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Proper Gender Roles in ISKCON Must be Authoritatively and Clearly Defined

Friday, 19 November 2010 / Published in Articles / 8,877 views

By Sita Rama dasa

Myself and a significant percentage of devotees in ISKCON preach that it is O.K if a woman sees her husband as a guru and worthy of worship ; but it is not required. In contrast, the husband may see the wife as the guru and spiritual leader, there are precedents in the scripture that verify this as bonafide. Or a couple may be essentially equal, spiritually. The only thing that is required is that a married couple love and respect each other, and help each other advance in devotional service. With this understanding people are advancing in Krishna consciousness all over the world. However some say that the only bonafide relationship between a devotee couple is one where the wife see the husband as pati guru and worships him. This is not supported by Vedic Scriptures or Srila Prabhupada’s purports. This fact needs to be definitively confirmed in ISKCON
Let’s take a look at a Sloka and Purport: Srimada Bahgavatam, 6: 18: 33-34
A husband is the supreme demigod for a woman. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vasudeva , the husband of the goddess of fortune , is situated in everyone’s heart and is worshiped through the various names and forms of the demigods by fruitive workers. Similarly a husband represents the Lord as the object of worship for a woman.
Purport: The Lord says in B.G. (9.23), “Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods o son of Kunti, is really meant for me alone, but it is offered without true understanding”. The demigods are various assistants who act like the hands and legs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who is not in direct touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and cannot conceive of the exalted position of the Lord is sometimes advised to worship the demigods as various parts of the Lord. If women, who are usually very much attached to their husbands, worship their husbands as representatives of Vasudeva, the women benefit, just as Ajamila benefited by calling for Narayana, his son. Ajamila was concerned with his son, but because of his attachment to the name of Narayana, he attained salvation simply by chanting that name. In India a husband is still called pati guru, the husband spiritual master. If the husband and wife are attached to each other for the advancement in Krishna consciousness, their relationship of cooperation is very effective for such advancement. Although the names of Indra and Agni are sometimes uttered in the Vedic mantras, (indriya svaha agnaye svaha), the Vedic sacrifices are actually performed for the satisfaction of Lord Visnu. As long as one is very much attached to material sense gratification, the worship of the demigods or one’s husband is recommended.
Here Srila Prabhupada describes two situation, one in which a husband and a wife are attached to each other for advancement in Krishna consciousness, and one in which individuals are very much attached to sense gratification. In the context of the couple being attached to spiritual advancement he says” their relationship of cooperation is very effective”. In the case where they are very much attached to material sense gratification the worship of the husband is recommended.
Cooperation is the word Srila Prabhupada uses in the context of a couple attached to spiritual advancement. Srila Prabhupada chooses his words carefully according to the dictionary meaning. The 1# meaning of cooperation is- to act or work with another, or others- to act together.
Worship is the word Srila Prabhupada uses in the context of a woman who is very much attached to sense gratification. She should worship the husband. This is a liberal instruction because it is understood that an attached woman has a natural tendency to worship her husband and by this natural tendency she can eventually come to a higher understanding. As described by Lord Kapiladeva in S.B. 3:31:41- a woman who is attached considers her husband to be the bestower of wealth. Those who do not see the soul, but only matter, think that the material facilities are supplied by material agents such as a husband or a demigod and they worship these out of a desire to increase their facilities for sense enjoyment. The comparison, (given in S.B. 6:18:33-34) of the worship of the husband by an attached woman and the worship of a demigod is therefore clear. However an intelligent Viasnavi understands that these things are supplied by Krishna only. Thus her main duty is to act together, in a mood of cooperation, with the husband, to glorify Krishna, not to worship the husband- worship is recommended for a wife who is very much attached and is comparable to demigod worship
Srila Prabhupada also makes it clear that the type of worship performed by the attached individual is for, “ One who is not in direct touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and cannot conceive of the exalted position of the Lord..” We know for certain all those who are sincerely chanting, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, are in direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna. We see all other devotees as Prabhu- master but we do not worship them for material facilities. Srila Prabhupada said we show our love by cooperating with each other.
It is a travesty of Krishna consciousness to instruct a woman, who desires spiritual realization, that she must act like one whom, according to Srila Prabhupada, is very much attached to sense gratification- that she must worship her husband. And frankly it is hard not to become passionately opposed to those who stubbornly insist that all devotee women must worship their husbands. However; intense arguments turn devotees off because devotees are gentle peace loving souls. I do have the tendency to get a little passionate, (well maybe more than a little). But to calm my nerves I need to see some kind of solidarity among the leaders and members of our society; a cooperative effort to explain the proper gender relationships and refute the erroneous one. Can someone suggest how this showing of support for true spiritual relationships could possibly manifest?

Radha Kunda tilak - Bonafide or not?
Deity Dreams

32 Responses to “Proper Gender Roles in ISKCON Must be Authoritatively and Clearly Defined”

  1. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    Dear Sita Rama Prabhu,
    This is a delemma among devotees in ISKCON. It also very confusing for the followers of Vedic Culture also, ‘the present undefined roles, duties and obligations”. Therefore it is very important that we seriously discuss the principals of Daivi Varnashram Dharma (divine varnashram with Lord Krsna in the center) and understand clearly the differnces between

    Vedic Principals (rules, norms, obligations & duties) also called Sanatan Dharm in the third canto because these are eternal principals,
    ‘Regular’ Varnashram (sometimes called Vedic Path – (as mentioned in the 11th Canto), or Asuri Varnashram ( the present day left over of Vedic path and so called Hinduism, SP also calls it remnants of varnashram) and
    Pure Devotional Service (call the Path of Bhakti) – sometimes called Sanatan Dharma &
    Divine Varnashram or Daivi Varnashram Dharma.

    All the above categories have specific rules, regulations, obiligations and duties towards all members of society, communities and families with scientific reasons as listed in the specific scriptures for corresponding categories. E.g. Bhakti sastras for Pure Devotional Service, Dharma Sastra for Vedic Path and amalgamations of both for Daivi Varnashram Dharma as given in the books of Bhaktivinod Thakur especially the `Jaiva Dharma’ and Caitanya Sikshamrita and Purports of his divine Srila Prabhupada.

    In Daivi Varnashram Dharma or society – The Vaisnavas follow the rules of the Vedic Culture for the following reasons:
    —NOT to create confusion or disharmony in the society (disharmonious situation) – BG – Chap 2
    —NOT unsettle the minds of non-devotees
    —To show proper example in the family, community, and society.
    —NOT to break the Vedic Social Norms
    —To help others progress in their paths of elevation of consciousness towards Krsna consciousness
    —To protect oneself from falling down in the path of bhakti
    —To prevent oneself from becoming a sahajya
    —To respect the principals of eternal varnashram dharma laid down at the time of creation
    —To follow the laws of material world as set by Manus and examplified by Mahajans
    —To follow the instructions of one’s gurus
    —To Please the Vaisnavas
    —To follow the example of the Supreme Lord
    —To please the Supreme Lord


  2. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    Sita Rama Prabhu,

    Yes, it is a vast topic. Yet, we are very fortunate that many serions devotees all over the world are doing a lot of research on these topics and already educating devotees on these subjects.
    Let us discuss and educate ourselves on these principals of Divine Varnashram Dharma called – Daivi Varnshram.
    I beg your pardon for too many words. It is my desire to see the discussions and further education on these topics to help us all in fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s desire.

    Insignificant servant (YIM)
    Wife of Svayambhuva Manudas – SDG
    Mother Gandharidasi

  3. anantaramdas says :

    Sita Ram Prabhu writes:

    “Or a couple may be essentially equal, spiritually.”

    May you kindly provide the reference substantiating this claim?

  4. Sita Rama das says :

    Dear Mother Gandharidasi,
    I would like to get more information about you PowerPoint presentation and ask you some questions, but I cannot connect with the email you gave. Can you email me at
    Thank you,
    Sitat Rama das

  5. trivikramaswami says :

    We call it grhasta ashrama. Ashrama implies that there is discipline. Just like in the temple, the temple commander, and temple president, have some authority over the devotees who are living there. So the husband is the natural authority in the grhasta ashrama. Not that the wife has to worship him, but she should act in such a way that he is not displeased with her. Otherwise the marriage becomes chaotic.

    Srila Prabhupada mentions in this regard that the male psychology is that he wants to be posted as superior to his wife.

    Just like in the temple; we don’t have to worship the temple president, but we are expected to submit to his reasonable instructions.

    Ys Ts

  6. Bhakta Dale says :

    In chapter 7 of “the Gaudiya vaisnava Samaghi’s in Vrndavana, by Hi Holiness Mahanidhi Swami, Guara Kishora Dasa Babaji is quoted, speaking gravely to a newly married man, ” A Vaisnava wife is extremely rare and difficult to find in this world. If one has the good fortune of having one he should see it as a benidiction from Krishna. The wife worships the husband as lord and master. Similarly the husband should worship the wife because she is Krishna dasi, a servant of Krishna. In this way the husband can protect his devotional euthusiasm by not considering his wife his maidservant, but she is always the maid servant of Krishna.”
    So it is a question of motivation. If a husband worships his wife because he is infaturated with her beauty that is material, but if he worships her because he sees her as a maidservant of Krishna that is spiritual. If a wife worshipas her husband because she sees him as the bestower of a roof over her head that is materilal But if she worhips him because he is and exalted devotee that is spiritual.

  7. Puskaraksa das says :

    What if, for a change, we conceived of ourselves as spirit souls and eternal servants of Krishna…?

    Jivera svarupa hoya, Krishnera nitya das

    Baje Govinda, baje Govinda, baje Govinda…

    Hari Hari bol

  8. Prahladesh says :

    A parallel with Christianity

    Christian Egalitarianism

    Christian Egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.

    Christian Patriarchy

    Biblical patriarchy is a set of beliefs in evangelical Christianity concerning marriage, the family, and the home. It sees the father as the head of the home, and responsible for the conduct of his family.

    Christian Complementarianism

    Complementarianism holds that “God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and in the Church.
    In contrast with adherents of Biblical patriarchy, some complementarians are open to the possibility of women assuming leadership roles in civic and commercial life.

    An alternative view: Egalitarianism and Complementarianism

    Complementarian and Christian Egalitarian views need not be mutually exclusive, according to some, one can subscribe both to Complementarianism and Christian egalitarianism. This theoretically would allow men and women to complement each other without any form of hierarchy. This view is sometimes (informally) called complegalitarian.

    This view argues that the Bible prescribes both equality and complementary positions and roles for both men and women.

    It seems that the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition would be closer to the latter.

    Although women and men play different roles (in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, women has a unique role), as we do not follow the Asura Varnarsrama Dharma but the Daiva Varnasrama Dharma, those ladies who show different inclinations should be encouraged to actively participate.

    Everyone should be educated to know that a Guru does not necessarily have to be a Sannyasi or a man.

    In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition there were women who acted as Siksa and Diksa Gurus.
    Jahnavi Devi, the wife of Nityananda Prabhu.
    Gangamata Goswamini who initiated the King Mukunda Deva and many Brahmanas.

    That is, who is qualified – whether man or woman – can become a Guru.

    Your servant
    Prahladesh Dasa Adhikari

  9. Sita Rama das says :

    Part 1
    The verse and full purport to “ Lord Caitanya in Five Features” 7: 31-32 reads as follows:
    Seeing that the Mayavadi’s and others were fleeing Lord Caitanya thought, “ I wanted everyone to be immersed in this inundation of love of Godhead, but some of them have escaped. Therefore I shall devise a trick to drown them also.”
    Purport by Srila Prabhupada:
    Here is an important point. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to invent a way to capture the Mayavadi’s and others who did not take interest in the Krishna consciousness movement. This is the symptom of an acharya. An acharya who comes for the service of the Lord cannot be expected to conform to a stereotype, for he must find ways and means by which Krishna consciousness may be spread. Sometimes jealous persons criticize the Krishna consciousness movement because it engages equally both boys and girls in distributing love of Godhead. Not knowing that boys and girls in countries like Europe and America mix very freely , these fools and rascals criticize the boys and girls in Krishna consciousness for intermingling. But these rascals should consider that one cannot suddenly change a community’s social customs. However, since both boys and girls are being trained to become preachers, those girls are not ordinary girls but are as good as their brothers who are preaching Krishna consciousness. Therefore to engage both boys and girls in fully transcendental activities is a policy intended to spread the Krishna consciousness movement. These fools and rascals who criticize the intermingling of boys and girls will simply have to be satisfied with their own foolishness because they cannot think of how to spread Krishna consciousness by adopting ways and means that are favorable for this purpose. Their stereotyped methods will never help spread Krishna consciousness. Therefore what we are doing is perfect by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for it is He who proposed to invent a way to capture those who strayed from Krishna consciousness.

  10. Sita Rama das says :

    Part 2
    I might have thought that there was some justification for the traditionalists who Srila Prabhupada was referring to. By reading the Vedas one could very well conclude that intermingling of men and women must be prohibited for spiritual consciousness to develop. But Srila Prabhupada describes this as the conclusion of fools and rascals, whose stereotyped methods will never help spread Krishna consciousness.
    Of course we know that Srila Prabhupada would have preferred to have the men and women not intermingle. But the truth of the matter is devotees simply would not stop mixing freely. Therefore Srila Prabhupada concluded this could not be changed. But Krishna consciousness would be spread regardless.
    I cannot argue with Trivikrama Maharaja’s statement that women should follow the instruction of the husband. But the fact is in many cases they simply will not accept this type of arrangement. In the culture in which we are preaching women do not follow instructions of their husbands, things are decided by mutual agreement. This cannot be suddenly changed. Still Krishna consciousness will go on. Therefore with a realistic understanding of the nature of material conditioning, and in accordance with the spirit and desire of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada I teach that the essential point for couples is to chant their rounds, follow the four regulations, and somehow or other get along. No one can tell me that this preaching is incorrect.

  11. vrindavanv108 says :

    Hare Krishna prabhu – Can you provide a quote that Srila Prabhupada concluded that intermingling could not be changed?

    Srila Prabhupada seems to be saying that one can not change social customs suddenly – not that they can never be changed.

    Srila Prabhupada was heavy in his preaching about free mixing. The quote from him above is not saying that free mixing is fine it seems to be about how others used non mixing and other social criteria as criticism of vaishnavas and how they see this social dharma above spreading of krishna concsiousness.

    The idea is that although social dharma is secondary – the degree it is present to that degree it can help one advance as the environment/culture reduces the number of obstacles.

    “Social freedom of man and woman, especially among the younger section, is certainly a great stumbling block on the path of spiritual progress.” (SB 3.12.28 Purport)

    “Because the system in your country to allow the boys and girls enjoying sex life from the very early age makes them most irresponsible and careless…. If things are allowed to go on like this, the future of the Western world is very dark.” (68-08-08.Sat)

    “With woman you should be very, very cautious and careful, as much as required, not free mingling. No. Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, there is always a separation between woman and men. Here in India we find that whenever there is some meeting the women are sitting separately, men are sitting separately. This is required.” (

    “If one cannot understand the basic principle of restraining association between man and woman, he is to be considered an animal.” (SB 7.12.9 Purport)

  12. trivikramaswami says :

    Sita Rama Prabhu has said:

    “Still Krishna consciousness will go on. Therefore with a realistic understanding of the nature of material conditioning, and in accordance with the spirit and desire of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada I teach that the essential point for couples is to chant their rounds, follow the four regulations, and somehow or other get along. No one can tell me that this preaching is incorrect.”

    Your preaching is good Sita Rama Prabhu. We have to preach according to time and circumstances. However why not gradually train our young men and women, BEFORE they are married that there is a better system. A system that has been tried and tested for eons of time in which the husband vows to respect and protect his wife and in return the wife vows to be chaste to and serve her husband.

    The simple point is that in order to protect someone they have to be willing to be controlled to some degree. If the wife insists on going to a night club with a girl friend at one in the morning , on the plea that she has her rights, then how can the husband protect her?

    It is out of love and concern for women that the Vedic culture has posted the husband as a protector of his wife. Unfortunately men have abused their position and therefore there is this agitation for equal rights.

  13. krishna-kirti says :

    Anyone who has been in and around ISKCON for enough time knows that as individuals and as a community we’ve not always been as saintly as we have supposed ourselves to be. That’s the cheating propensity in action, and it’s a part of what it means to be a conditioned soul. Though rightly situated on the path of devotion, the majority of us are still materially conditioned. This means that if we think we’re going to bypass varnashram and have a marriage based on the highest spiritual principles, we’re probably going to end up with something else. And it will neither be spiritual, nor marriage.

  14. brahma dasa says :

    “As far as possible, thats all.”

    Sita Ram dasa,

    You are certainly correct; according to Srila Prabhupada we follow varnasrama “as far as possible, that’s all.” Although some aspects of varnasrama may be helpful, overall the system and the social rules that govern it are external to the practice of Krsna consciousness, so says Mahaprabhu in his discussion with Ramananda Roya. The point, according to Srila Rupa Goswami, is not Varnasrama dharma, Stri-dharma, or some other dharma, but to somehow or other to think of Krsna; who by the way says exactly this—sarva-dharman parityajya, to Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita.

    Practically speaking there are details and there are principles. Chanting Hare Krsna is a fundamental principle of Krsna consciousness, but the particulars of marriage and social life fall well within the realm of detail, and are thus subject to reasonable adjustments. This is what Srila Prabhupada did in many instances with regard to the role of women in his movement. He did so in regard to deity worship, the brahmacarini asrama, and even though he often stated that women required the protection of fathers, husbands, or sons, he nevertheless approved of starting a separate ashram for women under the supervision of his disciples Yamuna and Dinatarini.

    Srila Prabhupada said, “So at the present moment we cannot strictly follow [the Vedic culture]; neither we are strictly following; neither it is possible to strictly follow. As far as possible, that’s all.”

  15. pustakrishna says :

    A little common sense is needed. We understand the purport of the Vedic teachings, as revealed by Srila Rupa Goswami. All the injunctions can be summed up thusly: Always remember Krishna, never forget Krishna.
    A Krishna-centric life is what is desirable, not a self-centric one. Both an individual, and a husband-wife team, and an entire family, can be Krishna-centric. It is desirable.
    If one is a brahmachary or sannyasi, and is attached to thoughts of lust, they should redouble their efforts to live a Krishna centric life. It is not that such thoughts will not intrude into one’s mind, but one should turn their intellect, their heart and aspiration toward Krishna. Krishna explains that by contemplating the objects of the senses, one goes on to the ultimate loss of spiritual sanity. It is a culture, it is a test, and it can be successful with Krishna’s mercy. Remember, when the fire of material passion is becoming extinguished, you should not throw fuel on that fire. Let it go out…and let the mercy of Krishna rise up in one’s heart. In family life, it is desirable to live a God-centric life, by man, by woman, by children. Keep it simple. Inside out, not outside in. God-centric, not self-centric. Service, not personal pleasure or standing. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur therefore says: grhe tako vane tako, sada hari bole tako. In your current status, take the Holy Names up in your heart and mind.

    If you try to make a material adjustment, it will change the very next moment, then you will have to again make an adjustment, and so on, ad-infinitum. Better to let the flux, the changing world go on, with one’s consciousness focused on Krishna. Remember, the gopis are mostly married, but are deeply commited to Krishna, deeply in love with Krishna. He is the source of love and beauty for them, and all that is desirable.

    Pusta Krishna das

  16. narendra dasa says :

    Dear all

    Srila Prabhupada said the following in regard of proper gender roles.

    Narendra das

    Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 9.3.10


    Cyavana Muni was very irritable, but since Sukanyā had gotten him as her husband, she dealt with him carefully, according to his mood. Knowing his mind, she performed service to him without being bewildered.


    This is an indication of the relationship between husband and wife. A great personality like Cyavana Muni has the temperament of always wanting to be in a superior position. Such a person cannot submit to anyone. Therefore, Cyavana Muni had an irritable temperament. His wife, Sukanyā, could understand his attitude, and under the circumstances she treated him accordingly. If any wife wants to be happy with her husband, she must try to understand her husband’s temperament and please him. This is victory for a woman. Even in the dealings of Lord Kṛṣṇa with His different queens, it has been seen that although the queens were the daughters of great kings, they placed themselves before Lord Kṛṣṇa as His maidservants. However great a woman may be, she must place herself before her husband in this way; that is to say, she must be ready to carry out her husband’s orders and please him in all circumstances. Then her life will be successful. When the wife becomes as irritable as the husband, their life at home is sure to be disturbed or ultimately completely broken. In the modern day, the wife is never submissive, and therefore home life is broken even by slight incidents. Either the wife or the husband may take advantage of the divorce laws. According to the Vedic law, however, there is no such thing as divorce laws, and a woman must be trained to be submissive to the will of her husband. Westerners contend that this is a slave mentality for the wife, but factually it is not; it is the tactic by which a woman can conquer the heart of her husband, however irritable or cruel he may be. In this case we clearly see that although Cyavana Muni was not young but indeed old enough to be Sukanyā’s grandfather and was also very irritable, Sukanyā, the beautiful young daughter of a king, submitted herself to her old husband and tried to please him in all respects. Thus she was a faithful and chaste wife.

  17. Visakha Priya dasi says :

    H. H. Trivikrama Swami wrote: “Unfortunately men have abused their position and therefore there is agitation for equal rights.”

    The well-known dictum “Corruption starts at the top” applies here. It started with the corruption of brahmanas, the first one being the brahmana Srngi, and then it went on down the ages. Even in the Middle Ages, traces of Vedic culture were present in Europe. The Pope was the ultimate authority, and the bishops, archbishops, and cardinals were the advisors to the king. The king himself became king only after having been anointed with sacred oil by the clergy, and it was understood that he ruled the kingdom as God’s representative. Unfortunately, the Church amassed large properties, through donations from the congregation, and in this way the top clergy gradually came down to the level of landlords instead of remaining brahmanas. Seeing this, the aristocracy (the ksatriyas) rebelled against the system, and the vivid example of this is King Henry the Eighth’s founding of the Church of England and the whole Protestant revolution. Thereafter, the ruling class, being no longer under the protection of a bonafide clergy, started acting independently, abusing their power and exploiting the vaisyas and sudras. This led to the French Revolution in 1789. By now, we had no more spiritual guides and many of the ksatriyas either fled (to South Africa and wherever) or were guillotined, or just lay low. So now we have the mercantile class in full control: the mixed modes of passion and ignorance in action. So the greedy merchants, bankers, and the likes exploited the working class to the max, and this led to the Bolshevik revolution. So now the sudras took over. And to this day, people are still used, abused, exploited, and tyrannized in a more sophisticated and devilish way than they ever were because of so-called scientific advancement, and we are becoming slaves to machines. Perhaps one day we will rebel against them and go back to the plowshare, and then maybe we can hope to start another Vedic society.

    In Kali-yuga we are all born sudras, and only through Krsna consciousness can we hope to transcend our conditioning. When I joined ISKCON I was told that the process of devotional service was like taking the elevator and that the varnasrama system was like climbing up the stairs.


  18. Visakha Priya dasi says :

    About twelve years ago I attended some informal seminars on varnasrama, given by H. H. Bhakti-vidya-purna Maharaja. One thing he said struck me: Our main problem is that instead of concentrating on our own duties, we point the finger at others. The men find fault with the women and the women find fault with the men and nothing is working. Kali-yuga *is* an ocean of faults and the only good quality in this age is the congregational chanting of the holy name. This is Srila Prabhupada’s main teaching. “Healer, heal thyself.” Before we attempt to reform society, even the ISKCON society, we should reform ourselves. It is not a Vedic principle that a person of higher intelligence should surrender to a person of lower intelligence, and this is why the whole system of arranged marriages within one’s own caste is so nice. But it has degraded to such an extent that even in India divorce is increasing and some legislation is underway to make it easier to get one. Let us face it: some women are more intelligent than men, more responsible, more hardworking, etc. So why should they surrender to inferior beings just because their external dress is male? After all, these male and female bodies are temporary designations and they change from one life to the next. What doesn’t change from one life to the next is the spiritual advancement one makes in one life, even if by some misfortune one gets a woman’s body in one’s next life.

  19. Akruranatha says :

    “These fools and rascals who criticize the intermingling of boys and girls will simply have to be satisfied with their own foolishness because they cannot think of how to spread Krishna consciousness by adopting ways and means that are favorable for this purpose. Their stereotyped methods will never help spread Krishna consciousness.”

    Powerful quote.

    If we become too wrapped up in some monolithic cultural stereotype, the preaching will become moribund.

    On the other hand, it is a fact that we are spreading not just some meditation technique but a whole culture that affects every aspect of how we move and interact in the world, economically, culturally, socially, we can learn to dedicate everything to Krsna and obey His commands in all respects. If we do it well it will be all-attractive.

    But I guess there has to be some wisdom of which commends to emphasize, and where and when.

    The goal is to prosecute a life of progressive Krishna consciousness while not disturbing others or taking more than our quota, seeing how everything is owned and controlled by Krishna, recognizing the different inherent psychophysical natures (including cultural conditioning) to treat all with proper respect and help engage them happily in Krishna’s service.

    Devotee preachers have to be aware of the rules of dharma but have to be agile enough or flexible enough to preach Krishna consciousness among people of different cultures. It does not have to be one uniform approach everywhere.

    Telling them they are badly behaved is usually a tough sell.

    Srila Prabhupada did not start by preaching “You should not be hippies.” He started by introducing Krishna kirtan and then eventually teaching those who were serious how to chant properly, observing the rules of bhakti yoga, which automatically include the rules of varnasrama dharma.

    But, he then encouraged us in creating a society of devotees who were no longer hippies, and who tried as far as possible to live in a morally pure and simple way.

    However, such a society may develop its own cultural dynamic that could lead to stereotyped, ineffective preaching, or preaching that can only reach very limited segments of society. (It can also develop its own rule-oriented moralists who do not see the reasons behind the rules or who use them for exploitation.)

    I like Pusta Krishna’s observation: “Inside out, not outside in.” Engagement in Krishna consciousness automatically helps us develop all the good, divine qualities.

  20. Srila Prabhupada has made many statements about the female and male bodies roles it is also in Srimad Bhagavatam 7 canto.However the concept of husband and wife is really false as only Krsna is the Surpeme Husband for all jivas:

    Anyone who think they are wife and husbands are in illusion, Krsna only is the Supreme Husband of all Jivas,we hear this clearly from Laxmidevi and Rukmini devi in Srimad Bhagavatam:

    SB 5.18.17: Accompanied during the daytime by the sons of the Prajāpati [the predominating deities of the days] and accompanied at night by his daughters [the deities of the nights], Lakshmīdevī worships the Lord during the period known as the Samvatsara in His most merciful form as Kāmadeva. Fully absorbed in devotional service, she chants the following mantras.

    SB 5.18.18: Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Hrishīkeśa, the controller of all my senses and the origin of everything. As the supreme master of all bodily, mental and intellectual activities, He is the only enjoyer of their results. The five sense objects and eleven senses, including the mind, are His partial manifestations. He supplies all the necessities of life, which are His energy and thus nondifferent from Him, and He is the cause of everyone’s bodily and mental prowess, which is also nondifferent from Him. Indeed, He is the husband and provider of necessities for all living entities. The purpose of all the Vedas is to worship Him. Therefore let us all offer Him our respectful obeisances. May He always be favorable toward us in this life and the next.

    SB 5.18.19: My dear Lord, You are certainly the fully independent master of all the senses. Therefore all women who worship You by strictly observing vows because they wish to acquire a husband to satisfy their senses are surely under illusion. They do not know that such a husband cannot actually give protection to them or their children. Nor can he protect their wealth or duration of life, for he himself is dependent on time,

  21. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    Srila Prabhipada wanted us to help develop Daivi Varnashram Dharma NOT asuri or regular Varnashram.
    Daivi Varnashram is automatically included all the principals of devotional service like having Krsna in the center and also 18.66 (sarva dharma parityaja).
    But we are requested to include the ‘second half of HIS WORK” which is Divine Varnashram. So what is that?
    That is what we need to figure out for the benefit of all the above reasons mentioned in my first post and many other reasons not mentioned like
    “Human Life begins at the stage of Varnashram” SP
    Now I would like to share the following observations.
    1) Recently there are yearly Brahmachari Conventions happening in some countries.
    2)We have a functioning or unfunctioning Sanyas Ministry
    —–So why NOT have an official Grihastha Training Facilities & Programs like
    Mother Uttama and her team who are giving counselling/guiding programs for couples who want to get married through Grihastha Vision team. I think these programs have become compulsary in some temples if any couples want the local pujaris to conduct their marriage.
    And we also have the example of counselling system set up by Chowpatty devotees, who I beleive are also sharing their systems and skills with other interested parties.

    —– We need these because Srila Prabhupada had said that the First Duty of a Grihastha is to feed others and then honor prasad.

    So how to do that in our present circumstances. We need to discuss this and many other important duties of Grihasthas. E.g. Rules about interaction with other people like one’s neighbours (as given in 11th Canto), one’s statesmen, king, duties towards one’s nephews and neices? As in the case of Lord Caitanya to Chand Kazi. That discussion only implies the obligations of their relationship. —Continued—-

  22. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    We don’t know to full extent what other duties and obligations are in that relationship, like in the example of Kamsa and Lord Krsna or duty if Kamsa towards his sister Devaki where Vasudeva clearly outlines many of them not all. (oops, I am getting carried away and making this too trivial).

    But the real point is that as long as we live in this material world we need to follow this system, UNLESS one is an AVADHUTTA or one wants to remain outside of Varnashram Dharma.

    At this point many devotees will cite the verse that for one who has taken shelter of pure devotional service one is free of all obligations. (but my point is that we are NOT giving up any principals of pure devotional service, we are ONLY going to ADD the basic rules of Human life to decorate our external interactions which will further beautify the qualities of devotees and endear them to others.

    —–Second duty of a grihastha is to make his family, relatives and community Krsna Conscious as per order of Lord Caitanya.

    In order to prepare a meal, there are so many many rules one has to observe. What to speak of serving a meal to a Guest. There are hundred of rules. Do we know them. These are suposed to be taught in Varnashram College. It is mentioned that Lord Krsna and Lord Rama learnt these rules in the gurukula where Dharma Sastras like Manu Samhita and Ayurveda were also taught along with all the other Vedas (Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaj’s tapes on Varnashram and Manu Samhita)
    What food item to serve when, with what and how? Which direction one should be facing while eating, sleeping, cooking etc.

    Varnashram in simple terms means, KNOWING the rules, duties and obligations of various Varnas and Ashrams and then Following them, Along with rules, duties and obligations of Pure Devotional Service as per example of Great devotees like our Acharyas like Bhaktivinod Thakur, Srila Prabhupada, Mahajans, Rajrishis, Kings like Janaka, Priyavrata, Ambarish M and devotees like Prahlad & Bali Maharaj who followed the rules of Grihastha life (and Varnashram Dharma) even though they came from a family of demons. —–Continued —-

  23. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    So how do we go about doing this?

    So far in ISKCON, we do not have the training for All the Ashrams, (meaning Grihastha and Vanaprasthas, then how can be begin to understand the duties and natures of various Varnas in the present context of time (present social circumstances. We have a LOT OF WORK ahead of us.

    We need to understand that as long as we have these material bodies, we need to follow the rules of living in this material world which are called Varnashram Dharma (which were created at the beginning of time by Lord Brahma 3rd Canto and BG. Chapters 2 and 3.

    If we say that we are spirit souls and don’t need to follow Varnashram Dharma, Then, we don’t need to eat, sleep, communicate, work etc. because we are spirit souls.
    But so as long as we need to continue with all the worldly activities because we have material bodies and material needs, we need to follow the rules of THIS MATERIAL world which are CALLED Varnashram Dharma.

    Then as we advance spiritually, we can gradually start to give them up with the premission of our gurus and senior devotees who themselves will be following them for the sake of teaching and encouraging others.

    It is very encouraging to see senior devotees like Jaiadvaita Maharaj to give classes encouraging performing one’s duties instead of giving them up in the name of devotional service as was taught in the early days of ISKCON. We have many references of seminars and classes given by senior devotees if anyone is interested in learning more on this subject. Again, I beg your pardon for any offenses. And I thank you for this opportunity.

    Insignificant servant
    Wife of Svayambhuva Manudas – SDG
    Mother Gandharidasi

  24. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    Vishakha Priya Mataji wrote comment 18, “So why should they surrender to inferior beings just because their external dress is male? After all, these male and female bodies are temporary designations and they change from one life to the next”
    As long as we are in the women’s body, we need to follow the rules layed down for that body, as much as the police offer has to follow the rules of the dress he is wearing. A doctor has to follow the rules of his uniform, an army officer his rules.
    BG 3.35: It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.
    BG 2.33: If, however, you do not perform your religious (duty of fighting), then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties.
    This allies to all the embodied beings my dear mother Vishakha Priya.
    BG 2.38: Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat — and by so doing you shall never incur sin.
    Purpoert – That everything should be performed for the sake of Kṛṣṇa is transcendental consciousness; so there is no reaction to material activities.
    BG 2.47: You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.
    Purport: – Prescribed duties are activities enjoined in terms of one’s acquired modes of material nature.
    BG 2.48: Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.
    BG.2.51 Purport:Service for the cause of the Lord is called karma-yoga or buddhi-yoga, or in plain words, devotional service to the Lord.
    BG 3.5: Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
    BG 3.8: Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work.

    BG 3.9: Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.

  25. Mother Gandharidasi says :

    Mother Vishakha Priya, Hope these help. I have listed them to also remind me of the prescribed duties without attachment and desire for the results and performing them for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord.
    These devine words of the Supreme Lord are very purifying and always relishable and contain newer and newer meanings.
    Thank you very much
    Mother Gandharidasi

  26. Prahladesh says :

    There is always a big discussion about this issue in all civilized societies.
    In many cultures are stereotyped traits attributed to one or the other sex, damaging the delicacy and flexibility of almost all relationships.

    There are male and female in both men and women, but the proportion varies from one to another – as well as within the same sex.
    Expressions like “a girly man” or a “masculine woman” are very common in many languages and are in use to describe individuals who believes that this ratio is too unbalanced.

    There are more Sattva and Tamas than Rajas in the female component.
    In the male, the predominant is Rajas, while Sattva and Tamas are less important.
    It is the proportion of these qualities that makes male and female different from each other.

    A woman with 20 percent of the male and 80 percent of the female, will have 26 percent of Rajas and 37 percent of Sattva and Tamas.
    A man with 80 percent of the male and 20 percent of the female will have 44 percent of Rajas and 28 percent of Tamas and Sattva.
    But there may be variations.

    The innate attributes of women and men emerge from the different proportions of the three qualities.
    The male attributes imply activity, action and movement.
    The feminine attributes are tranquility, spirituality, creation, care, etc..

    These features can be seen readily in young children.
    Girls are usually more stable and more peaceful quieter than the boys, who jump and move about much.
    Often, girls play with dolls taking care of them, giving them assistance and putting them to sleep.
    Some say that these characteristics result from the imposition of social norms by parents.
    Not true. If so, all the mothers who were exhausted because of the naughty behavior of their boys would be able to manipulate them easily.

    Therefore, as noted earlier, a woman has more Tamas and Sattva in her than Rajas.
    It is the dominant quality of Tamas with a bit of Rajas that gives women the desire to make a home and be in the same place and want to have a family.

    Freedom of expression and understanding of each other’s qualities are essential for the companionship between women and men.

  27. Prahladesh says :

    Only with understanding, patience and generosity towards each other is that men and women can lead a harmonious existence.
    For example, a woman should not be overly so, but should leave the man to express the quality of Rajas participating in events that involve action and movement.
    If the expression of Rajas of men is so intense, women must subtle involve man in practices that bring peace to mind.
    Meanwhile, a man must understand the desire for a woman to have a family and home, and still encourage, not suppress, the Rajas of it.
    If the Rajas of her is deleted, Tamas increases, leading to anxiety, depression and sometimes the eruptions of anger.
    Man should also understand the kind and quality of her maternity and not be angry with her for being lenient with the children.”

    End Quotes

    There is no doubt that any man or woman – if they are in pure devotional service – could act as a Guru and help all.

    It is a fact that no physical barrier can prevent the execution of devotional service.
    So no matter whether someone is male or female, they must take care to spread the message of Krsna consciousness.

    Srila Prabhupada explains:
    “This dress is not formal sannyasa. True Sannyasa is when a person induces others to become Krsna conscious and dancing in Krsna consciousness.
    If you can make only one person Krsna conscious then you will return to God, to home, this is guaranteed.
    This is the real purpose of sannyasa.” SPT 20/2/70

    Furthermore, when one spiritually advances, whether man or woman, will feel the need, by the desire of Krsna Himself to let flow all the spiritual nectar.
    And so this person as a service to Krsna and Guru would be a powerful tool in spreading the spiritual culture.

    In general, according to their Prakriti, women will accept family life. But those who do not feel inclined should be encouraged to preach intensely as renounced devotees.

    Furthermore, “Matajis” who have gone through family life and had raised her children, can and should concern itself actively in the preaching as renounced devotees.

    Your servant
    Prahladesh Dasa Adhikari

  28. Sita Rama das says :

    Part 1
    Dear Trivikrama Maharaja,
    Please accept my humble obiesances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    I accept the main premise of your statement. We have to preach to individuals with respect to the level they are on. But we should not abandon the ancient teachings. We have to encourage people to come to the ideal standard as much as possible. My focus is mostly on new converts. Actually the zeal and idealism that is common in new converts often compels them to try to immediately come to the highest standard. Therefore it is important that we explain the high, ancient, standard in a balanced manner.
    We may teach a woman that ideally she should always be agreeable to her husband. But even the ancient teaching acknowledges that disagreement is inevitable. If we neglect to tell woman this we are not asking them to come to the ancient Vedic platform, rather we are asking them to do the impossible. This I have concluded from, among other things, Srila Prabhupada’s statements on a morning walk May 14, 1975, Perth, “Husband and wife they fight everwhere. I have seen. My mother and father was fighting. I fought. (laughter) But there is no question of separation. Separation they never think. Neither the husband can think of, nor the wife can think of. Even in the life of Gandhi there was a fight between husband and wife, and the Gandhi one day drove his wife,” get out of my home”. So she was put into the street, and she began to cry, “Where shall I go?” And then Gandhi ans…,”Come on.” Yes. And Chanakya Pundit said bambharambhe laghu kriya. The husband and wife may fight. It becomes a serious thing, but don’t take it as serious. This is Hindu philosophy. Husband and wife quarrel should not be taken as very serious. They fight and again they live peacefully.” Srila Prabhupada has repeated this point several times.
    Of course Srila Prabhupada’s main point is not to justify quarreling but to emphasize that it should not lead to divorce. Still a female devotee is taught that she should always be agreeable with both her husband and her Guru; but rather than trying to equate these two instructions we must explain that in the matter of the husband and wife disagreement is not at all serious. Otherwise, the instruction that the wife always agrees with the husband will be seen, justifiably, as impossible and create discouragement in a female devotee.

  29. Sita Rama das says :

    Part 2
    I certainly agree that a husband should protect a wife and forbid her to go to a night club. I will not quibble with you if you say that this type of protection is mainly the role of the man. But it seems one must at least admit that role reversal is not uncommon. In some cases the wife must forbid the husband from going to the club. It is stated that the duty of a chaste wife is to renounce a fallen husband . Implicit in this instruction is the fact that this is a possible circumstance.
    My last statement to you was in regard to modern culture. But the main thrust of the argument in my two articles on dandavats is not that we have to consider modern culture but that we need to present the ancient culture in an accurate way. There are considerations beyond this. Our specific position is that we are followers of Lord Caintanya. Krishna says in S.B. 11:21:2, “Steadiness in one’s own position is declared to be actual piety, whereas deviation from ones position is considered impiety. In this way the two are definitely ascertained.” Although it is an instruction to an individual, I claim that the following statement in a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Mother Himavati, 12/20/69 applies to all devotee couples. “So I am especially proud how my householder couples are preaching Lord Caitanya’s Mission. This is a new thing in the history of the Sankirtana Movement. In India all the acaryas and their descendants later on acted only from the man’s side. Their wives were at home because that is the system from old times that women were not required to go out. But in Bhagavad Gita we find that women are also equally competent like the men in the matter of Krishna Consciousness Movement. Please therefore carry on these missionary activities, and prove it by practical example that there is no bar for anyone in the matter of preaching work for Krishna Consciousness.”
    I do not contend that this means we should say to hell with all ancient gender roles. But the fact is, because of our specific position, the ideal for us may be different then the ideal for others in Vedic culture. For example Mother Gandhari is an example of an exalted chaste wife because she covered her eyes so she would not have an ability her blind husband didn’t. Of course we would never require a woman to do the same today. But if a woman voluntarily did this would it be an example of the utmost piety? I would say no.

  30. Sita Rama das says :

    Part 3
    If a woman’s husband goes blind, piety for her would be to stick to her position as a follower of Lord Caitanya and act as her husband’s eyes so, as a couple, they can preach Krishna Consciousness. Our duty is not to renounce things but to utilize all facilities we have in Srila Prabhupada’s mission. I do not know anything about different vanashrama systems. But whatever system we adopt, as followers of Lord Caitanya, we can’t avoid our duty to tell others about Krishna and utilize all abilities we have for this end.

  31. :

    SB 5.18.20: He alone who is never afraid but who, on the contrary, gives complete shelter to all fearful persons can actually become a husband and protector. Therefore, my Lord, you are the only husband, and no one else can claim this position. If you were not the only husband, You would be afraid of others. Therefore persons learned in all Vedic literature accept only Your Lordship as everyone’s master, and they think no one else a better husband and protector than You.

    SB 5.18.21: My dear Lord, You automatically fulfill all the desires of a woman who worships Your lotus feet in pure love. However, if a woman worships Your lotus feet for a particular purpose, You also quickly fulfill her desires, but in the end she becomes broken-hearted and laments. Therefore one need not worship Your lotus feet for some material benefit.

    SB 5.18.22: O supreme unconquerable Lord, when they become absorbed in thoughts of material enjoyment, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, as well as other demigods and demons, undergo severe penances and austerities to receive my benedictions. But I do not favor anyone, however great he may be; unless he is always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet. Because I always keep You within my heart, I cannot favor anyone but a devotee.

    SB 5.18.23: O infallible one, Your lotus palm is the source of all benediction. Therefore Your pure devotees worship it, and You very mercifully place Your hand on their heads. I wish that You may also place Your hand on My head, for although You already bear my insignia of golden streaks on Your chest, I regard this honor as merely a kind of false prestige for me. You show Your real mercy to Your devotees, not to me. Of course, You are the supreme absolute controller, and no one can understand Your motives

    We see in Srimad Bhagavatam 10 canto chapter 60 how Krsna teased Rukmini and Her answer was most befitting Her exalted position and approved by Krsna :
    SB 10.60.34: Śrī Rukminī said: Actually, what You have said is true, O lotus-eyed one. I am indeed unsuitable for the almighty Personality of Godhead. What comparison is there between that Supreme Lord, who is master of the three primal deities and who delights in His own glory, and myself, a woman of mundane qualities whose feet are grasped by fools?

  32. trivikramaswami says :

    Here two words are very significant. Devahuti served her husband in two ways, virambheŠa and gauraveŠa. These are two important processes in serving the husband or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. VirambheŠa means “with intimacy,” and gauraveŠa means “with great reverence.” The husband is a very intimate friend; therefore, the wife must render service just like an intimate friend, and at the same time she must understand that the husband is superior in position, and thus she must offer him all respect. A man’s psychology and woman’s psychology are different. As constituted by bodily frame, a man always wants to be superior to his wife, and a woman, as bodily constituted, is naturally inferior to her husband. Thus the natural instinct is that the husband wants to post himself as superior to the wife, and this must be observed. Even if there is some wrong on the part of the husband, the wife must tolerate it, and thus there will be no misunderstanding between husband and wife. VirambheŠa means “with intimacy,” but it must not be familiarity that breeds contempt. According to the Vedic civilization, a wife cannot call her husband by name. In the present civilization the wife calls her husband by name, but in Hindu civilization she does not. Thus the inferiority and superiority complexes are recognized. Damena ca: a wife has to learn to control herself even if there is a misunderstanding. Sauhdena v€c€ madhuray€ means always desiring good for the husband and speaking to him with sweet words. A person becomes agitated by so many material contacts in the outside world; therefore, in his home life he must be treated by his wife with sweet words.
    SB 3.23.3