Question: I have a question as to whether women should work outside her home or not. In today’s IT age, women are also taking key positions in the corporate world. Is earning money not a prescribed duty for women? Krishna says serve your husband. If her husband wants wife to earn money for financial stability, what should a women do? What is best for her in this situation? To satisfy her husband by bringing in money or better stay at home taking care of children and other household activities?
Answer by Romapada Swami: Duty implies that it is prescribed by higher authority. The scriptures identify duties according to different natures and categories of persons. The spiritual master understands the nature and tendencies of a particular individual and thus prescribes work that they are most suited for, yet in a manner which will purify and elevate them.
If a woman’s working will give financial stability to the family so that she can serve Krishna with a peaceful mind, then her working may be considered. However one has to have the competence BOTH to maintain household and family requirements AND to perform the requirements in the workplace. Thus her work should be compatible to her nature, and allow sufficient time to perform her other duties properly.
Although material duties by themselves are external and sometimes not so easily perceived as connected to Krishna, particularly so in the context of our modern technological society — yet when worldly duties are under the sanction and direction of scriptures and spiritual authorities, it becomes possible to connect these activities to Krishna. While executing her duties, a woman may practice meditating as follows: “This duty is assigned to me by my husband as part of my service to Guru and Krishna, who are meant to be satisfied by this duty.”
Try to bring to your work the principles of Bhagavad-Gita. Strive to act with transcendental qualities, minimally with the quality of goodness. Joining occupational duties as well as ashrama-related duties with strong daily sadhana practices elevates the performance of these duties to the platform of being “as purifying as the direct processes of bhakti.” See Brahma Samhita, text 61 purport for further explanation of this principle of devotional life.