Question: I could understand Shudras and Vaishyas, but I could not understand the women?
You must understand that this book was written at a given time, when the position of women was considered to be limited. In fact that is one of the supreme questions of Draupadi to Bhishma: “Has the husband the right to put his own wife at stake, particularly when the husband himself has become a slave, when he is not himself not a free man? What right has he got to put his wife at stake?” And there was a big debate on this question and Draupadi goes to all of them including Bhishma and they all remain quite because there was at that time a kind of a tacit understanding that woman’s position is subordinate to man’s position. Right or wrong but this is the position. And this is not peculiar to India, you must remember this. Modern feminists point out to India saying: ‘Look this was the position of women’, forgetting that women got franchise in England after India became free; the position of women in England was still inferior to the women’s position in India in 1947. When India became free the universal suffrage was given to all men and women all equal. In every civilisation, excepting a few, women were always regarded as subordinate. So you must understand this; to our mind today, this look a little odd as to why women are singled out; but actually we must understand the cultural background in which it is written.
Comment: In the Ramayana – Dhol gawar Shudra, pashu, nari......
Not Tulsi, it is said by Samudra. Tulsidas has written but it is a dialogue between Rama and Samudra and these words are actually words by Samudra. They are not the words of Tulsidas. It is a dialogue written by Tulsidas but it is not Tulsidas’s own view. This is a view expressed by Samudra.
These are all interpretations, but it is a fact: even Plato for example, he wrote that men and women are equal except that woman are slightly inferior and weaker than man; so even Plato wrote like this, it is a fact. It is only in India that Mahalakshmi is worshipped, Mahakali is worshipped, position of women in India was actually much superior than the position of women given to them any where else. When Manu himself says: yatra naristra punjyante ramantre tatra devatāḥ, “Where women are worshipped there indeed the gods come and enjoy”. So, this is the kind of statement which is made by Manu Smriti, which is supposed to be very orthodox and which is also supposed to be opposed to women; even in that statement this kind of prominence is given to the women.
But that was the position at that time, why should he said this even. He said that because that was the legal position, so he could not say anything. Legally there was a tacit acceptance of the position that Duryodhana affirmed, so nobody could oppose it.
Now, comes therefore the final word of Bhakti yoga:
manmanā bhava madbhakto madyājī māṁ namaskuru |
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam ātmānaṁ matparāyaṇaḥ ||34|| (IX)
“Therefore become My minded, become My devotee, become My worshipper, offer your obeisance to Me. when yourself is completely united with Me, you will certainly come to Me, mat-parāyaṇaḥ, when you are fully engaged in Me.”
So, this chapter n°9 is a statement of the integral Divine, integral knowledge, integral action, integral devotion culminating in the crowning Bhakti, this is the last word of this 9th chapter.