Questions: What does it mean when the Vedas state that men should protect women?
Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:
Prabhupada and Shastras do teach the protection of women. Krishna also says in the Gita: yad yad acarati sresthas… “people follow the leader’s example.” Thus a man who sets the right Krishna conscious example will be able to guide and inspire a woman.
Men must also realize that to protect does not mean to subjugate, humiliate or dominate. It means to protect. Shastra gives many examples of husbands who protected their wives by occasionally accepting that in a particular case, the wife had a better understanding of a situation. Examples:
1. The brahmana wives fed Krishna’s friends, when their husbands refused and forbade them to do so.
2. The wives of Kaliya surrendered to Krishna before their husband.
3. The great Pandu gave up his determination that Kunti have more sons with demigods and accepted her argument.
Power corrupts and in this age, we have seen many instances not only of women becoming corrupted by seizing power, but of the same happening to men. In the name of Vedic culture, we have seen too many cases of domestic violence and other forms of marital abuse.
Vedic culture is sophisticated, nuanced and subtle. Ignoring those subtle, deep qualities, we are at times left with crude male chauvinism or mundane feminism, rather than true Vedic culture.
With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami