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More On The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru

Thursday, 28 November 2013 / Published in Articles / 3,725 views


By Devaki Devi Dasi

Reading Dusyanta Prabhu’s article “Continuation Of Guru Issue” brought clarity to my mind why so many devotees reacted so strongly to my article. And it impells me to offer some further words of explanation.

As Dusyanta Prabhu explains we so often make the mistake of trying to prove our personal point of view which might be motivated by subtle attachments and material desires, and we do this by using sastric references to push our point across. And we use these quotes in a way to suit our goals, rather than humbly and with an open mind trying to understand what the sastric reference is teaching us. This phenomina we can also describe as lack of sastric integrity.

I have no intention whatsoever to prove with my article “The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru” that women cannot be Diksa Guru. If any of my readers understood the article in this way, then they missed the very essence of it. And the fact that some devotees commented that I am contradicting myself within the article showed the same point, that they must have thought I am trying to prove one particular opinion. But infact it is not at all my intention. I am trying to see things from different angles, leaving it up to the reader to find the conclusion. But many readers seemed to be left confused and agitated. I am truly sorry about this.

I am simply trying to shed in a very cool headed manner some light on Prabhupada’s strong words which he is expressing in the purport to SB.6.17.34-35. And I am offering to connect those words with his statement that there will be women serving as Diksa Gurus, “but not so many”.

The very essence of the article is that it is a matter of qualification. And I am putting up for discussion whether the emotional nature acts as a disqualification – no matter whether in a man’s body or a woman’s body. Surely we find women who have more of a cool headed man’s mind, and we also find men who have more of an emotional woman’s mind. So apart from the spiritual qualification it is not a matter of gross material body, but more subtle – related to the emotional nature which is connected to the mind.

And in the last paragraph of my article I am attempting to address the point that Guru is self manifest – the empowerment has to come from Krsna Himself. One does not become Guru by canvassing for oneself, nor for others. There should not even be this thought in a preacher’s mind that “maybe I should be a Diksa Guru”. As soon as this thought enters, we run the danger of being driven by personal ambition. Therefore I am concluding with the final appeal: “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….!”

If you thought that my article is trying to prove that women cannot be Diksa Guru, then kindly take the time now and read it once again – with an open heart and mind…..

Your servant, Devaki dd

Palanquin Harinam at Kapar, Klang by Sri Jagannath Mandir Kuala Lumpur (pics)
Is sannyasa necessary?

5 Responses to “More On The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru”

  1. Puskaraksa das says :

    On one hand, there may be some remaining identification to the body and some attachement to the gender, be it one’s own or the opposite, for a number of reasons, as per our material conditioning…

    So, the debate is meant not to be neutral and objective, unless one is completely transcendental to these temporary designations…

    On the other hand, there are social rules and regulations, social order, laws of nature and what we call varnasrama and even daivi-varnasrama…

    So, one has to also take into consideration these parameters not to disturb the good functioning of society…

    Beyond, from a spiritual point of view, only Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga can determine whoever is up to the level to act as “Guru”, be it as diksa or as a siksa “Guru”.

    Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja used to say: “Krishna means Krishna and Guru means Guru”!

    So, there is no question to water down the philosophy for whoever is sincere and sincerely wants to adhere to our Vaishnava siddantha.

    “Lord Kṛṣṇa’s āveśa forms are also explained in the Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta (Pūrva 18):

    jñāna-śakty-ādi-kalayā yatrāviṣṭo janārdanaḥ
    ta āveśā nigadyante jīvā eva mahattamāḥ

    “A living entity who is specifically empowered by the Lord with knowledge or strength is technically called āveśa-rūpa.” As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Antya 7.11), kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana: Unless a devotee is specifically empowered by the Lord, he cannot preach the holy name of the Lord all over the world. This is an explanation of the word āveśa-rūpa.” (C.c. Madhya 20.165 – Purport)

    So, ”Since we cannot see the Supersoul, He appears as a liberated devotee.” (C.c. Adi 1.58)

    and

    “The Lord gives His pure devotee the power to distribute His own mercy (sva-kripa-sakti) as he likes.” (Madhurya Kadambini, Ch1)

    Srila Prabhupada makes it clear:

    “Generally a guru’s symptom is that he’s a perfect devotee, that’s all.” (Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers).

    Similarly, “Jahnava devi” (Revati) “was Nityananda’s wife. She became.” “IF SHE (a woman) IS ABLE TO GO TO THE HIGHEST PERFECTION OF LIFE, why it is not possible to become guru?” – “But, not so many.”

    As it is,

    Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
    (B.g. 7.3)

    Thus,

    “When I order, “You become guru,” he becomes regular guru. That’s all. He becomes disciple of my disciple.” (Srila Prabhupada’s final order)

  2. Visakha Priya dasi says :

    Dear Devaki devi dasi,

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

    Someone made the point (perhaps it was Dusyanta Prabhu) that some devotees tend to quote Srila Prabhupada selectively–to prove their point. I know you to be a sincere and serious and dedicated devotee, and you know that my main concern is to reconcile extremes, not to win an argument.

    I just wanted to point out that you quoted “but not so many” in a selective way. In context, it goes like this:

    Prabhupäda: Yes. Jähnavä devé was—Nityänanda’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 kåñëa-tattva-vettä sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128].

    To me, it sounds that “not so many” ultimately refers to both men and women. Otherwise, why would Srila Prabhupada states that “But man or woman, unless one has attained perfection…”? Perfection is not easily achieved, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita:” Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Of course, someone might think that “mankind” means men only and subsequently argue that “out of many thousands among men” refers to men only. To such a person I bow down and have nothing more to say.)

    Dear Devaki, I know that your goal is not to prove your point but to make people think. But for the sake of the innocent readers who might misunderstand the context, I thought I would clarify.

    I hope this finds you well.
    Your servant,
    Visakha Priya dasi

  3. gkd says :

    To me, it sounds that “not so many” ultimately refers to both men and women. Otherwise, why would Srila Prabhupada states that “But man or woman, unless one has attained perfection…”?

    I wonder how many, or few, devotees understand it in that way.

    The question was specifically whether a woman can become guru within the sampradaya. And Srila Prabhupada answered: “Yes … But, not so many.”

    I am surprised that anyone, what to speak of an experienced editor, would think that not so many, in this specific sentence (not in general, please :), would refer also to men.

    I have intentionally omitted the words spoken between Yes and But to emphasize that not so many logically refers to women. Since those words were specifically about Jahnava Mata, again the logical conclusion is that not so many refers to women.

    Moreover, Srila Prabhupada continues by saying: “Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru.” If the previously spoken words not so many were meant to refer to both men and women, why would Srila Prabhupada at this point specifically say she here? It does not follow.

    Finally, having answered the original question, Srila Prabhupada does speak of both men and women: “But, man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…” That he begins the sentence with but indicates that now he will speak not only about women “but man or woman.”

  4. Guruttama says :

    I agree with Mataji Devaki, that we should not expect many women to become Diksha Gurus.

    Is there a glass ceiling in ISKCON and other organizations?

    This is a popular discussion, with recent research indicating that there are many valid reasons why women do not become CEO’s both within and without ISKCON. In the 70’s some of course blamed “The Patriarchy” and activism revolved around emancipating women. But now we have 50 years of experience that indicates that no matter how much the doors are thrown open, women are not interested in becoming CEO’s, gurus, and project leaders. This research emphasises that women’s values vary from men, and given a choice women prefer to become mothers, carers and teachers, and will generally avoid positions that are stressful, highly paced, with onerous responsibility.

    Research on a biological level has shown that men and women react differently to stress. Men seem to produce a chemical response that elicits action and clarity and in one sense a sort of “high”, while women produce chemicals that cause them to freeze up, become emotional, and describe stress as unpleasant, which they would rather avoid. Of course this research is controversial as it questions the fundamental premise that it is “nurture” stemming from a patriarchal society, as opposed to “nature” that causes gender differences.

    Being a Diksha Guru would have to be the most stressful job on the planet. We have plenty of evidence of men who have broken down under this stress. So how would women deal with this extreme stress? Not very well I’m afraid, and the goal of any traditional culture is to protect women from this sort of stress.

    Ultimately not only the gurus have to be protected from stress, but also the disciples have to be protected from disappointment when their gurus fail to stand up to the challenges demanded by their office. No wonder the GBC are reluctant to grant guruships.

    As a compromise I would suggest that women as gurus would do well on a “village level”, with a few intimate level-headed disciples. However the other guru model with aloof, difficult and demanding disciples scattered over a vast geographic region would be too challenging for women, and for most men for that matter.

    Interesting reading: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-real-reason-there-arent-many-female-ceos-is-biology-2012-2

  5. Akruranatha says :

    Comment #4 makes a lot of sense. I think the fear some “cultural conservatives” may have — that if women can be approved as diska gurus in ISKCON, we will soon start to see a lot of jet-setting, famous women “rock star” gurus acting as if they were CEOs of big enterprises — will never actually materialize.

    Regarding comment #2 and #3, whether Srila Prabhupada actually meant “not so many” to refer only to women, he did certainly say that man or woman should attain the perfection (perfect knowledge of the science of Krsna) to be guru. (I would submit this is the case for both siksa and diksa gurus). Not very many people, man or woman, are going to measure up (“…yatatam api siddhanam kascin mam vetti tattvatah”).

    I agree with comment #4 that the “village level”-type guru is probably more ideal for most women gurus, and even for men. Srila Prabhupada writes that it is better not to have too many disciples, especially for a sannyasi (having many disciples, like contacting wealthy or powerful men, may lure a sannyasi back to the attraction of material energy). We hope our spiritual masters in ISKCON are well protected from the allure of maya.

    Moreover, the GBC continues to exercise control via the “no objection” blessing process. If a woman candidate (or a man) is eager for fame and power or has a tendency to lord it over others, or is not well-versed in the scriptures or has some irregular habits or questionable morals, somebody on the GBC is liable to have an objection, and blessings may be withheld.

    [I guess the issue for some of those opposed to female gurus in ISKCON might be that if a woman even *wants* to serve as a diksa guru, that raises a question as to her moral character, as if that service by its very nature is immoral for women to do. I cannot relate to that, though. It is not as if being a guru is like being a burlesque dancer or bartender or something. I see no reason why a good wife and mother cannot also be a guru to disciples, as she is guru to children.]

    But probably there will not be many qualified candidates. This is the real problem: If we want gurus to have fewer and more manageable disciples, we are going to need more gurus. If there are some women who are qualified, at least to serve as “village level”-type gurus, especially for other women, is that a resource we can afford to waste, even for the laudable purpose of showing exemplars of the homely virtues of stri-dharma?

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