QUESTION: What would you say to someone who is quoting the Bhagavad Gītā verse 9.32 as a proof of lower position of women? I would really like to hear your words on this statement of Śrī Kr̥ṣṇa. 'O Pārtha, even those of sinful birth, women, merchants (Vaiśyas) and farmers, and also the laborer class (śūdras), by taking refuge in Me certainly attain the supreme destination.'
ANSWER: Dear Andrej, to reply to your question we need to define what you mean with a lower position. Krishna is not saying that women have a lower position. He is saying that in the earlier varnāśrama only Brāhmanas and the other higher castes were eligible to attain mokṣa. But in Bhagavad Gītā 9.32, Kr̥ṣṇa informs us that in Bhakti everybody can attain Him. The paths of renunciation require more austerity and terse logic, which are not the qualifications on the path of Bhakti. Bhakti is suitable for women’s nature which is more emotional and caring; such qualities being favorable for devotion.
So who is inferior on which path? Moreover, what is the benefit of such superiority that allows only mokṣa? In Kāli yuga, kirtan of the holy name is recommended as the process to attain prema, love of God. And on this path everybody has equal opportunities to attain their goal.
The word pāpayonaḥ, those of sinful birth, is mistakenly taken as an adjective of women. Pāpayonaḥ does not refer to women or the other castes mentioned Vaiśyas and Śūdras. Pāpayonaḥ is a separate category of people who were outside the varnāśrama.