Transcribed by Nama-rupa
Devotee’s question: As you were saying Brahmacharya’s are trained to ignore the women does that also exclude being polite.
HH JAS: No…if you are separate then you don’t meet, If you have to pass through a narrow hallway do you have to be polite? It certainly includes being polite, but politeness in Western culture and politeness in Vedic culture are different.
In Western culture a young man and a young woman pass each other in the hall and he says good morning and she says good morning and who knows what’s going on, his mind is going her mind is going and that’s polite, if you don’t say good morning do a little smile and go through a little more body language then you’re a creep! In Vedic culture it’s different a man and a women are passing and they make way for one other and that’s politeness. Generally the women are trained to be very shy, so a man is coming by the
woman stands by the side and becomes a little inconspicuous and the man passes by…and that way she maintains her chastity: There’s no interaction, there’s no somebody’s going after somebody or making time with somebody and therefore she becomes very respectable. It doesn’t mean she’s …shrinking into the shadows and insignificant. It means she’s so high class that you can’t mix with her. Just like a really high class woman you can’t really get close to her because she’s high class. Low class woman anyone can mix with, but a high class woman is a little unapproachable, even in Western society if a woman is really high class you can’t just walk up to her and say excuse me lady “da…da…da…da” She’s aristocratic she’s a little distant from ordinary men, of course then she goes out at the night she’s drinking and partying and whatever else! But at least on the street it’s like that. In the Vedic culture it’s so respectable…Prabhupada said: :My mother would not go next door to accept an invitation except if she was in a palanquin covered with four men, nobody could see, even the sun couldn’t see her”…That’s high class, still to this day you go to Vrindavan and some men are passing by and the ladies are covering their faces because they’re shy so there are different signs of culture.
Now in the Western society a woman is considered cultured if she knows finance and she’s aggressive as a hawk…but in Vedic culture a woman is high class if she’s very shy. It’s a sign of good breeding, a sign of culture a sign of respectability and such a woman no respectable man will approach. Prabhupada gave the example that he and some men were standing by a doorway and some sweeper lady was there, a sweeper woman means a low class woman, sweeping where everybody is walking, but she had to get through that doorway so she was standing there, apart, and three or four friends, aristocratic, Prabhupada came from an aristocratic family, a high class family, so three or four gentlemen are standing there, and this woman was standing to the side and they could understand that she has to go through therefore they all had to move…by her behavior they had to move. That’s Vedic culture…shyness.
. EXCERPTS FROM: HOPES AND HORRORS OF HOUSEHOLDER LIFE
– SWAMI JAYADVAITA 1992 – PART 4)