The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'All men, O king, in this world, are seen to attach themselves to women, overcome by the illusion that is created by the divine Being. Similarly, women too are seen to attach themselves to men. All this is seen taking place everywhere in the world. On this subject a doubt exists in my mind. Why, O delighter of the Kurus, do men (when women are stained with so many faults) still attach themselves to women? Who, again, are those men with whom women are highly pleased and who are they with whom they are displeased? It behoveth thee, O chief of men, to explain to me how men are capable of protecting women? While men take pleasure in women and sport with them, women, it seems, are engaged in deceiving men. Then, again, if a man once falls into their hands, it is difficult for him to escape from them. Like kine ever seeking pastures new women seek new men one after another. That illusion which the Asura Samvara possessed, that illusion which the Asura Namuchi possessed, that illusion which Vali or Kumbbinasi had, the sum total thereof is possessed by women. If man laughs, women laugh. If man weeps, they weep. If the opportunity requires, they receive the man that is disagreeable to them with agreeable words. That science of policy which the preceptor of the Asuras knew, that science of policy which the preceptor of the celestials, Vrihaspati, knew, cannot be regarded to be deeper or more distinguished for subtility than what woman's intelligence naturally brings forth. Verily how can women, therefore, be restrained by men? They make a lie appear
as truth, and a truth appear as a lie. They who can do this,--I ask, O hero,--how can they be ruled by persons of the opposite sex? It seems to me that Vrihaspati and other great thinkers, O slayer of foes, evolved the science of policy from observation of the understandings of women. Whether treated by men with respect or with disdain, women are seen to turn the heads and agitate the hearts of men. 1 Living creatures, O thou of mighty arms, are virtuous. Even this is what has been heard by us. (How then, can this be consistent with fact)? For treated with affection and respect or otherwise, women (forming a fair portion of living creatures) are seen to deserve censure for their conduct towards men. 2 This great doubt fills my mind, viz., when their behaviour is such, what man is there that can restrain them within the bounds of righteousness? Do thou explain this to me, O highly blessed scion of Kuru's race! It behoves thee to tell me, O chief of Kuru's race, whether women are truly capable of being restrained within the bonds prescribed by the scriptures or whether any one before our time did really succeed in so restraining them.'"
7:1 The sense is this: women agitate the hearts of those that treat them with respect as of those that treat them with disdain. The commentator explains that Pujitah dhikkritahva tulyavat vikaram janayati.
7:2 All living creatures are virtuous, for they are capable of progressing towards godship by their own acts.
Next: Section XL