1. Sri Brajalila Devi Dasi (JPS), Flight Lieutenant (Retd), Indian Air Force, Bangalore, India

    I am very grateful for having come across this book, Women: Masters or Mothers? but I lament not having come across it earlier, for I would then have avoided many mistakes in my life.

    I was born and brought up in a simple South Indian family. My mother always dreamt that her daughter should be an independent woman. It didn’t take much time for me to develop this desire and prove my worth. To enjoy power, respect in the society and have some important identity.

    I saw that the best way to accomplish this desire (even at the cost of losing highly paid jobs in the West), is to be a lady officer in the armed forces, wearing uniform and getting salutes from the subordinates under my command.

    When asked in the Air Force selection interview by the president of the selection board as to why I wanted to be a commissioned officer in the Indian Air Forces, I gave the same reason — to enjoy respect that an officer in armed forces gets in the civil society. The president (interviewer) replied with a popular saying — the grass on the other side always looks greener — and my reply to his statement was I am sure that it is indeed very green.

    I was selected and joined the Air Force academy. Within ten days of the training in the academy I started to think of quitting the training. But the thought and dreams of enjoying the respect, financial independence, and fame in the society made me stay and continue the training.

    Soon after the completion of the training phase, I got married to a fellow officer and started my new life as a wife and a commissioned officer in Indian Air Force simultaneously. Things started looking impossible. I wanted to excel in both and didn’t want to compromise one duty for another.

    The tug of war started between professional front and the home front looking after family matters. I ended up requesting my superior officers to understand that it is difficult to stay away from my family, whenever there was a requirement for me to stay in remote postings for many days at a time. At home also, I began requesting my husband to cooperate, support, and understand that I am an officer and cannot be a wife to him in the same way that he had seen his mother be to his father.

    I used to wonder how the other married lady officers were managing their lives. I received many wise solutions and advice, such as hire a cook, employ a full-time maid servant, if you want to cook for your family the market is flooded with frozen and ready to use products, purchase already chopped vegetables, take full advantage of refrigerators and microwave ovens, cook at a time for 4 days and enjoy dining outside on weekends as you are financially independent, you see, women are better managers and so on and so forth.

    I started compromising the health of family and myself in order to try and maintain the balance of work and home duties. Stress started building up. Even after reaching home after work, the phone from the office kept ringing and while at the office, my mind gave the list of things to be done at home. Also, I was not at all comfortable with being the only lady officer posted in a unit of 10 male officers and 300 airmen.

    I started becoming a victim of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and extreme stress. Although my husband was caring enough and advised me several times to quit the job and that his earnings were sufficient to live a decent life, I resisted the idea. I would think how I was going to face the society. By this time, my family life was almost at a standstill, as I was under severe stress and depression.

    Then by divine arrangement, I came across and started to read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. Prabhupāda’s words came like a hammer when I came across the phrase “Equality of men and women is a propaganda by men to fool women for their own benefit.” Things started to fall in place. I started to get more and more inner strength by reading His Divine Grace’s books. I started deriving strength to become devoted to God and to become a devotee wife and overcome the weakness of having to prove myself. I read the sections dealing with duties and responsibilities of women whose lives were based on scriptures, again and again.

    Now a third aspect was entering in my life; the life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I realized that in order to go back home, back to Godhead, all the three aspects of work, family and maintaining sādhana cannot be managed simultaneously. I will have to compromise one for the other. And I decided to leave my job for pursuing the other two on a full-time basis. Six years have passed, and I never regretted this decision even once.

    I agree with every line of this wonderful book Women: Masters or Mothers? In ISKCON, I am always looking for women who can inspire us with their personal examples of being good mothers and at the same time maintaining good sādhana. I find the actions of such mothers speaking louder than the voice of the women sitting in front of the microphone and delivering lectures. We need more books like this in our movement and I am happy for the young women readers who can take lessons from this book and save themselves from many troubles in life.