From the Vedic point of view, if a husband beats his wife and drinks can she divorce him?

If a husband abuses his wife and this cannot be resolved, she should not remain with him. Any woman who finds herself insuch a situation should get out of it for her spiritual and materialwellbeing.

Domestic violence is abhorrent, yet sadly is not uncommon in today's society. If it persists, a Hindu woman can remarry. We have to realize that we are not living in ancient Vedic society, and thus we have to adjust accordingly. We should not misconstrue details appropriate for that society to be principles that are applicable at all times.

When describing Kali you say she is "the personification of evil who presides over the present age--Kali-yuga." I wasn't aware of this aspect of Mother Kali--that she personifies evil. I was under the impression that her purpose is one of love (maybe you could call it the ultimate "tough love") and that she slaughters the false ego and enables one to find one's true nature so that one may find complete love of God.

Kali spelled with a long 'a' and Kali with a short 'a' are different Sanskrit words indicating different persons. Kali with a long 'a' is the Goddess wife of Shiva, who, as you say, is often worshipped with a view to dissolve one's material ego. Kali spelled with a short 'a' is the personification of the age of quarrel (Kali-yuga). Duryodhana (of Mahabharata and Bhagavad-gita fame) is considered to be a partial incarnation of Kali, the personification of this degraded age, and not Goddess Kali.

Can you please explain the role of martial arts in modern society and what their purpose was in the Vedic culture?

Martial arts are primarily for self-defense. Although they have nothing to do with the sadhana of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, if one is interested in such arts, one can practice them without hindering one's spiritual practice. In time, with serious spiritual practice, one's interest in martial arts should dissolve, as is the case with all interests other than those directly concerned with krsnanusilanam, the direct culture of Krsna consciousness.

How does one not see himself as God when everything is God? I am havingtrouble drawing the philosophical distinction. If everything exists insideGod, how am I a part of God, yet an individual? How am I separate from Godwhen I exist within God?

Light and heat are inseparable, yet are distinguishable from fire. Similarly,we are both identified with and different from God at the same time. Thisreality transcends logic.

When we look in the world for that which most resembles God, we find it isourselves. As units of consciousness, we are infinitely superior to allthat is inanimate. We experience, while matter is experienced. If matterwas important independent of consciousness, who would care about it? Whowould know?

However, at the moment we find ourselves overwhelmed by matter, thinking itto be more important than ourselves. This indicates that although we areconstitutionally superior to matter, we are subject to its influence. Godis not subject to matter's influence. If God were, there would be nomeaning to God's supremacy. That is one difference between God and us.There are many other differences as well. Thus we are one with, yet differentfrom God.

I was under the impression that everything in scripture is absolute. I worry that if I start to read scripture andscriptural commentaries thinking that all contained therein is notabsolute, I will have a tendency to reject things arbitrarily based on mylimited and small conceptions of this world, especially at this time aftermy guru has departed from the world. It is difficult to seeeverything in the written word as absolute, yet if I do not, the otherproblem arises.

There is relativity in the scripture, and commentators also differ intheir opinions as to the significance and application of differentscriptural statements. All of this is difficult to sort out and thereforeguidance is recommended at every step. In the absence of your guru it maybe wise to seek help from another saint.

However, ultimately spiritual practitioners need to learn to thinkcritically yet spiritually for themselves. The scripture and saints areemphatic on this point, and a qualified siksa (instructing) guru will be able to help you to reach this level of spiritual discrimination--to be a spiritual yetcritical thinker.

Scripture represents a body of knowledge in which the supreme goal of lifeis described along with the means of attaining this goal. However, thescripture also seeks to direct those who are not interested in the ultimategoal of life. To this end it provides relative knowledge of other possiblegoals that humanity might achieve and how humankind can best attain theselesser goals.

The scripture contains laws that govern the realization of different idealsthat arise in the human psyche, and it also offers an objective means ofdetermining the hierarchy of human values. In doing so, it is not dogmatic.It invites the application of reason, leaving each individual to determinewhat is relevant to him in terms of his particular ideal. Reason is alsoinvited to participate in one's understanding the conclusion of the Vedas,as well as in vindicating the scripture in the face of opposition fromthose who do not acknowledge its authority. The Vedanta-sutra itself setsthis example.