Chastity; What It Is, What Its Purpose Is, and The Only Way To Achieve It

Sita Rama das: Sati and satim are Sanskrit words translated as, chaste. The most significant meaning of the word chaste, is that one’s body, mind, and words are dedicated exclusively to Krishna.

SB 11.18.17 Purport:

Kunti is described herein as sati, or chaste, due to her unalloyed devotion to Lord Sri Krishna.

SB 2.4.1 Purport:

The word satim is very significant. This means “existing” and “chaste.” And both imports are perfectly applicable in the case of Maharaja Pariksit. The whole Vedic adventure is to draw one’s attention entirely unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna without any diversion, as instructed in the Bhagavad-Gita (15.15)… the King continuously concentrated his mind upon Lord Krishna, which made him perfectly chaste in devotional service… And by hearing from a bona fide spiritual master, he was perfectly able to concentrate his chaste mind further upon Lord Krishna as a matter of course. END CITATION.

Thus we see the real meaning of chastity!

In BG, 15.15, Krishna says the purpose of all Vedic instructions is to know Him. The most important two instructions are to always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. The only purpose for all the other rules is to facilitate this chastity. Anything disconnected to this chastity is useless!

SB 1.2.8 Translation:

The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead. END CITATION.

I want to address the fact that, according to the Vedic literature, the prescribed duty for a woman is to become a chaste wife. Based on the fact that the purpose of all the Vedas is to know Krishna (BG 15; 15) the logical conclusion is, that becoming a chaste wife is the best means for a woman’s attention to be drawn to Krishna without diversion.

Thus we see the purpose of being a chaste wife!

How can a women be dedicated to her husband and, at the same time, be dedicated to Krishna without diversion? The answer is; because Krishna is so wonderful that he sets up a system where all human beings can, while acting according to their conditioned material nature, dovetail their work, transcend material nature, and do the same work exclusively for the satisfaction of Krishna. In the Srimada Bhagavatam we find many glorious examples of individuals, who, by practicing devotional service, came to the level of preforming their prescribed duties for Krishna’s pleasure, only; in other word out of pure love for Krishna.

These examples are instructive, but one must get personal directions from a bonafide Spiritual Master to follow this path. Lord Caitanya compares devotional service to tending a garden. The seed of devotion has been planted in us and we need to tend to it so it will grow into a tree which reaches the spiritual world. However when a seed sprouts, weeds also sprout, and these weeds look just like the sprout.

In the beginning of devotional service, we are essentially filled with nothing but material desires, which are compared to weeds. These material desires are the cause of material actions. We are to continue our actions according to our material conditioning, but do so for the satisfaction of Krishna. We will inevitable be confused, at times (we will think a weed is the sprout and vice versa).

We might think that an action is material and want to renounce something which should not be renounced. Conversely, we might be performing our duty for sense gratification and think our endeavor is to please Krishna. When this is extended, a devotee puts a spin on what the duties of another should be. In other words he fools another into thinking their duty is to serve his sense gratification. So we need a Guru to overcome the confusions that arise within ourselves and the confusion which results from hearing instructions/ perspectives from devotees who are also confused.

The general instructions for devotee couples is a fertile field for confusion. Both husband and wife take up household life because they have material desires; along with the desire to perform their prescribed duties for the satisfaction of Krishna. It is very easy for a wife to get caught up in focusing on, and demanding, a particular duty of the husband which satisfies her sense gratification and it is equally easy for the husband to emphasize the duties of the wife that satisfy his sense gratification. This is a relatively minor problem between two people but it becomes compounded when such devotees feel compelled to insist that everyone in the movement accept their confused ideal; and then they condemn those who do not except their flawed perspective. So the key is to have a Guru who one can rely on for accurate and unbiased instruction.

Of course before accepting a Guru we read the Bhagavada Gita in order to see the example of the perfect Spiritual Master, Lord Sri Krishna, and then we can see if the Guru is teaching in the same spirit. We also see Arjuna’s example of performing one’s prescribed duty for the pleasure of Krishna. It sounds cliché but the key is to understand that we are not the body. All flawed perspectives are based on neglect of this fundamental truth.

Queen Kunti, like her son, Arjuna, is an eternally liberated soul who plays the part of one with material attachments in order to teach us by her example. As the most chaste wife and mother, she prays to Krishna to sever her tie of family affection which perpetuates the bodily conception of life.

Teachings of Queen Kunti Chapter 24

Queen Kunti said:

O Lord of the universe, soul of the universe, O personality of the form of the universe, please, therefore, sever my tie of affection for my kinsmen, the Pandavas and the Vrsnis (SB 1.8.41).

Purport:

Generally a woman has affection for both her father’s family and husband’s family, and therefore Kunti prays to Krishna, “I am a woman, and women are generally attached to their families, so kindly cut off my attachment so that I may be thoroughly attached to You. Without You, both families are zero. I am falsely attached to these families, but my real purpose in life is to be attached to You.” This is bhakti

As long as I think, “I belong to this family,” “I belong to this nation,” “I belong to this religion,” “I belong to this color,” and so on, there is no possibility of becoming Krishna conscious. As long as one thinks that one is American, Indian, or African, that one belongs to this family or that family, or that one is the father, mother, husband, or wife of this or that person, one is attached to material designations. I am spirit soul, and all these attachments belong to the body, but I am not this body. This is the essence of understanding. END CITATION

But Queen Kunti is not giving up her association, duty, or love for her family, which is comprised of pure devotees. Her example is a lesson to us on how to perform our family duties for the pleasure of Krishna and thus become spiritually attached instead of materially attached. Srila Prabhupada describes this in the next chapter.

TQK Chapter 25:

Her affection for the Pandavas and the Vrsnis is not out of the range of devotional service, because the service of the Lord and the service of the devotees are identical. Sometimes service to the devotee is more valuable than service to the Lord. But here the affection of Kuntidevi for the Pandavas and the Vrsnis was due to family relation. This tie of affection in terms of material relation is the relation of maya, because the relations of the body or the mind are due to the influence of the external energy. Relations of the soul, established in relation with the Supreme Soul, are factual relations. When Kuntidevi wanted to cut off the family relation, she meant to cut off the relation of the skin. The skin relation is the cause of material bondage, but the relation of the soul is the cause of freedom. This relation of the soul to the soul can be established by the via medium of the relation with the Supersoul. END CITATION.

Devotee marriages are conducted under the direction of Krishna and the Spiritual Master, therefore the relation of one soul to another soul is possible. The only way to transform the material relationship into a relationship of, soul to soul, is to engage in the Yuga dharma- Chanting Hare Krishna. There is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way!

Thus we have the only way for all of us to become chaste devotees of Krishna!

So we have given the Scriptural definition of chastity, the purpose for it, and the only way to achieve it.

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