This conversation eventually led into another controversial subject in which Caitya-guru said, "One Life Member's wife was very upset. She came to see you with that rascal yogi. He said that the Vedas mention that we can drink, and that women and men have equal rights." Prabhupada acknowledged the meeting with a nod of his head.
Caitya-guru went on, "Then as she was also saying the same thing, you answered her: 'Okay, if woman and men have equal rights, why don't you beget children in the womb of your husband?' " Prabhupada smiled as he recalled the incident.
"She was very upset," Caitya-guru said. "She said, 'Prabhupada sometimes says things like that which are unreasonable.' "
Everyone laughed loudly.
"No," Prabhupada said. "I said that if you have equal rights, then make some arrangement. Sometimes you become pregnant, sometimes he becomes pregnant. Why there is not right? Equal right?"
Caitya-guru explained, "She told me, 'Prabhupada sometimes says these things that we feel all ashamed.' "
"But in speaking spiritual understanding," Prabhupada boldly pronounced, "we cannot make any compromise. What to speak of in Mauritius, in Chicago I told."
Then Prabhupada related an exchange he had with a stewardess on a plane journey in America. She had taken exception to a TV show in which Prabhupada had declared that men and women were not equal.
"I think that was the same stewardess," Harikesa offered, "who came in the back and asked us why the Swamiji doesn't like women."
Prabhupada was apologetic for the misunderstanding, but he wasn't about to alter the truth. "No, no. I don't say that I don't like women. But I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show equal rights -- your husband becomes sometimes pregnant, and then you become pregnant, alternately." Prabhupada explained that even in Russia, where they had tried to make people equal, still there are managers and workers. So that sort of equality isn't ever possible.
When Harikesa mentioned that nowadays there are women senators and ambassadors, Prabhupada still did not concede that this means equality. "That simply requires education," he said. "But by nature the woman's body is different from man's."
However, when Caitya-guru took his comments to imply that this difference means that women are subordinate, Prabhupada corrected him. "Not subordinate, actually. Their occupations are different... That is another mistake. Just like the leg is walking and the head is directing; so although the occupation is different, both of them are important. We require the head and leg also. If simply head is there, if there is no leg, then who'll walk? This is the understanding. Not equal. Everyone must have his separate duties to serve the whole. That is the arrangement; this is real understanding. The most important part of the body is head, but that does not mean the leg is not important. Leg is important in its work, and head is important in its work. So we require both, head and tail both. Not that simply leg or simply head. But when we make comparative study, we can understand that head is more important than the leg. If you cut your leg, you can live, but if you cut your head, you'll die. Therefore the conclusion is: head is more important than the leg. Comparative study. Otherwise, head is also required and leg is also required.
"You collect some flowers, nice flowers, and add with it some green foliage, it becomes more beautiful. Simply flower is not so beautiful. When it is arrayed with some green foliage, then it becomes more beautiful. So we have to take in that sense. But comparatively, the flower is more important than the foliage. But the both of them are required."
Harikesa added, "The foliage also becomes beautiful because of the flower."
"Yes, that is God's creation," Prabhupada agreed. "Just like these trees: they are condemned. But still with trees we can make a beautiful garden, and that is very enjoyable. That is God's arrangement."
- From the "A Transcendental Diary Vol 1" by HG Hari Sauri dasa