By Govindacharan Dasi BTS
This essay is a humble response to an article posted at http://www.dandavats.com/?
Mataji Govinda Dasi ACBSP is one of the seniormost ISKCON members and thus worthy of respect by all. She has feelingfully expressed her views on the female guru issue, citing her perception of Srila Prabhupada as she knew him among the hippies in the late 1960s. However, a more complete and unambiguous understanding of Srila Prabhupada can be had only by studying his overall teachings, and particularly, as he much emphasized, by reading his books. SP’s instructions recorded within his books need no adjustments, confirmation, and interpretation from the perceptive evidence quoted by many of SP’s senior disciples who got lot of direct association of SP’s vapu and vani. If SP’s written instructions in his classical works are interpreted according to the personal experiences of these SP disciples esp. like H.G. Govindadasi Mataji (who received ample direct association of SP when she served as His Divine Graceâs secretary for about six months), then the autonomous nature of SP’s written instructions in his books become subservient to the observation and interpretation by his direct disciples, which will create total chaos because even SP’s direct disciples are seen in mutual discord on several issues. This is corroborated due to the below mentioned analysis:
“The most imperatively erroneous ideology to be addressed herein, is the one which mistakenly promulgates the rather autonomous and self-sufficient nature of SPâs precepts i.e. guru-vÄáčÄ« as complementary to and dependant on the so-called âvaiduáčŁa-pratakáčŁaâ i.e. sensually perceptive testimony of SPâs direct disciples. Factually deliberating, the practical experiences of SPâs direct disciples should be counted as supplementary to SPâs direct precepts found in his writings and not as complementary. And only when those realizations of SPâs disciples are found in full harmony to SPâs direct literary compositions esp. books, should they be reckoned as complementary to SPâs mood and instructions. Otherwise, the grave fault of marking SPâs direct sermons as incomplete, dependant, and complementary will arise and thereby destroy self-sufficient autocratic status of SPâs gospels.If SPâs precepts are labelled as complementary to the practical realizations of his direct pupils, then, since (i) those revelations of all SP disciples are mutually contrary as seen on numerous occasions; (ii) not all revelations of his disciples are available in a recorded form and many of his direct disciples have attained demise; (iii) if there are present many disciples who are fostering valuable revelations in the core of their hearts, their comprehensions are subject to possible flaws on the basis of the uncertainty of their existence on the bhÄva-bhakti level and hence cannot be appropriately designated as âvaiduáčŁa-pratyakáčŁaâ; - conclusively, such a dependant exposition of SPâs direct teachings would also become subject to the same triple flawed limiting adjuncts as enumerated above. And as a secondary outcome, SPâs direct tuitions would not be fully grasped without the accompaniment of his direct disciplesâ revelations and since, those full revelations will not be available to all in the future generation of devotees to come, they (i.e. future generation of devotees) will be left wholly bereft of self-realization. If the same fallacious argument is applied to the medieval literature of the six gosvÄmÄ«s of VáčndÄvana, then even the full import of that cannot be apprehended by us i.e. in the contemporary age, because not all the direct revelations of the contemporary associates of the six gosvÄmÄ«s are obtainable to us; what to speak of that, even the names of all the direct disciples and associates of the six gosvÄmÄ«s are not accessible to us. Therefore, pursuing the said mistaken doctrine proclaiming the deficient and complementary nature of SPâs direct instructions, would in end produce no beneficial everlasting consequence; hence, we are impelled to admit the absolutely sovereign stature of SPâs legacy. For the same reason, any pro-FDG interpretation done by SPâs any direct disciple based on his/her sensual perception of SPâs dealings during his manifest pastimes, and necessitating SPâs directly written and spoken affirmations to be alignment to his/her âvaiduáčŁa-pratyakáčŁaâ, shall constitute a fundamentally momentous blunder in approach totally unforgiveable. Also, the sensually perceptive testimony of certain SPâs disciples cannot be given preferential recognition either excelling or equalling to the actual hierarchically evaluated conclusion derived from the multifariously categorised sermons of SP i.e. the testimony of SPâs direct apostles can only be accepted as supplementary to the recorded sermons of SP and vice versa i.e. not as complementary. Hence, only compatible and congruent testimony of SPâs direct disciples can be acknowledged to favour the precise interpretation of SPâs teachings and legacy; or else, the incompatible testimony to the conclusive interpretation of SPâs gospels should be utterly abandoned, as also proven during the analysis of the above conversation; it canât be permitted to supersede the paramount rank of SPâs directly issued precepts i.e. âguru-vÄáčÄ«â. It is as so, due to the imperfections and/or absence of an equivalent perfected position to that of SP, found characterising his direct disciples. “
Since, SPâs directly composed instructions found within the celebrated Bhaktivedanta Purports to S.B. 4.12.32 (which is considered the highest hierarchically based evidence superseding SPâs precepts found in evidences of inferior category like informal conversations, lectures and private letters etc. â this excludes formal documents and ordinances given through official letters addressed to TPs and GBCs) strictly, uncompromisingly, and specifically prohibit the allowance of FDGs within ISKCON, Mother Govinda Dasiâs faulty interpretation of SPâs desires (based on the strength of her direct association of SPâs vapu) in connection to the FDG issue is exposed. The excerpt from S.B. 4.12.32 is again quoted below:
âDhruva had a feeling of obligation to his mother, Suniti. It was Suniti who had given him the clue which had now enabled him to be personally carried to the Vaikuntha planet by the associates of Lord Visnu. He now remembered her and wanted to take her with him. Actually, Dhruva Maharaja’s mother, Suniti, was his patha-pradarsaka-guru. Patha-pradarsaka-guru means “the guru, or the spiritual master, who shows the way.” Such a guru is sometimes called siksa-guru. Although Narada Muni was his diksa-guru (initiating spiritual master), Suniti, his mother, was the first who gave him instruction on how to achieve the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is the duty of the siksa-guru or diksa-guru to instruct the disciple in the right way, and it depends on the disciple to execute the process. According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru, and generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru. Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru.â
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 4.12.32
Note: It is interesting to consider the fact that all other instructions superficially supporting FDG ideology are not found within such first-class evidence as Puports to S.B. or any other classical literature commented upon by SP. Hence, those pro-FDG instructions are weakened during confrontation with S.B. 4.12.32âs purport.
Another evidence can be cited to substantiate our point presented above. The hierarchically superlative rank of the July 9th, 1977 directive letter of SP, addressed to all T.P.s and G.B.C.s. The said ordinance letter is the last officially given direction by SP in regards to the future method of initiation to be followed by the coming generations in ISKCON.
Though the contemporary exponents of the deviated PSPT ideology (misnamed as the current so-called ritviks as represented by IRM & other related groups), have a different interpretation to that of the ISKCON G.B.C.âs Z.A.S. & M.A.S.S. ideologies, nonetheless, the common ground (i.e. that which both the parties viz., IRM & ISKCON G.B.C. accept on a general basis) affirming the proxy nature of the said eleven apostles of SP at least till the duration of SPâs mortal demise, have to be accepted. Since, the currently existing G.B.C. law accepts the proxy nature of the said eleven apostles of SP at least till SPâs demise, hence, the analysis will commence henceforward.
As legitimately illustrated in the very ordinance letter, SP had himself given the list of eleven disciples who shall be acting in that capacity. Since, the said ordinance is the last directive in the matter of initiation process to be continued in ISKCON even after the physical demise of SP, the enumeration of the eleven disciples has been done by SP under a sound mind and with a long term vision in focus. Therefore, SP even mentions the nomenclatures of two house-holder apostles who would be working in that direction, keeping in mind that future dÄ«káčŁÄ-gurus in ISKCON should include the grihastha ÄcÄryas as well. If SP truly, practically, and ultimately had a desire of including some of his selected senior female disciples like Malatidasi, Govindadasi, Jadurani Dasi, and Jamunadasi etc., then he would have certainly mentioned them. If SP didnât deem proper even the appointment of female disciples to work in that capacity (as a mere proxy till his demise), how can the future implementation of the FDG ideology be considered as full in harmony with SPâs lastly expressed intentions?
Srila Prabhupada was very liberal with the hippies and did not introduce many rules, not because the hippies were highly advanced, but because they were highly undisciplined. Loose mixing of the sexes was the norm, and Srila Prabhupada did not try to much restrict them, although he did get his disciples married rather than let them live in sin.
As a great paramahamsa, Srila Prabhupada was certainly above all gender distinctions. But seeing many of his disciples unable to rise above hippie mentality, he became more strict, and gradually introduced structured sadhana and various prohibitions. Of course, these do not constitute the essence of Krsna consciousness, but they are necessary for all but fully liberated devotees (who also generally follow such sastric injunctions, to set an example for others).
In accord with statements in Srila Prabhupada’s books condemning “unrestricted mixing” between the sexes, his leaders started to implement gender segregation and distinction, as are necessary for actual human civilization. Unfortunately an old wives’ tale has gained currency, that gender distinctions became prominent in ISKCON due to the machinations of some macho sannyasis, and that Srila Prabhupada was either unaware of everything that was going on around him, or that he was incapable of educating and disciplining his leading disciples.
Some of Mataji Govinda Dasi’s arguments adopt the standard feminist rhetoric that everything bad comes from men and that women are morally superior. However, this contention is neither according to sastra or Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, nor does it match observable reality (just now a German female bishop is in the news, having been arrested for drunken driving).
Again, all respect is due to Mataji Govinda Dasi. Yet her views in this article may have serious problems in both premises and reasoning.