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Protecting Our Future

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 / Published in Articles, Praghosa Dasa / 8,784 views

By Praghosa Dasa

The grhastha asrama has had an interesting and varied history within our ISKCON movement. In many respects the role of married life in a missionary movement does not exactly fit like a hand in a glove. That said Srila Prabhupada was excited by his renounced grhastas and very proud of them, the initial preaching in London being a prime case in point. He also loved and encouraged his less renounced grhastas but generally suggested a different devotional path for them, particularly if they had children and were desirous of a few extra creature comforts. Often he suggested that they should live outside and support the preaching mission in whatever way they could.

“If you want to marry, you work independently. Maintain yourself. And whatever you can contribute, do that. That is the… Just like Abhirama. He’s very good. And I don’t want to be lost. He constructed that house, I never forbade. And it is in the campus. Let him remain a little separately. It doesn’t matter”
RC July 17th 1977

Whether a fully renounced grhastha or a slightly less renounced one, the vast majority of our grhasthas were brahmacaris and brahmacarinis before marrying. Prior to taking their marriage vows, practically their only focus in life was their service to guru and Krsna.

During Srila Prabhupada’s physical presence he was naturally the main focal point for his disciples both male and female. As we know Srila Prabhupada very much expected his married disciples to remain that – married, indeed he was very upset when he learned of marriages breaking down. While there isn’t one simple explanation for failed marriages in ISKCON, during Srila Prabhupada’s time at least, it was probably more as a result of little or no research into the compatibility of couples before getting married. Or maybe because the couple did not have enough association after their marriage to develop a lasting relationship maybe due to service commitments, thus finding themselves drifting apart. Or maybe it was an immature understanding of both the importance and spiritual nature of the grhastha asrama.

One reason I’m sure we can all agree on is that marriages did not suffer during Srila Prabhupada’s time as a result of him being seen as anything other than the eternal guru and father of his disciples.

There are a few reasons why Srila Prabhupada was never seen as anything other than an eternal guru. The main one being what we might refer to as the ‘Sukadeva syndrome’, that is Srila Prabhupada was transcendental to sex desire and everyone was aware of that.

“Sukadeva Gosvami was a young boy sixteen years old, and therefore all the parts of his body were developed. He was naked also, and so were the ladies. But because Sukadeva Gosvami was transcendental to sex relations, he appeared very innocent. The ladies, by their special qualifications, could sense this at once, and therefore they were not very concerned about him.”
SB 1.4.5 purport

Hence there was essentially no question of a disciple entertaining the thought of Srila Prabhupada ever being anything other than their transcendental guru life after life. Even if other thoughts entered their minds, the fact of the matter was that Srila Prabhupada was never going to be affected by such thoughts. We only have to read Srila Prabhupada’s conclusions on such a scenario:

“So sex life is not forbidden in this Movement, but hypocrisy is forbidden. If you become hypocrite then there is no way. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching … So our request is, ‘Don’t be hypocrite.’ There are four asramas: brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, sannyasa. Whichever asrama is suitable for you, you accept. But sincere, don’t be hypocrite. If you think that you want sex. Alright. You marry and remain like a gentleman; don’t be hypocrite.”
SPL 23rd May 1976

However since Srila Prabhupada’s physical departure, the dynamics have changed somewhat. Specifically some of those dynamics are that our present gurus are not on the same level of spiritual purity, strength and realization as Srila Prabhupada. This of course is in no way a slight on our gurus and leaders, rather they are to be commended given that they have stepped up to such a monumental challenge of preserving the parampara. Another changed dynamic is the current age difference between our gurus and their disciples which is generally much less than they were between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples.

Hence we are now in new territory. In traditional vedic society this territory didn’t have to be negotiated, as the husband was more or less the only guru of his wife. However Srila Prabhupada adjusted that traditional model, hence we have to work with that adjustment and make it a success. There is no reason why we cannot be successful in this endeavour but we have to be vigilant and conscious of the potential dangers. Given that we have had to deal with a number of problems over the years in this area that certainly helps with being aware of the inherent dangers. So these kinds of problems can only really arise where there is a combination of a lack of vigilance mixed with the attraction that some have, knowingly or unknowingly, to develop a relationship with devotees in positions of authority.

However that is not the main focus of this essay. The main theme I want to raise is that regardless of whether such relationships develop to the point of fall down, on the subtle level, if a married woman is more impressed by and dedicated to, their guru, than their husband, it can have a devastating effect on their marriage. This phenomenon impacts both on current unions, as well as future marriages.

Given the vast majority of devotees get involved with ISKCON prior to being married, they naturally don’t focus on married life initially. Rather as they take seriously to the Krsna conscious process it is not long before they focus their attention on whom they might eventually choose as spiritual master. Once they make that decision the general tendency is for them to manifest ekena manasa, one pointed attention, in regards to serving and pleasing their spiritual master. From many perspectives this is quite natural and indeed it could be argued that it is an essential requirement in one’s spiritual development. However it can lead to being less than conducive for the development of healthy marriages, which is a real problem given that most devotees do eventually get married.

And when they do marry some face an interesting challenge, those who are faced with the ‘no-one can compare to my guru syndrome’. This syndrome inevitably determines that the husband is not as renounced, intelligent, knowledgeable, learned or charismatic as the guru. This significantly disempowers the husband from the get-go and rather than starting married life from the lofty heights of being considered a guru-pati, he finds himself firmly rooted in the role of second class citizen. Hence he is forever playing catch up as far as trying to win the affections and respect of his wife, who long ago committed both of those essential items to her guru. Thus the odds are stacked against the husband winning his battle to catch up, and whether the guru is or isn’t more advanced etc., the husband has the ‘disadvantage’ of living with his wife on a daily basis, whereas the guru only sees her maybe a few times a year, which tends to only add to the mystique.

So, how to inject some realism and thus hopefully rectify this anomaly in our society? In order to affect real change those in positions of authority need to dampen down the excessive expression of apparent devotion that some disciples manifest. They need to be proactive in injecting sobriety, maturity and conservatism into these relationships. In addition proactive preaching vis a vis the importance of the grhasta asrama and how following the dharma of the grhasta asrama is equally glorious vis a vis all the other asramas would be most helpful:

“Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja Prabhupada. He was creating more brahmacaris and sannyasis for preaching work, but I am creating more grhasthas (applause), because in Europe and America the boys and girls intermingle so quickly and intimately that it is very difficult to keep one brahmacari. So there is no need of artificial brahmacaris. It is sanctioned. My Guru Maharaja wanted to establish daiva-varnasrama. So married life is called grhastha-asrama. It is as good as sannyasa-asrama.”
Bg. Lecture 7.3 Bombay 29 March 1971

For us to have a healthy society, a healthy movement and if we are ever to have a fighting chance of establishing varnasrama, it is essential that we have a strong grhastha asrama. We can only begin building a strong grhastha asrama when it is in receipt of the full respect of the other asramas. Srila Prabhupada coined the phrase ‘batchelor daddies’ and he made clear that entering the grhastha asrama was both honourable and the gentlemanly thing to do.

“After twenty-five years a brahmacari is trained to refrain from sex life. That is brahmacari. But if he is still not able then he’s allowed to accept grhastha life. Then there’s no cheating, hypocrisy, that I proclaim myself as brahmacari or sannyasi and I secretly do all nonsense. The hypocrisy life will not make one advance in spiritual life. That is the example given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. … ”

Prabhupada detailed Chota Haridasa’s moment of weakness and described the stern response of Lord Caitanya. “Caitanya Mahaprabhu knows everything. Sometime after, He inquired, ‘What about Chota Haridasa?’ Somebody said, ‘Oh, You rejected him and, out of disappointment, he has committed suicide.’ ‘Oh! That’s nice!’ Just see how strict, ‘That’s nice.’ He never expressed any sympathy, ‘Oh, I rejected this person and he has committed suicide? Oh.’ No. He said, ‘Oh, that’s nice. That’s all right.’ He said that.

“This is one thing. Another thing: Sivananda, one of His very exalted devotees, was taking care of all devotees who had come to be with Caitanya Mahaprabhu during Ratha-yatra. So his wife came and offered Caitanya Mahaprabhu obeisances and He saw that the wife is pregnant. So He immediately asked Sivananda, ‘Your wife is pregnant?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘All right. When you see the birth of this child you keep his name like that.’ Just see. One man, simply he saw with lusty desire to a woman, he was rejected. And one man has his wife pregnant, He adored him, ‘That’s all right.’

“So sex life is not forbidden in this Movement, but hypocrisy is forbidden. If you become hypocrite then there is no way. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching … So our request is, ‘Don’t be hypocrite.’ There are four asramas: brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, sannyasa. Whichever asrama is suitable for you, you accept. But sincere, don’t be hypocrite. If you think that you want sex. All right. You marry and remain like a gentleman; don’t be hypocrite. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He did not like hypocrisy. Nobody likes”
SBL 22nd May 1976

However we will struggle to free our society of hypocrisy if we do not give the proper respect to the grhastha asrama. The first step in respecting the grhastha asrama is to ensure that the married couple have the utmost respect for each other and that their relationship does not have misplaced affection directed toward a third party in the guise of guru seva.

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28 Responses to “Protecting Our Future”

  1. shiva says :

    Nice thoughts Praghosa Prabhu. One thing I would add is that the problems with marriages not lasting in ISKCON may be in many cases the fault of the male devotee. From what I have witnessed it is not unusual for the male devotee to not respect his wife as he would respect another male vaisnava. For a marriage to work, especially with the highly educated and spiritually advanced ladies who take part in the sankirtan movement, there has to be a respect for the lady as a devotee. They shouldn’t be lloked at and then treated as the servant of the male. Even though the dharma of the lady is to serve her husband, that service is supposed to be rendered due to her natural respect and affection for her husband, but the husband has to deserve that respect, not demand it. If the husband enters into the relationship thinking himself to be superior to his wife and deserving of her devotion, then that can lead to problems. The problem usually isn’t that the wife feels too much devotion to her guru and then sees the husband as not living up to some imagined high standard, the problem is usually that the husband isn’t treating his wife with love and devotion while expecting or demanding it for himself.

  2. Praghosa says :

    Dear Shiva prabhu,

    I COMPLETELY agree with you and maybe I will get around to writing an article on the particular problem you have identified with marriages. It is difficult to cover all bases on a subject when writing and I did refer in the article to other problems with marriages. I then went on to say that in this particular article I wanted to focus on this one specific problem, which definitely does exist in our movement. I have no idea if it is the biggest problem with marriages in our movement but it is a problem. It is also more of a problem in some geographical areas than others.

  3. shiva says :

    I agree with you completely as well that the problem you described does exist, I didn’t mean to imply that it does not. From what I have seen it is not all that common, but then again as you suggest, it may well have a lot to do with location. In one part you wrote

    So, how to inject some realism and thus hopefully rectify this anomaly in our society? In order to affect real change those in positions of authority need to dampen down the excessive expression of apparent devotion that some disciples manifest. They need to be proactive in injecting sobriety, maturity and conservatism into these relationships.

    That seems to be something which can be interpreted and acted upon in many different ways, some of which may have the opposite of the desired effect and cause the devotee to be resentful, cause a breack-up, or a desire to leave. Maybe you could clarify the above, as it stands it seems to be too open-ended. For example what is “excessive expression of apparent devotion” in contrast to the appropriate expression? How can someone objectively judge another devotee’s level of sincere and spontaneous devotion as being excessive or not? How does one “inject sobriety, maturity, and conservatism”?, without offending either the devotee or the guru? Who is capable to do these things? You wrote that people in positions of authority should do it, but what position of authority? Maybe a person in authority isn’t very qualified to deal with this specific situation for any number of reasons. To me it seems that the guru should deal with this, or a marriage counseler. “Authorities” can mean almost anyone in many cases. Maybe a husband who is feeling insecure or having problems with his wife for any number of reasons will go to a friend in an authority position (or maybe the husband is in an authority position) who will go along with the husband to try and shame the wife into being more devoted to the husband in the name of the wife being too devoted to her guru. For most devotees in positions of authority or perceived authority getting involved in the personal relationships between husbands and wives is probably not a good solution because most likely most “authorities” lack expertise in either counseling or dealing with the specific person they are asked to deal with. The situation you described is very delicate and needs to be very carefully dealt with.

  4. Praghosa says :

    Dear Shiva,

    Again I agree with you, it is a very delicate situation. I also agree I have been too vague and generic in using the term authorities. By authorities I really mean the guru.

    My answer to this problem would be a policy that fortunately quite a number of our gurus already implement which is that they have little or no direct involvement with their married female disciples. In particular they have no involvement with anything that could remotely be classified as sensitive or intimate.

    In regards to unmarried female disciples the policy is a little different but the message and mood is the same. A message and mood which mitigates against any chance of an inappropriate relationship developing.

  5. Suresh das says :

    I give credit to what I learned from Srila Prabhupada, and ISKCON, for training me as a devotee, so that I could, after six years of practice, become qualified in some capacity for becoming a householder devotee. At the same time though, in the 1970’s in ISKCON, once you became a householder, you often felt abandoned and that you were on your own. There was little to no training of how to live as a Vedic householder. You were on your own to make it or break it, and fall away. The emphasis was on book distribution, so if you weren’t involved in this service, you often felt neglected and forgotten.

  6. Here is another interesting read by Proghosa prabhu.

    This sounds like a case of ‘divided loyalties.’ The guru or sannyasa will have followers as children unto the father. The parental instinct will be shown in offering a good upbringing, even when marriage comes around for the disciples.

    More often than not the transition from brahmacari/ini life to married life is fairly swift, and the rigors of household life away from emotional dependency on the guru and temple are learned the hard way. In some cases it may take time for certain newly married couples to adjust to new- found independence. I can venture to say that the male spouse too, can be afflicted with an excessive obsession to the guru beyond the call of married duties.

    If the problem persists and causes problems in marital affairs, then we need to look at the emotional status of the couple. If some interfering attachment lingers on, it could be immaturity of purpose, or an inability to face the world of independence revealing emotional immaturity. And as Shiva prabhu mentioned, an abusive situation can cause the same problem. In fact, if the male has to resort to physical pressure to demand respectful loyalty, it is a sign of weakness.

    For some reason, we in Iskcon has made the taking of sannyasa a very attractive proposition indeed. The same goes for becoming a guru. This gives an air of mystique and granduer about it. Is there any wonder why followers want to be connected with it, emotionally? Where in fact, such a position calls for the utmost in sobriety, and should be the antithesis to all starry eyed allure. These are dreaded positions in the true sense of the term. Didn’t Srila Prabhupada himself say his was a ‘bad dream,’ when his Guru Maharaja called him to take sannyasa in his dream?

    In this way, there are several reasons why this problem could occur, but I think it is indicative of a greater problem inherent in the overt attractiveness of certain positions held. It would require an article to articulate this matter more clearly.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  7. Akruranatha says :

    I must be missing something because I am not well enough acquainted with what is going on in the world of ISKCON. People always tell me I am naive and “haven’t lived”.

    >>While there isn’t one simple explanation for failed marriages in ISKCON, during Srila Prabhupada’s time at least, it was probably more as a result of little or no research into the compatibility of couples before getting married. Or maybe because the couple did not have enough association after their marriage to develop a lasting relationship maybe due to service commitments, thus finding themselves drifting apart. Or maybe it was an immature understanding of both the importance and spiritual nature of the grhastha asrama.

  8. Suresh das says :

    I have often wondered if in Vedic culture, if a person can not live honestly as a Brahmacari, but is also not qualified or fit to become a householder, what type of classification or ashram he is in? Chanakya Pandit stated that no one should become a father, a husband, a teacher, etc., unless he is capable of liberating his subordinate. One explanation why so many marriages failed is that the men were not fit, qualified, or cultivated in how to become married men.

    There seemed to be little training how to live as a Vedic householder, in my experience in ISKCON. Great emphasis has always been placed on cultivating brahmacaris to later become sannyasis. But if a person could not stay a brahmacari, they were often branded and cast off as failures. Since it may be more realistic that many men will become householders, and will not be able to remain in brahmacari life, it seems logical to provide some part of one’s student training in how to practice Krishna Consciousness in one’s future home, so that the movement can hold on to more devotees, and living with a wife will not be so much of a shock for a long-time brahmacari. Often married devotees had to rely on their own experience, in relationships between men and women, before they became devotees, often yielding disastrous results in ISKCON marriages.

    One of the problems too, was often there was no family involvement in selecting a suitable husband or bride in the arranged marriages. Since ancient times, families united through marriage to increase combined wealth or power. Since ancient times women often chose a husband through a swayamvara-type selection, at least in ksatriya families. But even in modern times, many men will often compete for a woman. The strongest man, who wins the gauntlet of such competition, is the one who the bridge chooses as her husband, which is seen even in the animal kingdom. Women have traditionally chosen their husbands, at least in Western cultures, so often arranged marriages may have failed because women, who actually control relationships, were not permitted to be actively involved in choosing their life’s partner.

    Little emphasis was ever placed on astrological compatibility. Astrology may be not very important, but it does help to understand a person’s personality, likes and dislikes. It seems that at least some persons are more compatible than with other personality types, and astrological compatibility can be one explanation for it.

  9. My observation is that the high divorce rate is due to illicit sex in family life, grhasthas are supposed to live in celibacy and not be grhamedhis- one of the helpful advises in this matter is separate sleeping arrangements, like is not meant for sensegratification but for going back to Godhead- the satisfaction of the genitals are never equal to Krsna loka- this my sound rather sharp ,but there is no compromise in these matters

    Srila Prabhupada writes in the 2 Canto

    Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.1.3

    TRANSLATION

    The lifetime of such an envious householder is passed at night either in sleeping or in sex indulgence, and in the daytime either in making money or maintaining family members.

    PURPORT

    The present human civilization is primarily based on the principles of sleeping and sex indulgence at night and earning money in the day and spending the same for family maintenance. Such a form of human civilization is condemned by the Bhāgavata school.

    Because human life is a combination of matter and spirit soul, the whole process of Vedic knowledge is directed at liberating the spirit soul from the contamination of matter. The knowledge concerning this is called ātma-tattva. Those men who are too materialistic are unaware of this knowledge and are more inclined to economic development for material enjoyment. Such materialistic men are called karmīs, or fruitive laborers, and they are allowed regulated economic development or association of woman for sex indulgence. Those who are above the karmīs, that is, the jñānīs, yogīs and devotees, are strictly prohibited from sex indulgence. The karmīs are more or less devoid of ātma-tattva knowledge, and as such, their life is spent without spiritual profit. The human life is not meant for hard labor for economic development, nor is it meant for sex indulgence like that of the dogs and hogs. It is specially meant for making a solution to the problems of material life and the miseries thereof. So the karmīs waste their valuable human life by sleeping and sex indulgence at night, and by laboring hard in the daytime to accumulate wealth, and after doing so, they try to improve the standard of materialistic life. The materialistic way of life is described herein in a nutshell, and how foolishly men waste the boon of human life is described as follows.

    SB 2.1.4

    Persons devoid of ātma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children and wife. Although sufficiently experienced, they still do not see their inevitable destruction.

    PURPORT

    This material world is called the world of death. Every living being, beginning from Brahmā, whose duration of life is some thousands of millions of years, down to the germs who live for a few seconds only, is struggling for existence. Therefore, this life is a sort of fight with material nature, which imposes death upon all. In the human form of life, a living being is competent enough to come to an understanding of this great struggle for existence, but being too attached to family members, society, country, etc., he wants to win over the invincible material nature by the aid of bodily strength, children, wife, relatives, etc. Although he is sufficiently experienced in the matter by dint of past experience and previous examples of his deceased predecessors, he does not see that the so-called fighting soldiers like the children, relatives, society members and countrymen are all fallible in the great struggle. One should examine the fact that his father or his father’s father has already died, and that he himself is therefore also sure to die, and similarly, his children, who are the would be fathers of their children, will also die in due course. No one will survive in this struggle with material nature. The history of human society definitely proves it, yet the foolish people still suggest that in the future they will be able to live perpetually, with the help of material science. This poor fund of knowledge exhibited by human society is certainly misleading, and it is all due to ignoring the constitution of the living soul. This material world exists only as a dream, due to our attachment to it. Otherwise, the living soul is always different from the material nature. The great ocean of material nature is tossing with the waves of time, and the so-called living conditions are something like foaming bubbles, which appear before us as bodily self, wife, children, society, countrymen, etc. Due to a lack of knowledge of self, we become victimized by the force of ignorance and thus spoil the valuable energy of human life in a vain search after permanent living conditions, which are impossible in this material world.

    Our friends, relatives and so-called wives and children are not only fallible, but also bewildered by the outward glamor of material existence. As such, they cannot save us. Still we think that we are safe within the orbit of family, society or country.

    The whole materialistic advancement of human civilization is like the decoration of a dead body. Everyone is a dead body flapping only for a few days, and yet all the energy of human life is being wasted in the decoration of this dead body. Śukadeva Gosvāmī is pointing out the duty of the human being after showing the actual position of bewildered human activities. Persons who are devoid of the knowledge of ātma-tattva are misguided, but those who are devotees of the Lord and have perfect realization of transcendental knowledge are not bewildered.

    from this it is clear we encourage grhastha life, not grhamedhi life
    your servant
    Payonidhi das

  10. Akruranatha says :

    I agree that the problems in devotee marriages are overwhelmingly due to causes other than women falling in love with their gurus, but that seems to me what Praghosa’s article is about.

    At first I thought, this must be a very rare, isolated problem. (The only incident I could think of was Jagadish, but then I spoke to my wife and she gave me some other, less dramatic examples). I haven’t seen it much myself but, as I say, I am a little sheltered, isolated and naive.

    It certainly is nothing new in Kali yuga for women to be romantically attracted to spiritual authorities. Examples abound in literature. For example, there is the fallen drunkard pastor in Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” whose downfall was that, the more intensely he preached, the more girls threw themselves at him.

    There is a very old (probably Renaissance era) French folk song in the form of a dialogue between a (presumably) young lady named Simone, and her Parish priest, who calls her in each stanza, “My Simone, my little lamb”. Simone asks “monsieur le curee” where he’s been, and he says he’s returning from the fair. She asks what he brought her, and he says “white dancing shoes”. Then she asks him to take her confession, and he indulgently asks the girl, “what is your biggest sin?,” as if such an innocent young girl could not have anything very serious to confess.

    Simone then declares to the priest that her sin is simply that she is too much in love with him. He kindly but firmly tells her, in that case, they must separate. She says she might die of grief if they separate, and he replies, then he will have to perform the interment rites. In a desperate last attempt to get a sign that her feelings are reciprocated, she ask, “Would you at least cry for me if I died?” But he responds, “No. I will have to say the prayers at the funeral.” In other words, he let her know his duties as a priest prevent him from reciprocating her romantic feelings.

    I just feel it ought to be obvious that the love we have for a guru should be different from the love we have for a mate. As Kesava Krishna and others have pointed out, spiritual authorities should be seen as fathers and mothers, not as candidates for romantic attraction. Incest taboo is very strong in virtually all human cultures. The love we have for our parents, children, siblings, does not get mixed up with the kind of love we have for spouses. It should be so for spiritual authorities.

    We should be very firm on this point in ISKCON. Spiritual masters must take it very seriously. It is shocking to think that our initiating spiritual masters might even unwittingly encourage such feelings. Everyone likes to be loved and respected, but spiritual authorities must be very careful not to encourage the wrong kinds of love an admiration.

    Years ago, I went to a Maharishi Mahesh Yogi public appearance in a big concert hall. During the question and answer session a young man declared his belief that the “Maharishi” was God. The “Maharishi” pretended not to understand the question and just kept giggling and having the boy repeat himself again and again. He never took the opportunity to deny that he was God, or even explain anything about it.

    Encouraging a girl disciple in her incestuous crush, or coming between her and her husband emotionally, seems to be a similar indulgence in “bogus guru” behavior.

    Sannyasis especially have to be very careful to minimize their dealings with women. Just because Srila Prabhupada was a sannyasi who had many women disciples does not mean that other, lesser sannyasis are up to the task. No one would blame an ISKCON sannyasi who chose only to have male disciples.

    I have long felt that we do not have enough householders who are initiating gurus in ISKCON.

    The danger of having female disciples is especially true for young men, or men who still can see within themselves a material desire to be adored. (We have often heard that desire for distinction and adoration are “subtle” forms of sex desire which everyone, but sannyasis especially, must take care to weed out.) I am sure most of our sannyasi initiating gurus in ISKCON take great precautions in their dealings with female discipes. It is a good thing that they do.

  11. Krsna-Rupa d.d. says :

    I can understand the point that the dynamics in marriage are not what we read in the ideal marriages of the Bhagavatam, as the wife has her own guru, who is not the husband. I have felt just as Praghosa Prabhu was saying, that the husband becomes “less” than the guru.

    Practically what can we do about this? My husband is wonderful, but definetely steers me in a different direction to my guru, and I often am trying to steer him back according to my Gurus advise. If the husband is more devoted to the movement than to family life, especially in adjusting to the ashram change, some basic needs, like considering children, have to be addressed, or he may sweep these under the carpet. So how can one lessen the devotion and commitment to guru in order to enhance marriage, when invaluable guidance for marriage is coming from the guru?

    I have often felt that if we both surrendered to the guru in the same mood, the problem would be lessened, as though we were two kids at the feet of our father, trying to please him, rather than Guru being a separate private relationship. I guess this is why in Srila Prabhupada’s time there was less of a problem, everyone was surrendered to the one guru and the one mission. I am always confused how two Gurus’ who are both representatives of Krsna, can give different advise. how can Krsna want us to do more than one thing?

    So perhaps the couple need to genuinely come to a consclusion about who and how they will serve one guru, and if the wife will serve the husbands guru, then she can get the blessings of her guru to do this and see it as service to her guru, and thus devote herself to her husband and his guru. What if the husbands guru is deceased? then the wife may feel her husband is just speculating and so perhaps he needs to more actively take shelter so that she feels confident he will guide her properly.
    Your servant
    Krsna-Rupa d.d.

  12. there is a vers in the SB 11 Canto that warns the spiritual master of sentimental relationships with female disciples, unfortunatly we have seen a few cases of former Gurus marrying their former disciples. like marrying your own daughter, it is very shameful and we pray to Lord Caitanya this will never happen again in the histroy of ISKCON
    Your servant
    Payonidhi das

  13. Praghosa says :

    Can you give the specific reference, or even better send us the full text, of the verse you have mentioned in the 11th Canto?

    Your servant, Praghosa dasa

  14. Pandu das says :

    My wife and I met just before I began chanting Hare Krishna, and shortly after that we committed to each other by deciding to cooperate for each other’s spiritual advancement. A year later we were married at the Toronto Rathayatra, and seven years after that (on our wedding anniversary) I was initiated by Bhaktimarga Swami at the same place again during the Rathayatra. My wife has never aspired for initiation herself.

    She doesn’t think of me like a guru, but our marriage is very strong. We love each other without any fear that this will somehow inhibit our spiritual progress. Our children (four daughters so far, and my she’s pregnant again) are being raised to appreciate Krishna consciousness in a way that is suitable to our family. Everyone has a great time when we visit the local temple.

    When I chose to aspire for Bhaktimarga Swami as my guru, my wife helped me with the deicsion. I was attracted to Krishna consciousness by Srila Prabhupada’s books, and choosing another guru was quite difficult. It was therefore a relief when Bhaktimarga Swami said during my initiation that Srila Prabhupada is my primary guru. It makes sence since our parampara is primarily based upon siksa. My wife felt included in my iniation, in an informal way. We feel protected as aspiring devotees of Krishna and don’t get too mental about all the details. It seems to work pretty well for us.

  15. I first have a comment to Mother Krsna Rupa: ” It is not that we have to be so dependent on the Guru we can’t even eat sleep or do anything, in the beginning of KC it may be like that ,but after we have been trained in KC, we should learn to become independet in our KC.What I mean is exemplified by my friend Hariasvara Prabhu, he was told one time by a senior devotee, after you train people up in KC make sure they get their “independence back”, surely the instructions of Guru is the life and soul, but we sometimes see this sentimental approach to the reationship with Guru, that there is even conflict because of 2 Gurus, of course it is normally better husband and wife has the same Guru, in ISKCON that is not always possible, the wife should also follow the husband he is also a Guru:
    Lord Rsabhadeva’s has stated:

    SB 5.5.18: “One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod

    Of course a husband that is always looking for illicit sex with his wife, is obviously not a very good husband- as sex is only for procreating KC children.

    In the 4 chapter of the Gita Krsna says

    BG 4.34: Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.

    BG 4.35: Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.

    BG 4.36: Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.

    BG 4.37: As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities

    We all know vers Gita 4.34 , but have we really gotten the full understanding of 4.35?

    After one has heard from the Guru one has to learn to stand on his own 2 feet, Srila Prabhupada used the example of flying ones own airplane. Srila Prabhupada told one disciple while he was preparing to go Back to Krsna in 1977: “Do not think this will not happen to you(death) ”

    And the same disciple said Srila Prabhupada now you just have to get better.Srila Prabhupada: “I am better, I have nothing to do with this body’.

    Krsna also gives Uddhave some important instruction about how sometimes one has to be his own Guru ( we have to all fly our own airplane at the time of death )

    Uddhava is asking Krsna:

    SB 11.7.15: My dear Lord, O Supreme Soul, for those whose minds are attached to sense gratification, and especially for those bereft of devotion unto You, such renunciation of material enjoyment is most difficult to perform. That is my opinion.

    SB 11.7.16: O my Lord, I myself am most foolish because my consciousness is merged in the material body and bodily relations, which are all manufactured by Your illusory energy. Thus I am thinking, “I am this body, and all of these relatives are mine.” Therefore, my Lord, please instruct Your poor servant. Please tell me how I can very easily carry out Your instructions.

    SB 11.7.17: My dear Lord, You are the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and You reveal Yourself to Your devotees. Besides Your Lordship, I do not see anyone who can actually explain perfect knowledge to me. Such a perfect teacher is not to be found even among the demigods in heaven. Indeed, all of the demigods, headed by Lord Brahmā, are bewildered by Your illusory potency. They are conditioned souls who accept their own material bodies and bodily expansions to be the highest truth.

    SB 11.7.18: Therefore, O Lord, feeling weary of material life and tormented by its distresses, I now surrender unto You because You are the perfect master. You are the unlimited, all-knowing Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose spiritual abode in Vaikuṇṭha is free from all disturbances. In fact, You are known as Nārāyaṇa, the true friend of all living beings.

    Krsnas response is:

    SB 11.7.19: The Supreme Lord replied: Generally those human beings who can expertly analyze the actual situation of the material world are able to raise themselves beyond the inauspicious life of gross material gratification.

    SB 11.7.20: An intelligent person, expert in perceiving the world around him and in applying sound logic, can achieve real benefit through his own intelligence. Thus sometimes one acts as one’s own instructing spiritual master.

    SB 11.7.21: In the human form of life, those who are self-controlled and expert in the spiritual science of Sāńkhya can directly see Me along with all of My potencies.

    Krsna is saying: “Thus sometimes one acts as one’s own instructing spiritual master.”

    if we read the rest of the chapter we see how Krsna gives so many examples how we can learn from seeing things and thus be our own Guru..Srila Prabhupada has written so many books, and Krsna can be found in the pages of his books, thus we can’t be neophytes and depend so much on the Guru that things are not practical in ones day to day life.
    And of course we can alwasy consult with Guru and senior devotees if we have doubts…but this over dependence on Guru is not always a healthy symptom, if one has not learned–I think you understand my point Mataji , it is not to disrespect any Guru.
    Your servant
    Payonidhi das

  16. for Pragosh Prabhu here is one of the verses from the 11 Canto I had in mind:

    Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.18.14

    viprasya vai sannyasato

    devā dārādi-rūpiṇaḥ

    vighnān kurvanty ayaḿ hy asmān

    ākramya samiyāt param

    TRANSLATION

    “This man taking sannyāsa is going to surpass us and go back home, back to Godhead.” Thus thinking, the demigods create stumbling blocks on the path of the sannyāsī by appearing before him in the shape of his former wife or other women and attractive objects. But the sannyāsī should pay the demigods and their manifestations no heed.

    PURPORT

    The demigods are empowered with universal administration and by their potency may appear as the former wife of a sannyāsī or as other women, so that the sannyāsī gives up his strict vows and becomes entangled in sense gratification. Lord Krsna here encourages all sannyāsīs by telling them, “Pay no attention to such illusory manifestations. Continue your duties and go back home, back to Godhead.”

    your servant
    Payonidhi das

  17. Akruranatha says :

    One thing I have seen sometimes in ISKCON is, devotees sometimes expect their gurus to micromanage their lives, and sometimes the gurus may also get involved in details of their disciples’ lives that have little directly to do with spiritual practices.

    What color should I paint my kitchen? What breed of dog will it be good to get for my kids? Should I ask my boss for a raise? Should I consult an allopathic/homeopathic/ ayurvedic doctor? Shoud we hire a part-time nanny or cleaning lady? People face hundreds of questions like these all the time that they really should not bother their gurus with. And gurus should not encourage this kind of over-dependence in non-spiritual affairs (I cannot imagine why they would want to).

    A brahmacari’s life in a temple is simple, and it is a tribute to the brahmacari’s renunciation that traditionally he does not even eat unless the guru calls him for the meal.

    In ISKCON where many gurus travel or do not reside with their brahmacaris in the same ashram, the brahmacaris and ‘carinis may show the same kind of renunciation by giving up control over the details of their lives to temple authorities. There really aren’t many details in the lives of such renounced devotees. Their eating and sleeping and clothing and practically everything else is very regulated and chalked out for them.

    For grhasthas it is a different story. Managing a home, a family, a business or some employment situation, there are lots of decisions that grhstha couples have to make together. They should not expect their gurus to become intimately involved in their family lives by deciding these non-spiritual issues for them, nor should husband and wife expect the guru to act as a referee when they do not see eye to eye.

    The guru helps guide the disciple in how to surrender to Krishna, how to understand Krishna, and to mold his or her life in such a way as to dedicate everything to Krishna. Questions about those subjects are the kinds of relevant inquiries to put before the guru.

    Why should the guru be consulted on what brand of automobile to buy? And why should the exalted guru, who knows how to guide the disciple to achieve Krishna, be bothered to act as a kind of glorified marriage counselor or arbitrator of mundane domestic disputes? We should not cheapen the position of the spiritual master in ISKCON by expecting gurus to guide the mundane or even the indirectly spiritual aspects of grhasthas’ lives.

    Maybe there should not be any apects of grhasthas’ lives that are not directly spiritual. That is a different issue. But for most grhasthas, there are going to be numerous decisions and minor disputes that just are not in the sphere of what someone consults a guru about.

    “Tad vinanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet.” The guru should be consulted about how to obtain “that vijnana” (realization of the Absolute Truth, i.e. Krishna). Not about unrelated details of private life. We should develop a sense of those boundaries of what we do and do not need a guru for.

    Even if a guru happens to be a wizard of Wall Street or captain of industry, we should not bother the guru with seeking advice on how to run our business or how to invest our money. We can find other advisors for that. Similarly, we can find other advisors for solving family spats and mundane life decisions.

    [Prabhupada may have offered a wide variety of advice because many of his disciples were very young and had no other support system, and he was so immensely qualified in practically every subject. Still, he was careful not to stray into non-spiritual matters. For example, I believe (once again I do not have a reference, sorry) that Prabhupada told devotees he could suggest many products they could make good business with, but he did not want to distract them.]

    Now, I really do not know anything about the “counseling” system that is becoming prevalent in some parts of ISKCON these days. I think this mainly originated in Chowpatti, and as far as I am concerned, anything initiated by H.H. Radhanatha Swami must be wonderful. He is such an amazing transcendental personality.

    I am personally a little surprised, though, that householder devotees need or expect counseling from ISKCON that seems to go beyond issues properly within the sphere of their spiritual lives. However, if it produces good results (as it seems to be doing), I am all for it. I am not one to argue with success.

    I do think, though, that one reason such ISKCON counseling programs seem to work is that they are a way of deflecting personal, not essentially spiritual questions *away* from the spiritual masters. That may be a way of resolving this problem of gurus coming between spouses (assuming there really is such a problem).

    If householders are going to look to ISKCON authorities for marriage counseling services or other counseling services or non-spiritual advice, such services should not come from spiritual masters, but from some separate devotees who can give good advice as qualified marriage counselors or advisors in whatever field is required.

    We need to do a better job of drawing the line between what we consult gurus about and what we consult other about or just decide on our own. Marriage often involves compromises or division of responsibility for different kinds of decisions.

  18. Antaryami Dasa says :

    Dear Praghosa dasa prabhu: Your article is very good, I give it a ten, excellent. As for marriages in Iskcon I will say that back in 2003 I saw a 60-minutes special on marriages in the U.S.A., the report was astounding that the divorce rate in America stands at 80% and this is in the first two years. Then there is another wave of separations between the 5-year to 10-year period, in short only about 10% of marriages in America last beyond 10 years. They discussed many reasons for marriages breaking up but came to no conclusions. We see the Mormons doing well in their marriages, maybe due to a different type of commitment?. In the first canto of Srimad Bhagavatam both Bhimasena and Maharaja Yudhistira noticed many bad omens to come in kali yuga, one was single parents and women left uncared for or protected. Also Srila Prabhupada states in the B.G. that divorce is due to a weakness in one or both of the partners to be married, both must be cent percent convinced of what they are getting into, this also means religion as well marriage. agtsp by Antaryami Dasa

  19. sita-pati says :

    The classical Vedic social system is that women are not initiated. They are instead discipled by their fathers, then their husbands. Having women initiated by a spiritual master other than their husband causes a complex social situation. I would work towards eliminating the necessity of this over time.

    Here is an excerpt from a letter from Srila Prabhupada that speaks to this issue:

    “Another item is, you are married wife, so in that position you should serve your husband nicely always, being attentive to his needs, and in this way, because he is always absorbed in serving Krishna, by serving your husband you will also get Krishna, through him. He is your spiritual master, but he must be responsible for giving you all spiritual help, teaching you as he advances his own knowledge and realization.

    That is the vedic system: The wife becomes a devotee of her husband, the husband becomes a devotee of Krishna; the wife serves her husband faithfully, the husband protects his wife by giving her spiritual guidance.”

    SPL 21st October, 1972

  20. Gaurav Mittal says :

    >> I saw a 60-minutes special on marriages in the U.S.A., the report was astounding that the divorce rate in America stands at 80% and this is in the first two years.

    I work with highly American educated people in my office and generally, closely associate with some. My manager is married for 20 years and my technical lead’s parents have been married for more than 30 years. Most of people I work with have strong marriages and strong commitment to the family. Similarly I find in my neighborhood, people with strong commitment to their family and kids.

    Obviously if you are comparing with people like Britney Spears, divorce rate will be high. But good devotees are good people. They have good sadhana with their thoughts focussed upon Krishna, they are good parents who spend time with their children, they are good husbands who care for their wife, they are good worker as they work with focussed mind whatever they are supposed to do and they serve society by helping it materially, emotionally and spiritually.

    Divorce mainly happens when we are not tolerant, we are not forgiving for our spouse’s faults, we are not compassionate to our spouse, we lack control over our own thoughts etc. Those are not signs of devotees.

    If we cannot maintain grhastha life properly, then we should accept ourselves as fallen devotees. Unfortunately, that is not true in Iskcon. Many people with failed marriages and those who neglected children are given high devotional status. Sometimes, people ignore their marriage or kids in name of bhakti. Unfortunately, these people don’t know that they doing great disservice to Krishna and their efforts in bhakti will be fruitless just as efforts of vaishnava aparadhi become fruitless. Unless above devotional concept is firmly conveyed to devotees, I don’t foresee future improvement.

  21. Tamal Krsna dasa says :

    In response to Sita Pati Prabhu’s comment (#18), although Srila Prabhupada did mention the ideal arrangement according to Vedic culture, he himself gave diksa initiation to women. Why would we change what our founder-acarya has instituted?

  22. Damana Krishna dasa says :

    I think that initiation for woman shouldn’t be a problem. But certainly it is a very sensitive matter that is discussed here. Marriage means first of all a team project, team work. Two individuals are struggling to come to some cooperation. Here the spiritual masters have to be very expert in helping the two to become more successful in this endeavor. Sometimes it is even better that a renounced sannyasi Guru appoints some expert grhastha to deal with personal matters. There is problems if a individual is too ambitious to archieve something without involving the other partner. Or even both are ambitious to get some recognition from spiritual master or devotee community on account of their “spiritual archievements”. In this way also there is no proper example for the children who often have to suffer their parents quarrels or disagreements. I have heard of circumstances when gurus had two opinion of what disciple should follow and gave instructions in this way, so that it came to strong fight and even danger of separation. I personally think that Gurus should not have such big difference in opinion and if there is doubt there is Srila Prabhupada’s advice to follow. Srila Prabhupada told many times to lady disciples that their first duty is to take care of children. Certainly this is many times less ecstatic job then changing diapers and run after children who are doing all kinds of nonsense. It is much better to do some great service and get fame and recognition. But on the long term then parents they have to suffer the neglect of investing energy in children and their relationship. I think that Gurus should appoint some grhastha they have trust instead to manage the lives of families personally. This can be many times difficult to do ” renounced nature” of a spiritual master. Then there is no problem with woman taking initiation and all other issues.

  23. Damana Krishna dasa says :

    Thank you very much, Praghosha Prabhu for addressing such important issue in a very expert way. We can not form strong devotee communities and build up strong preaching by example if this problems are not solved.

  24. In reply to comment #19: When he was a householder, Srila Prabhupada desired that his wife take initiation from his Guru Maharaja and his sister, Bhavatarini, did take initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
    The prinicple of the husband acting as the spiritual master for the wife is desirable yet it does not mean he must be the initiating spiritual master. Rather, the qualified husband should be seen as an instructing spiritual master for his wife. Srila Prabhupada indicates this in a letter as follows:

    “Married life is serious business. If you have taken wife, you must be completely responsible for her throughout your life. She shall always serve and obey you without fail, and you shall instruct her in Krishna Consciousness and act as her spiritual master. Otherwise, without husband, women have great difficulty to make spiritual advancement.” (Dec. 17, 1972)

    We can understand that the husband is supposed to act as the direct assistant to the spiritual master in guiding the wife in Krishna consciousness. As mentioned in Comment #21 above, we would do well to follow Srila Prabhupada’s example, by encouraging women (both married and unmarried) to take Vaisnava initiation within ISKCON.

  25. Mahaksa Das (KCS) says :

    Hare Krishna,

    I have read all comments, one thing I have understand is that a lot what to do and how to figure the ones position and relationship between guru, husband and other persons around is because many people grew up in one unit family.

    Just father and mother, maybe co-children, in one household. I grew up in a household where was also father of my father, his mother, also my father’s older brother with his wife and children. And few others.

    I remember very clearly, we children were daily guided and cared directly by each one’s mother and father. Grandfather ordered grandchildren very very rarely, he was more like a friend advisor to grandchildren. If something was needed to do he told it to his sons and then they told to us. Or he called all parents and children together and said it. He never tried to transpass directly without acknowledgement for the middle part of hierarchy. At the same time we us children had very great respect for grandfather and he was considered as an head of the family, for example no one start to eat before him, same with speech, major decisions..

    Despite we lived in same household and the grandfather had highest authority he does not take much consideration of a daily life of my mother and father, if life went on peacefully he did not intervened in our daily decisions.

    Also very interesting thing is that we (children of our father) were directly under our father’s direction and the children of our uncle (father’s brother) under his direction. Remember, we stayed together, played together and work together. And yet when my father said to us do it like that, and uncle said to his children to do it differently, there was no fight. We did our father’s way and they did their father’s way yet we were working on the same thing same time in a same room together, nor my father or uncle fought which way is better. I remember even situations we were allowed to watch TV to 9pm but brother in law to 8pm. We did not fought, no we make nose at him nor he was complaining about us. Because we knew, if we will fight it will make disturbance, that will call attention of older members and they will make it calm very quickly, most probably we would end in bed all at once plus spleen of elders.

    Of course if there was a major situation the oldest uncle had higher word, if there was still disagreement then grandfather made decision what to do. Once grandfather made final decision there was no argument from anybody, however he decided all uncles and their children were following on.

    • Mahaksa Das (KCS) says :

      It is very interesting experience how one can live very close with other jivas and at the same time has very clear understanding of position and shelter. For example, my uncles never chastise me or if than very gently more like teacher and punishment was right only of my father. If anyone from family thought I did wrong worthy to punish he or she told it at table, then other seniors said their view and yet the final decision on punishment was in hands of father or mother. These rules were somehow naturally maybe passed from previous generation. But these no spoken rules were keeping us happy together. I remember only one direct punishment without consideration of my father, it was when whole family sat at lunch and I said something not proper about food cooked by grandmother. My grandfather sent me out of the room immediately where I must wait until all members had finished their lunch. Than my grandmother came and told me, now you can go to grandpa and apology to him, now he is in good mood. That day I did not have a lunch and remained hungry. I was about 4 years old and since that time I understood that food is something more than a thing.

      The point is, that in the family the relationships were of a loving nature and deep respect to each other that even if a chastisement was ordered it was taken with love. Later I realized that our seniors wants us to become men with character. To respect other decisions, others work, be thankful.

  26. Sita Rama dasa 1962 says :

    Please accept my humble obeisance’s.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    You mention the , “no one can compare to my guru syndrome”:
    This syndrome inevitably determines that the husband is not as renounced, intelligent, knowledgeable, learned or charismatic as the guru. This significantly disempowers the husband from the get-go and rather than starting married life from the lofty heights of being considered a guru-pati, he finds himself firmly rooted in the role of second class citizen. Hence he is forever playing catch up as far as trying to win the affections and respect of his wife, who long ago committed both of those essential items to her guru.
    … In order to affect real change those in positions of authority need to dampen down the excessive expression of apparent devotion that some disciples manifest. END QUOTE:
    I am shocked to hear this from an ISKCON leader. It is framed such that the dedication of a woman for her guru must decrease her dedication for her husband. That is not the only possibility.
    The husband should see the Guru as more renounced, intelligent, knowledgeable, learned, and charismatic, than he. This example of humility and spiritual advancement, by the husband, will increase the wife’s respect and dedication for him; as well as for her guru. In this way the husband can facilitate the wife’s spiritual advancement. This is, in fact, the only solution.
    In contrast, you have indirectly described the absolute block to the real solution. The reality of conditioned nature requires that, If the husband is trying to, “catch up with the guru” to, “win the affection” he will be attempting it, “forever” regardless of how much he, “dampens down” the wife’s affection for her guru. The female conditioned nature is such that as long as the man is striving to win her affection she will entice him with just enough affection to cause him to perpetuate and increase this striving.
    Your servant,
    SRd

  27. Sita Rama dasa 1962 says :

    Dear Praghosa Prabhu,
    Please accept my humble obiesances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    I believe the thesis of your article is summarized in the following sentences you wrote:
    … if a married woman is more impressed by and dedicated to, their guru, than their husband, it can have a devastating effect on their marriage…This syndrome inevitably determines that the husband is not as renounced, intelligent, knowledgeable, learned or charismatic as the guru. This significantly disempowers the husband from the get-go… In order to affect real change those in positions of authority need to dampen down the excessive expression of apparent devotion that some disciples manifest. END QUOTE.
    You are proposing that, “those in positions of authority” dampen expressions of devotion to their Guru. That indicates some type of rules and regulations for this end. But Srila Prabhupada ordered us to sing daily:
    “The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities.”
    The GBC policy is; a devotee can become a guru, if another aspires to be his disciple. It seems contradictory to allow that and at the same time, discourage disciples from honoring the guru as instructed by all scripture and authorities.
    We sing daily:
    “By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kåñëa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master”.
    I reject the notion that,” time place and circumstance” allow the GBC to make rules which dampen the ultimate core principle for obtaining spiritual advancement; particularly when that principle is explicitly given by all authorities.
    Your desire to rectify a wife not giving sufficient respect toward the husband can be adjusted by an official GBC description of the nature of Vedic marriage; in other words, prescribing greater responsibility of husbands and more respect of wives’ for their husbands.
    Those who are not able be honored equally with God, without becoming attached, are by definition, unable to fill the role of a guru. Such gurus are the problem; the only real remedy is something that weeds these out. Giving up the instructions of all the Veda’s to protect the position of those who cannot live up to the Vedic ideal is not wise. We should look for remedies that increase respect for husband and guru, and at the same time expose pretender gurus. However your suggestion seems to be to decrease respect for guru, which will simply cripple the process of purification. Without that purification there is little hope for contentment in devotee marriages.
    Your servant,
    SRd

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