(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada and child, Bhaktivedanta Manor, 1973)
"In the glorious days, or before the advent of the age of Kali, the brāhmaṇas, the cows, the women, the children and the old men were properly given protection.
1. The protection of the brāhmaṇas maintains the institution of varṇa and āśrama, the most scientific culture for attainment of spiritual life.
2. The protection of cows maintains the most miraculous form of food, i.e., milk for maintaining the finer tissues of the brain for understanding higher aims of life.
3. The protection of women maintains the chastity of society, by which we can get a good generation for peace, tranquility and progress of life.
4. The protection of children gives the human form of life its best chance to prepare the way of liberty from material bondage. Such protection of children begins from the very day of begetting a child by the purificatory process of garbhādhāna-saṁskāra, the beginning of pure life.
5. The protection of the old men gives them a chance to prepare themselves for better life after death.
This complete outlook is based on factors leading to successful humanity as against the civilization of polished cats and dogs. The killing of the above-mentioned innocent creatures is totally forbidden because even by insulting them one loses one's duration of life. In the age of Kali they are not properly protected, and therefore the duration of life of the present generation has shortened considerably."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.5, Purport)
"The brāhmaṇas, who are always engaged in researching knowledge for the society's welfare work, both materially and spiritually, deserve the protection of the king in all respects. Similarly, the children of the state, the cow, the diseased person, the woman and the old man specifically require the protection of the state or a kṣatriya king. If such living beings do not get protection by the kṣatriya, or the royal order, or by the state, it is certainly shameful for the kṣatriya or the state."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.14.41, Purport)
"In the age of Kali, the women and the children, along with brāhmaṇas and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age illicit connection with women will render many women and children uncared for. Circumstantially, the women will try to become independent of the protection of men, and marriage will be performed as a matter of formal agreement between man and woman. In most cases, the children will not be taken care of properly. The brāhmaṇas are traditionally intelligent men, and thus they will be able to pick up modern education to the topmost rank, but as far as moral and religious principles are concerned, they shall be the most fallen. Education and bad character go ill together, but such things will run parallel. The administrative heads as a class will condemn the tenets of Vedic wisdom and will prefer to conduct a so-called secular state, and the so-called educated brāhmaṇas will be purchased by such unscrupulous administrators. Even a philosopher and writer of many books on religious principles may also accept an exalted post in a government which denies all the moral codes of the śāstras. The brāhmaṇas are specifically restricted from accepting such service. But in this age they will not only accept service, but they will do so even if it is of the meanest quality. These are some of the symptoms of the Kali age which are harmful to the general welfare of human society."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.16.21, Purport)
"The defenseless creatures, according to Brahma-saṁhitā, are the cows, brāhmaṇas, women, children and old men. Of these five, the brāhmaṇas and cows are especially mentioned in this verse because the Lord is always anxious about the benefit of the brāhmaṇas and the cows and is prayed to in this way. The Lord especially instructs, therefore, that no one should be envious of these five, especially the cows and brāhmaṇas. In some of the Bhāgavatam readings, the word duhitṟḥ is used instead of duhatīḥ. But in either case, the meaning is the same. Duhatīḥ means 'cow,' and duhitṟḥ can also be used to mean 'cow' because the cow is supposed to be the daughter of the sun-god. Just as children are taken care of by the parents, women as a class should be taken care of by the father, husband or grown-up son. Those who are helpless must be taken care of by their respective guardians, otherwise the guardians will be subjected to the punishment of Yamarāja, who is appointed by the Lord to supervise the activities of sinful living creatures. The assistants, or messengers, of Yamarāja are likened here to vultures, and those who do not execute their respective duties in protecting their wards are compared to serpents. Vultures deal very seriously with serpents, and similarly the messengers will deal very seriously with neglectful guardians."
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.16.10, Purport)
"According to Vedic culture, first protection: to the cows, to the women, to the brāhmaṇas, to the children and to the old man. This is the first business of the government, to give protection. Practically there is no criminal charge against them—against a brāhmaṇa, against a woman, a child. Suppose a child steals something. Who is going to prosecute him? It is not taken very seriously. So they require protection."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, July 11, 1974)
Prabhupāda: Suppose a child commits something wrong. He is not punished. A brāhmaṇa, a brāhmaṇa never commits any sinful activity. If he, sometimes in an unnatural condition, if he does something, so he should be excused. This is Vedic law. The woman, the brāhmaṇa, the child, the cow and?
Devotee: Old men.
Prabhupāda: Old men. Yes. They should be excused.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Vrindavan, October 7, 1976)
"Women, children, brāhmaṇa and old men and cows, they must be taken first care. That was the king's duty. Children. And who is taking care of the children? Who is taking care of the women? And who is taking care of the brāhmaṇas? There is no brāhmaṇa. Even there are some brāhmaṇas—we are creating now—who is taking care of us?
It was the duty of the government to see to this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, 'Oh, such an important movement is going on? Our first attention should be how this movement can go on.' So nice character, so nice behavior, so nice knowledge, so nice consciousness of God, so pure, and the government has no attention. They are thinking it is something sentimental. And all the politicians, going to the brothel and drinking and dancing naked, they are all first-class men. This is the position of the society. No care for the living entities who are very important. Just like in this verse, vipra. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira is always accompanied by brāhmaṇas. Without brahminical culture, what is the value of the society? There is no value. It is animal society."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 16, 1973)
"So this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is giving to the whole world real life, real, what is meant by life. So this . . . these are the etiquette: to take care, especially, of brāhmaṇa, old men, children, women and cows. This is civilization. These living entities should be taken care of. Now these rascals, they are killing cows and making women prostitutes, and killing the children even in the womb. And there is no question of brāhmaṇa respect, and neither there is the brāhmaṇa culture. Then how you can be happy? Huh? And if there is no brahminical culture in the societies, then that society is less than animal society."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, April 7, 1973)
Prabhupāda: According to Vedic system, a child, a woman, a brāhmaṇa, a cow and a saintly person, they are not punishable. Cow, woman, saintly person, brāhmaṇa and child—they are beyond all laws. Even they commit some... They do not do. They have no criminal purpose. Formerly the women were trained up in such a way, very chaste and obedient. So they had no chance to commit any offense. And brāhmaṇas, they are also trained up. Śamo damaḥ satyaṁ śaucam... (children making noise)
Devotee: Take the children out.
Devotee(2): All the children should go out.
Prabhupāda: No, that's all right. (some devotees say "Jaya!" and applaud) So, children are not punishable. (laughter, more applause) Neither the women. (more applause, laughter) Hmm. But don't take advantage. (laughter) And here we have got these brāhmaṇas, saintly persons, women and children. So who is to be punished? (laughter) Yes. Kathaṁ svid dhriyate daṇḍaḥ. So the judge must know who is to be punished. That is judgment. Kathaṁ svid dhriyate daṇḍaḥ sthānam. Deśa-kāla-pātra: according to time, according to circumstances, according to the subject, everything scrutinizingly judged, not whimsically. Nowadays it is the time for emergency. Anyone can be punished without any judgment. But this is not good position.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, San Francisco, July 20, 1975)
Prabhupāda: Old man also should be taken care of. Nowadays the philosophy is coming, 'mercy killing.' 'Old men should be killed to show him mercy.' Because he is burden in the society, the communistic theory, 'Old man does not do anything and simply eats; therefore to show him mercy he should be killed.' Mercy killing. Just see the philosophy: 'Killing is mercy.' But this is going on, mercy killing. Is that? 'Mercy killing'? What is that?
Devotee: They kill someone for that person's benefit.
Prabhupāda: Benefit. So the man killer, will he take that benefit? If somebody comes that 'I shall kill you for your benefit,' that he will be afraid of. But he is philosophizing, 'mercy killing.' This is going on. So one should be respectful also to the old men. According to Vedic knowledge, brāhmaṇa, old men, child, woman and cow, they have no fault. They are free. They are not within this jurisdiction of law. So therefore cow-killing, brāhmaṇa-killing, woman-killing and elderly person–killing, they are accepted as the great sinful activities. So gurv-agny-atithi-vṛddhānāṁ śūśrūṣur anahaṅkṛtaḥ. Anahaṅkṛtaḥ, not with any pride or puffedness; anahaṅkṛtaḥ, very humbly. Sarva-bhūta-suhṛtam. This is the most exalted qualification, to become well-wisher of all living entities. Not that we open hospitals for the human being and we send the cows to the slaughterhouse or poor animals should be slaughtered. That is not suhṛt sarva-bhūtānām. That is partiality, and it has no meaning. If you become envious to other living entities and if you become friend of particular living entity, that is not good qualification. Suhṛdaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ. Sarva-bhūtaḥ-suhṛt sādhu. He is sādhu. Sādhavaḥ sādhu-bhūṣaṇāḥ (SB 3.25.21). These are the qualification of a sādhu."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, August 14, 1975)