Women in Bhagavat Purana

Question: I wrote down my thoughts on SB 8.9.9-11, about women not being trustworthy. Please check if you agree and if not please correct me. : “8.9.9-11 do not say that all women are untrustworthy. They first of all speak of wanton women (puMzcalyAM, verse 9, and svairiNInAM, verse 10), not women in general, and it is also explained in verse 11 that Mohini was just teasing and joking (iti te kSvelitais tasyA) about herself and therefore did not speak serious philosophy.

Laksmi Devi on temple entrance

Sri Visvanath Cakravartipada comments on verse 9: kAminISv iti yadyapy ahaM yuSmad-anubhavena zuddhaiva bhavAmi tad api yauvana-vattvAd AbhyantaraH kAmo`numeya eva kAmavattve strItve ca kAminI pati-pitrAdy-AvaraNAbhAvAt svairiNy api kathaM na bhavAmIty avizvAsyaiva sarvathA bhavadbhir aham iti bhAvaH “Though in your estimation I am pure, still, because I am young and unprotected by husband and father, I am a lusty wanton woman – how can I then not be untrustworthy?” This, especially in the Vedic context, is an exceptional situation, not a general rule.

Answer: Yes, your understanding is proper. The meaning of sastra is given according to the intention of the speaker (vaktuh tatparya), which is known from the context. The context is very clear here. Mohini is trying to bewitch the asuras and gain their confidence. For this she is posing as an unchaste, wanton girl who should not be trusted. Her intention is that by saying this the asuras will think within themselves, “O sure you are not unchaste. No unchaste women would speak like that.”  She is playing big niti or psychological game. The context here is not about woman’s nature.

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