In class Prabhupada spoke at length on the need to properly protect women in order to have stability in human society. The verse described Draupadi as vama-svabhava, a soft-hearted woman. Observing that women in general are soft-hearted, but without the sharp intelligence of men, Prabhupada cited the example of Sita devi, who, being alone in the forest, was captured by Ravana. He is currently translating a section from the Ninth Canto about Rama-lila, and he told us that Sita, who is the internal potency of the Lord, could never be captured by Ravana. The Sita that was taken by the demon was a false, maya-Sita. Still, he said that the pastime was enacted to establish the precedent that a woman should always be under the protection of a husband.
"So vama-svabhava. Women are very simple, soft-hearted. The whole idea is they should be given protection -- no freedom. That is injunction of the Manu-samhita. Na stri svatantryam arhati. Women should not be given freedom; they must be protected." In response to the complaint we often received outside India that we keep our women like slaves, Prabhupada said, "We do not keep our women as slaves. They're very respectful at home. The sons offer their highest respect to the mother. The husband gives the topmost protection to the wife."
He explained that although Lord Rama could create many millions of Sitas, by the example of this lila, He demonstrated that it is the husband's duty to give protection to the wife at any cost. "For one woman He killed the whole Ravana's dynasty. This is husband's duty. So protection, not slave. The husband should give the wife the topmost protection, and the wife should be so faithful to the husband."
He said that Sita-devi was videha-raja, a king's daughter. She could easily have said, 'My dear husband, You are going to the forest. I am king's daughter. I cannot take so much trouble. Better You go. Let me go to my father's house." Instead she said, "No, I shall take all the troubles with my husband." "This is faithfulness," Prabhupada said.
Prabhupada informed us that when Bhismadeva was lying on the bed of arrows, sara-sayya, advising the Pandavas and the Kurus on many things such as religion, politics and sociology, Bhismadeva also confirmed the Vedic injunction that woman should always be protected very carefully.
"There is one quality of shyness," Prabhupada said. "If you break that shyness of woman, it will be very dangerous. It will be very dangerous. So modern civilization is not strictly following the Vedic injunction. Therefore, especially I have seen in the Western countries, there is no home practically. There is no homely happiness, because women are allowed to mix freely and there is no protection. They are not married, there is no husband. The father also does not take care. As soon as the girl becomes fifteen, sixteen years, she goes away. Therefore I have practically seen there is no home, there is no peace in the Western countries.
"These are very important things, that soft-hearted woman, vama-svabhava,
they should be given protection. They should be trained up how to become
faithful wife, affectionate mother, then the home will be very happy; and
without happiness we cannot make any spiritual progress. We must be peaceful,
this is the preliminary condition."
- From "A Transcendental Diary Vol 4" by HG Hari Sauri Prabhu