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The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 / Published in Articles / 12,079 views


By Devaki Devi Dasi

I would like to share some thoughts on this widely discussed topic, not wanting to agitate anybody’s mind or fueling heated discussions and tension, but simply wanting to add one important aspect which I have not heard being mentioned in this connection. At least it is not mentioned in any of the documents presented by our senior leaders on this issue.

One main difference between the male and female “vehicle” is the fact that the female nature is more emotional. This is according to Krsna’s Divine plan – otherwise who would give all the necessary care and affection to the small children and play the role of their very first Guru?! So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children, and it also impells us ladies to take shelter of a man. And it adds more colour and feeling to life. Wouldn’t life be boring and grey if we all had a man’s nature…?!

However, this emotional nature can also become an impediment and obstacle, especially since emotions tend to cloudy our vision and intelligence to such extend that we cannot see things as they really are. Material emotions are connected to the platform of the mind, which is a very unreliable foundation to stand on.

Most of us in a female body can surely agree that sometimes our emotions get the better of us and distort our vision of things. And as a result we over-react, we jump to wrong conclusions and do or say exactly what we shouldn’t be doing or saying. And we make a fool out of ourselves. This is simply the effect of emotions cloudying the intelligence.

In the Bhagavatam we have the story with Lord Siva and Parvati, where she curses Citraketu because she thought that he was offending her husband. Prabhupada gives the following explanation in the purport to SB 6.17.34-35:

“Here is a difference between male and female that exists even in the higher status of life – infact, even between Lord Siva and his wife. Lord Siva could understand Citraketu very nicely, but Parvati could not. Thus even in the higher statuses of life there is a difference between the understanding of a male and that of a female. It may be clearly said that the understanding of a woman is always inferior to the understanding of a man. In the Western countries there is now agitation to the effect that man and woman should be considered equal, but from this verse it appears that woman is always less intelligent than man. It is clear that Citraketu wanted to criticize the behavior of his friend Lord Siva because Lord Siva was sitting with his wife on his lap. Then, too, Lord Siva wanted to criticize Citraketu for externally posing as a great devotee but being interested in enjoying with the Vidyadhara women. These were all friendly jokes; there was nothing serious for which Citraketu should have been cursed by Parvati. Upon hearing the instructions of Lord Siva, Parvati must have been very much ashamed for cursing Citraketu to become a demon. Mother Parvati could not appreciate Citraketu’s position, and therefore she cursed him, but when she understood the instructions of Lord Siva she was ashamed.”

So even Parvati exhibited this quality of being led by her emotions and thus over-reacting and cursing Citraketu. And after her husband instructed her she felt foolish, covering her face with the head piece of her sari.

And Prabhupada clearly makes the point that the female vision and intelligence is always inferior to the man’s – even on such high levels.

I have to be honest, it took me many years to not only swallow Prabhupada’s comments, but actually deeply within my heart accept them. And the more we identify with the body – gross and subtle, the harder it is to accept Prabhupada’s words. The entity which rebels the most is nothing but the false ego.

It is not that any man’s vision is superior to any woman’s vision. No, but if we have a Vaisnava and a Vaisnavi, who are somewhat of the same caliber – with similar status, advancement and commitment to devotional life, the man’s vision of things is always superior to the woman’s vision, because of her tendency to be emotional, which cloudies her intelligence.

I have to admit, I do have this practical experience also in my devotional life: if I have the choice when inquiring and asking for guidance, I always prefer to go to a senior devotee in a male body, because I know I get a more cool headed and clear answer, and often the discussions are so much more to the point, whereas discussions with ladies often end up being emotional and getting lost in little details. On the other hand, if I need advice which requires feminine intuition and wisdom, then I rather consult with a senior lady.

So men and women are very different – they don’t only differ in the gross body, but also very much in the subtle body. Krsna has given both men and women the perfect gross and subtle body to play certain roles and functions in this world, while at the same time making spiritual progress. Thus it is the nature of being emotional which makes us unqualified to perform certain functions: Guru, and also taking posts in leadership and management roles. Even being able to lecture to the point is often much more difficult for ladies because of the very same reason.

Infact, I dare say being on the emotional platform makes it impossible to uplift others to the transcendental platform – no matter whether we are in a man’s or woman’s body, and not only in regards to Diksa, but also in regards to more serious and deeper Siksa. Maybe this explains why Prabhupada says that there will not be many female Diksa Guru’s – because it is rare to find a woman who is not controlled by her emotions.

Of course, these days also many men have a very emotional nature, and their intelligence will also be clouded by their emotions and thus will not be able to uplift others onto the transcendental platform.

I know several ladies who are serving in high managerial roles of leadership and are suffering emotionally, having sleepless nights and so many anxieties. Why would a Vaisnavi want to ruin her bhajan by occupying such posts, which cause so much distress to her?! Only to get some little ego satisfaction?

Once a very senior and educated brahmacari in Bangladesh shared the following with me, saying: “Mataji, my Guru Maharaja is our father, and you are our mother.” And with an affectionate smile he added: “And often mother is more important than father – yes, mother is more important…!”

Such is the sweetness and beauty of spiritual culture. Why would any Vaisnavi who has insights into the deeper secrets of spiritual culture want to exchange her position of an affectionate spiritual mother for another, just to be accepted as Diksa Guru or a leading manager?!

Women can exert their influence through selfless service and affection, which by far exceeds that of a man with a big title and position! Woman’s energy is much more powerful and influential than man’s energy. After all, Srimati Radharani controls the Supreme Controller – not by being a Diksa Guru or carrying a big title.

Finally, Siksa is more important than Diksa. The purpose of Diksa is to receive Siksa. Sad Guru does not need authorisation. Sad Guru can’t be stopped being Guru! People will come, take inspiration and guidance. They will know where they can find some nourishment and upliftment. Nobody can bar Sad Guru from being Guru. There are thousands of devotees out there who are starving for spiritual nourishment. Let us simply uplift them and nourish them, without running after recognition and fame, by playing the roles and duties we are meant to play…..!

Your servant, Devaki dd

Are these events results of the Sankirtan movement?
Nama Smaranam In The Jakarta Goverment House

54 Responses to “The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru”

  1. radha16108 says :

    Devaki Mataji, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. You have confused the material and the spiritual in your analysis. Srila Prabhupada specifically wrote that his comments about the relative intelligence of men and women do not apply to Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis. In the CC, he said that his “girls” are just as good as their “brothers” as far as practicing and spreading Krsna consciousness. And with due respect, I find your comments about female managers very unpalatable. Devotees, male bodied and female bodied, give their time and energy and undergo severe austerities to serve as managers in Srila Prabhupada’s movement. There are many easier ways to get ego gratification if that’s what one desires. Managing any ISKCON project is a difficult task that causes anxiety for the manager no matter what kind of body they have. I am deeply grateful to anyone who takes up such service for Srila Prabhupada.

    Please accept my apologies if I have offended you. It is inspiring that you are thinking and writing about this issue.

  2. Urmila says :

    Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    In a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many years–even a decade–to a particular disciple, where there is a firm relationship of guru/disciple, where the disciple has been worshiping and studying from and serving his or her siksa guru for many years–why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the “someone else” has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

  3. Yasomati dd says :

    Hare Krishna
    dandavat pranam

    A point of interest may be that anyone who considers him/herself, man or woman, be he/she emotional or rational, may not be fit to be diksha or siksha guru! Unless one has very little expectations as to where his/her guru will take them.

    ys Yasomati dd

  4. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    What exactly is a bona fide guru?

    “The spiritual master is the external manifestation of the caitya-guru, or the spiritual master sitting in everyone’s heart”. (SB 4.8.44 ppt)

    “So this Paramatma is also incarnation of God. And the same Paramätmä, when He comes before you, being very much merciful upon you, to teach you from outside, THAT IS GURU.” (Lecture, Los Angeles, October 1st, 1972)

    The bona fide guru is a pure devotee:

    “The CONCLUSION is that one cannot become a spiritual master unless he is a pure devotee of the Lord.” (SB4.29.51)

    “So one must find out a guru who is paramahamsa. Neither kutichaka, nor bahudaka, nor parivrajakacharya. Paramahamsa”. (Lecture, November 1, 1976, Vrindavana)

    “ONLY a pure devotee can be a spiritual master.” (Amrta Vani, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura)

    “UNLESS we are pure devotees or liberated souls, WE SHOULD NOT make disciples.” (Amrta Vani, SBST)

    The true guru is a maha-bhagavata:

    “The guru MUST be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service….When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as a guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru.” (CC Madhya-lila 24.330)

    “Indeed, the advanced uttama-adhikari Vaisnava devotee should be accepted as a spiritual master.” (NOI)

    Does the spiritual master really have to be liberated?

    “You are correct when you say that when the spiritual master speaks it should be taken that Kṛṣṇa is speaking. That is a fact. A spiritual master MUST be liberated.”
    (Letter, June 10th, 1969)

    Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer MUST be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Kṛṣṇa, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. (Bg 7.14, purport, 1972 ed.)

    A conditioned soul cannot act as an initiating or instructing spiritual master. (Amrta Vani, SBST)

    The spiritual master is an eternally liberated devotee of the Lord; he is devoid of anarthas. (Amrta Vani, SBST)

    Can anyone be a guru?

    “Unless one is a resident of Kṛṣṇaloka, one cannot be a spiritual master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a spiritual master, and if he becomes so then he will simply create disturbance
    (Letter, June 10, 1969)

    If we accept guru, a bogus guru, then it is no benefit. Guru means Krsna’s representative. Not that everyone can be guru. (Lect, Vrn. Oct 3 76)

  5. Mohana Mohini dd says :

    This is a good article but I think that the penultimate paragraph was over the top and contradicted the quoted purport from the Srimad Bhagavatam. Aside from that I agree.

    If a woman is actually enlightened you will not be able to stop people from seeking her light. Not that she needs some formal title. To me it appears that this push for Female Diksha Gurus is not coming from the spiritual plane.

    So many devotees are strongly preaching without the need for being diksha gurus. I recently read the current SAC paper on FDG and was disappointed by the claim that one can only preach if one is a diksha guru. This is surely an insult to all those sincere preachers out there who are pushing on Lord Caitanya’s movement and who have no interest in being diksha gurus.

  6. MadhavaNarasimha Das says :

    It would be very enlightening if you all read the following book: https://sites.google.com/site/eyeofthestormbooks/

  7. Mohana Mohini dd says :

    Regarding comment #1 Devaki Mataji, completely substantiated her position when she quoted from sastra that even in the higher spiritual realms there is distinction between the sexes and that the male understanding is superior. When SP said the girls were just as good at preaching that in now way contradicted his statement in the Srimad Bhagavatam, it just shows that everything else being equal the realization of the male will be higher. Or are you saying that Srila Prabhupada was mistaken in the purport that Devaki quoted? A purport based on the commentaries of several acarayas who were off the bodily concept of life.

    And I have experience that also confirms what Devaki said. Here in Mayapura the mataji wanted to give class, so they arranged that the ladies give separate class to ladies. That lasted for a while as the ladies lost interest in listening to women give class but preferred to hear men give class and even the matajis who gave classes preferred to hear the men. But at one women’s convention in Radhadesha the women passed a resolution that they be allowed to give classes to both men and women and the men be forced to stay and listen to the women give class even if the men didn’t want to. Something is very strange with this type of mentality.

  8. Mohana Mohini dd says :

    Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    In a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many years–even a decade–to a particular disciple, where there is a firm relationship of guru/disciple, where the disciple has been worshiping and studying from and serving his or her siksa guru for many years–why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the “someone else” has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

    Why so much concern? I know several devotees who have little or no relationship with their diksha guru but rather consider other god brothers of their diksha guru as their shiksha gurus and completely ignore their diksa guru except in a perfunctory way. They show all respect and courtesy to the diksha guru but do not ask for any guidance.

    So if the light from the female shiksha is so bright then who will stop people from taking their shiksa?

    It seems that material concepts have become entangled with spiritual concepts that somehow it is more materially prestigious to be a “diksha guru” how sad. It shows attachment to material prestige and actual disqualification to give shiksha what to speak of diksha. Back in the 1990s we used to call this condition “DADS” – Dreaded Acarya Disease Syndrome.

    Some one who is so driven and attached to being a guru is the last person who should be a guru.

  9. Urmila says :

    Obeisances. Jaya Prabhupada!

    While I disagree slightly with some points of Devaki devi dasi’s presentation here, I have served with her on GBC committee work and find her totally dedicated to the spiritual care of devotees in the many countries in which she serves. She radiates warmth, caring, friendship, and a no-nonsense dedication to Prabhupada’s mission. She is uncompromising in her spiritual practice.

    Devaki devi dasi is a great preacher. She lives as a renunciate depending only on the Lord for her maintenance and protection. She is the long-time vice-president of ISKCON Dhaka, Bangaladesh, and one of the main organizers of the Ukraine festival. She has been very successful at business and fundraising, and takes a lot of managerial responsibility in the Hare Krishna Movement in a leadership role. Many men and women, including senior men in ISKCON, hear from her and find her inspiring. She teaches sastra as well as practical seminars in many countries and has thousands of students. Although she has no biological children, she radiates a motherly and caring mood toward all she guides and takes responsibility for. Her own intelligence is not obscured by some sort of mundane feminine cloud–rather her heart and mind are clear in the light of bhakti.

    Perhaps some of her students have already established a relationship with her as their siksa guru. If not, I assume that such will happen someday, and perhaps some of them may ask her for diksa, and perhaps her guru will also ask her to take up that service, as Prabhupada asked of all of his disciples to do. I hope and pray that if and when such happens, she will expand the generations of devotees with the same dedication that she shows in her service at present.

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

  10. Urmila says :

    Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    At the request of Devaki devi dasi, I am making some corrections to my previous comments. Please excuse my misunderstandings of her service.

    She is no longer the official vice-president in Dhaka. She gives vision and direction in several temples in Bangladesh – in Dhaka, and also Chittagong and Sylhet, introducing the Prabhupada marathon and also Prabhupada’s vision on Deity worship, and other things.

    She never had anything to do with organizing the Ukrainian festival. She has been visiting Ukraine as a preacher for the last 14 years, and gives every year a seminar at this festival. She *is* the main person who brought this festival to three other countries: Bangladesh, Nepal and Scandinavia, and is overseeing the whole event there as a mother hosting it.

    She also didn’t own a business, but over ten years ago was doing extensive and successful fundraising for ISKCON Bangladesh and Nepal.

    Devaki devi dasi does already have siksa disciples, some of whom request diksa from her. You can read more about her here: http://www.theholynameretreat.net/devaki-dd.html

    My hope and prayer is that diksa guru in ISKCON cease being perceived as some sort of title, or institutional position, and be restored to its sastric and traditional understanding of a personal relationship between student and teacher, devoid of institutional pomp and fanfare. Throughout the world, both men and women are teachers. There is nothing particularly masculine or feminine about being a teacher–what to speak of being a teacher of transcendence. Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada ask all of us to be such teachers of transcendence. And some of those teachers will have a formal relationship of initiating their students into the sampradaya. It’s a service, not a title. And it’s a service of sacrifice, like being a mother. May we all fulfill Prabhupada’s desire to have 100,000 gurus.

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

  11. William Mathew says :

    Vraja Vilas Prabhu,

    Beautiful quotes.

    Thank you so much for providing it here for all the esteemed Vaishnavas and this lowly self.

    Daso asmi.

  12. sitadasi says :

    One main difference between the male and female “vehicle” is the fact that the female nature is more emotional. This is according to Krsna’s Divine plan – otherwise who would give all the necessary care and affection to the small children and play the role of their very first Guru?! So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children, and it also impells us ladies to take shelter of a man.

    Devaki Mataji makes interesting points! Our physical male-female differences, which have been corroborated by brain science, are indeed part of Krsna’s divine plan. It is natural for a mother to act as guru to her children. Does that mean she initiates them? No. It was natural for Jahnava Devi to carry on Lord Nityananda ‘s “spiritual business” after His departure, as a widow. Does that mean women, whose husbands are not gurus by their practical service, are sanctioned to initiate? No.

  13. sitadasi says :

    Jahnava Devi is the only Acarya mentioned by Srila Prabhupada yet Her disciples are counted as Nityananda’s, so who was the initiator?!

    There is NO PRECEDENCE IN ISKCON and NO AUTHORIZATION by Srila Prabhupada to have women initiating Acaryas. He simply did not practically establish it. Doing so would be RISKY BUSINESS, similar to women taking sannyasa.

  14. Gopakumaradasa says :

    As a professor of clinical psychology I would like to share that there is no basis at all for the idea that women are more emotional than men. This is the made up by people who don’t bother to question their own folk-psychology indoctrination.

    Both men and women are emotional. If there is any difference between men and women regarding emotion, it has to do with the cultural indoctrination “men shouldn’t be emotional” or “emotion is inferior to rationality” that results in men –designed as we are to fight for positions of power in the social order (this IS founded in evidence)– becoming extremely defended against our own emotionality.

    If I was to argue for or against female gurus, I would be taking very seriously how defended men can be from their own natural emotionality, leading to many relational challenges, and how primed we men are to position ourselves in power for power’s sake.

  15. sitadasi says :

    One main difference between the male and female “vehicle” is the fact that the female nature is more emotional. This is according to Krsna’s Divine plan – otherwise who would give all the necessary care and affection to the small children and play the role of their very first Guru?!

    Women can preach and teach, yes, but even with regards to education, Prabhupada instructed that women can teach younger boys under the age of 10-12. Why is that?? He also taught that varnasrama college was for men, not women. Why is that??

    Krsna’s Divine plan includes varnasrama, thus our efforts need to support this goal. FDG is antithetical to varnasrama and thus not part of Krsna’s Divine plan.

  16. radha16108 says :

    wrt comment #7, i never want to challenge Srila Prahupada. Just to understand his teachings. My understanding of his statement about higher realms is that he is speaking about higher material realms. My understanding is that Shiva And Parvati are acting in the material world in the pastime Devaki mataji described, but maybe I have that wrong.

  17. niscala says :

    Devaki prabhu makes some really good points here, especially that sad guru does not need authorisation. It goes without saying that such a principle applies to diksa gurus as well. And as she has so lucidly pointed out, being in a position of “high managerial leadership” is a pitfall. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can hardly recommend a pitfall for us, when He advises us all to be gurus, and liberate everyone. Neither did Srila Prabhupada, when he told us his desire that his spiritual sons- as well as his spiritual daughters- all become diksa gurus in the future, after inheriting/earning the title “Bhaktivedanta” Since no guru would encourage a pitfall for his disciples, it should be understood that being a guru, whether of the siksa or diksa type, is a service. It means that one is in the service of his/her disciples, to be there whenever they have doubt or difficulty, confusion or lacking clarity and/or direction. It is tireless and to some extent thankless, because it is time away from one’s personal bhajana- which is extremely joyful. Putting the need of others before one’s own personal time with Krsna is selfless compassion. As for any honour that may accompany such a task, the devotee should shun it, until he is strong enough to pass it all onto the mercy of his own gurudeva, coming to him, though so unqualified and undeserving.

    There is one point I wish to contend however- that emotions can cloud the vision, or make it impossible to raise anyone up to the transcendental platform. This is impersonalist dogma- we can never be free from emotions, and the attempt to do so is artificial and will not last. The soul in its purified state is burning with emotion and desire, inflamed at ever moment! To the extent we inflame our passions with love for the Lord, His associates, and whomsoever has the slightest desire to serve Them, we become qualified to enter the abode of eternally passionately inflamed lovers of the Lord! If the soul embodied in a woman’s form is somehow endowed with more emotion, as has been suggested, then she is far better equipped to traverse the path of bhakti- she just must learn to direct all those emotions and desires towards the service of the Lord and if she does so towards His struggling devotees, being equipped with full transcendental knowledge (Bhaktivedanta) she is already performing as a guru, and only ignorant or blind people will not recognize it.

  18. Vraja Vilasa dasa says :

    The thinking that, “People want to follow me, therefore I should be accepted as a diksa guru and be allowed to initiate them,” is faulty. This is not how one ‘becomes guru’ – by manipulation, popularity contest or gender politics. The plain facts are that without authorisation from the previous acarya, no one can become guru:

    “You cannot become a spiritual master all of a sudden. There must be order from a superior person. Superior to you. If he says, “Now you can make disciples,” then you can do that. This is the educational process. THAT MEANS, WHEN ONE HAS RECEIVED THE ORDER FROM THE SPIRITUAL MASTER.” (SB 1.2.18 New Vrindaban, July 19, 1974)

    “One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, WHO IS AUTHORIZED BY HIS PREDECESSOR SPIRITUAL MASTER.” (SB 4.8.54)

    No order, no bona fides. It must come from one’s own guru. Not a committee, either.

    “NO ONE can be a bona fide spiritual master without following this principle of disciplic succession.” (Bg 4.34 ppt)

    “GURU CANNOT BE SELF-MADE. NO. There is no such single instance throughout the whole Vedic literature. And nowadays, so many rascals, they are becoming guru without any authority. That is not guru. You must be authorized. Evam parampara-praptam imam ra… [Bg. 4.2]. As soon as the parampara is lost, sa kalena yoga nasto parantapa, immediately finished. The spiritual potency finished. You can dress like a guru, you can talk big, big words, but it will never be effective. SB class, Mayapur, Feb 27th, 1977)

    The idea that the guru-disciple relationship can be relativized to one of a simply that of ‘teacher-student’ is outside our line. That is a mundane conception and ignores the Absolute consideration. Those that promote female/male gurus forget the basics of our philosophy. The bona fide spiritual master is the external manifestation of the Supersoul. In the Caitanya Caritamrta it is stated that the siksa guru is also considered equal and identical to the Supersoul. Now, if one is not on that platform, is not authorized by the predecessor acaryas to perform that particular role and function, then one shouldn’t cause a disturbance by artificially imitating that platform. Neither an unauthorized man nor unauthorized woman should do such a thing. It just causes havoc.

  19. Puskaraksa das says :

    First of all, we should all understand that we are not eligible to become guru:
    – on our own accord
    – by the recommendation of our peers
    – by the desire or under the pressure of some prospective disciples

    The only bona fide process to become guru is to receive the personal order to become guru, from our bona fide spiritual master, who himself received the same order from his spiritual master, and so on…

    This is the Parampara system.

    • SB Lecture 1.2.18
You cannot become a spiritual master all of a sudden. There must be an order from a superior person, Superior to you. If he says, “Now you can make disciples,” then you can do that. That means, when one has received an order from the spiritual master, he can then be [spiritual master.]

    • (SP lecture London Aug 3, 1973)
 … “On My order.” That is the crucial point. One does not become spiritual master by his own whims. That is not spiritual master. He must be ordered by superior authority. Then he’s spiritual master. Just like in our case. Our superior authority, our spiritual master, he ordered me .… The only qualification is that I have tried to execute the order of superior authority. That’s all. This is the secret of success.

    • (NOD Lectures Vrndavan, India 10/31/72)
He is self-made guru. Therefore he’s not guru. Self-made guru cannot be guru. HE MUST BE AUTHORIZED BY THE BONA FIDE GURU. Then he’s guru. BONA FIDE GURU MEANS HE MUST BE AUTHORIZED BY THE superior GURU…. HE MUST RECEIVE THE ORDER FROM THE SUPERIOR. AND THE SUPERIOR MUST BE BONA FIDE. THEN HE’S BONA FIDE, NOT SELF-MADE. 




    • Bhagavad-gita 7.2 — Nairobi, October 28, 1975
Indian man: When did you become the spiritual leader of Krsna consciousness?
Prabhupada: When my Guru Maharaja ordered me. This is the guru-parampara. … Try to understand. Don’t go very speedily. A guru can become guru when he’s ordered by his guru. That’s all. Otherwise nobody can become guru….You should know that one can become guru when he is ordered by his guru, this much.

    • GBC Meets with Srila Prabhupada– May 28, 1977, Våndavana:
Prabhupäda: Yes. That is formality. Because in my presence one should not become guru, so on my behalf, on my order… Be actually guru, but by my order. … When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That’s it.

  20. Puskaraksa das says :

    • Morning Walk — November 11, 1975, Bombay
    Prabhupada: “Parampara. Guru is also not authority by himself. He is authority by his guru, parampara. If he is coming in the parampara system, then he is guru. Otherwise he’s not guru.”

    • SB class, Mayapur, Feb 27th, 1977
    “GURU CANNOT BE SELF-MADE. No. There is no such single instance throughout the whole Vedic literature. And nowadays, so many rascals, they are becoming guru without any authority. THAT IS NOT GURU. You must be authorized. Evam parampara-praptam imam ra… [Bg. 4.2]. As soon as the parampara is lost, sa kalena yoga nasto parantapa, IMMEDIATELY FINISHED. The spiritual potency finished. You can dress like a guru, you can talk big, big words, but it will never be effective.”

    Please, let us also not misunderstand the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaparabhu.

    When Mahaprabhu says: “Tell everyone about Krishna and become guru”, He refers, at the first level, to the role of vartma-pradarsaka guru, i.e. showing the path, showing the way, giving explanations to juniors, in other words, acting as a “monitor guru”, so to speak, as Srila Prabhupada did put it.

    Now, at the next level, Srila Prabhupada comes back to the crucial point:

    • SP 1.2.18 Lecture – Speech to Devotees — Vrndavana, April 7, 1976
    So Caitanya Mahaprabhu says you, all of you, to become guru and deliver. Because there are so many innumerable fallen souls in this age — mandah sumanda-matayo manda-bhagya hy upadrutah [SB 1.1.10] — we require hundreds and thousands of gurus. But not cheaters. This is the time when it requires hundreds and thousands of gurus. But who will become guru? That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s injunction, amara ajnaya: “By My order you become guru. Don’t be all of a sudden guru. Become guru on My order.”

    Plus, we have to remember the qualifications of a bona fide guru:

    
• Letter, June 10, 1969
    Unless one is a resident of Kṛṣṇaloka, one cannot be a spiritual master. That is the first proposition. A layman cannot be a spiritual master, and if he becomes so, then he will simply create disturbance

    As,

    “It is illegal to become a spiritual master if one is unable to deliver the disciple.” (Purport to S.B. 2.8.7)

    gurur na sa syāt, na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
    “One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master.” (S.B.5.5.18)

  21. Puskaraksa das says :

    “There are many spiritual masters, but Ṛṣabhadeva advises that one should not become a spiritual master if he is unable to save his disciple from the path of birth and death. Unless one is a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he cannot save himself from the path of repeated birth and death. …/…

    First the spiritual master must be able to release the dependent from repeated birth and death. If he cannot do this, he plunges himself into the ocean of reproachment for his UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES. Everyone should be very responsible and take charge of his dependents just as a spiritual master takes charge of his disciple. All these responsibilities cannot be discharged honestly unless one can save the dependent from repeated birth and death.” (S.B. 5.5.18)

    Besides, we should be careful not to minimize the position of Guru and water it down, considering it to be accessible to one and all, just on the basis of our limited fund of knowledge:

    • Teachings of Lord Caitanya ch.14: Thus Sanatana Gosvami prayed for the Lord’s confirmation that His teachings would actually evolve in his heart by His grace. Otherwise Sanatana knew that there was no possibility of his being able to describe the Lord’s teachings. The purport of this is that the acaryas (spiritual masters) are authorized by higher authorities. Instruction alone cannot make one an expert. Unless one is blessed by the spiritual master, or the acarya, such teachings cannot become fully manifest. Therefore one should seek the mercy of the spiritual master so that the instructions of the spiritual master can develop within oneself. After receiving the prayers of Sanatana Gosvami, Lord Caitanya placed His feet on the head of Sanatana and gave him His benedictions so that all His instructions would develop fully.

    Neither should we minimize the importance of Diksa:

    • SB 4.8.54 Purport: Sanatana Gosvami says that as bell metal can turn to gold when mixed with mercury in a chemical process, so, by the bona fide diksa, or initiation method, anyone can become a Vaishnava. One should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession, who is authorized by his predecessor spiritual master. This is called diksha-vidhana.

    So,

    “The CONCLUSION is that one cannot become a spiritual master unless he is a pure devotee of the Lord.” (SB 4.29.51)

  22. Devaki says :

    Urmila Mataji wrote:
    Devaki devi dasi does already have siksa disciples, some of whom request diksa from her.

    I must admit, when I read this I felt a little disappointed. I was trying to explain to her that I am giving Siksa to many devotees, but I am not considering any of them as “my siksa disciples”. There is a subtle difference there, which is nevertheless important. When I see devotees as “my siksa disciples”, it implies to me that there is a certain exclusiveness there: that they are taking mainly siksa from me, and therefore they are MY disciples. But those devotees who I give guidance and inspiration to are also accepting guidance from other senior devotees and preachers. Even though I might feel a strong commitment in serving those devotees, I nevertheless don’t see them as “my siksa disciples”. So I don’t “have” a single siksa disciple! And yes, some devotees have asked whether I would give diksa in the future – simply because there is such a lack of diksa Gurus. But I have no desire or aspiration whatsoever to give diksa one day!

    So kindly let us not try to canvas to become Guru ourselves, and let us not try and canvas for others. Let us understand that our own Guru and Krsna will give the mandate – no need for us to advocate and propagate. Let us simply serve the devotees by giving inspiration and guidance.

    Thank you,

    your servant, Devaki dd

  23. Devaki says :

    In regards to comment 17:

    Services such as being Guru or a manager become pitfalls when we are not qualified to accept them: when we accept them with material motivations, or we water the weeds of attachement to the oppulences, which come along with them. It basically means our subtle body is not ready and spiritually strong enough to deal with them.

    In regards to emotions: we have to distinguish between material emotions and transcendental emotions. As I am mentioning in the article: material emotions are connected to the platform of our mind. Usually we use the word emotions more as refering to material emotions, and we use devotion in connection with transcendental emotions. There is a gulf of difference between them. Material emotions serve our own attachements, desires and emotional needs. Transcendental emotions are entirely pure and selfless.

    Your servant, Devaki dd

  24. Devaki says :

    By the way: the fact that women have a more emotional nature, and sometimes this cloudies our vision, does of course not mean that a woman can never see things as they are. Parvati did not over-react ALL THE TIME” – no, she didn’t. There are many instances where she spoke completely to the point. But in emotionally challenging situations like Citraketu making fun of her husband she over-reacted.
    And in a position of Guru or in high leadership positions we have to face a lot of challenges, which can bring a woman into this situation where the emotions take over and cloudy the vision.

    I hope this comment makes it more clear.

    Your servant, Devaki dd

  25. Kalakantha.ACBSP says :

    Siva pacified Parvati when she reacted emotionally to Citraketu, but when Brighu insulted Siva, it was Parvati who had to pacify her great husband. This is one of many philosophical shortcomings with Devaki Mataji’s well-intentioned but not well thought out article.

  26. Puskaraksa das says :

    My Dear Silavati…

    Your description of the course you are giving to the interested girls about the role they play in Krishna Consciousness is very nice, and I am pleased that you have begun this project. Actually the role of all conditioned souls is the same; to chant Hare Krishna, tell others to chant, perfect our lives in Krishna Consciousness, and to go back to Godhead when this body is finished. Now if you can induce all the women of Los Angeles to place an altar in their homes and help their husbands have peaceful, happy home life in Krishna Consciousness, that will be very great service for you. The actual system is that the husband is Spiritual Master to his wife, but if the wife can bring her husband into practicing this process, then it is all right that the husband accepts wife as Spiritual Master. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that anyone who knows the science of Krishna, that person should be accepted as Spiritual Master, regardless of any material so-called qualifications; such as rich or poor, man or woman, or brahmana or sudra. So if you can show the women of the community how to help their husbands and children to perfect their home life, and all aspects of life, in Krishna Consciousness by chanting, aratrik ceremonies, and eating Krishna prasadam, then you will improve the conditions of the neighboring communities to an incalculable extent. Your ever well-wisher.
    (Srila Prabhupada – Letter to Silavati. New Vrndavana, 14 June 1969)

  27. sitadasi says :

    “As a professor of clinical psychology I would like to share that there is no basis at all for the idea that women are more emotional than men. This is the made up by people who don’t bother to question their own folk-psychology indoctrination.”

    Perhaps, Prabhu, you are not familiar with Michael Gurian or Anne Moir, both PhDs and experts in the fields of psychology who cite research on the differences in male-female brains, such as size of corpus callosum and limbic system, and their relation with emotions. Hormonal differences are also a factor.

    We are not these bodies yet our souls are encased therein for this lifetime; therefore even those Vaishnavis who have transcended the influences of emotions, follow the orders of Srila Prabhupada for the benefit of others. Prabhupada did not appoint any women nor specifically instruct they be added in the future. Same for child gurus. Same for women sannyasinis. They were conspicuous by their absence in his time; this standard, Prabhupada’s standard, needs to be maintained.

  28. Devaki says :

    In regards to Kalakantha Prabhu’s comment in 25:

    “Siva pacified Parvati when she reacted emotionally to Citraketu, but when Brighu insulted Siva, it was Parvati who had to pacify her great husband. This is one of many philosophical shortcomings with Devaki Mataji’s well-intentioned but not well thought out article.”

    Please see my explanation in 24.

    Just the fact that Parvati pacified her husband does not create a contradiction to the fact that sometimes women’s emotions cloudy their vision. Or are we concluding now that Prabhupada’s purport is not well thought out? Why is he saying that women’s vision is always inferior, even though Parvati was also pacifying her husband? Are we doubting now Prabhupada’s words? He is the one who is making this strong statement – not Devaki Mataji.

    The point is that women’s emotional nature can cloudy their vision, especially in challenging situations. And of course also men’s vision and intelligence can also be clouded, especially by their false ego. Indra is a good example for this.

    Men have a stronger gross body (broader shoulders, bigger muscels, bigger feet), and also their subtle body is stronger aswell: stronger mind, more (material!) intelligence and bigger false ego. This enables them to fulfill their purifying duty of protecting, providing and taking charge. And their ego often gets in their way and bewilders their intelligence and vision of things.

    So I cannot see any contradiction or philosophical shortcoming.

    One more point entered my mind: even in universal affairs it seems to me that more male demigods are in charge of things and occupying the main posts, rather than female demigoddesses.

    Your servant, Devaki dd

  29. Phalini devi dasi says :

    Dear Devakiji, Your article makes perfect sense. Srila Prabhupada put his male disciples, not female disciples, in leadership positions in ISKCON for a reason, because their intelligence is not so easily blurred by emotions like that of a woman. Srila Prabhupada saw everyone who came to render service to the preaching mission–both male and female–as sent by his Guru Maharaja. He therefore accepted and appreciated all of us and our contributions equally. He saw all of us as equals, as spirit souls, but he didn’t engage us all equally. We female-bodied disciples were genuinely appreciated, respected and encouraged to render devotional service along with our Godbrothers. In many services and situations, gender differences were not considered at all. But in some cases, they were. Leadership functions and positions such as the role of ritvik priest (eleven were chosen by Srila Prabhupada to initiate, chant on beads, and name the new devotees on behalf of Srila Prabhupada–1977 only), membership on the GBC, the position of Temple president and Vice President, certain priestly activities such as performing fire sacrifices, the sannyasa ashram, etc., were all exclusively carried out by and bestowed upon devotees in male bodies. This was not simply coincidental. Srila Prabhupada intentionally arranged ISKCON’s leadership in this way, which clearly reflected his personal recognition of the different natures Lord Krishna chose to endow the male and female with.

    Srila Prabhupada is the Founder/Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Acarya means “one who teaches by his own example.” All of us who were blessed to be present during Srila Prabhupada’s personal presence were taught by his actions that his male-bodied disciples were to lead the movement, as has been pointed out above. Aligned with his actions we also have an overwhelming majority of his statements that support his vision of male leadership: “Prakrti means energy, just like prakrti means woman, naturally a woman is under the control of the man. That is our Vedic system, and natural system also. However the woman may claim equal rights, they are under the control of the man. That is natural.” (Lecture, Bombay, 12/17/75)

  30. Phalini devi dasi says :

    (continued)

    Yogesvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied?

    Prabhupada: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Krsna conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Krsna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupada.” They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises). (Morning walk, Rome, 05/27/74)

    Srila Prabhupada didn’t want us to adopt American ways of life. After a Bhagavad-gita lecture Srila Prabhupada was asked if he was in this world. He replied, “Just like I am in America. It is very easy to understand. I am not adopting any ways of life as the Americans. So I am not in America. Not only myself, all my disciples who are following me, they are also not Americans. They’re different from American behavior, American ways of life. In that sense I’m not in America. I am in Vrndavana because wherever I go, in my apartment or in my temple, I live with Krsna and Krsna consciousness. I don’t accept any consciousness of America. And I teach my disciples also to take to that consciousness. So one who takes to that consciousness, he is also not in America, not in this world.” (Lecture, Los Angeles, 12/16/68)

  31. sitadasi says :

    Kalakantha Prabhu wrote: Siva pacified Parvati when she reacted emotionally to Citraketu, but when Brighu insulted Siva, it was Parvati who had to pacify her great husband. This is one of many philosophical shortcomings with Devaki Mataji’s well-intentioned but not well thought out article.

    I beg your pardon, but how does a different incident between Siva and Parvati prove a philosophical shortcoming in Devaki’s presentation?

    Prabhupada says the understanding of a man is different from the understanding of a woman and that it is so even among the higher demigods’ lives. Parvati reacted to what she took as an insult to her husband but which Lord Siva knew was a joke and was not offended by it. However in the example of Brighu insulting Lord Siva, it was a deliberate offense, not a joke and Siva knew it was so. How does this example disprove the point Srila Prabhupada made and which Devaki Mataji reiterates?

  32. sitadasi says :

    Women can exert their influence through selfless service and affection, which by far exceeds that of a man with a big title and position! Woman’s energy is much more powerful and influential than man’s energy. After all, Srimati Radharani controls the Supreme Controller – not by being a Diksa Guru or carrying a big title.

    This is a guru- acting in a motherly fashion, being a loving, nurturing teacher and showing her “children” by precept and practical example, her deference to her male authority. I find it truly amazing how Devaki Mataji, a renounced woman with no husband or biological children, supports this vision. Her article shows deep understanding of transcendental duty and I bow at her feet.

  33. Somayaji says :

    Dear Mataji I have very much appreciated your original text plus comments and agree with almost everything you have written. For example I could not understand what you meant when you wrote:

    “The point is that women’s emotional nature can cloudy [sic] their vision, especially in challenging situations. And of course also men’s vision and intelligence can also be clouded, especially by their false ego. Indra is a good example for this.

    Men have a stronger gross body (broader shoulders, bigger muscles, bigger feet), and also their subtle body is stronger as well: stronger mind, more (material!) intelligence and bigger false ego. This enables them to fulfill their purifying duty of protecting, providing and taking charge. And their ego often gets in their way and bewilders their intelligence and vision of things.”

    Could you please explain with sastra pramana how it is that males have bigger false ego (ahamkara) than females.

    It is ahamkara, which binds us to the material conception of life that “I am the gross and subtle material body.” I have nowhere read in any sastra that male’s identification with material body is greater than that of females.

    Awaiting your response.

  34. Puskaraksa das says :

    My first wife, Yamuna Devi dasi, became a pure devotee and went straight back to Goloka Vrindavana, as she left her body with the Name of Krishna on her lips, on Papamocani Ekadasi 1992, according to the very words of our Spiritual Master, Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Maharaja, who then publicly declared his guruship to have become successful, as one of his disciples had gone back to Godhead…

    Krishna appeared to her twice, even touching her head once with His flute…!

    Srila Prabhupada visited her as well and told her that he understood how she was suffering (she had cancer), as he himself had gone through some suffering, but reassured her, stating that everything would be alright…

    One devotee advised at some point that I should make some arrangements to take her to Vrindavana for her to pass away in the Holy Dham. So, I asked our Guru Maharaja what his opinion was about that. But he confirmed my personal observation: “No, she is too weak to travel” (I had rented a farm in Burgundy, in France, at the time), and added “but anyway, wherever she is, it is Vrindavana…!”

    She said she was always hearing the Maha-Mantra in her mind, even at night, when she was sleeping… which Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja commented “you see, this is samadhii”.

    One time, I was reading to her from Caitanya-caritamrita, how Srimati Radharani was taking three baths a day, first in the water of mercy, second in the water of youthful beauty, and third in the water of youthful luster. Then, Yamuna pulled up her little oxygen mask and said: “I had a dream last night… I was with Srimati Radharani and some other gopis and we were bathing in a kund… As I was bathing, I was thinking how this water is merciful, how this water is merciful…”. Then she added: “But, I didn’t know the water of mercy existed!”. Then, tears of ecstasy came out of her eyes like syringe…! Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja commented: “She had a vision of where she was going…”

    She had mentioned, moving gracefully two fingers : “I have tow desires: cooking and dancing for Krishna”

    A couple days before she left, she had me ask our Gurudeva what her relationship with Krishna was… Then, our Guru Maharaja revealed: “She is a gopi-manjari, maidservant of Srimati Radharani”

    So, please, dear brothers and sisters, let us not fight over some vain narcissist ambition… Let’s not covet the position of guru, na dhanam, na janam…

    Let us become pure devotees and go home, while inspiring others to come along…

  35. Akruranatha says :

    Some people seem to be interpreting Devaki’s article as recommending that the GBC should reverse its decision that qualified women may serve as diksa gurus in ISKCON.

    I do not see her as saying that. For example, she says: “Maybe this explains why Prabhupada says that there will not be many female Diksa Guru’s – because it is rare to find a woman who is not controlled by her emotions.”

    To say there will not be many female diksa gurus implies that there may be some, or even that there definitely will be some.

    Devaki says: “Even being able to lecture to the point is often much more difficult for ladies because of the very same reason.”

    Many ladies are not practiced in lecturing. Some, even with practice, might never become good at it. The same may be true for many men.

    But there are certainly some Vaisnavis in ISKCON who are very good at lecturing, or at speaking to crowds of people. There are also many women in various fields who excel at public speaking, lecturing in university, holding press conferences, arguing legal cases, etc.

    One service I have been fortunate to do is to line up the speakers each year in the Q&A booth at Los Angeles Ratha Yatra. This year I was very impressed at the skill of Kanka Dasi. Actually we have seen many good women speakers over the years. It always helps to have at least one or two women in the line-up. If we do not have women speaking in the booth, at least in America, the audience gets restless. They want to see what Hare Krishna women have to say, and how they carry themselves. They want to see happy, bright, well-spoken, confident Hare Krishna women. We want to show them that we have successful women, whether as contented housewives and mothers or in whatever capacity.

    I am not suggesting that those who are good at speaking in the Ratha Yatra question booth should be diksa gurus. I hope that is clear. But I do question the premise, if it is Devaki’s premise, that women should not speak publicly because they are too emotional to be good at it.

    As for being diksa gurus, many of Devaki’s arguments would apply equally to men. If you are not suited for it, don’t do it. Certainly we hope no one — man or woman — becomes a guru to get “ego satisfaction”.

    Devaki says: “Nobody can bar Sad Guru from being Guru.” I take it she means many women are already serving as siksa gurus…

    (To be continued…)

  36. Akruranatha says :

    Devaki says:

    “Finally, Siksa is more important than Diksa. The purpose of Diksa is to receive Siksa. Sad Guru does not need authorisation. Sad Guru can’t be stopped being Guru! People will come, take inspiration and guidance. … Let us simply uplift them and nourish them, without running after recognition and fame, by playing the roles and duties we are meant to play…..!”

    If I understand her argument, she is saying that women are already serving as siksa gurus and that is fine, they do not need GBC’s blessings for that and nobody can stop them, but they should not serve as diksa gurus because a woman should not play that role.

    That begs the question, however, because Srila Prabhupada never said a woman should not play that role. On the contrary, he said that if qualified she could play that role. Again, “not so many” does not mean “none”. In fact, it implies “some”.

    I agree that *an* important function of a diksa guru is to give siksa. Usually the devotee who gives extensive siksa to a junior devotee becomes his or her diksa guru later on. We would not expect the diksa guru to stop giving siksa after initiation (especially in this age were communications and travel are made simple by modern technology). But diksa gurus do have some functions different from sisksa gurus. The difference between a diksa guru and a siksa guru is basically one of function (isn’t it?)

    Devaki’s argument seems to imply that the main difference is that diksa gurus get recognition and fame, and women who want to be diksa gurus must be running after such things. I fear that implies men who want to be diksa gurus also are running after recognition and fame. I sincerely hope that is not the case.

    I would hope that devotees want to be diksa gurus because they understand their guru to want them to serve in that way.

    Diksa gurus give mantras. They formally link their disciples to the sampradaya. They often (though not always) are the prime focus of disciples’ guru bhakti.

    Siksa gurus should also be revered and worshiped by disciples

    The argument that women can (and do) serve as siksa gurus but their feminine nature militates against them serving as diksa gurus should be fleshed out, with a more careful analysis of exactly what the different functions of diksa and siksa gurus are.

    Urmila’s argument (comment #2) appears strong. If a guru-disciple relation already exists, and the guru is qualified, why should gender be a bar to initiation?

  37. rupa raghunath das says :

    In the message of this mataji (Devaki dd.) she says:

    >The purpose of Diksa is to receive Siksa.

    Not ! Completely wrong.
    Srila Prabhupada says: “The ingredient of Diksa is Siksa”.
    The initiation (second initiation) restores the link with Sri Krishna.

    At your service.
    Rupa Raghunat das brahmacari.

  38. sitadasi says :

    Re #36
    “If a guru-disciple relation already exists”

    WHY and HOW does such a relationship even exist where a guru is accepting worship, without GBC authorization?

  39. sitadasi says :

    continued…

    “…why should gender be a bar to initiation?”

    Because Prabhupada didn’t establish it. He also didn’t establish children diksa gurus, women sannyasis, or gay marriage. There are certain standards he chose to uphold in his movement.

    Unless the vaishnavi is a spiritually exalted wife of a qualified acarya, as per Srila Prabhupada’s example of Jahnava Devi, she lacks authorization by him to initiate in our sampradaya.

    for more, see: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=12082 (comments 8-11)

  40. sitadasi says :

    continued…

    …and the guru is qualified…

    This “qualification for a woman”, especially a FDG, can be seen by whether she is fulfilling her dharmic duty.

    “Nārada Muni also described that the symptom of a brāhmaṇa is controlled senses, the symptoms of a kṣatriya are power and fame, the symptom of a vaiśya is service to the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas, and the symptom of a śūdra is service to the three higher classes. The qualification for a woman is to be a very faithful and chaste wife.”Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 7: “The Science of God” : SB 7.11: The Perfect Society: Four Social Classes : SB 7.11 Summary

    This “qualification for a woman” is an essential factor, without which a woman would be a false guru and cheat others.

  41. Akruranatha says :

    Sitadasi writes:

    ““…why should gender be a bar to initiation?”
    Because Prabhupada didn’t establish it. He also didn’t establish children diksa gurus, …”

    I find this a particularly weak argument. By the same logic we might say that African men or Chinese men cannot be diksa gurus because Srila Prabhupada did not establish any such diksa gurus among his disciples (at least during his manifest presence).

    But Srila Prabhupada clearly taught that anyone who understands the order of his guru, the order of Lord Caitanya (“amar ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa”), who knows the science of Krsna and who controls the six urges, who is fixed in realization of Krsna, can be a guru.

    And that includes children, men of all races, women of all races, people in any asrama (“kiba vipra kiba nyasi”), people from any caste (“sudra kena naya”).

    When directly asked about it he said that women could be gurus. He wrote that he hoped all his sons and daughters would become initiating gurus. And he never wrote or spoke anywhere that women were disqualified from serving as initiating gurus.

    Siksa gurus and diksa gurus are all gurus. One kind of siksa guru is someone who points out the path of devotional service, and that vartmapradarsika guru is also a guru. Mother and father are also a kind of guru. Sannyasis are the “gurus” of society.

    But one who formally initiates someone into the sampradaya and accepts responsibility for training that devotee in spiritual life is the diksa guru and performs a very important function. In ISKCON those who perform that service are very advanced devotees (as they should be) and usually get a lot of respect and fame.

    We hope that no one decides to enter into the confidential service of training disciples and allowing disciples to worship him (or her) out of a desire to be respected or famous or to make money or receive service and so on. There are warnings in Srila Prabhupada’s books that one should not become a guru for such ulterior motives. Moreover, one should not become a guru (or a mother or father) unless one is qualified to deliver one’s dependents from birth and death.

    If we look at it, Srila Prabhupada really did give us many instructions about gurus and guru parampara. It is a very important part of the science of Bhakti-yoga. I am glad that the GBC has requested Bhanu Swami and others to research this important issue. I find Kaunteya’s book very persuasive.

  42. niscala says :

    “I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975 all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the number of generations. That is my program.”

    (letter, Srila Prabhupada 3rd Dec, 1968)

    Prof. O’Connell: Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession?

    Prabhupada: Yes. Jahnava-devi was Nityananda’s wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. In our material world is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.” (Conversation 6/18/76)

    I therefore can’t understand why the disagreement. Is there anything ambiguous in the above? Did Srila Prabhupada EVER say that women cannot be diksa gurus?

    Some opposing the idea quote Srila Prabhupada that women should be humble and submissive, to prove their point, but humility and submission that is not blind is not detrimental to Krsna consciousness and therefore cannot be detrimental to the service position of someone with the most realization of it- a guru. If a Krsna conscious person has humility and submission that is not blind, then the most Krsna conscious person, the guru, has the most of humility and a submissive attitude that is not blind. He or she humbly and joyfully submits to a more advanced person, regardless of their gender. Being submissive to a person with less spiritual advancement, is not recommended.

    When the guru wants something of us, it is something we should take very seriously. It should be “our life and soul”. We failed him in giving him his expressed wish, of women becoming diksa gurus, by the due date: 1975. How long will we keep him waiting?

  43. Anuj says :

    Respected Akruranath Prabhu,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Referring to #41, your argument seems wrong to me. Srila Prabhupada didn’t appointed any Chinese or African as guru because there were no senior or mature Chinese or African disciples at that time as preaching started a bit late those areas. But there were women disciples who were senior and dedicated, but still Srila Prabhupada didn’t name anyone.

    Please forgive me if I offended you in any way and request to correct me if I said anything wrong.

    Your servant,
    Anuj Agrawal

  44. niscala says :

    Devaki wrote; In regards to emotions: we have to distinguish between material emotions and transcendental emotions. As I am mentioning in the article: material emotions are connected to the platform of our mind. You also wrote: So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children. This is an argument for, not against the woman becoming diksa guru, who is the most selfless servant of all. If the emotional nature impells us to become selfless servants, and if the children we are raising are devotees, then how is that emotion not spiritual? Is it because the bodies of the children are small- or related to our bodies? Such is a mundane conception. It may be argued that our emotional nature is mundane because it impells us to care for the bodies of our children- but not their spiritual development- but we see in many devotee mothers with realisation, they care both spiritually and materially for their offspring. Caring materially is not a disqualification- Srila Prabhupada gave many caring instructions for his disciples on the topic of health.

    The active word here is “care”. They are not without emotion. And neither is the good diksa guru. He feels love and compassion for his or her disciples. He or she utilizes his or her emotions- which are the natural function of the soul- to teach knowledge- but not without feeling and great concern. It is natural for the soul to be emotional in relation to Krsna and His devotees. Presently we have so many emotions about things we should not have emotion for. For example, if we lost a lot of money or our respectability, we would become emotional. That is our attachment to the mundane sphere. But when our hearts break seeing the suffering of conditioned souls- that is spiritual emotion, which Krsna also feels. Such emotions propell us to become selfless servants- and if we have sufficient knowledge, which according to Srila Prabhupada, must be to the level of the Bhaktivedanta degree, we are authorized by him to initiate disciples. The point I am making is that having emotions is a good thing, so being more emotional (than someone else) is even better! We have to dovetail this valuable asset for the right purpose. Thats bhakti.

    As I wrote before, and as Srila Prabhupada makes this point many time in his books, emotions are not a “bad” thing. The topmost servants of Krsna are filled with overwhelming emotion.

  45. gkd says :

    Re #41:

    When directly asked about it he said that women could be gurus.

    Is there proof that Srila Prabhupada was directly asked this question? Because the letter per se does not even hint at that.

    And he never wrote or spoke anywhere that women were disqualified from serving as initiating gurus.

    Not so:

    “Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru.” (SB 4.12.32, p)

    Certainly one meaning of this sentence is clearly: “Being a woman, Suniti could not become a diksa-guru.”

  46. Puskaraksa das says :

    Srila Prabhupada – Lecture on SB 6.1.16 — Denver, June 29, 1975:

    “One who has dedicated his life to the service of Kṛṣṇa, such person How this dedication of life to Kṛṣṇa’s service can be made possible? That is also stated here: tat-puruṣa-niṣevayā. You have to take shelter of a person who is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, and you have to serve.

    That means you have to accept a devotee, a true devotee, a pure devotee, as your guide. That is our process.

    The Rūpa Gosvāmī says in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, “The first process is, first step is ādau gurvāśrayam to accept guru.” Accept guru.

    Guru means Kṛṣṇa’s representative. One who is not Kṛṣṇa’s representative, he cannot become guru.

    Guru does not mean any nonsense can become guru. No. Only tat-puruṣa. Tat-puruṣa means a person who has accepted the Supreme Personality of Godhead as everything. Tat-puruṣa-niṣevayā. That means Vaiṣṇava, pure devotee.

    So it is not very difficult. By the grace of Kṛṣṇa there are pure devotees, so one has to take shelter of him.

    Ādau gurvāśrayam. Then sad-dharma-pṛcchāt: after accepting a bona fide spiritual master, one should be inquisitive to learn what is the science of Kṛṣṇa. Sad-dharma-pṛcchāt sādhu-mārga-anugamanam. And this Kṛṣṇa consciousness means one has to follow the footsteps of the devotees, sādhu-mārga-anugamanam.”

  47. sitadasi says :

    AP: “When directly asked about it he said that women could be gurus. He wrote that he hoped all his sons and daughters would become initiating gurus. And he never wrote or spoke anywhere that women were disqualified from serving as initiating gurus.”

    Neither the 1969 letter nor the conversation with Dr. O’Connell can be used as direct instruction to establish a woman can become an initiating, non-ritvik guru.

    In the 1969 letter, Prabhupada was speaking of ritvik initiations being conducted while he was still present; thus the initiates would have been Prabhupada’s disciples. The initiators would have first inherited the title of Bhaktivedanta. This title was to have been based on passing examinations based on Prabhupada’s books, namely Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc.

    Clearly, Prabhupada would have awarded the title of “Bhaktivedanta” not simply on book knowledge but also by practical qualification; whether or not one is working in his/her constitutional position. In this regard, we see how Prabhupada spoke of “our women, Kṛṣṇa conscious…They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Kṛṣṇa consciousness…They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupāda.” They never say. This is artificial. So Kṛṣṇa consciousness means work in his constitutional position. ” May, 1974 : Morning Walk — May 27, 1974, Rome

    Based on the above statement, one could conclude that the desire women have to want to become, or see other women become, diksa gurus is due to a lack of Krsna consciousness.

  48. bhakta piyush says :

    Why become a “servant of the servant” when you can become master of the master (over Guru and eventually the Supreme Master, Lord Krishna) and then lord it over material nature (even spiritual?) Back to the material condition again…and again…what to do? I am a conditioned victim too, so my opinion is just my opinion.

    Basically, any point can be argued to win, just like in junior debate clubs… sometimes those who shout loudest, do the most propaganda or print books more expensive and glossy than most books around, can win. Vox populi, Majority wins. Get with the times… Common sense is very uncommon. C’est la vie.

  49. Sitalatma Das says :

    “..So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children. This is an argument for, not against the woman becoming diksa guru, who is the most selfless servant of all. ”

    Diksa guru gives a mantra, that’s all, you are talking about selfless mentorship by a siksa guru which is a different role even though most often served by the same person.

    In our ISKCON the only diksa that matters is induction into chanting Hare Krishna mantra, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, however, considered gayatri initiation as diksa, and then there were sannyasi and babaji mantras, too.

    For women being sannyasa or babaji guru is out of question. Giving out gayatri and sacred threads is marginally supported by FDG proponents but is also unthinkable in India. The main battle is about Hare Krishna and that little bit of magic that happens when you officially get it from a real guru rather than from a sankirtana devotee on the street.

    I say magic because it’s completely imperceptible to our material senses, therefore we must be very careful when deciding who gets to perform this magic and who doesn’t. Theoretically, strictly following official GBC policy would give such an authorization but, imo, it would be questionable if setting of that policy was tempered with through political pressure.

    Questionable does not mean it has to be rejected, however, if we do not accept GBC decisions as final we would live in perpetual chaos. Still, everyone would love to see consensus when conferring such an important authorization as connecting aspiring bhaktas to parampara, as we understand diksa in ISKCON

    Btw, when we search for shastric support to our arguments we should make sure that what we mean by diksa and what shastras mean by diksa is one and the same thing, and it’s also the same thing that FDG proponents want. Ceremonial and spiritual sides of things are not always in sync.

  50. sitadasi says :

    AP: “By the same logic we might say that African men or Chinese men cannot be diksa gurus because Srila Prabhupada did not establish any such diksa gurus among his disciples (at least during his manifest presence).”

    Prabhupada didn’t name men of Indian descent either; however, gender has been the issue here, not race. There were two brahmana grhasthas on “the list” but their wives are not mentioned. Would Prabhupada have missed the opportunity to introduce women diksa gurus, or spoke about it more directly, if he had actually wanted to establish it as a principle to be followed? Same goes for sannyasa for women. It is present in other sampradayas but Prabhupada chose not to establish it in his.

  51. sitadasi says :

    AP:”When directly asked about it he said that women could be gurus.”

    GKP: “Is there proof that Srila Prabhupada was directly asked this question? Because the letter per se does not even hint at that.”

    Drutakarma Prabhu has also stated that Prabhupada was “directly asked” whether women can become initiating gurus. This is based on the example of Jahnava Devi. The question to Prabhupada, however, was not:

    “Can women devotees become initiating spiritual masters in our society?”

    but rather:

    “Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession?”

  52. sitadasi says :

    Question: In a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many years–even a decade–to a particular disciple, where there is a firm relationship of guru/disciple, where the disciple has been worshiping and studying from and serving his or her siksa guru for many years–why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the “someone else” has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).

    Answer: It demonstrates she is following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on being an assistant to her living male authority.

    “Now, woman is supposed to be assistant of man. If woman is faithful wife of the first-class man, then she also becomes first-class. If she is assistant of the second-class man then he is also second-class. If she is assistant of the third-class man, then she is also third-class. Because she is assistant, so, according to her husband, or protector, she becomes first, second, third, fourth.”

  53. sitadasi says :

    seems part of previous answer got cut off. This is a continuation of my answer to the question of why it’s better for a student of a female teacher to take diksa from a male acarya…

    The reference for my previous post is a Press Conference — July 9, 1975, Chicago; one of several conversations that day where Srila Prabhupada spoke on the topic: “because she is assistant, so, according to her husband, or protector, she becomes first, second, third, fourth.” Unfortunately there is no treatment of this concept in the SAC’s FDG paper. A female acarya would be exemplary in her practical demonstration of sva-dharma, including regular/daily cooking, serving prasadam, etc. as per the example of Jahnava Mata.

    It behooves the SAC to substantiate their claim that Jahnava and other women actually gave diksa and that it is actually part of Pāñcarātrika-vidhi.

  54. sitadasi says :

    “…a girl has to follow her husband. So if her husband is brāhmaṇa, automatically she becomes brāhmaṇa. There is no need of separate reformation. And by chance she may be married with a person who is not a brāhmaṇa, then what is the use of making her a brāhmaṇa? That is the general method. So therefore the, even born in a brāhmaṇa family, a woman is taken as woman, not as brāhmaṇa.” Śrī Śrī Rukmiṇī Dvārakānātha
    Deity Installation, Los Angeles, July 16, 1969

    Giving diksa, with a fire yajna, is a function traditionally performed by brahmana initiated males only. When we accept 4.12.32 at face value, everything makes sense. Suniti was instructor guru to Dhruva but she followed the understood and practically applied prohibition against women giving diksa. I have faith that Prabhupada wanted his female disciples (diksa and siksa disciples) to maintain this standard.

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