That puts the man, as a category, in a position spiritually stronger than the women. That’s why spiritually the men have to lead the women; because when women look at the spiritual, their emotional and sensual considerations will flavor it.

We find an illustration of this principle in the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. When Hiranyakasipu left his kingdom to perform severe austerities, his wife, Kayadhu, was pregnant with Prahlada; Narada Muni gave her shelter in his asrama and instructed her in spiritual knowledge. Prahlada, although still within her womb, listened very carefully and remembered everything, but Kayadhu later forgot. Prahlada Maharaja, years later, explained:
“Because of the long duration of time that has passed and because of her being a woman and therefore less intelligent, my mother has forgotten all those instructions; but the great sage Narada blessed me, and therefore I could not forget them.” (SB 7.7.16)

Srila Prabhupada reveals why Kayadhu had trouble absorbing the teachings: “Prahlada Maharaja’s mother was more concerned with protecting the child in the womb and was very anxious to see her husband return. Therefore she could not consider very seriously the sublime instructions of Narada Muni.” (SB 7.7.16, purport) In other words she was distracted by her feelings and attachments; she couldn’t detach herself enough to give full attention to the reception of transcendental knowledge.

A man does have the capacity to look at material life or family life and see that there is really nothing there for the soul. If that insight is deep enough, the man could walk away from getting married. The man can go into pure intellectual thought, with no mixing of emotion, and leave mundane life completely behind. The woman, while she can understand that material life is a big problem and isn’t really worth it, she is also thinking, “Well, OK, but what about this or that?”

For getting out of the material world with the help of pure, unadulterated intellectual grasp of Vedic knowledge, men as a class are more intelligent than women. It has nothing to do with IQ. Women in fact are described as being four times as clever then men; that is for practical application. Men tend to be a bit theoretical.

From the material point of view learning from practical application and direct perception is the highest. But on the spiritual side of things learning by hearing is considered the highest, first class intelligence. Learning by seeing is second class intelligence; and learning by experiencing is third class intelligence. Men can learn by first and second class intelligence (although much of the time they don’t).

Obviously women can excel at all types of work requiring great intelligence such as writing books, teaching, managing multinational corporations, playing politics at national and international level, creating innovations and inventions in medicine, chemistry, etc. During a morning walk a disciple brought up the issue: “In America they have women senators now . . .women are in charge of companies sometimes.” An Indian guest then offered: “In India there are two women. They are high commissioners of India to the foreign countries.” “No, that is possible.” Srila Prabhupada said, “That it requires education. That is another… By nature the woman’s body is different from man’s.” (Morning Walk, Vrindavana, 10 December 1975)

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.