पति: स्त्रीभिर्न हातव्यो लोकेप्सुभिरपातकी ॥ २५ ॥
jaḍo rogy adhano ’pi vā
patiḥ strībhir na hātavyo
duḥśīlaḥ — of bad character; durbhagaḥ — unfortunate; vṛddhaḥ — old; jaḍaḥ — retarded; rogī — sickly; adhanaḥ — poor; api vā — even; patiḥ — the husband; strībhiḥ — by women; na hātavyaḥ — should not be rejected; loka — a good destination in the next life; īpsubhiḥ — who desire; apātakī — (if he is) not fallen.
Women who desire a good destination in the next life should never abandon a husband who has not fallen from his religious standards, even if he is obnoxious, unfortunate, old, unintelligent, sickly or poor.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī quotes a similar statement from smṛti-śāstra: patiṁ tv apatitaṁ bhajet. “One should serve a master who is not fallen.” Sometimes the foolish argument is given that even if a husband falls down from spiritual principles, his wife should continue to follow him since he is her “guru.” In fact, since Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be subordinated to any other religious principle, a guru who engages his follower in materialistic, sinful activities loses his status as a guru. Śrīla Prabhupāda stated that the system of monarchy collapsed in Europe because the monarchs abused and exploited their position. Similarly, in the Western world men have abused and exploited women, and now there is a popular movement in which women reject the authority of their husbands. Ideally, men should be staunch in spiritual life and give pure, sincere guidance to the women under their care.
The gopīs, of course, being on the highest platform of spiritual perfection, were transcendental to all positive and negative religious considerations. In other words, they were the eternal lovers of the Absolute Truth.