720216 - Letter to Chaya written from Calcutta
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Date: February 16, 1972
Camp: ISKCON Calcutta
My dear Chaya dasi,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 29, 1972, and I have noted the contents. Complete separation from the boys is not necessary for girls at such young age, so I don't require that they must be educated separately, only that they should live separately. What do they know of boy or girl at such young age? There was one question by a little girl like Saraswati to her father: "Father, when you were young were you a boy or a girl?" So when they are grown up, at about 10 to 12 years old, then you can make separate departments for teaching also. But while they are so young, although they must live in separate boys and girls quarters, they may be educated sometimes together, there is no such restriction that little girls should not have association with little boys, not until they are grown up.
All the children should learn to read and write very nicely, and a little mathematics, so that they will be able to read our books. Cooking, sewing, things like that do not require schooling, they are learned simply by association. There is no question of academic education for either boys or girls--simply a little mathematics and being able to read and write well, that's all, no universities. Their higher education they will get from our books, and other things they will get from experience, like preaching, SKP, etc. Alongside the regular classes in reading and writing, the other routine programmes they should also participate in, like arotik, kirtan, preaching, Sankirtan, like that.
You ask about marriage, yes, actually I want that every woman in the Society should be married. But what is this training to become wives and mothers? No school is required for that, simply association. And it is not necessary to say that women only can instruct the girls and men only can instruct the boys, not when they are so young. At 12 years, they may be initiated.
A woman's real business is to look after household affairs, keep everything neat and clean, and if there is sufficient milk supply available, she should always be engaged in churning butter, making yogurt, curd, so many nice varieties, simply from milk. The woman should be cleaning, sewing, like that. So if you simply practice these things yourselves and show examples, they will learn automatically, one doesn't have to give formal instruction in these matters.
Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami