maam hi paartha vyapaashritya yepi syuhu paapayonayaha |
striyo vaishyaastathaa shoodraastepi yaanti paraam gatim || 32 ||

 
Surely, O Paartha, even those who are born of sinful origin – women, traders, and also labourers, they attain the supreme state by taking refuge in me.
 
maam : me
hi : surely
paartha : O Paartha
vyapaashritya : taking refuge
ye : those
api : even
syuhu : who are
paapayonayaha : born of sinful origin
striyaha : women
vaishyaahaa : traders
tathaa : and also
shoodraaha : labourers
te : they
yaanti : attain
paraam : supreme
gatim : state
 
This is another shloka that has the potential to be misinterpreted if it is quoted out of context. Shri Krishna says that women, traders and labourers are born out of “paapa yoni” which literally means “sinful wombs”. He says that women, traders and labourers are also equally qualified to become liberated through the path of devotion. So to properly understand the meaning, let us look at the historical context and the symbolism that underpins this shloka.
 
As we have seen so far, the Gita attempts to remove misconceptions about spirituality that were prevalent when it came out. One prevalent misconception that was present throughout history was that only the brahmin and the kshatriya communities were solely qualified for liberation. Any other community was termed as “sinful”. Therefore, Shri Krishna vehemently refutes this misconception using the language that was prevalent at that time.
 
Now let’s look at the symbolism by focusing on the attributes of the communities mentioned, not by focusing on their birth-given caste or gender. A “sinful origin” or “sinful womb” per this shloka symbolically refers to a low level of sattva guna, and a high level of rajas and tamas which causes such attachment to worldly matters.
 
How does that manifest in people? The quality of being too attached to children and family is termed as “women” in this shloka. Similarly a “trader” is too attached to money and commerce, and a “labourer” is too attached to the fruits of his own efforts. Unlike other types of spiritual practice that require a high level of detachment, bhakti or devotion does not require such a qualification. Therefore, Shri Krishna praises the path of devotion because anyone who has such deep attachments to worldly matters can attain liberation through devotion.
 
So, when even those with a material attachments can attain liberation through devotion, how do people with a high level of detachment fare? This is covered next.

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