By Devaki Devi Dasi
Spiritual and material cultures are as different as day and night because they stem from vastly different worldviews and ideals.
Vaisnava culture is the ultimate spiritual culture because it is Krsna’s culture which He has provided to support our spiritual development. Once understanding the underlying principles, values and wisdom forming the foundation of this culture, we can enter within it and derive tremendous devotional enlivenment and benefit.
While serving in Bangladesh for the last twelve years and observing the power and beauty of its still intact Vaisnava culture, we meditated upon and developed this course to empower ISKCON Vaisnavis’ entrance into this culture regardless of where they live in world.
We facilitated ‘Exploring the Roots of Spiritual Culture’ for the first time last January in Mayapur and the Vaisnavis’ heartfelt feedback has deeply inspired us to offer it to as many ladies as possible.
Then on June 17th we began facilitating the tweaked version of this two-week course in Kharkov, Ukraine to fourty eager Vaisnavis from Russia, Moldova, Latvia and Ukraine by embarking on a systematic exploration of the eternal principles underlying spiritual culture. One could describe it as a re-programming course - liberating the ladies from the “liberators” with amazing results, enabling its participants to understand what it means to be successful as a woman. Our blissful participants felt liberated and relieved from the materialists’ reality with its illusion and ignorance.
ya nisa sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
“What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” Bhagavad-gita 2.69
All the girls were so happy and blissful - like “fish returning to the water”! We had such a wonderful time - the sweetest and deepest time I have ever experienced in the association of women…
One realization struck all of our participants: this course finally gives a deeper understanding of how to apply Srila Prabhupada’s statements in his books about the position and nature of women - something which has been missing in our movement.
The following quote from Prabhupada comes to my mind:
“Now we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. We may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions.” Excerpted from Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Hamsaduta, June 22, 1972
Lifting devotees out of their usual distractions into a situation where they can entirely focus on quality association is extremely helpful in enabling devotees to go through heart transforming experiences by entering deeply into the spiritual understandings Srila Prabhupada imparted to us.
On the 29th of June when all the devotees departed for their hometowns the Vaisnavis were sad to leave and were embracing each other with tears rolling down their cheeks. In these two weeks we had come so close - almost like an extended family of sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers…
We will be offering this course in Mayapur during January and February 2013 and we look forward to the opportunity to serve you.
Please see www.therootsofspiritualculture.net