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The etiquette is to address every woman, never mind whether she is young or old, as "Mother." This is brahmacari

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"The etiquette is to address every woman, never mind whether she is young or old"

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Nowadays it has been introduced in India, "Bahinji." No. This is not the etiquette. The etiquette is to address every woman, never mind whether she is young or old, as "Mother." This is brahmacārī. This is brahmacārī.
Lecture on BG 4.16 -- Bombay, April 5, 1974:

It is said in the śāstra... In Bhagavad-gītā, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you will find the duty of brahmacārī, the duty of gṛhastha, the duty of vānaprastha, the duty of sannyāsa. Everything is there. So a brahmacārī is trained in such a way that although he has collected everything, but he does not claim anything. He does not keep anything with him. Even though he has to eat in the āśrama, but that he will eat upon the calling by the guru, "My dear such and such, please come and take your prasādam." It is said, if the guru forgets to call him one day, he will not take his food. This is called brahmacārī, means strictly following.

And they used to call every woman from the beginning of life, "Mother." This is training. Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu. From the very beginning of life, all women they are treated as mother. That is the system, Vedic system. Everyone will call a woman as "Mother." Never mind whether she is younger or older. It doesn't matter. Woman has to be addressed as "Mother." That is Cāṇakya Paṇḍita's instruction. Who is learned scholar? Who has got three qualification, he is learned scholar. What is that? Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu: "To treat all woman as mother." Nowadays it has been introduced in India, "Bahinji." No. This is not the etiquette. The etiquette is to address every woman, never mind whether she is young or old, as "Mother." This is brahmacārī. This is brahmacārī.

The brahmacarya is very strictly enjoined in the Vedic śāstra. Brahma, to maintain brahmacarya, it is advised mātrā svasrā duhitrā vā nāviviktā... Mātrā svasrā duhitrā vā (SB 9.19.17). So one should not sit down with woman in a secluded place, even though the woman is mother, sister of daughter. So much restriction. And why? Balavān indriya-grāmaḥ: "The senses are very powerful." Vidvāṁsam api karṣati. "Oh, senses may be powerful for the fools and rascals." No. Vidvāṁsam api karṣati: "Even one is very learned, advanced, still, senses are so powerful that it can be agitated even before the mother, sister and daughter." This is Vedic injunction, brahmacarya. Tapasā brahmacaryeṇa damena śamena (SB 6.1.13). These are the human life. To accept brahmacarya life, tapasya, controlling the senses, controlling the mind, tyāgena, by giving in charity whatever you possess. These are the different processes.

But if you take to bhakti-yoga, then all these processes become automatically accustomed. That is the profit of bhakti-yoga. So brahmacārī-karma, gṛhastha-karma, vānaprastha-karma, sannyāsa-karma, then brāhmaṇa's karma, then kṣatriya's karma, vaiśya's karma, śūdra's karma. The society which knows perfectly well all these different karmas, that is perfect society, that is human society.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa says that kiṁ karma akarmeti kavayo 'py atra mohitāḥ. Kavayaḥ, very learned scholars, they are also become bewildered how to specify duty to a particular person. That is not being done at the same time. Everyone is going to the school and colleges, passing their examination, but because he is not trained up according to his tendency or according to his quality, after education he is unemployed. Because he has not been trained up according to the tendency, according to the qualification. That is the basic principle of karma. Kṛṣṇa has begun in this chapter, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ (BG 4.13).

That is very essential, the varṇāśrama-dharma. Because we must have the aim of life. At the present moment there is no aim of life. The aim of life is sense gratification. That's all. Indriya-tṛpti. That is forbidden in the śāstras. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma (SB 5.5.4). Kiṁ karmeti kiṁ vikarmeti will be described. So karma and vikarma, prescribed duties according to qualification, position, occupation, that is called karma. And just opposite, it is called vikarma. Karma akarma vikarma. That Kṛṣṇa will explain.

So at the present moment... Not at the present moment. It is the tendency of materialistic life to act vikarma, forbidden karma. That is explained by Ṛṣabhadeva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti (SB 5.5.4). That is visible in the present moment in the Kali-yuga all over the world. Vikarmeti. All kinds of sinful activities, they are performing. That is called vikarma. The vikarma we have specified especially: illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication up to drinking tea, coffee and smoking. These are all vikarma. So they do not know. But they are going on. Therefore Ṛṣabhadeva, many, many years ago he warned his sons, "My dear boys, nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma." Pramattaḥ. Pra means sufficiently or extraordinarily. Prakṛṣṭa-rūpeṇa. Mattaḥ. Mattaḥ means mad. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma: (SB 5.5.4) "All people, being mad, they are committing all sinful activities." They do not know what is sinful activity. They think everything is all right. No. Nature will take account of everything and he will give you a next body.

The same example. If you infect some disease and the after result, you must suffer from that disease. This is nature's law. Similarly, kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-janma-yoniṣu (BG 13.22). That is explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Why one gets low grade life and why one gets high grade life? What is the reason? That is explained by Kṛṣṇa, that kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya. The reason is as he is being infected by the different qualities of material nature. Therefore we have to be very careful. There are three qualities and mixed qualities. Originally three qualities: sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. Then three multiplied by three, mixture, then it becomes nine. Then nine multiplied by nine it becomes eighty-one. Different, just like color mixture. So therefore there are 8,400,000 species of life, this mixture of qualities. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa (SB 3.31.1). We are infecting different types of qualities of material nature, and we are becoming fit for the next life.