In Master’s book 'How to Love and Be Loved' he mentions that women should be kept away from the kitchen as much as possible. Why did Master say that?
—N S, India
I had to look up this quote in its original source to get an understanding of why Yogananda might have said this. This instruction comes in a list of Ideal Laws of Married Life–Moral Plan of Behavior for Husband. The context is:
Keep your body like the body of an athlete; eat raw food often, and keep your wife away from the kitchen work as much as possible. Try to keep her busy with books and spiritual activities. Make your mutual home life simple and your spiritual life deep.
As devotees in all relationships including married life we seek to relate to one another as souls and not slip into rigid, traditional definitions of who someone should be on the material plane. Cooking in the kitchen is a traditional worldly role of a wife. While an individual woman or man may find creative expression and inspiration in serving others by cooking (Yogananda enjoyed cooking for others), to be required to cook because of your sex and marital relationship does not affirm who you truly are. Yogananda is advising the husband to encourage and support his wife in developing her higher spiritual awareness and identity.
Here is a selection from the Plan of Behavior for the Wife which is also in this lesson:
Keep him busy when at home by reading, writing, singing, chanting, or meditating with him. Make yourself more and more useful and interesting, without living on the sex plane too much. Give him the right things to eat: more raw food, less pastries and sweets. Food has much to do with matrimonial happiness.
In this selection Yogananda’s direction to the wife is to be supportive of the husband in his physical as well as spiritual health but does not emphasize a worldly ‘role’. The distinction is subtle but, I think, important. When we have expectations that our spouse serve us in particular ways — rather than having an appreciation for the love that they share with us through the ways that they naturally give — we reduce the marital relationship to some sort of contractual arrangement. The relationship should be a mutual expression of love, respect, and honoring each as an expression of God. Marriage is a great opportunity for spiritual growth for both partners when they love and serve God through one another.