Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji

24,552 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji

Date: February 28th, 2011
Topic: Dhruva Maharaja Goes Back To Godhead
SB: 4. 12. 23
Speaker: HG Urmila Mataji
____________________________________________

sunanda-nandav ucatuh bho bho rajan subhadram te vacam no ‘vahitah srnu yah panca-varsas tapasa bhavan devam atitrpat
TRANSLATION: Nanda and Sunanda, the two confidential associates of Lord Visnu, said: Dear King, let there be all good fortune unto you. Please attentively hear what we shall say. When you were only five years old, you underwent severe austerities, and you thereby greatly satisfied the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

PURPORT: What was possible for Dhruva Maharaja is possible for anyone. Any five-year-old child can be trained, and within a very short time his life will become successful by realization of Krishna consciousness. Unfortunately, this training is lacking all over the world. It is necessary for the leaders of the Krishna consciousness movement to start educational institutions in different parts of the world to train children, starting at the age of five years. Thus such children will not become hippies or spoiled children of society; rather, they can all become devotees of the Lord. The face of the world will then change automatically. [End of Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 4.12.24]

HG Urmila Mataji: This is the airplane coming to see Dhruva Maharaj. When I looked in advance at the verse and purport that Krishna somehow arranged for me to speak on I was very astonished. I will read Srila Prabhupada’s translation and purport. [Reads] I promise you I did not choose this purport [Laughter] It is just in order. I was thinking how the leaders of the Krishna Consciousness Movement who are all meeting now in Mayapur, of course most of them are now in meetings. We will read the verse again. [Reads]

Prabhupada says here that if we start institutions all over the world, in different places in the world to train children, the face of the world will then change automatically. So what kind of face would we like to have on the world? Imagine if anywhere you could go in the world there was a prasadam restaurant; if all the milk people drank in the world was from protected cows; if all the music was glorifying the Lord; if all the drama was glorifying the Lord; if all of the fruits, vegetables, the water, the air, the land was pure and sanctified; if the governments were full of raja-rsis; if it was easy to maintain yourself in such a way that you naturally think of Krishna!

Prabhupada in his purport to, yat karosi yad asnasi, yaj juhosi dadasi yat yat tapasyasi kaunteya, tat kurusva mad-arpanam [Bg 9.27]

He said everyone has to maintain their body but you should mould your life in such a way that you cannot help but remember Krishna at every moment. To do that in the present world is very difficult. Very difficult to get an education, to have a livelihood in such a way you can remember Krishna. If the face of the world were changed then everywhere you would be able to remember Krishna.

Well, you may say, “Okay, Urmila, but the leaders of the Hare Krishna movement, the leaders of the Krishna consciousness movement are not are not going to start these educational institutions in different parts of the world tomorrow, and even if they did - it would take at least twenty or thirty years before the face of the world would change, and by that time I might be in another body.” Well, from that consideration also we want to have educational institutions.

Twenty verses later Srila Prabhupada quoting Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati makes the point that if one is, how does he say? As serious and sincere as Dhruva Maharaja, one can go back to Godhead in one life. Are we as serious and sincere as Dhruva Maharaja? Anybody feels, “I am as sincere and serious as Dhruva Maharaja?” Five year old boy went into the forest with wild beasts and did such tapasya. After a while he was only breathing every few days.

We are working on a drama, ‘The Three Lives of Bharat Maharaja’. Bharat was the son of - who is his father? Rsabdeva - incarnation of God was his father. He attained the stage of bhava and he became a deer. And then again he took birth in a family of brahmanas. It took him at least three lives.

bahunam janmanam ante, jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti, sa mahatma su-durlabhah [Bg 7.19]
My god brother Sridhara Swami once asked a meeting of the leaders, “How many of you are hundred percent certain that at the end of this life you will go to Goloka Vrindavan?” So then where will we go if there are no institutions in different parts of the world to train children? We might be one of the children and then we might have to go to a school where just being a vegetarian is a reason for the other children to tease you, “Oh, what’s that funny food you are eating? You don’t go to restaurants? You don’t know what the latest movie is? What’s wrong with you?

And if you talk, as I have, to many members of our second generation, how much they suffer in such schools where either they had to give up their Krishna consciousness in order to be socially accepted or if they wanted to keep their Krishna consciousness they were social outcasts. Where will we go? Will we have to be in such schools where it’s such a struggle even to eat vegetarian food, what to speak of anything else?

So it is our duty, all of us, to try to have such educational institutions. But you might say, “Well why is that so important? Why are we focusing on this?’ Sometimes we focus on other things. We have to establish varnasrama. Of course this is part of varnasrama, it’s the brahmacari part. But we have to always do harinam sankirtan. Of course this is also part of that. But if we want to ask, “Why schools? Why training for children?”

First I am going to look at a mundane reason. There’s a couple of researchers, Roger Finke, who is a professor of sociology and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University and he did research over a decade as to what were the factors in common for a religious organization to continue to exist. He says most religious institutions last less than a hundred years. Out of thousands and thousands and thousands of religious movements that start hardly any last for a hundred years and get at least a hundred thousand followers. Of course that is not our primary interest. Our primary interest is in purity, in bhakti, in a change of heart, not in numbers and years, but I think all of us, would we all like the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to still be functioning in thousands of years? Would we like more and more people to join our society?

So he lists ten factors which are found in common, and two of them have to do with children that are found in common for religious institutions that remain and grow. One of them is having lots of children. I am sure you all know that the fastest growing religion in the world is Islam. Do you know why? They have a lot of children.

Somehow in our Hare Krishna Movement we have adopted the materialistic view of children. The materialistic view is that life is for sense gratification. If life is for sense gratification children are a major impediment. It is very hard to go out to parties all day long and make a lot of money if you have ten children. You have to be responsible. And somehow we brought, in the name of renunciation, we brought this mentality into our Hare Krishna Movement. That is not a Vedic mentality. Bhaktivinode Thakur had twelve children. Srila Prabhupada had five children that lived. He had more children than that.

Srila Prabhupada writes in Caitanya-caritamrta that every woman desires at least half a dozen children. So modern society is get married late. If you get married late then naturally you will not have very many children. Prabhupada taught us to get married early. He said, if you are going to marry do it before thirty. Not that you get married at forty five and then you have to try to renounce when you are eighty. Hare Krishna. We do it backwards, you know. So get married early and have wonderful children. Prabhupada said if you can have Krishna conscious children have one hundred children.

There is no religious system in the history of the world that has gone on past one or two generations if no one has children. The religious systems where everyone is celibate - they don’t get enough converts to keep going. And if we look at what is one of the main sources of people coming into our Krishna consciousness movement, it’s the children of the Hindus. Of course now the Indian Hindus are also buying into the modern secular demoniac philosophy. When I was recently in South India everywhere I saw a sign, ‘One is best.’ Then it will become like China, one child policy. No one has a brother, sister, aunt, uncle or cousins anymore. So that’s one thing - that there should be a lot of children. And not just a lot of children like a pig litter.

Roger Finke also found the other thing related to children is that the children be, what he called properly socialized and that’s what Srila Prabhupada is speaking about here. Because he says there are two problems with children born into a religion. The first is that if they are not properly trained they are likely to leave because they did not consciously choose that path in this life. (Of course he doesn’t say ‘in this life.’)

And the other is that the children born into a religion are more likely to lower the strictness. They have a tendency to want lesser degrees of strictness - again because they haven’t made that fervent, we have to say, fanatic conversion experience that people not born in that system went through. Therefore he says without proper socialization the children will not add to the society. So that is one reason we want schools, a sociological reason.

Then Srila Prabhupada is giving a transcendent reason - that the children will become devotees of the Lord. The children will become devotees of the Lord. So a devotee has all good qualities. And this wonderful thing here in this verse about the devotees of the Lord - I am not anywhere close to a Sanskrit scholar but one Sanskrit scholar, Dwijamani Prabhu, disciple of Ravindra Svarupa, he was noting in this verse that this word na vacam no which is vacam na is the plural of our.

In Sanskrit grammar there is singular, dual and plural. And you notice it is just Nanda and Sunanda talking - just two. But yet the ‘we’ is in the plural form. And he said, following one commentator in the line of Vallabacarya - Girdhari Vallabh, he comments that the reason the plural is used here is that these devotees of the Lord are so glorious that you just don’t think of them as two.
There is also an interesting word - atitrpat. Atitrpat is an unusual verb form. He said it was the luṅ (aorist) of a ṇic (causative) verb. I don’t understand that, but if you are a scholar you may take note. He says this very unusual verb form which is hardly ever seen, it means to cause to become, that Dhruva caused the Lord to become happy: isvarah paramah krsnah, sarva-karana-karanam [Bs 5.1] - The Lord is the cause of all causes.

There is that wonderful purport in the thirteenth chapter of the tenth canto, when all of the cowherd boys and calves turn into Visnu forms, and the Lord is looking at the devotees, it says with passion. And Srila Prabhupada says, as do all the acaryas, that the original form of this passion is affection, and this affection of the Lord - it develops desires in the devotees, who are otherwise desireless. It causes them to be happy. But here we see that Dhruva is causing the Lord to be happy.

The Lord is unlimitedly happy. He is caused to be happy by His devotee. Therefore schools that produce devotees bring happiness to everyone.

mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena, bhakti-yogena sevate sa gunan samatityaitan, brahma-bhuyaya kalpate [Bg 14.26]

As soon as one becomes a devotee he is above the modes of nature. It is the modes of nature that cause us to be selfish, cheating, or we could say it’s our desire to be in the modes of nature. All the bad qualities! As soon as one is above the modes of nature ones original good qualities, because we are all part of Krishna, that means we have most of the qualities of Krishna to a small extent, and when one becomes a devotee that is awakened.

So a school that would create devotees would change - as Prabhupada says here, the face of the world. You can say, “Well, all the schools of the world teach values: honesty, responsibility, morality.” But if you are not a devotee you are ultimately selfish. And if you are ultimately selfish, how can you have any good qualities? You have good qualities up to a point. There will be a tipping point.

We are all honest people, right? Everyone here is an honest person? We are all honest? Are we honest? Can anyone here say they are absolutely honest? And if you think, “When do we give up our honesty?” it is when we become afraid that if I am honest in this situation I will suffer. If you have no fear - the first quality of the divine listed in the sixteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita is fearlessness. How can you become fearless, unless you are a devotee? Abhay Caranaravinda. You’re at Krishna’s lotus feet. Like Prabhupada says, the child holding on to the hand of their father, older brother - you are fearless. Let the bullies come. It doesn’t matter. I have my father here to protect me. I am the soul, na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg 2.20] I cannot be harmed. And when one is fearless, then, only then, can one actually manifest all good qualities.

No system of values training, however much developed by the most intelligent educators and psychologists, will ever bring people to a real state of morality and ethics. And another reason why schools are so important to change the face of the world is that Prabhupada said that children are like soft dough. He was speaking with Syamasundara. He said: “You can mold them in any way like soft dough. However you put them in the mold they will come out - like bharats, chapatis or katchories. Therefore if you give children good association they will develop nicely, if you put them in bad association they will develop poorly. They have no independent psychology.”

karanam guna-sango ’sya, sad-asad-yoni-janmasu [Bg 13.22]

Whatever modes we associate with, that will determine our character. Have you ever wondered why there is death? Why didn’t Krishna make a material world without death? One reason is that not all of our desires can be fulfilled in one body, and you have to forget one body before you can really get into the next one. But another reason, especially for the human being, is to allow us fresh slate were we don’t have so obliviously all these samskaras, all the impressions of our previous lives.

One devotee talked about how he was bathing in Ganga here. He started to drown and he started to think of a chewing gum commercial. When you have a fresh start you can be molded to be a devotee of Krishna.

What will we do in these schools? First when I saw this purport I was very excited. I thought somehow or other Krishna has engaged me for the last thirty years or so in trying to establish schools for children in different parts of the world. And then when I meditated on it further I thought: this is kind of a political topic, because people will say that the school has to be like this or it has to be like this, you have to have it this way or it is not bona fide. And I am sorry to say but even among those few - and there are very few, we only have as far as I know about fifteen schools all over the world, the majority of them are in India. In North America right now we have four - two of them in the same place. In Europe we have three - two of them in the same place. Most of our children in schools related to Srila Prabhupada are in India. Prabhupada says ‘in different parts of the world.’ And even amongst those few there is often not cohesion. “Our school is better than your school. We are the only bona fide school.” And of them the leaders, I am not just talking of leaders with a title - but often the leaders instead of encouraging the creation of more schools fight about what is the standard for schools. We only have so much energy and if we spend our energy fighting with each other - what will be the point?

So I thought we could look at some of the principles. Those of you involved in education you know, the first thing you have to decide is what are your principles. To determine this I went through a series of lectures Srila Prabhupada gave in Mumbai in 1976. He lectured on the verses on the Bhagavatam seventh canto, chapter twelve, texts one to six:

brahmacari guru-kule, vasan danto guror hitam [SB 7.12.1]

That series of verses about gurukula. Srila Prabhupada wanted to establish a school in Mumbai. If you are really interested in the subject of children’s education I strongly recommend that you read and listen to those lectures. What is particularly interesting is that Srila Prabhupada would go back and forth between talking about the brahmacari asrama for adults and the gurukula school for children. Sometimes He talked just about one or just about the other, and He would mix them. I always thought that our temple asramas were kind of gurukulas for adults. But he talked about devotee training in general.

So I went through those lectures and picked up the principles that Srila Prabhupada gave as well as looking at some other sources when Srila Prabhupada talked about gurukula. Of course the first is, as said in this purport, that the children become devotees. That is the point. And sometimes Prabhupada would say things like: we don’t need so much grammar. Just become a devotee. Of course Prabhupada wanted the children to know grammar. He did not want them to speak improperly. But the point is to become a devotee and Prabhupada would especially quote,
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto, mad-yaji mam namaskuru mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam, atmanam mat-parayanah [Bg 9.34]
Teach the children to do these four things - to think about Krishna, to absorb their consciousness in Krishna. My dear friends, Krishna consciousness is not just a series of external behaviors. It is a change in consciousness. The beginning devotee thinks, “Krishna consciousness means: I move my fingers over the beads so many times, I show up at this time in the morning, I do this job.” And a little higher one understands it is a mood, it is a mentality, and higher than that one enters into eternal service.
Prabhupada’s also talking about gurukula in relationship to Prahlad Maharaja, saying from the very beginning: emphasize that the purpose is to come under the shelter of the internal energy -
mahatmanas tu mam partha, daivim prakrtim asritah [Bg 9.13]

Who is this daivim prakrtim? Srimati Radharani. That the goal of the educational institution is to take us away from being pierced by the trident of Durga who is digging her claws in on her tiger, and come to the sweet, sweet, sweet smile and tenderness of the loving care of Srimati Radharani. So that is the essence of an institution to train children. If that isn’t there then you cannot say it’s an institution to train children in Krishna consciousness.

Then Prabhupada talks about the love between the guru and disciple. I thought I would read this. This is from his lecture on verse one. “Therefore brahmacari means living under direction of guru, guror hitam. And guror hitam…how he can be simply thinking of benefiting the spiritual master? Unless that position comes, nobody can serve guru. It is not an artificial thing. The brahmacari, the disciple, must have genuine love for guru. Then he can be under his control. Otherwise, why should one be under the control of another person?” So the first thing is this genuine love between the teachers and the students, not just something official, not something with a title, “Okay you have to obey.” But the whole foundation is love.

Prabhupada also talks a lot about control of the senses, especially the sex desire. This is trained from a young age, that there is not just free mixing between men and women. One cannot live like an animal.

Worshiping the Lord and the guru every day, several times a day, rising early and attending mangal arati. I would say that I haven’t made a detailed scientific study, but that this instruction of Srila Prabhupada in relationship to children schools is probably the most, if not one of the most, often repeated. The children should be taught to rise early and attend mangal arati.

No nonsense talk. Especially, Prabhupada says, politics. And if our gurukula teachers are talking politics - how will the children give up politics? Politics doesn’t just mean who is the present president of America, what war is going on. Actually, a little bit of that you have to know, or you will be thought of as a fool. Prabhupada always knew who was the president of America or what war was going on in the world. But politics, (imitation of people gossiping) gramya-katha prajalpa - did you hear about this person’s fall down, this person lie, this person that, this person the other? No politics, no nonsense. When Rupa Goswami defines the uttama bhakta, what does he say? Someone who has undeviating devotional service and is devoid of the propensity to criticize others - not just devoid of criticism, devoid of the propensity.

Studying the Vedas, especially the Bhagavatam. I recently visited a school in Chennai where they are trying to teach Vedic studies along with modern education. They claim to be the only such school in the world. They take boys and girls but they said the boys study the Vedas - they are Sri Vaisnavas, and the girls study the Puranas. So I mentioned that to one of our Iskcon sannyasis. He said, “Lucky girls.” Of course we are interested in studying especially the Amala Purana.

pibanti ye bhagavata atmanah satam kathamrtam sravana-putesu sambhrtam punanti te visaya-vidusitasayam vrajanti tac-carana-saroruhantikam [SB 2.2.37]

Jiva Goswami says this verse, although it is in the second canto, is actually the concluding verse of Bhagavatam. Pibanti - you know what is pibanti? To drink. To drink this Bhagavatam. Saroruhantikam. Vrajanti tac-carana-saroruhantikam, this will bring you to the lotus of Krishna’s feet.

So we must say that in this regard our devotee Aruddha is the ‘exemplar par excellence’ in the world. She has educated her two sons almost exclusively on Bhagavatam. Mathematics course - Bhagavatam. And she is now developing a system where dozens, or maybe by now hundreds of devotees are educating their children just based on Bhagavatam. You say, “How is that possible?” Prabhupada talks about so much geography, history, science in the purports of the Bhagavatam. Everything is there. And if you met those children - have you met those children that she educated? She has two sons and if we had a thousand children like that the face of the world would change automatically. Perfect Vaisnavas and gentlemen, scholars.

To offer obeisances. Sastras say that the student should offer obeisances when seeing the guru and when walking away from the guru. In one lecture Prabhupada said, “My students, even if they see me one hundred times, they will offer obeisances at the beginning and at the end.”

Simplicity: Simple dress, simple food, simple furniture. Please remember that this applies to the brahmacari adults in the asrama also, according to Srila Prabhupada. I don’t know, something seems to have happened in Iskcon. We are more into furniture now. When I was in the grhastha asrama we never had a bed in our house. Now that I am in the vanaprastha asrama I am always being given beds. We used to have nothing - practically no chairs, no bed. Very simple! Just what you need.

Begging and giving to the guru. Prabhupada said at one point: in this institute of gurukula the children should go out twice a day for begging. This shows the ideal way that gurukula is financed.

We were speaking in the GBC meeting about finance and education. Gopal Bhatta Prabhu was saying how twelve to seventeen percent of every country’s finances are put into education. And in Vedic times this was done in two ways: the government, from taxation, gave money to the brahmanas, and also the students went in the village, “Biksham dehi, biksham dehi.” Everyone understood that maintaining education was the responsibility of everyone.

Years ago I asked many devotees, “Whose responsibility is it to maintain the education of the children?” and most people said, “The grhasthas.” You ask the grhasthas and they will say, “The grhasthas with children.” You ask the grhasthas with children and they would say, “The grhasthas with children who are currently in the school.” But there is no society that is marinating the schools just like that. It is for the whole society, therefore the whole society contributes.

Prabhupada says of the leaders, for the leaders, “it is necessary…it is necessary for the leaders of the Krishna consciousness movement to start educational institutions in different parts of the world,” not only India. And I assume Prabhupada did not want them only started. I assume he wanted them also maintained and nourished and flourishing.

Then, eating only when called. So the prasadam is ready but if your guru forgets. “Krishna das come eat, Ram das come eat, Jiva das come eat”, you fast. Of course Madhavendra Puri followed a vow like this. He didn’t even beg. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when he travelled in South India, He begged. Madhavendra Puri didn’t even beg. Only if somebody came and said, “Here there is something to eat.” So then Krishna came and He said, “In My village no one fasts”, and gave him some milk.

But there are even devotees in our Krishna consciousness movement today who follow principles like this, and unless someone personally invites them for prasadam they don’t eat, even if it is prasadam time and the prasadam is in front of them. Srila Prabhupada says that this should be voluntary tapasya. Not that we take the children in the schools, “Okay, you have got to do this tapasya.” No. Voluntary! “Be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service which is individual, spontaneous and voluntary.”

And what is the main principle Prabhupada said for the gurukula? To chant the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. That is the yajna for this age. Other yajnas they can learn, without doubt, but the main yajna is to be chanting japa, kirtana, sankirtana, going out on the street.

Next principle Prabhupada talks about is very interesting. In the verse that Srila Prabhupada is commenting on - 7.12.6 - it has the word daksa - that a student should become daksa. What does daksa mean? Expert! So this is Srila Prabhupada speaking in relationship to the training of children in our schools and in relationship of training of the brahmacaris in our asramas. That is the context. Here is what Srila Prabhupada says. “Not that because he has become Krishna conscious, and Vaisnava, he is unable to do anything of this material world, no. One who is Krishna conscious, he is conscious of everything and knows how to deal with them. That is called daksa. Not that “Because I have become Krishna conscious I have no knowledge in other things.” No. Every … you must have, if not complete, to know something of everything. That is intelligence, to know something of everything and to know everything of something. That is wanted. That is wanted. You may be expert, a devotee. You know everything of devotional service, but you should not be callous. You know something of everything. That is called daksa.”

Next principle Prabhupada talks about, the last one I am going to look at here, is practical training for a livelihood. This Srila Prabhupada talks about in his purport in Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.6. He says: “The brahmacari, or a boy from the age of five years, especially from the higher castes, namely from the scholarly parents (the brahmanas), the administrative parents (the ksatriyas), or the mercantile or productive parents (the vaisyas), is trained until twenty-five years of age under the care of a bona fide guru or teacher, and under strict observance of discipline he comes to understand the values of life along with taking specific training for a livelihood.”

Now that we’ve looked at the principles we might ask, “Is there only one type of institution that can teach these principles?” If we look at the school where Krishna and Balarama attended, it was an asrama school, they were away from the village…do you remember what they learned in their asrama school? Sixty four arts! Anybody can name some of them? The art of playing on an x-shaped drum, like Lord Siva’s drum! The art of knowing what is in your hand if you can’t see. [Member of audience, HH Prahladananda Swami responded with these two] Somebody else? What else did the learn? I know you have the whole Krishna book memorized. [Reference to HH Prahladananda Swami.]

We were once in Russia. At our preaching program we were all taking prasadam. Prahladananda Swami said, “Would you like to hear Krishna book?” I thought he was going to pull out a book, and he started reciting the whole chapter.

Anyone else? What did Krishna and Balarama learn? [Member of audience responds.] They learned how to put wires or strings on musical instruments. Somebody else? [Member of audience responds.] All kinds of languages, even (that of) the birds, and the dogs, and the cats. [Member of audience responds.] They learned how to use pots filled with water as musical instruments. [Member of audience responds.] How to make flower airplanes. Could you imagine, if we had a school here, and one of the curriculum items was manufacturing flower airplanes!

So then, Caitanya Maha prabhu also went to a school and He was a teacher in a school. He both attended the school of Ganga dasa Pandita which is not an asrama school. It was a day school. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the age of fourteen also started a day school, and there - what kind of things was he teaching? We don’t hear about flower airplanes in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s school. He was teaching logic, rhetoric, grammar, also debate. In one place Prabhupada says Caitanya Mahaprabhu could defeat Keshava Kashmiri because all the children were trained in debate from a young age. So in debate, in logic, in rhetoric – how to think…how to think, how to understand the world.

So my point is that there are different schools. The Pandavas, they went to the school of Dronacarya and I don’t think that they learned flower airplanes; maybe, but they especially learned how to fight, they learned the military arts.

So different teachers would have their specialty, their ways of teaching, even in Vedic times, even in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time. Prabhupada talked about unity in diversity. Prabhupada even talks about in his class on SB 7.12.4, he says: “In those days the gurukula was not palatial buildings but now if you haven’t got palatial building nobody will come.” So if we said, ok, especially in the West but even in India, if we said ok, our temple asramas, our gurkulas, everybody draws water from the well and sleeps right on the floor on a mat who will come? Prabhupada said therefore he wants some hot running water. Why are we building this whole complex? Why don’t we just go sit down under a tree? Because as soon as we build this, people come. Why are we building the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium? So same principle in our schools, in our asramas. We have to put them in such a way that people will come.

And then you might say, “Well what can I do about all this anyway? What does this class have to do with me?” Many, many years ago, it must be thirty two years ago, I heard one sannyasi say: whenever we go to Bhagavatam class we should think, “How can I apply this to myself?” Someday maybe I will tell you a funny story in relation to that. “But what does this have to do with me?”

First of all we can encourage children. And we were having, especially our oldest child in the Hare Krishna Movement, we’d bring him to the temple and the devotees would say, “Eeew! Get that ‘stoolbag’ out of here!” Everywhere we went, people: “Get him out, get him out, get this kid out, get this kid out.” And if the child hears that for eighteen years someday they may say, “Okay. I am leaving.” Children are disturbing. That is their dharma to be disturbing. They are noisy, they are dirty, they don’t have so much control over their senses. It’s their nature. They’re children. Make them feel welcome. Everyone can make the children feel welcome. You see the children come into the temple, you smile at them. Give them a flower, give them some facility.
You don’t know, twenty years from now, fifty years from now they may be us…that may be me there, maybe you. Treat them the way we want to be treated if we are a child in the Hare Krishna Movement.

Encourage people to have children. Encourage people who have a lot of children. If someone says, “Oh, I have four children, I have six children.”

“You have six children!”

One of my children is expecting their eight child. So whenever I tell people that the reaction I usually get is, “Eight children?!” Encourage! “Yes, have wonderful children.”

Encourage the schools. That means visiting the schools, knowing what is happening in the schools, caring about the schools. Not to find fault. Not visiting the schools, “Let me see what faults I can find.” But you encourage them. Look at what curriculum they are teaching. If you can - get involved. Help to find solutions to create Krishna conscious education, become part of some educational initiative somewhere.

Prabhupada wrote a letter in 1973, he said, “Gurukula is our most important project.” And so very similar to this purport, “If the children are given a Krishna conscious education from early childhood then there is great hope for the future of the world.” And for all of us we can follow what Prabhupada says in his purport to Bhagavad-gita 3.41. There Arjuna asked what causes a person to deviate from the right path and Krishna says it is lust and lust only. “Therefore from the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin, lust, by regulation of the senses.”

Prabhupada says in that purport, this means “from the very beginning of life”, but then he says from the very beginning of life or from the time one first understands its importance. So no one here in this room is at the very beginning of life anymore, and probably most of us didn’t have the benefit of a proper education. Our molding, when we were in the soft dough stage, most of us were molded wrongly, and then we were baked. Now if you want to change us you have to break us. You can mold the bread, then you put it in the oven, and then afterwards to change is very difficult.

So most of us in this room are past the moldable stage, I only see a few of us, a few moldable ones left, haven’t been baked yet. But still we can understand this importance of these principles - be a devotee, come under the shelter of the internal energy, love with the guru, sense control, worshipping the Lord and the guru, rising early, attending mangal arati, no politics – no politics…study the Vedas, especially the Bhagavatam, offer obeisances to guru, simplicity, giving everything to the guru, some tapasya in eating, chanting, becoming expert. Even if we are a little old we can still apply, and then at least the face of our world would change. At least we will be in Goloka Vrindavan. And as we have these educational institutions, the face of the world will then change automatically.

I want to thank you very much. I also just…I was requested to say something by one of the members of the community so I’d just like to say I am very happy that I was invited to speak. There is one letter where Prabhupada is very much, many but one particular where he is very much encouraging the women to be preachers. And he says in regard to women preaching prove it by practical example that there is no bar to preaching Krishna consciousness. So I hope that in all of our centers our preachers of Krishna consciousness will be young like Dhruva or old, black, white, purple, green, Indian, American, Australian, Russian, Brazilian, Portuguese and both men and women, not just that there’s one woman guest that comes once a year that they ask.

But that there are so many women in each community who have studied Bhakti Sastri and Bhakti Vaibhava. Mother Narayani is visiting here. She is one of only two people in the world who is teaching Bhagavatam at the level of Bhaktivedanta. Somehow by the grace of Prabhupada, he said, show by practical example that there is no bar in the preaching of Krishna consciousness and this is part of our International Society for Krishna Consciousness. So I think I have gone too late for questions. Thank you all very much. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! [Applause]

Please click the "Like" button below if you haven't done so already!
 
 
 
24,552 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji
 


Comments • [comment feed]

1 Unregistered

Dear and respected mataji,

PAMHO. AGTSP.

Nice lecture.

Just a doubt on the analogy, of us being compared to moulded breads in your lecture. Breads are not active living force but we are.

In the book “Teachings of Lord Caitanya” Prabhupada writes about another analogy

The Mayavadis are also fond of using the example of the water pot, maintaining that when a pot is not filled with water it makes a sound, but that when it is filled it makes no sound. But are we waterpots? How can we be compared to them? A good analogy utilizes as many similarities between two objects as possible. A water pot is not an active living force, but we are.

What I mean is, bhakti yoga can benefit one and all in any stage in life. Ofcourse, earlier the better, and also “better late than never”.

Bread analogy I feel, that it is not possible to change us.

Please clear my doubt.

Your humble servant,
Bhadra Govinda Dasa.

Comment posted by Bhadra Govinda Dasa on March 5th, 2011
2 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabupada!

It is Prabhupada’s analogy.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on March 10th, 2011
3 Unregistered

“Syamasundara: So a child’s personality doesn’t develop according to a fixed pattern?
Srila Prabhupada: No. You can mold them in any way, like soft dough. However you put them into the mold, they will come out — like bharats, capatis or kacauris [types of Indian pastries]. Therefore if you give children good association, they will develop nicely, and if you put them in bad association, they will develop poorly. They have no independent psychology.” [>>> Ref. VedaBase => JSD 7.3: Psychoanalysis and the Soul]

Comment posted by Madri dasi on March 11th, 2011
4 Unregistered

Urmila said:

I want to thank you very much. I was requested to say something by one of the members of the community so I just want to say that I am very happy that I was invited to speak. There is one letter where Prabhupada is very much, many but one particular where he is very much encouraging the women to be preachers.

Here is a much quoted letter by Srila Prabhupada on the topic of women giving class:

“If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.” Letter to Jayagovinda Feb 8, 1968

We note that this is not carte blanche endorsement of women lecturing. There is a proviso: But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. Thus if there are more qualified men present then they should be given preference. So this class was not given in some ISKCON backwater with few senior male devotees but rather Mayapur during the festival and packed with many men much more learned and qualified to speak than you. Why then did you speak? Being invited is not an answer; we have all been invited to do things that we have passed on, it is not obligatory.

Urmila said:

And he says in regard to women preaching prove it by practical example that there is no bar to preaching Krishna consciousness.

By example means that there is a book Bhagavatam and the person Bhagavatam. A female devotee who preaches, which personalities should exemplify Bhima or Kunti?

None of us would like to hear a class from a fallen sannyasi who didn’t follow his sannyasa dharma.

None of us would like to hear a class from a fallen grhasta who didn’t follow his grahasta dharma.

Nor would we like to hear a class from a fallen brahmacari who didn’t follow his brahmacari dharma.

One should be a living example of what one is preaching. So when it comes to women “preachers” which ones are actually following their stri dharma?

Most senior western women in ISKCON don’t even know what Stri-dharma is what to speak of practice it. Why should we listen to them?

continue…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on March 25th, 2011
5 Unregistered

part 2

Here in Mayapura we at one time set up a system so that women could give class daily to the women. Men could attend if they wanted, but there was a separate class given by the men that women could also attend. After a few months the system was dropped because of two reasons: The women lost interest in giving class and the women much preferred to listen to the men give class—given a choice between hearing from a woman or hearing from a man the women much preferred to hear from a man.

I also found it distasteful that you used the Vyasasana as a soapbox to push for gender – equality citing Narayani mataji. Narayani mataji is a very nice devotee. But I can think of any number of men who can teach Sastras at a much higher level. So using the Bhagavatam class as a forum for your political lobbying is very unbecoming.

Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on March 25th, 2011
6 Urmila

Srila Prabhuapda’s order in regards to women preaching is “prove it by practical example” in the letter below. To repeat Prabhupada’s desire in regards to women preaching is certainly part of Bhagavatam class.

“So I am very glad that you both, husband and wife, are executing the mission of Lord Caitanya so nicely and faithfully. Please continue to act like that and certainly Lord Caitanya will bestow all His blessings and power upon you. Personally I am so much engladdened that the pairs of young boys and girls whom I have placed in householder life are doing so nicely in the Western world. When Lord Caitanya delivered Jagai and Madhai He was also a householder, but when Jagai and Madhai were actually reclaimed, His wife, Visnupriya, was not there. But in this case and in many other cases also, I find that my disciples combined together, husband and wife, are doing this preaching work so nicely. So I am especially proud how my householder disciples 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 are 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.”

Letter to: Himavati — London 20 December, 1969

Regarding Narayani devi dasi, only she and Bhurijana Prabhu are teaching Bhagavatam at the Bhaktivedanta level in ISKCON. No other devotee is teaching Bhagavatam at that level or a higher level. That is simply a fact, not an opinion.

Incidentally, the vast majority of women I know who are full-time dedicated preachers are also fully following their stri-dharma as explained in the Bhagavatam (particularly the 4th and 7th canto).

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on March 30th, 2011
7 krishna-kirti

Regarding Bhaktilata dasi’s remarks, I am glad that some women are standing up for traditional values. Although I can appreciate that some of the more modern women who are also devotees want and expect to engage in public activities that are only exceptionally different from those of men, the dark-side of equal-opportunity seva is that illicit sex becomes difficult to control. For example, I know of a devotee who was married but nevertheless fell in love with a lady devotee at a management seminar. She fell for him, and he abandoned his wife, who was pregnant with their first child. Illicit sex is a big problem in our movement, and it is good that some are advocating a conception of social roles that goes further in restricting male-female association.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on March 31st, 2011
8 Akruranatha

I do not have time to reply in depth at the moment (I am late for a meeting), but I am kind of taken aback by the attitude of Bhaktilata and Krishna-kirti.

““If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.” Letter to Jayagovinda Feb 8, 1968

I disagree with Bhaktilata dasi that Srila Prabhupada was not giving carte blanche for women to give Srimad Bhagavatam class in the above letter. That seems to be exactly what he was doing.

Srila Prabhupada himself asked his girl disciples to speak in public. As he says in the letter, “We want so many preachers, both men and women.” We do not want to create some artificial system where women feel that they are only allowed to preach if there is no qualified man available. We do not want to discourage our female preachers in that way, not do we need to get bogged down in trying to judge the relative merits of various potential male and female speakers before allowing any woman to give class. Any qualified woman who has an aptitude for speaking about Srila Prabhupada’s books should be given all encouragement, not discouraged.

Who says “stri-dharma” involves being too shy to preach in the temple among faithful devotees? If a woman can go out on book distribution and glorify Srila Prabhupada’s books on their merits, then it should be obvious the same woman is confident and bold enough to discuss the books in a temple full of faithful and well-wishing devotees.

It seems strange that Krishna-kiti raises the spectre that women giving Bhagavatam class could lead to illicit sex. Aren’t we better than that? The men will become lusty while hearing Bhagavatam discussed in the temple in front of the Deities? I do not think so.

Of course illicit sex is a very dangerous and sinful enemy, but I think those who are faithfully attending Bhagavatam class should be protected. Who says there is a “traditional value” that women should not speak about Srimad Bhagavatam? When was that ever a value in our society?

Anyway, Urmila is a senior devotee who gave a great class and it seems insulting to her personally to suggest that she should not have accepted the invitation to do so at the Mayapur festival. I don’t get it.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 3rd, 2011
9 Unregistered

Bhaktilata’s question about whether women should be given carte blanche facility to give class, even in the presence of many qualified men, is one which could be presented to the Mayapura temple management. Why has their policy changed and by whom?

Women who are living “without any home or husband” are in a different category than women like Himavati who, in 1969, was encouraged by Prabhupada to preach with her husband. In this cited letter, Prabhupada spoke of householder pairs, not women living independently. This letter can’t be used to justify freedom for women to give class without consideration of the time, place, circumstance and Vaishnava etiquette as per Prabhupada’s teachings.

In a letter to Yamuna and Dinatarine in 1976, Prabhupada wrote two letters in which he advised how they should conduct their program for single women. They were to keep “aloof from men” A few months earlier, he had written to Jayatirtha about their program, advising they not “sew clothes for the sannyasis Deities”. As Krsna Kirti Prabhu pointed out, there is a danger of illicit sex when women engage in public activities. It can be dangerous for a sannyasi or brahmacari to hear and see a woman lecturing and this needs to be given serious consideration as a form of subtle sex.

Bhaktilata’s point about hearing from devotees who are practically following their stri dharma is valid and demonstrates a solid understanding of Krsna conscious philosophy. In 1972, Prabhupada wrote the following in a letter:

” I am simply surprised that you want to give up your child to some other persons, even they are also devotees. For you, child-worship is more important than deity-worship. If you cannot spend time with him, then stop the duties of pujari. ” (July 31, 1972 Letter to Arundhati)

Self realization comes through performing one’s occupational duty for the Supreme Lord, as explained in Bhagavad-gita. If one speaks while imitating another’s duty, the message will not be beneficial.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 3rd, 2011
10 krishna-kirti

Of course illicit sex is a very dangerous and sinful enemy, but I think those who are faithfully attending Bhagavatam class should be protected. Who says there is a “traditional value” that women should not speak about Srimad Bhagavatam? When was that ever a value in our society?

If we look at history, we see, for example, that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura very rigorously kept male and female devotees segregated during Bhagavatam class. So it was, indeed, a value in our society. At some point he had a bamboo screens put up between men and women who came for class. And, of course, women rarely, if ever, gave lectures in the Gaudiya Math.

It would be incorrect to ascribe that “orthodoxy” as simply a reflection of the times that SBSST lived and preached in. During that time there were progressive Hindu movements that were doing just the opposite, to open up Hindu religion to women. The ideas of JS Mill and others, which led to Suffragette movement in Britain, also extended throughout the empire, or at least the sentiment had been carried far. Hindu reform movements like the Arya Samaj adopted such ideas and from their inception were advocates of equal rights. And then let us not forget the traditional laxity of Gaudiya-Vaishnavism with regard to male-female association. The ill repute this brought on the Gaudiya-Vaishnava religion was a cause for SBSST’s importing varnashram-dharma almost wholesale into the Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition. In other words, SBSST had to swim against the current of his times to establish his mission. His orthodoxy was actually a part of his reform agenda–it was truly countercultural.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 4th, 2011
11 Unregistered

I completely agree with Akruranatha’s comment.
At first i didn’t want to comment anything more, but then i decided that i must add few things:
Bhakti lata was insulting in her tone to Urmila mataji, and i while i’m not surprised to see these kind of comments by others, i was very much surprised that i read this from a vaishnavi.
About the others i will just say: You see what happens when someone is so fanatically and fundamentally sees sex literally everywhere? You become absorbed with thoughts of sex, even when we are talking about a vaishnavi giving a class.
Your fanatical views just got you more active in subtle sex (fearing it and fighting against it artificially by trying to imagine like women don’t exist in this world except to stay in the house) than you would be if you drop that mentality. Cos lets face it, it is not spiritual,its just mentality,and when someone tries to present it as the only right dharmic way its pure hypocrisy.
Listening to a woman giving class have a lesser potential of leading to illicit sex than when we see a woman passing before our eyes. So that man from your example would probably fell in love with ANY woman he saw,for he was unable not only to control his desires but his long term actions as well. By leaving his pregnant wife just because he saw a woman in public preach shows me only that he is not worth to be a husband anyway. Problem is in him! Women DO exist , and your renunciation cannot base on trying to pretend women are not there.If you want to choose that way, its better for you and for the vaishnavis that you simply remove yourselves from social activities and go to live in forest or in male ashram, instead of expecting women to disappear from your sight due to your possible agitation.
p.s. english is not my first language and i don’t use any online translator ,so i apologize for any error in grammar.
Quoting SP in these manners don’t serve you either ,for he instructed different disciples differently according to many factors given, and also he change his stands many times without changing siddanta. However we put it ,SP DID encouraged women to preach .

Comment posted by HRT dasi on April 4th, 2011
12 Unregistered

Lets not mistake traditional Indian social norms from past centuries with spiritual norm.
Prabhupada changes his mind lot of times and adjusted lot of things accordingly. Some devotees just like to quote him partially without seeing the bigger picture.

You propose that vaishnavis should remain is old traditional role without interacting with the rest of society in order not to sexually agitate male devotees which also includes giving classes . Why are you interacting then with many females on facebook on a regular basis ?
To make myself clear:I myself do not see a problem there , but dont YOU think that facebook connection with females (devotees and not devotees) are far more dangerous that listening to vaishnavis giving bhagavatam class or doing any servise for Krishna?

Comment posted by HRT dasi on April 4th, 2011
13 Akruranatha

I admit I do not know much about how things were conducted in Gaudiya Math, but we should not jump over Srila Prabhupada. He engaged women in preaching. He had Tamal Krishna Maharaja hold little Sarasvati so Malati could speak to an audience. He wrote the letters to Jayagovinda and to Himavati quoted above.

Yes, SBSSTP incorporated tridandi sannyasa in Gaudiya Vaisnavism to combat the sahajiyas who considered themselves as babajis and paramahamsas above the rules of varnasrama dharma while engaging in illicit sex and intoxication.

Yes, Srila Prabhupada left us a mandate to establish varnasrama dharma, both within our society of devotees and in the world at large. Exactly how to do that and what it entails has been something on which a clear consensus and vision has not yet emerged.

Varnasrama dharma is about ultimate justice and morality. It is not a set of rules designed to protect the privileged position of certain classes, as the Marxists have argued, though in its vitiated form in Kali yuga it may appear like that. We have to be able to show that varnasrama dharma is actually a natural way to organize society, for the pleasure of Krishna, that produces happy, sane people and a wholesome way of life that satisfies people’s needs while helping them realize they are not the doers and enjoyers.

We need to show exemplary household life, and we have room for improvement in that regard. We have to get over the idea that problems in marriage are always the wife’s fault. We have to stop absolving men of the responsibility to be caring, empathetic devotees who understand the situation and needs of wives and children. It might help to hear carefully from women who can speak nicely about Srimad Bhagavatam, to understand that they are also spirit-souls, worthy of respect as devotees of Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada wrote to Arundhati that child worship for her was more important than Deity worship. Was this instruction only for women? Is it okay for men to neglect children, and wife? Something about our youthful exuberance and our organizational hierarchy lacked balance in those days. Our idea of renunciation was off-kilter, not sattvik.

We have to be careful not to create a phony idea of varnasram dharma that is really an outlet for domination for gross and subtle sense gratification by the privileged, and demanding over-surrender and low self-esteem of the weak. We should not imitate demonic “traditionalism” but show the true sat dharma.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 4th, 2011
14 Akruranatha

Sitadasi writes:

“Women who are living ‘without any home or husband’ are in a different category than women like Himavati who, in 1969, was encouraged by Prabhupada to preach with her husband.”

I am not sure I understand this comment. Is Sitadasi saying that women who have good marriages should be invited to give class, but other women should not? Is it meant as a criticism of Urmila Mataji’s specific situation? If so, I think it is unfair.

While it may be true that both men and women who have some questionable moral history — such as having abandoned one spouse to take another — should be denied the honor of lecturing in Mayapur during the festival, that is a different question.

Anyway there is no such spot on Urmila’s character, and it really appears that the question being raised is not whether this particular woman should be giving Bhagavatam class, but whether *any* woman should be giving class, at least while there are many qualified senior men and sannyasis present. I believe the clear answer to that question is yes, women who have heard nicely and can speak correctly and to the point about the science of Krishna should be heard by everyone.

“yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya” This is an important part of Lord Caitanya’s teaching. We may have different duties and designations according to our particular bodies and stations in life, but whoever really knows the science of Krishna and can explain it to us should immediately be accepted without consideration of external designations.

If it is too dangerous for a sannyasi or brahmacari to hear a Vaisnavi giving Bhagavatam class, then how can that sannyasi or brahmacari go on book distribution or University speaking engagements where there is every chance of meeting unchaste women?

Even if we are very careful to strictly segregate men from women, illicit sex may enter if we are not very careful in the matter of hearing Bhagavatam and holy names. It is not in Bhagavatam class that the mischief happens, but usually some association occurs in the kitchen or some other service which has never been considered off limits to women, when minds are deviated from Krsna’s instructions. Maybe if the men learn to recognize the authority of enlightened, senior women preachers (by hearing them insightfully explain the science of Krsna) there will be less illicit sex and better marriages.

At any rate Prabhupada’s program was that girls and women should also preach.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 4th, 2011
15 Akruranatha

Adding some more context to the excerpt from the letter to Jayagovinda quoted above sheds more light on the subject:

“Regarding lecturing by woman devotees: I have informed you that in the service of the Lord there is no distinction of caste or creed, color, or sex. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord especially mentions that even a woman who has taken seriously is also destined to reach Him. We require a person who is in the knowledge of Krishna, that is the only qualification of a person speaking. It doesn’t matter what he is. Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of higher and lower. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.”

Srila Prabhupada is definitely saying there should be no distinction. That should be quite clear from this letter.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 4th, 2011
16 krishna-kirti

but we should not jump over Srila Prabhupada.

That is exactly what a certain group of devotees said when previous acharyas were quoted on what to do when a guru sometimes turns out to be less than exemplary. No need to name them here; we all know what they believe. Suffice it to say, many who would agree that we should not “jump over Srila Prabhupada” when it comes to women’s social roles have no problem with “jumping over Srila Prabhupada” when it comes to other issues. This says a lot about how some of us view tradition: we are fine with calling on tradition when it supports our opinions but are quick to dismiss it when it doesn’t.

If Srila Prabhupada is a representative of tradition, then how we understand Srila Prabhupada’s sometimes equivocal instructions on some issues requires that we consult the previous acharyas. As already mentioned, the spread of feminism was something SBSST and Srila Prabhupada faced. This forces us to face the question of whether we consider SP to be a representative of his guru (and hence the tradition) on the matter of women’s social roles or if he stands apart from his guru. Here is a relevant passage from the January 1936 Harmonist article titled “Sex”, as quoted from Shri Bhakti Vikas Swami’s biography of SBSST:

Under the circumstances, will it not be regarded as an extinguisher of the cherished hopes of the fair sex to advance the view that the sexes should be segregated from each other, which clearly requires the demarcation of the respective spheres of activity of the sexes? Sri Krsna Caitanya condemns all association between the sexes for carnality in the most unsparing terms. Is this teaching of the sastras to be regarded as obsolete and oriental in view of the immemorial practice of the Western countries as well as the most modern tendencies all over the world that are rapidly sweeping away all barriers to unreserved association of the sexes? . . . Will it also lead to sexual intemperence and moral and eugenic disasters?

This is not regarded as likely by those who believe in the natural goodness of the white races, who are the pattern of modern humanity, and the proved sobering effects of individual liberty in the case of white men.

If this excerpt represents the view of SBSST and it is alleged that Srila Prabhupada holds a different opinion on the matter, are we to conclude that Srila Prabhupada represents SBSST or stands apart from him?

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 5th, 2011
17 krishna-kirti

HRT dasi wrote:

english is not my first language and i don’t use any online translator ,so i apologize for any error in grammar

Your English is just fine, Mataji.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 5th, 2011
18 Unregistered

In #13 Akruranatha said:

“Varnasrama dharma is about ultimate justice and morality.”

To find out what Varnashrama is actually about I suggest that you listen to some seminars on it by ISKCON’s leading authority on the subject HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami found here http://tinyurl.com/3ubl9tr and here http://tinyurl.com/4ymuwjm

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 6th, 2011
19 Akruranatha

In the year 2000, the GBC adopted the following published Law:

“Women’s Participation
618 [LAW]
All ISKCON temples are to allow all qualified devotees, regardless of gender, to speak on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, etc. during the regular temple class. …”

If devotees think the GBC is wrong about this, they should try to persuade the GBC in some reasonable fashion, but in the mean time they should abide by the decisions of the Ultimate Managing Authority appointed by Srila Prabhupada to make such decisions on behalf of ISKCON.

I am surprised at how devotees are reacting against Urmila giving class — a very nice class by the way — whereas they do not seem to be even aware that ISKCON’s general policy is that all qualified devotees regardless of gender should be allowed to give regular temple classes in ISKCON temples.

I am also surprised that our GBC representatives and senior preachers and sannyasis are not speaking up more about this point, here on Dandavats and among the devotees in their respective zones. They really do not have many levers for enforcing the GBCs decisions other than their ability to educate and convince the managers and devotees in their zone of the correctness of their decisions.

It is as if they pass these resolutions and then everyone just forgets them, to the point that now, more than 10 years later, a single senior lady devotee lecturing on Srimad-Bhagavatam at the annual Mayapur festival draws reactions such as those by Bhaktilata and Krishna-kirti and Sitadasi.

Where are the GBC when it comes to standing behind their own resolutions and educating the devotees regarding the wisdom of those resolutions? I know they are busy with many duties, but isn’t this an important duty too?

And what is the point of passing resolutions without any follow through, without any systematic program of implementing the resolutions and convincing the devotees as to the validity of these decisions?

Personally I am convinced that the GBC was correct. Having examined Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and the history of his dealings, the GBC decided that he wanted women devotees to be encouraged to become preachers and lecturers. He made his preferences clear, despite being lobbied by various disciples to prevent women from giving classes. It is not a matter of pandering to modern or western notions, it is a matter of promoting real devotional service, as taught by Srila Prabhupada and approved by his GBC. It should be clear.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 6th, 2011
20 krishna-kirti

Dear Mataji Bhaktilata, Hare Krishna.

I don’t know you, but we appear to be on the same side of this issue, and I would like to thank you for your remarks up to the penultimate one so far. But with regard to this last remark directed toward Akruranath Prabhu, I would like to know if you are his godsister.

If so, please pardon me for presuming too much.

ys, KKdas

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 6th, 2011
21 Akruranatha

Krishna Kirti writes:

“This says a lot about how some of us view tradition: we are fine with calling on tradition when it supports our opinions but are quick to dismiss it when it doesn’t.”

Prabhu, I think you and I at least both agree that neither of us should fall in that category. We should not be bogged down in “party spirit” or egotism of winning an argument or supporting a preset opinion, but should just concern ourselves with arriving at the correct conclusion.

You raise a lot of issues concerning what to do when gurus fall down and whether the sexes should associate for carnality, but you do not speak directly to the question at hand, namely: “Should senior women devotees who have heard nicely and can speak correctly about Krishna consciousness be permitted to give regular classes on Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita in ISKCON temples?”

You write: “If Srila Prabhupada is a representative of tradition, then how we understand Srila Prabhupada’s sometimes equivocal instructions on some issues requires that we consult the previous acharyas.”

Srila Prabhupada is certainly a representative of tradition. We understand tradition through his instructions. There is nothing equivocal about his instructions regarding whether women should give class. Nor have you cited any clear tradition that would be violated by his unequivocal instruction that women should be permitted to give class.

It seems to me that certain young men were frequently lobbying Srila Prabhupada to keep women from giving classes, from chanting japa in the temple room, from living in ISKCON communities if single with children, and Srila Prabhupada was always rejecting such proposals. At least with regard to women giving class, his letters quoted above were clear.

In year 2000, the GBC considered the issue and adopted the following:

“Women’s Participation
618 [LAW]
All ISKCON temples are to allow all qualified devotees, regardless of gender, to speak on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, etc. during the regular temple class.”

If there is a cogent argument to be made that the above ISKCON law is unwise, I have yet to hear it, here or anywhere else.

And in the mean time, it is still the law of ISKCON. It has not been repealed. Why should it surprise anyone that it is obeyed? What should surprise us is that there is an outcry by you and Bhaktilata and Sitadasi when it is.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 7th, 2011
22 Akruranatha

Bhaktilata you have suggested that I listen to seminars by H.H. Bhaktividya Purna Swami. That is good advice. I have often listened to classes and seminars of his and find them interesting.

I think he is one of ISKCON’s various authorities on the subject, but I think he would be the first to admit that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s leading authority on the subject.

Does he not accept Srila Prabhupada’s (and the GBC’s) clear instructions on this question of whether women can give class in ISKCON temples? I would be surprised to learn that he did, and it would diminish his authority in my eyes, but perhaps he does. Does he?

By invoking his name you seem to be implying that what I have said is wrong, but you do not say why. Nor has Bhaktividya Purna Swami said anything here. Do you or he have any argument against what I said?

If you are his spokesman or disciple you are not doing him much credit by merely invoking his authority against me in hushed tones without putting forth any explanation of whether he even disagrees with me, and if so, why. Does he say, for example, that varnasrama dharma is not about ultimate justice and morality? Can you elaborate on what he says about that?

Otherwise it just comes across as one of those dogmatic, “My guru is the best guru”, “Jesus is the only way” type arguments that amount to little more than waving the flag of a certain leader without any philosophical content.

Granted, there is room for all kinds of fertile discussions about topic such as: the relationship of morality in terms of varna and asrama to the path of devotional service; the most effective ways and strategies for introducing the topic of stri dharma in different times, places and circumstances; understanding various historical trends in feminism and womens’ rights movements and how to really bring about changes in culture that will best serve the interests of women and society (and most please Lord Krishna); etc.

However, this is a simpler and more straightforward question. Should qualified women be allowed, even encouraged, to give class in ISKCON temples (and share realizations and pertinent quotations from scripture in ISKCON classes)?

If H.H. Bhaktividyapurna Maharaja answers that question “No”, I would love to hear his explanation of that answer, and also how he reconciles that with Srila Prabhupada’s clearly contradictory answer to precisely the same question.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 7th, 2011
23 Unregistered

Re: #20

Akruranatha Prabhu is in a different category because simultaneously he is my junior god-brother and god-nephew (or aspiring to be) at the same time. What does that make him? A half-god-brother? A god-step-brother?

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 7th, 2011
24 Unregistered

Reference #22

Akruranatha objected to my text wherein I said:

In #13 Akruranatha said:

“Varnasrama dharma is about ultimate justice and morality.”

To find out what Varnashrama is actually about I suggest that you listen to some seminars on it by ISKCON’s leading authority on the subject HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami found here http://tinyurl.com/3ubl9tr and here http://tinyurl.com/4ymuwjm

Let me rephrase that by saying the HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami is ISKCON’s leading “living” authority on the subject bar none. Akruranatha may say there are others on the level of Maharaja, I don’t think so. And, no I am not his disciple but do respect his 30 + years of research into the subject. All the others I know go to Maharaja for guidance. Who else is even close?

Now Akruranatha Prabhu wants me to establish that he is wrong. Of course the burden of proof is on him to provide sastra pramana in support of his contention. This he has not done. Anyway let us dispense with waiting for him to do that as it will never materialize.

Akruranatha’s statement establishes that he has not studied the Manu Samhita the foremost authority on the codes of Varnashrama and as Baladeva Vidyabhusana states is accepted by all followers of Krsna’s vedic culture. Because, in the first three verses of Manu Samhita it explains that Varnashrama Dharma is meant for realizing Lord Visnu.

The great sages approached Manu [Lord Brahma], who was seated with a collected mind, and, after duly worshipped him, spoke as follows:
Be pleased, O divine one, to declare to us precisely and in due order, the sacred laws of each of the (four chief) varnas and of the intermediate ones. ‘For thou alone, O lord, knowest the purport, (i.e.) the rites, and the knowledge of the soul, (taught) in connection with, and for the purpose of, realizing the Self-existent [Svayambhu, Visnu], who is unknowable and unfathomable.’ Manu Samhita 1.1-3

I could go on but Akruranatha’s adversorial mood, petty comments, baseless accusations against Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami just because I recommended classes he gave and the fact that the many other comments I made were not posted (censored) disinclines me from making detailed answers.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 7th, 2011
25 Unregistered

I should say that I learned that the purpose of Varnashrama was to realize Lord Visnu by listening to HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami’s classes.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 7th, 2011
26 Praghosa

As already explained to you privately mataji, your comments were not posted due to the personal, aggressive, hostile and gratuitous nature of them. If you can supply me with a sastric pramana on vaisnava etiquette that indicates such comments should be posted, then we will change our posting guidelines and post accordingly :)

Comment posted by Praghosa on April 8th, 2011
27 Unregistered

Re #26

Dear Praghosa Prabhu,

Hare Krsna.

Since you are the only one who has seen what I have written yours, then, is a subjective opinion, is it not? One that I don’t share.

However, I do respect (nor take offence) that since it is your website you are not obligated to post mine or anyone else’s comments. That is just the way it is. They are not called web masters for nothing (-:

However this doesn’t mean that I don’t find it irritating and frustrating. Nor am I mind reader who can figure out what needs to be changed to please you.

Yhs

Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 8th, 2011
28 kavicandra swami

I should say that I learned that the purpose of Varnashrama was to realize Lord Visnu by listening to HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami’s classes.

This is stated repeatedly in Srila Prabhupada’s purports, and in Bhagavatam Slokas..

Comment posted by kavicandra swami on April 8th, 2011
29 Urmila

Re: comment #16

Krishna kirti Prabhu gave us a nice quote from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as follows: “Sri Krsna Caitanya condemns all association between the sexes for carnality in the most unsparing terms.” I’m a bit confused as to how this quote relates since, as far as know, Bhagavatam discussion is not for the purpose of carnality.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 8th, 2011
30 krishna-kirti

Mataji Bhaktilata wrote:

Akruranatha Prabhu is in a different category because simultaneously he is my junior god-brother and god-nephew (or aspiring to be) at the same time. What does that make him? A half-god-brother? A god-step-brother?

The internet puts so much distance between us that unless one knows the people writing, one cannot know what someone’s social or spiritual status is without asking. That’s why I thought I would ask first about your status vis-a-vis Akruranath, who I do know personally.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 8th, 2011
31 Unregistered

To further clarify, we are simply questioning the newly introduced principle of women giving class in the presence of senior men. I don’t agree that Prabhupada’s letter to Jaya Govinda says there is no distinction, because of this sentence:

“But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference.”

Although women are equal on the spiritual platform, the Vedic etiquette gives “first preference” to men. Prabhupada expertly elaborated on this principle in a July 11, 1975 conversation.

There is also the matter of single women and married women and the different social roles ascribed to them according to varnasrama. The following conversation as quoted by Jyotirmayi may shed some light on this topic:

Prabhupada: Woman is to help her husband.
Jyotirmayi: So the duty of the brahmana is to preach. It is to learn the philosophy.
Prabhupada: Yes, to learn and to preach.
Jyotirmayi And to teach the philosophy. So in our movement, the women have always preached philosophy, given classes, given lectures.
Prabhupada: Oh yes, oh yes. With the husband. She is always helping hand to hand the husband…. Assistant.
Jyotirmayi: Does that mean that the girls should not give lectures and not give classes?
Prabhupada: Why not? If she is a brahmana’s wife, she can give lecture.
Jyotirmayi: Jadurani, for example, now she is no longer with her husband anymore.,
but she is giving classes, she is giving lectures. So is that good?
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Why not? This varnashrama dharma, woman is according to the husband. That’s all. Jadurani is suppose to be a brahmana’s wife, her husband has taken sannyasa, so she can preach.
Jyotirmayi: So women can preach. They can give classes. They can give lectures.
Prabhupada: Oh yes. (Conversation in France, 1974)

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 9th, 2011
32 Praghosa

Dear Bhaktilata,

Hare Krishna;

Yes the buck has to stop with someone and in the case of comments getting posted on Dandavats, that is with me…

I can of course understand your frustration, as I can understand others when their comments are not posted, but there you go.

I guess everyone who writes comments expects them to be posted, even the comments I receive containing expletives, so what to do?

I hasten to add your comments did not contain such language but as a mild example of one of your comments that didn’t get posted, it did contain the following:

“Why you [Urmila] are so ambitious to conquer devotee men? They already have other qualified men to preach and guide them. They do not need a woman to guide them. Do you expect that they will jump in kirtana while you a woman are singing?”

That was by no means the worst thing you wrote that didn’t get posted but I post it to just give a flavour to the readers what I haven’t posted.

Personally I think your above comment is harsh, judgmental, gratuitous and speculative.

Ys Praghosa dasa

Comment posted by Praghosa on April 9th, 2011
33 Unregistered

Further information for the conversation I referred to. It was actually an arrival address/press conference where Prabhupada was being interviewed by a woman reporter and afterwards there is an arrival lecture. Here are links to the transcripts and sound files:

1975-07-11 Philadelphia Arrival Address http://prabhupadabooks.com/g=160207 and

1975-07-11 Philadelphia Arrival Lecture http://prabhupadabooks.com/g=160209

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 9th, 2011
34 Unregistered

ref #28

I said:

I should say that I learned that the purpose of Varnashrama was to realize Lord Visnu by listening to HH Bhakti Vidya Purna Svami’s classes.

To which Kavicandra Svami replied:

This is stated repeatedly in Srila Prabhupada’s purports, and in Bhagavatam Slokas..

Yes I know. But tell that to Akruranatha who thinks that Varnashrama is about something else.

However those verses I quoted were from a class I heard from Maharaja on Manu Samhita and AFAIK it is no where found in any of Prabhupada’s books/lectures.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 9th, 2011
35 Unregistered

Ref #32

Praghosha Prabhu said:

I hasten to add your comments did not contain such language but as a mild example of one of your comments that didn’t get posted, it did contain the following:

“Why you [Urmila] are so ambitious to conquer devotee men? They already have other qualified men to preach and guide them. They do not need a woman to guide them. Do you expect that they will jump in kirtana while you a woman are singing?”

I have copies of everything I wrote. I never wrote that. Someone else must have done that. Please check. It seems that I am not the only one who is not thrilled.

However, I did hear of such an incident in which Urmila dd insisted on leading a guru puja kirtan in San Diego 2-3 years ago where 95% of the attendees where brahmacaries and grhasta men. They, apparently were not amused and complained, leading to some controversy. It has been confirmed by various sources who were there.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 9th, 2011
36 Unregistered

#29

It was Akruranatha who in comment #8 diverted the discussion in this way. He said

It seems strange that Krishna-kiti raises the spectre that women giving Bhagavatam class could lead to illicit sex.

But if you actually read what Krishna-kirti said he didn’t make such a connection.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 9th, 2011
37 Unregistered

I have been following this thread. I very much appreciated the comments of Bhaktilata Mataji. She hit the nail on the head when she said:

“Most senior western women in ISKCON don’t even know what Stri-dharma is what to speak of practice it. Why should we listen to them?”

This, sadly, is very true. Contrary to what Urmila dd said in #6 I’m struggling to think of any who are actually following Stri-dharma. They just don’t exist or are extremely rare. Certainly not the ones in leadership positions.

What is even sadder is that these “leading” women want to train the next generation of young women. My Indian friends tell me that when their wives, or god-sisters attend classes/seminars by these senior ladies they come out confused. A common complaint from the Indian women is “they may know the philosophy—that Krsna is God and we are the servants, but they do not know how to apply it in their daily lives as women. They do not know the religion (dharma) of how to be a woman in Krsna’s service. They mix in Western ideas about feminism and call this Women’s role in KC.”

Another complaint I heard is that they discourage the Indian girls from getting married, which causes a lot of distress to their parents. They don’t want their daughters mixing freely with men the way the Western women do, a habit that historically has led to many scandals. Rather they want them to get married and settle down and do their seva at home in the grhasta ashrama. This has been the way women have successfully served Lord Krsna since time immemorial. Not traveling around the world mixing with strange men outside of their family–a formula for disaster.

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on April 9th, 2011
38 Akruranatha

In all these quotes from Srila Prabhupada, he is repeatedly stressing that if a woman is qualified she should be heard, without distinction. The letter to Jayagovinda is no exception. You have to read the whole quotation and try to take up Srila Prabhupada’s meaning rather than twist some pre-conceived conclusion out of it:

“Regarding lecturing by woman devotees: I have informed you that in the service of the Lord there is no distinction of caste or creed, color, or sex. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord especially mentions that even a woman who has taken seriously is also destined to reach Him. We require a person who is in the knowledge of Krishna, that is the only qualification of a person speaking. It doesn’t matter what he is. Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of higher and lower. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.”

Within this context, the sentence, “But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference”, can only mean one thing. All it means is that a woman should not be given preference merely because she is a woman. He is rejecting some kind of “affirmative action” or quotas. We should select whomever is most qualified to hear from, regardless of race, class or sex. That is all he is saying.

In a festival when there are many qualified speakers, it is nice to give the devotees a chance to hear from many different senior devotees and hear their realizations. In the sentence above, Srila Prabhupada was not saying that there must always be a separate consideration before a woman can speak, as to whether or not there may be some man who is more qualified.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 9th, 2011
39 Akruranatha

Sitadasi’s point seems to be that because Urmila Mataji’s husband did not become a sannyasi and they are not still together she should not be heard. This is probably not the forum to discuss in detail her family history. However, there is no fault with Urmila. She has been an exemplary devotee.

Such morality tests should be applied even-handedly to both men and women. We should not have moral reprobates and questionable characters giving Srimad-Bhagavatam class.

Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada was very encouraging and forgiving to both men and women disciples who made some mistake or stumbled in their service. We frequently hear Srimad-Bhagavatam classes from men who have had some shortcoming in the past, whether a lapse in following the principles strictly, or some gross dereliction of duty as a responsible manager of some project. Even former sannyasis who were allowed to remarry have given classes in ISKCON temples and were even allowed by Srila Prabhupada to remain GBCs and TPs. After all, what better way to atone and correct one’s past mistakes than to be engaged with full determination and continue hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, etc.?

But it is an issue that has been a challenge for us. How do we deal with leaders who have had less than exemplary track records? It becomes especially problematic if one still has admiring followers, and does not openly show remorse or accept the correction prescribed by ISKCON authorities. I can think of at least half-a-dozen examples in ISKCON where opinions among devotees are divided over whether a particular man should still occupy a responsible post, or have disciples, or continue dressing and being honored as a sannyasi, or even be allowed to give classes or lead kirtans in ISKCON.

However, it seems odd to me that Sitadasi is questioning the case of Urmila, who has no checkered history, no blot against her name. It seems that there is some over-scrutiny of her marriage merely because she is female.

Many marriages in ISKCON have faced problems, unfortunately. Srila Prabhupada was frustrated by the problem, but he was also understanding and forgiving. Urmila has been exemplary by following Srila Prabhupada’s general instruction that a woman should not remarry.

We should not have to publicly scrutinize every marriage in detail before a woman is invited to give class. Srila Prabhupada did not erect a special barrier for women. His statements should not be interpreted in that way.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 9th, 2011
40 Akruranatha

“This is stated repeatedly in Srila Prabhupada’s purports, and in Bhagavatam Slokas..”

Thank you Kavicandra Maharaja, for entering the fray. I was afraid most GBC and sannyasis considered this Dandavats discussion irrelevant, but really is isn’t. People are listening and talking about these discussions. It is a great forum for clearly building consensus, if properly utilized.

Yes, I have not seriously studied Manu Samhita, but I also learned from Srila Prabhupada’s books that the highest dharma is that which leads to Krishna bhakti, and that the purpose of all religious duties, cultivation of knowledge, performance of sacrifice, study of the Vedas, yoga, sacrifice, austerity, fruitive activities, charity and so on is to please and know Krishna in full, pure, unreserved devotional service. I recite Chapter 2 of the First Canto daily.

That does not mean, however, that varnasrama dharma is not about justice and morality, rather than domination by the privileged and strong over the weak and subordinate sectors of society. “Dharma” literally means righteousness, religious duty, morality and justice. Srila Prabhupada states:

“And in each and every one of the above-mentioned divisions of life, *the aim must be to please the supreme authority of the Personality of Godhead.* [Emphasis in original] This institutional function of human society is known as the system of varnasrama-dharma, which is quite natural for the civilized life. The varnasrama institution is constructed to enable onbe to realize the Absolute Truth. It is not for artificial domination of one division over another. When the aim of life, i.e., realization of the Absolute Truth, is missed by too much attachment for indriya-priti, or sense gratification, as already discussed hereinbefor, the institution of varnasrama is utilized by selfish men to pose an artificial predominance over the weaker section. In the Kali-yuga, or in the age of quarrel, this artificial predominance is already current, but the saner section of the people know it well that the divisions of castes and orders of life are meant for smooth social intercourse and high-thinking self-realization and not for any other purpose.” [S.B. 1.2.13, Purport]

Of course women and men have different duties for making smooth social intercourse and high-thinking self-realization. However, when it comes to giving Bhagavatam class, there is no distinction. Srila Prabhupada made that clear.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 9th, 2011
41 Akruranatha

Balakrsna Prabhu states that the problem is not that women are giving classes, but that the content of their classes and instructions are incorrect and confusing, mixing in ideas of western feminism:

“My Indian friends tell me that when their wives, or god-sisters attend classes/seminars by these senior ladies they come out confused. A common complaint from the Indian women is ‘they may know the philosophy—that Krsna is God and we are the servants, but they do not know how to apply it in their daily lives as women. They do not know the religion (dharma) of how to be a woman in Krsna’s service. They mix in Western ideas about feminism and call this Women’s role in KC.’”

However, at least with respect to the comments in the thread so far, no one has raised any objection to the content of what Urmila said. The whole discussion thus far has mostly focused on whether she should have been requested to give class at all, at least while there were many senior men and sannyasis present.

I submit that it is not only women in ISKCON who do not perfectly know how to live in accordance with varnasrama dharma, but it seems to be women in ISKCON who bear the brunt of the misunderstanding.

Srila Prabhupada reportedly said that 50% of his mission was to reintroduce the system of daivi varnasrama dharma, and that it remained unfinished, unrealized. We still have a long way to go, and the influx of many qualified devotees who are already culturally Indian and Hindu may help us in the long run, though of course they understand that Srila Prabhupada also emphasized that the varnasrama system in India had already been vitiated through thousands of years of Kali-yuga (the signs of which began appearing right after Lord Krishna left the planet, for example in the cursing of Maharaja Pariksit by a brahmana child.)

We need to learn how to make people see how natural and attractive real varnasrama society actually is. We also have to understand that it won’t be possible unless there is a sufficient critical mass of real qualified brahmanas and ksatriyas, who take up their respective duties conscientiously. It is not simply a “dress up” game of pretending to be entitled to privileged treatment, nor should we ever think that just because we have been given initiation with a sacred thread that means we are really qualified as brahmanas. Our male devotees also need to know how to be qualified husbands and fathers. Vedic culture is not a bastion of artificial male privilege.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 9th, 2011
42 Akruranatha

I have looked at the July 11, 1975, arrival interview and arrival address cited by Sitadasi, but neither one even touched on the question of whether women should give class in ISKCON. In both of them, Srila Prabhupada was merely explaining (as he often did) that there are differences of parent-child, husband-wife, master-servant on the material platform, but that there is equality on the spiritual platform.

The female interviewer in the Philadelphia airport was shocked by our frank acceptance that women and men have different material roles and duties. The feminism in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s was influenced a great deal by the civil rights struggle against segregation and oppression of blacks, and was based on an ideology of “equality” on even the material platform.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of essential differences between men and women were reintroduced by more “radical” feminist philosophers like Andrea Dworkin and have actually become dominant in Western universities. Also there is a noticeable trend to at least try to be more sensitivity to the voices of women from non-European cultures.

We should be bombarding all the philosophers and professors with Srila Prabhupada’s books, and by showing examples in our own lives, that the concepts explained therein can make all men and women, masters, servants, parents and children, happy and full of knowledge about both their material duties, based on their precise stations in external social life, and their transcendental duties such as chanting japa, dancing in kirtan, and participating in Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita classes.

And yes, we should understand and exemplify the real daivi varnasrama system as taught by Srila Prabhupada. It is not a system of oppression but one of true liberation for all members of society.

We have to avoid the trap of automatically siding with the forces of reaction and traditionalism. Actual varnasrama dharma should be presented as progressive. Yes, it is patriarchal, but the patriarchs and privileged classes have to behave with due regard for dharma, knowing well that Krishna is the real controller and enjoyer, and that their duties are to protect all the citizens, especially the weaker section like women, children, brahmanas, elderly and cows.

Isavasyam idam sarvam. Everyone has his or her natural “quota” and role to play in the external world for the pleasure of Krishna. But everyone may chant Srimad Bhagavatam.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 9th, 2011
43 Unregistered

Regarding Akruranatha’s comments in #8 and other places

Akruranatha wrote:

“I disagree with Bhaktilata dasi that Srila Prabhupada was not giving carte blanche for women to give Srimad Bhagavatam class in the above letter. That seems to be exactly what he was doing.”

You say Srila Prabhupada is giving women carte blanche to give class. Let’s see what the dictionary says.

According to the dictionary “Carte blanche” means:

“Unrestricted power to act at one’s own discretion; unconditional authority.”

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/carte+blanche

Whereas the word “but” has the meaning of negating what came before it.

6. On the contrary; on the other hand; only; yet; still; however; nevertheless; more; further; - as connective of sentences or clauses of a sentence, in a sense more or less exceptive or adversative; as, the House of Representatives passed the bill, but the Senate dissented; our wants are many, but quite of another kind.
http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/But

So in that letter to Jayagovida Srila Prabhupada says that women can and should give class. After that he says “But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference.”

So this clearly indicates that there is a limiting condition, it is not unrestricted or unconditional. A condition is definitely set. Why did Srila Prabhupada make this condition? Because he wanted to protect his spiritual daughters from making the offence of maryada-vyatikrama.

cont…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 10th, 2011
44 Unregistered

part 2

“Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryada-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science. … The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed. … One should not be eager to become a spiritual master cheaply for the sake of profit and fame, but should become a spiritual master only for the service of the Lord. The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama…” SB 3.4.26

After this Srila Prabhupada says “But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.”

In this case the “but” doesn’t negate the previous condition set by Srila Prabhupada, but rather reinforces the fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted women to give lectures with the proviso that if a more qualified man is present he should give class instead in order that the ladies avoid the offence of maryada-vyatikrama. So the final meaning is that if a more qualified male speaker is not present then a women can give class.

Akruranatha however encourages the ladies to commit maryada-vyatikrama by which “one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world.” Men are supposed to protect women not encourage them to do self-destructive activities.

What to speak of women, a man should defer to a more qualified man as in the case of Uddhava who though eminently qualified defered to Maitreya Rsi.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 10th, 2011
45 Unregistered

Re #38

Akruranatha said:

Within this context, the sentence, “But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference”, can only mean one thing. All it means is that a woman should not be given preference merely because she is a woman. He is rejecting some kind of “affirmative action” or quotas. We should select whomever is most qualified to hear from, regardless of race, class or sex. That is all he is saying.

Prabhu are we speaking the same language? I mean English. Srila Prabhupada directly says “the man should be given first preference.” It means exactly that. If man who is more qualified to speak is present, as was in the case in Mayapura, then they should be given first preference. But you however state it means something else.

This must be lawyer-speak (-:

It reminds me of George Bernard Shaw who said: “The Americans and the British, two great people separated by a common language.”

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 10th, 2011
46 Unregistered

Am I the only one to notice it or am I just a faultfinder. First Akrurantha waxes eloquent about Varnashrama dharma and what it actually is all about then gets heavy with Bhaktilata Mataji because she suggested he listen to some lectures by BVPS to learn more on the subject. But when she points out he is completely wrong about VAD is about by providing suitable proofs and is supported by Kavicandra Svami Akruranatha can not bring himself to admit he is wrong or apoligise for all the innuendos he made about her and BVPS but keeps defending himself and that he was right in the first place.

Now Akruranatha, in order to defend his previous statement that Varnashrama Dharma is about “supreme morality and justice” rather than realization of Visnu as stated in sastra, Akruranatha now gives his own custom made definition of the word dharma.

in #40 Akruranatha said:

“Dharma” literally means righteousness, religious duty, morality and justice.

Then of course it follows that since Varnashrama Dharma has the word Dharma in it then the meaning of VAD must be according to the definition of dharma that Akruranatha has given it. Now this may be a good tactic that lawyers use in courtrooms to confuse judge and jury or to win debates. But this is not how the truth is reached.

Srila Prabhupada gives the actual meaning of Dharma in many places. He specifically states in the intro of the Gita that while it is common to translate it as religion such meaning is wrong. Prabhupada tells us that dharma means the intrinsic nature of an entity. For example the dharma of sugar is to be sweet, of chillies to be hot, of water to be wet.

cont..

Comment posted by Somayaji on April 10th, 2011
47 Unregistered

part 2

“Dharma actually means ‘that which one cannot give up,’ ‘that which is inseparable from oneself.’ The warmth of fire is inseparable from fire; therefore warmth is called the dharma, or nature, of fire.” SB 3.25.11p

“Prabhupada: Just like this candle. Candle has power, illuminating power. If you change this illuminating power of the candle, if you make it dark, then it is no more candle. And there are many examples. Just like sugar. Sugar is sweet. If you change the taste of the sugar into salty, then it is no more sugar. So dharma is like that. It cannot be changed. So dharmam hi saksat. What is that dharma? It cannot be changed.” Bhagavad-gita 4.34-39-Los Angeles, January 12, 1969

Srila Prabhupada (in Journey of Self-Discovery 2.6) further defined dharma as the “essential characteristic.”

So we see that Akruranatha’s definition of dharma has no relationship to the actual meaning of the word and is a construct solely intended for winning a debate. This is word jugglery which obscures the subject instead of illuminating it.

Similarly in comment #38 Akruranatha gives the opposite meaning to a plainly understood sentence “But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference.” He interprets this to mean that women have carte balanche and can give class anytime without restriction.

It is regrettable that Akruranatha has to use such means to attempt to win a debate. I am not interested in debates but in the truth. Winning a debate wont get me back to Godhead, the truth will.

Comment posted by Somayaji on April 10th, 2011
48 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I would like to express my appreciation for all of you who are giving this class so much attention–about five times more than any of the other Mayapur classes! The topic of the establishment of schools for children all over the world, by the leaders of the Krishna consciousness movement, is a very important one. The fact that so many people have read this transcript gives me great hope for putting the education of our children back “on the radar” of our movement. Perhaps we can really start to take education seriously!

If you would like to see the video of the class, go to: http://www.mayapurtvarchives.c.....bel/Urmila

It’s a bit surprising to see so many comments on the messenger rather than the message. I am SO glad that I joined ISKCON when Prabhupada’s personal influence on management was still widely known. We could see that he wanted both an ideal society from the platform of ordinary dharma and full participation in transcendence and preaching from everyone. As he quotes many times: Padma Purana states, arcye visnau sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati-buddhih … yasya va naraki sah: “One who considers the arca-murti, the worshipable Deity of Lord Visnu, to be stone, the spiritual master to be an ordinary human being, and a Vaisnava to belong to a particular caste or creed is possessed of hellish intelligence.” (CC Adi 7.115).

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 10th, 2011
49 Akruranatha

I see there really is some disagreement about what Srila Prabhupada wrote to Jayagovinda. I do not think it is a question of British versus American English, but a question of perhaps reading Srila Prabhupada’s statements to support foreordained conclusions.

In the letter to Jayagovinda, Srila Prabhupada first states:

“Regarding lecturing by woman devotees: I have informed you that in the service of the Lord there is no distinction of caste or creed, color, or sex. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord especially mentions that even a woman who has taken seriously is also destined to reach Him. We require a person who is in the knowledge of Krishna, that is the only qualification of a person speaking. It doesn’t matter what he is. Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of higher and lower. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy.”

So far, Srila Prabhupada appears to be saying, it does not matter whether one is externally a man or a woman when it comes to lecturing. The only qualification is that the speaker should be in knowledge of Krishna.

Then, two sentences follow. First, the one we seem to disagree about:

“But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference.”

This is the sentence we have differences of opinion about. Bhaktilata is proposing that Srila Prabhupada was indicating that if a woman spoke in the presence of a more qualified man, she would be violating etiquette and committing an offense (maryada-vyatikrama) that would ruin her.

It is an interesting theory that had not occurred to me. However, if that is what Srila Prabhupada meant, he did not say so explicitly. It is not a matter of simply understanding plain English.

The final sentence does seem to negate that theory, however:

“But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.”

He seems to be saying that even a less qualified woman should be given a proper chance to speak, in order to help train her as a preacher.

As Bhaktilata points out, men should also defer to more qualified men. Yet we need to give all aspiring preachers a proper chance to speak, and among senior men we do not have a strict ranking system.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 10th, 2011
50 Unregistered

The whole topic of spiritual equality vs material equality is relevant to when and where and how women should preach. This excerpt from the July 11, 1975 talks sums it up:

“If you artificially do not make distinction, that will not stay.”

It is artificial to not make a distinction between genders. This applies in our devotee society and it applies to giving class. If it didn’t, Prabhupada would not have said anything about any “preference” to be given to a man.

Akruranatha writes:

“And yes, we should understand and exemplify the real daivi varnasrama system as taught by Srila Prabhupada.”

Yes, we agree but my question then is where is such understanding and example given by women who are traveling around the world preaching and living like sannyasis? How are such women upholding the social model of varnasrama? Are they living under the protection of their fathers, husbands or sons? Further more, how are they helping brahmacaris and sannyasis to prevent being allured by subtle sex when they make them see and listen to them lecture?

Why would Prabhupada speak the following about “our women” if he didn’t want to preserve social distinctions and roles:
Prabhupada: Put problems. I’ll solve.
Yogesvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied?
Prabhupada: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Krsna conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Krsna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupad.” They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises) Morning Walk — May 1, 1974, Bombay

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 10th, 2011
51 Unregistered

Prabhupada did not establish a rule where there should be no distinction between genders when it came to giving class. By making the ISKCON Law on women giving class, our leaders have risked promoting artificial equality because it gives no consideration to varnasrama principles and etiquette. Why did they stop at women? Why not include children into the ruling and allow them to give regular classes? We are all spiritually equal after all.

Women can get the “chance to speak” in so many ways other than lecturing to men. Teaching children is one example, preaching to other women is another. They can help new wives and mothers learn to manage their household, cook, clean and serve their husband nicely, educate their children, and see it as devotional service rather than a mundane duty. Preaching by chaste example in her role as daughter, wife and mother is itself effective preaching. I wish I had such role models as a young bhaktin. Instead I became confused seeing my women’s asrama leaders imitating the duties of men for the majority of their daily activities and hearing them preach that marriage and having children was maya.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 10th, 2011
52 Unregistered

Akruranataha said:

As Bhaktilata points out, men should also defer to more qualified men. Yet we need to give all aspiring preachers a proper chance to speak, and among senior men we do not have a strict ranking system.

But is a no brainer if Urmila dd, a woman, is involved. That was the whole point of her posting.

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on April 11th, 2011
53 Unregistered

Urmila mataji said in 48:

“It’s a bit surprising to see so many comments on the messenger rather than the message. I am SO glad that I joined ISKCON when Prabhupada’s personal influence on management was still widely known.”

And she goes further to imply that anyone who criticizes her has hellish intelligence.

Hmmmm I found this a bit strange. It is Srila Prabhupada who taught us that the character of the person who delivers the message is important.

“That is Vedic conception. One must be a teacher according to his own behavior in life.”

“Never mind whatever his private character. We don’t mind. He has passed Ph.D, so let him become teacher.” This is western culture. “By privately, he may be rascal. It doesn’t matter.” That is not brahminical culture. There is no “private” or “public.” (Morning Walk,LA,23 June 1975)

And:

“Now, if you think that it is very confidential, it cannot be disclosed, then I think for a person like you who is doing publicly such sacrifice, you should (sic:) not explain to Me.” Na hi gopyam hi sadhunam: “Sadhu, those who are saintly person, for them there is no secret.” There is no secret. There is no privacy. A sadhu, sadhu has no privacy. Just now in our ordinary social affairs, there is difference between private life and his public life. Now, if somebody is teacher… Now, he is very good teacher. He can very good… He can explain very nicely a subject matter, but his private life is not very good. Then he is not a teacher. He is not a sadhu. That is Vedic conception. One must be a teacher according to his own behavior in life. There is no secrecy or privacy. Now, we think that “We don’t mind what is private character. We don’t mind. We are concerned with his teaching.” No. That sort of teaching will not have any effect. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, apani acari prabhu jiveri siksaya: a teacher must demonstrate in his practical life what he is teaching. That is the meaning of acarya. Acarya means the teacher must demonstrate things by applying the same thing in his own life. That is called acarya. Therefore Krsna said that “You cannot disclose anything. You cannot keep anything private. Please disclose.” Udasino ‘rivad varyam atmavat suhrd ucyate: “And even if it is very confidential, I am your son. You can explain to Him. I am your well-wisher.”

New York, 4 Nov 196

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on April 11th, 2011
54 krishna-kirti

Part I

I am less concerned about the question of whether women should be allowed in an open forum of men and women to sit on the vyasasana and give class rather than with the process of moral reasoning by which different devotees arrive at different conclusions about the question. As employed by different devotees, that process embodies different assumptions that will surely be brought to bear on all questions of social and spiritual action. Devotees who take a particular position on the particular question under discussion here will take a similar position on related questions, such as women in administrative positions, occupational roles, marriage and divorce, whether women should be addressed as “Prabhu” or “Mataji”, etc. On all these various questions and the debates they generate, devotees are pretty consistent in their choices. How is that consistency explained?

This consistency of choice is explained by different presumptions each devotee holds, and an important one is the epistemological utility of tradition. In other words, how does tradition inform our understanding, if at all? The understanding immanent in all the comments made here so far reflect two distinct views of tradition: one view of tradition is that it is always essential to our understanding of spiritual subjects, and the other is that it is not always essential.

The first position is that, at least in a conditioned state, one can never be absolutely certain that a particular instruction from a particular source is “unequivocal.” To err is human, and our own convictions, which help us choose which statements from shastra or the acharyas apply to any given circumstance, may just as well reflect material desires as they do spiritual. “Parampara” is a synomym for tradition, in Sanskrit, Hindi, and other Indic languages. If you are certain that your idea the correct one and you find someone disagreeing with you (and even if you don’t), it is better to check with tradition, to check with the parampara.

The second position is that tradition is not always essential for our understanding. Sometimes tradition can be helpful, but it is not always required. Some who hold this position say that sometimes tradition is not spiritual, and that we have to make distinctions between instructions our acharyas had to acquiesce to and instructions that are eternal. As one of the commentators here put it: “Lets not mistake traditional Indian social norms from past centuries with spiritual norm.”

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 11th, 2011
55 krishna-kirti

Part II

The second position does not reject tradition per se but argues that not all that one understands in one’s reading of the shastras or hear from our acharyas is a part of the parampara. So the idea of tradition is different than that of the first position, it is more abstract. It requires you to “read between the lines”, you are not free of the burden to divine the true intent underlying the literal reading. Their criticism of the first position is that those who hold the first position on tradition can be just as mistaken as those in the second position. More formally, those who hold the second position believe that one has to distinguish between sat (that which is eternal) and asat (that which is not eternal) when examining the tradition, the parampara. This is what the commentator meant when she said, “Lets not mistake traditional Indian social norms from past centuries with spiritual norm.” We have to distinguish between sat and asat in the tradition before employing it as evidence.

Applying these two views of tradition to the discussion at hand, in answer to Mataji Urmila’s question in comment #29, she wrote:

Krishna kirti Prabhu gave us a nice quote from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as follows: “Sri Krsna Caitanya condemns all association between the sexes for carnality in the most unsparing terms.” I’m a bit confused as to how this quote relates since, as far as know, Bhagavatam discussion is not for the purpose of carnality.

The relevance of this statement is that, in the rest of the quote, it identifies parda–the separation of the sexes even in spiritual affairs–as being sat. “Is this teaching of the sastras to be regarded as obsolete and oriental. . . ?” The question is not open, it is rhetorical. The answer is “no”, that it is neither obsolete nor oriental. Here tradition helps us distinguish between sat and asat. Some devotees clearly believe that such arrangements in the Gaudiya Math, where women did not give class, or the prohibition of unmarried women to live in temple ashrams, is asat. But here the tradition informs us otherwise. Strict parda–even in spiritual affairs–is sat, not asat.

(continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 11th, 2011
56 krishna-kirti

Part III

This information then lends different meaning to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions that circumstantially allowed women to live in temple ashrams or give class. Srila Prabhupada himself admitted that there is a risk to allowing women to live in temples, but that he took that risk to give Western women Krishna consciousness. But better is to create a society where that risk is no longer necessary. We may have to abide by such arrangements for some indefinite time, but we should move forward toward building a society in which women do not have to live alongside of men in temples.

Similarly with women giving Bhagavatam class. Srila Prabhupada did place conditions on those, but better instead to have parda, separation of the sexes, not unlike that practiced by Mahaprabhu and His associates. For now, women giving class to a general audience may be necessary, but we should be moving toward a society in which that won’t be.

Why does it matter for Bhagavatam class? Because, in most cases, neither the speaker nor the audience are free from the influence of the material energy. You give class in a society. If you are a paramahamsa, and can separate milk from water, then you are an exception and can act as exceptionally as you want. But for the rest of us who aren’t paramahamsas, these arrangements are for our protection. This is sat, not asat.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on April 11th, 2011
57 Deenabandhu

Urmila says:
“We only have so much energy and we spend our energy fighting with each other what will be the point.”

And this comment thread is proof!! I am completely saddened and shocked that Urmila Mataji addressed such an important point in our society, but no one is addressing this point, but uselessly arguing! Meanwhile our children and our society are suffering!

Comment posted by Deenabandhu on April 12th, 2011
58 Unregistered

Dear Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis,

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

First I would like to thank Mother Urmila for a wonderful class on the education of devotee children worldwide. Stress on a Vaishnava education is overlooked in so many continents and all grihastha devotees strive protecting their Vaikuntha children sent to us by the Supreme Lord. And who more qualified to speak on this topic, but one who has spent the better part of her life for the welfare of many devotee children.

I am shocked that some of the devotees here have not mentioned anything about the class and have taken all this valuable time and energy to attack her qualifications and even her character!

I am shocked that today, in the year 2011, there are those that speak so harshly against mataji devotees, just because they are woman! I actually cant believe that there are still such devotees so constricted by the body! If a woman mataji has been asked to give a class to men, men’s minds will get polluted?! How low-class are those Vaishnava men that they can only see a woman as a sexual maya devi?! This is how lDear devotees, these were the arguments we heard in the 70s and 80s in ISKCON.. Are we still so stuck on the bodily platform, that on a public well-known forum as Dandavats, we are still discussing this?! Srila Prabhupada’s mission was ‘pascatya desa tarine’.. How will we assist his mission going forward in the 22nd century with such parochial philosophical ideas as this!

I am thankful that Mother Urmila hasn’t spent her valuable time responding to all these comments..

Akruranath Prabhu has already quoted many wonderful quotes from Srila Prabhupada. So I will not get into the details of why qualified woman should be encouraged to give classes.

But I will most definitely respond to those of you who have attacked Mother Urmila’s standing as a Vaishnavi, her character and her words. Give up your envy! Take a look at her public and private life and notice how, despite many struggles she may have been through in the past thirty years, she is still completely and totally focused on her service to her beloved spiritual master Srila Prabhupada! She has sacrificed so much personally for the sake of her authorities and Srila Prabhupada’s instructions! She is still following the sadhana path very strictly and her character is above average! By attacking her, you are committing Vaishnava aparadha.

Your servant,
Gopi gita dd

Comment posted by Gopigita on April 12th, 2011
59 Unregistered

Firstly I wanted to thank Urmila dd for her nice class.

Secondly I can’t believe that after so many years these issues are still being debated.

I read a quote just today from Srila Prabhupada - it was timely:

Prabhupada: Well, that is atmavat manyate jagat. That is the conditioned soul’s qualification: That if he is a fool (and) he thinks other (to be) fools. Everyone, he thinks, ‘He is like me.’ That is nature. Atmavat manyate jagat. Everyone thinks others like himself. If he is a fool, he thinks all are. Morning Walk, June 25, 1975, in Los Angeles

Some devotees just cant WAIT to jump in on a conversation that involves anything with women and start ranting about “subtle sex”

It makes me wonder how much of this is coming from THEMSELVES. Ive seen it time and time again the Prabhu who cries blue murder at the mere sight of a woman and yet is the first to bloop.

They are trying to externalize their own shortcomings by projecting them onto women - when it is THEY who are lusty.

They should try to be like Srila Prabhupada who told the reporter: “Yes the difference between you and me sir, is that in a room full of naked women I wouldn’t be disturbed”

Perhaps these devotees should wear ear plugs to every morning program. After all they should “not even hear from the lips of a woman” yet Srila Prabhupada likes to listen to Yamuna d.d. singing Govindam - OH THE HORROR!

Such devotees really need to sleeping on their stomachs and having hot showers, and get OVER the bodily concept. Either that or go live in Burka-land.

Comment posted by Radhesyam.bap on April 12th, 2011
60 Akruranatha

From Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Syama Dasi dated October 21, 1968:

“Regarding your third question, morning lecture is also allowed. Lecture is also kirtana, and so as morning kirtana is there, similarly morning lecture can also be delivered. In New York , or even in San Francisco, when I was present I was giving lectures in morning also. So far as girls or boys lecturing in the morning, that doesn’t make any difference. Either girl or boy devotees may deliver lecture if they choose to do. We have no such distinction of bodily designations, male or female. Krishna Consciousness is on the spiritual platform. As such, anyone who is a devotee of the Lord, following in this line of disciplic succession, can deliver lecture, on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 12th, 2011
61 Unregistered

Excuse me but it seems that some of the later commentators have lost the thread of this discussion. They should first read comments 4&5 which is what really kicked off this whole discussion. There Bhaktilata Mataji doesn’t bring in anything about the “specter of sex” etc. This was a later development pushed by others thereby side tracking the real issue that Bhaktilata made which is:

None of us would like to hear a class from a fallen sannyasi who didn’t follow his sannyasa dharma.

None of us would like to hear a class from a fallen grhasta who didn’t follow his grahasta dharma.

Nor would we like to hear a class from a fallen brahmacari who didn’t follow his brahmacari dharma.

One should be a living example of what one is preaching. So when it comes to women “preachers” which ones are actually following their stri dharma?

Most senior western women in ISKCON don’t even know what Stri-dharma is what to speak of practice it. Why should we listen to them?

I very much appreciated this and the other points made by Bhaktilata dd as they are so true and according to my own experience.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 13th, 2011
62 Unregistered

Re #57

Then why did you comment? (-:

Maybe we should ask Praghosa to turn off comment function so that we will not waste time commenting on Dandavatas. What to speak of potentially making offences. I am serious about that. It is so easy to get sucked in sometimes.

And of course when you make a comment you want to make sure you put your best foot forward (instead of in your mouth) so you compose your text, edit it, put it through a spell checker etc (at least many do that). And the next you know what seemed like would only take a few minutes turns into a lot more.

And if you look at these stats

http://www.dandavats.com/?page_id=2817

it seems that some people live on Dandavatas.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 13th, 2011
63 Unregistered

Gopi Gita said:

How will we assist his mission going forward in the 22nd century with such parochial philosophical ideas as this!

Wow you are light years ahead of me. We just started the 21st century and you are already planning for the 22nd century. (-: A typo I know.

And of course their are idiots like me who think that Krsna’s Vedic culture is not “parochial” but eternally true in the past, present, and future.

It is being “modern” which is delusional. For by definition “modern” is what exists in the present moment but is not so in the next. Or, to put it in context how many people have closets full of clothes they would not be caught wearing today because they are out of style and not modern.

So to be modern means to to live in the ephemeral moment which by the definition of the Gita is “non-reality.”

That which is real has no cessation and that which is unreal has no-duration.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 13th, 2011
64 Akruranatha

Regarding Somayaji’s comments #46 and 47 and Bhaktilata’s #24, I may answer the substance more directly later, but for now I would like to say that I made no “accusations” or “innuendos” against H.H. Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja. Really, I didn’t. Go back and look.

All I said was that Bhaktilata’s direction that I go listen to his lectures if I want to know what Varnasrama Dharma is really about, without (as of that time) any explanation of what BVPM thinks about whether women should give class or why, was a mere authoritarian statement rather than one which provided any appeal to reasons or efforts to persuade me of anything.

As of this time, I still do not know what Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja thinks in general about Srila Prabhupada’s statements that it does not matter whether women or men give class and that there is no bar to women giving class on the basis of their material designation as women, or specifically about whether Urmila Mataji should have been invited to give morning Bhagavatam class in the temple room during the Mayapur festival.

I am also curious about Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja’s views on the relation of Varnasrama Dharma to ultimate justice and morality. My views are as follows:

Somayaji is correct that the essential nature of a thing is its dharma. “Dharma” does not mean exactly the same thing as “religion” in the western sense of religious faith, which is a matter of belief which can be changed.

However, “dharma” still does carry the notion of right action or correct behavior, even in terms of one’s temporary designation of ksatriya, shudra, brahmacari, grhastha, man or woman.

The eternal, unchangeable dharma of every jiva is to be a servant of Krishna. However, Krishna generally requests us to serve Him according to the regulations of scripture in accordance with the temporary duties (sva-dharma) that arise from our temporary nature (sva-bhava) acquired through our association with the gunas in our conditioned state. Krishna told Arjuna that considering his duty as a Ksatriya he should fight, and that he would incur sin if he neglected that duty. Later He explained that prescribed duties should not be renounced.

The world is constructed nicely so that if everyone acts according to his or her prescribed duties there will be peace, harmony, justice and smooth social intercourse. “Ma grdhah kasya-svid dhanam” means not to encroach on that not prescribed for us. …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
65 Akruranatha

Those who overstep the boundaries of what is allotted to them in the universal scheme of things commit adharma or injustice.

Sometimes people misuse the teachings of the scriptures about the duties prescribed for men, women, different castes or asramas to control others for their own sense gratification. Often what is found is that privileged social groups justify their encroachments by referring to scriptures. For example, in the film “Water” by Deepa Mehta, the hero’s father, a “brahmana” by birth only, justified his unbrahminical acts of exploiting a beautiful young widow for his sex enjoyment as a privilege of his birth. Clearly, his behavior and his justification for it were both examples of “adharma”.

Of course the real purpose of all dharma and prescribed activities according to varna and asrama is to realize Vishnu and please Vishnu.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that a person may perform all his duties according to varna and asrama perfectly, but if as a result of doing so one’s attraction for hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam is not awakened, such performance of duties is considered “srama”, or useless labor. All occupations (another word for “dharma”) are meant for liberation, not for material gain. Though one achieves material gain by properly performing one’s occupational duties according to varna and asrama, one should not use such gain to cultivate kama, or sense gratification,* but for realizing the Absolute Truth in its three features as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Therefore, the highest result of discharging one’s duties according to varna and asrama is to please Lord Hari. (See, S.B. 1.2.6-13)

*Generaly we hear of the four purusarthas or goals of human life as dharma, artha, kama and moksa, but Srimad Bhagavatam says its all meant for cultivating bhakti.

Later, in the Firth Chapter of the First Canto, Narada Muni explains further the relation of the Vedic system of fruitive actions and varnasrama duties to pure devotional service. He says that one may abandon his “sva-dharma” to run after devotional service, and even if he fails to reach perfection of devotional service while in an immature stage he has not lost anything, and he will ultimately achieve success, whereas if one performs his duties properly according to varna and asrama but does not become a devotee, he does not gain anything. (S.B. 1.5.17)

Still, generally devotional service runs in parallel with our conditional duties according to our social positions

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
66 Akruranatha

Some eight months or so after his letter to Jayagovinda discussed above, Srila Prabhupada answered a question of Syama dasi as follows:

“So far as girls or boys lecturing in the morning, that doesn’t make any difference. Either girl or boy devotees may deliver lecture if they choose to do. We have no such distinction of bodily designations, male or female. Krishna Consciousness is on the spiritual platform. As such, anyone who is a devotee of the Lord, following in this line of disciplic succession, can deliver lecture, on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc.”
[SP letter to Syama dasi, Oct. 21, 1968]

In this letter he does not repeat the sentence whose meaning Bhaktilata and I disagree about, that *IF* a man is more qualified he should be given preference.

The letter to Syama dasi is therefore evidence that Bhaktilata’s interpretation of the letter to Jayagovinda is not correct. If Srila Prabhupada had intended to make a condition that a girl could give class but only if no qualified boy was present, why didn’t he say so in his letter to Syama eight months later?

This letter seems in keeping with the more natural interpretation of the sentence in the letter to Jayagovinda, that “If” a man is more qualified than a woman, he should be given preference, but conversely if a woman is more qualified than a man she should be given preference. But then in the final sentence to Jayagovinda Srila Prabhupada said that anyway a sincere devotee should be given an opportunity to preach, because we need to train up all the devotees as far as possible to become preachers.

Krishna-kirti makes a good point that we should not divorce Srila Prabhupada’s teachings from that of the previous acaryas, and that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada may have indicated (we should examine the case more closely) that erecting a curtain (purdah) in the temple room to prevent men from seeing women and barring women from lecturing before men is an eternal religious principle not subject to change. If so, he suggests, Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to the contrary may be seen as temporary details for preaching in western countries.

However, we still are faced with the fact that our Founder-Acarya made these unequivocal statements, and we cannot say he is wrong. If it was a temporary measure, he did not explicitly say so. And even so, how do we know that the conditions which required these measures in 1968 no longer apply?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
67 Akruranatha

Of course Deenabandhu Prabhu makes a great point of the irony of our arguing about this seemingly minor issue (whether Urmila Mataji should have been requested to give the class), while ignoring the content of her remarks about the urgent need to establish and maintain and improve good educational institutions in ISKCON as Srila Prabhupada requested, and the obstacles faced in terms of quarreling over details.

We do seem to have communication problems in ISKCON, and Deenabandhu is right that this very thread is proof. Not only in this thread, but very frequently devotees on the internet get engaged in flaming each other.

Krishna-Kirti made a good point in comment #30, that it helps if we actually know each other better. Something about the anonymity of the internet makes it easier to ascribe bad motivations to (or speculations about the character and attitude) of the commentators, which might be avoided in face-to-face isthagosthis.

But even face-to-face, devotees sometimes have serious communication problems. I like what Urmila said about Hare Krishna temples being like gurukulas for adult devotees. Part of our education should help us learn to be able to communicate better and resolve disputes, recognizing that we are still students with much to learn, and also recognizing that despite or differences over details we are all dedicated ultimately to pleasing Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

I wonder whether authoritarian modes of communication may be part of our problem. Of course in spiritual circles we should always be prepared to back up what we say by reference to infallible spiritual authority. Still, we should be able to listen charitably to each other and should not assume that any opinion other than our own is necessarily unauthorized. We should value the give and take of thoughtful discussion between sincere seekers of truth.

The authoritarian mode is to cut off debate by saying, “My view is supported by infallible authority, and therefore anyone who disagrees with me is a nonsense rascal.” The more mature devotional mode recognizes that there may be apparent disagreements between infallible authorities and we should be wiling to respectfully discuss them among sincere devotees.

And clearly everyone in this discussion is a sincere devotee. The vehemence with which we hold to our opinions may reflect our bhava of respect for our respective authorities.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
68 Akruranatha

I appreciate Krishna-Kirti’s argument that we should understand Srila Prabhupada’s statements in light of the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition which he always presents himself as representing.

I guess what I meant by “jumping over” is the tendency to ignore Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and instead pay closer attention to the seemingly contrary instructions of a previous acarya. It is the duty of every sincere follower of Srila Prabhupada to harmonize the instructions.

What was sometimes done by some devotees, which Srila Prabhupada chastised, was going to Gaudiya Math authorities without approaching Srila Prabhupada, and implicitly accepting the idea that Srila Prabhupada was mistaken or wrong about some issue because it was done differently in Gaudiya Math.

Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers might see him in a relative way (although given his great success in carrying Lord Caitanya’s message to Western countries to fulfill the great desire of SBSSTP and the predictions of Lord Caitanya, they should have been extremely respectful to him and given him more credit than some of them sometimes did). As for us, his disciples and grand-disciples, and members of his institution, we have to give highest deference to his clear instructions.

He does instruct us to learn to distinguish “details” from basic, universal principles of devotional service. However, we should not disobey even the details he has clearly given for how to carry out his ISKCON mission, at least not without a very clear and convincing explanation of why he would conclude such details should no longer apply.

With respect to observing purda and restricting the role of women preachers, whatever reasons Srila Prabhupada had for not doing so seem to still apply with equal or greater force today. Nor is it merely a geographical matter, as he requested his female disciples to speak in India as well as the west.

He often spoke approvingly of the system of purdah, of how his mother would go in a covered palanquin just to borrow sugar from a neighbor, and so on. He did not speak of any urgency of establishing such a system in ISKCON, however.

In my local temple in San Jose, CA, even our lady devotees from Hindu families sometimes have advanced university degrees and professional employment outside the home. They have good morals, but living in America they do display confidence and ability to think and explain things in mixed audiences. How nice that they also do so about Krishna.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
69 Akruranatha

I liked the following quotation Urmila Mataji cited in her class:

“Therefore brahmacari means living under direction of guru, guror hitam. And guror hitam… How he can be simply thinking of benefiting the spiritual master? Unless that position comes, nobody can serve guru. It is not an artificial thing. The brahmacari, the disciple, must have genuine love for guru. Then he can be under his control. Otherwise why one should be under the control of another person?” Srila Prabhupada lecture - Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.12.2 — Bombay, April 13, 1976]

Not just for brahmacaris, but for all members of society, we can demand them to live up to the ideals of behavior, self control, and responsibility prescribed for them, but if they do not have a taste of the essence of Krishna consciousness we will not be able to induce such high ideals. Engagement in Krishna consciousness automatically helps people develop all the good qualifications of the demigods, but if we try to introduce the rules independently, without Krishna consciousness, no one will accept. Peple accept self-control and austerity out of genuine affection for their well-wishers like Krishna and Guru and devotee authorities and devotee parents.

Somehow we should make people attracted to Krishna consciousness, how nice the Hare Krishna mantra is, how beautiful the Deities are, what great literature is Srimad-Bhagavatam. We can impose the highest ideals on ourselves (it is good to regulate gradually, according to what we can actually accept for steady progress), but we should know what we ought to tolerate in others, like a kind but careful teacher.

The kali-yuga dvija bandhus have sometimes been noted for hypocrisy, demanding ideal behavior from lower classes for the purpose of exploiting them, while secretly behaving impiously themselves. The ISKCON devotees should be known as different, being strict with themselves but tolerant of beginners.

But all that is beside the point of women lecturing on Srimad-Bhagavatam, I think. Srila Prabhupada indicated that at least in this activity of speaking, it was not a violation of any principle of dharma for a woman to lecture. The great urgency of the world is that there must be qualified preachers of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and to do such preaching is transcendental activity that is open to all, regardless of caste, color, age, sex, nationality, as long as the speaker knows the science and can explain it correctly.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
70 Akruranatha

“If your husband, _____, is not even keeping correspondence with you how can we know what is his position. Please try to advise him to return the money he owes as soon as possible. Chant 16 rounds, follow all of our regulative principles then everything will be alright in a very short time. I am hoping he will do like this. So you please continue your devotional service, cooking etc, *and you can also keep giving Bhagavatam class if you like.* Women in our movement can also preach very nicely. Actually male and female bodies, these are just outward designations. Lord Caitanya said that whether one is brahmana or whatever he may be if he knows the science of Krsna then he is to be accepted as guru. So one who gives class, he must read and study regularly and study the purport and realize it. Don’t add anything or concoct anything, then he can preach very nicely. The qualification for leading class is how much one understands about Krsna and surrendering to the process. Not whether one is male or female. Of course women, generally speaking are less intelligent, better she has heard nicely then she will speak nicely.” [Emphasis added]

[SP letter to a female disciple, dated December 25, 1974.]

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2011
71 Unregistered

That was a great lecture! Thank you Mother Urmila.

Life is short. Do we really want to waste precious moments bickering amongst ourselves? Instead we should feel a sense of urgency to share our good fortune with others! There are billions of people out there whose lives could be transformed overnight if only they had the chance to hear about Krishna. Just imagine how much energy and cooperation it will take to experience the following ’scenarios’ in our lifetime.

Mother Urmila: “Imagine if anywhere you could go in the world there was a prasadam restaurant; if all the milk we drank in the world was from protected cows; if all the music was glorifying the Lord; if all the drama was glorifying the Lord; if all of the fruits, vegetable, the water, the air, the land was pure and sanctified; if the governments were full of raja-rsis; if it was easy to maintain yourself in such a way that you could naturally think of Krishna!”

Wouldn’t it be the perfection of our lives if we could play a role in bringing about such a world? Nothing would please Srila Prabhupada more. In fact, he repeatedly emphasized that spreading Krishna Consciousness is the essence; everything else is secondary.

Dear devotees, please be cautious not to offend Vaisnavis who have dedicated their entire lives to helping others (and that includes children!) develop their love for God. Those who are willing to step forward and spread the message of Lord Caitanya are few & far between and should therefore be glorified & cherished by us. So encourage them and find out how you can assist! When your heart is filled with loving gratitude in this way, Srila Prabhupada & Srimati Radharani will surely be pleased with you.

Thank you Mother Urmila for all the years that you shared your knowledge with me in the Gurukula. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. :)

Comment posted by cintamani_dasi on April 14th, 2011
72 Unregistered

I’m not against anyone. And neither is this aimed at anyone in particular. But just adding to the current discussion.

In the Gita 3rd chapter we find that Lord Krsna instructs Arjuna that even
if a person like Maharaja Janaka became liberated they still perform their
prescribed duty just as an example to teach others, and in fact Lord Krsna
says that the same applies to Him.

Lord Caitanya, the yuga avatara, Whose mission we are supposed to be
carrying out despite having said to Ramananda Raya “kiba vipra….” still
Lord Caitanya was an ideal sannyasi according to Daiva VAD the same can be
said of all our acaryas especially BSST and Srila Prabhupada. Who could be
more mature, renounced and of ideal behavior than them? Still they observed
their Daiva VAD prescribed duties as an example for us.

Once Srila Prabhupada was in his room when his sister Pisima came to see
him, his body guard wanted to leave them alone to discuss but SP told him
not to go, later SP said you should not leave me alone with a woman. They
were both in their late 70s, blood relatives and disciples of BSST and pure
devotees still SP set the perfect example of a sannyasi.

So our female devotees even if they are mahabhagavatas like Janakaraja
should also set the example and perform their prescribed duties according to
Stri-dharma. Bhakti Vinoda Thakur said that BSST was sent by LC to establish two things:
Daiva Varnashrama Dharma and pure chanting of the Holy Name. Both are
interdependent. When Daiva VAD stopped being followed in Bengal it gave rise
to many apasampradayas and opened the gate to sahajayism, IMHO.

Comment posted by siddhakrishnadas on April 14th, 2011
73 Madhavananda Das (Orissa)

My thanks to Mother Urmila for a nice class!

Education in our society is an extremely important topic. Srila Prabhupada wanted gurukulas. Unfortunately, due to the past serious problems we have had with our schools, education in ISKCON today largely has a bad name and in many places has altogether stopped. I’m happy to see the dedication of qualified devotees like Urmila. In one sense the tragedies our schools have gone through are now becoming assets as they have inspired us to become more serious about our standards of teacher qualification.

I’m not intimately familiar with either project, but our schools today in Mayapur and Vrindavan seem to be doing very well. With Gunachuda Dasi in charge of the international school in Mayapur, the standards have come up a lot. I have a number of friends with children in Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja’s Mayapur school and everyone I speak with is highly impressed with the school.

These projects are vital for the future of our society. We urgently need to support qualified persons such as Urmila, Gunachuda, and Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja in their education services.

That need of the day, coupled with her expert and devotional presentation is no doubt the reason why the many learned sannyasis and senior devotees who listened to her class in Mayapur appreciated it so much.

Comment posted by Madhavananda Das (Orissa) on April 14th, 2011
74 Visakha Priya dasi

Every storm cloud has its silver lining. Although I met Her Grace Urmila devi a few times in Vrindavan I never got the opportunity to hear from her live. So, a few days ago, reading about the commotion her giving class in Mayapur is creating is some sections of the ISKCON world, I decided to download some of her lectures from the ISKCON Desire Tree. And guess what? I keep downloading more, because they far surpass many a class I hear in our temples. How one can label such an enlightened person “a woman” is beyond my comprehension. I am wholeheartedly convinced that Srila Prabhupada is proud of having such a disciple and that he will continue to pour his blessings upon her more and more. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who can turn mlecchas, yavanas, and women into transcendental loving servants of Krsna. May he kindly bless the smarta brahmanas too—if he so desires. And all glories to his disciple Urmila devi dasi, for having imbibed the philosophy so nicely and succeeded in presenting it in her own words for the benefit of the suffering masses. This *is* parampara!

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 14th, 2011
75 Unregistered

Prabhupada’s 1968 letter to Syama dasi does not negate all his other instructions. We are not talking about giving class in new temples in the early days of the movement, in the West, with no sannyasis present.

“An ācārya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced. In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we follow this policy of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. For example, since boys and girls in the Western countries freely intermingle, special concessions regarding their customs and habits are necessary to bring them to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The ācārya must devise a means to bring them to devotional service. Therefore, although I am a sannyāsī I sometimes take part in getting boys and girls married, although in the history of sannyāsa no sannyāsī has personally taken part in marrying his disciples.” (CC Adi 7.27)

Here we are, 40 years later, and we are wanting to justify women giving class in Mayapura, India, where there are senior men and sannyasis present. Many women, especially those who are trying to live their lives with deference to their male authorities and who do not feel represented by the Women’s Ministry and their goals, feel the sannyasis and senior men are being offended by such classes.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 14th, 2011
76 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you, Vishaka-priya devi dasi! By your blessings Srila Prabhupada is pleased with me! The words of a Vraja-vasi as you are cannot be false, so surely Krishna will make them true.

#61 seems to be saying: 1. We should only hear sastra from someone who is perfect in following their material dharma. 2. When a woman teaches sastra she is violating her material dharma. By that logic, a woman could never preach. I have tried my level best to follow material dharma, but…What IS the qualification for preaching sastra? Rupa Gosvami has such a wonderful quote in his Padyavali in this connection: Bhajana-mahatmya, The Glory of Devotional Service 8: Where were the hunter Dharma’s piety, Dhruva’s maturity, and Gajendra’s knowledge? Where was Kubja’s beauty? Where was Sudama’s wealth? Where was Vidura’s noble birth? Where was Ugrasena’s chivalrous strength? Lord Madhava is pleased only by devotional service and not by material qualifications.

We can also note a most materially disqualified woman who had many “stalwart” male devotees come to see and hear her– the prostitute who tried to cause Haridasa’s falldown. She violated every aspect of sri dharma, and even was envious of a Vaisnava, Haridasa. How disqualified! Yet:(CC Antya 3.142)
“Thus the prostitute became a celebrated devotee. She became very advanced in spiritual life, and many stalwart Vaisnavas would come to see her. PURPORT: Stalwart, highly advanced Vaisnava devotees are not interested in seeing prostitutes, but when a prostitute or any other fallen soul becomes a Vaisnava, stalwart Vaisnavas are interested in seeing them. Anyone can be turned into a Vaisnava if he or she follows the Vaisnava principles. A devotee who follows these principles is no longer on the material platform. Therefore, it is one’s strict adherence to the principles that should be considered, not the country of one’s birth. Many devotees join our Krsna consciousness movement from Europe and America, but one should not therefore consider them European Vaisnavas or American Vaisnavas. A Vaisnava is a Vaisnava and should therefore be given all the respect due a Vaisnava.”

We might say, “They saw her, not heard.” Did they go to watch a beautiful young woman? Hardly. Prabhupada also says, “My Guru Maharaja used to say that, “Do not try to see a saintly person. You try to hear a saintly person.” lecture Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.4-8

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 15th, 2011
77 Akruranatha

Sitadasi raises what appears to be the crux of the issue:

Were Srila Prabhupada’s statements in various letters and conversations, where he clearly stated that qualified women could give Srimad Bhagavatam class, just as men do, without distinction, (and his actual practice of having his girl disciples speak publicly in his presence), mere temporary measures, meant only for the early days of the Movement, or meant only for Western countries where boys and girls freely intermingle?

If they were only temporary emergency measures, comparable to his taking part in marrying his disciples although he was a sannyasi, the question arises: When, if ever, should they be given up? After all, we still are a preaching movement trying to attract people to Krishna consciousness, and boys and girls still do mix freely in the Western countries.

We should not be shy about discussing such controversies, and we should not be afraid to admit that other devotees who sincerely hold different opinions may have good points. We have to remain open to listen to each other and respond with reasons and explanations and citation to valid authorities and evidences, while expecting that Krishna will give us the intelligence to arrive at an answer that satisfies everyone. To discuss in this mood of isthagosthi is something that Srila Prabhupada taught us to do, and should not be condemned as “mental speculation.”

Another important issue raised in comment #75 is whether sannyasis and senior men are offended when women give class in their presence.

Yet another issue is whether the Women’s Ministry in ISKCON has goals that are not shared by many devotees in ISKCON, including many women. I think I have also heard the charge implied in some other comments that there may be an agenda that is contaminated by modern movements for blurring distinctions between gender roles and seeking equality for women on the material platform.

Deenabandhu Prabhu’s point that we should not quarrel about these issues is well taken, but that does not mean we should not discuss them.

I submit that one of the most powerful complaints leveled against revealed religion the modern world is its seeming inability to deal well with differences of opinion. If everyone is supposed to simply be repeating the words of God, there should only be one opinion. Fanatics (sometimes hypocritically) feel that if anyone holds a different opinion, he must be ungodly, evil, his beliefs must be anathema. …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
78 Akruranatha

Urmila Mataji said:

“There is no religious system in history of the world that has gone on past one or two generations if no one has children. The religious systems were everyone is celibate; they don’t get enough converts to keep going.”

When I first read that, I thought, “It sounds correct, but I wonder about Buddhism.” I am no expert religious historian, but I have this sense that Buddhism, at least in its initial phases, was primarily spread by ascetics, until later it was championed by emperors like Asoka.

My impression is that the old Vedic gurukula system was one in which qualified boys were sent to live with (usually) a grhastha brahmana guru, and the guru’s wife was also present helping her husband. Sandipani Muni’s wife was also there, for example. The guru’s wives were not probably not functioning as pedagogues giving the lessons to the boys, but they were part of the “hidden curriculum” that helped the students learn to function socially. They exemplified the dharma of brahminical women, and they were respected by the boys. Of the seven mothers, one is the wife of the guru, and another is the wife of the brahmana.

Adi-Sankaracarya reestablished Vedic authority which eventually drove Buddhism out of India. In doing so, he not only adopted an atheistic monistic approach to Vedanta that has been described as “covered Buddhism”, but he also established four great monastic institutions (mathas) with ekadanda sannyasis functioning in many ways like Buddhist monks.

In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna emphasizes that true renunciation does not always equate with externally adopting the renounced order of life, but is a matter of being situated in transcendence by constant engagement in devotional service, regardless of external designation. Srila Prabhupada writes:

“There are many members of [ISKCON] who work very hard in their office or in the factory or some other place, and whatever they earn they give to the Society. Such highly elevated souls are actually sannyasis and are situated in the renounced order of life.” [B.G. 18.11, Purport]

Our gurukulas do not have to be geared toward turning out students who never marry. Tridandi sannyas is a facility for preaching and being heard, but in ISKCON our householders, husbands and wives, are preachers too. We need so many preachers. Nor do we fight our natures — we regulate.

Srila Prabhupada founded a “Society”, not a matha. Sannyasis have an important position, but all are welcome.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
79 Akruranatha

The Therawad Buddhists I know, from Burma (Myanmar) and Sri Lanka, have a very special place in society for the monks. Most people don’t become monks but they support monks and monasteries as a kind of pious obligation. There is a kind of real reverence and affection there. On their own birthdays or other special occasions, they celebrate by cooking for monks and giving presents to monks. Wealthy men will earn pious credit by donating for construction of monasteries and stupas. Boys will spend a year or two living with monks, with shaven heads, sleeping on the floor, eating one simple meal a day, reciting sutras for hours at a time, but for most of them this will just be part of their education and training before going out in the world and getting married, having vocational education and careers or businesses. Women and non-monks do not expect to attain release from samsara in this life, and generally do not concern themselves with understanding the finer points of Buddhist philosophy or meditation, but they have a sense of piety and genuine devotion for the holy monks who live in monasteries and chant in the temples.

(And in recent times, for example during the Vietnam war and during the past couple of decades of struggle against military dictatorship in Burma, Buddhists monks have taken a fearless role in speaking out against oppressive authorities and have tolerated severe retaliation, which earns them further respect and reverence in the hearts of many non-monks.)

“First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced.”

Is this statement a kind of five-year or ten-year plan? Or is it referring to a kind of permanent way of dealing with people who do not yet follow all the prescribed rules?

And has one of those prescribed rules ever been that qualified women should not give class?
Sorry for the long digression, but I liked the kind of sociological strategizing that I heard in Urmila’s class. How is Krishna consciousness going to be spread throughout society, and throughout the different societies of the modern world? How will it be transmitted through generations, and how will society’s institutions (schools, families, workplaces, governments, voluntary associations, etc.) be structured in order to continue to preserve and promote the practices of bhakti yoga among all people, including women, sudras, vaisyas and those born in lower families (papa-yonayah)?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
80 Akruranatha

Ooops. In my last comment (#79), I meant for the paragraph starting “Sorry for the long digression…” to come right after the discussion of Buddhist monks, and before the quotation from Srila Prabhupada: “First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced.”

It will read better if you read it that way.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
81 Akruranatha

The example raised by Urmila about the former prostitute who was converted by Haridas Thakur is a good one. Any pure Vaisnava should be regarded as beyond material designations (though we may generally expect them to behave in accordance with the social roles prescribed for them according to varna and asrama, and we do not want sahajiyas who engage in immoral acts on the false plea of being transcendental to moral rules).

But is it against the dharma of a woman, per se, to give a Bhagavatam class in an assembly of senior men and sannyasis? It may well be that in an ideal daivi varnasrama society, speaking publicly about Srimad Bhagavatam will be an activity open to women, vaisyas, sudras, street sweepers, cobblers, sanitation workers and “dog eaters”, as long as they know the subject matter and are actually qualified as devotees.

At least, it seems Srila Prabhupada was saying so in all the direct quotations we have seen in this thread. He did not say, “For now we should allow women to give Bhagavatam class, but once the movement becomes more well established we will introduce the idea that it offends senior men and sannyasis to hear from women.” He never said anything really like that.

Srila Prabhupada succeeded in spreading Krishna consciousness outside of India where Gaudiya Matha had failed. While he did indicate that he wanted improvement in standards of arcana and so on, we should at least be cautious about changing the way he did things (like having women give Bhagavatam classes) to make them conform more to how they are done in Gaudiya Math.

“An ācārya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” Srila Prabhupada was especially empowered by Lord Krishna to spread the Krsna Nama Sankirtan outside of India in the modern world. Shouldn’t we be cautious about when, if ever, it is appropriate for us to abandon the means he devised?

Suta Goswami was a Suta, not a brahmana. The Sutas were entrusted with the Puranas. In the Sri Vaisnava school in Chennai that Urmila mentions in class, the boys studied the Vedas and the “lucky girls” got to study Bhagavatam and other Puranas.

“The bhakti cult is the topmost of all transcendental activities, and therefore it is simultaneously sublime and easy. It is sublime for the pure devotees who are serious about getting in contact with the Supreme Lord, and it is easy for the neophytes who are just on the threshold of the house of bhakti…”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
82 Akruranatha

(Continued from previous comment):

“…To achieve the contact of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna is a great science, and it is open for all living beings, including the shudras, vaishyas, women, and even those lower than the lowborn shudras, so what to speak of the high-cless men like the qualified brahmanas and the great self-realized kings. The other high-grade activities designated as sacrifice, charity, austerity, etc., are all corollary factors following the pure and scientific bhakti cult.” [S.B. 1.2.7, Purport]

We can see in the above Purport that Srila Prabhupada is paraphrasing B.G. 9.32-33.

It does seem to give some insight into his mood that we should first get people interested in Krishna consciousness, and then gradually all other rules and regulations can be introduced.

In starting ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada put a lot of emphasis into making some highly qualified brahmanas and sannyasis. Sometimes he said, “better one moon than many stars”. He did not want to water things down and attract a lot of cheap followers who did not really observe the regulations or understand the science.

But he also gave us our marching orders to transform the face of society, to introduce Krishna consciousness to all people, in every town and village of the world, in all walks of life.

He spoke and wrote about how mystic yoga was practically impossible in this age, and that to do it correctly one had to be a sannyasi living in seclusion in some holy wilderness. Bhakti yoga, by contrast, may be practiced by ordinary men and women living in towns and working in factories and offices.

In the modern factories and offices, at least in the industrialized world (where we are still eager to preach Krishna consciousness), men and women work shoulder to shoulder, women become executives, professors, judges, Secretary of State, Prime Minister, everything. Now, it may be an anomaly for a woman to engage in some of those occupations, or it may lead in many instances to increased illicit fraternizing between the sexes, but it is the world we live in, and it is going to be the world we live in for the foreseeable future.

We are not meant to simply “retire” into ISKCON and abandon the rest of the world. We are supposed to ISKCON-ize the world, by first getting people interested in Krishna consciousness and then gradually introducing them to the regulations, which are practical, and always subordinate to bhakti.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
83 Akruranatha

In comment # 52, Balakrsna said that, while we have no strict ranking system for who among the men may give class, it is a “no brainer” if a woman is involved.

His reasoning appears to be that no woman could ever be as qualified as a senior man or sannyasi to give class.

It seems like an incorrect assumption, one that invites us to view Vaisnavas from a material standpoint, and we ought to be better than that.

One might similarly feel that it is a “no-brainer” that someone born in a brahmana family, if qualified, should be given preference to one born in a mleccha family. But that is not our mentality in ISKCON.

I once commented that rather than worrying about “Hinduization of ISKCON” we should strive for the “ISKCON-ization of Hinduism”. A senior devotee from the UK corrected me that there are still many aspects of the behavior of devotees from non-Hindu families that stand out to refined Hindus as uncultured, uncivilized, not up to par, and therefore the clever phrase I had coined might not go over well and could be misunderstood by or even alarming to some very highly qualified Hindu devotees from outside of ISKCON.

So…I stand corrected, but still I think that much (most?) of modern Hinduism has not gotten straight the priority of distributing Krishna consciousness first, and worrying about social roles less, more as a practical matter to create smooth social intercourse for the stable and progressive performance of sankirtan yajna, the dharma of this age.

Srila Prabhupada had the transcendental vision to prioritize things correctly. If people chant Hare Krishna and Srimad Bhagavatam correctly they will start understanding performing their natural varnasrama duties correctly, from the inside out so to speak. He said, “If I told people ‘I have come to make you Hindus’ no one would listen to me.”

The varnas are already there in every society, he said. Of course, unqualified people were filling the roles of higher varnas without performing the responsibilities and regulations prescribed for them, but they are already there. If they can become devotees, everything will follow, and we can gradually introduce more about the rules and regulations.

This may be a more or less permanent challenge for the modern preacher, to have the tact and judgment regarding what to introduce when. And if there even is a rule that women generally should not preach in front of sannyasis, it may be centuries before we should introduce it in ISKCON.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 15th, 2011
84 Urmila

In regards to the importance of fertility rates, we can look at the work of Rodney Stark, below. Keep in mind while reading this that only 1/3 of Prabhupada’s disciples were women. According to research done fairly recently, ISKCON’s present gurus have between 1/3-1/2 female disciples. Especially in India, it is common for preaching efforts to only target men and to refuse to collect interested women’s contact information or to have programs for them. Consequently it is common to go to temples in India where there are 150 men and 10 women. ISKCON, in my anecdotal experience, is also following the modern society’s norm of later marriage with no children or very few children (in contract to a Vedic standard of early marriage and many children).

Professor Rodney Stark, 2003:
“In order to succeed, (6) Religious movements must maintain a level of fertility sufficient to at least offset member mortality. If a religious movement’s appeal is too narrow, this may result in a demographic composition incapable of sustaining its ranks. If a group is unable to replace itself through fertility, then when the initial generation of converts begins to die, their rising rate of mortality may cancel a substantial rate of conversion. In contrast, a religious movement can sustain substantial growth through fertility alone. For example, the Amish have not attracted converts for several centuries and in each generation there is substantial defection. Yet, at the end of each year the number of Amish is greater than before due to their normal demographic composition and a high fertility rate. Religious movements typically over-recruit women (Stark and Bainbridge 1985; Cornwall 1988; Thompson 1991; Miller and Hoffman 1995; Stark 1996). However, this does not seem to matter unless it reduces fertility. Thus, the early Christian communities had a substantial excess of females, but Christian women probably had higher rates of fertility than did pagan women (Stark 1996). However, when movements greatly overrecruit women who are beyond their childbearing years, that is quite another matter. For example, by greatly over-recruiting older women, Christian Science soon faced the need for very high rates of conversion merely to offset high rates of mortality (Stark and Bainbridge 1985). Thus, what had been a very rapidly growing movement suddenly ceased to grow and soon entered a period of accelerating decline.”

Comment posted by Urmila on April 15th, 2011
85 Unregistered

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

In #76 Urmila mataji said…

“Thank you, Vishaka-priya devi dasi! By your blessings Srila Prabhupada is pleased with me! The words of a Vraja-vasi as you are cannot be false, so surely Krishna will make them true.”

That is very nice appreciation from Vishaka-priya Mataji, but I wonder why is it that everybody else is not also inspired by HDG Srila Prabhupada and Paramatma when they wrote their comments? Their comments were not taken as if Srila Prabhupada speaks also through them. Just because we do not like them then they are envious offenders. That is dangerous and quite immature behavior.

Another point is how do we know who is from Vrindavan and who is not? I do not mean to offend anybody of respected Vaisnavas here, just want to make a point that we have to be in Vrindavan consciousness or Krsna consciousness to know who is from Vrindavan and who is not. So personally I would be more careful of using such high words of appreciation. It is much safer to hear from comments we do not like as they may be our life teacher.

yhs,
Tungavidya devi dasi

Comment posted by tdd108 on April 16th, 2011
86 Unregistered

Urmila said:

#61 seems to be saying: 1. We should only hear sastra from someone who is perfect in following their material dharma. 2. When a woman teaches sastra she is violating her material dharma. By that logic, a woman could never preach. I have tried my level best to follow material dharma, but…What IS the qualification for preaching sastra? Rupa Gosvami has such a wonderful quote in his Padyavali in this connection: Bhajana-mahatmya, The Glory of Devotional Service 8: Where were the hunter Dharma’s piety, Dhruva’s maturity, and Gajendra’s knowledge? Where was Kubja’s beauty? Where was Sudama’s wealth? Where was Vidura’s noble birth? Where was Ugrasena’s chivalrous strength? Lord Madhava is pleased only by devotional service and not by material qualifications.

Dear Urmila mataji,

In #61 Atmavidya is quoting what I wrote in comment #4-5 http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-13908 . Please read them before continuing.

What I mean to say is very clear. After a devotee has been initiated and nicely following the instructions of the guru for some time we should hear from them, but if they fail to follow the instructions of the guru what is the use of listening to such people. It is Srila Prabhupada who instructed his sannyasa, grhasta, brahmacari and female (stri) disciples in how to behave. The example you give above is irrelevant in the context. We are talking about the qualification of person to speak based on their fidelity to their guru’s instructions after they became devotees not their life before they became devotees.

Next you have taken the quote from CC 3.3.142 out of context. Here is the complete quote of CC 3.3.141-143:

“She worshiped the tulasi plant, following in the footsteps of her spiritual master. Instead of eating regularly, she chewed whatever food she received as alms, and if nothing was supplied she would fast. Thus by eating frugally and fasting she conquered her senses, and as soon as her senses were controlled, symptoms of love of Godhead appeared in her person. 141

“Thus the prostitute became a celebrated devotee. She became very advanced in spiritual life, and many stalwart Vaisnavas would come to see her.” 142

“Seeing the sublime character of the prostitute, everyone was astonished. Everyone glorified the influence of Haridasa Thakura and offered him obeisances.” 143

continued…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 16th, 2011
87 Unregistered

part 2

Now let’s analyze what is happening. In verse 141 it gives a list of her activities. In 142 it said that by performance of the listed activities she became an advanced devotee and many came to see her. Then in 143 it says that by seeing the activities she performed mentioned in 141 the people glorified Hari Dasa Thakura.

None of activities mentioned in 141 included giving lectures or sermonizing, that is your speculation. You have projected 21st century American ethos on a 15th century Bengali woman.

In any case even if she had spoken and given lectures, which she apparently did not if we stick to what the verses actually say and not what we would like them to say, it is still irrelevant in the present context because (to reiterate) we are talking about the qualification of a person to speak based on their fidelity to their guru’s instructions after they became devotees not their life before they became devotees.

That’s why I said:

One should be a living example of what one is preaching. So when it comes to women “preachers” which ones are actually following their stri dharma?

Most senior western women in ISKCON don’t even know what Stri-dharma is what to speak of practice it. Why should we listen to them?

It is one thing to preach and it is another thing to follow the orders of the guru. Those who don’t follow orders of guru are not worth listening to. It has nothing to do about what one was before they became a devotee but their inability to follow the guru-shiksha after initiation.

I hope what I said is now clear it is not about material qualification but spiritual qualification.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 16th, 2011
88 Unregistered

Were they temporary measures for the early days? Should they be given up? That depends on the time and circumstance. We are speaking here specifically about women giving class in Mayapura Dhama in the presence of senior men. We are not speaking here of being lenient to newcomers and their gradually implementing a stricter lifestyle. It is a question of longstanding devotees who, naturally if they are Krsna conscious, would be setting a stricter example to guide others as Prabhupada herein states:

“First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced.”

In or around 1974, Prabhupada began introducing varnasrama divisions in ISKCON by being more selective about which devotees received brahminical initiation. (see letter to Sudama May 26, 1974) He also spoke extensively in the mid 70’s about a woman’s place in varnasrama. Prabhupada did not say our devotee women should give up their duties and go to preach in Japan, in fact he said that would be “artificial”:

“ Just like our women, Krsna conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Krsna consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupad.” They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial (indistinct) (loud traffic noises) Morning Walk — May 1, 1974, Bombay

In 1972 Srila Prabhupada chastised a female disciple for neglecting her son in favour of deity worship and told her “If you cannot spend time with him, then stop the duties of pujari.”

That instruction speaks volumes. It is the sum and substance of Bhagavad-gita in practice. Whether she had been acting as a pujari or giving Bhagavatam class, the point is, one should perform one’s duty and “not imitate another’s duty”. When done for Krsna, it ceases being material.

“It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.” Bhagavad-gita 18:47.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 16th, 2011
89 Unregistered

By 1976, Prabhupada wanted bhakti sastri examinations given to new and existing brahmanas and sannyasis due to the high numbers of falldowns. Did he say the western sannyasis were exempt because they are used to mixing with women? No, he insisted on implementing a stricter policy. He said of the GBC: “They must be all ideal ācārya-like. In the beginning we have done for working. Now we should be very cautious. Anyone who is deviating, he can be replaced.” May 28, 1977, Vrndavana

Here is another example of some later, stricter directions:

“Why there are so many women in Vrindaban? Vrindaban is meant for retirement, elderly persons in Krishna Consciousness can devote all their time to devotional service. Such men are wanted to live in Vrindaban, not women and children. That is a fact, the holy dhamas are meant for the sannyasis and brahmacaris especially. If necessary, the management must be done by sannyasis and brahmacaris, not grhasthas.” Letter to Gopala Krsna, Los Angeles 9 June, 1976

The point is, we need leaders to preach by example, demonstrating they have imbibed the teachings of Bhagavad-gita in addition to following the regulative principles and performing their sadhana strictly. One would expect our senior leaders to now be well situated in Krsna consciousness that they don’t need to still follow more lenient instructions from the early days.

With regards to the example of the prostitute, when she took shelter of Haridasa she stopped her sinful activities. She didn’t continue in violating principles when she became a Vaisnava. Furthermore, she chanted 300,000 names of Krsna every day, from morning to night. She worshiped Tulasi and ate only occasionally. Certainly these are exceptional and not something “our women” should emulate, neither can we interpret people came to hear her. It is logical that other Vaisnavas would come to “see her”, afterall, where was the time for her to give a lecture? People didn’t go to see her because she was a beautiful woman, they came to see the miraculous change in her character and activities, due to Haridasa Thakur’s mercy!

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 16th, 2011
90 Unregistered

Interestingly, in the story of the prostitute who was converted to a Vaisnava by
Haridasa, devotees came to see her. She did not travel around but stayed in one place chanting her rounds all day and night and worshiping Tulasi Devi. Her example is somewhat like the “white elephants” who were living proof of Srila Prabhupada’s miraculous transformation of mlecchas to Vaisnavas.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 16th, 2011
91 Akruranatha

I got a chuckle out of this piece of sketch comedy about arguments from Monty Python:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

I do not think it really reflects on us here, and that our discussions do end up producing some worthy reasons and citations to valid authorities, but it does sometimes seem like we are just contradicting each other, and people do so all along. I found it to be a brilliant comedy sketch.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 16th, 2011
92 Visakha Priya dasi

Thank you, Tungavidya devi dasi, for setting the record straight. You are one hundred percent correct in your definition of a Vrajavasi. I have zero qualification to be here, but somehow or other, by the willful mercy of my spiritual master, I have been living here for the past fifteen years. Even then, it could rightly be said that I am not in Vrindavan, because my consciousness is all over the universe. Urmila devi, however, doesn’t see the faults, and therefore she spoke the way she did.

Regarding my conviction that Srila Prabhupada is pleased with her, it is not based on revelation from Paramatma but on my 33 years of practicing Krsna consciousness, which includes reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, letters, and lectures, hearing classes, and associating with devotees. You see, Krsna fulfills all desires, and guru, sadhu, and sastra are his representatives. They are kalpa-taru—desire trees. Whatever you want you can get from them. This explains why everybody can quote from sastra and be right, although what one person says is diametrically opposed to what the other person is quoting. As the saying goes, “Different sloks for different folks.” Even in the Bhagavad-gita, in the third chapter, Krsna advises that one should worship the demigods, and in later chapters He says that less intelligent persons worship the demigods and that we should just worship Him. So, if somebody gets stuck on the third chapter, what can be done? The quote is right there, but it isn’t applicable at a different stage of spiritual development. I can easily imagine how this last sentence could provoke a reaction: How do you know the other person is on a higher stage of spiritual development? The fact is that it takes a mahabhagavata to know one, a madhyama to know one, and a neophyte… fights! to quote Bhurijana Prabhu’s facetious comment.

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 17th, 2011
93 Visakha Priya dasi

Part 2 of previous post

Srila Prabhupada accepted us all. He created a house in which the whole world can live. This reminds me of Jesus Christ’s saying “In my father’s kingdom there are many mansions.” So, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is big enough to accommodate all types of devotees, and they don’t have to share the same room or the same mansion. Many of the transmigrating souls labeled as “women” in their present incarnation were labeled as “men” in their previous incarnations, but the spiritual advancement they made in their past lives still follows them and permeates their subtle bodies. So why should they stick to the third chapter, so to speak?

Anyway, I didn’t mean to write so much. I only meant to thank you for exposing me as a pretender. Please feel free to continue.

Your servant,
Visakha Priya dasi

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 17th, 2011
94 Unregistered

Dear Vishaka-priya Mataji,

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

I am so sorry, I have great respect for you. For me personally you are a great and very humble vaishnavi. The letter I wrote was not addressed to you, it was addressed to Urmila dd. Please I beg you, do not take any offense. There was nothing that was about you.

English is not my first language so maybe I didn’t make myself clear in my previous letter.

Thank you for your instructive and well-wishing letter.

Your humble servant,
Tungavidya devi dasi

Comment posted by tdd108 on April 17th, 2011
95 Unregistered

I request that everyone read the Feb 14, 1977 Varnashrama Conversation. Prabhupada made it a priority to establish Varna Ashram Dharma (VAD) in ISKCON to stop the degradation of ISKCON into a sahajiya movement.

In fact Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakur(BST) had to import VAD from the Sri Sampradaya to purify the Gaudiya Sampradaya. One of BST’s main missions–therefore Srila Prabhupada’s mission, therefore our mission–is to establish Daiva Varnashrama along with pure chanting of the holy name.

It would be better that we all thoroughly investigate what Srila Prabhupada wanted and why before attempting social engineering that Srila Prabhupada did not introduce. Srila Prabhupada did not make women TPs or GBCs and although he engaged Western women disciples as preachers (mostly in book distribution) his books clearly define the natural role of women as mothers and chaste wives. He spoke strongly against having women as leaders. As he himself wanted the then Prime Minister of India to step down!

He wanted her son to be the leader and Srila Prabhupad would be his Guru, thereby setting the perfect system up.

Yogesvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men.

How can they be satisfied?

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

Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — May 27, 1974, Rome

Comment posted by siddhakrishnadas on April 17th, 2011
96 Akruranatha

One part of the class I found interesting and important:

“Next principle Srila Prabhupada talks about, (the last I am going to look at here) is practical training for a livelihood. This Srila Prabhupada talks about in his purport in Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.6. ‘The brahmacari, or a boy from the age of five years, especially from the higher castes, namely from the scholarly parents (the brahmanas), the administrative parents (the ksatriyas), or the mercantile or productive parents (the vaisyas), is trained until twenty-five years of age under the care of a bona fide guru or teacher, and under strict observance of discipline he comes to understand the values of life along with taking specific training for a livelihood.’”

The practical application of this is that we have to understand that the gurukula graduates should be prepared to fulfill their needs for dharma, artha and kama. We can’t just make believe that if we take them to mangal arati and teach them to chant japa then they will all grow up to be paramahamsas and sannyasis who do not have to have families and careers.

Most will become congregational members not full-time temple devotees. At least it seems that has been what has been happening (if they remain devotees at all). Even the enthusiastic “first generation” devotees who went through their own conversion experience (usually in their teens or early twenties) have mostly found our way into congregations rather than remained living in temple asramas as full-time devotees.

We have to give the children a legitimate pathway with all the tools available so they may become successful, happy congregational devotees, with the approval of teachers, mentors, friends, parents. We cannot perpetuate the unrealistic expectation that unless they grow up to be full-time celibate monastics they have failed.

Many gurukulis I have spoken with have been a little resentful of this: As a society, we failed to prepare them for life outside the inadequate ISKCON economy. We expected them to stay in the self-contained ISKCON world, but most of us adults did not even stay completely in that world, and we have had to learn that it’s okay. We can still be devotees and have “outside” jobs or businesses.

Our vision might have been to build a whole separate society and economy, and maybe we will someday… but in the mean time our kids and our converts need to have a legitimate and approved pathway to be happy and successful congregational members.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
97 Akruranatha

And of course the elephant in the room is sex, mating, courtship and marriage. This is one of the things that makes the mundane higher educational institutions such slaughterhouses.

Some of our earlier gurukula experiments in the 70s seemed to be poorly prepared for the fact that when the kids reached puberty their interest in the opposite sex would awaken. The teachers and administrators and parents seemed to be caught unawares, unsure of what to do. They thought kids born and raised in ISKCON would be different, super-human, free from the challenges that ordinary conditioned souls have to face arising from the libido, the urge to mate and procreate.

Srila Prabhupada may have intended us to arrange marriages for our daughters before they reached puberty, so they would not be in anxiety in their teen years about whom their husbands would be. That would mean, we would have to find some nice, responsible, kind and well-mannered boy (who would know how to be a bread winner), who would agree to be betrothed to such a young girl.

Somehow this system of child-marriage has not taken in ISKCON. The few experiments with it mostly turned out bad. Even in modern Hindu society it does not seem to be practiced much, at least in the upper and middle-class families. Kids go to college before they get married these days.

In most of the industrial west, child-marriage is seen as bordering on child-abuse. If we could show that it produced successful, happy marriages in an overwhelming majority of cases, maybe we could brazen it out. As it has turned out, most ISKCON devotees have not taken that risk with their own kids, nor would the kids readily accept it.

Urmila recommends (following parampara) that the girls get married young so they can have many children who in turn will get good gurukula educations and become functioning, happy ISKCON members. In practice many of the girls and their parents are afraid that they will not be sufficiently protected, and are opting for getting some college and getting married later.

Schools can’t do everything. A lot comes from families, and other social influences. But just as we need to give kids options for various career paths for earning a livelihood, we have to give kids some acceptable and wholesome structures for courtship and mating.

We need to set the boundaries for what is unacceptable and what is socially approved in a realistic and practical way to produce happy generations of devotees.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
98 Akruranatha

We have a history in ISKCON of being very black and white: either you are a 100% surrendered devotee living in a temple, or you can just “bloop”, go to hell, go back to smoking pot and listening to heavy metal, or whatever. If you get “kicked”, we don’t care. It’s your fault, and we told you so. You should have stayed in the temple, following the temple management’s orders. You are welcome back, but only on those terms.

At least that was the old-style ISKCON of the 1970s. My authorities would preach to me, “You can’t sit on the fence. You have to decide whether you want to be a devotee, in which case you must live in the temple and practice full time temple service under temple authorities.” There was no other prescription. Everything else was maya. You either “surrender” (which was synonymous with working directly under some temple authority at all times), or you were more or less consigned to the oubliette of the non-ISKCON world, where there was no telling what might happen to you, but it would probably be something terrible and ISKCON could not afford to care.

We have come a long way since then.

I was very impressed with an article written by Rasamandala Das in 1995, and revised and updated as “(Comment On) Moving Into Phase Three: An Analysis of ISKCON Membership in the UK”, published in the 2007 book “The Hare Krsna Movement, 40 Years of Chant and Change.”

Rasamandala argues that the initial rapid-expansion phase of ISKCON in the ’70s was based on the “balloon” principle. Making new members was like filling up a balloon. As more people joined and few people left, the balloon of ISKCON would keep getting bigger and bigger. Most energy was focused at the “nozzle”, on getting people into the balloon. The welfare of those already inside was often sadly neglected.

Rasamandala noted that ISKCON found the solution in increasing congregationalism, of validating the contribution on non-core members and defining a place for them and a role for them to play, addressing their needs and caring about their welfare.

Kids born in ISKCON are already “in the balloon,” and under the old-style principle of concentrating on the “nozzle” of recruiting new people, they might be neglected.

Under the newer approach, recognizing the need and value for core clergy but also for householder congregations, we should provide our gurukulis (and new young converts) with both potential career paths, according to their actual aptitudes and natures.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
99 Akruranatha

Siddhakrsnadas wrote:

“It would be better that we all thoroughly investigate what Srila Prabhupada wanted and why before attempting social engineering that Srila Prabhupada did not introduce.”

Yes, I think everyone will agree with this and realize that we need to examine the whole body of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and thoroughly discuss them from all angles.

But, in the mean time, there is the kind of urgency of the demands of the moment. “No one can refrain from doing something, even for a moment.” We all may have different opinions of what we must do for our children and grandchildren, but we cannot put their lives on hold while we figure it all out. They are living and learning and growing every day. We have to act.

I appreciate Urmila’s point that there does not have to be only one kind of school in ISKCON. There does not have to be only one kind of temple, either, I guess, considering that temple asrams are a kind of “gurukula for adults”, or “varnasrama colleges”.

As for the question of women giving class, we can see that Srila Prabhupada always approved it, never disapproved it, never said it was a temporary measure. He was quite clear and explicit on this particular point, not just in what he said but also in how he acted. He personally had his girl disciples like Yamuna and Malati and Jadurani and others give class and go out on preaching assignments.

I think the GBC looked into it thoroughly before deciding that “All ISKCON temples are to allow all qualified devotees, regardless of gender, to speak on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, etc. during the regular temple class.”

I do not think that should be an issue in which we might say, “let different temples do it differently.” As a practical matter though, unless the local temple authorities are convinced of the wisdom of the GBC’s decision, no one can make them follow it, and we see in many places they are not following it.

As for the greater subject of how to establish daivi varnasrama dharma within ISKCON and throughout the world as part of ISKCON’s mission, it is a big subject, obviously much bigger than just deciding whether women can give class or be TPs and GBCs.

What does it mean? How do we train our children (and young members) to become shudras, vaisyas and ksatriyas as well as brahmanas? Will our ksatriyas become political leaders in their own countries? Or just on ISKCON projects? Do they need to know about modern economics, sociology, law, warfare? …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
100 Akruranatha

If our gurukulas and temples are to become “varnasrama colleges”, will they be training students to become members of the greater society and economy outside of ISKCON? Or will it mean that ISKCON will embody its own self-contained society and economy with its own sudras and vaisyas? Or will we see a little of both?

Can daivi VAD only manifest on ISKCON collective farms? Or can congregational members who are bankers, doctors, retailers, artists, plumbers and dog-catchers in the outside economy be guided somehow by VAD principles?

I have been thinking lately how all this relates to the “parallel lines of authority” issue in ISKCON. Our old-style ISKCON management more or less assumed that being a “devotee” in ISKCON meant belonging to a self-contained ISKCON economy and society.

Management authority in the 1970s was kind of an extension of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual authority, because there was this big hierarchical org chart with Srila Prabhupada at the top of the pyramid. I might answer to a temple commander or sankirtan leader, but I know that at the top of the whole food chain of TPs and GBCs there was Srila Prabhupada, and “surrender” to Krishna in many ways was identified with “surrender” to a designated temple authority, in all aspects of what I did.

Getting back to Rasamandala’s “balloon principle” analogy, the temple authorities were mostly concerned with filling the balloon with new recruits. Everything was so skewed in that way that devotees sometimes thought that caring for their children was less important than doing book distribution or pujari service. Caring for children’s welfare is of course important for fathers as well as mothers.

I recently heard (I am not sure if it is true), that when Ravindra Swarup Prabhu joined he had almost completely his Ph.D., and Srila Prabhupada even wrote him a letter instructing him to complete his Ph.D., but his temple authorities tried to convince him that Srila Prabhupada did not mean it, that he should be engaged in full-time temple service instead. Our conception of what it meant to be “surrendered” in those days was so skewed toward the self-contained ISKCON temple world that even Srila Prabhupada’s direct written instruction that he should complete his Ph.D. was second guessed!

But it seems the self-contained ISKCON hierarchy model of organization, separated by bright lines from the “karmi” world, was not sustainable, and VAD is an alternative which reflects human nature. …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
101 Akruranatha

Of course ISKCON will still always have its hierarchical organization, as any organization must have, but ISKCON devotees will not necessarily identify their “surrender to Krishna” in terms of how they fit into ISKCON’s org chart.

In every society there are people already playing the roles (though not generally displaying all the qualities or observing all the regulations and duties) of the four varnas, and some semblance of the asramas (at least some system of marriage exists and some phase of student life).

As people in these different asramas and varnas in society become more attracted to Krishna consciousness and more accepting of Vedic authority we may gradually introduce more strict observance of distinct rules regulating the different varnas and asramas.

It would be very bold and audacious to think that the USA or even India is about to abandon democracy and elections in the near future and establish an hereditary monarchical political system.

And yet it is not that hard to imagine that within coming decades ISKCON congregational members will become U.S. judges, congressmen, senators, State governors or even presidents. Such devotee-politicians, though they would observe strict vegetarian diet and other moral principles, will have to be socialized to existence in the greater U.S. society.

Everyone has to fill certain conditional duties or obligations to society, family, country, in terms of one’s physical body and social situation, as well as the “transcendental” activities of worshiping the Deity, chanting Hare Krishna, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam in association of faithful devotees, etc.

How we surrender to Krishna is more about how we mold our lives in such a way that we can make steady progress in hearing, chanting, remembering and serving, etc.

Of course, service in ISKCON projects involves serving in accordance with ISKCON’s internal management structure. But surrender “in ISKCON” is not always directly identical with “surrender” to Krishna. People may surrender to temple authorities without fully surrendering their hearts, and vice versa.

And ISKCON’s management structure might itself reflect the wisdom of varnasrama principles, but in a practical way. Srila Prabhupada initially appointed householders to the GBC and said that sannyasis would have different duties of traveling and preaching. But later he appointed sannyasis to the GBC. This may have been a practical decision, seeing as how many capable leaders were sannyasis.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2011
102 Sita Rama 108

In comment 9 Mother Sitadasi quotes a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Mother Arundhati. The actual date of the letter is July 30 1972.
Srila prabhupada wrote, “I am simply surprised that you want to give up your child to some other person, even they are also a devotee. For you, child worship is more important than deity worship. If you cannot spend time with him then stop the duties of pujari”. Srila prabhupada says the mother must care of the child personally at least until it is four years old. And also “your duty is very clear”.
So I do not need to cite contemporary scientific studies to show that children brought up be their own mothers develop better than those sent to the best day care centers. Srila Prabhupada says a mother should not even allow other devotees to raise her child!
Mother Sitadasi and others bring up an unarguable point, for a mother with a baby to do another’s duty not only goes against varnasrama it goes against the heart of any mother who is not unnatural.
If Mother Urmila said anything contrary to the concepts above then I think people would have grounds to criticize her but nothing to that affect is seen in her lecture. To the contrary, Mother Urmila is emphasizing a point similar to the one Mother Sitadasi shows by citing Srila Prabhupada’s letter– that proper raising of children in ISKCON is of the utmost priority. It seems this point- the importance of mothers, especially is the first years, and the importance of good training once a child goes to school is so important that both sides should combine together to emphasize it. Mother Urmila is obviously embracing the empowerment of her position to emphasize good training for children. This point is too important to be obscured by other issues such as women giving lectures. Let’s combine together to emphasize the higher priority.
The heart of a mother:
There was a young man loved a maid
Who taunted him. “Are you afraid,”
She asked, “to bring me today”
Your mothers heart upon a tray?”

He went and slew his mother dead,
Tore from her breast her heart so red,
Then toward his lady love he raced,
But tripped and fell in all his haste.

As the heart rolled on the ground
It gave forth a plaintive sound.
And it spoke in accents mild:
“Did you hurt yourself, my child ?”

This is the Victorian version; you will find similar versions in cultures all over the world. The selfless nature of a mother’s love, it is honored in all cultures.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on April 17th, 2011
103 Urmila

Akruranatha Prabhu, Most of the schools for teaching children Krishna consciousness that exist today (and there aren’t many of them, especially out of India) have moved towards giving the students the “practical training for a livelihood” that Prabhupada wrote about in the purport. However, this “practical training” often translates to higher Western education instead of apprenticeships and more traditional ways of livelihood preparation. What we see in many schools, unfortunately, is one or another of a relatively extreme position (only spiritual topics! OR material education with a little Krishna consciousness!) Isopanisad recommends a balance. It’s hard to have a balance, however, when there are so few educational materials , teacher training, support, accreditation, etc. Another problem is a mood of criticism and fighting–”that school is not spiritual enough!” “that school doesn’t give enough material education!”– sort of thing. Schools and educators rarely work together.

On your other point of getting our children married young–it is not only for the purpose of producing more children (and healthier children, and healthier mothers) but also to prevent illicit sex. For various reasons that you mention, ISKCON has moved towards late marriage. I believe the main reason is lack of support for early marriage from the general ISKCON society–lack of stable communities with extended families and elders; the other factor is that we in ISKCON are very affected by what goes on in the society around us, and even in India the age of marriage is getting later and later. As ISKCON has moved towards late marriage, we have also gone towards devotees “living together” without marriage, women putting “career/service” before husband and children, and all other sorts of unfortunate aspects of modern society.

Solution: First, let’s get this topic on the radar. Let’s talk about it in our communities, in our sastra classes, with our leaders. Where will varnasrama come from if there are no real brahmacaries trained as children? Where will the S of ISKCON come from without families and children who are trained properly?

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 18th, 2011
104 Urmila

Tungavidya devi dasi, your post gave me much food for thought. How do we decide whose blessings (or curses) will be effective?

Because I know Vishaka-priya to some extent, I am convinced that her blessings are potent. She is dedicated to her guru, a strict follower of Krishna consciousness, a compassionate Vaisnavi dedicated to serving the devotees, a solid renunciate, and a resident of Vrindavana. It may be that the blessings (or curses) of other commentators here are equally potent. First of all, I don’t remember reading other blessings or curses here, of any kind. Secondly, if I don’t know someone I cannot evaluate the potency of their blessings or curses.

Since you also have much respect for Vishaka-priya, I hope you also feel joyful at how she has blessed me to be pleasing to Srila Prabhupada. I may not be pleasing to him now, but by her good wishes and blessings, surely I will be sometime in the future!

All glories to our Vaisnava family!

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 18th, 2011
105 Akruranatha

The whole idea that there could or would be curses in a discussion such as this between Vaisnava devotees who all are dedicated to the success of the organization founded by Srila Prabhupada is shocking.

What have we got to curse each other about? We all pray for the blessings of all participants and hope that everyone will be bless with pure Krsna consciousness and all the divine qualifications.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 18th, 2011
106 Visakha Priya dasi

Dear Tungavidya,

Thank you very much for your kind reply. As far as I am concerned, your assessment of my position in Vrindavan was correct. And therefore, there is no question of offense. And since you appear to have a favorable impression of me, I will take a chance and say a little more.

Reading through the posts concerning Urmila devi’s class, I have observed that some persons appear to be convinced that Urmila is not following the instructions of her spiritual master and that therefore we should not hear from her. There was also a hint that Narayani devi, whose exemplary life in Krsna consciousness is worth hearing about, was also not following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions because she is teaching Srimad-Bhagavatam. My conviction that these two great souls are perfectly situated at Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet is supported by the following passage from the seventh chapter of the Adi-lila of the Caitanya-caritamrta (texts 31-32, purport):

“Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu wanted to invent a way to capture the Mäyävädés and others who did not take interest in the Krsna consciousness movement. This is the symptom of an äcärya. An äcärya who comes for the service of the Lord cannot be expected to conform to a stereotype, for he must find the ways and means by which Krsna consciousness may be spread. Sometimes jealous persons criticize the Krsna 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 Krsna consciousness for intermingling. But these rascals should consider that one cannot suddenly change a community’s social customs. However, since both the boys and the girls are being trained to become preachers, those girls are not ordinary girls but are as good as their brothers who are preaching Krsna consciousness. Therefore, to engage both boys and girls in fully transcendental activities is a policy intended to spread the Krsna consciousness movement.

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 18th, 2011
107 Visakha Priya dasi

Continued from previous post: Cc Adi 7-31-32

“These jealous fools 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 Krsna consciousness by adopting ways and means that are favorable for this purpose. Their stereotyped methods will never help spread Krsna consciousness. Therefore, what we are doing is perfect by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu, for it is He who proposed to invent a way to capture those who strayed from Krsna consciousness.”

Please note that Srila Prabhupada considered his books to be the lawbooks of humanity for the next ten thousand years. Some people may argue that what Srila Prabhupada said in some lectures and wrote in some letters (quoted by Akruranath Prabhu) was meant for particular devotees at particular times and that therefore we do not need to take them seriously. (But personally I would not take a chance to think like that.) In any case, Srila Prabhupada wrote his books for the guidance of humanity as a whole, and we can be sure that what he wrote therein applies still. After all, the Caitanya-caritamrta was completed on November 10, 1974 in Juhu, Mumbai—in other words, barely forty years ago. Are the purports already obsolete? Please think about it.
Your servant,
Visakha Priya dasi

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 18th, 2011
108 Akruranatha

“My dear Arundhati,

“Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated July 19, 1972, and I am simply surprised that you want to give up your child to some other persons, even they are also devotees. For you, child-worship is more important than deity-worship. If you cannot spend time with him, then stop the duties of pujari. At least you must take good care of your son until he is four years old, and if after that time you are unable any more to take care of him then I shall take care. These children are given to us by Krishna, they are Vaisnavas and we must be very careful to protect them. These are not ordinary children, they are Vaikuntha children, and we are very fortunate we can give them chance to advance further in Krishna Consciousness. That is very great responsibility, do not neglect it or be confused.

“Your duty is very clear.”

“Hoping this will meet you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”

Yes, the importance of a caring mother’s unconditional love in earlier childhood development cannot be overlooked. But this letter is much more than a letter about the duty of women. It is mainly about the importance of properly caring for children.

Caring for children is important to both men and women. Note that Srila Prabhupada says “…and if after that time you are unable any more to take care of him then I shall take care. ”

Srila Prabhupada was setting the example. Caring for the child was so important that Srila Prabhupada was willing to personally care for this one child, which (we can imagine) would divert his time and attention from other activities of translating books and preaching and corresponding with many devotees and looking after ISKCON management. Srila Prabhupada was male, and a sannyasi, and the guru of many disciples and the Founder-Acarya of the whole ISKCON society, and still he was willing to personally look after Arundhati’s child!

We mostly did not have our priorities straight. We thought our preaching and puja and management and fund-raising was more important. For nondevotees, family life is a blind-well of sense enjoyment, but for grhastha devotees Krishna conscious family life is their primary duty, and their children’s welfare (including spiritual welfare) is top priority.

We have to stop thinking only the “nozzle” of recruiting new members is important.

Therefore, we should hear attentively from those involved with ISKCON’s educational system.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 18th, 2011
109 Unregistered

Dear Bhaktilata Mataji,

I very much appreciated your comments #86-87 on Urmila dd’s comment #61 even though she was writing to me but as you have rightly stated I was simply quoting you.

You gave a very nice explanation of the situation and that it is not about our material qualifications before initiation but our spiritual qualifications after initiation.

I am waiting to read Urmila mataji’s response to your comment.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 19th, 2011
110 Unregistered

Re 104

Dear Urmila mataji

I don’t think what Tungavidya was talking about blessings and curses but rather why should we only single out one comment to be inspired and others not. Is Paramatma not in the hearts of everyone? Is Paramatma not inspiring them to write? Could it be that Krsna is trying to tell you something through others? We read in sastra that there are so many gurus who instruct us.

My experience is that if I don’t listen to that small voice, then it gets louder, and louder until eventually Krsna gets my attention either through other people or some major incident. I have found that listening at the beginning is less painful than waiting till Krsna hits me over the head. Of course in each case it is for my benefit and I appreciate it in the end. It just depends on how obstinate I am.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 19th, 2011
111 Akruranatha

“Where will varnasrama come from if there are no real brahmacaries trained as children? Where will the S of ISKCON come from without families and children who are trained properly?”

In V.S. Naipul’s novel “A House for Mr. Biswas”, the title character, a Trinidadian of Indian-Hindu origin, gets inveigled into a marriage and dominated by his in-laws. A young scion of the in-laws’ family gets sent to England (I think) for education, and returns having embraced the ideology of communism. The whole family then eagerly embraces communism, while continuing to mistreat Mohun Biswas, who is usually too timid to stand up for himself. At one point, after being insulted and mistreated by his wife’s family for the umpteenth time, he says: “Communism, like charity, should begin at home.”

It may well be that varnasrama dharma, or spiritual communism, also must begin at home.

And “at home” in the above example does not merely mean in one’s own house among one’s own family, but even closer to home, in one’s own heart, in one’s fundamental relationship with Mother Radharani and Father Krishna, the parents of all souls.

If we learn to see ourselves and all living entities properly in their relation to Radha and Krishna, then it will become easy to see how to deal justly and charitably with everyone according to his or her own station in society.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 19th, 2011
112 Akruranatha

And yes, it will mean that responsible ISKCON devotees will put more attention into caring for the welfare and training of their own children, for the happy, steady advancement of Krsna consciousness in their own families, and for existing ISKCON members.

We sometimes have had a legacy of recruiting new people who stay for some time but later feel compelled to leave, and who often, rightly or wrongly, nurse some resentment toward how the society is managed. Some of the gurukulis also have expressed some resentment.

We are improving, by learning not to sacrifice the needs of our children and existing members to the apparently competing demands of expanding the buildings and power and influence of ISKCON. Purity is the force. The real power will come when we know better how to properly treat all our members and especially our own family members.

This may be what Srila Prabhupada meant by “boiling the milk”.

“An ācārya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced. In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we follow this policy of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. For example, since boys and girls in the Western countries freely intermingle, special concessions regarding their customs and habits are necessary to bring them to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The ācārya must devise a means to bring them to devotional service.” [Cc. Adi 7.27]

Many devotees interpret “boiling the milk” as clamping down, taking away the “special concessions”, letting those who cannot hack the more rigorous, more traditional rules boil off like steam, being callous to their leaving ISKCON, preserving a smaller but harder-core of cooked-down, sweeter “burfi” devotees who could stand the heat.

But I wonder… Maybe “boiling milk” merely meant paying more close attention to the actual needs of the devotees we had, including the children and householders, rather than putting too much attention and energy on the “nozzle” of recruitment and rapid expansion.

Maybe the prescription that the prescribed rules and regulations may be gradually introduced after people first become Krishna conscious should be our permanent modus operandi. We should keep doing as Srila Prabhupada did, being flexible about the rules for those who need it: varnasrama dharma, like charity, begins at home, and home is where the heart is (Krsna consciousness).

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 19th, 2011
113 Akruranatha

“… I have indicated in my previous letter of several days back some hints for giving Krsna Consciousness children their proper education. I consider this Gurukula school to be one of our most important aspects of this movement and it should be given all serious consideration by the members. If we are able to make a whole generation of our children into fine Krsna Conscious preachers, that will be the glory of our movement and the glory of your country as well. But if we neglect somehow or other and *if we lose even one Vaisnava, that is very great loss.* So I am very glad that you are taking your business very seriously and you may consult always with Satsvarupa in all matters of management and policy, and if he cannot answer to your satisfaction, you may also ask me something. … The main point is that these children may be given the two-fold program of education in Krsna Consciousness, namely, chanting and performing devotional activities on the one hand, and some knowledge of our philosophy and other subjects of knowledge on the other hand.
“Yes, you have got the right idea when you say that your preaching work shall be directed toward the children and the devotees and not so much to the Dallas public. We may thin the milk till it becomes useless, or we may boil it until it becomes thick and sweet, so now we have got enough followers, let us train them up perfectly in the philosophy and activities of Krsna Consciousness way of life. Unless all of my students become very much fixed up in their spiritual progress, what is the use of so many programs for expansion? So you are the leader at Dallas, now it is your task to become very, very responsible for the spiritual well being of all of the students there, so Krsna will give you all intelligence and facilities to serve Him nicely if you are very much sincere to do so. This will please me very much.”
“Hoping this will meet you in good health,
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”

From letter to Stokakrsna Das, 20 June 1972 [Emphasis added]

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 19th, 2011
114 Akruranatha

“… So I want you leaders especially to become very much absorbed in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and become yourselves completely convinced and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be able to carry on the work satisfactorily, but if there is lack of knowledge, or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time. So especially you must encourage the students to read our books throughout the day as much as possible, and give them all good advice how to understand the books, and inspire them to study the things from every point of view. In this way, by constantly engaging our tongues in the service of the Lord, either by discussing His philosophy or by chanting Hare Krishna, the truth is that Krishna Himself will reveal Himself to us and we shall understand how to do everything properly. Now we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. We may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions.”

[From letter to Hansadutta, June 22, 1972]

It does not seem to me that “boil the milk” means to increase more difficult or exotic rules and regulations that may drive some devotees away. It seems to mean, pay attention to the children and the devotees we have. See that they are hearing and chanting properly and becoming more and more Krishna conscious. They should become very satisfied with this Krishna consciousness, and in this way it will become easy for them to understand Krishna and how Krishna wants us to conduct ourselves.

“If we lose even one Vaisnava, that is very great loss.”

“Boiling milk” does not mean driving away those who can’t hack it, but concentrating our energy on looking after the needs of those we have, including children, so they may be protected and happy in Krishna consciousness, fixed up in real bliss and knowledge and realization of Krishna, peaceful in social intercourse. Charity begins at home.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 19th, 2011
115 Urmila

Dear Atmavidya Prabhu,

Obeisances. Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In regards to your comment #110

Vishaka-priya had written:
“I am wholeheartedly convinced that Srila Prabhupada is proud of having such a disciple and that he will continue to pour his blessings upon her more and more. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who can turn mlecchas, yavanas, and women into transcendental loving servants of Krsna.”

My response:
“Thank you, Vishaka-priya devi dasi! By your blessings Srila Prabhupada is pleased with me! The words of a Vraja-vasi as you are cannot be false, so surely Krishna will make them true.”

My response, therefore, was simple gratitude for her blessings.

As to your comment about listening to that small voice before it gets louder and louder–yes, I have had that experience many times. Good point. I also agree with your other point that a wise person carefully considers that good instructions can come from many places and people and is careful to avoid surrounding him or herself with sycophants.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 19th, 2011
116 Urmila

Dear Atmavidya Prabhu,Obeisances. Glories to Prabhupada!

Regarding your comment #109

Yes, I agree that it is behavior after initiation, not before, that we should consider. My point was that after becoming a devotee, what specific stri dharma as given in the sastra was the former prostitute (disciple of Haridas Thakura) following? Does sastra even give any specific stri dharma for former prostitutes? She was certainly following transcendental dharma. And according to Caitanya Caritamrita many stalwart Vaisnava men came to see her.

Some things we might want to consider:
It appears (maybe I’m misreading) that some devotees are saying that a woman preaching (especially if that preaching involves some time on an airplane, car, train, etc. and/or if there are men listening) violates that woman’s material dharma. So we end up with:
premise 1: women can preach if they are following their material and spiritual dharma
premise 2: if a woman preaches she violates her material dharma
conclusion: no woman can preach.

Premise #1We have plenty of examples in sastra, tradition, and Prabhupada’s example, where devotees treat as a saint someone who is following transcendence, even if their material dharma is not up to sastric standards. Gita 9.30 is significant in this regard–see Prabhupada’s purport about two sva-dharmas and parallelism. Prabhupada writes that the ideal is for devotees to have both dharmas to the standard, but what is most important is the spiritual. Incidentally, the vast majority of the women full-time preachers in ISKCON today *do* have exemplary material stri dharma as well as exemplary spiritual following.

Premise #2: There are a goodly number of women preachers in our sastra/tradition/sampradaya, including renunciate preachers, and traveling preachers. Most of them preached to men as well as women. Prabhupada was extremely happy with his female disciples who were preachers, and strongly encouraged them to preach.

Prabhupada personally asked women to give Bhagavatam class and to lead kirtana, and he did so in many places in the world, including India. He did so when there were senior men present–including himself. He wrote in letters and purports positively about women preaching–even giving us an order to “prove by practical example” that women can be Krishna conscious preachers. A woman can be both a preacher and an exemplary wife and mother (and grandmother, mother-in-law, etc.)

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 19th, 2011
117 Unregistered

I agree with Bhaktilata on the irrelevance of the prostitute story. What is the point of presenting this example? Is it an attempt to justify a woman not following stri dharma in favour of “spiritual dharma”? Is it to show that we should not deride devotees who fall down from their womanly dharma and still come to listen to them give class from the vyasasana in front of senior men in Mayapur?

Since we are warned not to imitate Haridasa’s 24 hour chanting of the holy name, it follows we should not imitate the similar example of the former prostitute. Hers is not the practical role model women are advised by Srila Prabhupada to follow, although we still appreciate her (and Haridasa Thakura’s) pure stage of devotion.

What will our children learn from mothers who neglect them in favour of some “higher” service? What kind of society will we create with such role models? In a letter to Kirtanananda, June 24, 1969, Prabhupada wrote about the New Vrindavan farm community/gurukula:

“The first thing is that whether the girls and women who live there are agreeable to work as I have suggested; namely
1) to take care of the children, both from health and educational point of view,
2) to keep the whole temple, kitchen, etc. very clean, (At the present moment, things are not kept very clean. You are right that if some outsiders come, they will view our situation as not very hygienic.),
3) cooking;
4) churning butter. If they agree to all these four principles, that is to say, if they cooperate with the boys, then surely very quickly New Vrindaban will develop as nicely as possible.

…..The men should be engaged in producing vegetables, tilling the field, taking care of the animals, house contruction, etc. and the women shall do the indoor activities. Of course, those who are engaged in typing, like Syama Dasi, they cannot do any other work. So you may arrange things in this way.”

We interpret from this directive that the success of varnasrama communities will be largely dependent on women being “agreeable to work as I have suggested”. If women are not agreeable to work in these ways, and become practical (not imitation or artificial) role models, how can we hope to establish varnasrama in society???

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 22nd, 2011
118 Unregistered

As elsewhere stated here, it appears the women who gave class in Prabhupada’s time were (or had been) wives of brahmana husbands and were living under the direction of a male authority (including Srila Prabhupada at times who took the role of their father). It is noteworthy that Prabhupada didn’t go out of his way to make an affirmative action plan or policy whereby independent women could whimsically preach at their discretion without consideration of etiquette.

Why would Prabhupada say with apparent pride:

“Just like our women, Krsna conscious, … They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupada. They never say. This is artificial. So Krsna consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial”

If women weren’t complaining to Prabhupada that they wanted to travel around the world, preaching in different countries, it showed they were satisfied working in and making spiritual advancement from their constitutional position and that it would be artificial to imitate such activities!!

Now someone might take part of that quote out of context and twist it to mean the women didn’t have to say that because they were already traveling to Japan for preaching! Or perhaps they might say if women did so then we shouldn’t deride them because they are on the transcendental platform and we should still go to hear them give class…

This is not a question of deriding someone for an accidental falldown as the Gita 9.30 discusses. In that purport Prabhupada does not speak about two sva-dharmas, he speaks of conditional and constitutional, the difference being the consciousness behind their execution. The work remains the same it’s the consciousness that is different.

Srila Prabhupada explains that when a living entity is conditioned, he (or she) has two kinds of activities: one is conditional, and the other is constitutional:

1. Conditional: varna and asrama (conditional to what? the body!)
2. Constitutional: sravanam, kirtanam visno, smaran pada sevanam….(these are the fundamental activities of the soul. They are performed anywhere, under any circumstance and during the execution of any of the “conditional” activities of varna and asrama.

If a devotee who is not strong has ” accidental falldowns”, he (or she) is not to be derided because as long as the devotee is sincere, the falldowns will eventually cease:

“But when one is strong enou

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 22nd, 2011
119 Unregistered

didn’t realize my last post was incomplete:

If a devotee who is not strong has ” accidental falldowns”, he (or she) is not to be derided because as long as the devotee is sincere, the falldowns will eventually cease:

“But when one is strong enough, he is no longer subjected to such falldowns, as previously explained. No one should take advantage of this verse and commit nonsense and think that he is still a devotee. If he does not improve in his character by devotional service, then it is to be understood that he is not a high devotee.” Bg 9:30 Purport

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 23rd, 2011
120 Visakha Priya dasi

Dear Sitadevi, Hare Krsna. I like your analysis and personally I am all for the New Vrindavan-type of scheme. “Simple living and high thinking,” “Depending on the land and the cows,” is definitely what Srila Prabhupada considered the perfection of human life—as long of course as Krsna is involved. Otherwise, before the industrial revolution, the majority of people all over the world lived on the land. But because they had no proper spiritual guides, they gradually forgot the goal of life.

In today’s society, it takes both men and women of high caliber and similar disposition to implement such an ideal. Most of us come from city backgrounds, troubled backgrounds, we are full of psychological hang-ups, consumed by passion and ignorance, and without the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, I for sure, and many others I am sure, wouldn’t even be alive today.

It takes time for social misfits to turn themselves into Vedic models. And for many it probably isn’t possible in one lifetime. So what are we to do? Harakiri?

Srila Prabhupada came to save everyone. And he allowed everyone to work according to their propensities. Although he was firm on the ideals, he was practical and compassionate in the application. “Whatever you do, whatever you eat… do it as an offering to Krsna.”

Continued in next post…

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 24th, 2011
121 Visakha Priya dasi

And of course, his first teaching is that “we are not these bodies.” This shouldn’t be overlooked, especially because, in the troubled age of Kali–the “unisex” age!–it may well be the only hope, the first straw to clutch, for the majority of people.

I pay my obeisances to the Vedic model. I treasure it. And to some extent, in my old age, I try to follow it by cultivating the “grandmother” attitude. But how are we to change the wild young people and degenerate old people of today into Vedic men and women by brandishing the flag of stri dharma? How full are our temples these days? How full are our farms today? We have to be more subtle and diversified.

I really do not know Urmila devi very well at all, but it seems to me that your attitude toward her is demeaning, condescending, and insulting. Recently, there was a Vaisnavi retreat in Govardhan, which I wasn’t able to attend, but Urmila was there with her daughter and granddaughter, and all three participated in it. Now, this might not be your stereotyped Vedic model (“Vaisnavi retreats, what’s *that*?”) but I cannot imagine that Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t have been beaming from ear to ear to hear a ten-year old girl reciting the verses of Siksastakam, her twenty-five years old (or around that age) mother reciting the translations, and her grandmother, in this case Urmila, giving the purports. This may not be your brand of Krsna consciousness, but still it is Krsna consciousness, and it gave strength and inspiration to many of the participants.

We have to be careful, thoughtful, and considerate.

May this find you well.
Your servant,
Visakha Priya dasi

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 24th, 2011
122 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This is a most interesting discussion. I remain confused as to why women who think women should not preach in front of men and/or in the presence of senior men write comments and/or articles on Dandavats, public blogs, or other public places. Surely men read what they write. And surely there are enough senior men to write articles and comments. Some senior men have, indeed, commented here. Surely those women would, if following stri dharma as they understand it, be satisfied with the comments of men, especially senior men, and remain silent. It is also interesting that the men who promote these ideas of stri dharma do not complain about women who agree with them posting articles and/or comments in public forums.

A clarification on age–my daughter is 32 and her daughter is 12.

I’m going to stop commenting further on this thread because I really don’t have time to keep up on this right now. I’m helping one of my daughters-in-law with the care of my grandkid number 10, her fifth son, who is about two weeks old. I am really and truly grinding wheat, picking flowers and fruits from their garden, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling the older kids, doing laundry, etc. I don’t churn butter right now, but my daughter who lives at Govardhana does–she makes all their dairy products from the milk she gets from a local cow. I’m also continuing with my editing service for BTG, giving sastra classes locally and on skype, going with the family on public harinama sankirtana, doing some research and practical service for a committee of the GBC, and of course my personal sadhana. I also am involved with promoting the Krishna consciousness children’s books we produced. (http://www.illuminationeducation.com)

I remain grateful to the local GBC, temple president, and to my husband, all of whom in the 80’s pushed me for two years until I agreed with great reluctance to sit on a vyasasana and give lectures in the temple. I remain grateful to Jayadvaita Swami and my husband who pushed me to write regularly for Back to Godhead. And especially I remain grateful to my divine master, Srila Prabhupada, who made it clear to me personally in 1975 that I should both preach and put my family first.

With much gratitude and affection for the wonderful family of Vaisnavas, signing off from this discussion, Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on April 24th, 2011
123 Unregistered

In 115 Urmila said:

Vishaka-priya had written:
“I am wholeheartedly convinced that Srila Prabhupada is proud of having such a disciple and that he will continue to pour his blessings upon her more and more. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who can turn mlecchas, yavanas, and women into transcendental loving servants of Krsna.”

My response:
“Thank you, Vishaka-priya devi dasi! By your blessings Srila Prabhupada is pleased with me! The words of a Vraja-vasi as you are cannot be false, so surely Krishna will make them true.

My response, therefore, was simple gratitude for her blessings. “

If you had just left it at “Thank you, Vishaka-priya devi dasi!” that would have been gratitude but it is the rest of what you wrote that got the attention of Tungavidya dd and others. You singled her out as the only one inspired not others. That by her words SP was pleased and not by the other’s words that Srila Prabhupada was displeased. So you were selective in your hearing. Of course you are not the first nor will you be the last person to see things the way they want to.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 26th, 2011
124 Unregistered

In 122 Urmila said:

“This is a most interesting discussion. I remain confused as to why women who think women should not preach in front of men and/or in the presence of senior men write comments and/or articles on Dandavats, public blogs, or other public places. Surely men read what they write. And surely there are enough senior men to write articles and comments. Some senior men have, indeed, commented here. Surely those women would, if following stri dharma as they understand it, be satisfied with the comments of men, especially senior men, and remain silent. It is also interesting that the men who promote these ideas of stri dharma do not complain about women who agree with them posting articles and/or comments in public forums.”

I think the reason is that if a man tried to bring this topic up he would be attacked and called a misogynist as pointed out by Narada Priya dd in http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9471

“Meanwhile, while thousands of women from other faiths are waking up from the madness, back in ISKCON, several male leaders have been falsely accused of “conspiracy” against women or they’ve been offensively labeled as “misogynists”, because they support Prabhupada’s teachings about a woman’s position according to varnasrama dharma. More amazingly, Srila Prabhupada himself has become an object of ridicule by certain women as well as their male supporters who consider it their duty to correct the founder acarya on these matters, assuming that he didn’t know what he was talking about, was “old-fashioned”, etc.”

So I am glad that there are still women in ISKCON like Bhaktilata dd, Tungavidya dd, Hemamalini dd, Narada Priya dd and Sita dd who actually want to follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and have the courage to speak up on this sensitive topic. It gives me some hope for the future of ISKCON.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 26th, 2011
125 Unregistered

I very much appreciated Bhaktilata mataji’s comments in #86-87

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-14075

they hit the nail right on the head and kept the dicussion focused and not allowed to shift and wiggle around into irrelavant areas.

I also appreciated the comment 95 by siddhakrishnadas http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-14091

I request that everyone read the Feb 14, 1977 Varnashrama Conversation. Prabhupada made it a priority to establish Varna Ashram Dharma (VAD) in ISKCON to stop the degradation of ISKCON into a sahajiya movement.

In fact Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakur(BST) had to import VAD from the Sri Sampradaya to purify the Gaudiya Sampradaya. One of BST’s main missions–therefore Srila Prabhupada’s mission, therefore our mission–is to establish Daiva Varnashrama along with pure chanting of the holy name.

It would be better that we all thoroughly investigate what Srila Prabhupada wanted and why before attempting social engineering that Srila Prabhupada did not introduce. Srila Prabhupada did not make women TPs or GBCs and although he engaged Western women disciples as preachers (mostly in book distribution) his books clearly define the natural role of women as mothers and chaste wives. He spoke strongly against having women as leaders. As he himself wanted the then Prime Minister of India to step down!

Unfortunatley we can already see the symptoms of sahajiyaism creeping into the movement.

We simply cannot deny the fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted to establish Daiva Varnashrama Dharma and in DVAD women have their own roles and duties. And it is the women who follow such prescribed duties who should preach in order to help fulfill SP’s desires not those who are not agreeable to following his instructions.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on April 26th, 2011
126 Unregistered

In 116 Urmila dd said:

Prabhupada personally asked women to give Bhagavatam class and to lead kirtana, and he did so in many places in the world, including India. He did so when there were senior men present–including himself. He wrote in letters and purports positively about women preaching–even giving us an order to “prove by practical example” that women can be Krishna conscious preachers. A woman can be both a preacher and an exemplary wife and mother (and grandmother, mother-in-law, etc.)

Of course that women can and should preach. We are all disciples and it is our duty to preach. But what Srila Prabhupada says is that women should not be independent. That means that although women will preach, they should stay full-time within their family protection (father, husband or son). Not that she travels independently all around the world. That Srila Prabhupada never said. An example is Yamuna devi. She was doing huge preaching work, but after leaving her husband, Prabhupada wrote to her the following instruction:

It is better that you don’t make a large program. Remain a humble program. In bhakti there is no grotesque program. A humble program is better. We are doing all these grotesque programs to allure the masses. My Guru Maharaja used to say that no one hears from a person coming from a humble, simple life. You remain always very humble….Women when not with husband must live very very humbly and simple life./b>” –letter to Yamuna and Dinatarine 1/13/76, Calcutta

This instruction from Srila Prabhupada has been cited several times on this comment list but you have refused to recognize it even though it applies directly to you.

We women can preach to other women in our local area, or invite them to our home, or to have classes in local temple (just for women), to our neighbor ladies, etc. etc. or to go together (women) in book distribution, etc.

cont…

Comment posted by tdd108 on April 26th, 2011
127 Unregistered

part 2

If we meet a man for the first time, we should preach to him, but when we see him again, or he contacts us, then we should put him in contact with other men devotees. Not that we keep in contact and “cultivate” the same man. Otherwise, although he or she didn’t plan to get attached to each other, they will, because sastra says it is butter and fire. Butter melts when close to fire. So the same goes for ALL of us.

The main point is that women should preach to other women, and not travel on their own independently. That is against Srila Prabhupada’s instruction. So women who disobey this instruction of Srila Prabhupada we should not listen from.

Comment posted by tdd108 on April 26th, 2011
128 Unregistered

In #106 Vishakha Priya said:

“Reading through the posts concerning Urmila devi’s class, I have observed that some persons appear to be convinced that Urmila is not following the instructions of her spiritual master and that therefore we should not hear from her. There was also a hint that Narayani devi, whose exemplary life in Krsna consciousness is worth hearing about, was also not following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions because she is teaching Srimad-Bhagavatam. My conviction that these two great souls are perfectly situated at Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet”

And then later in #121 you say:

“I really do not know Urmila devi very well at all”

So where has your conviction about her come from?

Anyway we didn’t bring Narayani Mataji into the discussion Urmila dd did. We don’t know Narayani Mataji well so really can’t comment on her but we have heard good things about her.

Let us speak in general terms not in regard to any particular woman. Our simple contention is that if a female disciple has not followed Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Stri-dharma then like a sannyasi/grhasta/brahmacari who has not followed guru, sadhu and sastras instructions on how a sannyasi/grhasta/brahmacari should behave according to their dharma then they (sannyasi/grhasta/brahmacari/woman) should not sit on vyasasana and we should not listen to them.

There seems to be a misunderstanding between the two of us, so I would like you to clarify what is your understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on how a woman disciple should behave? What is your understanding of Stri dharma as taught in Sastra? How should a female disciple behave when not married, married, when her husband is a vanaprastha and when her husband takes sannyasi? Then we can compare apples with apples.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 26th, 2011
129 Unregistered

In 116 Urmila said:

“Yes, I agree that it is behavior after initiation, not before, that we should consider. My point was that after becoming a devotee, what specific stri dharma as given in the sastra was the former prostitute (disciple of Haridas Thakura) following? Does sastra even give any specific stri dharma for former prostitutes? She was certainly following transcendental dharma. And according to Caitanya Caritamrita many stalwart Vaisnava men came to see her.”

First of all this x-prostitute was instructed by her guru on how she should behave after initiation and that is what she did.

Srila Prabhupada also instructed his female disciples in how they should behave after initiation. This is the point, many are not following but they want to be leaders and give class. Following the instructions of the guru is not material dharma. Disobedience of these instructions is guru ninda and the 3rd offense to the Holy Name.

Then Urmila said:

“It appears (maybe I’m misreading) that some devotees are saying that a woman preaching (especially if that preaching involves some time on an airplane, car, train, etc. and/or if there are men listening) violates that woman’s material dharma.”

I would say that you are misreading. And that the premises (strawmen) you ascribe to others are distorted or non-existent and your conclusion that women who follow Stri-dharma in ISKCON as instructed to them by Srila Prabhupada, sadhu and sastra cannot preach is wrong, in fact they are the only women who are qualified to preach.

What I have consistently said is that we should not listen to those persons, male or female– sannyasa/vanaprasta/grhasta/brahmacari/woman who do not follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on how they should behave because they cannot teach by their example. This is especially important when we consider that Srila Prabhupada urgently wanted us to establish Daiva Varnashrama Dharma.

cont

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 26th, 2011
130 Unregistered

part 2

When Stri Dharma is followed to please the Lord it is no longer material, just as Arjuna’s following Kshatriya Dharma to please Krsna was not material. This is the whole teaching of Gita, chapter 3 in particular. But you want to make it material to justify not following it as Mother Sita has pointed out in #117. Unless someone has transcended the modes of nature they must follow their prescribed duties and as Krsna points out in Gita chapter 3 even after achieving transcendence as in the case of Janakaraja one still follows one’s sva dharma as an example to others.

If Stri-dharma to please guru, Krsna, sadhu and sastra is material as you claim, how is it that by following her Stridharma that a woman will go back to Godhead?

“The woman who engages in the service of her husband, following strictly in the footsteps of the goddess of fortune, surely returns home, back to Godhead, with her devotee husband, and lives very happily in the Vaikuntha planets.”
Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.29

This is why I have consistently said that most senior women don’t even know what Stridharma in ISKCON is what to speak of follow it. You have clearly shown that you think it is material and not transcendental. When in fact by actually following it a woman goes back to godhead. How is that material?

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 26th, 2011
131 Unregistered

Urmila said in #122

“This is a most interesting discussion. I remain confused as to why women who think women should not preach in front of men and/or in the presence of senior men write comments and/or articles on Dandavats, public blogs, or other public places. Surely men read what they write. And surely there are enough senior men to write articles and comments. Some senior men have, indeed, commented here. Surely those women would, if following stri dharma as they understand it, be satisfied with the comments of men, especially senior men, and remain silent. It is also interesting that the men who promote these ideas of stri dharma do not complain about women who agree with them posting articles and/or comments in public forums.”

Mataji, I am sorry that you are still confused even after so much explanation. Why that confusion exists I cannot say. We never said that women cannot or should not preach. But that only qualified women who followed Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Stri dharma according to Daiva Varnashrama Dharma should preach. Not those who disregard his instructions.

A statement like yours above was once made to Sita mataji by Praharana dd on a public forum of which you were a receiver. I saved the response by Shyamasundara Prabhu as it is worthy of being quoted here

From: Shyamasundara (das) ACBSP (Vedic Astrologer) (USA)
Date: 01-Dec-03 01:50 (20:50 -0500)
To: Praharana (dasi) ACBSP (Toronto - CA)
Cc: Urmila (dd) ACBSP (ISKCON School NC - USA)
Cc: “Jivan Mukta Prabhu”
Cc: “sita dasi”
Cc-For: Free Forum (Announcements)
Cc-For: ISKCON India (news & discussion)
Cc-For: Prabhupada Disciples
Subject: wife representing husband
————————————————————
> Haribol Sita prabhuji. Hope you and your family are well. I appreciate
> your writings. They reflect your intelligence, strong morality and
> commitment to your “cause”… even if I do not always agree with your
> interpretation of Krishna conscious life.

cont…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 26th, 2011
132 Unregistered

part 2

> There is just something that always bothers me when I read your writings.
> If you beleive that women should be shy, seen and not heard, dependent and
> completely in deferment to their husbands, etc…. then why is Jiva Mukta
> prabhu not the spokesperson for your family? When you write articles or
> make comments which are read by thousands of people, isn’t this akin to
> giving a lecture or speaking directly to so many male readers? This just
> doesn’t ring true to your philosophy regarding appropriate behaviour for
> women.
Anyway don’t mean to make offence… just wondering. Your servant
> and friend, Praharana dd

Dear Praharana Dasi,

PAMHO AGTSP

Valmiki Rsi informs us in chapters 33-36 of the Kishkindakhanda of the
Ramayana: that Laksmana, on the order of Sri Rama, went to the gynaeceum of Sugriva in a very angry mood to find out why Sugriva had not kept his promise of putting in efforts to find Sita. (Sugriva had been spending his time during the monsoon season in earthly pleasures with his numerous wives like Ruma and Tara.) Sugriva became very alarmed to hear that Laksmana had come like the Lord of Death Himself. Sugriva, wise as he was, requested Tara to go out and meet Laksmana and speak sweetly to Him and explain that Sugriva had indeed already sent for monkey legions and in this way pacify Laksmana enough so that Sugriva could then meet with Him. Tara, by her conciliatory words, was indeed able to pacify Laksmana and thus pleased her husband greatly.

Hence, it is definitely recognized in Vedic culture that a wife, acting on the instructions of her husband, can represent him to someone else; in this case to Bhagavan Laksmana Himself.

I have known Jivan Mukta Prabhu and Sita Mataji for a long time and worked them with them for many years. I can vouch that she would never say a word that was not approved by her husband. Indeed they are like two halves of one body and are of one mind. So if she says anything rest assured that it has been sanctioned and approved of by Sriman Jivan Mukta Prabhu. Sita Mataji is a very chaste lady fully deserving the honor of the title Mataji. She exemplifies the virtues and qualities described by Narada Muni in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.25-29. Hence, there is no fault in her writing texts to this
assembly.

Your humble servant
Shyamasundara Dasa

Women who are actually following their stri-dharma can preach.

Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 26th, 2011
133 Unregistered

Dear Devotees,

Please excuse me but it seems that the text between #130 and #131 did not get posted. Sorry if this has created any confusion. I will repost them both in correct order and hopefully you will be able to follow what is being said. Again I apologise for this.

yhs
Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 28th, 2011
134 Unregistered

Urmila said in #122

“This is a most interesting discussion. I remain confused as to why women who think women should not preach in front of men and/or in the presence of senior men write comments and/or articles on Dandavats, public blogs, or other public places. Surely men read what they write. And surely there are enough senior men to write articles and comments. Some senior men have, indeed, commented here. Surely those women would, if following stri dharma as they understand it, be satisfied with the comments of men, especially senior men, and remain silent. It is also interesting that the men who promote these ideas of stri dharma do not complain about women who agree with them posting articles and/or comments in public forums.”

Mataji, I am sorry that you are still confused even after so much explanation. Why that confusion exists I cannot say. We never said that women cannot or should not preach. But that only qualified women who followed Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Stri dharma according to Daiva Varnashrama Dharma should preach. Not those who disregard his instructions.

A statement like yours above was once made to Sita mataji by Praharana dd on a public forum of which you were a receiver. I saved the response by Shyamasundara Prabhu as it is worthy of being quoted here:

From: Shyamasundara (das) ACBSP (Vedic Astrologer) (USA)
Date: 01-Dec-03 01:50 (20:50 -0500)
To: Praharana (dasi) ACBSP (Toronto - CA)
Cc: Urmila (dd) ACBSP (ISKCON School NC - USA)
Cc: “Jivan Mukta Prabhu”
Cc: “sita dasi”
Cc-For: Free Forum (Announcements)
Cc-For: ISKCON India (news & discussion)
Cc-For: Prabhupada Disciples
Subject: wife representing husband
————————————————————
>Haribol Sita prabhuji. Hope you and your family are well. I appreciate your writings. They reflect your intelligence, strong morality and commitment to your “cause”… even if I do not always agree with your interpretation of Krishna conscious life. There is just something that always bothers me when I read your writings. If you beleive that women should be shy, seen and not heard, dependent and completely in deferment to their husbands, etc…. then why is Jiva Mukta prabhu not the spokesperson for your family?

cont…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 28th, 2011
135 Unregistered

part 2

>
When you write articles or make comments which are read by thousands of people, isn’t this akin to giving a lecture or speaking directly to so many male readers? This just doesn’t ring true to your philosophy regarding appropriate behaviour for women. Anyway don’t mean to make offence… just wondering.

Your servant and friend,
Praharana dd
>

Dear Praharana Dasi,

PAMHO AGTSP

Valmiki Rsi informs us in chapters 33-36 of the Kishkindakhanda of the Ramayana: that Laksmana, on the order of Sri Rama, went to the gynaeceum of Sugriva in a very angry mood to find out why Sugriva had not kept his promise of putting in efforts to find Sita. (Sugriva had been spending his time during the monsoon season in earthly pleasures with his numerous wives like Ruma and Tara.) Sugriva became very alarmed to hear that Laksmana had come like the Lord of Death Himself. Sugriva, wise as he was, requested Tara to go out and meet Laksmana and speak sweetly to Him and explain that Sugriva had indeed already sent for monkey legions and in this way pacify Laksmana enough so that Sugriva could then meet with Him. Tara, by her conciliatory words, was indeed able to pacify Laksmana and thus pleased her husband greatly.

Hence, it is definitely recognized in Vedic culture that a wife, acting on the instructions of her husband, can represent him to someone else; in this case to Bhagavan Laksmana Himself.

I have known Jivan Mukta Prabhu and Sita Mataji for a long time and worked them with them for many years. I can vouch that she would never say a word that was not approved by her husband. Indeed they are like two halves of one body and are of one mind. So if she says anything rest assured that it has been sanctioned and approved of by Sriman Jivan Mukta Prabhu. Sita Mataji is a very chaste lady fully deserving the honor of the title Mataji. She exemplifies the virtues and qualities described by Narada Muni in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.25-29. Hence, there is no fault in her writing texts to this
assembly.

Your humble servant
Shyamasundara Dasa

Women who are actually following their stri-dharma can preach. I hope this has removed your confusion on this matter.

yhs
Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on April 28th, 2011
136 Unregistered

@ Bhaktilata in 130 wrote

If Stri-dharma to please guru, Krsna, sadhu and sastra is material as you claim, how is it that by following her Stridharma that a woman will go back to Godhead?

“The woman who engages in the service of her husband, following strictly in the footsteps of the goddess of fortune, surely returns home, back to Godhead, with her devotee husband, and lives very happily in the Vaikuntha planets.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.29

This is why I have consistently said that most senior women don’t even know what Stridharma in ISKCON is what to speak of follow it. You have clearly shown that you think it is material.

This is an excellent observation supported by sastra.

According to Urmila mataji, Laksmi devi’s following of Stri dharma is material. No it is not. It is wholly transcendental, and female devotees if they want to go back to Godhead must follow in Laksmi devi’s footsteps.

Similarly the male-bodied disciples must follow the ideal examples of male devotees. We cannot make up our own path but follow in the footsteps of the mahajanas. Surely Laksmi devi is worthy of emulation by the women in ISKCON.

In fact there is a whole Vaisnava sampradaya, the Sri Sampradaya, which has Laksmi devi as the adi Guru.

It is unfortunate that even after almost 50 years many senior ladies in ISKCON are confused about following Stri-dharma and think that in the context of ISKCON it is material and preach against it when in actuality following Stri dharma for the pleasure of the Lord is totally transcendental.

I think that in this case Bhaktilata mataji has more than adequately proved her point that “most senior women don’t even know what Stridharma in ISKCON is what to speak of follow it.”

Comment posted by Somayaji on April 28th, 2011
137 Visakha Priya dasi

Dear Bhaktilata,

Hare Krsna. Thank you for your questions. I made a few points in the three comments I sent for this thread, and neither you nor your supporters were able or willing to refute them. Rather, you seem to be bent on clutching at straws and arguing ad nauseam without listening to other devotees—or aspiring devotees’ realizations based on guru, sadhu, and sastra. Therefore, I see no reason to exert myself further. My purpose of purifying myself of the first offense to the holy names has been achieved, and I have no more reason to maintain any connection with the ongoing discussion. Please excuse me. May this find you well. Your servant, Visakha Priya dasi

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on April 28th, 2011
138 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

To explain my stand let me first tell you my own story.

I got BG from some very good devotee a few years back. Even after reading BG, SOSR ect I was still not able to understand or get the feel of being a HK devotee. Please do not mistake me, I had tried hard, I was also chanting, I was also eating prasadam ect. I was also attending classes of all the Senior Senior men coming to UK temples (I can proudly say I had heard almost every senior Sanyasis, Devotees), they were all giving amazing lecture but still there was something missing.

Then one day I heard HG Urmila Mataji, and the way she explained, everything was kind of unfolding itself. I was so glad and uplifted to hear her explanations on BG ect. I can definitely say, I was able to understand Srila Prabhupada better through her classes. So in that spirit I consider her as the senior most disciple of Shrila Prabhupada as for me she is the one who was able to explain Prabhupada’s books better.

I am very disappointed and disgusted reading some of the harsh comments about mataji here.

I will like to ask some question to all opposing her here. When you call some one Mataji do you not consider her mataji? Mataji = Mother, it is absolutely pervert to see sexual bias when you consider her as mother. I learnt basics of my life from my mother and then higher understanding through Mother Urmila, I wonder what level people want here to seat some one on Vyasasana more then mother.

Dear Mother Urmila I would also take opportunity to express my upmost respect and regards for you. When I call you Mataji, I see you as mother and like my own mother I have no bias in hearing from you or any other Senior devotees.

My upmost dandavats pranam to Shrila Prabhupada and Urmila “Mataji”.

Hare Krishna

Comment posted by amarshah on April 29th, 2011
139 Unregistered

I agree with Vishaka priya- yes we are not these bodies. I also agree with her that it takes time to rise to Vedic ideals, but sannyasis and brahmancaris are expected to, why not the rest of scoiety?. Yes we can, and we must, be lenient with newcomers and encourage them to engage what talents they have in Krsna’s service.

I did not intend to be demeaning, condescending or insulting to anyone. If I appeared to be doing so, I sincerely apologize. I responded to what I understood to be a misrepresentation of the philosophy and supported my position with references. We are discussing the specific issue: is allowing women to give class to senior men and sannyasis sanctioned by guru, sadhu and sastra ? Neither the story of the former prostitute or Bhagavad-gita 9.30 condones it. Nor do the examples from Prabhupada’s time when we analyze all the factors involved. On the contrary, there are many references cited in this discussion that establish it as unauthorized and adharmic. So what to do? Not discuss this?

There is a nice letter to Madhukara Jan. 4, 1973 where Prabhupada practically applies the Gita’s teachings. He reminded his disciple of his occupational duty and not to give it up for something else. He advised him to not “disrupt the order of society “ by changing his field of action and “avoid setting any bad example for future generations”.

Our philosophy is that we’re not this body but we should still stick to our duty and through it develop our ”devotional attitude into full-blown love of Godhead. That is Arjuna’s understanding.”

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 29th, 2011
140 Unregistered

In text #92 Vishaka-priya wrote:

” Even in the Bhagavad-gita, in the third chapter, Krsna advises that one should worship the demigods, and in later chapters He says that less intelligent persons worship the demigods and that we should just worship Him. So, if somebody gets stuck on the third chapter, what can be done? The quote is right there, but it isn’t applicable at a different stage of spiritual development. ”

In which verse does Lord Krsna advise Arjuna to worship the demigods?

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 29th, 2011
141 Unregistered

Vishaka-priya asked:

“How full are our temples these days? How full are our farms today? We have to be more subtle and diversified.”

One of the reasons our temples and farms aren’t as full as in the past is that our devotees are leaving them. Here is an interesting point from a letter to Satsvarupa, June 16, 1972:

“You mention you like to speak now very often, but the first business should be to preach to the devotees. It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become devotees. It is the duty of the GBC to maintain the devotees, keep them in the highest standard of Krishna Consciousness, and give them all good instruction, and let them go out and preach for making more devotees. Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in our philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya or renunciation and that will be their advancement in Krishna Consciousness. So first thing is to instruct all of your temple presidents and the other devotees to read daily, just as we have done in our morning class in Los Angeles. You may remember that we were reading one sloka each morning in Sanskrit and reciting it altogether and then discussing it thoroughly by seeing different new things. So you introduce this system and train the devotees first. Don’t be too much concerned for the time being with nondevotees, now we must fix-up what devotees we have got in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness, then we will succeed. What good are many, many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?”

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 29th, 2011
142 Locanananda dasa

It appears that this is the tail-end of an interesting discussion on the role of women preachers in ISKCON. I recall that when I attended the Mayapur/Vrndavana festival in 1976, the morning Bhagavatam classes werre given by Srila Prabhupada and the evening Bhagavad-gita classes were given primarily by his sannyasa disciples. In the presence of such an august assembly, and due to the
usual time restraints, women did not have the opportunity to recite the Sanskrit verses after the men as was done in all other ISKCON temples at the time. Now, thirty-five years later, a senior devotee in a female body is speaking the philosophy of Krishna consciousness from the seat of Vyasa to that same assembly in Mayapur. How the times have changed!

I understand that ISKCON management has resolved that advanced women devotees may be permitted to initiate disciples. It follows that if a senior Vaisnavi is deemed qualified to give diksa, she must also be qualified to speak on the Bhagavatam! I heard Mother Urmila speak many years ago on the education of devotee children in the New York temple’s Srila Prabhupada Memorial Museum. Her dedication and sincerity could not be missed, and she was gifted by Krishna with excellent skills with which to present her realizations. It comes as no surprise that the leaders of ISKCON wanted her to have the opportunity to address a worldwide audience.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on April 29th, 2011
143 Akruranatha

Yes, this is an interesting discussion, and when we go over the different comments with an open, charitable mind, respecting all the participants, we see there are many issues we need to work out in thoughtful isthagosthis in ISKCON, concerning such matters as how to implement Varnasrama dharma and when women should give lectures or how different classes of ISKCON devotees should behave.

Sitadasi quoted from a letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja as follows:

“…Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness philosophy. . .”

So this Dandavats website provides an opportunity for discussing the subject matter of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and also Srila Prabhupada’s preaching strategies according to time, place and circumstance, and also how we should maintain or change those strategies now and in the future. We need to focus on building cohesion and understanding among the devotees we have, “boiling the milk.”

My main concern is that some of the comments in the thread may have been unnecessarily (and improperly) personally insulting to Urmila Mataji.

Communication is important. It may be hard on the internet. It may be hard to tolerate “different angles of seeing”.

It may be a symptom of stronger faith that devotees can charitably listen to different opinions without getting disturbed, whereas neophytes tend to get defensive when they encounter a “different angle” from what they are used to. This is a challenge, as ISKCON gets bigger, more diverse. How will it cope with devotees who hold “different angles of vision”, as they certainly do, and will continue to do?

I do not know the answer. My hope is that senior devotees, at least, can have productive discourses in which “different angles” are considered, addressed, and tolerated even if no consensus is immediately reached, without abandoning our deep appreciation and affection for all the devotees who have tried to surrender to Krishna and His representatives and cooperate with the greater ISKCON mission, (even they may have “different angles” about how to do so).

And of course in addressing Satsvarupa Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada was giving responsibility to senior members and GBC to make sure the devotees were reading, discussing and understanding.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
144 Akruranatha

Sitadasi asks, “In which verse does Lord Krsna advise Arjuna to worship the demigods?”

I hope Visakha-Priya does not mind me responding, she seemed to be referring to texts 3.8-16. Especially 3.12 directly recommends that one who enjoys the boons given by the demigods without offering sacrifice to the demigods commits sin (i.e., is a thief).

I recently had an email exchange with a South Indian brahmana (from the Sri Vaisnava community) who was concerned that ISKCON devotees do not perform daily homas and sandhya vandana and pinda and so on. He asked me this question directly:

Why does Krishna say in 3.11: “With this do ye nourish the gods, and may the gods nourish you; thus nourishing one another, ye shall attain to the highest good?”

He was happy with my reply. This is how I responded (I anticipated some of his further questions based on our previous correspondence):

“He is explaining karma yoga, that the humans must be engaged in yajna and live lives of regulation (niyatam) according to the prescribed duties for the different orders and divisions of life for the purpose of yajna. Otherwise, work binds us to the material world. By working under regulation for performance of yajna and eating the remnants of sacrifice, we are freed from sins.

“The moral universe is constructed this way, as a kind of cycle of sacrifice (evam pravartitam cakram). Grains that we eat come from rains, rains come from performance of sacrifice which satisfies the demigods who bestow all gifts to the earth, sacrifice is born of prescribed duties, prescribed duties rest on the Vedic scriptures a the Vedas emanate from God, the Absolute Truth. Therefore the all-pervading Trancendence is always situated in sacrifice. If everyone performs his duty, there will be peace, prosperity and a proper environment for making spiritual advancement.

“Now, I suppose you mean to ask, ‘Why don’t the ISKCON devotees satisfy the demigods through performance of Vedic sacrifices?’

“The answer is that if we satisfy Lord Krishna through performance of sankirtan yajna, all the demigods will automatically be satisfied…”

(to be continued…)

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
145 Akruranatha

“Karma yoga is preliminary devotional service. The whole purpose is to lead to bhakti yoga. Krishna does not merely offer karma yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga in Bhagavad-gita as a variety of alternatives depending on personal taste and preference. Rather, he explains how they are all meant for knowing Him through pure devotional service. They are part of the same great yoga ladder culminating in His unalloyed bhakti.

“His final conclusion is ’sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja.’ Is He contradicting His earlier statements that one should not give up one’s sva-dharma? Not really. He is saying that the ultimate purpose is to come to the point of full surrender in bhakti yoga.

“But still, we are not at that ultimate point. We should follow our dharma. So why does He later denigrate demigod worship in Chapter 7 (kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante ‘nya devata), Chapter 9 (ye ‘pyanya devata-bhakta … te ‘pi mam eva kaunteya yajanty avidhi-purvakam)?

“He is making the point, made earlier in Chapter 2 (verses 42-43) that the Vedas offer rewards for performance of fruitive rituals which attract less intelligent people to the fruits, bhoga and aisvarya, which are limited and temporary, but the yogis should not be distracted by such things: they need one-pointed intelligence for attaining the transcendental position.

“In the Ninth Chapter Krishna is making the additional point that all other paths (jnana, yajna, worship of other gods, etc.) are really meant for pleasing Him, but unless they lead one ultimately to the conclusion of His exclusive devotional service in full knowledge of Him there is no security; one may go to heavenly planets or even to brahman realization and fall down again. ‘Yanti mad yajino ‘pi mam’: Better worship Him directly and go directly to Him.

“vasudeva-para veda vasudeva-para makhah
vasudeva-para yoga vasudeva-parah kriyah

“vasudeva-param jnanam vasudeva-param tapah
vasudeva-paro dharmo vasudeva-para gatih

[S.B. 1.2.28-29]”

” Still, you might ask, the Vedic sacrifices for appeasing different demigods are approved in the scriptures and performed by great Mahajanas like Janaka and Maharaja Yuddhisthir and others. If these pure devotees are doing them, shouldn’t we do them?”

(to be continued…)

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
146 Akruranatha

“The answer is that one may perform the different yajnas while remaining fixed as a pure devotee of Krishna. In fact, the gopis of Vrndavana (who are the best devotees) performed the Katyayani vrata to get good husbands (they wanted to get Krishna as their husbands). To think of Krishna as the Supreme Godhead would have disturbed their mood or rasa of serving Him as His lovers. Instead, they worshiped demigods in order to achieve what they needed to please Him in their intimate relationship.

“However, our acaryas, the six goswamis of Vrndavana, did not prescribe the Vedic system of sacrifices and vratas for us. They adopted the pancaratrika system of Deity worship and simplified rituals and vratas, which are just as effective.

“Actually, the Vedic Viddhi cannot be properly followed in this age, for lack of qualified brahmanas. The samskaras have not been properly performed, and the children of brahmanas are born with the same qualification as shudras. ‘Kalau sudra sambhava’. The pancaratrika viddhi acts to purify the sudra class of men and it is the prescribed purificatory process suitable to this age and time.

“In the satya yuga, people performed mystic yoga, in the treta yuga they performed elaborate sacrifices which would be impossible today, in the dvapara-yuga they performed gorgeous Deity worship, but in this age the Hari kirtan is the prescribed dharma.:

“krte yad dhyayato visnum
tretayam yajato makhaih
dvapare paricaryayam
kalau tad dhari-kirtanat

[S.B. 12.3.52]”

“This is actually the Bhagavata Viddhi, performed by srvanam, kirtanam, vishnu smaranam, etc. In ISKCON we practice this Bhagavata viddhi of Hari-kirtan, sankirtan, as the prescribed yuga dharma, and we follow the pancaratrika system of initiation and Deity worship in order to help purify us sufficiently that we may perform kirtan effectively.

“Srila Prabhupada also instructed us to re-establish the varnasrama system of organizing society into different classes and orders, both within ISKCON and in society at large, but there seems to be lack of consensus on exactly how that will be accomplished. It may be a longer-term project.

“It should be understood that when he spoke of varna, it was not according to family of birth (kalau sudra sambhava), but by qualification and development of the right gunas to perform the right karmas by virtue of the pancaratrika purification processes.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
147 Akruranatha

Srila Prabhupada often pointed out the inability of modern people in Kali yuga to follow Vaidic viddhi. For example, in a lecture on Nectar of Devotion in 1972 he stated:

“yatha kancanatam yati
kamsa-rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksa-vidhanena
dvijatvam jayate nrnam

“So we are trying to follow Sanätana Gosvämi. By diksa-vidhanena, by initiating persons any, from anywhere. It does not matter. Because in this age, Kali-yuga, the diksa-vidhana is performed according, according to Pancaratrika-vidhi. Not Vaidika-vidhi. Vaidika-vidhi is very strict. Unless one is bona fide son of a dvija, the initiation was not given. To the sudras, there was no initiation. A brahmana ksatriya, vaisya. So these are the Vedic process. So in the Kali-yuga, because it is to be understood that everyone is a sudra, therefore Vaidika-vidhana cannot be applied. Vaidika-vidhana requires that one must be born by a brahmana, ksatriya. Then he’s eligible for being initiated. But in the Kali-yuga, that is not possible.

“Therefore the Pancaratriki-vidhi is accepted. Narada-Pancaratra. Tatha diksa-vidhanena. This diksa-vidhana, recommended by Sanatana Gosvämi, means Pancaratriki-vidhi. Now Rupa Gosvami says in his Bhakti-rasämrta-sindhu,

“sruti-smrti-puranadi-
pancaratriki-vidhim vina
aikantiki harer bhaktir
utpatayaiva kalpate
[Brs. 1.2.101]

“Without undergoing the process of sruti—means Vedas—smrti, the Puranas, and other corollary literatures, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata, Smrti, Manu-smrti, the laws given by Manu, Parasara… So Hari-bhakti, devotional service to the Lord, must be approved by Vedas, Puranas, Pancaratriki-vidhi. Otherwise, any show of devotional service is simply disturbance. Anyone can manufacture. And it is being supported by some very big missionary activities: ‘yata mata tata pata.’ You can manufacture your way of religious principles. But that is not Vedic way. Vedic way is ‘evam parampara-praptam’ [Bg. 4.2]. Although we are initiating people from low-grade society, still, following the principles of Pancaratriki-vidhi, injunction of the Gosvamis. Therefore it is bona fide. Bhägavata-vidhi, Pancaratriki-vidhi, they are bona fide vidhi.”

[See, also: S.B. 1.12.13, Purport: “Such brahmanas are not only rare, but also not available in this age, and therefore, for the purpose of spiritual upliftment in this fallen age, the Goswamis prefer the purificatory processes under Pancaratrika formulas to the Vedic rites.” Srila Prabhupada made many such statements].

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
148 Akruranatha

When looking back and marveling at what Srila Prabhupada did in the space of 12 years or so, we can see that he was very pragmatic. He was on an important mission to uplift the whole world by profusely spreading the teachings of Lord Caitanya on his guru’s order, and yet he was practical, giving the correct standards but also making allowances for the needs of his followers.

He was giving the real thing, harinama, japa, Deity worship, straight Vaisnava philosophy without compromise. But he was also flexible and lenient enough to overlook discrepancies in behavior — even allowing sannyasis to remarry rather than rejecting them and finishing their spiritual lives.

He was giving a system of bhakti yoga that was bona-fide and yet could be practiced by people in the modern world who function under conditions of the modern economy.

He was also dealing with an unprecedented and unusual confluence with the “turn on, tune in, drop out” hippie counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Talented young people were seeking to drop out of civilization as their parents knew it, but what would they drop into? Srila Prabhupada’s disciples created ISKCON as an alternate Vaisnava society, and Srila Prabhupada encouraged it, seeing how it was beneficial for their spiritual lives and useful in further spreading the Hare Krishna movement to every town and village.

He knew how to expertly adjust the rules without breaking them, because he knew the purpose behind them and how to achieve that purpose (by imparting genuine bhakti in accordance with Sruti, Smrti, Purana, Pancaratra).

But we can easily see how his followers can have many “different angles of vision” for how to go on moving things forward.

For example, in terms of women giving Bhagavatam class, he always said they could. He never said they couldn’t.

In his letter to a female disciple on December 25, 1974 (cited in comment #70 above), the devotee’’s husband had left, had apparently “borrowed” some money, and the temple authorities were telling her she should suffer because of the misdeeds of her husband. But Srila Prabhupada wrote that her husband had done nothing “horrible”, that she should be allowed to stay in the temple and continue with her normal duties including giving Srimad Bhagavatam class if she chose, in spite of her being, at that point, essentially “unprotected”, with her husband’s whereabouts unknown.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
149 Akruranatha

I guess the crucial “different angles” or differences of opinion have to do with whether what Srila Prabhupada said with respect to women giving class in temples in 1968, 1972, 1974, were meant to be changed later as ISKCON matured.

It is an interesting question and one which we should patiently examine.

There is evidence that Srila Prabhupada intended women as well as men to be preachers, not just in the beginning but for the foreseeable future. For example:

“Since the European and American boys and girls in our Krsna consciousness movement preach together, less intelligent men criticize that they are mingling without restriction. In Europe and America boys and girls mingle unrestrictedly and have equal rights; therefore it is not possible to completely separate the men from the women. However, we are thoroughly instructing both men and women how to preach, and actually they are preaching wonderfully. Of course, we very strictly prohibit illicit sex. Boys and girls who are not married are not allowed to sleep together or live together, and there are separate arrangements for boys and girls in every temple. Grhasthas live outside the temple, for in the temple we do not allow even husband and wife to live together. The results of this are wonderful. Both men and women are preaching the gospel of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Krsna with redoubled strength.” [Cc. Adi 7.38 Purport]

The question may be legitimately be raised, did Srila Prabhupada want to “completely separate the men from the women” at some later date? My sense from the above passage is, no: He seems to be saying that, European and American customs being what they are, women and men in ISKCON will continue to preach together “wonderfully” for the foreseeable future (I suppose until European and American customs change, which may take many, many generations, or never happen).

Did he mean to impose special prerequisites of proper “Vedic” behavior on preachers in ISKCON, such that a man (for example) who has a job in a factory or as a bus driver or something should be disqualified from preaching, being a ’sudra’?

This seems to be the crux of what some of the participants are saying here. At least for women, unless they adhere to certain agreed-upon ideal standards of women’s dharma, they should not give class. However, there really does not seem to be consensus among ISKCON leaders about what such standards are, or how rigidly to apply them.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
150 Akruranatha

My own sense is, it is more important to promote the chanting of Hare Krishna and the distribution and study of Srila Prabhupada’s books than to establish very rigid social standards of women’s dharma.

We should be very strict about the moral prohibition of sex outside of marriage. But how intolerant do we have to be about other cultural or social issues such as whether women may get higher education and work outside of the home (as they do in Europe and America, and increasingly throughout the world)?

Are there different rules for behavior of new devotees and initiated devotees? Mostly, when we go to campuses or street corners to preach, we do not generally lead with focusing on social and cultural differences. We say, “Try chanting Hare Krishna”, “Try Krishna prasadam”, “Try reading and discussing these books, this philosophy.”

We also say, but with some tact and discretion, “Human life should be one of regulation and sense control. The four regulative principles are important for anyone who wants to become serious about making spiritual progress, or really even for anyone who wants to be a morally decent person.” It is not usually the first thing we say, depending on circumstances. We do not want to make someone feel so defensive and “condemned” that they do not want to try chanting Hare Krishna or associating with us and reading and discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Of course for those who get serious and become initiated members, we do accept the four regs and other austerities and practices strictly (japa, early rising, fasting on ekadasi, bathing, wearing tilak, attending regular classes).

Would we want to hear class being given by devotees who do not chant, or do not fast on ekadasi. What if they have understood the subject matter and can explain it nicely? But… can they really have understood if they are not regular in their practice? Does the verse “sadhur eva samantavyah” apply?

And what of those who do observe all the yamas and niyamas of initiated disciples strictly but have not conformed to one or another aspect of “Vedic” social divisions and prescribed duties? (I do not think this applies to Urmila Dasi, one of our senior, respected devotees, but I take it this is the issue being raised by Bhaktilata and Sita Dasi)

It seems there really is some disagreement among us as to how rigidly such cultural prescriptions apply in ISKCON. Hence we are having this discussion.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
151 Akruranatha

Not everyone has to immediately answer these questions the same way. ISKCON devotees can legitimately have different views on these subjects. And, evidently, they do.

It seems that though there are special rules for sannyasis, for brahmacaris, for grhasthas, for different varnas, the real fault lines among social “conservatives” and “liberals” in ISKCON (I am reluctant to use those labels but I will for ease of reference) somehow seem most prominently to cut across the views of proper engagements for women.

Srila Prabhupada was very flexible and pragmatic. He engaged sannyasis in administration (though not initially). He allowed householder couples to live in ISKCON temples (though, as we see from the Cc. Adi 7.38 Purport quoted above, he did not seem to approve that as our regular standard). He even created a “brahmacarini” asram, unheard of in Vedic culture, and endorsed it as more than a mere temporary measure.

But, he also spoke about gradually introducing within ISKCON (and with a view to doing so in society at large) the social divisions of four classes and four spiritual orders and their respective duties, statuses, and modes of interacting. He directed us to do it, and indicated it was very natural for human society to be organized in such a way. Yet, it has proved elusive, and different devotees have different ideas about how it should be accomplished, and how it applies in different ISKCON centers in different countries and environments.

It also seems that ISKCON has a much broader congregational structure than it did in the 1970s, with more householders living and earning their livelihoods outside of the self-contained (and inadequate) ISKCON economy, and contributing some of their income to support the temples. This seems to be a natural, healthy, sustainable development (we used to support our temples with armies of devotees begging for donations from the general public and selling different kinds of paraphernalia such as mundane paintings, records, candles, “stickers”, flowers, candy, flags, etc.) But it also makes us less insular, more integrated into the host society, less like a radical “cult” (or “sect”, in Europe), more like a respectable (if still obscure and exotic) religion.

How ISKCON is responding to these changes and developments not surprisingly leads to different opinions among devotees. We look to leadership to help facilitate respectful, charitable, friendly, sincere discussion about these questions.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 30th, 2011
152 Unregistered

In texts 106-107, Vishaka-priya wrote:

“My conviction that these two great souls are perfectly situated at Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet is supported by the following passage from the seventh chapter of the Adi-lila of the Caitanya-caritamrta (texts 31-32, purport)”

Regarding the intermingling of men and women, Prabhupada discusses his tactic here:

SB Lecture Bombay April 12, 1976

“So we cannot avoid in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. That was the problem from the very beginning. In India there is restriction between men and women, free intermingling, but in your country there is no such restriction. Therefore I got my disciples married. They criticize me that I have become a marriage-maker. Anyway, I wanted at least to regulate. That is required.”

So I would like to ask how we are to understand Prabhupada’s many instructions about brahmacaris and sannyasis avoiding association with women. Perhaps Vishaka-priya dais can further elaborate on her point in texts 106-107.

Comment posted by sitadasi on April 30th, 2011
153 Unregistered

I would like to rephrase my question re. Vishaka-priya’s texts 92-93:

In which verse does Lord Krsna advise Arjuna to worship the demigods? What is meant by getting “stuck on the third chapter” and how does that apply to the topic of this thread?

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 2nd, 2011
154 Akruranatha

Srila Prabhupada’s lecture on verse 7.12.1 from Mumbai on April 12, 1976, quoted by Sitadasi in comment #152, is one of the lectures to which Urmila referred in her lecture in Mayapur on February 28, 2011, about the importance of gurukula and proper training in youth.

“So we cannot avoid in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. That was the problem from the very beginning. In India there is restriction between men and women, free intermingling, but in your country there is no such restriction. Therefore I got my disciples married…”

Srila Prabhupada is acknowledging that to spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world, outside of India, into countries where men and women intermingle freely, we cannot expect our members, our initiated devotees, our preachers, to only be in the renounced order. We have to have a good example of regulated householder life.

And if a householder is really a pure devotee, he or she is as good as a sannyasi. Srila Prabhupada quotes Viraraghava Acarya to the effect that one who is living under the control of the spiritual master, even when it comes to sex, is considered a brahmacari even though married and living at home with wife, children, everything.

So, the challenge for our gurukulas and for our Krishna consciousness movement is to be able to train up first class people who will go through a stage of household life, raise children, be productive, and yet not forget that the goal of life is to become engaged in the higher engagements of Krishna consciousness and preaching Krishna consciousness, disinterested in material sense gratification.

They need to get a taste for austerity early on, but our boys and girls should be prepared (really, virtually all of them) to get married and have families of their own, with occupations and income and enough sense gratification to live peacefully (self-preservation) under regulation, without forgetting that the goal of life is to understand the Absolute Truth, to practice Krishna consciousness, and to distribute that Krishna consciousness to others.

Srila Prabhupada mentions the Vedic injunction of not sitting in a solitary place with a woman other than wife (even one’s mother, sister or daughter). But he is acknowledging that in ISKCON we will mostly be married.

Hearing a Bhagavatam class from a woman in a temple room, though, is not prohibited, even for sannyasis. A room full of devotees is not a “solitary place”. For preaching we must tolerate some mixing.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 2nd, 2011
155 Akruranatha

It is also true that in the western countries, women do expect to fulfill themselves professionally, intellectually, not to be confined to a second-class status that they find overly constrictive.

In ISKCON we need to show and example of happily married women who find fulfillment in their roles as wives and mothers, sure.

But if we become an organization that signals to women they will be denied the opportunity to excel in using their skills for serving Krishna as they desire, because of the prescribed social roles of woman in Vedic culture, it is going to interfere with our preaching.

If we appear to be an organization that insists on male privilege even when males are acting improperly, selfishly — if we do not train our boys how to be kind and responsible, respectful to mothers, understanding and loving to wives and daughters — it will not only hurt preaching, but will be hypocritical and immoral.

Preachers want to get people attracted to reading Prabhupada’s books and chanting Hare Krishna, associating with devotees and worshiping the Deities. We do not want to make our target audience (innocent nondevotees) feel uncomfortable, judged, disapproved of, or confronted with cultural or moral demands they cannot agree with or accept.

That does not mean, of course, that we should pretend that there are no moral restrictions. At least the minimum restrictions of the four regs must be embraced by serious devotees (though we do invite members of the public to come and associate with us and appreciate Krishna consciousness even if they do not follow all those rules).

However, if we are going to preach Krishna consciousness as extensively and boldly throughout the world as we want to, expecting all people — including the educated elites of the wealthy and powerful nations — to appreciate and endorse and embrace Krishna culture, then we need to allay their fears that this may be a culturally reactionary movement that promotes unjust exploitation, restriction and domination of socially weaker groups in the name of religious tradition.

Srila Prabhupada was expert at doing that. He ignored criticism of people who had a stereotyped view: although he was a sannyasi he got his disciples married, because that is what they needed to progress in Krishna consciousness.

And he did not accept a stereotyped and overly-restrictive idea of what women devotees may do for Krishna. He had them preach, and give class, even in India, before mixed audiences.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 2nd, 2011
156 Unregistered

In a letter to Satsvarupa dated June 16, 1972, Prabhupada says:

“The women are best for teaching small children, especially if they are themselves mothers, and when they become brahmacaris at 5 or 6 years old then they may be instructed by the men.”

Prabhupada requested women to teach young children in gurukula but not brahmacaris (what to speak of sannyasis!). He wanted men to instruct the boys from a certain age. Gurukula is meaningless without brahmacari training. There is an educational researcher, Michael Gurian, who has has studied how male and female brains are wired differently and practically shown the benefits of separate, single sex education.

“A brahmacārī is supposed to assist a sannyāsī; therefore a brahmacārī should not try to instruct a sannyāsī. That is the etiquette. Consequently Dāmodara should not have advised Caitanya Mahāprabhu of His duty.”Cc. Madhya-lila : Madhya 7: The Lord’s Tour of South India : Madhya 7.27 : PURPORT

There is no authorization for women to teach older brahmacaris, senior men and sannyasis by taking the role of a brahmana guru. The idea that some women are, by VARNA, brahmanas and perform all the duties of a brahmana equally with men is a manufactured concept that is not in line with our parampara. It is an example of “motivated interpretation” as is the concept of women becoming diksha guru. Sure we have different personalities but we also need to acknowledge the different psychologies of men and women and etiquette which Prabhupada says “must be observed” (see SB 3.23 Purport).

Understandably it’s harder for women with broken marriages to relate to concepts such as giving men “first preference”. Similarly they might find it difficult to understand the concept of male prerogative:

“Kapiladeva was not irresponsible, but was always ready to please His mother. Kapiladeva was a brahmacārī, and His mother took lessons from Him. That is the prerogative of the male.” Teachings of Lord Kapila 5.

In India, the social customs are different than the west, so why impose our standards there? If we are worried about people being bothered by the philosophy, then we would have to stop reading and quoting Srila Prabhupada’s books because they are full of “sexist” statements like the above, or when he says a woman “she must” behave in a certain way…. But we aren’t talking about preaching to newcomers, it is serious minded devotees, sannyasis and gurus who are in the audience at Mayapura morning classes.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 6th, 2011
157 Unregistered

To institute new ideas into ISKCON, such as women having the varna of a brahmana, and instituting women as GBC and diksha guru is an offense to Srila Prabhupada.

Although Prabhupada acknowledged that our social customs couldn’t suddenly be changed in the West, he never made these particular concessions nor indicated we should do so in the future.

In CC Adi Lila 7.37 we read about his strategy:

“ An ācārya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced. “

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 6th, 2011
158 Unregistered

While we encourage everyone to use their talents in devotional service, and we also encourage everyone (including children) to preach, we also need to carefully consider the Gita’s warnings about imitation of another’s duty. Women may have a talent for speaking, for example, however instructing senior men, including brahmacaris and sannyasis, goes beyond a chaste woman’s field of activity and natural psychology that was taught by Prabhupada for his female disciples. Even if “our women” could preach very well, Prabhupada considered it “artificial” for them “ to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupāda”. He didn’t encourage this, even if there were some that wanted to do it. If they had done so, they’d have been imitating the role of a sannyasi guru.

In the 3rd chapter of Bhagavad-gita, verse 35, we read:

“it is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly” and that to engage in another’s prescribed duties is dangerous.

Then again in the 18th chapter, verse 47 there is an almost identical instruction:

“It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.”

These instructions are valid for devotees in the liberated as well as conditioned stage. “Sarva dharman parityajya” doesn’t mean Krsna wanted Arjuna to give up his duty and surrender to Him, but to dovetail his consciousness to Krsna while performing his duty. Thus when women are advanced in Krsna consciousness, they still follow their dharma. Women or men, if they are to be accepted as teachers and spiritual leaders, should be demonstrating their understanding of the Gita in this regard.

BG 3.21 purport: “a teacher must follow the principles of śāśtra (scripture) to reach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. “

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 6th, 2011
159 Unregistered

There is a related discussion on http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9471 In a recent post there I quoted:
“From now on unless I order you do something change or in addition, go on with the usual standard way. You manufacture ideas and then I have to waste my time. I have given you everything already, there is no need for you to add anything or change anything. “ Letter to: Dhruvananda — Bombay 4 January, 1973 : 73-01-04
Kirtanananda tried to westernize things for the sake of attracting more people. He changed the clothing style to that of western monks and chanted prayers in English with non Indian instruments. He also gave women sannyasa and gave them western names. These were never authorized by Srila Prabhupada but Kirtanananda thought he knew better and apparently so do we. The new changes ISKCON is starting to implement, such as women GBC and guru, are similarly not authorized and philosophically outside our parampara. Our leaders are treading dangerous waters now.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 6th, 2011
160 Akruranatha

Sitadasi, it strikes me that you are taking quotes from Srila Prabhupada about brahmacari training and etiquette of sannyasis and constructing an argument that women should not give class in front of sannysasis, but you are ignoring the direct evidence of Srila Prabhupada’s statements when he repeatedly said, when asked directly, that when it comes to giving Bhagavatam class there is no distinction and as long as she has heard nicely and can explain the subject nicely we should hear from a woman.

Not only did Srila Prabhupada repeatedly so state, but in practice he engaged women in giving lectures in front of his male disciples and even in public gatherings in India.

You make a distinction that things should be done differently in Mayapur because we are not preaching to outsiders there but only to serious devotees, but I am not sure that is the right way we should be thinking. We are always preaching to everyone that will hear. That is the mood of sankirtan. That is the mood of Mayapur.

Lord Caitanya wants us to distribute Krishna consciousness without consideration of qualification. What we do in the audarya dhama of Mayapur should inspire us in our preaching activities throughout the world. If it really is Srila Prabhupada’s program to have qualified women give lectures on Srimad Bhagavatam “without distinction” (and we should keep an open mind in deciding whether it is, without ignoring or brushing aside *any* relevant evidence), should it not be the program in Mayapur?

Now, the question of whether a particular woman or householder or sannyasi or brahmacari or vanaprastha is setting a good enough example in his or her performance of service in accordance with rules of varna and asrama to give the class is probably not a good topic for discussion on Dandavats.

For example (just as an example and not to open a can of worms), the GBC has been trying to impose on sannyasis some accounting requirements for donations they receive, and there has been some controversy about this. Yet I would not expect to see on Dandavats a criticism of a particular class because the sannyasi giving the class is known to have a bank account or control of non-ISKCON real property. It is just unseemly and agitating to publicly criticize devotees like that.

And if your (or Bhaktilata’s) argument is really that some women should give class in Mayapur at the festival, but not Urmila, then please identify 5 or 10 women you agree should give class there.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 7th, 2011
161 Akruranatha

The issue with Damodar Pandit is that he was frequently criticizing the Lord and taking the position of His instructor. It is a very different situation from whether a brahmacari may give a lecture in an assembly that includes some sannyasis.

If there are sannyasis who feel that their minds will be agitated by attending a morning Bhagavatam class given by a woman, they do not have to attend that particular class. I suspect, though. that most sannyasis in ISKCON would be very inspired by the classes given by Urmila or Laxmimoni or many other highly qualified lady disciples of Srila Prabhupada.

I wish some sannyasis would join this conversation, though, and say how they actually do feel about women giving class. Kavicandra Swami made a brief comment but did not elaborate about his own opinions on the issue.

It would be nice to hear from GBC and sannyasis, initiating gurus, TPs and other ISKCON leaders about their own understandings and positions on this issue of women giving class (in general, not particular women’s qualification). It seems to be a relevant discussion, and there is a GBC resolution about it, and it seems like a topic that there ought to be a public conversation about.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 7th, 2011
162 Unregistered

I hope that some of the older devotees from Iskcon will answer sitadasi’s lasts posts - not necessarily to prove her wrong or get into an argument but more to let us know that this is not what you believe - I hope

Comment posted by veda on May 8th, 2011
163 Unregistered

The situation of Bhagavatam class can be awkward for men who would choose to leave the temple room (politically incorrect these days) if they didn’t want to hear/see a woman giving class. Let’s not forget that giving class also includes singing. For the sake of comparison, when a woman writes, there is no audible “voice” to be heard or physical presence to be seen. Also men have a choice whether or not to read what a woman has written.

When Prabhupada wrote to Malati that she could keep giving class, it was a practical answer because she had helped start the temple in England with Shyamasundara.

When Prabhupada answered Jaya Govinda he mentions both that, spiritual, we have no distinction AND that a man be given first preference.

When Prabhupada answered Jyotirmayi whether she could keep giving class (not on vedabase) he explains again the varnasrama principle that women who have brahmana husbands can give lectures.

When Prabhupada wrote to Yamuna and Dinatarine that they can attract the “fair sex community” it seems logical they would be preaching to women from their particular location.

So we need to keep both the spiritual and varnasrama principles in mind here, as well as the time, place, and circumstance, without taking things out of context.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 9th, 2011
164 Locanananda dasa

It is a fact that Srila Prabhupada differentiated between the roles performed by men and women in management. In a letter to Yamuna dated 9-16-70, he wrote:

“The girls should manage internally and the boys should manage externally. Be always engaged in this way and become happy.”

Yamuna Dasi was personally trained by Srila Prabhupada in different areas of devotional service. She was sent to Vrndavana with her husband to develop that project on the same principle, that the women would manage internally and the men externally. Years later, when she started a rural project on her own, Srila Prabhupada arranged for her to work under the authority of the nearby GBC, not independently.

So I would have to agree somewhat with Sitadevi, that the role of women in management does not include sitting on the GBC, nor should a woman act as an initiating spiritual master. According to Srila Prabhupada, a woman cannot travel all over the world as could a sannyasi, because she could easily be taken advantage of. Nor can she chant on the brahmana thread when awarding second initiation to men.

When it comes to preaching, which is the real essence of guruship, there is no limitation for a woman, depending upon her qualifications. In ISKCON, our sannyasis and brahmacaris are on the transcendental platform, and it does not disturb them to watch youg women perform Indian dance
on stage or to see attractive women dancing in front of the Sankirtana procession. So why would they be bothered by listening to a detached, senior vaisnavi explain the phlosophy of the Bhagavatam?

I would not go so far as to say that the GBC is offending Srila Prabhupada by their experiment to have women manage externally. I believe they are just a bit overly concerned with comments about the leadership being gender biased.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on May 9th, 2011
165 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
Since when it is something new for a woman to have a brahmana varna? Actually, according to Manu-smriti, the varna of a child depends as much on mother’s varna as on father’s. A child born of brahmana man and a brahmana woman is known as a brahmana by birth. And how do you know what is the varna of the devotee giving class? How would you compare a class given by a sudra or vaishya man to that given by a brahmana woman? Whatever happened to judging things by quality and not by the label?

In my opinion it is ludicrous to argue that when a lady gives a class in the temple when brahmacaris and sannyasis are present, it is some sort of unwholesome male/female association. How about reading teachings of Queen Kunti? Should we restrict that book to women and householders only?

And if the sannyasis and brahmacaris do not want to listen to a class given by a lady, they can get up and leave to chant a few rounds of japa instead. Nobody is forcing them to stay.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 9th, 2011
166 krishna-kirti

Akruranath Prabhu wrote:

If there are sannyasis who feel that their minds will be agitated by attending a morning Bhagavatam class given by a woman, they do not have to attend that particular class. I suspect, though. that most sannyasis in ISKCON would be very inspired by the classes given by Urmila or Laxmimoni or many other highly qualified lady disciples of Srila Prabhupada.

What if the sannyasi happened to be Shri Chaitanya Mahapbrahu? Would He attend Mataji Urmila’s or Mataji Laxmimoni’s class? Would He be pleased with other sannyasis attending their classes?

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 10th, 2011
167 Unregistered

In #137 Visakha Priya Mataji said:

Dear Bhaktilata,
Hare Krsna. Thank you for your questions. I made a few points in the three comments I sent for this thread, and neither you nor your supporters were able or willing to refute them. Rather, you seem to be bent on clutching at straws and arguing ad nauseam without listening to other devotees—or aspiring devotees’ realizations based on guru, sadhu, and sastra. Therefore, I see no reason to exert myself further. My purpose of purifying myself of the first offense to the holy names has been achieved, and I have no more reason to maintain any connection with the ongoing discussion. Please excuse me. May this find you well. Your servant, Visakha Priya dasi

Dear Mataji,

Hare Krsna. I am sorry if I have offended you, it was not my intention. I only have limited time and cannot answer each and every text or point made. In fact I don’t even read comments from a certain verbose person as I do have a life and priorities to accomplish. As others have noted and appreciated I just stay focused on my main point and do not allow myself to be diverted elsewhere as others are. I will continue to stay focused because a distracted mind cannot accomplish anything. I do see that Sita Mataji did address many points including yours. But you never responded to her question “where does Krsna recommend demigod worship?” I will however address a point you make in a separate comment(s).

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Bhaktilata devi dasi

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
168 Unregistered

In #92 Vishakha Priya Mataji said:

“Bhagavad-gita, in the third chapter, Krsna advises that one should worship the demigods, and in later chapters He says that less intelligent persons worship the demigods and that we should just worship Him. So, if somebody gets stuck on the third chapter, what can be done?

I assume, perhaps wrongly, that you mention this to undermine what Siddha Krsna Dasa said in #72

In the Gita 3rd chapter we find that Lord Krsna instructs Arjuna that even if a person like Maharaja Janaka became liberated they still perform their prescribed duty just as an example to teach others, and in fact Lord Krsna says that the same applies to Him.

Though Sita Mataji has asked you in #140 where Krsna recommended demigod worship you never responded. We will however take up this point. In Bhagavad-gita 3.9-12 Krsna says:

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

In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Visnu, and blessed them by saying, “Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.”

The demigods, being pleased by sacrifices, will also please you, and thus, by cooperation between men and demigods, prosperity will reign for all.

In charge of the various necessities of life, the demigods, being satisfied by the performance of yajna [sacrifice], will supply all necessities to you. But he who enjoys such gifts without offering them to the demigods in return is certainly a thief.

At least when I read this I do not see that Lord Krsna is recommending demigod worship, rather He is insisting that ”Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed” not demigod worship.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
169 Unregistered

Dear Visakha Priya Mataji,

Let us continue. It seems to Sita Mataji and myself as well that you have made this statement “stuck on the third chapter” as an attempt to undermine Lord Krsna’s instruction in BG 3.9 that performing prescribed duties for the satisfaction of Lord Visnu is actually yajna – sacrifice. And that when Krsna gave the example of Janaka Maharaja as a liberated person who still performed his prescribed duties that this is all beginner stuff and all negated in later chapters such as when Krsna states in BG 18.66

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

However this is not what my gurumaharaja Srila Prabhupada has taught me. In short this is what Srila Prabhupada has taught. Arjuna didn’t want to perform his prescribed duty as a kshatriya but rather wanted to act as a brahmana and renounce fighting. The rest of the Gita is Lord Krsna’s teaching Arjuna not to follow his prescribed duty for material reasons but to do it simply to please the Lord. Arjuna was following the purusarthas of dharma, artha, kama and moksha, that is dharma was performed for acquiring artha-wealth with which one could then enjoy kama-sense gratification. But Krsna was instructing Arjuna in a new program of dharma, moksha, bhakti. That is that Arjuna should perform his dharma - prescribed duties in order to please Krsna, that by doing so he would become brahma bhuta free from all material designations that is achieve moksa, and from such position be able to engage in bhakti. Then in the 18th chapter the Lord reiterates this program by briefly describing Varna ashrama Dharma in BG 18.40-44. Then in BG 18.45-46 Lord Krsna explains Daivi Varnasrama Dharma:

“By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done. By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.”

continued..

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
170 Unregistered

part 2

In the purport of BG 18.46 Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Everyone should think that he is engaged in a particular type of occupation by Hrsikesa, the master of the senses. And by the result of the work in which one is engaged, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, should be worshiped. If one thinks always in this way, in full Krsna consciousness, then, by the grace of the Lord, he becomes fully aware of everything. That is the perfection of life.”

So here the Lord is reiterating what he said in the 3rd chapter that by performing one’s prescribed duties for the satisfaction of the Lord one will achieve perfection. It is not just a third chapter thing as some people erroneously like to believe.

Then in BG 18.47 Krsna repeats an instruction that he gave in BG 3.35

“It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.” BG 18.47

Further more in BG 18.48 the Lord admonishes us not to give up our prescribed duty if it is faulty:

“Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.”

This is also a reiteration of an instruction from BG 2.47 “and never be attached to not doing your duty.”

But then in BG 18.66 the Lord says:

“Abandon all varieties of religion [dharma] and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

Does this contradict the instructions in the 3rd chapter what to speak about those in the 18th chapter wherein the Lord directly explains that one must follow one’s sva-dharma as an offering to Him. Is He now saying that one doesn’t have to follow his prescribe duties at all, and on top of that there will be no sin?

No it does not. To understand this we must first note that Gita is the preliminary study to the Bhagavatam which then leads to the study of the Caitanya Caritamrta.

continued…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
171 Unregistered

Part 3

The type of dharma that Lord Krsna is telling Arjuna to give up is explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.2 dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘traCompletely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated.

So Lord Krsna is telling Arjuna to give up all materially motivated dharma, dharma that is striving to gain artha and then kama. This is the kind of materially motivated dharma to be rejected. But dharma which is done to please the Lord is desirable. Dharma which leads to cessation of material identification (moksa) and by which we worship and please the Lord (bhakti) is wanted.

This is verified in Vysadeva:

“All occupational engagements are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, according to sages, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.9

And just incase some one says “hey Prabhu don’t get stuck on the 1st canto” this instruction of performing one’s prescribed duty for the pleasure of the Lord is repeated many times including the 11th canto:

“King Nimi said: O great sages, please speak to us about the process of karma-yoga. Purified by this process of dedicating one’s practical work to the Supreme, a person can very quickly free himself from all material activities, even in this life, and thus enjoy pure life on the transcendental platform.” SB 11.3.41

We find the same teaching repeated in the Isavasya Upanishad which is from the Vajasaneyi Samhita of the Shukla Yajur Veda

“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”

“One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.”
Isopanishad 1-2

continued…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
172 Unregistered

Part 4

In his commentary on these two verses Madhvacarya explains that it means we must perform our prescribed duties to please the Lord. Srila Prabhupada says the same in his commentary:

“The instructions of Sri Isopanisad are more elaborately explained in the Bhagavad-gita, sometimes called the Gitopanisad, the cream of all the Upanisads. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.9-16) the Personality of Godhead says that one cannot attain the state of naiskarmya, or akarma, without executing the prescribed duties mentioned in the Vedic literature. This literature can regulate the working energy of a human being in such a way that he can gradually realize the authority of the Supreme Being. When he realizes the authority of the Personality of Godhead-Vasudeva, or Krsna-it is to be understood that he has attained the stage of positive knowledge. In this purified stage the modes of nature-namely goodness, passion and ignorance-cannot act, and he is able to work on the basis of naiskarmya. Such work does not bind one to the cycle of birth and death.

Unless someone is performing the nine process of devotional service sravanam, kirtanam, etc 24 hours/day, 365 days/year they will have to engage with the material energy, then to make advancement and stay pure they must engage in Daivi Varnashrama dharma as described in these verses quoted above and elsewhere and which was personally practiced by Arjuna and mahatmas like Janakaraja. Who in ISKCON is 24 hours/day engaged in those 9 processes? Name me even one person? And it is because of this inability of the devotees to follow the 9 processes, as clearly described in Feb 14, 1977 room conversation in Mayapura (“they can’t even chant their 16 rounds” “the sannyasis are falling down”) that Srila Prabhupada was adamant about pushing Daivi Varnashrama Dharma.

To conclude a woman who performs her prescribed duty of Stri-dharma for the pleasure of the Lord will get exactly the same result as Arjuna did when he performed his prescribed duties as kshatriya to please Krsna. When it is done to please the Lord it is no longer a cheating dharma meant to achieve a material result (artha and kama) but rather spiritual devotional service in full Krsna consciousness for the pleasure of the Lord. Stri dharma practiced in this way is not material dharma as Urmila dd wrongly states in #76.

yhs

Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 12th, 2011
173 krishna-kirti

Mataji Bhaktilata has nicely summarized the rationale for following the social norms of varnasrama-dharma, and her insight bears repeating:

Unless someone is performing the nine process of devotional service sravanam, kirtanam, etc 24 hours/day, 365 days/year they will have to engage with the material energy, then to make advancement and stay pure they must engage in Daivi Varnashrama dharma as described in these verses quoted above and elsewhere and which was personally practiced by Arjuna and mahatmas like Janakaraja. Who in ISKCON is 24 hours/day engaged in those 9 processes? Name me even one person? And it is because of this inability of the devotees to follow the 9 processes, as clearly described in Feb 14, 1977 room conversation in Mayapura (“they can’t even chant their 16 rounds” “the sannyasis are falling down”) that Srila Prabhupada was adamant about pushing Daivi Varnashrama Dharma.

Will the “pure devotees” amongst us please stand up?

A key difference between Mataji Bhaktilata’s idea of varnashram and those who disagree with her is that Mataji believes that varnashram is meant first and foremost to keep the sexes segregated. Her opponents believe otherwise.

So these regulative principles are there. So what is, what is the big plan behind these regulative principles? The big plan is: here is the attraction, puàsaù striyä mithuné-bhävam—to cut down this attraction between male and female. This is the big plan. Otherwise there is no need of the varëäçrama. Varnäçrama means to train the candidates gradually to become free from this entanglement of man and woman. This is the basic principle. (Lecture, SB 5.5.8, Vrindavan 30 Oct 1976)

Therefore Mataji Bhaktilata is correct in insisting that whatever sex one happens to be should play a significant role in determining who should sit on the vyasasana before the public and who should not. Mataji Urmila, or any other advanced lady, may be full of wisdom and knowledge. However, that wisdom is always transmitted within a society (the “S” in ISKCON), and, if the varnashram principle of separation of the sexes is abandoned (or, in our case, never taken up society-wide), we have to pay the price of having widespread, perpetual illicit sex in our society.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 12th, 2011
174 Kesava Krsna dasa

Hare Krishna all,

If the major concern is about whether Urmila Mataji “preached” while giving class to a large male contingent consisting of sannyasis, gurus and brahmacaris, then, are we all agreed that she didn’t?

Is there any mention of her telling her male counterparts to ”Become Krishna conscious now…No falling down… Follow those regs?” No. But she did expand on her area of expertise and concern for children’s education. Does this constitute preaching? Or did she share her realizations and concerns on this matter?

For instance, when certain disciples gave class in front of Srila Prabhupada, or when sometimes disciples give class of front of their gurus, can we ever say that these disciples “preach” or “preached” to their spiritual masters? We think not. It would be an offence to do so. But they did share or express their realizations and perhaps some concerns or goals.

Isn’t this more the mood that Urmila Mataji had adopted while giving class? If so, then she did not really “preach” in the true sense of the term. Yes, she may have been trying to convince of the importance of child education, which is a goal to achieve. But was she “preaching” so as to convince the males to become generally more Krishna conscious and the like?

If she didn’t “preach” in the true sense of the term, can it be said that she overstepped her female boundaries as has been alleged?

It appears from observation that maybe she didn’t, in which case, a large part of this discussion, although very well intended, could be a little misdirected.

This all I will say on the matter.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on May 12th, 2011
175 Unregistered

excerpts from a discussion with Sivarama Swami, Feb. 28, 2011:
“Srinivasa Acarya… that is one of the arguments against that there is no examples of conditioned souls, ordinary vaishnavas, women vaishnavas, giving diksha, only liberated souls, eternally liberated souls (devotee says, “like Jahnava Ma”). There’s no example of , you know, ordinary shmos like me giving diksha.
“Part of it is because Vedic culture means that women should be protected and be given shelter. Particularly when you have women who actually aren’t even married giving (initiation?) but being in a position of giving shelter, especially that type of shelter, and taking sort of that type of responsibility… socially (you have?) a complex situation, incompatible. It can be done, but then you have to be somewhat extra ordinary.”
“There’s this argument of need, you know that theres a need for women to be gurus. I don’t… I mean like I preach… I’ve never come across that need. All the (although) people may ask the question, but if there’s strictly a need in ISKCON, then there’s a need to see normal men and women living a normal life as grhasthas without divorcing, without fighting, giving nice protection to their children. That’s a real need in terms of society. Whether, you know, we have 1, 2, 3, 4 women gurus, I don’t think it’s going to change the face of ISKCON. But if we could actually have real, secure and balanced family life it would really change the face of ISKCON. … that’s a real societal need….”
available in audio at http://tinyurl.com/3ztt42h

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 13th, 2011
176 krishna-kirti

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Although it is correct that the King is a great devotee, he is still to be considered a venomous snake. Similarly, even though a woman be made of wood, one becomes agitated simply by touching her form.

PURPORT

Even though a woman be made of wood or stone, she becomes attractive when decorated. One becomes sexually agitated even by touching the form. Therefore one should not trust his mind, which is so fickle that it can give way to enemies at any moment. The mind is always accompanied by six enemies — namely, kama, krodha, mada, moha, matsarya and bhaya — that is, lust, anger, intoxication, illusion, envy and fear. Although the mind may be merged in spiritual consciousness, one should always be very careful in dealing with it, just as one is careful in dealing with a snake. One should never think that his mind is trained and that he can do whatever he likes. One interested in spiritual life should always engage his mind in the service of the Lord so that the enemies of the mind, who always accompany the mind, will be subdued. If the mind is not engaged in Krsna consciousness at every moment, there is a chance that it will give way to its enemies. In this way we become victims of the mind.

Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra engages the mind at the lotus feet of Krsna constantly; thus the mind’s enemies do not have a chance to strike. Following Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s example in these verses, we should be very careful in dealing with the mind, which should not be indulged in any circumstance. Once we indulge the mind, it can create havoc in this life, even though we may be spiritually advanced. The mind is specifically agitated through the association of materialistic men and women. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, through His personal behavior, warns everyone to avoid meeting a materialistic person or a woman.

CC Madhya 11.10 trans. + purport

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 13th, 2011
177 Unregistered

Kulapavana wrote:

Mother Sitadasi,
Since when it is something new for a woman to have a brahmana varna?

My husband formally addressed the topic of women and varna approximately 15 years ago in response to a paper written by Urmila devi dasi, to whom Shyamasundara Prabhu, our family’s friend and advisor, also wrote a public letter of which I quote from:

“Shyamasundara Dasa: Women do not have varna

This is a common misconception. Women are a class onto themselves and that class is “excluded from certain social things” as someone put it. In the following verse women as a class are segregated from the varnas.

“O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaisyas and sudras - can attain the supreme destination.” Gita 9.32

Furthermore in Srimad-Bhagavatam 7th canto chapter 11, Narada Muni describes the duties of the four varnas and then separately describes the duties of the women class thus it is obvious that women are a separate class.” (see SB 7.11 Introduction)

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 14th, 2011
178 Unregistered

continuation from Shyamasundara Dasa’s letter:
Varna defined
Varna, as explained by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita 4.13 is determined by two things guna - quality and karma - work, not guna alone.

A man (not woman) is known as brahmana if he is dominated by sattva gunaand is trained up and performs the work of a brahmana. In the case of Jabali Satyakama, Gautama could ascertain that the boy was dominated by sattva gunabecause he was truthful so Gautama then accepted him as a student to train him how to perform the work (karma) of a Brahmana. Simply having the quality of sattva-guna though necessary was not sufficient to make Jabali Satyakama a brahmana, he became one only after he was accepted–initiated by investiture with sacred thread (upanayanam) — and trained to become a brahmana, and then performed the work of a brahmana.

Certainly it is self-evident that women have different gunas, but having guna alone is not a necessary and sufficient condition for being in a varna, there must also be the associated karma—actions to be performed by members of that varna.

According to the Vedic literature such as the Bhagavad-gita all things, movable and immovable are governed by the tri-gunas. In Bhagavad-gita chapters 7,14, 17 and 18 the tri-gunasare vividly described and various entities are divided into one of these gunas—food, speech, charity, etc. Among animals monkeys are said to be in tamas, lions in rajas, and cows in sattva guna. Because bulls are in sattva guna does this mean that bulls are Brahmanas? No it does not. They may be considered to be sattvik among animals and pure in many respects but they are not engaged in brahminical activities-karma (yajana, yaajana, pathana paathana, dhana, pratigrha) or display other characteristics such as knowledge or wisdom mentioned in sastra regarding brahmanas.

Unlike men, for whom there is a different karma according to their different guna, in the case of all women, irrespective of their guna, there is the same karma. And what is that karma? It is stri-dharma as described by Naradamuni in SB 7.11-25-29. “

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 14th, 2011
179 Unregistered

Kulapavana wrote:

Actually, according to Manu-smriti, the varna of a child depends as much on mother’s varna as on father’s. A child born of brahmana man and a brahmana woman is known as a brahmana by birth.

continuation of Shyamasundara Prabhu’s letter:
“Manu objects to pratiloma and anuloma marriages between women of one “varna”and men of other varnas. We shall now reconcile this statement with the apparent contradiction that women have no varna and are a class onto themselves.

Though she has no varna of her own a woman adopts the varna of her male guardian, by taking the vows of her guardian. In the case of a wife she takes the vows of her husband (see SB 7.11.25).

This is confirmed by Srila Prabhupada who said that the woman is called a brahmani if her husband is a brahmana (see RC- August 2, 1976, New Mayapur, quoted in next post)

How is it that if a woman has no varna how can there be inter-varna marriage say between a Brahmana girl and Ksatriya man. The daughter by natural imitation of her mother will also follow the vows of her father’s varna. Hence, she will be known as a member of the varnaoccupied by her father. In the case of Devahuti, though born in a royal family, she was attracted to marry a rsi, this would indicate that though having a Ksatriyafather she was dominated by sattva gunaand able to successfully follow the vows of her husband. Also she was able to raise herself by performance of severe austerities and thus make her marriage with her Brahmanahusband a success. Still Devahuti and other women mentioned in Vedic literature are only members of a varnaby virtue of the varnaoccupied by their male guardian–father, husband and eventually son.

There is no question of a woman being a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya on her own merit no matter what her guna may be. As previously stated membership in a varna is dictated not only by guna but also by karma. Both must be present. And for woman her karma is clearly defined in SB 7.11.25-29. The closest varna for a woman is that of Sudra.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 14th, 2011
180 Unregistered

cont…

“Prabhupada: In, actually, in Bengal, Bengal has lost its original culture. In other provinces the brahmana class, they are keeping very strictly the original culture. Even a brahmana would not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife, because woman is considered sudra. The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra. So therefore a strict brahmana does not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife. Still there are in U.P. The wife will arrange for cooking, and he’ll sit down and cook dal, capatis. Then he will eat, and whatever remains, that is there, that will be taken by her. But he will not take foodstuff cooked by his wife even.” (Room Conversation—August 2, 1976, New Mayapur)

Woman can be designated as sudra by a comparison of the nature of the karma of both of them namely to “serve members of higher varna” and in case of woman to serve husband, father, sons, etc. So for both woman and sudrathe main karma is service to others. However, even though woman could be termed equivalent to sudra, she is a class onto herself and a woman married to a sudraman will also serve him according to stri-dharma.

From this position a woman can achieve the highest perfection of life by offering the service she performs to her husband as an offering to Krsna. Krsna also confirms her potential for achieving supreme perfection in Gita 3.9, 9.32 and 18.45-47
A brahmani cannot perform the duties of a brahmana
Manu further indicates that a woman cannot be a brahmana in her own right and perform the duties of a brahmanaby banning women from performing agni-hotra. This rule tells us that even then as now their were rascal, heretical women who thought themselves brahmanas in their own right. The fact that he denied women from performing agnihotra indicates that the wife of a brahmana is given the title brahmani out of respect but she cannot perform the occupation of an actual brahmana.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 14th, 2011
181 Unregistered

cont…

“An unmarried girl, a youthful matron, an unread brahmana, one of small learning, one afflicted with disease, or uninitiated with the sacred thread must not perform the Agnihotra homa. For having cast such libations in the fire, these (unmarried girl, a youthful matron, etc.) shall go to hell, together with the person on whose behalf they do such fire-offerings; hence (only) a Brahmana well versed in the Vedas and in the art of performing such fire-offerings, shall act as a Hota (that is, offerer of the libation, or doer of the fire-offering.)” (Manu 11.36–37)

end of Shyamasundara’s letter.

In addition, I also submit the following reference:

Woman reporter: Where do women fit into these four classes?

Prabhupada: That I already explained. Women’s position is subordinate to man. So if the man is first-class, the woman is first-class. If the man is second-class, the woman is second-class. If the man is third-class, the woman is third-class. In this… Because woman is meant for assisting man, so the woman becomes suitable according to the man, her husband.(Television Interview, Chicago, July 9, 1975)

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 14th, 2011
182 Akruranatha

Yesterday my morning Bhagavatam study group read verse 4.7.44, in which the Vidyadharas glorified the hearing and chanting about the transcendental activities of Lord Vishnu. In the Purport, Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“…The way to get out of illusory maya is to engage in the topics of Krsna. Lord Caitanya advocated a process whereby everyone may remain in his present position without change but simply hear from the proper authoritative sources about Krishna. He advised, ‘All of you become spiritual masters. Your duty is simply to talk to whomever you meet of Krsna or of the instructions given by Krsna.’ The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is operating for this purpose. We do not ask anyone to first change his position and then come to us. Instead, we invite everyone to come with us and simply chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, because we know that if one simply chants and hears the topics of Krsna, one’s life will change; he will see a new light, and his life will be successful.”

We were discussing, was Srila Prabhupada paraphrasing the verse spoken by Lord Brahma (S.B. 10.14.3) (”sthane-sthithah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir”)?:

“Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.”

When Lord Brahma said “remaining situated in their established social positions”, he evidently referred to the positions according to varna and asrama in a society that was still functioning according to the Aryan or Vedic mode of social organization.

But when Srila Prabhupada wrote, “We do not ask anyone to first change his position and then come to us”, did he mean something broader?

Of course they do not have to externally become sannyasis, but how quickly do they have to externally adopt cultural and social roles that seem foreign and anachronistic to modern people of different countries?

If they first become attached to hearing and chanting, they will quickly become righteous, well-behaved people, inside and out. But I still do not think it bad behavior for a woman to give Bhagavatam class.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 14th, 2011
183 Akruranatha

Yes, KrishnaKirti Prabhu, I agree with your sentiment in comment #166 that we should be guided in our discussion by trying to understand the desires of the Lord and serving those desires.

Therefore, it is a serious discussion and because we are all thinking along these lines, even though we may not have reached the same conclusion, it is really Krishna katha, and is very beneficial. We are not trying to prevail for one party or side, but we are all on the same side: how to please Srila Prabhupada, Sri Sri Radha-Mahava, and Panca Tattva?

I also appreciate the comments of Bhaktilata (167-172). It is important that we discuss Bhagavad-gita in this way and to examine the Lord’s instructions about how we must not abandon our own duties to do those of another.

Of course those duties are not determined exactly by birth in a particular family, but by qualities and the work one is assigned by superior arrangement. The goal is not to externally change our type of work (though naturally our duties change from childhood to youth to old age as we go through different asramas), but to work as we are obligated while dedicating all our actions, words, thoughts, to Krishna.

I think I am in pretty much full agreement with Bhaktilata on this, and I am happy that this discussion has prompted us to examine these teaching of Krishna in Bhagavad-gita. It is a fact that Lord Krishna did not request Arjuna to renounce his social position as a grhastha and a member of the royal order, but on the contrary warned him not to renounce the duties pertaining to that position (all the while explaining that material actions are carried out by nature, and that the soul is transcendental, but that pure devotional service is also transcendental).

I agree that in the 1960s and 1970s many of us may have enthusiastically dropped out of “karmi society” to live as monastics in ISKCON asramas, sometimes failing to realize that to actually transform ourselves from “karmis” to “bhaktas” requires more than an external change of duties: it requires a change of the heart, from considering ourselves doers and controllers and enjoyers of material things, to understanding we are humble servants of Krishna. Meanwhile we may (nay, should) remain responsible, dutiful members of society according to our position.

Doesn’t that mean, though, that we ought to be able to “blend in” better with the external society than we sometimes did in the past? That is, rather than externally adopt customs…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 14th, 2011
184 Akruranatha

Rather than adopt customs that may seem exotic or unusual to modern people, should we not just be very strict about the four regs and attached to hearing and chanting, while otherwise externally appearing to be very decent, intelligent, productive, happy citizens?

Srila Prabhupada sometimes said we do not have to create a society for vegetarianism, because if we make people into devotees then automatically they will be vegetarians.

Might it not be the same that good devotees will automatically become good, breadwinning, honorable husbands, and good, faithful, chaste wives; will we earn the stereotype of being caring, thoughtful parents who know how to look after the highest best interests of our sons and daughters?

In the ’60s and ’70s, we were “cult”-like. That is, we created an insular Hare Krishna society that was sharply separated from the economic and social life of the host countries in which we lived. People thought of us as strange and weird, and that was fine with us, because we wanted to be as different from those members of “demonic” civilization as possible. To join the Hare Krishnas required one to “jump over” a vast gap that separated temple devotees from the “karmis”. Trousers and shirts were described as “karmi clothes,” and working in an office or factory was described as having a “karmi job”.

There was some value in such sharp divisions, and there is still value in wearing the uniform of Vaisnavas (to remind ourselves and others of our dedication), and in living a monastic life in which one can be dedicated to direct service 24/7.

But for one who is a householder and not occupied as a brahmana or full-time teacher of spiritual knowledge, one can (nay, should) perform one’s occupational duties, earn an honest living, be respected as a capable worker and good citizen who has a happy, successful life hearing and chanting about Krishna and (due to experiencing a higher taste) being unattracted to vices like illicit sex and intoxication.

And yes, our culture does demand that men not mix intimately with women or be alone with women who are not their wives. It is just a decent, healthy thing, that everyone can appreciate.

But to make a radical, external distinction in social status that leaves our daughters feeling “less than”, undervalued, discouraged from using their talents, would make us appear aligned with reactionary forces, and would be disastrous for preaching.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 14th, 2011
185 Akruranatha

I also worry that we sometimes have not done the best job of distinguishing high ideals of behavior from minimum requirements. Most people in any society are neither heroes nor criminals but occupy a middle ground as decent, respectable people.

Devotees who have sincerely dedicated themselves to regular devotional service of hearing and chanting about Krishna are all heroes in a sense. They are like green mangoes: very soon their anarthas will be stopped and they will become glorious saints.

Still, many devotees have expressed to me feelings of guilt and shame at not having lived up to higher expectations, and even a sense of being judged and found wanting, disrespected by fellow members of the Hare Krishna movement.

I remember Locacananda Prabhu saying in another thread somewhere (I forget what the exact topic was or whom he was talking to), that it is better to be strict with ourselves but tolerant with others. It was a wise observation.

Not that we should tolerate socially disruptive or criminal behavior (every society has to draw lines to prohibit and disapprove of antisocial behavior in various ways), but we should be generous and charitable to our fellow devotees and forgiving of minor flaws and weaknesses that do not destroy the fabric of society.

(I hope most people can forgive me my “verbosity”. I cannot seem to write sharp, concise arguments: I want to be garrulous and conversational, friendly and informal. It’s Krsna katha.)

In deciding some of these cultural issues, we have to think about these questions. How high do we set the bar of minimum acceptable behavior? Which cultural observances should we regard as minimum standards? Which as acceptable personal choices? How tolerant and respectful will we be of different opinions?

I am not sure this directly bears on the issue of women giving class. I remain convinced that properly glorifying the Bhagavatam is an activity that is welcome for everyone, without distinction. (Someone raised the issue above, “Would we allow children to do it?” I would answer, “Certainly, if they can do it well. And many of them can!”)

But it seems related to the whole question of appropriate duties for women. What if a woman devotee is a judge, or a college professor, or doctor? Isn’t that a good thing, all other things being equal? Should we discourage such devotees? If so, *why* should we? Do we think it will reduce illicit sex? Do we think it will make better, happier devotees?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 14th, 2011
186 Unregistered

Amarshah said in #139 http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-14184

I will like to ask some question to all opposing her here. When you call some one Mataji do you not consider her mataji? Mataji = Mother, it is absolutely pervert to see sexual bias when you consider her as mother. I learnt basics of my life from my mother and then higher understanding through Mother Urmila, I wonder what level people want here to seat some one on Vyasasana more then mother.

To answer this Maharaja Yayati said:

matra svasra duhitra va
naviviktasano bhavet
balavan indriya-gramo
vidvamsam api karsati

“One should not allow oneself to sit on the same seat even with one’s own mother, sister or daughter, for the senses are so strong that even though one is very advanced in knowledge, he may be attracted by sex.”

Srimad Bhagavatam 9.19.17

Comment posted by Mohana Mohini dd on May 17th, 2011
187 Unregistered

In #173 Krishna-kirti said:

A key difference between Mataji Bhaktilata’s idea of varnashram and those who disagree with her is that Mataji believes that varnashram is meant first and foremost to keep the sexes segregated. Her opponents believe otherwise.

Actually I don’t, I have been taught by my gurumaharaja Srila Prabhupada that keeping the sexes apart is not the objective of VAD, becoming Krsna Conscious is. That being said, keeping the sexes apart is useful for becoming Krsna Conscious.

Somehow this comment thread has been changed to one more concerned about sexual agitation of the listeners if a woman gives class. I never said any such thing, nor am I pushing this point. However, I am not averse to segregation of the sexes, and I agree with Tungavidya Mataji’s comment #127 that it is better if women preach to women and men to men.

But, some are implying that women should never give class if men are in the audience. But, if that is so then what are to we make of this quote that I originally put in #4 http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-13908 which started this whole chain of comments and making this the most commented text on Dandavatas http://www.dandavats.com/?page_id=2865

“If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.” Letter to Jayagovinda Feb 8, 1968

This seems to imply that if there are no qualified men present then a woman can lecture to men. Though I personally was not present in a class given by ladies during Prabhupada’s time I have heard that it did happen.

Mother Jahnava Devi, the consort of Lord Nityananda, Who was in the category of Laxmi-tattva, gave lectures to highly qualified male bodied devotees at the first Gauraprnima festival because she was even more qualified than they were. Still She maintained proper decorum and lectured from behind a screen.

Continued…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 17th, 2011
188 Unregistered

part 2

Also consider the following hypothetical situation: suppose a married couple who have been devotees for 25years opens up a preaching center and after a 1-2 years they have made 20 devotees and some are even initiated. The husband gives the classes to the new male devotees and to the congregation on Sundays while his wife teaches the new girls who come. But what happens if the husband is sick or for some reason unable to give class to the new bhaktas and bhaktins or congregation? Should his wife who has been a devotee for 25 years and really knows the philosophy give the classes or should Krsna Dasa who was initiated 6 months ago give the classes? To me this is a clear-cut situation where there is no qualified man available so the woman should give class.

My points that I made in comments #4 & 5

http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-13908

are simple. When Urmila dd gave the class in Mayapura there were boat loads of men much more qualified than her to give class, thus if Urmila ddhonors the instructions of Srila Prabhupada she should not have given class. The other point I made was that we should only listen to lectures of sannyasis/grhastas/brahmacari/stris who are following their respective dharma.
.
|

One should be a living example of what one is preaching. So when it comes to women “preachers” which ones are actually following their stri dharma?

Most senior western women in ISKCON don’t even know what Stri-dharma is what to speak of practice it. Why should we listen to them?

I still maintain this and will get into this more in a separate text.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 17th, 2011
189 Unregistered

In #106 Visakha Priya Mataji wrote:

“Reading through the posts concerning Urmila devi’s class, I have observed that some persons appear to be convinced that Urmila is not following the instructions of her spiritual master and that therefore we should not hear from her.

Let us consider the following statements by Srila Prabhupada about what the Stri dharma of a woman is when her husband becomes a vanaprastha and then you tell me what you think.

There is NO question of separation between husband and wife until the time when the husband takes sannyasa. At that time the wife cannot remain with the husband. Even in vanaprastha stage, or retired life, the wife remains with the husband, but without any sex relations.” Srila Prabhupada Letter to Himavati, 24/1/69

“The chaste wife’s duty is to keep her husband pleased in householder life in all respects, and when the husband retires from family life, she is to go to the forest and adopt the life of vanaprastha, or vana-vasi. At that time the wife is to follow her husband and take care of him, just as she took care of him in householder life.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.20

Just as in the vanaprastha stage the wife follows the husband, …” Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.34

“The vanaprastha stage is exactly like this. Although the wife remains with the husband, she undergoes severe austerities and penances so that although both husband and wife live together, there is no question of sex. In this way both husband and wife can live together perpetually.Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.28.44

Now compare this with the following quote from Urmila dd’s diksha guru nomination letter dated September 2003.

“3. Should not be involved in any abnormal personal situation. An example of such a situation would be a disrupted or anomalous family life which could distract a guru from his guru duties or otherwise prove a disturbance to him or his followers.”

“My situation has been stable for some time. I’m living separated from husband as vanaprastha since 1996; we have a legal separation agreement. I’m under the authority of our sons and son-in-law. I will soon have own cabin for residence.”

Continued…

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 17th, 2011
190 Unregistered

Part 2

Urmila dd having separated from her husband while he is still alive is exactly opposite of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for his female disciples when their husband’s become vanaprasthas. Just I would not listen to a “Sannyasi” living with his wife; there is no use in listening to a so-called lady vanaprastha who has separated herself from her husband. Now Visakha Priya Mataji I hope you can now understand what I mean when I say that our ladies do not even know what Stri dharma is let alone follow it, and that is why we should not listen to those who have disobeyed the clear instructions of Srila Prabhupada in the matter of following Stri-dharma.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 17th, 2011
191 krishna-kirti

Quoting me, Mataji Bhaktilata offers this clarification of her position:

In #173 Krishna-kirti said:

“A key difference between Mataji Bhaktilata’s idea of varnashram and those who disagree with her is that Mataji believes that varnashram is meant first and foremost to keep the sexes segregated. Her opponents believe otherwise.”

Actually I don’t, I have been taught by my gurumaharaja Srila Prabhupada that keeping the sexes apart is not the objective of VAD, becoming Krsna Conscious is. That being said, keeping the sexes apart is useful for becoming Krsna Conscious.

Very interesting! I stand corrected as to your actual views, which appears to take the position that keeping the sexes separated is useful but not the objective of VAD. But the problem with this view is that, obviously, one can become KC without VAD. That would explain why SP makes this statement:

So these regulative principles are there. So what is, what is the big plan behind these regulative principles? The big plan is: here is the attraction, puàsaù striyä mithuné-bhävam—to cut down this attraction between male and female. This is the big plan. Otherwise there is no need of the varëäçrama. Varnäçrama means to train the candidates gradually to become free from this entanglement of man and woman. This is the basic principle. (Lecture, SB 5.5.8, Vrindavan 30 Oct 1976)

This would make keeping the sexes separate an essential principle of VAD, meaning that VAD is as meaningless without it in the same way that fire is meaningless without heat and light. So, if we are going to practice VAD, then keeping the sexes separate is why we are practicing it.

We are certain that Lord Chaitanya as a sannyasi would not have attended a class given by a lady devotee, however pure she may have been. So it is best that sannyasis and brahmacharis shouldn’t attend bhagavatam classes given by female devotees, however expert they may be. Grihasthas would probably do well to follow suit.

The problem with just quoting Srila Prabhupada without also referring to the tradition he represents is that time-place-and-circumstance instructions are easily misunderstood as universally applicable when they are not. For example, all-female book dist. parties may have been useful for spreading Krishna consciousness, but they weren’t without risks and actual irregularities. Women were exploited, got pregnant, etc. on some of those parties.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 18th, 2011
192 krishna-kirti

Regarding Mataji Bhaktilata’s hypothetical circumstance in comment #188. I agree with her point that in such circumstances it is best for the woman to give class. I will note further that this is a circumstance in which we DO NOT exist within a proper, Krishna conscious society. The real problem, I believe, is when we try to make such time, place, and circumstance arrangements into universal, normative social objectives. This happens chiefly on account of a socially progressive tendency to separate Srila Prabhupada from the tradition he represents. The neglect of tradition is a liberal vice.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 18th, 2011
193 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
The concept that women do not have a varna independent of the husband is neither Vedic, nor something supported by Srila Prabhupada.

In Krsna Book, Chapter 77, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“Romaharsana Suta had been given the position of a brahmana, but he had not been born in the family of a brahmana; he had been born in a pratiloma family. According to the Vedic concept, there are two kinds of mixed family heritage. They are called anuloma and pratiloma. When a male is united with a female of a lower caste, the offspring is called anuloma; but when a male unites with a woman of a higher caste, the offspring is called pratiloma. Romaharsana Suta belonged to a pratiloma family because his father was a ksatriya and his mother a brahmana.”

Thus your arguments above are not valid.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 18th, 2011
194 Campaka

Dear Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis,

I wanted to draw your attention to a blog post by a friend of mine which complements and expands on the subject of Mother Urmila’s class. I attended gurukula with the blog’s author, Dwija, for much of my childhood. She is a practicing Catholic and a mother of four children who she is trying to raise in a wholesome God conscious way. She aptly describes a mother’s need for a welcoming, loving environment at the temple (or church). I hope you appreciate her blog as much as I did. http://houseunseen.blogspot.co.....child.html

Please dear devotees, let’s extend a warm welcome to all jivas regardless of their bodies. Be kind to mothers and their children. These children are our hope for a better world.

Your servant,
Campakalata devi dasi

Comment posted by Campaka on May 19th, 2011
195 Unregistered

Dear Krishna-kirti Prabhu,

Regarding your comments in #191-192. So what is the purpose of keeping the sexes apart? Is it just to spoil the fun or is there a higher purpose? The purpose of VAD may be to keep the sexes apart in order to reduce varnasankara. But the purpose of Daivi Varnashrama is to become Krsna Conscious. That is the difference between VAD a DVAD. Please reread my comments 169-172.

And, yes theoretically one can become KC without DVAD, but that is definitely not happening in ISKCON, and that is why Srila Prabhupada, after seeing so many fiascos with his disciples stressed on establishing DVAD. One need only read the Feb 14, 1977 Varnashrama conversation to understand this point.

If one is already following VAD or DVAD then by taking up Bhagavat dharma and especially chanting of the Holy Names one can very quickly make spiritual advancement. This is shown in Jaiva Dharma where persons would achieve a very high state in a matter of only weeks and in some cases days after beginning the practice. It is not hyperbole on the Thakura’s part, but it is because they were human beings, that is, practicing VAD. So VAD is meant to raise us to the position of being human. Without it we are still animals and hence spiritual progress is slow. But if a human being (not 2 legged animal) takes up DVAD and Bhagavat dharma they can make very rapid progress.

And how to deal with Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Jaya Govinda that women should also get experience in preaching and giving lectures? It seems to indicate from the context of the letter that Srila Prabhupada meant to lecture to both men and women. And there is the historical example of Jahnava Mata giving lectures to men, which is not hypothetical but factual.

However, I would be just as happy and satisfied if women only gave classes to women. As I mentioned in comment #5 that is what we did in Mayapura, have women give classes to women. However, after some time the women neither wanted to give class nor did they want to hear from women but preferred to hear from men. Since the husband is the pati guru, it is only natural that women prefer to hear from men. And conversely it is un-natural for men to want to hear from women unless she is very exceptional which is hardly the case here.

cont

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 19th, 2011
196 Unregistered

part 2

Bhaktivinode Thakura, in Jaiva Dharma, gave examples of ladies giving classes to ladies. Some were so good that men would also attend, but that was their choice, not that they had too because there was no other option and they did so just to honor the Bhagavatam.

In conclusion if you want to start a campaign to stop women giving class to men, I will not oppose it but support it. But until that happens or in exceptional cases the women who do give class should only do so when there are no qualified men present and if and only if they are following their Stri-dharma.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 19th, 2011
197 Unregistered

Dear Sita Mataji,

Hare Krsna.

Re #177-181

Thank you for posting that wonderful text about Women not having Varna by Shyamasundara Prabhu. I recall seeing that on pamho a few years ago but could not easily find it on my computer or I would have also posted it.

The difference between your post and Kulapavana Prabhu’s previous (#165) and current (#193) comments is that he only gives a one sided view by quoting about pratiloma and anuloma without mentioning what to speak of reconciling opposite citations from the Gita, Bhagavatam, and Manu where women are definitely shown to be a class onto their own without any varna.

Reconcile: to make (arguments, ideas, texts, accounts, etc.) consistent, compatible, etc.; bring into harmony

In the Mahabharata Sabhaparva it is stated that among Narada Muni’s many qualities was his ability to reconcile “apparently” opposing and contradictory statements in the sastra. Your text satisfactorily reconciles these “apparently” contradictory statements whereas Kulapavana doesn’t even attempt to and thus leaves a lot to be desired.

Thank you again for posting this text it should be widely distributed as it dispels so many wrong-headed notions.

Yhs
Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 19th, 2011
198 Akruranatha

“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says in this connection that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the ocean of mercy, chastised Junior Haridasa, although Junior Haridasa was His dear devotee, to establish that one in the devotional line, engaged in pure devotional service, should not be a hypocrite. For a person engaged in devotional service in the renounced order, having intimate relationships with women is certainly hypocrisy. This chastisement was given to Junior Haridasa as an example to future sahajiyas who might adopt the dress of the renounced order to imitate Rupa Gosvämi and other bona fide sannyasis but secretly have illicit connections with women. To teach such men, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chastised His dear devotee Haridasa for a slight deviation from the regulative principles. Srimati Madhavidevi was a highly elevated devotee; therefore approaching her to ask for some rice to serve Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was certainly not very offensive. Nevertheless, just to preserve the regulative principles for the future, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu enforced the hard-and-fast rule that no one in the renounced order should intimately mix with women. Had Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu not chastised Junior Haridasa for this slight deviation, so-called devotees of the Lord would have exploited the example of Junior Haridasa to continue their habit of illicit connections with women unrestrictedly. Indeed, they still preach that such behavior is allowed for a Vaisnava. But it is strictly not allowed. ” [C.c. Antya 2.143, Purport]

For a sannyasi to sit in a temple room full of devotees and hear a senior lady devotee speak about Srimad Bhagavatam is not the behavior of a sahajiya or a hypocrite.

The “offense” of Chota Haridas was to be alone with Madhavidevi and (by implication) to have had some lustful thoughts about her (or some younger woman who was there).

All the senior devotees considered that his begging rice from her was really not a great offense, but the Lord’s anger was unusual, to make an example, for discouraging hypocritical sannyasis and babajis who would have illicit sex.

ISKCON sannyasis can follow Srila Prabhupada’s example of going on preaching engagements where women sit in the audience and ask questions, and likewise they can sit in an audience and hear women devotees speak. What they should avoid at all cost is even the appearance of an illicit sexual connection. That’s all.

If they couldn’t talk to women at all, they couldn’t preach.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 20th, 2011
199 krishna-kirti

Varnashram-dharma implies separation of the sexes, and separation of the sexes implies varnashram-dharma. If the sexes are to be kept separate, then varnashram-dharma must be followed.

How is that accomplished? In principle, keeping the sexes separate is primarily through the occupational divisions within the grihastha ashram. In the varnashram system, there are only two ashrams that women are connected with: the grihastha ashram and the vanaprastha ashram. There is no brahmacharya for girls, nor is there sannyasa for them. And whatever stage of life a woman is in, it is enjoined in Manu-smriti that women are to be kept under the protection and control of a father, husband, or son.

With regard to women’s occupational roles, they are not identical with those of men. Indeed, they are significantly different. For example, shudras are enjoined to serve the three higher classes. But women are enjoined to serve their husbands; they are NOT enjoined to serve the other classes. Though a shudrani may assist her husband in his own occupational duties, she does NOT serve the three higher classes. She serves her husband. Is the wife, or daughter, of a kshatriya supposed to be courageous and resourceful in battle? Obviously, no. Fighting is not her occupational duty, however martially-spirited she might otherwise be.

So it is the differences in occupational duties that men and women follow that keep men and women separate from each other.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
200 krishna-kirti

Mataji Campakalata’s post at comment #194 is interesting for several reasons.

Citing her friend Dwij–a former gurukuli–and her blog probably isn’t going to have the effect Mataji Chapakalata intended. Quoting Mataji Dwij from the masthead of her blog: “I like my sacraments Catholic and my beer cold.” (Gurukula success story?)

Nevertheless, the conservative and ultramontane men and women in the Catholic Church seem to be for gender segregation and have a positive view of traditional male and female gender roles. Sitting on my book shelf is The Catholic Mystique, which contains a number of inspiring stories about women who made good their escape from modernity to adopt a traditional Christian, feminine way of life. One of the stories, for example, is about a woman who was ordained a Protestant minister and gave it up to become a Catholic.

On gender roles, we could learn much from serious Catholics.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
201 Unregistered

Dear Kulapavana Prabhu,

Hari Bol.

Ref your comment #193. After completely reading the texts Sita Mataji posted I think that she supported her position very well and that you are wrong to say “Thus your arguments are not valid” they are very valid. Especially in #179 she nicely explains how there can be pratiloma and anuloma marriages and harmonizes apparently conflicting texts. You have not even attempted to explain why Lord Krsna puts women in a separate category in the Gita after naming other varnas. Nor do you explain why women are put in a separate category in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11 after other varnas are mentioned. If they also had varna then there would be no need to put them in a separate category. Hence it is your position that is not valid. (Since you have not presented even one argument so I can’t say your arguments are not valid.)

If I were a teacher and grading answers on a scale of 1-10 then it would be:

Sita 10, Kulapavana 0.

yhs
Balakrsna das

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on May 20th, 2011
202 Unregistered

Dear Campakalata Mataji,

Hari Bol.

Ref # 194.

Please don’t mind my saying this but I fail to see the relevance of this blog you guide us to in relation to the current discussion.

I visited the place and the first thing we notice is the banner at the top.

“I like my sacraments Catholic and my beer cold.”

This is a sad statement for a former devotee and I assume former student of your mother, Urmila dd. I wonder who encouraged her to go to university in the first place where she got caught up in this situation?

Balakrsna das

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on May 20th, 2011
203 krishna-kirti

Dasi Putras

Here is a social norm that would suggest that women known as shudranis serve the higher classes: maidservants. We know that wealthier families keep maids. They do laundry, cleaning, cooking, caring for children, working as waitresses, etc. This social norm appears to exist in all societies at all times. But we also know that maidservants are susceptible to reproducing.

In recent news, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been disgraced by news of a son he secretly fathered with a long-time family maid. In Vedic culture, this would not have been a scandal. The son would have been known as a dasi putra. Vidura, for example, was a dasi putra.

Maidservants bearing the offspring of their patrons appears to be a common occurrence and thus underscores the truth that when you bring men and women together, sex happens. As we know, sex is not limited to maidservants. It proliferates in the workplace. From relationships that develops in the work place–including affairs–men and women being together means the sparks of sexual desire will fly.

A Krishna conscious society will therefore significantly demarcate the acceptable occupational roles of men and women. What will be typical is that men will occupy one kind of occupation and women another kind. In Vrindavan, girls, for example, did not go out with the boys to take care of the cows.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
204 krishna-kirti

Mataji Bhaktilata wrote:

Regarding your comments in #191-192. So what is the purpose of keeping the sexes apart? Is it just to spoil the fun or is there a higher purpose? The purpose of VAD may be to keep the sexes apart in order to reduce varnasankara. But the purpose of Daivi Varnashrama is to become Krsna Conscious. That is the difference between VAD a DVAD.

Varnashram and Daivi-Varnashram are interchangeable terms. The word “Daivi” is added to distinguish it from what have become corrupt norms within what is popularly indentified as varnashram. And in that sense the prefix “daivi” is useful in reform efforts–it reminds us of varnashram’s spiritual purpose. But throughout the shastras varnashram is used without that qualifier of “daivi”. It’s like Srila Prabhupada’s use of guru: “guru” means “bona fide guru”, there is no meaning to guru unless he is bona fide. Similarly, “varnashram” means “daivi varnashram”.

For example, when Srila Prabhupada says, “Varnasrama means to train the candidates gradually to become free from this entanglement of man and woman,” is he talking of varnashram or daivi-varnashram? This question is meaningless because the two terms are one and the same. The difference between the two terms is only a rhetorical distinction that has some value in reminding people of its spiritual purpose.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
205 krishna-kirti

Mataji Bhaktilata wrote:

And how to deal with Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Jaya Govinda that women should also get experience in preaching and giving lectures? It seems to indicate from the context of the letter that Srila Prabhupada meant to lecture to both men and women. And there is the historical example of Jahnava Mata giving lectures to men, which is not hypothetical but factual.

The answer to these questions is that the instructions are time, place, and circumstance instructions. They do not necessarily represent social ideals that we are to move towards. Jahnava Mata and some others appear to be exceptional cases–the exceptions that prove the rule. There is always room for exceptions. However, you don’t make exceptions into general rules unless you want an unpleasant clash with reality.

The social norm among Mahaprabhu’s close and somewhat close associates were virtually all men. The Chaitanya-charitamrita makes that clear. Another historical example is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s Gaudiya Math. Women didn’t give lectures in his institution–period.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
206 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

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

I do not understand what is the problem on a mataji giving a lecture in ISKCON?

Any one can preach. A new devotee at the temple chanting 1 mala can go and preach some one who is not chanting even one mala, some one chanting 4 malas can preach to some one chanting 1 mala to come up to 4 and so on. Is it not?

Now when my family was in Singapore preaching, both myself and my wife HG Geeta Gamya Radhika Devi Dasi were giving class over the week end programs. For years she did not agree to give class, and finally she agreed to give. She was thinking when I was there, why she should give class, etc,. For years she was the only woman in the program and many women came later in to the program. These new women needed an example to look up at.

As a preaching strategy she agreed to give class, and that gave so much inspiration to new women to take up Krishna Consciousness more seriously, and the strategy did work.

By the way, to inspire children to take up bhakti and also give them confidence, we ask them to speak in the program when all of elders sit and listen to them. Some where they have to be given opportunity to grow into leaders, and leadership at all levels, 4 malas devotees are leaders to 1 mala devotees, 8 mala devotees are leaders to 4 mala devotees, Initiated devotees are leaders to 16 malas devotees etc,.

If some junior speaks on stage (with the permission and blessings of the seniors in the audience) where is the aparadha?

As long as the seniors in the audience, gave permission and blessings there is no aparadh, even a small kid can speak Krishna Katha, with or with out initiation. When I was 5 years old I used to speak Ramayan and Mahabharath, with the blessings of my grand father at my side, and all the people elders, including old men and old women used to sit and listen outside our house right on the street in our village. At that time I was not in ISKCON.

When all the gurus and sannyasis of ISKCON sit down at Mayapur, we can arrange our gurukul boys to speak Krishna Katha, of course with their blessings and permission, and that will be a great motivation and inspiration for our children.

Hare Krishna !

Your humble servant,
Bhadra Govinda Dasa.

Comment posted by Bhadra Govinda Dasa on May 20th, 2011
207 Kulapavana

1. In BG 4.13 Lord Krishna says that there are 4 divisions of human society based on guna and karma. There is no mention of a fifth division made for women.
2. There are countless examples in the shastras of women with a varna assigned to them by birth. In those days guna and karma directly corresponded with a birth in an appropriate family. And there is not a single example in the shastra of a woman whose varna was derived from marriage. That alone renders any notion that woman’s varna is derived from her husband null and void.
3. In BG 9.32 Lord Krishna says that regardless of the social status those who take shelter in Him can attain the supreme destination, giving as an example four social groups that were in ancient times generally considered handicapped when it comes to spiritual life: low-born people (papa-yonayah), women, sudras, and vaishyas. Papa-yonaya typically refers to people from outside vedic culture and is never used to describe women.
4. In the 11th chapter of the 7th canto Narada lists principles to be followed by all human beings, principles of each varna, principles of a good wife, and principles of those born in a mixed varna (sankara-jatinam in SB 7.11.30). In the purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada again speaks of pratiloma and anuloma unions of men and women belonging to different castes. If women did not have their own independent varna, there would have been no mixed varna unions. Narada Muni is not creating here a separate group of women being outside the varna system - no such system ever existed either in the past or now among the followers of the Vedic culture. And there is no need to make one up now.

Dear Balakrishna prabhu, I may lose even 100 to 0 in your eyes, and you still wil not be able to produce a single shastric example of a woman whose varna was derived from her marriage.

There is nothing to reconcile here.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 20th, 2011
208 krishna-kirti

Conflict of Goods

Regarding the conflict between the idea that there should be no limitations on account of gender as to who may give class and the idea that there should be some limitations, the conflict between the two ideas should be seen as a conflict of goods. Different goods are not always compatible; one will sometimes come at the expense of the other. For example, driving at high speed is “good” for being able to get from one place to another quickly, but it comes at the expense of personal and public safety.

Similarly, it is good that women give class, but for the purposes of limiting sexual agitation it is also good that there are some restrictions on women’s public roles. For example, it is good to listen to a qualified woman give class, but it is not good for men–particularly sannyasis–to spend prolonged periods listening intently to the voice of a women–even if she happens to be giving class. It’s as Mahaprabhu said: even if a woman is made of wood, she can still arouse lusty desires.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 20th, 2011
209 Unregistered

Bhakti-lata to KK

In #204 Krsna-kirti said:

Varnashram and Daivi-Varnashram are interchangeable terms. The word “Daivi” is added to distinguish it from what have become corrupt norms within what is popularly indentified as varnashram. And in that sense the prefix “daivi” is useful in reform efforts–it reminds us of varnashram’s spiritual purpose. But throughout the shastras varnashram is used without that qualifier of “daivi”. It’s like Srila Prabhupada’s use of guru: “guru” means “bona fide guru”, there is no meaning to guru unless he is bona fide. Similarly, “varnashram” means “daivi varnashram”.

There is perverted asurik Varnashrama that is based on birth, then there is Varnashrama based on guna and karma as explained by Krsna in the Gita 4.13 and 18.42-44, and then Daiva Varnashrama explained in 3rd chapter of the Gita and also Gita 18.45-46 wherein Krsna explains it as doing Varnashrama to please Him.

Varnashram and Daiva-Varnashram are not interchangeable terms because they are not synonymous. They yield different results. The synonym for Daivi-varnashrama that it is more commonly known by in the sastras is Karma-yoga.

The 3rd chapter of the Gita is called Karma Yoga because that is where Krsna explains how to do your one’s prescribed duties (Varnashrama) as a sacrifice to Visnu. Otherwise Varnashrama is material and one gets material results (Artha) from following it. Jarasandha was a perfect follower of Varnasrama, but he was not a Karma Yogi. He did it for attaining artha. As described in SB 7.11.29 if a woman follows her prescribed Stri-dharma to please the Lord she goes to Vaikuntha. But if she just does her Stri-dharma out of duty then according to Manu she goes to svarga.

cont..

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 21st, 2011
210 Unregistered

part 2

And as previously quoted:

King Nimi said: O great sages, please speak to us about the process of karma-yoga. Purified by this process of dedicating one’s practical work to the Supreme, a person can very quickly free himself from all material activities, even in this life, and thus enjoy pure life on the transcendental platform. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.41

[check Sanskrit for yourself.]

So what we are calling Daiva Varnashrama, that is, doing Varnashrama to please the Lord, is in this verse called Karma Yoga. By definition Karma Yoga and Varnashrama are not synonymous. According SB 1.1.2 if it is not performed as Karma Yoga then it is kaitava dharma—cheating dharma, and to be rejected.

So while the term Daiva Varnashrama may or may not be a neologism, but its synonym, Karma Yoga is not and is well established in the sastras. By definition Karma Yoga and Varnashrama (Karma) are not equal to each other.

I have said pretty much all that I want to on this topic, for more in-depth detail please listen to the lectures by HH Bhaktividya Purna Svami that can be found by following the links on comment #24 that I posted.

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on May 21st, 2011
211 Campaka

Dear Krishna-Kirti Prabhu,

I agree with you that much can be learned from serious Catholics… or any other aspiring devotees for that matter, whether they be Jewish, Christian or Muslim… or Vaishnava. My friend Dwija is serious Catholic who is hoping to find welcome for her children at church in the same way that we Hare Krsna mothers are hoping to find welcome for our children in our temples. I wasn’t touting her as anything else but that, a friend and a mother in the Catholic faith. I felt inspired reading her blog and I hope that some devotees who are following this thread may feel the same way. It’s so important that we have a mood of welcoming towards mothers and children. That was one of the major themes of Mother Urmila’s class and for myself, having grown up attending the temple morning program daily and now as a mother, it’s important to me that our society has a welcoming mood towards children.

Your servant,
Campakalata devi dasi

Comment posted by Campaka on May 21st, 2011
212 Campaka

Dear Bhadra Govinda Prabhu,

Thank you very much for your post. You describe how you encourage both women and children to preach and how even the senior Vaishnavas, what to speak of others find it enlivening to hear from them. I too had many opportunities as a gurukula student to speak in the temple, yes sometimes even from the Bhagavatam class asana. I felt enlivened and encouraged that my elders were happy to hear from me, whatever little I may have said.

This was Srila Prabhupada’s mood as well, to welcome and encourage all to preach from their realization regardless of their body or seniority.

Please, dear Vaishnavas, please, let us imbibe this mood of love and welcome to all.

Thank you again, Bhadra Govinda Prabhu!

Your servant,
Campakalata devi dasi

Comment posted by Campaka on May 21st, 2011
213 Unregistered

here is another reference from Srila Prabhupada showing that women share the varna of their father prior to marriage:

“Anuloma, marriage between a brahmaṇa and the daughter of a ksatriya, is permissible, but pratiloma, marriage between a ksatriya and the daughter of a brahmana, is not generally allowed.” Srimad Bhagavatam Purport 9:18:

So in the case of Romaharsana Suta, his father was a ksatriya and his mother was the daughter of a brahmana .

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 21st, 2011
214 krishna-kirti

Mataji Bhaktilata wrote:

Varnashram and Daiva-Varnashram are not interchangeable terms because they are not synonymous.

They are synonymous, interchangeable terms. Here is a verse in which the word varnashram, without the “daivi” prefix, clearly means what you describe as daivi-varnashram:

varnasramacara-vata purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and asrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varnas and asramas.” (Vishnu Purana 3.8.9, qtd in CC Madhya 8.58)

Here, the objective of varnashram is described as that of pleasing Lord Vishnu. But “daivi-varnashram” is not used in the verse. Instead, the term is varnashram. And this underscores my point, that when Srila Prabhupada and other acharyas use the term “daivi-varnashram”, it has rhetorical utility in reminding people of varnashram’s ultimate purpose. Otherwise, the terms are interchangeable.

I think if you want to stand by your point, you will have to find some verse in the shastras that actually uses the term “daivi-varnashram”. I have not seen this term used in the shastras–I’ve only seen varnashram used–but that doesn’t mean the term doesn’t exist there. But it is your argument, so you will have to find it.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 22nd, 2011
215 krishna-kirti

Mataji Champakalata, Hare Krishna.

I too also sometimes draw inspiration from those in other religious traditions. Sometimes the secularists have good arguments that are worth paying close attention to. If you are interested in matters of marriage and protecting children, one good website to read is the website for the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy: http://www.marriagedebate.com/ . The president of that organization, Maggie Gallagher, is married to an Indian gentleman and I think is an eloquent advocate of family values that are close to ours in ISKCON. I recommend making it a regular stop on the Internet.

ys, KKdas

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 22nd, 2011
216 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
The use of a phrase “daughter of a brahmana” by Srila Prabhupada is not a proof that the varna of a daughter was dependent on her father alone - it is merely another way of saying that she was born in a brahmana family. The same applies to men. Srila Prabhupada is using exactly such a phrase to describe Lord Caitanya: “The Lord appeared within the past five hundred years, played as the son of a brahmana from Nadia and introduced the sankirtana movement.” Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 20:352 Purport. In the traditional vedic society the varna of a child - male or female - depended on the varna of BOTH parents and carried on to their own marriage and children.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 22nd, 2011
217 Unregistered

Bhadra Govinda Dasa wrote:

“If some junior speaks on stage (with the permission and blessings of the seniors in the audience) where is the aparadha?
As long as the seniors in the audience, gave permission and blessings there is no aparadh, even a small kid can speak Krishna Katha, with or with out initiation.

When all the gurus and sannyasis of ISKCON sit down at Mayapur, we can arrange our gurukul boys to speak Krishna Katha, of course with their blessings and permission, and that will be a great motivation and inspiration for our children. “

That’s a nice idea in general. However, it’s a different set of circumstances than what we’ve been discussing. Maybe now a new thread should be started elsewhere on the topic of women and children preaching in general.

This main topic of this discussion has been about whether or not women should be giving regular Bhagavatam class from the vyasanana, from an equal or superior position to senior men, sannyasis and gurus, to men whose permission has not been asked, and, more specifically, in Mayapura, India. THAT particular preaching situation has not been substantiated by Srila Prabhupada’s teachings or example.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 23rd, 2011
218 Unregistered

Kulapavana Dasa wrote:

1. In BG 4.13 Lord Krishna says that there are 4 divisions of human society based on guna and karma. There is no mention of a fifth division made for women.

There is no mention of women in that particular verse but later, in 9.32, women, are included in a separate group, along with papa-yoni, vaisyas and sudras.

In Teachings of Queen Kunti Ch. 3, Prabhupada explains that:

“women, sudras , and dvija-bandhus are considered to belong to the same category. “

A dvija-bandhu, it’s explained, may happen to take birth in a brahmana family, but has no qualifications of his own and cannot claim to act as such. Similarly it follows that a woman may be the daughter or wife of a brahmana but she cannot act independently as such, according to the principles of varnasrama.

2. There are countless examples in the shastras of women with a varna assigned to them by birth. In those days guna and karma directly corresponded with a birth in an appropriate family. And there is not a single example in the shastra of a woman whose varna was derived from marriage. That alone renders any notion that woman’s varna is derived from her husband null and void.

Perhaps Kulapavana Prabhu can share some examples of chaste women who did not share the varna of their fathers or husbands and acted/worked independently as per their unique varna.

3. In BG 9.32 Lord Krishna says that regardless of the social status those who take shelter in Him can attain the supreme destination, giving as an example four social groups that were in ancient times generally considered handicapped when it comes to spiritual life: low-born people (papa-yonayah), women, sudras, and vaishyas. Papa-yonaya typically refers to people from outside vedic culture and is never used to describe women.

Yes women, sudras, etc. can attain Krsna. But please show how a brahmani is equal to a brahmana in terms of varna.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 23rd, 2011
219 Unregistered

Kulapavana Dasa wrote:

4. In the 11th chapter of the 7th canto Narada lists principles to be followed by all human beings, principles of each varna, principles of a good wife, and principles of those born in a mixed varna (sankara-jatinam in SB 7.11.30). In the purport to this verse Srila Prabhupada again speaks of pratiloma and anuloma unions of men and women belonging to different castes. If women did not have their own independent varna, there would have been no mixed varna unions. Narada Muni is not creating here a separate group of women being outside the varna system - no such system ever existed either in the past or now among the followers of the Vedic culture. And there is no need to make one up now.
Dear Balakrishna prabhu, I may lose even 100 to 0 in your eyes, and you still wil not be able to produce a single shastric example of a woman whose varna was derived from her marriage.
There is nothing to reconcile here.

So if a woman has independent and unique varna, irrespective of her father or husband’s varna, how do we understand Prabhupada’s instructions for how women are to be educated??

If women can have the varna of brahmana, why don’t we get the sacred thread? Why don’t we take sannyasa? Why, if we can be brahmanas, did Prabhupada not want us to teach brahmacaris in the gurukula once the boys reached a certain age? Why did he say women were not to attend varnasrama college? (see Morning Walk March 14, 1974)

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 23rd, 2011
220 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
With all due respect, I have maintained all along that in a traditional Vedic society woman’s varna is derived from that of BOTH her parents, just like man’s varna. I was opposing your view that women do not have a varna in the same way men do and belong to some special category in terms of their varna. You claim that woman’s varna is derived from that of her husband because irrespective of their inherent guna, their karma is always the same - serving their husband. You have failed to provide a single shastric example where a wife takes on the varna of her husband and until you do, you should at best consider your theory as unproven.

In the practical sense we see that even today some women have both the guna and the karma of the brahmana varna, other women have both the guna and the karma of the vaishya varna, or sudra varna, or kshatriya varna. It is part of their nature and it starts rather early in life, just like it does with men. Thus it is very hard to accept your premise that unlike men, women have no varna of their own.

While we say that a person born as sudra may be allowed to do the work of a brahmana if that person has the proper qualifications and training, we should not be saying that such a rule applies only to men. Such a claim would raise the argument that we are biased and discriminating based on birth. Based on qualifications and training, Srila Prabhupada gave women brahminical initiation and allowed them to perform Deity worship in the temple - what more proof do you need that women are indeed capable of acting in a brahminical capacity?

Anyway, I have taken up enough of your valuable time. Please forgive me for disagreeing with some of your views. However, I do applaud you for taking a public stand in this debate and for presenting your position in a way a brahmana woman would do. I’m quite sure you did not merely receive this nature as a wedding gift from your husband.

Your servant,

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 23rd, 2011
221 krishna-kirti

Regarding correspondence between Kulapavana Prabhu and Mataji Sita on the subject of women and varna:

Even accepting that there is some influence of varna on women’s natures, the prescribed duties for men and women are still NOT identical. Are women in kshyatriya families expected to be courageous and resourceful in battle? Of course not. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT MEN!.

Women and men necessarily have different sva-bhavas (natures), which is why they have different sva-karmas (prescribed duties).

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 23rd, 2011
222 Unregistered

Mother Sitadasi,
The use of a phrase “daughter of a brahmana” by Srila Prabhupada is not a proof that the varna of a daughter was dependent on her father alone - it is merely another way of saying that she was born in a brahmana family.

The idea that women have varna independent of their father or husband defies the principle of chastity! It contradicts the following statements by Srila Prabhupada:

”This varnashrama dharma, woman is according to the husband. That’s all.”

“ Even a brahmana would not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife, because woman is considered sudra. The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra. So therefore a strict brahmana does not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife.” (Room Conversation—August 2, 1976, New Mayapur)

“Women’s position is subordinate to man. So if the man is first-class, the woman is first-class. If the man is second-class, the woman is second-class. If the man is third-class, the woman is third-class. In this… Because woman is meant for assisting man, so the woman becomes suitable according to the man, her husband. (Television Interview, Chicago, July 9, 1975)

Otherwise, please explain the above statements by Srila Prabhupada and show how to reconcile them with your viewpoint.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 23rd, 2011
223 Unregistered

Kulapavana Dasa wrote::

The same applies to men. Srila Prabhupada is using exactly such a phrase to describe Lord Caitanya: “The Lord appeared within the past five hundred years, played as the son of a brahmana from Nadia and introduced the sankirtana movement.” Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 20:352 Purport. In the traditional vedic society the varna of a child - male or female - depended on the varna of BOTH parents and carried on to their own marriage and children.

The same does not apply to men. The son of a brahmana could become a brahmana, or the son of a ksatriya could become a ksatriya, as long as they had the guna for such and were trained up in the karma specific to those occupational duties. The occupational duty of women is prescribed differently. Women were not given the sacred thread or trained to perform vedic sacrifices on their own. Women were not given military training and sent into battle as men were. Therefore, they never had varna or karma like men. If women did have varna, then why did Narada Muni only teach women to be chaste and to follow the vows of their husband! Why did he describe women’s duties separately from men rather than together?

The subordinate position of a chaste wife, following the vows of their husband and “never independent”, is diametrically opposed to the superior, independent position of a brahmana:

“A brahmana does not become anyone’s servant. To render service to someone else is the business of the sudras.” CC Adi 13.82 Purport

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 23rd, 2011
224 Unregistered

Yesterday I attended a class given by Srimati Uma devi dasi (aka Uma Didi). She is 78 years old, a disciple of Srila Vamana Maharaja, who is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa guru, Srila Kesava Maharaja. She has lived in a Gaudiya Math her whole life. She is a Sanskrit scholar and travels the world to preach. She is Bengali by birth, upbringing and culture. Our Gaudiya Vaisnava culture regarding women can be best understood from women who are born before the last twenty years, and are both Bengali by culture and Vaisnavis by their spiritual life. Otherwise, we Westerners can speculate without basis from sastra, Srila Prabhupada, or tradition, as to what is stri dharma, and how women can preach. Or we can look at those who know, who have it in their blood, and who live it. If we look back hundreds of years to Bengali Vaisnava culture, we do find women preachers–both married and renounced (either lifetime renounced or renounced after the grhastha ashrama).

Ys,
Nitya dd

Comment posted by sdgdisc on May 23rd, 2011
225 Akruranatha

Sitadasi states:

“This main topic of this discussion has been about whether or not women should be giving regular Bhagavatam class from the vyasanana, from an equal or superior position to senior men, sannyasis and gurus, to men whose permission has not been asked, and, more specifically, in Mayapura, India.”

This discussion is starting to get a little surrealistic. I was always under the impression that whoever was in charge of setting the schedule for giving the morning Bhagavatam class at the annual Mayapur festival had extended an invitation to Urmila Mataji, with full approval of the authorities.

Is Sitadasi suggesting that Urmila somehow occupied the vyasasana in defiance of the approved schedule of speakers, and gave the class over the objection of the authorities? I cannot imagine even the possibility of that having been the case.

It sounds to me from some of the comments that there is some personal animosity between Sitadasi and Urmila that is spilling over into this conversation. Maybe some devotees in Mayapur (probably a very small minority) thought that the authorities should not have invited Urmila to give class. But in that case, why should Urmila (who merely accepted an invitation) be criticized, when it sounds like those who object really have a quarrel with whomever was responsible for setting the schedule of speakers?

At least it is good to know that Sitadasi agrees that in general it is a nice idea that women and children should be permitted to give class in ISKCON temples as long as they have the blessings of senior devotees and sannyasis in the audience.

But I cannot help but think that if it were not for the fact that Urmila is a woman, there would not have been such a big discussion about whether she should have given the class. Men give class from time to time whom other devotees may have some personal quarrel with or objection to, but generally we are charitable and do not publicly question whether they should be allowed to lecture (unless they have done something really horrible, scandalous or shocking).

And there are those in this discussion who have opined that women generally should not give class, at least not when any qualified male is available, or even that it might be best to have women sit unseen in a screened off area.

I take it as settled, though, that the GBC and most ISKCON devotees have no problem in general with the idea of qualified women giving lectures with the blessings of senior devotees.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 23rd, 2011
226 Unregistered

If we extend the idea that a woman has independent varna we run into severe social problems. For example, if she happens to marry a man with an inferior varna to her, she will have grounds not to serve him or be subordinate.

I knew a girl who was told, by a devotee astrologer, she was a queen (ksatriyani) in her past life. She felt justified in not cleaning or cooking as she believed that was her right as a ksatriyani, never mind what her father’s occupation or nature was.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 24th, 2011
227 Unregistered

In a television interview in Chicago, July 9, 1975, Prabhupada was asked by the woman interviewer, for his advice on the social problems in America. He began his answer by explaining varnasrama and asked his disciple, Nitai, to read the qualities of the first, second, third and fourth class man from Bhagavad-gita. Following this description, which was clearly about men, the woman asked Prabhupada, “where do women fit into these four classes” . This was his reply:

Women’s position is subordinate to man. So if the man is first-class, the woman is first-class. If the man is second-class, the woman is second-class. If the man is third-class, the woman is third-class. In this… Because woman is meant for assisting man, so the woman becomes suitable according to the man, her husband. Television Interview, Chicago, July 9, 1975

The transcript and audio file for this television interview can be found here:
http://prabhupadabooks.com/g=162099

This, Kulapavana Prabhu, is a very clear example that “a wife takes on the varna of her husband”. It is Srila Prabhupada’s answer to the direct question of where women fit into the four classes.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 24th, 2011
228 Unregistered

Kulapavana Dasa wrote:

“ Please forgive me for disagreeing with some of your views. However, I do applaud you for taking a public stand in this debate and for presenting your position in a way a brahmana woman would do. I’m quite sure you did not merely receive this nature as a wedding gift from your husband.”

I do not appreciate this type of sarcasm. My husband has previously discussed this issue and written a book, Vaisnavism and Social Responsibility”, based on Srila Prabhupada’s quotes on this and other related topics and I am simply repeating what I have learned.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 24th, 2011
229 Unregistered

Just to clarify, Akruranatha Prabhu, we have been talking about being authorized by Srila Prabhupada, whom temple authorities and Bhagavatam speakers are supposed to be following. It is not simply a matter of men and sannyasis/gurus giving approval for a woman to give class to them!

There are so many types of other preaching opportunities for women and children aside from their giving class to senior men! There has to be some philosophical standard we adhere to, especially in Mayapura, since other temples will follow suit.

This is an important philosophical issue with serious social ramifications and it deserves immediate attention by our leaders because there’s presently so much confusion amongst devotees.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 24th, 2011
230 Unregistered

Kulapavana Dasa wrote:

“ In BG 4.13 Lord Krishna says that there are 4 divisions of human society based on guna and karma. There is no mention of a fifth division made for women.”

In that purport of BG 4.13, Prabhupada speaks of the four classes of men. He does not include women nor does he say the intelligent class of men and women. So we cannot assume women were included and had varna like men.

When specifically asked how women fit into these social class divisions, Prabhupada answered that if the man is first class, his wife is first class but if he is second-class, his wife is second class BECAUSE the wife adapts herself to her husband’s varna.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 24th, 2011
231 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu, could you please define what you mean by “qualified women” in your post #225? I don’t see any mention of the women’s husbands in your conclusion.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 25th, 2011
232 Unregistered

excerpt from Shyamasundara Prabhu’s letter as an example of a wife taking the varna of her husband:

For the wife to acquire the same varna of her husband the wife must therefore adapt to the lifestyle of her husband by following his vows. We see how Devahuti though born in the household of a Kshatriya, and like her mother adopted the vows of her father, but when she married Kardama Muni she being a chaste wife took up his vows and by doing so became a brahmani—chaste wife of a brahmana.

Sukanya, wife of Cyavana Muni, is another example.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 26th, 2011
233 Akruranatha

Dear Sitadasi Mataji,

In comment # 231 you asked me to define what I meant by “qualified women” in my statement that “the GBC and most ISKCON devotees have no problem in general with the idea of qualified women giving lectures with the blessings of senior devotees.”

I really meant nothing other than that they are strictly practicing the principles of Krsna consciousness and have heard well enough from Srila Prabhupada’s books that they can explain the subject matter clearly without adding or subtracting anything. In other words, the qualification for giving class should be the same for a man or for a woman.

If a man is more qualified, he should be given preference. If a woman is more qualified, she should be given preference. Anyone who can explain the science of Krishna should be heard attentively. We are eager to understand Krsna.

Explaining and understanding Bhagavatam is hearing and chanting, just like nama sankirtan. There is no bar to women doing it, if they have realizations they can share.

When Lord Caitanya heard a woman singing with great devotion, He flew in ecstasy to embrace her, oblivious to her external designation as female. He was running through thorns, cutting His lotus body, and his brahmacari servant had to run after Him (also being cut by the thorns), to prevent Him from embracing the woman and thus externally violating the vows of a sannyasi.

Lord Caitanya’s instruction to “koro krsna upadesa” applies to everyone, although it was given to a male brahmana. It implies that we repeat Krsna’s instructions, backed by our own realized knowledge, and also that we obey Krishna’s instructions.

Yes, I agree with you that women should not disobey their husbands or give class against their husband’s wishes. We are not promoting conflict in the household. But why should any husband who is a devotee object to his wife giving Bhagavatam class, if she likes to do it and she does it well?

I am always encouraging my wife to give lectures, but she is a little shy, feeling that she has not studied enough, has not memorized enough verses. She does like to preach, though, and give cooking classes to students and share her sense of good fortune that she had adopted a life of chanting Hare Krishna and offering what she cooks to Krishna. As far as I am concerned, such sincere sharing of practical realization is the same as giving Bhagavatam class.

Cultural differences matter, but being external are less important than bhakti.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 26th, 2011
234 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
I asked you to provide a quote or example from the shastras where a wife takes on the varna of her husband, and you failed to do so. Where exactly does it say in Bhagavatam that Devahuti or Sykanya became a brahmani? If the wife takes on the varna of the husband like you say, why are shastras speaking about pratiloma and anuloma marriages and their offspring? There is no historical evidence EVER of women taking on the varna of their husbands, nor is it a current practice in India.

What you propose above is a new idea, quite irrelevant I might add, since devotees in our movement do not really follow varnashrama in the sense of adhering to any particular varna. Yes, a wife should play a supportive role to her husband, but in that regard there needs to be an understanding among devotees based on historical reality, not wishful thinking. And the historical reality of our Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is that women were also gurus, accepting male disciples as well. Of the some 400 rishis mentioned in Rig Veda, 25 were women, also having male disciples. THAT is reality, where people are judged on the basis of qualifications, not merely the body.

Our tradition never subscribed to the Taliban model. Some people may fantasize about turning our movement into such a model, but they are a small minority, made more and more irrelevant as time goes by.

You are speaking of risks when women are seen as having their own inherited varna. There are serious risks to what you propose as well - the risks of abuse and rejection. Unfortunately our movement has experienced many cases of abuse, where well intended statements from Srila Prabhupada were used to abuse and denigrate women, often leading to divorce and breakup of families. And there was plenty of rejection as well, not just through divorce, but a flat out rejection of Krishna consciousness by many people due to the way women were treated in our movement.

And it was not a sarcasm when I asked you to consider your own nature, and whether it was changed with your marriage. It was an attempt to make you think about how this concept may apply to REALITY.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 26th, 2011
235 Kulapavana

Quotes from Krishna Book, Chapter 23:
“”My dear wives of the brahmanas,” Krsna said. “You can now return to your homes. Engage yourselves in sacrificial activities and be engaged in the service of your husbands and household affairs so that your husbands will be pleased with you, and the sacrifice which they have begun will be properly executed. After all, your husbands are householders, and without your help how can they execute their prescribed duties?”
(…)
After being instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all the wives again returned home to their respective husbands. Pleased to see their wives back home, the brahmanas executed the performances of sacrifices by sitting together, as it is enjoined in the sastras. According to Vedic principle, religious rituals must be executed by the husband and wife together. When the brahmanas’ wives returned, the sacrifice was duly and nicely executed.
————————————–
It is clear fro these quotes that in Vedic times the wives of the brahmanas actively participated in the performance of vedic sacrifices, and that their presence at such ceremonies was REQUIRED by the shastras. Women in those times also received upanayana ceremony. See a reasearch paper here http://onlineijra.com/research.....mskara.pdf for sources and examples.
Srila Prabhupada followed that model when he gave his female disciples second initiation, Gayatri mantra, and asked them to perform Deity worship in his temples.
This is what spiritual vision is all about: qualifications are important, not the body.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 26th, 2011
236 Unregistered

Text #234 Mother Sitadasi,
I asked you to provide a quote or example from the shastras where a wife takes on the varna of her husband, and you failed to do so. Where exactly does it say in Bhagavatam that Devahuti or Sykanya became a brahmani?

Does it say in the Bhagavatam that Devahuti and Sukanya remained ksatriyanis although they married brahmana husbands?

We have to connect the dots. Brahmani means the wife of a brahmana. So when these daughters of Ksatriyas married brahmanas, they became brahmanis.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 26th, 2011
237 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu wrote:

#233 “If a man is more qualified, he should be given preference. If a woman is more qualified, she should be given preference. “

Was that followed in this case in Mayapura where visiting gurus and sannyasis were present?

Your servant, Sita devi dasi

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 26th, 2011
238 Unregistered

in text #234, Kulapavana Prabhu wrote:

And the historical reality of our Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is that women were also gurus, accepting male disciples as well.

Our Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is based on our guru parampara. Jahnava Devi is the only one Prabhupada mentions and Her unique, rare position has already been discussed.

Some of the translations and interpretations about the lives of other women Vaishnava gurus are tinged with sahajiya bias and, according to Bhakti Vikasa Swami, are not fully reliable.

Comment posted by sitadasi on May 27th, 2011
239 Unregistered

Reponse to #234/235 :

I have not gone through the complete posts or thread to have an opinion.

However I saw the following post for which I think I may have a response:

“provide a quote or example from the shastras where a wife takes on the varna of her husband”

Sthrinam upanayanam sthaane vivaaham meaning for women marriage is in place of upanayana.
During marriage the scarfs of the two people are tied. This is an indication of varna mix where the wife gets the varna of husband.

There is also a section in marriage ritual where the gotra of the girl changes from her father’s gotra to husbands gotra.

This indicates once again that the girls simply own the gotra and varna of the man they are with. It could be father or husband or sons.

Aniloma and prailoma marriage results into a new varnas which are explained in manu smriti or other sutras.
An ideal marriage is between same varnas.

———–
“Where exactly does it say in Bhagavatam that Devahuti or Sykanya became a brahmani? ”

Wrt to jAti or varna of Kardama or Devahuti, it is little tough since kardama is a rishi created by brahma.Brahma splits into FIRST ever male and female entities as Svayambuva manu and satarupa.

As we know devahuti was born to these 2 people.
The first marriage ever conducted was between Kardama and Devahuti , I believe and the marriage rituals has a svAha for devahuti.

I would at best leave both of them into a category as “sages”

Comment posted by scooty.ram on May 27th, 2011
240 Akruranatha

Sitadasi asked (comment #237):

“’If a man is more qualified, he should be given preference. If a woman is more qualified, she should be given preference.’ Was that followed in this case in Mayapura where visiting gurus and sannyasis were present?”

My response:

Yes, I think it was followed.

It is neither necessary nor practical to try to find the single-most qualified speaker (in terms of seniority, learning, purity, success as a preacher, etc.) and hear only from that one person in any ISKCON assembly or festival. It is better to have a variety of highly-qualified speakers. More devotees get a chance to speak, and the devotees in general get a chance to hear realizations of many different devotees, which is very pleasing. Variety is nice.

We may all have different ideas of who is most qualified. In this particular festival many different senior devotees got a turn giving class, and it was quite fitting that Urmila also got a turn. In fact, as it turns out, the verse and purport she discussed concerned our educational system within the Krsna consciousness movement, a subject about which she has some expertise, and it was quite fitting that she was selected as the speaker for that day.

Now, there may always be (unfortunately) some personality or ideological conflicts among different devotees, even among senior administrators. In an ideal world or utopia perhaps there wouldn’t be, but we are human and there are many devotees and they do not always get along or see eye to eye on every point. It may be natural that, as individuals, we may personally respect certain senior devotees more than others, or even have some history of quarreling with or disagreeing with some senior devotee.

Still, I think that it is better behavior to be respectful to such devotees and be happy for them when they are given the honor of addressing the assembly with their realizations about Srimad-Bhagavatam for the morning class. Rules of etiquette serve various purposes, but one is to promote social harmony and prevent undue quarrels.

I was really surprised to see the reaction of yourself and Bhaktilata and Krsna-kirti in this thread. It seems that you all have different reasons for objecting, but the lesson seems to be that a woman in ISKCON is still subject to a lot of public scrutiny and even personal insults merely by performing some service as simple as a morning Bhagavatam lecture. To me that seems really an unattractive double standard.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 27th, 2011
241 Kulapavana

Scooty-ram…
The verse: “Strinam upanayanam-sthane vivaham Manurabravit” (Manu says that for women marriage is in place of upanayana) has nothing to do with her varna becoming that of her husband.
The custom of scarf tying or any other ceremonial events can be interpreted in various ways but are no substitute for a shastric injuncion.
So I repeat again: If wife is taking the varna of a husband, why are shastras talking about MIXED varna marriages?

Comment posted by Kulapavana on May 27th, 2011
242 Babhru

I’ve found this discussion occasionally interesting, often a little exasperating. Let me see if I have a bit of a handle on this. So Urmila devi was asked to speak in Mayapura, and she agreed to do so, focusing on one of her areas of expertise, which she has engaged in her service to guru and Gauranga. Some of us find in this an occasion to excoriate her for daring to speak on philosophical and practical aspects of Krishna consciousness in front of men, some of whom have positions in the Society as administrators and/or monastics, even though she was invited by those men’s hosts and they chose to attend. Because Urmila’s cheekiness has been made the dominant theme of the thread, when someone else (her daughter, incidentally) attempts to bring the thread back to the topic of Urmila’s talk, she is slapped down for creating a digression. Boy, it’s just a wonder that Mahaprabhu’s movement has progressed at all over the last few decades.

I sometimes find myself losing patience with those who seek to reduce Srila Prabhupada to a sort of flat character and his instructions to a monolithic dogma. In fact, both Srila Prabhupada and the teachings he brought us are much richer than any of us is apparently able to conceive. In 1973 he told me personally, “Devotees and devotional service cannot be stereotyped. There is nothing that cannot be engaged in Krishna’s service. Simply we require guidance from the expert spiritual master *how* to engage everything in Krishna’s service. That is the only catch.” (see next post)

Comment posted by Babhru on May 29th, 2011
243 Babhru

(continued from previous post) It’s not particularly difficult to see that Srila Prabhupada said different things at different times about any number of topics. Here’s an interesting quotation that, we may argue, may be seen to apply to the education and engagement of female devotees: “We have seen your note regarding Sarasvati Maharaja, and you may engage one Sanskrit teacher for Sarasvati so she shall become a very great scholar, just like Jiva Goswami was trained in Sanskrit language from early childhood and no one could surpass him in all of India.” Some may argue that this is an instruction about educating one particular girl, not about educating girls in general. I’d suggest that it’s more than both–that it shows he was interested in addressing individual situations. As he said once, when a leader complained that some devotees were interested in services other than book distribution, “Do not think that the spiritual master is a dead stone who cannot give different instructions to different disciples.”

It appears, then, that Srila Prabhupada’s vision may accommodate engaging women outside the kitchen.

Comment posted by Babhru on May 29th, 2011
244 tulasi-priya

As far as giving preference to more learned man over a woman speaker—well, haven’t they been getting that for decades already? Is it possible that maybe, just once in her long service history in ISKCON, before she leaves the planet and we lose her association, Urmila mataji could be allowed to purify herself, serve her guru, and benefit the assembled devotees, men and women, by speaking her unique realizations in Mayapur-dhama? Are we so puffed up and in the bodily consciousness that there is nothing we can learn from another, if that other is a woman? Do we really believe that men are the only ones with anything of substance to say?And it seems that to perceive Vaisnavis as women first in all situations constitutes an aparadha, as delineated NOI, text six.

Certainly it would be proper (if perhaps a bit Phariseean) if, prior to the class, the assembled male devotees were asked if they object to Urmila mataji giving the class. I would be keen to see who steps forward to assert his male privilege. I doubt that any man present, even the most traditional, would do so. But if he does, what would that say about him?

There may be agitation if we gaze upon a member of the opposite sex sitting on the vyasasana, but nobody gets pregnant on the vyasasana during a Bhagavatam class. (Though I suppose nothing is impossible for the determinedly lusty.) For illicit sex to take place, there has to be contact away from the vyasasana after the class, planning a rendezvous, lying, sneaking, etc. Nobody needs to give a class for that to happen, but if devotees are not following the process, it will happen somehow, no matter how segregated we keep ourselves. If the mere sight of the opposite sex will result in taking reproductive action, then we need to cease all preaching and classes right now, since the risks of the current system are insurmountable.

One other thing: lust and illicit sex don’t stop, or even reduce, just because the sexes are segregated. Visit any prison or single-sex school for proof. Nor do so-called traditional values guarantee sexual purity. The Amish are a case in point: wildness among the youth during their Rumspringa, and incest in Amish families. If our characters aren’t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on May 30th, 2011
245 krishna-kirti

To Babhru Prabhu and Mataji Tulasi Priya, who have expressed, I think, more eloquently the reasons progressive devotees are exasperated with the point of view of us traditionalists, let me say that our basic disagreement is over (conditioned) human nature. I find the opinions expressed by these two to be typical of Enlightenment thought: that there is no such thing as fixed human nature. Consequently, All individuals are to be judged exclusively on their own merits. To put it in more technical terms, there is no sva-bhava, hence there can be no sva-dharma. Since there can be no sva-dharma, you therefore cannot say that someone should or should not do something simply because he (or she) is a man or a woman.

This is reflected in Mataji Tulasi-Priya’s expression of extreme doubt about the necessity of varnashram, “If our characters aren’t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?” But then if that is true, that we need only focus on bhakti and not mind our social concerns, then why during the last two years of his life did Srila Prabhupada insist so strongly that his disciples implement it?

I think the answer to this is that in the course of time Srila Prabhupada himself changed his opinion about what would or would not work for helping his disciples come to the transcendental platform. An early letter of his spoke of the possibility that by 1975 both male and female disciples might themselves be taking on their own disciples. But by that time Srila Prabhupada had instead become reluctant to award sannyasa and no longer was sanctioning marriages. It is not a stretch to say that Srila Prabhupada was unhappy with his disciples’ general progress in avoiding illicit sex.

It is this view held by Srila Prabhupada–this later Prabhupada–that I think is closer to how we traditionalists view ourselves and view devotees in general: though correctly situated on the path of devotional service, we believe that the vast majority of devotees in our society are not yet advanced enough to simply do away with the varnashram regulations. We are willing to entertain exceptions, but we insist that you first demonstrate that you yourself are an exception. Our presumption is against anyone who thinks they can do without varnashram and who cannot show that they themselves are exceptional.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on May 30th, 2011
246 Akruranatha

I had written: ““If a man is more qualified, he should be given preference. If a woman is more qualified, she should be given preference.”

Sitadevi asked me: “Was that followed in this case in Mayapura where visiting gurus and sannyasis were present?”

My answer is: Yes. I think so.

I do not think the point is to always in every assembly of devotees find the one most qualified devotee and hear Bhagavatam class and Bhagavad-gita class from that one person every day. It is good to hear a variety of qualified devotees share their realizations and that makes for an enlivening situation.

As I said before, the idea should not be that a certain quota of male or female speakers has to be fulfilled. In a festival when there are a lot of well-qualified devotees to hear from, many different highly qualified devotees should be given the honor and opportunity to give class, regardless of whether they are men or women, as long as they are qualified to give a nice class.

And on other occasions — not during the big festivals — junior devotees should be given opportunity and be encouraged to give classes in order to provide training and give them experience, as they will be the senior devotees of tomorrow.

But as for this class, I think Urmila was highly qualified and was a great choice to give the class that day. As it turned out, the verse and purport addressed the issue of education in the Krishna consciousness movement, and she was a highly qualified speaker to offer transcendental perspectives on the issue, in accordance with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

I remain surprised and shocked that anyone would publicly object to the choice of speakers, or to the idea of women giving class in general.

I am glad Babhru weighed in and would love to hear other senior devotees thoughts. Different people have objected for different reasons, but I expect the large majority of ISKCON devotees would find nothing to object about. I think that is the sounder, saner conclusion. Urmila was an excellent choice to give the class, and she did an excellent job.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 31st, 2011
247 Unregistered

Response to #240

“So I repeat again: If wife is taking the varna of a husband, why are shastras talking about MIXED varna marriages? ”

Just like a boy doesnt become a brahmana until upanayana, the girl doesnt become brahmani until marriage.

Inter caste marriage means varna sankara.This is abominable.
Inter caste marriage means marrying a brahmana’s daughter to a sudra’s son.
So technically, the birth too plays a role in choosing the husband.

Its upto individuals to look for sastric references to match their stand or accept the sastric injunction and make a stand based on it.

Comment posted by scooty.ram on May 31st, 2011
248 Unregistered

Response to #240

“So I repeat again: If wife is taking the varna of a husband, why are shastras talking about MIXED varna marriages? ”

Just like a boy doesnt become a brahmana until upanayana, the girl doesnt become brahmani until marriage.

Inter caste marriage means varna sankara.This is abominable.
Inter caste marriage means marrying a brahmana’s daughter to a sudra’s son.
So technically, the birth too plays a role in choosing the husband.

Also Manu describes vivAha as upanayana for women, pathisevA as gurukulavaasa and gRihakRitya as agnihotra.

Obviously not all varnas are eligible to do agni hotra and when a women is said be doing agnihotra through performance of household actvities, it logically implies that the husband is doing those and that he should be a brahmana.

A women married to sudra man is not her upanayana. if so then ALL married womens are brahminis.

Its upto individuals to look for sastric references to match their stand or accept the sastric injunction and make a stand based on it.

Comment posted by scooty.ram on May 31st, 2011
249 Unregistered

Kulapavana:

So I repeat again: If wife is taking the varna of a husband, why are shastras talking about MIXED varna marriages?

In the old days there was such thing as mixed varna marriages because the caste system was strictly followed and “crossbreeding” was frowned on. Today, however, it is said:

kalau sudra-sambhavah

Today, a man’s varna is according to his quality and work, not his birth or parentage. Traditional social customs have been lost and people of higher and lower cultures have mixed. So what even is the relevance of anuloma or pratiloma today?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 1st, 2011
250 Unregistered

Kulapavana Prabhu has repeatedly asked me “to provide a single shastric example where a wife takes on the varna of her husband and until you do, you should at best consider your theory as unproven.”

I provided the example of Devahuti and Sukanya as well as numerous quotes which, apparently, are all unacceptable. Now Kulapavana has changed his question to:

“So I repeat again: If wife is taking the varna of a husband, why are shastras talking about MIXED varna marriages?”

Kulapavana Prabhu believes women have varna independent of the husband and cites anuloma and pratiloma as proof of this. Yet he has not reconciled Prabhupada’s numerous statements which conflict with his viewpoint.

Here are my questions again. How are we to understand the following statements of Srila Prabhupada’s if women have varna as Kulapavana Prabhu proposes:

1. “women, sudras , and dvija-bandhus are considered to belong to the same category. “ (TQK 3)

2. ”This varnashrama dharma, woman is according to the husband. That’s all.”

3. “The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra. “

4. “Women’s position is subordinate to man. So if the man is first-class, the woman is first-class. If the man is second-class, the woman is second-class. If the man is third-class, the woman is third-class. In this… Because woman is meant for assisting man, so the woman becomes suitable according to the man, her husband.“

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 1st, 2011
251 Unregistered

Also, if women have varna on an equal level with men, what are the answers to these questions:

1. Why, according to Vedic injunction, do women not get the sacred thread/upanayanam? Why is marriage considered upanayanam for women?

2. Why did Prabhupada not want women teaching brahmacaris in the gurukula once the boys reached a certain age?

3. Why did he say women were not to attend varnasrama college?

If Kulapavana Prabhu wants us to accept his position, we need to be provided with sastric examples (not from modern karmi society) of chaste women who did not share the varna of their fathers or husbands and acted/worked independently as brahmanas or ksatriyas.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 1st, 2011
252 tulasi-priya

Krishna-kirti prabhu wrote: “This is reflected in Mataji Tulasi-Priya’s expression of extreme doubt about the necessity of varnashram,’If our characters aren’t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?’”

Prabhu: you are dead wrong. I have no doubts whatsoever about varnasrama, and your attempt to put words in my mouth and thoughts in my head that have no purchase there is intellectually dishonest.

I am a sold-out believer in varnasrama-dharma, but where we differ radically is how it should be implemented. Before we become sexually mature, before we self-identify with either gender, before sex organs even manifest externally in the body of a fetus, all living entities are engaged in the process of seeking nourishment, food.

Over and over again, whenever Prabhupada spoke of varnasrama, he reiterated the need for devotees to grow their own food, utilizing the cow and bull in the process. Has it ever occurred to you, or any of the blindered proponents of sex segregation (which I am almost totally in favor of*) who comment here, that many of the issues revolving around the relation between men and women would fall into place naturally if we lived in a agrarian, low-technology society, a society in which the gender roles and sexual relationships develop naturally and chastely in harmony with the day-to-day realities of survival and cultural development.

All these so-called traditionalists venting here are abstracting, beyond all recognition, something that is completely natural, but can only fully manifest when we live in a natural environment.

In short, you’re putting the cart before the ox. Instead of focusing exclusively and narrowly on sex, better to address the most basic issue that affects humans in general and devotees in particular, before the problem of sex rears its multiple heads: livelihood and food self-sufficiency. When we get that straightened out, everything else will take care of itself.

Even monks have to eat. Focusing on sex roles in the absence of community, livelihood, and food self-sufficiency is, in my admittedly non-humble view, a perversion. Is it really necessary to dwell on sex to the exclusion of everything else? Is it necessary to see everything in sexual terms? Reminds me of a saying, “Get your mind out of the gutter.” Yes, sex is a big problem, but it’s secondary to existence; you can survive without sex, but you can’t survive without food.

(Continued)

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 1st, 2011
253 Unregistered

Also Manu describes vivAha as upanayana for women, pathisevA as gurukulavaasa and gRihakRitya as agnihotra.

Obviously not all varnas are eligible to do agni hotra and when a women is said be doing agnihotra through performance of household actvities, it logically implies that the husband is doing those and that he should be a brahmana.

A women married to sudra man is not her upanayana. if so then ALL married womens are brahminis.

To what varna does the chaste wife of a kshatriya belong to?
Obviously Khatriya and not brahmana.
Hence marriage decides the varna of women which is obtained from the varna of husband

Comment posted by scooty.ram on June 1st, 2011
254 tulasi-priya

In an agrarian, low-tech society, roles and functions harmonize with the natural world, not fight against it. In a natural, God-designed economy, necessity dictates what people do, not self-styled authorities with nothing more than bombast and intellectual trickery to achieve their doubtful ends.

When I look back on some of my dealings with men who (unknown to me at the time) avidly support their notion of traditionalism, what stands out is the undercurrent of sexual predation I felt coming from them. I would be repelled by their attitudes, only to be shocked months and years later when I found out that they were gung-ho for chastity in women. It has only led me to believe that the real reason for this single-minded pursuit of a sexual idea in the absence of so many other social needs is, simply, ideal sex.

I’ve long held the view that feminism has royally screwed (pun intended) the sex lives of modern Western civilization, particularly for men. The less submissive that woman have grown with the passage of time, the more impotent and uninterested men have become, hence the rise of pedophilia, extreme porn, and human trafficking. But the change in sexual mores does not exist in isolation, but grows from an increasingly industrialized mode of life, starting with the Industrial Revolution and on down the line to the Internet. For sex to be interesting, for a large majority of men, a sense of dominance is required. Short of violent rape (the kind performed by “inexpert” men), there is no meaningful outlet for men’s sexual needs, even if they are engaged in the act, because women are not as submissive as they once were.

The whole present society colludes in this dilution and perversion of sexual nature via advertising, high technology, etc. It’s my considered opinion that those whose interest is almost solely concentrated on this one aspect of human existence are the victims of feminism, people whose sexual natures are gasping for breath, but can find no outlet that doesn’t violated their principles. But to artificially attempt to “put women in their place” in a way that clashes with the day-to-day reality we all know, without the support of a culture that is more holistic and natural, starting with how we feed ourselves and conduct our livelihood, is to exacerbate the problem. (continued)

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 1st, 2011
255 tulasi-priya

To have completely submissive and compliant women in the context of a culture divorced from nature, with its high technology, consumerism, and general godlessness, is not doing men any favors. Men, even devotee men, are still affected adversely by that culture, and partake of its sexual attitudes. An artificially-imposed submission of women will only add fuel to their fire. It will only make men lustier, and make women more willing to take advantage of that lust in order to manipulate men to satisfy their material desires. And by “women” I mean wives. Even a wife can act like a prostitute. I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse any so-called traditionalist devotee man of promoting sex-segregation, extreme chastity, etc., intentionally for that purpose, but I’ve heard enough stories to know that it can be a by-product.

If we attempt these artificial impositions out of context, if we treasure this sort of material arrangement in hearts not sufficiently purified by sadhana-bhakti, the result is sure to be a miserable failure, because the potential for abuse will be so great. If pursued by individuals, I see no problem, but to attempt to establish it as a policy in what is still essentially a neophyte society is premature, dangerous, and irresponsible. Furthermore, it is no other man’s business how I relate to my husband or other men, provided I don’t cause trouble for him. And if it is he can address me personally. I am so repulsed by the notion of men not my husband or guru telling women how they should behave. It’s a kind of subtle sex, in my view, and they should stop it, or risk being seen as (subtle) sexual predators.

We have to focus first and foremost on the foundation of a varnasrama society: devotional service. We have to become purified enough to ascertain the next step. I believe that the next step concerns food and livelihood, not sex.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 1st, 2011
256 tulasi-priya

I’m not going to comment any further on this topic here, and have no wish to read comments by Krishna-kirti prabhu, et al. This is not because I’m closed-minded to their views. I happen to agree with most of what the traditionalists say. No, I don’t wish to hear from Krishna-kirti because I have been reading his writings for years, and have concluded that his agenda and his concerns are way too narrow to be meaningful or practical.

As for the others, they strike me as disagreeable. They may be pure devotees for all I know, but they’re not able to persuade me of the rightness of their cause, a cause I actually happen to believe in, because of their vindictive attitudes toward another devotee. Urmila mataji posted about education, a vitally important matter to our society. Those who highjacked this thread for their own agendas really should have been deleted, since it was way off-topic. It’s amusing that Krishna-kirti prabhu misread me so badly, but that was to be expected when we seek acquiescence, not consensus

I was a fool to have joined in this discussion, but I did it because I like Urmila mataji, even while not necessarily agreeing with her on every point. She is doing valuable service and I appreciate her efforts. I simply wanted to express my views here for anyone who is interested, which I know KK is not. It’s too bad that he and the others who have posted here are not able to apply their intelligence to something more than just the issue of sex roles in ISKCON, but I won’t permit myself to get entangled in their obsession just to prove something.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 1st, 2011
257 Kulapavana

Sri Madhavacharya in his commentary to Parasara Smriti (Harita XX1) says: “If the samskara of upanayana was not performed in the case of girl, women would be reduced to the status of Sudras; how then Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas could be born of them?”
From the source I linked earier:
“In Vedas women have been granted the highest status of being a seer (rishika) along with men. Some of them even composed the Vedic hymns e.g, Visvara, Ghosa, Romasa, Lopamudra, Apala etc. They could recite Vedic mantras as matter of course. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad tells us of a woman philosopher, Gargi Vacaknavi who carried on learned discussions with Rishi Yajanavalkya. In the Mahabharata we find a number of stories of girls who were noted for their spiritual aspirations. Thus, there is a story of a Brahmavadini Sulabha, who demanded praise for her great progress in spiritual path. There was another girl ‘Siba’ who was the daughter of a learned Brahmana, she studied all the Vedas and after wards attained Siddhi.
In Panini’s Asthadhyayi, we find the reference of the epithet kumari Sramana,i.e. an unmarried female ascetic. These female ascetics dedicated their lives to penance. They were known as ‘Kumara – Pravrajita’ and ‘Kumara – Tapasi’. In the ancient period, the daughters had the right to perform Yajnas, the unmarried girls were also seen offering Vedic sacrifices. In the Satapatha Brahmana, we find the reference of a woman who performed a special Upanayana on the occasion of soma sacrifice. Atharva Veda says that the Brahmacharya discipline and training was as much necessary for girls
as it was for boys.”

If we are to argue for the spiritual vision and spiritual equality as our acharyas did, we should be breaking the artificial barriers created to keep women down, not adding them.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on June 1st, 2011
258 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
I do not attempt to ‘reconcile’ the statements of Srila Prabhupada you quote with the actual practice in both ancient and modern India as presented by me above. Such statements do not change history or accepted practices among the Vaishnavas. The way I understand these quotes is that they apply to a specific situation and context Srila Prabhupada was trying to explain, or to the preaching point he was trying to make at the moment.

You are fond of emphasizing the saying: kalau sudra-sambhavah
This of course applies to men as well. Please also note that this phrase actually originates from the following verse found in the Skanda Purana:
asuddhah sudra-kalpa hi brahmanah kali-sambhavah
Where: asuddhah stands for impure;and sudra-kalpa-for: like sudras
Translation: “In the Kali yuga brahmanas will certainly become like impure sudras”
or “In Kali yuga brahmanas will be born as/like sudras.”

The way we understand this quote is that samskaras and birth alone do not make one a brahmana. So… if men can transcend their sudra-like birth and become brahmanas ONLY by practice and qualifications, why the same principle cannot be applied to women?
And incidentally, where does it say that a man can become a brahmana by marriage? And why should it be any different for a woman? That makes very little sense.

You are a brahmana/brahmani if you have the proper PERSONAL qualifications - that seems to be the bottom line of both shastras and our tradition. Such personal qualifications are typically developed by training in the ancestral home and thus a person born AND trained in a home of a brahmana is known to be a brahmana OR a brahmani. Can such training and development be performed by a husband? I do not see a reason why not, especially in the modern Iskcon context, but it is certainly not a typical way or a traditional (historical) way.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on June 1st, 2011
259 Unregistered

So many of Srila Prabhapada’s classes were so oftentimes on preaching that we are not this body and that we should realize it. In a class given in Australia about this very point, Srila Prabhupada said emphatically: “And this, you must realize”. (re: one of the Remembering SP DVDs, SP in Australia)

This is the simple principle upon which our whole KC should be laid upon, in full awareness and profound conviction. A strong adherence to this bare fact of spiritual identity. A solid understanding of dehino’smin yatha dehe in our daily surroundings, preparing ourselves all along to be what we should be when bearing such vision: dhiras tatra na muhyati, having become absorbed all along in the reality of our eternal constitutional position.

Can one see that? When millions people from around the world will come to the world-class temple of Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, so many people, influential or not, and rest assured that many people will inquire about man’s and woman’s position in the Hare Krishna movement? My goodness, it is about time to put our act together as mahatmas, generous, open minded personalities who are eager and ready to preach to the masses. Personalities who see first from the spiritual platform, who are not scared by anyone or of anyone because there is simply nothing to be scared about: everyone is a soul, not a body. In this world, everyone in any shape or form is in essence a soul servant of Krishna in need of his/her own true relationship with the Supreme God, All-Attractive Personality, Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

Such vision is far from being artificial and cannot be imitated. But the premises to get there can be thought. That is accomodated in the association of devotees. And these premises are thought in Srila Prabhupada’s books. With time, this vision matures into compassion for all other living entities, including one’s own fallen self. This vision supersedes the bodily platform once and for all. Then it really does not matter who gives a class as long as there is genuine and sincere exchange of krishna-katha with the audience, perceived as well from the same angle of vision. (cont’d)

Comment posted by Prabhava Vigraha das on June 1st, 2011
260 Unregistered

Srila Prabhupada was so special not only to us but to everyone he met because he had this universal compassion for the whole world including each and every living entity he would come in contact with, from the first to the last, until his very last breath. Didn’t he tell some devotee to serve prasad to the assembled devotees right before his leaving this world? His spirit was fully appreciative and immersed into serving everyone else as a devotee of Krishna. To love Krishna means to love and serve His devotees, and even moreso when they are covered over by the material energy. And how can one transmit that mood if he does not have the vision to see the spiritual being or spark in all bodies? By regular and prolongated practice of Krishna consciousness, one can appreciate that Krishna consciousness is the original consciousness of every living entity, the original energy of all living entities. And it all begins with understanding, realizing that we are not this body but a pure spirit soul, and acting as such, thereby proportionate to our self realization relinquishing all kinds of attachments for material, sinful activities because that is the condition to come and stay on the spiritual platform. It is all rendered possbile by the causeless mercy of trying to chant the Holy Name offenselessly.

There are interesting philosophical points in this thread. And they should not be debated at the cost of psychologically discouraging any devotee. Everything in the service of the Lord should be seen as positive by those who know the very nature of devotional service. There is no other perspective from a spritual point of view. A devotee is always in a patient and satisfied mood, expecting Krishna’s mercy at every step. Whatever happens around him/her is greeted as a manifestation of the Lord’s mercy: tat te nukampam su-samikshamano, bhunjana evatma-kritam vipakam…

All glories to Srila Prabhupada who thaught by example and still continues through his books and followers to teach the whole world how to be Krishna conscious.

Comment posted by Prabhava Vigraha das on June 1st, 2011
261 tulasi-priya

Krishna-kirti prabhu’s response leaves me astonished. He certainly did a neat job of pegging me, my philosophy, and my character. Too bad it was all wrong. Never mind, since I have no hope of my words not being twisted, I’m withdrawing from this discussion. But first I’m going to set the record straight regarding my views on varnasrama-dharma. I will not post further here on this topic.

I most certainly did NOT express “extreme doubt” about the efficacy of varnasrama-dharma. I posed a rhetorical question, that’s all. Putting words in my mouth and doubts in my head that have no purchase there is more than a bit rhetorically dishonest. Nor did he address the valid questions I asked. Since I can’t trust him to not twist what I say or draw erroneous conclusions, I will withdraw from further comment here on this topic. I just wanted to set the record straight about me.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have no argument with traditionalism and sex-segregation in general, or more specifically, daivi-varnasrama-dharma. In fact, I have recently established a non-profit expressly for the purpose of promoting simple living and high thinking, in a way that might actually bring about real change. It’s still in the development stages but will go public soon.

However, my views radically depart from Krishna-kirti prabhu’s in the matter of priority. I don’t think that attempting to enforce rigid sex roles and segregation takes priority over establishing self-sufficient communities based on economic inter-dependence between devotees, cows, and the land. Sex is secondary to food. ISKCON has not yet solved the food problem.

When we finally excise ourselves from our profound dependency on the mainstream culture for even our most basic sustenance, when our bodies, which are made of earth, live more closely in sync with the natural cycles, disciplines, and traditions related to an agrarian culture, when we live in closer relation to land and cows, then other aspects of Vedic culture will naturally fall into place. When the body is rightly situated, the mind will be peaceful, and thus we can more easily pursue transcendence. But VAD cannot be separated from bhakti, otherwise it’s simply organized sense gratification, as the Amish experience has shown. Focusing on rigid sex roles in preference to other aspects of varnasrama-dharma is like putting the cart before the ox. Obviously, you won’t get anywhere that way.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 2nd, 2011
262 krishna-kirti

Before I get to Mataji Tulasi Priya’s angst, I want to deal first with what appears to be the substance of her view on varnashram-dharma (and she has stated her determination not to read anything I write, this is not addressed to her, it’s to a general devotee audience):

She writes:

I am a sold-out believer in varnasrama-dharma, but where we [Krishna-kirti and Tulasi-Priya] differ radically is how it should be implemented.

Incorrect. We differ fundamentally on what varnashram is in the first place. For those who have been following the correspondence, I have stated repeatedly, and clearly, that sex-avoidance is essential to varnashram-dharma. As I wrote in comment #199, Varnashram-dharma implies separation of the sexes, and separation of the sexes implies varnashram-dharma. If the sexes are to be kept separate, then varnashram-dharma must be followed. And in comment #192 I wrote that VAD is as meaningless without [separation of the sexes] in the same way that fire is meaningless without heat and light. My pramana for this?

[Srila Prabhupada speaking:] So these regulative principles are there. So what is, what is the big plan behind these regulative principles? The big plan is: here is the attraction, puàsaù striyä mithuné-bhävam—to cut down this attraction between male and female. This is the big plan. Otherwise there is no need of the varëäçrama. Varnäçrama means to train the candidates gradually to become free from this entanglement of man and woman. This is the basic principle. (Lecture, SB 5.5.8, Vrindavan 30 Oct 1976)

If we are not following varnashram to “cut down this attraction between male and female,” then we don’t need it.

But then Mataji Tulasi Priya makes a curious claim: “many of the issues revolving around the relation between men and women would fall into place naturally if we lived in a agrarian, low-technology society, a society in which the gender roles and sexual relationships develop naturally and chastely in harmony with the day-to-day realities of survival and cultural development.”

Not necessarily. At the start of the Gita, Arjuna explained how due to the unrestricted intermingling of men and women society becomes populated with varna-sankara, unwanted progeny. Since this can happen in an agrarian society, it cannot be concluded that a return to an agrarian society will necessarily cause sex relations to readjust properly. (continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
263 krishna-kirti

In examining Mataji Tulasi-Priya’s claim that industrialization creates illicit relations between men and women, we have seen that this can arise in an agrarian society as well (cf. Arjuna’s argument against fighting at the start of the Gita). Consequently, it cannot be true that a return to an agrarian economy will necessarily rectify illicit relations between men and women. Indeed, men and women can engage very extensively in illicit relations despite an agrarian economy. The high degree of illicit sexual relations between men and women that defined sahajiya culture in pre-industrial Bengal is a case in point. What Mataji Tulasi Priya’s policy is likely to produce is a hippie organic farm commune.

But an industrial economy does not imply a regime of illicit sex. In American industrial society prior to World War II, the illegitimacy rate was at 7% of all live births. During the war, it dipped down to 5%. But then over the next 65 years, the rate of births to unmarried women in America climbed to 41% of all live births, where it is today. What explains this dramatic shift in sexual conduct over the last 65 years is that not only did the war effort kill or maim many young men, more importantly the war effort brought a huge number of women into the workforce. They took over many jobs that men would have otherwise done. And, understandably, after the war many of the women did not want to return to a domestic life. That along with advances in birth control–especially the pill–gave women control of their own fertility and allowed them stay in the workforce, if they wanted to. World War II brought women en masse into the American workforce, and medical advances that allowed for the efficient control of fertility allowed women to stay there.

As we can see, circumstances that allow men and women to intermingle closely can arise in both industrial and agrarian economies. What this means is that industrialization in and of itself does not necessarily mean that men and women will closely intermingle. It is important that we grasp this, because nuclear weapons will be needed to protect the farm communities from others who reject our own world view. Unfortunately, that is just the world we live in. And our people in the military-industrial complex will also need to become Krishna conscious if they want to succeed, too. They will therefore also need to follow varnashram-dharma. It will be up to us to figure out how best to adapt it.

(continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
264 krishna-kirti

Mataji Tulasi Priya wrote:

But to artificially attempt to “put women in their place” in a way that clashes with the day-to-day reality we all know, without the support of a culture that is more holistic and natural, starting with how we feed ourselves and conduct our livelihood, is to exacerbate the problem.

A devotee born in a brahmin family, in South India, once told me of how his sister used to bring a glass of milk every morning for her father. Then one day during breakfast, he asked her, “How old are you?”

“Twelve,” she said.

“From now on, only your mother will bring me milk.”

And she never served him again.

What this true story illustrates is the principle of separation of the sexes, as we find it in the Bhagavatam: “One should not allow oneself to sit on the same seat even with one’s own mother, sister or daughter, for the senses are so strong that even though one is very advanced in knowledge, he may be attracted by sex.” Here is a clear idea of how, in every day life a man should live so as not to become the victim of sex desire.

Here is another true story:

A devotee lived peacefully with his family for a time, until it was found out that he had some sexual relations with his daughter. The Child Protection Office followed up on the case, involved law enforcement, and the devotee served time in jail. Again, it illustrates the same lesson of the first story, but in terms of how one should NOT live his life.

We don’t have to wait for a cultural revolution to follow in the footsteps of the old, South Indian brahmin. Taking that up now IS the cultural revolution!

(continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
265 krishna-kirti

Mataji Tulasi-Priya wrote:

When we finally excise ourselves from our profound dependency on the mainstream culture for even our most basic sustenance, when our bodies, which are made of earth, live more closely in sync with the natural cycles, disciplines, and traditions related to an agrarian culture, when we live in closer relation to land and cows, then other aspects of Vedic culture will naturally fall into place.

Her idea here is much like Marx’s idea that the means of production determine the realtions of production. In this case, she is alleging that an agrarian society will automatically realign our gender relations (sex being the most fundamental of all means of production), and we will not have to make a separate endeavor.

But as we have seen, perverted sexual relations can also be just as prevelant in an agrarian society as in an industrial society. The reason it is so is that the duality of material existence reflected in the duality between man and woman exists all the same no matter what kind of economy one has. That is why rearanging the means of production will not ameliorate the problem of sexual relations. Marx’s idea failed because the jiva is still superior to matter, and he has a tendency to dominate and enjoy whatever his economic context.

Just because you live on a farm doesn’t mean you have varnashram. It doesn’t arise organically and spontaneously with the summer crops. There are so many farm communities today that are not varnashram communities. Mataji Tulasi-Priya mentioned the Amish. They as agrarian and self-sufficient as you get, but they don’t have varnashram. Why? Because they don’t accept the direction of the dharma-shastras, and the shastras organize society specifically on the principle of separation of the sexes in terms of one’s occupational and social divisions. The Amish don’t have verses such as SB 9.19.17, which is found both in the Bhagavatam and Manu-smriti. The dharma-shastras are there to specifically guide us in controlling the problem of material duality embodied in male-female attraction while we begin our first steps in spiritual life.

Varnashram presents us a set of pre-religious princples, which are themselves prerequisites for making spiritual advancement. That is why we take certain vows at initiation. Does refraining from illicit sex bring us to the transcendental platform? Not in and of itself, but it helps our spiritual efforts.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
266 Unregistered

Kulapavana Prabhu has provided a quote from Harita samhita, in which women from previous ages had upanayana. According to Harita, this would have been applicable to “brahmavadini” women who were life long celibates and not to married women “sadyovadhu”.

Manu samhita says women don’t get the sacred thread and we know that Prabhupada didn’t give the sacred thread to women. So we accept the conclusion of our current Acarya by his teachings and practice.

I had asked how we are to understand how, according to Srila Prabhupada, women are in the same category as sudras and dvija-bandhus and that a woman’s “varna” is according to her husband, not on her own merit. Kulapavana Prabhu replied thus:

The way I understand these quotes is that they apply to a specific situation and context Srila Prabhupada was trying to explain, or to the preaching point he was trying to make at the moment.

Prabhupada was speaking to our current time, place and circumstances of Kali yuga but you have “jumped over” and provided quotes about a previous age.

Where are sastric examples of chaste wives who did not share the varna of their husbands and acted/worked independently as brahmanas or ksatriyas? Why did Sukhanya and Devahuti not continue to act as ksatriyanis?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 4th, 2011
267 krishna-kirti

I will now briefly deal with Mataji Tulasi-Priya’s angst, of which I’m certain some readers share.

As I had mentioned earlier, it turns out that we disagree fundamentally about the utility and purpose of varnashram itself. I see varnashram as a set of pre-religious principles for organizing society in a way that will best minimize the attraction between male and female. She appears to see varnashram as a social circumstance that arises from participating in an agrarian economy and purification through sadhana bhakti. I see varnashram as a prerequisite for civilized life, she sees it as a byproduct economic and devotional factors. Disagreement on the meanings of terms is is fundamental to many a hot disagreement, and our dispute appears to be no exception.

I also believe that as a piece of writing, this passage of Mataji Tulasi-Priya’s is deeply problematic:

One other thing: lust and illicit sex don’t stop, or even reduce, just because the sexes are segregated. Visit any prison or single-sex school for proof. Nor do so-called traditional values guarantee sexual purity. The Amish are a case in point: wildness among the youth during their Rumspringa, and incest in Amish families. If our characters aren’t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?

First of all, it’s often a bad idea to leave rhetorical questions unanswered–especially with an audience that does not necessarily see the world the way you do. Unless Mataji was writing only for her ilk (which may have been the case), then she failed to account for her audience.

Secondly, due to the question’s being located right after a set of sentences whose common point seems to be that keeping men and women separate will not reduce illicit sex, one would expect the last sentence (the “rhetorical question”) to highlight and accentuate the same point. If the question is not related to the previous sentences, then it shouldn’t be there. And if it is related to them, especially as a means of highlighting and accentuating the point they are making, then there is no good reason to be upset when the point is disputed.

(continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
268 krishna-kirti

As already mentioned, Mataji Tulasi-Priya and I differ fundamentally on what varnashram is, not simply its implementation. But it also begins some contempt on her part for those who disagree with her. In her initial comment, she wrote:

Certainly it would be proper (if perhaps a bit Phariseean) if, prior to the class, the assembled male devotees were asked if they object to Urmila mataji giving the class. I would be keen to see who steps forward to assert his male privilege. I doubt that any man present, even the most traditional, would do so. But if he does, what would that say about him?

She suggests that the males she disagrees with here are “Phariseean”, never mind that initial objections here were raised by a women who is Mataji Urmila’s peer. And through yet another unanswered rhetorical question, she apparently suggests that raising objections at all would tell us the traditionalist men she is thinking of are low-minded and beneath contempt.

And before that she invokes the 6th verse of NOI, suggesting that Mataji Urmila is a pure devotee and that taking into account her sex for whatever reason is an offense. But Mataji Tulasi-Priya on the other hand can express her ire without reservation for males she disagrees with becase she feels they are not pure devotees, and, of course, deserving of her censure. So from the very outset Mataji Tulasi-Priya was not interested in a discussion with people who see things differently than she does.

(continued)

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
269 krishna-kirti

So from the very outset Mataji Tulasi-Priya was not interested in a discussion with people who see things differently than she does. She had her mind made up, she had a chip on her shoulder. She was already prepared to lash out at the slightest provocation. This is nicely captured in these words of hers:

I’m not going to comment any further on this topic here, and have no wish to read comments by Krishna-kirti prabhu, et al. This is not because I’m closed-minded to their views. I happen to agree with most of what the traditionalists say. No, I don’t wish to hear from Krishna-kirti because I have been reading his writings for years, and have concluded that his agenda and his concerns are way too narrow to be meaningful or practical.

As for the others, they strike me as disagreeable. They may be pure devotees for all I know, but they’re not able to persuade me of the rightness of their cause, a cause I actually happen to believe in, because of their vindictive attitudes toward another devotee.

So on the one hand, one devotee’s writings are “way too narrow to be meaningful” and the others are “disagreeable” and “vindictive”. So who is left to try to settle differences with? No one, apparently. Mataji says she is not being “closed-minded”, but that strikes me as something like a stranger moving in one’s house at night and, when you say “who’s there?”, you get the response “I’m not a thief”. At this point, I think it is clear that discussion between traditionalist and progressive devotees is no longer possible.

The best act may be to keep a good distance between ourselves. I don’t think that going away from each other, for good, is something that should be off the table. Vidura Ji and Lord Balaram went on pilgrimage when it became apparent that discussion would no longer do any good. Even Srila Prabhupada eventually left the Gaudiya Math to do his own work.

Although it is good to stick together, as Prabhupada wanted, it is also good to avoid committing offenses. We have here a competition of goods, and one may inevitably come at the expense of the other. On matters of social vision, we may only get to choose one of these goods, not the other.

For the sake of minimizing offenses amongst devotees, I think a permanent exodus from ISKCON of either us traditionalists or die-hard progressives could at some point be a good thing. I’ve suggested a similar solution for the ritvik issue, and I am suggesting something similar here, too.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on June 4th, 2011
270 Unregistered

I do not attempt to ‘reconcile’ the statements of Srila Prabhupada you quote with the actual practice in both ancient and modern India as presented by me above. Such statements do not change history or accepted practices among the Vaishnavas.

Certain practices change with history such as 7 of the 8 forms of marriage previously acceptable in former ages that are nowadays forbidden. We cannot say women today can get the sacred thread just because it was done in ancient times because nowadays it is not allowed.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 4th, 2011
271 tulasi-priya

There’s been a mistake here. I had initially sent some comments, then thought I should edit them down to fit in a single post. Before it was published, I asked the editor to NOT publish the three-part long post and asked him to send it back to me, which he did (I don’t actually know who I was communicating with). Somehow there was a misunderstanding and EVERYTHING I wrote got published. I still stand behind my words, but the longer post wasn’t intended for public comsumption. If there was any offense on my part, please accept my apologies and obeisances.

Comment posted by tulasi-priya on June 4th, 2011
272 Sita Rama 108

As for precedents of women speaking in the presence of exalted men go to S.B Canto 8 chapter 22; we hear of the surrender of Bali Maharaja and his arrest by Lord Vamanadeva. Three people requested the Lord to be merciful to Bali Maharaja; Prahlada Maharaja, Mother Vindhyavali,(Bali Maharaja’s wife) and Lord Brahma .Prahlada Maharaja spoke first then Lord Brahma was about to speak but he stopped to let Mother Vindhyavli speak ahead him. In the purport to S.B 8.22.20 Srila Prabhupada says “ Bali Mahraja’s wife, who was most intelligent, supported the arrest of her husband and accused him of having no intelligence because he had claimed proprietorship of the property of the Lord.” Later in the purport Srila Prabhupada explains that Mother Vindyavali’s argument was that Bali Maharaja “….was still in the darkness of ignorance. Actually the body did not belong to him. But because of his long standing demonic mentality he could not understand this.” By reading the chapter it is apparent that this was Mother Vindyavali’s personal realization, the others stressed different points.
I do not know Mother Urmila personally. But from the history of service she has done it is apparent she has the experience to contribute something. And if a woman can speak in the presence of Lord Brahma, Prahlada Maharaja, and Lord Vamanadeva , a woman,( who has done important service for ISKCON for 40 years) can speak in the presence of the GBC. I think the claim that this goes against Vedic tradition is a toothless argument!

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 5th, 2011
273 Sita Rama 108

The idea that a woman has no varna until she gets married is erroneous. When Arjuna returned to King Yudhisthira, after the departure of Krishna, he had lost his bodily luster: King Yudhisthira asked “Have you contacted a woman of impeachable character, or have you not properly treated a deserving woman? Or have you been defeated by someone who is equal or inferior to you?” S.B. 5.14.42. In the purport we read “The higher-caste men, namely the brahmanas and ksatriyas, could accept a woman from the viasya or the sudra community, but a man from a lower caste could not contact a woman from the higher caste. Even a ksatriya could not contact a woman of the brahmana caste”.
But this topic is irrelevant to the question of who should preach Krishna Consciousness. This is Lord Caitanya’s Movement, He first said all those in India should preach Krishna Consciousness and then said all people on Earth should take this duty. Beyond that, we all know the verse where the Lord says, whatever ones varna, if they know the science of Krishna they can be Guru. Also lets not forget that the principal has always been that ones varna is based on quality not birth despite all these rules that seem to restrict things based on the family one is born in.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 5th, 2011
274 Unregistered

KPP: Women in those times also received upanayana ceremony. See a reasearch paper here http://onlineijra.com/research…..mskara.pdf for sources and examples. Srila Prabhupada followed that model when he gave his female disciples second initiation, Gayatri mantra, and asked them to perform Deity worship in his temples.

Srila Prabhupada did not follow ”that model” presented in Anita Singh’s paper, as quoted by Kulapavana Prabhu. In our times women receive pancaratrika initiation, not vaidika initiation. (see CC Madhya 24.331 and NOD Lecture Oct. 27/72) In our times women do not receive the sacred thread/upanayana.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 5th, 2011
275 Kulapavana

yajna-siddhy-artham anaghan
brahmanan mukhato’srjat
brahmanyam brahmanenaivam
utpanno brahmanah smrtah
“From the mouth (of the Lord) sinless brahmanas were created for the purpose of performing sacrifices. The child born of a brahmana in the womb of a brahmana wife is known as a brahmana.” (Harita Smrti 1.12.15)
Our acharyas have argued for centuries that a person should be accepted as a brahmana by qualifications alone, regardless of their birth in a particular body or family. To limit such a quality-based standard to men alone flies in the face of all reason and logic and seriously undermines the arguments our acharyas used to support their position.

janmana jayate sudrah
samskarad bhaved dvijah
veda-pathad bhaved vipro
brahma janatiti brahmanah
“By birth one is a sudra, by the purificatory process one becomes a dvija, by study of the Vedas one becomes a vipra, and one who knows Brahman is a brahmana.” MahaBharatha Shanthi Parva 188

Such quality-based distinctions are NOT limited to men only. They apply to all human beings.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on June 6th, 2011
276 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu:

“Yes, I think it was followed.”

Then it is apparent you think women are on an equal level with brahmacaris, brahmana men and sannyasis.

First, Prabhupada did not say, as Akruranatha Prabhu has written, that “If a woman is more qualified, she should be given preference.” Giving preference to men, as Prabhupada was introducing even in early 1968, is harmonious with varnasrama principles and not doing so is inharmonious.

Women are not socially equal with brahmana men and sannyasis and to allow them to serve in a way that demonstrates social equality is artificial.

Yes women can and should be given a “proper chance to speak” but that can and should be done without disturbing what little varnasrama culture we have established and without regressing back to ISKCON’s infantile 60’s stage.

In Mayapura there were many highly qualified male speakers present at class time and not giving them preference was, at the very least improper, and many feel it was offensive, especially towards the sannyasis present.

If Prabhupada didn’t want women teaching brahmacaris in the gurukula how would he grant approval for women to teach sannyasis?! Giving class, after all, is teaching.

In Lord Caitanya’s time, it was considered improper for women to pay obeisance’s from up close, it was considered part of the ideal sannyasi’s stricture not to have close connections with women: (continued in next post)

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 7th, 2011
277 Unregistered

“In the varnasrama institution the sannyasi, or the person in the renounced order of life, is considered to be the head or the spiritual master of all the social statuses and orders. A brahmana is considered to be the spiritual master of the three other sections of a society, namely, the ksatriyas, the vaisyas and the sudras, but a sannyasi, who is on the top of the institution, is considered to be the spiritual master of the brahmanas also. “

…”There are so many rules and regulations to be followed in the renounced order of life.… Lord Caitanya was an ideal sannyasi, and when He was at Puri His feminine devotees could not even come near to offer their respects. They were advised to bow down from a distant place. This is not a sign of hatred for women as a class, but it is a stricture imposed on the sannyasi not to have close connections with women. One has to follow the rules and regulations of a particular status of life in order to purify his existence. For a sannyasi, intimate relations with women and possessions of wealth for sense gratification are strictly forbidden. The ideal sannyasi was Lord Caitanya Himself, and we can learn from His life that He was very strict in regards to women. Although He is considered to be the most liberal incarnation of Godhead, accepting the most fallen conditioned souls, He strictly followed the rules and regulations of the sannyasa order of the life in connection with association with woman. “ (BG 16.1-3)

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 7th, 2011
278 Unregistered

It is interesting to see how Jahnava Devi conducted Herself at the abhiseka ceremony at the first Gaura Purnima celebration at Kheturi-grama. She did not perform the abhiseka, Srinivasa Acarya did. She did not join the associates of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda on the podium, neither did She lead the kirtans. Jahnava Devi cooked for Their Lordships, offered the preparations to the Deities and honored prasada after all the male devotees were served.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 7th, 2011
279 Unregistered

Sita Rama Dasa wrote in texts 272:

“As for precedents of women speaking in the presence of exalted men go to S.B Canto 8 chapter 22; we hear of the surrender of Bali Maharaja and his arrest by Lord Vamanadeva. Three people requested the Lord to be merciful to Bali Maharaja; Prahlada Maharaja, Mother Vindhyavali,(Bali Maharaja’s wife) and Lord Brahma .Prahlada Maharaja spoke first then Lord Brahma was about to speak but he stopped to let Mother Vindhyavli speak ahead him. “

It is a certainly a stretch to use the reference of 8.22 to support women giving Bhagavatam class to sannyasis! Lord Brahma, who had been speaking, stopped for awhile as Vindhyavali was “afraid and aggrieved at seeing her husband arrested”!

“Although Lord Brahma was speaking, he had to stop for a while because Bali Maharaja’s wife, Vindhyavali, who was very agitated and afraid, wanted to say something.” SB 8.22.19 Purport

In text 273, Sita Rama Prabhu wrote:

“The idea that a woman has no varna until she gets married is erroneous.”

Who said that? Also, no one has been arguing that women cannot preach or be guru in a general sense. These are straw-men arguments.

A woman’s status is determined by the varna of her father before her marriage and her husband after marriage. The time Prabhupada is speaking of with regards to Arjuna in 5.14.42, was a time when the culture of the caste system was still preserved, but soon varna-sankara set in with the progress of Kali-yuga.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 7th, 2011
280 Unregistered

All of the students at gurukula, boys and girls, learned Sanskrit so the letter to Bhavananda cited by Babhru Prabhu isn’t so unusual.

“Sanskrit should be compulsory for all our children to learn…” SPL Feb. 28/72

BP: “It appears, then, that Srila Prabhupada’s vision may accommodate engaging women outside the kitchen.”

While this is true, there’s more to “Srila Prabhupada’s vision” as he always emphasized the non-academic aspects of a girls’ education, cooking in particular, to be essential.

It would be dangerous to take the letter to Bhavananda in isolation and assume a woman can make a career of being a scholar yet give up the service of cooking. Prabhupada taught his women disciples that such a lifestyle would be artificial.

“There is no objection of their becoming scholar, but that is not necessary. They have got natural inclination to give service by cooking, cleansing, dressing. “ SP RC January 8, 1977

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 9th, 2011
281 Unregistered

The child born of a brahmana in the womb of a brahmana wife is known as a brahmana.” (Harita Smrti 1.12.15)


This reference is not applicable to devotees today.

Such quality-based distinctions are NOT limited to men only.

Quality-based distinctions apply to all living entities, including animals. It’s called guna.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 13th, 2011
282 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

While preparing for the class I’m giving tomorrow on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.20, I thought these statements from Prabhupada’s purport to that verse would be enlivening to those following this thread:

“The ladies, who were all absorbed in the thought and actions of the Lord, developed the consciousness of Vedic wisdom by the grace of the Lord. And therefore although such ladies might not have been very learned scholars in Sanskrit or otherwise, still whatever they spoke was more attractive than the Vedic hymns. The Vedic hymns in the Upaniṣads are sometimes indirectly directed to the Supreme Lord. But the talks of the ladies were directly spoken of the Lord, and thus they were more pleasing to the heart. The ladies’ talks appeared to be more valuable than the learned brāhmaṇas’ benedictions.”

and, now I need to supervise the grandkids doing their chores and then cook lunch.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on June 15th, 2011
283 Unregistered

Having watched this debate on and off for some time, I am still amazed at how strongly a person can hold onto their narrow vision of the absolute, and mostly relative truth, and believe it to be absolutely right. Simply because they back it up with different Prabhupada quotes, which they believe, affirm their relative vision.

Like the example of the four blind men, who approach an elephant, from different angles, feeling a different part of the elephant’s body. Each blind man is convinced that an elephant, is like the part of the body he touched. The blind man who felt the tusks, states, that Elephants are extremely hard and smooth. The man who felt the tail, explains that elephants are small and shaped like a snake. The man who felt the ear, states that the other two blind men are completely wrong and elephants are flat like a pancake. Yet each person holds to his tiny understanding of an elephant and tries to impose his true, but limited vision on the others.

While many people, on both sides, have made reasonable posts, some of the posts in this discussion, are good examples of how easy it is to take the philosophy, and use it to bludgeon our fellow devotees to death. Of all the weapons of the false ego, few are more potent, than our spiritually held beliefs that are backed up by “authority”. And nothing trumps the “Prabhupada said” bramastra. Yes, it is necessary to defend the philosophy from deviations, and use Prabhupada’s words. But, when anger and venom appear, it has been my observation, that the arguments, are more about our ego dominating, once again, trying to be the Ishvara. Yet another manifestation of our false ego, disguised in spiritual quotes.

So when faced with so many contradictory quotes, I try to look beyond the words to determine whom I believe to be right. I can only say, that Urmila, through her general comportment, throughout this debate, has acted like, as Prabhupada would say, “a perfect gentleman”, or rather gentlewoman. Despite being attacked with, what appeared to be, venom, anger and even hatred, she has shown, great tolerance, self control, and gravity. In fact she has displayed wonderfully, most of the 26 qualities of a Vaishnava. The same cannot be said about some of her most ardent critics. If this is the result of giving Bhagavatam class, I hope she and many other women continue. Her actions speak way louder than her critics words.

Comment posted by Ram Mohan on June 17th, 2011
284 Sita Rama 108

PART 1
Mother Sitadasi,
In comment 279 you chopped up the sentence made by Srila Prabhupada. It seems you are implying that the only reason Lord Brahma let Mother Vindhavali speak was because she was afraid and agreived.That is not the direct interpretation of Srila Prabhupada’s sentence: “Although Lord Brahma was speaking, he HAD to stop for a while because Bali Mahraja’s wife, Vindhavali, who was very agitated and afraid, WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING”( capitals added). The purport does not say Lord Brahma stepped aside because Vindyavali was agitated. It says it was because she WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING! Srila Prabhupada did not write that Lord Brahma stepped aside because Vindhavali, who wanted to say something was agitated and afraid. If that had been the case we could say Lord Brahma stepped aside because of her emotional condition. But the reason Srila Prabhupada gives is because SHE WANTED TO SAY SOMETHING. Of course she was aggrieved, all those present were aggrieved to see Bali Maharaja in his condition. You say “ it is a stretch to use SB 8.22 to “support women giving Bhagavatam class to sanyasis!” but please give a reason why. I can only question: are you implying that Lord Brahma, the head of our sampradaya is less than an ISKCON sanyasi? What about Prhalada Maharaja and Lord Vamanadeva Himself? Vindhavali, who Srila Prabhupada said several times, was most intelligent, contributed spiritual knowledge in an emergency situation. The current time is also an emergency situation and there are very intelligent women in ISKCON who can contribute to our knowledge with their unique spiritual realization.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 21st, 2011
285 Sita Rama 108

Part 2
You say that the example of it being an anomaly for a great hero like Arjuna to be have a connection with a woman from a higher class was applicable to “a time when the culture of the caste system was still preserved, but soon varna –snakara set in with the progress of Kali yuga. Are all your references about women and their status meant specifically for the time between when Krishna left the planet and now? Can you show us proof that this is what is meant for the modern age? That is a rhetorical question because the instruction applicable to ISKCON is not from a time specified by you. They are based on the instruction and activities of the Acharya. And Srila Prabhupada gave women hari nama and diksha and put them on the altar to worship the Diety and ordered them to preach. Srila Prabhupada did not require women to be married to a brahmama in order to get second initiation. An unmarried woman can go on the altar if she has second initiation but a man born in a pious Hindu brahmana family cannot until he is also initiated. Your philosophy that women have no varna until they are married therefore is inconsistent with the practice of ISKCON which was introduced by Srila Prabhupada. And frankly I can assure you that women assuming leading roles in this movement and giving classes at Mayapur is something that is going to increase. My advice is to be peaceful and accept the inevitable!

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 21st, 2011
286 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Because 50-150 new people a day are reading this thread, some friends convinced me that I should continue to contribute at least from time to time….

I just finished giving a Bhagavatam class on 1.10.23 and was meditating on the fact that verses 21-30 in that chapter are the words of women of Hastinapura glorifying Lord Sri Krishna. Those women are not just giving a class about Bhagavatam–those women’s words and realizations are the very Bhagavatam itself. Highly elevated men and women have read, heard, and meditated upon those words of women for thousands of years.

Certainly, Ram Mohan Prabhu (comment 283), if a person wants to elevate themselves they should follow the advice of the Bhagavatam:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam

Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
SB 1.2.17

I do not have any good qualities and yet I practically experience that speaking about Krishna is the most wonderful and enlivening activity possible anywhere, for anyone. If we want to elevate the people of the world, we should engage everyone in this process. It is most amazing. Thank you, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for opening the floodgates, and thank you, Srila Prabhuapda, for bringing this sweetness of Bhagavatam hearing and chanting to the world. I also deeply respect, and am grateful for, the traditionalists who have contributed to this thread and elsewhere (I consider myself a traditionalist, as well, though some will disagree!) because they want to uphold standards of proper behavior in order to have a foundation for spiritual life.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on June 21st, 2011
287 Unregistered

Sita Rama Prabhu wrote:

You say “ it is a stretch to use SB 8.22 to “support women giving Bhagavatam class to sanyasis!” but please give a reason why.

Lord Brahma allowing Vindhyavali, whose husband was just arrested, to speak is just a different situation than giving class in an Indian temple full of qualified male speakers. An emergency would be one where there is a total lack of qualified men. Also the speaker’s husband had not just been arrested and even if he had been, the morning class would not have been the appropriate forum to discuss it. It was a personal matter not a formal lecture situation.

Your philosophy that women have no varna until they are married therefore is inconsistent with the practice of ISKCON which was introduced by Srila Prabhupada.

Can you please provide proof from Srila Prabhupada that women have independent varna (guna + karma) in our current kali-yuga society?

Can you please also explain the following statements of Srila Prabhupada’s:

1. “The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra. “

2. “Women’s position is subordinate to man. So if the man is first-class, the woman is first-class. If the man is second-class, the woman is second-class. If the man is third-class, the woman is third-class. In this… Because woman is meant for assisting man, so the woman becomes suitable according to the man, her husband.“

Also why did Prabhupada not want women teaching brahmacaris in the gurukula once the boys reached a certain age? And why did he say women were not to attend varnasrama college?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 23rd, 2011
288 Sita Rama 108

Mother Sita dasi,
It has already been proven that in Vedic culture women had status of brahmana before marriage. These women were so highly respected that it would even be a inappropriate for a Ksytriya such as Arjuna to have contact with one of them. That is the version of DHARMARAJA, King Yudhisthira SB.5:14 42 Beyond that the undesirability of a man marrying a woman of a higher caste is found throughout the Bhagavatam. But this is a side issue. ANYONE who knows the science of Krishna is ordered by Lord Caitanya to become a Guru and preach Krishna Consciousness.
Your argument regarding Mother Vindhahyvali is unintelligible,you write “An emergency would be where their was a total lack of qualified men” The most qualified spiritual authorities were at the ceremony where Vindhavali spoke. Also you say, “it was a personal matter not a formal lecture situation”. It was in fact a personal matter but in response to it Vindhavali spoke trascendenal knowledge that was confirmed as the truth found in the Gita by Srila Prabhupada. That shows her spiritual realization. The general point is that in Vedic society there was no rigid restriction of women giving input based on shastric evidence in the presence of Vianava’s on the topmost level.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 24th, 2011
289 Unregistered

Mother Sita dasi,
It has already been proven that in Vedic culture women had status of brahmana before marriage.

Prabhu, you are speaking of a detail which is no longer relevant in Kali yuga.

ANYONE who knows the science of Krishna is ordered by Lord Caitanya to become a Guru and preach Krishna Consciousness.

Anyone, yes, including children, but there is also etiquette to be followed and sannyasis are given respect and seniority when it comes to preaching.

Your argument regarding Mother Vindhahyvali is unintelligible,you write “An emergency would be where their was a total lack of qualified men” The most qualified spiritual authorities were at the ceremony where Vindhavali spoke.

Vindhavali spoke where there were men present due to an emergency personal situation. You are arguing that a woman giving Bhagavatam class is, similarly, an emergency situation but I disagree. This Mayapura lecture was:

1. not a personal emergency situation and
2. not an emergency in terms of there being a lack of qualified men.

Therefore it is a stretch to use this reference to support women giving Bhagavatam class to sannyasis.

Also you say, “it was a personal matter not a formal lecture situation”. It was in fact a personal matter but in response to it Vindhavali spoke trascendenal knowledge that was confirmed as the truth found in the Gita by Srila Prabhupada. That shows her spiritual realization.

Yes but she spoke informally. The ladies in Hastinapura similarly spoke about Krsna informally, on the tops of the houses as part of their personal conversation and thereby showed their topmost spiritual realization. We cannot use such examples to support violating etiquette in non-emergency situations.

The general point is that in Vedic society there was no rigid restriction of women giving input based on shastric evidence in the presence of Vianava’s on the topmost level.

Can you provide an example to support women speaking giving a formal Bhagavatam class to sannyasis?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 24th, 2011
290 Unregistered

Sita Rama Dasa

It has already been proven that in Vedic culture women had status of brahmana before marriage.

what was the vocation of such women you speak of?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 24th, 2011
291 Unregistered

Some points from Srila Prabhupada from his Sri Sri Rukmini Dvarakanatha Deity Installation, Los Angeles, July 16, 1969:

“In this age it is accepted as a fact by the sastras, kalau sudra-sambhavaḥ. In this age nobody is actually bona fide brahmaṇas by birth. Formerly they used to be. “

“Therefore, according to Vedic system, a boy born in a brahmana family, he is allowed all the samskaras, reformatory, purificatory process, but the girl is not. Why? Now, because a girl has to follow her husband. So if her husband is brahmaṇa, automatically she becomes brahmaṇa. There is no need of separate reformation. And by chance she may be married with a person who is not a brahmaṇa, then what is the use of making her a brahmaṇa? That is the general method. So therefore the, even born in a brahmaṇa family, a woman is taken as woman, not as brahmaṇa.”

sound file of lecture available here: http://prabhupadabooks.com/g=160144

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 24th, 2011
292 Unregistered

SRP text 284 Vindhavali, who Srila Prabhupada said several times, was most intelligent, contributed spiritual knowledge in an emergency situation. The current time is also an emergency situation and there are very intelligent women in ISKCON who can contribute to our knowledge with their unique spiritual realization.

How was the giving of class in Mayapura an “emergency situation”, one in which normal etiquette could be broken?

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 25th, 2011
293 Visakha Priya dasi

All glories to Srila Rupa Goswami, in whose footsteps Srila Prabhupada is guiding us. In the sixth verse of the Upadesamrta it is stated that “being situated in his original Krsna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body” and that consequently “such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view.” In countless lectures and talks, Srila Prabhupada has beseeched us not to identify with our bodies. In the purport to the above quoted text 6, Srila Prabhupada writes that “a surrendered soul serves Krsna without material considerations… Bhakti-yoga is the proper activity of the soul, and when one actually engages in unalloyed, uncontaminated devotional service, he is already liberated. Krsna’s devotee is not subjected to material condition, even though his bodily features may appear materially conditioned…”–in the case on hand, a female body. Even if the female body is inferior to the male body (and I readily accept it), Srila Prabhupada says (in the same purport) that “no one should criticize the bodily defects of a pure devotee…. ” — and please, bear in mind the definition of pure devotional service given by Srila Rupa Goswami.)
“… What should be taken into account is the spiritual master’s main business, which is devotional service, pure service to the Supreme Lord…. If we consider the bodily defects of a Vaisnava,” (in this case a female form) “we should understand that we are committing an offense at the lotus feet of the Vaisnava… Every devotee should be ready to take instructions from a superior Vaisnava, and a superior Vaisnava must be ready to help an inferior Vaisnava in all respects. One is superior or inferior according to his spiritual development in Krsna consciousness…” (not on whether one is stuck in a male or female body.) … continued in next post.

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on June 26th, 2011
294 Visakha Priya dasi

Continued from previous post

“Those who think that Krsna consciousness is limited to a certain section of people, a certain section of devotees or a certain tract of land are generally prone to see the external features of the devotees” – such as a female body. “Such neophytes, unable to appreciate the exalted service of the advanced devotee, try to bring the maha-bhagavata to their platform.” Now, being a neophyte myself, I am unable to ascertain whether Urmila devi dasi is on that platform or not, but certainly, she is more advanced than me, and more advanced that a whole lot of other devotees whose external features might be externally more advantageous for public recognition but not necessarily a sign of pure devotion. “One can distinguish between a neophyte Vaisnava and an advanced Vaisnava by their activities.” Just see, here we have it: One distinguishes between a neophyte and an advanced Vaisnava by their ACTIVITIES, not by their dress, not by their sex. “Everyone should therefore be very careful not to be jealous of an empowered Vaisnava, or a suddha-vaisnava. It is also an offense to consider an empowered Vaisnava an object of disciplinary action. It is offensive to try to give him advice or to correct him.”

It seems that not everyone amongst us is a follower of Rupa Goswami. It is all right. In NOD chapter 7, Srila Prabhupada mentions that “It is better if one fixes up a regulative principle according to his own ability and then follows that vow without fail. That will make him advanced in spiritual life.” Stri-dharma is part of the varnasrama system, which is the safety net meant to save those who cannot follow the principles of pure devotional service. But the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is much greater than varnasrama. According to Christian scripture, Jesus Christ said that “in my father’s kingdom there are many mansions.” Similarly, we say that “Srila Prabhupada built a house in which the whole world can live.” So there is room for everyone, and we must be careful not to become envious of those who are more advanced than us.
… continued in next post

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on June 26th, 2011
295 Visakha Priya dasi

Continued from previous post

Again in text 6 of the Upadesamrta, Srila Prabhupada comments that “This movement is meant for the paramahamsas who are completely free from jealousy. One should not be jealous, whether he is born in a family of gosvamis or has the title of gosvami awarded to him. As soon as anyone becomes envious, he falls from the platform of paramahamsa.”
Similarly, one should not be envious of devotees stuck in women’s bodies if they happen to be more advanced than we are.

Hare Krsna.

Comment posted by Visakha Priya dasi on June 26th, 2011
296 Unregistered

King Yudhisthira asked “Have you contacted a woman of impeachable character, or have you not properly treated a deserving woman? Or have you been defeated by someone who is equal or inferior to you?” S.B. 5.14.42.

This reference is actually 1.14.42. Therein, Prabhupada explains that, “during the time of the Paṇḍavas” there was consideration of caste. It is not the same today. In those days, the general rule was “a ksatriya could not contact a woman of the brahmaṇa caste”. It was for this reason that Yayati at first refused to marry Devayani, the daughter of Sukracarya, “because of Sukracarya’s being a brahmana”. Prabhupada did not write “because of Devayani’s being a brahmana”!

We know Yayati did, however, marry Devayani and he had the approval of her father, Sukracarya. Even though Devayani was the daughter of a brahmana, she exhibited a lot of anger and jealousy towards Sarmistha; such behaviour is not symptomatic of a brahmana so how can she be called such? That is why, Prabhupada explains, even though a woman may be “ born in a brahmana family, a woman is taken as woman, not as brahmana”.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 26th, 2011
297 Unregistered

“A person who happens to take birth in the family of a brahmana but is not qualified to be called a brahmana is addressed as the relative of a brahmana, and not as a brahmana. The son of a high court judge is not virtually a high court judge, but there is no harm in addressing a high court judge’s son as a relative of the Honorable Justice. “SB 1.7.35

“Brahma-bandho means a person who is born by a brahmana father but is not acting as a brahmaṇa. He’s called brahma-bandho, dvija-bandhu. Dvija-bandhu, one who is born of a, actually born of a brahmana father, but he’s not acting as a brahmana. “ lecture May 27, 1972
Similarly, ksatra-bandhu refers to a person born of a ksatriya father but who does not act as a ksatriya.

Women, therefore, are not equal with brahmanas and should therefore defer to brahmanas when it comes to giving class.

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 26th, 2011
298 Unregistered

Thank you for your contribution, Vishaka priya. I was hoping you might answer my question on one of your previous texts wherein you stated that “in the third chapter, Krsna advises that one should worship the demigods”. Could you please clarify that statement?

Vishaka-priya wrote:

“Even if the female body is inferior to the male body (and I readily accept it), Srila Prabhupada says (in the same purport) that “no one should criticize the bodily defects of a pure devotee…. ”

No one here has been criticizing bodily defects. A woman’s body is not a “bodily defect” such as what Prabhupada is speaking of in the NOI and distinguishing that a devotee is in a man’s or woman’s body, is a sannyasi or a grhastha, is not an offense at the lotus feet of a vaisnava.

“One distinguishes between a neophyte and an advanced Vaisnava by their ACTIVITIES, not by their dress, not by their sex. “

Even though we don’t identify with the body we are not impersonalists. One is awarded sannyasa in ISKCON due to one’s manifesting the symptoms of a brahmana, acting as a brahmana by vocation, and having a strong spirit of renunciation. Since there were advanced vaisnava sannyasis present at class time in Mayapura, it was an insult aka offense to not ask one of them to give the lecture.

It seems you are saying that those of us here who are pointing out this offense are simply jealous but one could argue that giving preference to a woman instead of sannyasis is also a symptom of jealousy, but of women being envious of men.

Although a person who is spiritually advanced sees everyone, including animals, on equal spiritual level, it is insulting to sannyasis to ask women to give class to them. In Text 44, Bhaktilata brings up the point of maryada-vyatikrama and presents SB 3.4.26:

“The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed.”

Comment posted by sitadasi on June 27th, 2011
299 Sita Rama 108

Mother Sitadasi,
So Srila Prabhupada is talking about the former situation then says, “Now, because a girl has to follow her husband. So if her husband is brahmaṇa, automatically she becomes brahmaṇa. There is no need of separate reformation” The Founder Acharya also established that NOW a woman can accept diksha, worship the Dieties and preach whether she is married or not. So here are two ways a woman can become a brhamana at the present time, by following a brahmana husband or by being accepting second initiation. But your philosophy is that a woman cannot be a brahmana at present!
You write
[ “Brahma-bandho means a person who is born by a brahmana father but is not acting as a brahmaṇa. He’s called brahma-bandho, dvija-bandhu. Dvija-bandhu, one who is born of a, actually born of a brahmana father, but he’snot acting as a brahmana. “ lecture May 27, 1972
Similarly, ksatra-bandhu refers to a person born of a ksatriya father but who does not act as a ksatriya.
Women, therefore, are not equal with brahmanas and should therefore defer to brahmanas when it comes to giving class.]
Brhaman bandhu refers to one who is not a brahmana by action. Women in ISKCON who follow the four regulative principals and have served the Movement for decades ARE brahmana’s by action.
Beyond that, the point that you seem unable to accept is that the qualification for preaching Krishna Consciousness is not that one is a brhamana. The qualification is that one is a Viasnava. No one can say the women in ISKCON are not Viasnava’s but only Viasnava bandhu’s

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 27th, 2011
300 Sita Rama 108

Mother Sitadasi,
Regarding the concept that anyone can speak the science of Krishna Consciousness you respond,”Anyone, yes, including children, but there is also etiquette to be followed and sannyasis are given respect and seniority when it comes to preaching”.None of the speakers were comparable to children! Their were many Swami’s at the meeting who did not speak and Ajamila, Anuttama, Harivilas, and Badrinarayana Prabhu’s who are not Swamis did speak. All the speakers had something in common; they have all accepted position requiring a great amount of effort, responsibility, and intelligence and have served ISKCON for many years. That is their qualification. We see devotees based on these qualifications and not superficial external details.
If sannyasis object to Mother Urmila giving class it would seem to me they would be the ones voicing objections to it. Please do not take offense, but it seems to me, that if the sannyasis are above hearing from a woman they are also above being dependant on you making arguments on their behalf.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 27th, 2011
301 Sita Rama 108

Mother Sitadasi,
In my last comment I made the statement that the sannyasis themselves should speak up if they are offended. This statement was inappropriate. Please forgive me. And I beg forgiveness of any sanyasi that I offended. I do not want to offend any sannyasis, you, or any of the Mothers in ISKCON such a the exalted Mother Urmila. So to be on the safe side I think I will bow out of this conversation and let it be managed by those more competent.
Ys Sita Rama das

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on June 27th, 2011
302 Kulapavana

Mother Urmila should freely preach on the internet forums for devotees (where sannyasis congregate as well, because here rules such as:
“The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed.”
do not seem to apply, even among the most conservatively minded Vedic matas…

Similarly, when we look at the original speakers of Srimad Bhagavatam, they were kind enough to let several sages speak even in the presence of Srila Vyasadeva. Also at times Srila Prabhupada would ask one of his disciples to give a class in his presence - apparently seeing a higher principle than the above listed rule. These are examples of not following such rules blindly, but maybe they escape the eyes of Vedic purists.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on June 30th, 2011
303 Urmila

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

Thank you, Sita Rama, for your comments. Yes, in Mayapur the morning classes were given by sannyasis, householders, vanaprasthas, GBC, non-GBC etc.

Prabhupada writes, “Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of higher and lower. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.” Letter to: Jayagovinda — Los Angeles 8 February, 1968

Please note that Prabhupada says preference should only be given to a man if the man can speak better (not according to age or varnasrama or gender), and that all sincere souls should be given a chance to speak. In order to fulfill that desire of Srila Prabhupada, senior people sometimes will request juniors to speak. Yes, the quote of SB 3.4.26 says the junior should not be eager to speak in the presence of a senior, but if the senior requests or orders, then the junior should follow the order of the senior.

Here is an example, in an unrelated topic, of this same principle:
“It is the duty of a chaste wife, devoted to her husband, not to utter her husband’s name, but all of you chant the name of Krsna. How can this be called a religious principle?” ..Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “You do not know religious principles. Actually, the first duty of a chaste woman is to carry out the order of her husband. “The order of Krsna is to chant His name incessantly. Therefore one who is chaste and adherent to the husband Krsna must chant the Lord’s name, for she cannot deny the husband’s order. (CC. Antya 104, 106-107)

I continue to be confused as to why some of the women unconditionally opposed to women “imparting instructions” in the presence of superiors are writing comments here, even if their husbands are dictating every word. Or even if someone has requested to (since they seem to feel such requests should be disregarded). By age, time in Krishna consciousness, position of the person’s guru, and ashrama status, the seniors of these women *and their husbands* are writing here.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on July 1st, 2011
304 Unregistered

Indian man (6): Srila Prabhupada, since there is no distinction between “man” and “woman”—these are both designations—is it possible for a woman to become a brahmana?
Brahmānanda: Is it possible for a woman to become a brahmana?
Prabhupāda: He is… Woman is a brahmana’s wife. Then she is automatically a brahmana.
Indian man (6): Suppose she doesn’t want to get married for the rest of her life, just wants to serve the Lord?
Prabhupada: So in his spiritual position everyone is a brahmana.
Brahmananda: But you give brahminical initiation to unmarried women.
Prabhupada: Yes. But on spiritual point she is brahmana. On the spiritual platform there is no such distinction.
Devotee (7): Oh, it’s not possible for a woman to become a sannyasi.
Prabhupada: No. Morning Walk, November 2, 1975, Nairobi

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 3rd, 2011
305 Unregistered

“The Founder Acharya also established that NOW a woman can accept diksha, worship the Dieties and preach whether she is married or not. “

Srila Prabhupada did not establish that a woman can give diksha (see SB 4.12.32). Yes he did give second initiation to women and allow us to worship the deities which is consistent with Lord Krsna’s instructions of SB 11.27.4, as quoted by Srila Jiva Goswami in Bhakti-sandarbha:

“Now the persons who are qualified to worship the Lord will be described. In Srimad Bhagavatam (11.27.4) it is said: “This process is accepted by and appropriate for all the occupational and spiritual orders of society. Therefore I consider worship of You in Your Deity form to be the most beneficial of all spiritual practices, even for women and sudras.”

Jiva Goswami also quotes from the Padma Purana:

“Following the path described in the Agama-sastras, women and sudras may, thinking of Him as the Lord in their hearts, engage in the Deity worship of Lord Visnu.

“By chanting the Lord’s holy names, even sudras may worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All may worship the Lord by following the path of the Agama-sastras, which follow in the footsteps of the Vedas.

“Women who are dear and kind to their husbands are also qualified to worship Lord Visnu. 
This is the eternal teaching of the Vedas.”

Prabhupada did not, however, establish that women act as full-fledged brahmanas. He did not give us the thread or say that materially we are equal with brahmana men because he wanted us to acknowledge and follow the traditional social distinctions of varnasrama and our unique occupational duty as described by Narada Muni.

A nurse (or dental hygienist) can perform some of the functions of a doctor (or dentist) but is not licensed to act as such. She assists the doctor but is not a doctor. Similarly, a woman cannot independently perform fire yajnas, conduct wedding ceremonies, or give diksa because, although she may be a vaishnava, she is restricted from those brahminical activities.

There are times when a woman cannot go on the altar. In Vrindavana, women are not allowed to cook or go on the altar at all in our Krsna Balarama temple. Why is that??

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 3rd, 2011
306 Unregistered

“A brahmana cannot take up any professional occupational duty for his livelihood. The sastras especially stress that if one claims to be a brahmana, he cannot engage in the service of anyone else; otherwise he at once falls from his position and becomes a sudra.” SB 7.11.14

How can a woman, who is mandated by Krsna and Prabhupada to serve her husband, be a brahmana by this definition?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 3rd, 2011
307 Unregistered

“The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed.” Seniority has always been given to men in Vedic culture. Prabhupada didn’t establish otherwise. When it came to giving class, he warned a woman disciple:

“Don’t add anything or concoct anything”

“better she has heard nicely then she will speak nicely

The ideas that women are brahmanas, equal with men and can defy basic etiquette in the name of “preaching” are concoctions that violate guru, sadhu and sastra. Our leaders should take care to avoid whimsically creating new policies based on such concocted ideas.

BG 16.23
“But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.

PURPORT

As described before, the sastra-vidhim, or the direction of the sastra, is given to the different castes and orders of human society. Everyone is expected to follow these rules and regulations. If one does not follow them and acts whimsically according to his lust, greed and desire, then he never will be perfect in his life.

The word kama-caratah is very significant. A person who knowingly violates the rules acts in lust. He knows that this is forbidden, still he acts. This is called acting whimsically….”

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 3rd, 2011
308 Unregistered

“Prabhupada: A famous Vaisnava, Hui(?) dasa, he’s coming from the bhangis. Everyone is given chance. Socially there may be distinction. Spiritually everyone is given equal chance. Krsna says, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah [Bg. 9.32]. Papa-yonayah means these bhangi, camaras. And they are not upstart: “Now I have become Vaisnava. Therefore I shall become equal with the brahmana.” No. He is satisfied with his own…”Jun 28, 1977

The idea is that one performs one’s occupational duty and from that platform worships Krsna. For a woman whose husband is not a functional brahmana, although a devotee, “what is the use” of her being a “brahmana”?? If she assists a brahmana husband, she will naturally engaged in brahminical service. Similarly if a woman’s husband is GBC or temple president she will naturally be engaged in helping him. But if he’s not thus engaged, then by her engaging in those services independently, she will be an upstart and a social disturbance. Does that mean women can’t preach unless their husbands are functional brahmanas and preachers? Of course not. But women whose husbands are not giving class and acting as functional brahmanas, GBCs or Temple Presidents shouldn’t be jumping over their husbands social position and adopting an artificial role of brahmana because it contradicts scripture and Prabhupada’s instructions. These are examples of “rules and regulations” we should have already started to introduce in ISKCON, especially in Mayapura and Vrindavana.

“An acarya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. First they should become Kṛṣṇa conscious, and all the prescribed rules and regulations may later gradually be introduced. “ Cc adi 7.37

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 4th, 2011
309 Unregistered

Re. the question by the Indian man I posted, as to whether a woman can become a brahmana, Prabhupada answers that a woman is a brahmana automatically when she is the wife of a brahmana. He also says she (or anyone) can be brahmana on the spiritual platform.

This is the message of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati in his book, Brahmana and Vaishnava, that a Vaisnava is already a brahmana, even though not born by garbhadana samskara in a brahmana family. However, BSST also states:

“Women, sudras, and brahma-bandhus all belong to a particular category that is inferior to the class of topmost brahmanas. These people have no qualification to study the Vedas.”

This is confirmed by Prabhpuada in NOD Ch. 5.
And BSST also says:

”stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara

The Rg, Sama, and Yajur Vedas should not be recited before women, sudras, and dvija-bandhus”

This is confirmed by Prabhupada in SB 1.4.25.

It makes total sense then, that Suniti could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa guru because she was a woman and not a brahmana. Even if she had been the wife of a brahmana husband and not a king, she still would not have given Dhruva or anyone else diksha!

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 4th, 2011
310 Unregistered

Dear Sita Mataji,

Hare Krsna.

I just wanted to thank you for your efforts on behalf of all the women who actually want to follow true Krsna Consciousness and not the watered down Westernized version. It is very hard to give up our material conditioning so it is disheartening to see others who encourage us to be more conditioned than we already are. My friends and I have been following this discussion and are really inspired by your writing and feel that you must be getting realizations from Paramatma and Srila Prabhupada to write so nicely. Please know that you have many matajis who support you so please keep up what you are doing. May Srimati Radharani, the personification of chastity, give you all Her blessings.

Yhs
Mohana Mohini dd

Comment posted by Mohana Mohini dd on July 4th, 2011
311 Unregistered

Ref #235 & 257

Kulapavana Prabhu quotes from a feminist scholar who mentions Harita Samhita and also “Madhvacarya.”

First of all which “Madhvacarya” is this? It is definitely not the Vaisnava acarya to whose sampradaya we belong, as he never wrote a commentary on Parasara Smriti. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_of_Madhvacharya

Second of all Harita Samhita exists only in fragments and it was considered ancient at the time of Manu Samhita with only glimmering memories of it. And, Manu didn’t consider it valid for he doesn’t follow Harita, he follows the Veda, for as stated at the beginning of Manu Samhita by Lord Brahma the Manu samhita is congruent with the Veda. In any case as Baladeva Vidya Bhushana says (quoted in CC adi lila commentary on Chaturvyuha verse) all followers of the Veda follow Manu (not Harita). And of course we know that in Gaudiya Sampradaya, and especially our Acharya Srila Prabhupada follows Manu.

And it is Manu who specifically says that the women take on the qualities of the husbands:

Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a river (united) with the ocean. Akshamala, a woman of the lowest birth, being united to Vasishtha and Sarangi, (being united) to Mandapala, became worthy of honour. These and other females of low birth have attained eminence in this world by the respective good qualities of their husbands.”
Manu Smriti 9.22-24

This is exactly in line with Srila Prabhupada’s numerous statements that if the husband is first class (brahmana) the wife is also.

Sita Mataji has done a commendable job in providing umpteen proofs showing that women have no varna of their own and are a class onto themselves. They take on the varna of their male guardian, at first father and later husband and son.

Comment posted by Somayaji on July 4th, 2011
312 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

Dear Mother Sita,

Thank you for your efforts , i fully agree with your comments and also support Mohana Mohini dd’s comments about you.

Having been brought in a purely traditional family in India where women very much still understand that their greatest power is in being chaste , simple and devoted to husband and keeping themselves only among the company of women.
Srila Prabhupada never introduced anything new , whatever he did was proper application of the sastras for propogation of dharma. It is for us to understand or misunderstand it.
Simply put Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s women followers bowed down to him from a distance. Chhota Haridas was chastised and banished for a small offence. Material world is cruel and frustrating. Lets be careful in applying sastra and making interpretations so that we pass on Pure Krishna Consciousness to the next generation , not a misinterpreted version.

Hare Krishna !

Comment posted by Gaurnatraj Das on July 5th, 2011
313 Kulapavana

1. Taking on the qualities of the husband does not equate to taking on the varna of the husband due to having no varna of her own. If that was the case, the Vedic scriptures would not be talking about MIXED varna marriages and varna-sankara. For example, according to Manu Smriti (10.11.17) the sūta caste are children of a Kshatriya father and Brahmin mother.
By ‘qualities’ we usually mean ‘traits of character’, not a position in social order (varna). Still, this is at best a general rule, as there are many women who did not succumb to the bad influence of their husbands for example. Srila Prabhupada’s own sister was one such a remarkable woman.

2. We read here that a woman cannot be a brahmana because she has to serve her husband and brahmana can serve nobody, but we also read here that she becomes a brahmana by serving a brahmana husband. That is a very peculiar logic. Does that principle applies to all servants of a brahmana, or just the wife?

3. One should ask a question: where does the varna comes from? You would think it comes from guna and karma, as Lord Krishna declares in Bhagavad-gita. If that is correct, why would women somehow have no guna or karma of their own? A particular range of combinations of guna and karma is classified as ‘brahmana’, another combination is known as ‘kshatriya’, and so forth. These combinations are inherent for ALL human beings.

4. All the ‘umpteen proofs’ on this thread that “women have no varna of their own and are a class onto themselves”, do not change the past or present reality in India, where woman’s varna comes from the family in which she was born.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 6th, 2011
314 Unregistered

Re. #310, 311, 312, Thank you, Mataji(s) and Prabhus! I feel very fortunate to have your encouragement!

I agree the quote from Manu posted by Somayiji is echoed in Srila Prabhupada’s statements. In a letter dated Oct 23, 1972, Prabhupada wrote the following to one of his women disciples (the first wife of Hiranyagarbha dasa who eventually became sahajiya, rejected Prabhupada and continues to confuse devotees, including members of ISKCON’s SAC):

“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. So you should simply do whatever your husband instructs you to do, however he may require your assistance. ”

In SB 4.23.25, we see that “Queen Arci served her husband just as the goddess of fortune serves the Supreme Personality of Godhead Viṣṇu….This practice is also followed by the wives of the demigods, and in days past the wives of men also followed this same principle….The husband and wife should live in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and follow in the footsteps of Laksmi-Narayana or Kṛṣṇa-Rukmiṇi. In this way peace and harmony can be possible within this world. ”

This service is not material and is followed even by the wives of our Acaryas. Jahnava Devi, who was so fortunate and qualified to be married to the Supreme Lord, would not have been accepted as a “very special case” of acarya (she was accepted “but she did not declare”) had her husband not been the original guru, Lord Nityananda.

Sadly women do not have faith in these instructions and want to follow Laksmi separate from Narayana.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 11th, 2011
315 Unregistered

I just wanted to clarify that I meant it was Hiranyagarbha who rejected Srila Prabhupada (not his wife). Hiranyagarbha is now known as Jan Brzezinski aka Jagadananada.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 12th, 2011
316 Unregistered

Haribol,

Kulapavana Prabhu in his various posts simply patches together information (mixed varnas, women rishis, Gaudiya women gurus, Srila Prabhupada giving women gayatri, etc.) coupling that with a warning of potential of Taliban-style abuse without any legitimate attempt at reconciliation with opposing information (he only handwaves it away in #258 as supposedly “situation” specific and in #313). Furthermore, there is an undercurrent as well as overt emotional outburst (using boldface characters) regarding “quality” and a supposedly Vedic utopian ideal of equality.

(Incidentally, the “equality” of souls that occurs in Bhagavad-gita (5.18) is only in these three respects:
1. they are constitutionally beyond the gunas and matter
2. they are ontologically related to and dependent upon Paramatma
3. they are sat-cit-ananda like the Lord.
Kulapavana Prabhu is assuming that “equality” is something other than these, when in fact, the souls possess different types of bodies, unique guna conformations, karmas, and, therefore, different duties and, furthermore, the svarupas of the souls themselves have different instrinsic degrees of knowledge of God and flavors of ananda which are realized respectively upon liberation [according to Srila Prabhupada’s earliest points in his introduction]. So either materially or spiritually our specific activities differ!)

Urmila Mataji’s #76 post assumes stri-dharma is material and that chanting and preaching is transcendental and the subsequent line of argumentation is limited to “Srila Prabhupada wrote this letter and purport” and “Srila Prabhupada told certain women disciples to lead kirtana and preach” as though our appreciation of Srila Prabhupada is going to somehow absolve us of the requirement to use our intelligence to analyze his teachings and sastra. In #116, she poses a strawman argument (based on (1) the assumption of material vs. spiritual and (2) the blurring of the wide spectrum of “preaching”) and concludes that Sita Mataji’s assessment of dharma contradicts Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for women to “preach”. She concludes (in #122 & #303) with a clever deflection of Sita Mataji’s logic back against the latter hinting that Sita’s actions to post here are illogical (yet remaining silent on the tremendous logic verbalized by Sita dd, aided by Bhaktilata dd).

Comment posted by suryajee on July 12th, 2011
317 Unregistered

cont’d

(Incidentally, I highly appreciate Urmila Mataji’s presentations and overall mood of concern such as reflected in the lecture above, her posts #84, #103, her lectures I attended at New Vrindavan, as well as informal conversation in the living room of my in-laws in New Jersey.)

Both of these styles (of Kulapavana Prabhu and Urmila Mataji) in argumentation basically make an assumption and present scattered data appealing to emotion. However, in his sandarbhas, Srila Jiva Gosvami recommends, by referring to the Upanisads, the stages of sravana (hearing the sastra), manana (logically analyzing and harmonizing), which leads to nidhidhyasana (holistic meditation). To explain the second stage, he refers to how Lord Brahma scrutinized all he had heard for a long period of time before acting to create.

Similarly, Sita Mataji has presented the results of her performance of manana. In true sattvic form, her argument does not base itself on a false assumption and is not appealing to any emotion, such as fear of abuse-potential, feel-good utopian communist idealism, nor a false sense of guilt or fear of blasphemy (aparadha) of apparently disobeying Srila Prabhupada (or Rupa Gosvami)–and without any clever manuevers. So both the methodology as well as results of debate favor Sita Mataji by far. She demonstrates that the complete Vaisnava culture doesn’t merely mean quoting a Vaisnava or referencing his historical acts, it means engaging in the correct unbiased thinking process of one–and presenting it with etiquette.

In post #48, Urmila Mataji contrasts ordinary dharma with preaching and transcendence. However, Bhagavad-gita classifies activity in two ways:
A) generating karma (subdivided into 1. vikarma (generating bad karma) and 2. karma (generating good karma))
B) generating no karma (subdivided into 1. karma-yoga, 2. jnana-yoga, 3. bhakti-yoga, and 4. bhakti with mixtures)

Urmila Mataji’s theory, if I understand her correctly, is that Srila Prabhupada taught everyone to combine A2 plus B3 or B4, (wherein B3/B4 has to be added as the transcendental preaching component).
Sita Mataji’s theory is that Srila Prabhupada taught everyone only the B category (itself transcendental and itself a form of preaching) with the idea to progress specifically to B3.

Comment posted by suryajee on July 12th, 2011
318 Unregistered

(cont’d)

So on the surface, Urmila Mataji’s theory appears to be a more advanced and spiritual position, while Sita Mataji’s appears to be contaminated with materialistic religion; when in fact, the exact reverse is true: Sita’s model promoting B and being all spiritual generates no karma at all; while Urmila’s has material karma (A2) and requires the addition of B3 or B4 to eradicate karma and add the transcendental preaching component.

By the development of teaching in BG 2.48 describing yoga, the discussion has gone beyond category A for good. So the idea of an A2 and B3/B4 combination being recommended subsequently in the Gita (or as a major thrust of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings) is logically unsustainable. Hereafter, the Gita expects of its readers the ability to recognize the fine distinctions between yoga-yukta-fighting with ordinary fighting and yoga-yukta-stri-dharma with ordinary traditional womanhood–the same ability required in differentiating the Deity from a stone. And, again, the performance of yoga-yukta prescribed activities itself constitutes transcendental preaching.

It is no wonder that Lord Krsna remarks: “Even the wise are bewildered about action and inaction.” 4.16. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura concludes: “He is intelligent who sees that persons of pure heart fixed in knowledge like Janaka do not renounce activity, but rather engage in action, in niskama karma-yoga, do not accrue karma (akarma); and who sees that one who does not perform actions, renouncing actions as a sannyasi, *though *talking *profusely *of *knowledge *because *of *knowledge *of *scriptures*, actually obtains bondage of karma leading to misery.” (HH Bhanu Swami translation)

In the concluding statements of the most sacred section (rasa-lila) of the cream of the Vedic literature, it is said “the statements of the Lord’s empowered servants are always true, and the acts they perform are exemplary when consistent with those statements. Therefore one who is intelligent should carry out their instructions”–to which Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti cautions that even those instructions should be followed when they are consistent with scripture (vicaryaiva) (Sarartha Darshini 10.33.31 translated by HH Bhanu Swami).

Comment posted by suryajee on July 12th, 2011
319 Unregistered

(cont’d)

Thus, by correlating the unorthodox actions of Srila Prabhupada with all his words and then finally with sastra, Sita devi is practically demonstrating authentic Vaisnava thought process. This cannot be trounced by Kulapavana Prabhu’s contemporary sociological observations.

The resounding conclusion is: “We have to connect the dots.” (#236) Otherwise, Srila Prabhupada’s unorthodox (Rudra-like*) actions (and ourselves as imitators) become, in effect, disconnected dots.

with respect to all,
Gerald Surya

* One who is not a great controller should never imitate the behavior of ruling personalities, even mentally. If out of foolishness an ordinary person does imitate such behavior, he will simply destroy himself, just as a person who is not Rudra would destroy himself if he tried to drink an ocean of poison.

Comment posted by suryajee on July 12th, 2011
320 Unregistered

In #303 Urmila devi dasi wrote:

“I continue to be confused as to why some of the women unconditionally opposed to women “imparting instructions” in the presence of superiors are writing comments here, even if their husbands are dictating every word. Or even if someone has requested to (since they seem to feel such requests should be disregarded). By age, time in Krishna consciousness, position of the person’s guru, and ashrama status, the seniors of these women *and their husbands* are writing here.”

Dear Urmila dd,

I can understand why you are confused, you think that you are “senior” as soon as one does that they no longer are. According to Manu seniority is determined by different factors according to different varnas. The senior most brahmana is the one with the most knowledge. The senior most kshatriya is the one with the most power. The senior most vaisya is the one with the most wealth. And the senior most sudra is the oldest in years.

So it seems to me that you claim that you are senior not because of wisdom, but because of age. It is certainly not because of wisdom because you have presented “arguments” that are full of holes and easily shot down by those who have studied Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. So now you try to hide behind the “seniority” by age factor as a substitute for actual knowledge and wisdom and that we should not challenge or oppose you because you are senior by age. And anyone who does challenge you is an offender because you are “senior” and they are not. I have not seen anyone be offensive (the moderator wont allow that) only people who disagree with you and present solid arguments that you cannot defeat. This, then is their offense. Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to be a Brahminical not sudrinical movement so seniority is by wisdom and knowledge not just which date you joined ISKCON.

cont..

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on July 12th, 2011
321 Unregistered

part 2

So you would like it that we should all shut up and listen to you because you are “senior.” I remember an instance in the Brooklyn temple when Balimardana Dasa and his wife Taittariya dd were in charge. She was in complete maya and also influenced him. Things were in such a state that she was having chicken offered to Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. Many devotees didn’t speak up because they were afraid to offend the “seniors.” While it is very important to obey rules of etiquette in vaisnava dealings lest we fall from spiritual life, but sometimes we should care more about the welfare of Lord Caitanya’s movement than for our own selves and strongly speak out when errors and apasiddhantic teachings are propagated. At that time it is better to adopt the mood of gopis who would prefer to give the dust from their feet if it would cure Krsna’s headache even knowing that it would lead them to hell. We have to care more about Krsna’s wellbeing than our own and do whatever it takes. As Srila Bhakti Siddhanta said “true humility is to adhere to the truth, not the false show of feigned humility cultivated by sahajiyas.”

Also as pointed out in #189-190 http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-14290 you are not following Stri-dharma and are currently disobeying the instructions of Srila Prabhupada regarding the behavior of a wife whose husband is a vanaprastha. So how you can say you are senior and try to brow beat others that they must agree with your opinion otherwise they are offenders.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Bhaktilata dd

Comment posted by Bhaktilata dasi on July 12th, 2011
322 Unregistered

Dear Kulapavana Prabhu,

It seems that you forgot the texts Sita mataji posted. In texts 177-181 http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9349#comment-14277

She explains the whole situation.

For example in 313 you say

“3. One should ask a question: where does the varna comes from? You would think it comes from guna and karma, as Lord Krishna declares in Bhagavad-gita. If that is correct, why would women somehow have no guna or karma of their own? A particular range of combinations of guna and karma is classified as ‘brahmana’, another combination is known as ‘kshatriya’, and so forth. These combinations are inherent for ALL human beings.”

This was answered by her in #178. I will paraphrase according to what I understand.

Varna as defined by Krsna is a combination of both guna and karma. Every entity has guna including women so there are women in modes of satva, rajas and tamas. But what is the karma of a woman in satva? It is exactly the same as a woman in rajas, or tamas; that being Stri-dharma. Thus for all women irrespective of their guna they have the same karma.

But for men it is different. Men who are dominated by satva can be trained to be Brahmanas. Men who are rajasic can be trained to Kshatriyas, men dominated by rajas + Tamas can be trained to be Vaisyas and men dominated by Tamas are Sudras. So according to the fact of their sex as being male they are assigned a different karma according to the guna they have and this combination of guna + karma is equal to their varna. This as we have seen is only applicable to the male sex. So actually varna =gender+guna+karma because only males of a particular guna can perform the associated karma. I hope that this clear.

It is however more suitable for a woman who is dominated by satva guna to marry a brahmana because he is dominated by satva guna. And similarly a rajasic woman should marry a Kshatriya, etc for women dominated by different gunas.

The wife of a brahmana is not a brahmana, she of course is called a brahmini-wife of a brahmana. She is not eligible to do any of the work that he is prescribed to do such as perform yajna etc. Her duties are to serve her husband etc as explained in SB 7.11.25-29.

The same goes for the women who are married to kshatriyas, vaisya, and sudras.

continued

Comment posted by Somayaji on July 12th, 2011
323 Unregistered

Part 2

The duty of a chaste wife according SB 7.11.25 is to follow the vows that her husband follows. In fact the whole household will follow the same vows as the husband because it is the grhasta ashrama, and in an ashrama everyone follows the guru who in this case is the husband. So what happens if there are children? Whose vows do you think they are going to follow? They will naturally follow the vows of the father just as the mother is doing. This is what actually happens in culturally aware families in India. When the child is born they get the samskaras that are traditional to the father’s family. The father will teach the child to touch its head to the mother’s feet and likewise the mother will teach the child to do the same to the father’s feet. And they will both teach the child to pay obeisance to the Lord, sadhus and seniors. In this way the children learn the traditions of the family.

Since the wife and children are following the vows and practices of the father they are known as members of his varna as a conventional usage. However only the boys in the family have the possibility of doing the same karma-work as the father, not the females. Taking the standard of the Gita and Bhagavatam depending on the guna of the boy he can be trained in the appropriate karma and then be a member of that varna. It is not varna by birth but by guna and karma.

But what about the girls? Because she is following the family tradition of her father she has been designated by convention as having the same varna as him, but it is only a convention because as noted varna means guna + karma and the girl can not do the karma of the father but only that karma which is designated for all females, that is Stri-dharma. In this case for all females their karma is designated by birth because for them there is only one karma regardless of guna. But in the case of males their karma is according to guna, so it is not by birth but by guna.

Now we come to anuloma and pratiloma which confuses some people but not others. Though the girl has no varna she has been brought up in a certain environment and there is the possibility that she has a particular guna. By convention she is designated as belonging to the varna of her father, but in reality she is never allowed (by sastra) to perform any of the duties of her father’s varna, but rather she has her own god-given duties to perform as a female, that being Stri-dharma.

cont

Comment posted by Somayaji on July 12th, 2011
324 Unregistered

part 3

Now it stands to reason that a girl who has been brought up in a brahminical family and who is dominated by satva guna would be a better match for a brahmana (a male who is dominated by satva and who is doing the work of a brahmana) than a girl who was raised in the home of a man from a different varna where they follow different vows.

Thus anuloma and pratiloma refers actually to the varna of the father of the girl and not to the girl herself because she never had a varna, though she does have a guna.

But as explained in Manu 9.22-24 the wife if she has a very powerful husband who is fixed in his vows, then such a husband can impart his gunas onto the wife by her associating with him and serving him. So if previously she was tamasic then she can become satvik. This of course not only applies to the wife but also to the daughter because we become whom we associate with. This is an essential teaching of the sastras.

So whenever the sastras speak of a brahmana woman or kshatriya woman, etc they do not mean a woman who performs brahmana duties and is thus an actual brahmana, but rather she is a brahmini the wife or daughter of a brahmana and follows the vows of her husband/father and serves in his ashrama. The wife or daughter of a brahmana can never perform an agnihotra for themselves or others, nor can they study or teach the Veda in a Veda patashala. The same is true of the females dependants in the ashrama of a kshatriya or other varnas.

The common denominator for all women is Stri-dharma which is specific to them no matter what varna their male guardian belongs to.

I hope it is no more clear that anuloma and pratiloma do not refer to the varna of the girl but to that of her father for she actually has no varna but it is just a social convention to designate the female dependents of the man according to his varna.

Comment posted by Somayaji on July 12th, 2011
325 Unregistered

Dear Kulapavana Prabhu,

Hare Krsna.

Maybe this conversation quote with Srila Pabhupada will help you to understand. In it Srila Prabhupada explains that when a woman becomes a wife of a brahmana she is designated as a brahmani but she is not actually a brahmana. But because she is the wife of a brahmana only she is called a brahmani, it is only a social convention and sign of respect and indicates she is in the family of a brahmana.

Yhs
MMdd

“Prabhupada: In, actually, in Bengal, Bengal has lost its original culture. In other provinces the brahmana class, they are keeping very strictly the original culture. Even a brahmana would not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife, because woman is considered sudra. The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra. So therefore a strict brahmana does not accept foodstuff prepared by his wife. Still there are in U.P. The wife will arrange for cooking, and he’ll sit down and cook dal, capatis. Then he will eat, and whatever remains, that is there, that will be taken by her. But he will not take foodstuff cooked by his wife even.” Room Conversation–August 2, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

Comment posted by Mohana Mohini dd on July 13th, 2011
326 Unregistered

Dear Sita Mataji,

Your points and writing are excellent. I get a huge benefit from your comments here. Please continue to educate other women who are confused about their duties and position. It is a relief to know that there are a devotee women like yourself who are dedicated to follow their prescribed duties in order to please guru and Krsna. You are wonderful, thank you.

Ys,
Hemamalini dasi

Comment posted by Hemamalini dasi on July 13th, 2011
327 Unregistered

In #207 Kulapavana wrote:

2. There are countless examples in the shastras of women with a varna assigned to them by birth. In those days guna and karma directly corresponded with a birth in an appropriate family. And there is not a single example in the shastra of a woman whose varna was derived from marriage. That alone renders any notion that woman’s varna is derived from her husband null and void.

Dear Kulapavana Prabhu,

Hare Krsna. Thanks for raising these issues. You say that women have their own Varna. Let us see if this is true. To do this we will use a form of mathematical argument called Reductio ad absurdum” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....tradiction

In such a method of proof we shall assume that the given assumption is true. If by this assumption we arrive at a contradiction then the original assumption is held to be false.

Let us assume that a woman born in a brahmana family is a true brahmana then surely this is a very high birth for it is said:

“Among human beings, the society which is divided according to quality and work is best, and in that society, the intelligent men, who are designated as brahmanas, are best. Among the brahmanas, one who has studied the Vedas is the best, and among the brahmanas who have studied the Vedas, one who knows the actual purport of Veda is the best.” Srimad Bhagavatam 3.29.31

But in Gita 9.32 woman are categorized as belonging to papa-yoni or lower birth.

“O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaisyas and sudras -can attain the supreme destination.”

We now have a contradiction; a brahmana cannot simultaneously be a high and low birth. This forces us to conclude that our assumption that a woman can be a brahmana in her own right is false.

Let us again assume that a woman can be a brahmana in her own right. Using the same verse of Srimad bagavatam 3.29.31 we note that Brahmanas have studied the Vedas and know the real import of the Vedas.

But in the introduction of the Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada writes:

cont

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on July 13th, 2011
328 Unregistered

part 2

“The Puranas are also supplementary to the Vedas. The Vedic mantras are too difficult for an ordinary man. Women, sudras and the so-called twice-born higher castes (brahma bandus) are unable to penetrate into the sense of the Vedas. And thus the Mahabharata as well as the Puranas are made easy to explain the truths of the Vedas.”

And:

“Thereafter Sati left her husband, Lord Siva, who had given her half his body due to affection. Breathing very heavily because of anger and bereavement, she went to the house of her father. This less intelligent act was due to her being a weak woman.” Srimad Bhagavatam 4.4.3

Here again we have a contradiction, that brahmanas have studied and understood the import of the Vedas and that they (women as a class) are unable to penetrate into the sense of the Vedas and are less intelligent. This also forces us to conclude that our assumption that a woman can be a brahmana in her own right is false.

Let us again assume that women can be brahmanas in their own right. In the sastras such as Mahabharata and other places as quoted by Srila Prabhupada

janma jayate sudrah
samskarad bhaved dvijah
vedo-pathad bhaved vipro
brahma janatiti brahmanah

“Everyone is born a sudra, but by samskara one becomes a dvija, and by study of the Veda one becomes a Vipra and one who knows Brahman is a Brahmana.”

Morning Walk - June 23, 1975, Los Angeles

Thus if a woman can be a brahmana in her own right then she can also progress through the stages starting with the upanayanam samskara – the receiving of the sacred thread.

But Manu 2.67 states women do not get samskaras with mantras and especially that they do not get investiture with sacred thread. And Srila Prabhupada ratifies that thusly:

“The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra.” Room Conversation–August 2, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

So here again we have a contradiction they cannot both have upanayam samskara and not have it at the same time therefore we again conclude that our assumption that a woman can be a brahmana is falsified.

cont

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on July 13th, 2011
329 Unregistered

part 3

Let us assume again that a woman can become a brahmana in her own right. One of the karmas of a brahmana is to perform agni hotra yajnas. Hence a woman brahmana should be able to perform an agni hotra sacrifice.

But Manu says:

“An unmarried girl, a youthful matron, an unread brahmana, one of small learning, one afflicted with disease, or uninitiated with the sacred thread must not perform the Agnihotra homa. For having cast such libations in the fire, these (unmarried girl, a youthful matron, etc.) shall go to hell, together with the person on whose behalf they do such fire-offerings; hence (only) a Brahmana well versed in the Vedas and in the art of performing such fire-offerings, shall act as a Hota (that is, offerer of the libation, or doer of the fire-offering.)” Manu 11.36-37

He prohibits all females from performing Agni Hotra. I say all because while he does ban specific groups of unmarried and married women it has already been noted above that women cannot be initiated with the sacred thread and Manu completely bans such uninitiated persons from performing Agni Hotra. So here again we have a contradiction hence we again conclude that our assumption that a woman can be a brahmana is falsified.

continued

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on July 13th, 2011
330 Unregistered

Part 4

There are other varnas as well. Let us expand our proof by assuming a woman can be a full-fledged kshatriya. According the Gita 18.44 this is a concise description of Kshatriyas:

“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas.”

Therefore by definition such a kshatriya woman should have great physical strength (power) and courage in battle. However in Sanskrit one common word for woman is abalA, devoid of strength,that is, weak. This is the opposite of strength and power.

We also note that Draupadi was the daughter of a kshatriya, the sister of many kshatriyas including Dristadyumna, she was the wife of five Kshatriya heroes, and she was the mother of five kshatriyas. But she could not defend herself when she was dragged by the hair, during her period, into a royal assembly by Dushasana. Nor could she defend herself from Jayadratha or Kichaka. So she was too weak and could not do battle with these persons. So here we have another contradiction and are forced to conclude that our initial assumption that a woman can be a kshatriya is falsified.

If we assume that a woman could be a kshatriya as per the definition of Gita 18.44 then we should see women kshatriyas on the battle fields of the Mahabharata, but there are none. Not only that but it is generally considered a sin to kill a woman. And because Sikhandin had previously been a woman Bhisma refused to fight with him. So here again we find contradictions and must assume that our assumption that a woman can be a kshatriya is false.

In conclusion it is proved by the method of Reductio ad absurdum” that women can not have a varna of their own. They are only called by a certain varna as a social convention as indicated by Srila Prabhupada in the following quote:

“The woman, when she becomes the wife of a brahmana, then she is called brahmani, but she’s not offered brahminical culture. She remains as sudra.” Room Conversation–August 2, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

Yours in service of Prabhupada

Atmavidya das

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on July 13th, 2011
331 Unregistered

#313

1. Taking on the qualities of the husband does not equate to taking on the varna of the husband due to having no varna of her own. If that was the case, the Vedic scriptures would not be talking about MIXED varna marriages and varna-sankara. For example, according to Manu Smriti (10.11.17) the suta caste are children of a Kshatriya father and Brahmin mother. By ‘qualities’ we usually mean ‘traits of character’, not a position in social order (varna). Still, this is at best a general rule, as there are many women who did not succumb to the bad influence of their husbands for example. Srila Prabhupada’s own sister was one such a remarkable woman.

Prabhupada made it simple. The wife’s role is to serve the husband. The husband will be inclined to do a certain type of work based on his propensities. If he is a devotee, then in one sense it doesn’t matter what his occupation is. One will never find 100% compatibility in this world. Would a devotee woman rather be married to a karmi who is of the same “varna” she thinks she is?! Or will she tolerate the differences there might be with her and her husband’s nature? Pishima was married to a husband who was not a devotee (not sure if he later became) but she didn’t divorce him. Mandodhari didn’t reject Ravana who was a big demon and she is celebrated for her chastity.

2. We read here that a woman cannot be a brahmana because she has to serve her husband and brahmana can serve nobody, but we also read here that she becomes a brahmana by serving a brahmana husband. That is a very peculiar logic. Does that principle applies to all servants of a brahmana, or just the wife?

A wife of a brahmana is a brahmani. This only applies to a wife but she can be compared with a disciple who knows the likes and dislikes of the spiritual master.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 13th, 2011
332 Unregistered

#313 cont

3. One should ask a question: where does the varna comes from? You would think it comes from guna and karma, as Lord Krishna declares in Bhagavad-gita. If that is correct, why would women somehow have no guna or karma of their own? A particular range of combinations of guna and karma is classified as ‘brahmana’, another combination is known as ‘kshatriya’, and so forth. These combinations are inherent for ALL human beings.

A woman’s karma is described by Narada Muni in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Her “rank” in society was in relation to her husband although her personal abilities will be unique. She will express those abilities through her stri dharma as assistant to her husband and main caregiver of their children.

4. All the ‘umpteen proofs’ on this thread that “women have no varna of their own and are a class onto themselves”, do not change the past or present reality in India, where woman’s varna comes from the family in which she was born.

Devotees don’t follow the caste system in the same way as it is practiced in India but yes, the woman’s varna is going to be what her father then husband’s is. The man’s varna will be based on his actual qualities and not his birth.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 13th, 2011
333 Urmila

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu broadcast the purpose of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He sometimes spoke for the benefit of His devotees and sometimes empowered one of His devotees to speak while He listened.

PURPORT: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as an ideal teacher, or acarya, explained Srimad-Bhagavatam very elaborately Himself. He sometimes also empowered His devotees to speak while He listened. This is the way an acarya should train his disciples. Not only should he describe the Bhagavata cult personally, but he should also train his disciples to speak on this sublime subject.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 25.267

Comment posted by Urmila on July 14th, 2011
334 Kulapavana

1. None of the supporters of the ‘women have no varna of their own’ theory address the issue of MIXED VARNA MARRIAGES (no, this is not an emotional outburst - I just have not figured out how to bold out sections of text I am trying to emphasize) frequently mentioned in the shastras.
2. The idea that the daily duties (work) of a vaishya woman are exactly the same as those of a brahmani or a kshatriyani woman is not based in reality. The duties and activities of gopis in Vrindavana (vasishya women) are decidedly different than those of Krishna’s wives in Dvaraka, or wives of brahmanas - it is all described in Krsna Book.
In Mahabharata, Chitrāngadā, one of Arjuna’s wives and a daughter of a Manipuri king, is described as a fierce warrior. In some Vedic kingdoms (like Manipur) kshatriya women were taught martial arts as part of their education. Sikhandin was actually a woman by birth, later obtaining a boon from a Yaksha turning her into a man for the sake of obtaining her revenge on Bhishma. Back then even if women were ABLE to fight, they were not ALLOWED to take part in battles.
3. “Devotees don’t follow the caste system in the same way as it is practiced in India” - presently devotees don’t follow ANY varna based system, period. It would be intellectually honest to admit that much of the discussion and ideas presented above is merely conceptual thinking (or wishful thinking), devoid of conection with a historical reality.
4. The proof of something in social or religious disciplines (even when invoking the seriously sounding “method of Reductio ad absurdum”) largely rests in the eye of beholder, especially among the devotees. IMO the peer review method is much more convincing. And this is what our discussion should be about - peer review of ideas.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 14th, 2011
335 Kulapavana

Atmavidya Prabhu repeats a very common misconception. He says that “in Gita 9.32 woman are categorized as belonging to papa-yoni or lower birth.”
That is patently false. In the shastras the term papa-yoni, or sinful birth, NEVER refers to women as a class, but to people born outside the Vedic society. Srila Prabhupada confirms that in the purport to his verse:
“According to the different modes of material nature, men are classified in the mode of goodness (brāhmaṇas), the mode of passion (kṣatriyas, or administrators), the mixed modes of passion and ignorance (vaiśyas, or merchants), and the mode of ignorance (śūdras, or workers). Those lower than them are called caṇḍālas, and they are born in sinful families. Generally, those who are born in sinful families are not accepted by the higher classes. But the process of devotional service and the pure devotee of the Supreme God are so strong that all the lower classes can attain the highest perfection of life.”

This verse is missing a coma in a very critical spot, producing a distorted interpretation of this verse. What is:
“O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaisyas and sudras -can attain the supreme destination.”
Should have been:
““O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth, women, vaisyas and sudras -can attain the supreme destination.”

This is how just about everybody is translating this verse and this is what Srila Prabhupada says in the purport to this verse. It is an extremely important point.

Prabhu, I consider your reductio ad absurdum ‘proof’ to be without any merit.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 14th, 2011
336 Kulapavana

Somayaji Prabhu tries to explain the mixed varna marriages mentioned in the shastra by floating an idea that incompatibility is actually between the husband and the FATHER of a wife… Yet according to Manu Smriti (10.11.17) the sūta caste are children of a Kshatriya father and Brahmin mother. Other shastric references to mixed varna marriages also do not mention the varna of father of the bride, but varna of the bride.
A daughter of a kshatriya father and a brahmana mother is considered to be of a SUTA varna, and most definitely NOT a KSHATRIYA like her father.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 14th, 2011
337 Kulapavana

Women and sacrificial rituals -
Quotes from Krishna Book, Chapter 23:
“”My dear wives of the brahmanas,” Krsna said. “You can now return to your homes. Engage yourselves in sacrificial activities and be engaged in the service of your husbands and household affairs so that your husbands will be pleased with you, and the sacrifice which they have begun will be properly executed. After all, your husbands are householders, and without your help how can they execute their prescribed duties?”
(…)
After being instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all the wives again returned home to their respective husbands. Pleased to see their wives back home, the brahmanas executed the performances of sacrifices by sitting together, as it is enjoined in the sastras. According to Vedic principle, religious rituals must be executed by the husband and wife together. When the brahmanas’ wives returned, the sacrifice was duly and nicely executed.
————————————–
It is clear from these quotes that in Vedic times the wives of the brahmanas actively participated in the performance of vedic sacrifices, and that their presence at such ceremonies was REQUIRED by the shastras. In the ancient Vedic period, the daughters had the right to perform Yajnas, the unmarried girls were also seen offering Vedic sacrifices. In the Satapatha Brahmana, we find the reference of a woman who performed a special Upanayana on the occasion of soma sacrifice.
A nice, scholarly article on this subject matter, with plenty of references: http://www.mahavidya.ca/wp-con.....ituals.pdf

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 14th, 2011
338 Unregistered

If women have independent varna, then one must be able to show examples of women who were daughters of Brahmanas who, although married to a ksatriya Vaisya, or Sudra husband, cted as a brahmana. And please don’t give examples of women worshiping the deity.

Similarly there must be examples of daughters of ksatriyas who, although married to a brahmana, Vaisya or Sudra husband, performed the duties of a ksatriya. (Knowing the “political game” and acting as a ksatriya are not the same thing).

There are however examples of men who were sons of Brahmanas but who had different Varnas. Take Jamadagni’s son, Parasurama, for example.

In order to be able to perform the actions of a brahmana one must possess the correct adhikara. Women do not possess the adhikara to be Brahmanas even though they are vaisnavis.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 14th, 2011
339 Unregistered

SB 7.15.12-14

“There are five branches of irreligion, appropriately known as irreligion [vidharma], religious principles for which one is unfit [para-dharma], pretentious religion [abhasa], analogical religion [upadharma] and cheating religion [chala-dharma]. One who is aware of real religious life must abandon these five as irreligious.

Religious principles that obstruct one from following his own religion are called vidharma. Religious principles introduced by others are called para-dharma. A new type of religion created by one who is falsely proud and who opposes the principles of the Vedas is called upadharma. And interpretation by one’s jugglery of words is called chala-dharma.

A pretentious religious system manufactured by one who willfully neglects the prescribed duties of his order of life is called abhasa [a dim reflection or false similarity]. But if one performs the prescribed duties for his particular asrama or varna, why are they not sufficient to mitigate all material distresses?”

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 15th, 2011
340 Unregistered

In 331 Urmila Mataji wrote:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu broadcast the purpose of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He sometimes spoke for the benefit of His devotees and sometimes empowered one of His devotees to speak while He listened.

PURPORT: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as an ideal teacher, or acarya, explained Srimad-Bhagavatam very elaborately Himself. He sometimes also empowered His devotees to speak while He listened. This is the way an acarya should train his disciples. Not only should he describe the Bhagavata cult personally, but he should also train his disciples to speak on this sublime subject.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 25.267

Dear Mataji,

Hari Bol.

Could you explain the meaning of what you are trying to say in this text. It really seems unrelated to the whole comment thread.

yhs
MMdd

Comment posted by Mohana Mohini dd on July 15th, 2011
341 Unregistered

Comment on SB 7.15-12-14. The following is from a lecture I just listened to:

“We have no new discovery. We don’t manufacture. This is our process. We simply follow the predecessor’s instruction. That’s all. Our movement is very easy because we haven’t got to manufacture something. We simply repeat the words and the instruction given by the predecessor.… Very simple thing. We are receiving the transcendental knowledge through guru-parampara succession. So we have to simply take instruction from guru, and if we execute that to our heart and soul, that is success. That is practical.”

If we don’t have faith in Prabhupada’s instructions then we won’t follow or repeat his instructions on stri dharma as they are and end up following and repeating vidharma.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 15th, 2011
342 krishna-kirti

I go away for a while, and this thread is still going on. Amazing! In any case, I think it’s time for a recap of why this very polemical thread has happened in the first place.

It started with an unfortunate ending to an otherwise nice lecture by Mataji Urmila. “There is one letter. . .”, says Mataji, “where he [SP] is very much encouraging the women to be preachers.” Yes, Srila Prabhupada has written many letters about many things that encourage many people, including women. But the problem we have is that SP has written so much about so many things that you can take anything he has said, run with it, and justify almost anything you want to, which is just what Mataji Urmila did at the end of her lecture.

In stressing that there “is no bar to preaching Krishna consciousness” Mataji Urmila channels her inner literalist to bypass other letters, instructions or statements in SP’s books–instructions that urge quite a different social role for women than having to “go to Japan” like Srila Prabhupada for preaching. After getting past all those other blocking instructions, she runs into the endzone and spikes her conclusion: “there are so many women in each community who have studied Bhakti Sastri and Bhakti Vaibhava”–ergo, there should be so many more women giving lectures, “not just that there’s one woman guest that comes once a year that they ask.” And understandably, her fans cheer.

Then some other women, and later on men, who had their reservations about this rather feminist reimagining of Srila Prabhupada’s statements on women and preaching raised objections. Since then, this thread has been carrying on with different pairs of people on each side debating matters at the confluence of varnashram and preaching.

On this thread Mataji Urmila makes mention of her recent domestic interactions with her children and grandchildren, apparently to reassure the traditionalists that tradition has some value for her after all. But that reassurance becomes cold comfort when she states that she continues to “be confused as to why some of the women unconditionally opposed to women ‘imparting instructions’ in the presence of superiors are writing comments here.” Of course she isn’t expressing “confusion” so much as expressing her disapproval of those raising objections at all.

And as her most recent comments show, she has resumed the same literalist interpretations of various instructions on preaching that she ended her lecture with.

Comment posted by krishna-kirti on July 16th, 2011
343 Unregistered

Dear Urmila Devi. I like your explanation to instruct us better in devotional service! I am ten years of aspiring service and not chosen guru maharaja. To me topics like dandavats inspire me to work better in spiritual consiciousness so I know Krsna speaks through devotees. I hope you will kindly give more explanation about your post about Caitanya caritamrita.

yours in service
bhaktin lisanne
Mtl

Comment posted by bhaktinlis on July 16th, 2011
344 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In response to comment 340 quoted here:

Dear Mataji,

Hari Bol.

Could you explain the meaning of what you are trying to say in this text. It really seems unrelated to the whole comment thread.

yhs
MMdd

and in response to comment 343 quoted here:

Dear Urmila Devi. I like your explanation to instruct us better in devotional service! I am ten years of aspiring service and not chosen guru maharaja. To me topics like dandavats inspire me to work better in spiritual consiciousness so I know Krsna speaks through devotees. I hope you will kindly give more explanation about your post about Caitanya caritamrita.

yours in service
bhaktin lisanne
Mtl

Dear Madana Mohini devi dasi and Bhaktin Lisanne,

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This comment thread is to some extent about the subject of my class-the educating of children in Krishna consciousness. It is also to a greater extent about whether or not I, in a woman’s body, should be giving a class, or any instruction at all, in the presence of superiors according to ashrama, gender, and managerial position. I posted that quote (CC Madhya 25.267) to show that superiors have, as part of their duty, asking inferiors to speak and give instruction in their presence. Doing so is part of the training of the juniors.

My point is that if the superior instructs the junior to speak or give instructions in the presence of the superior (and/or other superiors), then deference to the others’ seniority takes the form of speaking in their presence.

Who has asked me to speak/ordered me to speak and preach? My guru, Srila Prabhupada, my local GBC (various ones over many years), my husband, my sons, and the local ISKCON authorities at places where I speak.

I hope that is clear.

I have also asked–and never received a reply–as to why those who feel a junior should never preach or give instructions in the presence of superiors are giving instructions on this thread although their superiors (in the way they define superiors) are present. I believe their reasons for doing so are not that much different from mine.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on July 18th, 2011
345 Akruranatha

Mohana Mohini Mataji, what I got from Urmila Mataji’s comment #331, in the context of this discussion, is that it is the duty of a spiritual master to not only explain Srimad Bhagavatam but to train the disciples to explain it also.

Therefore, in this Hare Krishna movement, we want all of the devotees, whether men or women or grhasthas or vanaprasthas or sudras or brahmanas to learn the science of Krishna and explain the instructions of Krsna to whomever they meet, with actual practical realization, so as to be able to impart the meaning and inspire others to become devotees of Krishna. “Even a child can do it and even a dog can do it.”

We are a Sankirtan movement and we engage all the devotees in these Sankirtan activities, according to their propensity. The Srimad Bhagavatam is full of descriptions of women devotees very perfectly glorifying the Lord and elaborately explaining His qualities, names, forms, pastimes, entourage, rasas, etc.

We do not want to erect artificial barriers to Krishna-katha in the name of enforcing a dharmic social order.

Yes, we appreciate that God has His plan for how civilized humans interact socially and economically, and that the modern Kali-yuga arrangements are not in accordance with that plan. Yes, it is part of our message of glorifying Krishna that He has created the world in such a way that there is a natural order in which people can live simply and peacefully while taking care of economic necessities and dedicating everything to His service. Yes, in order to prevent illicit sex and engage people according to their natural propensities the interactions of men and women should be restricted and minimized in a refined culture, inasmuch as butter melts in the proximity of fire.

However, we do not have a rule against women devotees giving classes, leading kirtans, or engaging their talents for administration and practical work in the service of Krsna, if they so desire. Our main purpose is to inspire everyone to serve Krishna and engage everyone according to such inspiration.

If women are too shy to give lectures we do not make them uncomfortable by forcing them, but if they are eager to share their realizations we should be eager to listen, just as we are listening to Sita dasi and Bhaktilata dasi here.

Krishna consciousness is all-attractive. It is not the bitter medicine; it is the nectar of immortality. Everyone should be happy and peaceful in serving Krishna, chanting, dancing and taking prasad.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 18th, 2011
346 Akruranatha

We should not lose sight of the fact that many of the institutions of modern society, such as democracy and feminism and movements against racial discrimination and colonialism and imperialism, are reactions against abuses of power by those who misuse their social and economic privileges for sense gratification and exploitation, lacking the higher virtues to carry out the actual dharmic responsibilities of privileged classes.

Varnasrama dharma is descriptive as well as prescriptive. It describes how the modes of nature are working in every human enterprise. Srila Prabhupada often pointed out that you will find these classes of graded work (intellectual, administrative, productive, and servile or laboring) in every society.

If those who are occupying the position in society of intellectuals and administrators actually learn to work with the qualities and perform the duties befitting their station, then society will be peaceful and harmonious. If people learn to perform their work — whatever it is — in such a way as to properly worship and satisfy Lord Krishna, then they will achieve the perfection of yoga and go Back to Godhead.

I fear, though, that when we speak about Varnasrama dharma we sometimes come across as aligning ourselves with conservative or reactionary social movements whose members are more interested in preserving the privileges of the old order without really becoming devotees or even becoming righteous.

The Hare Krishna movement is essentially one of liberation and freedom and justice and happiness, not a movement of pushing people back into social constraints against their will. Kevala ananda kanda. Grhe thako vane thako sada hare bole dako. Lord Caitanya’s program is really one of joyful chanting and dancing for all.

Yes, we are against animal slaughter, but we are not out protesting against meat consumption. Yes, we are against abortion, but we are not sending our devotees to anti-abortion demonstrations. (Devotees may individually support all kinds of political causes, but it is not the business of ISKCON). We are encouraging people to chant Hare Krishna, because we know that if they become Vaisnavas, then automatically they will become highly moral people.

In the modern world, at least certainly in the U.S., women tend to seek fulfillment outside the home duties of cleaning and cooking and child rearing. If they can manage their family duties nicely and also preach well, we have always encouraged it.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 18th, 2011
347 Unregistered

KP:

1. None of the supporters of the ‘women have no varna of their own’ theory address the issue of MIXED VARNA MARRIAGES…

I and others have addressed this point but you have not shown how in a mixed varna marriage, the wife keeps her own varna. We have shown through Srila Prabhupada’s statements, that a “daughter of a brahmana” (Devayani), for example, might have married a ksatriya but she did not perform the duties of a brahmana, she adapts herself to her husband. The mixed varna offspring applied to pre-kali-yuga days and not our present society, in India or otherwise. Kulapavana Prabhu please show that Devayani (or any other “brahmana” woman) continued to perform brahminical duties as a brahmana, even though married to a ksatriya husband.

2. The idea that the daily duties (work) of a vaishya woman are exactly the same as those of a brahmani or a kshatriyani woman is not based in reality.

Kulapavana Pr’s point does not support his argument, it actually proves the opposite. There are naturally some differences between the lifestyle of the wife of a brahmana, wife of a ksatriya, wife of a vaisya, and wife of a sudra- but those differences are based assisting their husband in his occupation! All these different women still cook, clean and are the main caregivers of their children. Kulapavana Prabhu, please show via Guru sadhu sastra that women have their own varna that does not depend on their husband’s occupation.

3. “Devotees don’t follow the caste system in the same way as it is practiced in India” - presently devotees don’t follow ANY varna based system, period.

Would you please elaborate your point?

4. The proof of something in social or religious disciplines (even when invoking the seriously sounding “method of Reductio ad absurdum”) largely rests in the eye of beholder, especially among the devotees. IMO the peer review method is much more convincing. And this is what our discussion should be about - peer review of ideas.

Can you please elaborate the value of this “peer review method”? Isn’t the method of devotees to present the conclusions of our parampara and show how “our opinions” are in line with that?

The philosophy that women have independent occupational varna irregardless of their husband’s defies the principles of chastity and contradicts guru, sadhu, sastra.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 18th, 2011
348 Unregistered

KP:

Atmavidya Prabhu repeats a very common misconception. He says that “in Gita 9.32 woman are categorized as belonging to papa-yoni or lower birth.”_That is patently false. In the shastras the term papa-yoni, or sinful birth, NEVER refers to women as a class, but to people born outside the Vedic society.

Kulapavana Prabhu, are many places where Srila Prabhupada includes women in the papa-yoni group, for example:

“Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah. In the human society, striya sudras tatha vaisya, even woman and sudra and vaisya, they are also taken in the category of papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means their intelligence is not very sharp. That is called papa-yoni. And a brahmana means to become very, very highly intellectual. That is called brahmana. Because he’ll understand Brahman.” Lecture Feb 3, 1975 Hawaii

“Even the striyah, even women, they are also classified amongst the papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means those who have got little facility for advancing themselves in spiritual life. So it is particularly mentioned here, striyah, the woman class, sudra—sudra means the laborer class—and the vaisya, mercantile class. Or less than that. “ NY Dec. 20, 1966

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 18th, 2011
349 Unregistered

Re. Text #337 “Women and sacrificial rituals “

So women assisted their brahmana husbands to perform sacrifices. What is the point here? In Kali yuga they are forbidden to perform sacrifices alone. In the case of the letter previously cited where Prabhupada made an exception, it would have been a ritvik type of sacrifice and was not something he wanted instituted as a regular thing.

The story from Krsna Book simply shows, again, that the brahmanis shared the varna of their brahmana husbands. Where is the argument that women are brahmanas independent of their husbands?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 18th, 2011
350 Unregistered

Am I being hypocritical? On the one hand I’ve been pointing out, in principle, the offensiveness, anti-dharmic, unchaste action of a woman giving class to sannyasis. On the other hand I’m writing in an open forum where men are contributing and taking part in a discussion about varnasrama principles. Superficially this seems out of place so why have I continued?

The example of Draupadi comes to mind, when she was insulted by the Kauravas. She spoke out to the assembly, appealing for justice. Unfortunately the assembly did nothing but Krsna protected her when she surrendered to Him. Draupadi was justified in speaking out because she found herself in a situation of being unprotected. Similarly, when women give class to sannyasis (and want or are asked to become diksa guru) it violates the protection of women as a group.

Superficially it may seem women are being honoured by giving them equal facility but in fact, it is an insult both to the sannyasis it dishonours and to the women it misleads.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 18th, 2011
351 Unregistered

Krsna Kirti Prabhu has brought up the letter (to Himavati) that has been quoted by others out of context to justify a “no bar” policy for women to give class. However in the letter, Srila Prabhupada is encouraging women to preach in general, alongside their preacher husbands, as a wife-husband pair. It is not a specific instruction about giving Bhagavatam class.

To “prove by practical example” refers to the husband and wife team, not to independent women as I stated earlier in text #9. There is no bar or restriction on women or men becoming Krsna conscious as long as they follow their respective duties. After all, Prabhupada did not advise his disciples, men or women, to chant and preach 24 hours a day.

As KKP and others have shown, Prabhupada has said many other things which are being ignored by proponents of the “no bar” hypothetical theory. I suppose this is because these other instructions are seen as irrelevant to those who can transcend the bodily platform but this has not been overtly stated here as yet.

Would Prabhupada be “very glad” and “especially proud” of women devotees who disregard chastity and etiquette when it comes to giving class? Is this the type of “practical example” our senior women devotees should be proving? If you happen to think so, then please prove your point.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 19th, 2011
352 Unregistered

“Just like the thread ceremony is given to the brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, but there is no thread ceremony for the woman class. Although the woman is born in the brahmana family, she has no that reformation. Because striyah, woman class, are taken less intelligent, they should be given protection, but they cannot be elevated. But here in the Bhagavad-gita, He surpasses all these formalities. Lord Krsna surpasses all these formalities. He is giving facility to everyone. Never mind what he is. In the social structure, you may consider that woman is less intelligent or sudra or less purified, but in spiritual consciousness there is no such bar. Here Krsna accepts everyone. Either you become woman or you are sudra or a vaisya or whatever you may be, that doesn’t matter. If you simply take to Krsna consciousness, the Lord is there. He will give you all protection, all protection, and gradually He will help you. ” Bhagavad-gita Lecture 9.29-32 Dec. 20, 1966

Again Prabhupada says there is no bar to women becoming elevated in spiritual consciousness. However Prabhupada doesn’t mean we should abandon the social structure and its concomitant rules of etiquette or that men should stop giving women protection. Even though there are certain bars or restrictions necessary for social purposes, there is no bar to becoming Krsna conscious.

Clearly our leaders have misunderstood this point just as many have misunderstood “sarva dharman parityajya”…..

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 19th, 2011
353 Kulapavana

“Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah. In the human society, striya sudras tatha vaisya, even woman and sudra and vaisya, they are also taken in the category of papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means their intelligence is not very sharp. That is called papa-yoni. And a brahmana means to become very, very highly intellectual. That is called brahmana. Because he’ll understand Brahman.” Lecture Feb 3, 1975 Hawaii
So, if a woman is very, very highly intellectual by qualification, can she be a brahmana, because she will understand Brahman?
Is Devahuti also of papa-yoni class? How about Mother Yasoda?
How can a sudra-like woman give birth to a brahmana or a king? That defies logic and practical experience.

The very reason why pratiloma and anuloma marriages are considered mixed is because the woman retains the varna of her birth and does not take on the varna of her husband. If she did take on the varna of a husband, there would be no question ever of a mixed marriages. It is a very simple point that has no resoultion in your arguments, Mother Sitadasi.

Women are indeed helping their husbands in the discharge of their duties and that is why shastras recommend marriages within the same varna. Otherwise, why would that instruction be there? Duties of a queen are very,very different than duties of a washerman’s wife, requiring proper training and proper personality.

I wrote that presently in Iskcon there is no general practice of identification devotees with any particular varna. What is your varna Mother Sitadasi, for example? Or if you claim to be varna-less, what is the assigned varna of your husband?

Even when attempting to practice the “method of devotees to present the conclusions of our parampara and show how “our opinions” are in line with that” - the peer review method is essential. You may think that your opinions are in line with the conclusions of our parampara, and other devotees may disagree with you. Other devotees may point out inconsistencies and flaws in our reasoning thus disproving our claim. A mere belief that we are right and others are wrong is not a substitute for a general consensus of peers that what you propose is true or sanctioned by our tradition. Such controversies are extremely common among the devotees and very few are currently being resolved in a satisfactory way, as this discussion shows.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 19th, 2011
354 Unregistered

further to my example of Draupadi’s appeal to the assembly…

Duryodhana had the direct and tacit support of his seniors as well. The only ’senior’ who spoke up in the assembly was Vidura (and he was considered a sudra). Vidura said, and I believe this is relevant here:

“In an assembly where a truly censurable act is not rebuked, half the demerit of that act attacheth to the head of that assembly, a fourth to the person acting censurably and a fourth unto those others that are there. In that assembly, on the other hand, when he that deserveth censure is rebuked, the head of the assembly becometh freed from all sins, and the other members also incur none. It is only the perpetrator himself of the act that becometh responsible for it.”

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 19th, 2011
355 Unregistered

Akruranatha dasa: Mohana Mohini Mataji, what I got from Urmila Mataji’s comment #331, in the context of this discussion, is that it is the duty of a spiritual master to not only explain Srimad Bhagavatam but to train the disciples to explain it also.

Akruranatha Prabhu, this quote from CC Madhya Lila is about Lord Caitanya, “an ideal teacher or acarya” who we also know was also an “ideal sannyasi”. If “He sometimes also empowered His devotees to speak while He listened” it would have been to his male devotees because, as an ideal sannyasi, He did not consciously choose to hear women speak (or sing). Therefore this quote cannot be used to justify women giving class to sannyasis. Where does Prabhupada even say such a thing is justified?

I guess it needs to be mentioned that women contributing to this blog (a type of istagosti), sitting at home typing on a computer is very different from sitting on a vyasasana and giving a formal class (and singing) in front of many people physically gathered in a room.

AKP writes: “We do not want to erect artificial barriers to Krishna-katha in the name of enforcing a dharmic social order. “

Can you please elaborate? Prabhupada says it is artificial for women to imitate sannyasis so there are unseen barriers that exist in varnasrama and they are not artificial, they are based on natural differences due to our material bodies.

AKP: “ Yes, in order to prevent illicit sex and engage people according to their natural propensities the interactions of men and women should be restricted and minimized in a refined culture, inasmuch as butter melts in the proximity of fire.”

Yes so how are these interactions to be “restricted and minimized in a refined culture” if you say there are to be no “artificial barriers”? What is a natural barrier and what is an artificial one?

AKP: “However, we do not have a rule against women devotees giving classes, leading kirtans, or engaging their talents for administration and practical work in the service of Krsna, if they so desire. “

Are you saying that a wo/man can do anything for Krsna that s/he wants, whenever s/he wants and to whom anyone s/he wants, even if that includes women interacting with sannyasis?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 20th, 2011
356 Locanananda dasa

Kudos to Mother Sitadasi for her comment #350. I consider it the most insightful comment on a social issue I have seen posted anywhere on the Internet by a follower of Srila Prabhupada in a very long time. Her powerful conclusion

“Superficially it may seem women are being honoured by giving them equal facility but in fact, it is an insult both to the sannyasis it dishonours and to the women it misleads.”

is brilliantly succinct and should be posted everywhere for ISKCON devotees to read, discuss and assimilate. IMHO

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on July 20th, 2011
357 Locanananda dasa

I joined the Krishna consciousness movement in Paris in 1970, but it was not until the summer of 1972 that, with the kind help of the French Department of Justice, I was able to first return to the United States at no personal expense. My destination of choice was the ISKCON Henry Street temple in Brooklyn, New York, the abode of Their Most Beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Radha Govinda.

The first morning program I attended culminated with a Srimad Bhagavatam class given by a female devotee whose name I later learned was Jadurani. I thought her knowledge of sastra was unparalleled, and her presentation included many personal experiences and instructions she had received directly from Srila Prabhupada. She was in the weekly rotation with Jayadvaita brahmacari, Bali Mardan Maharaja and perhaps two or three other senior preachers.

On one occasion, Jadurani was seated on the asana giving class and a young sannyasi was sitting amongst the assembled devotees. I guess no one had thought to invite him to speak in Jadurani’s place, but after listening to her explanation of the verse for a few minutes, the sannyasi raised his hand and was acknowledged by the speaker. From that point forward, he began to expound on the meaning of the Bhagavatam verse and Srila Prabhupada’s purport which he appeared to be very familiar with. Meanwhile, from the asana, Jadurani listened most respectfully as did the assembled devotees, eager to hear the comments of Srila Prabhupada’s most recently initiated sannyasi.

I believe we all realized that a breach of etiquette had occurred. It is not that a sannyasi cannot listen to a female speaker of Bhagavata philosophy, but the sannyasi must first be offered the opportunity to speak out of respect for the asrama and his renounced status.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on July 20th, 2011
358 Locanananda dasa

The preaching situation in Mayapur during the Gaura Purnima festival is quite different from any other ISKCON temple. Devotees travel thousands of miles to hear from and associate with the most advanced leaders of our movement in the Holy Dhama. It is an august assembly, and those who are chosen to give class are expected to represent the entire parampara as they transmit the message of vairagya vidya nija bhakti yoga. The speaker of Bhagavatam in Mayapur at festival time must inspire the devotees to surrender fully at the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna, push forward the Sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and further convince them to adhere to the instructions and assimilate the teachings of our founder acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

It is expected that those devotees who are situated in the sannyasa asrama, who are members of the GBC or who initiate disciples will be especially empowered in the above-mentioned way. But, insofar as we are in the midst of Kali yuga, we should always expect to see anomalies. Who is actually empowered is decided by Krishna, and it is by His will only that one is given the opportunity to render such confidential service, for empowered preachers are most dear to the Lord.

“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (B.g. 18.68)

“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”
(B.g. 18.69)

We do not know who asked a woman devotee to speak on the Bhagavatam in Mayapur, nor who approved or disapproved. All we know is that not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Lord.
Personally, I believe it to have been a decision made without regard for kala, desa, patra — time, place and circumstance. Not that Mother Urmila is not a qualified speaker. She certainly is, but if there were devotee sages and saintly leaders present who were slighted and not properly acknowledged according to vaisnava etiquette by being asked to give class, it is possible that the purpose of giving or attending Bhagavatam class that day was defeated even before the class began.

All in my humble opinion.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on July 20th, 2011
359 Urmila

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you, Sita devi dasi, for your comment 350 which makes things very clear and helps me appreciate your concerns, your courage, and your dedication to your service.

I offer my obeisances to all those participating on this comment thread and reading it who recognize the pivotal role of women in whether a society is stable or unstable, even when we do not agree on all areas of application.

“Wherever there are individuals there is bound to be difference of opinion.” (Letter to Rupanuga, 14 February, 1973) “If there is sometimes slight disagreements between devotees, it is not due to impersonalism, but it is because they are persons, and such disagreements should not be taken very seriously.” (Letter to Atreya ,4 February, 1972) “I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision.” (Letter to Tribhuvanatha, 16th June, 1972) “Just like in your country there are political parties, Democratic …Republican. Although they are party, their aim is how to develop the country… So don’t think the party means some opposite party. No. Everyone has got for the advanced devotee to serve the Lord in a particular way so that the Lord may be more satisfied. That is their intention. Sometimes we also have some parties in the temple… everyone wants that “I shall serve the Lord in this particular way.” We cannot change the original rules and regulation, but there is variety. We are not impersonalist. Every person has got to serve the Lord in a particular way, and that is allowed. The central point is Krsna. So although there are parties, if the central point is Krsna, so there is no dissension. It is a competition, that “My Godbrother, my Godsister, is serving such a way. She is so well versed in this art. Why not try myself to do something?” This is variety. That is not this ordinary party strife if we make Krsna the center.” (lecture Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.15 Dallas, March 4, 1975)

Offering all respects to the sanga of Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis here, I regret that due to pressing family and service responsibilities, I do not have time at present to continue adding to this discussion. Begging your forgiveness, I remain

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by Urmila on July 20th, 2011
360 Srila Dasa

In the Mahabharata, it is explained, tarko ‘pratistha srutayo vibhinnah nasau rsir yasya matam na bhinna. There is no end to argument, and everyone thinks that their opinion is superior than the rest. dharmasya tattvam nihito guhayam. To understand the truth of religious principle, it is very difficult. mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Therefore we have to accept that way which is given by the mahajana. (cf, SP Lecture 9-30-73)
I was fortunate to have joined the Krsna consciousness movement during the time of the manifest pastimes of Srila Prabhupada. From the very beginning, I had the opportunity to listen to the classes of Jadurani along with Gauri, Sunita, Jayadvaita (brahmacari) and others. Jadurani’s classes especially were second to none. It was only years later in 1974-1975 when some sannyasis returning from India started to propagate this concocted idea that it was not “Vedic” or proper for women to be giving class. Tragically, this policy subsequently became engrained into ISKCON culture for the better part of twenty years or more. It needs to be reiterated that this was not Prabhupada’s idea but was a latter-day invention perpetrated by immature sannyasis who would inevitably fall down due to their own agitated minds.

We can argue and debate back and forth until the cows come home, but the fact is that “example is more powerful than precept,” and Prabhupada wanted his daughters to be learned in the philosophy and preach just as their godbrothers. Spiritually, there is no distinction of either male or female in these regards. Otherwise, it is simply bodily conception under the guise of a spiritual pretense. Those who attempt to use Prabhupada’s own words to deny the egalitarian practices he himself instituted simply make themselves foolish.

Comment posted by Srila Dasa on July 20th, 2011
361 Unregistered

A further comment on Kulapavana Dasa’s text #334

4. The proof of something in social or religious disciplines (even when invoking the seriously sounding “method of Reductio ad absurdum”) largely rests in the eye of beholder, especially among the devotees. IMO the peer review method is much more convincing. And this is what our discussion should be about - peer review of ideas.

Here is a description of how to prove something in a circle of devotees:

“That is the system of understanding transcendental knowledge, veda-pramaṇa, evidence from the Vedas. According to Vedic system, amongst the learned scholars, if one presents Vedic evidences, then his position is strong. Just like in law court, two lawyers are arguing. One lawyer who quotes from the lawbook various bona fide quotations, the judgment is given in his favor because that is authorized. Similarly, a Vedic statement is accepted in Indian spiritual society. ” Lecture, Auckland, April 14, 1972

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 20th, 2011
362 Unregistered

“So one who gives class, he must read and study regularly and study the purport and realize it. Don’t add anything or concoct anything, then he can preach very nicely. The qualification for leading class is how much one understands about Krsna and surrendering to the process.”

Prabhupada says that one who gives class must not add or concoct anything. Believing women are independent brahmanas and can become diksa gurus or sannyasis is a concoction that has been formed by twisting and misrepresenting our philosophy.

Prabhupada gives Malati two qualifications for giving class:

1. How much one understands about Krsna
2. Whether one is surrendering to the process.

For a woman, “surrendering to the process” obviously includes following stri dharma, therefore not following it or imitating a man’s dharma is understood to be a disqualification.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 20th, 2011
363 Unregistered

AKP: If women are too shy to give lectures we do not make them uncomfortable by forcing them, but if they are eager to share their realizations we should be eager to listen, just as we are listening to Sita dasi and Bhaktilata dasi here.

Srila Prabuhpada said shyness is important for women. He referred to it as a “ control valve” which, if loosened, “ can create havoc in society “. So how is it that Bhaktilata and myself, proponents of shyness and stri dharma, have been speaking up here? It is not because we want to speak in front of a bunch of men or pave the way for other women to give class to men! It is because we are wanting to defend stri dharma and Prabhupada’s movement from feminist ideas and actions. It is because men and leaders have been silent about the issues we have been talking about. In fact it is men and leaders who encouraged the injustice in the first place! It is our duty to speak up in defense!

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 20th, 2011
364 Unregistered

Personally, and above all else , in the interest of the international development of Krishna conscious jivas, irregardless of their current gender assignment, I feel it is paramount to our success and global acceptance to embrace enthusiastically and wholeheartedly, that dharma which out shines all other dharmas in this age of Kali, viz- Sanantan Dharma. This is the method by which Shrila Prabhupada’s movement will expand and flourish throughout the 21st century and beyond. Proper consciousness, i.e. Krishna consciousness, in surely obtainable even for fledgling devotees provided they are guided and instructed by educated Vaishnavas possessed of the courage and will to be agents of social change. Unreasonable limitations placed on potential candidates for membership in our society based on their race, gender, or nationality not only conflict with the fair and equal treatment afforded human jivas in most civilized states on earth these days, but egregiously alienates the very souls we have , as followers of Shrila Prabhupada, been charged with illuminating. The means of such illumination is, and must be exclusively, that dharma that seeks to free the jiva from the bucolic misconceptions fostered by those who have agendas that fall far short of our own, which is to set this jiva free - free from all other dharmas and karmas based on the notion of physiological rankings and the adherence to diffident or otherwise reactionary behaviors.
I laud and appreciate your acceptance of Shrila Prabhupada’s divine will to see successful Shri Caitanya Maha Prabhu’s sankirtan movement Urmila ma and pray, that the sangha of clear sighted devotees stand in support of your efforts and those of your chagrin, that great joy be felt for a thousand years plus throughout our family of Krishna conscious souls here on earth. Hare Krishna.

Comment posted by krishnachandra on July 21st, 2011
365 Unregistered

Dear Urmila Devi Prabhu. I imagine something like your reason but wanted to make sure. I thank you for your answer because you are too busy. I pray you get more time to answer more the argument but you are ordered by gurus to give class so why they argue? You explain again about different opinions are okay in the devotional service. Krsna conscious society is supposed to be very peaceful and happy among devotees or how we attract other people to chant Hare Krsna? You say make Krsna the centre then everything is ok! Please speak more or another time about argument. You can make video lecture I think you are humble but empowered by Guru and Krsna. I see your website http://urmila.me.uk/ you do so much preaching. Thank you!

Dear Akruranatha Dasa Prabhu. I like what you say for text 345 which also answer my question more. The woman disciples are ordered by gurus to give class to practice preaching method. Why we need to follow varnasrama that Lord Caitanya reject when our whole world is going to hell! We drink nectar not the bitter medicine and be happy and peaceful! Thank you!

yours in service
bhaktin lisanne

Comment posted by bhaktinlis on July 21st, 2011
366 elin108

Hare Krishna!

I wholeheartedly agree with Urmila Prabhu’s post #359 about friendly competition among the devotees. Grihasthas, sannyasis, housewives, female preachers – all devotees are immensely valuable. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is large enough for all of us and sometimes we simply have to agree to disagree.

I have read that even among the gopis there are pro- and ‘against-‘ Radhika factions. But their competition is a transcendental play without any touch of envy.

Criticizing someone wishing them success and criticizing someone wishing them failure might be exactly the same in superficial appearance but are diametrically opposite in essence and actual effect. Only Krishna knows anyone’s heart.

And i don’t feel that Srila Prabhupada looked down on women or that he didn’t want them to preach. I believe he was only interested in inspiring women to give up vain mental speculation and unlock their immense devotional potential. It appears he saw women as blessed and more surrendered.

SB 1.8.20 Purport: “Women in general are unable to speculate like philosophers, but they are blessed by the Lord because they believe at once in the superiority and almightiness of the Lord, and thus they offer obeisances without reservation. The Lord is so kind that He does not show special favor only to one who is a great philosopher. He knows the sincerity of purpose. For this reason only, women generally assemble in great number in any sort of religious function. In every country and in every sect of religion it appears that the women are more interested than the men. This simplicity of acceptance of the Lord’s authority is more effective than showy insincere religious fervor.”

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to Urmila Prabhu because i got carried away in a separate online ‘debate’ with her. No senior authorities have asked me to apologize. Neither have i been shown an incontestable objective proof of an intentional offence on my part. I am doing it of my own volition and just in case :-).

Dear Urmila Prabhu, please accept my sincere apologies for any offences i have committed consciously or unwittingly. I am deeply touched by your full surrender unto Sri Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances repeatedly.

May everyone give up forever all barriers to pure devotional service! May Sri Sri Radha Krishna be victorious in everyone’s heart!

Begging everyone’s forgiveness,

Yours in service,

Bhakta Elin

Comment posted by elin108 on July 21st, 2011
367 Unregistered

The disagreement is and has never been due to individual differences of service. It is also not a question of being lenient to newcomers which needs to be done in an ongoing way to bring them to Krsna consciousness. It is also not a general matter of whether women can preach.

Let’s take another look at the quotes Urmila Devi has presented:

1. “Wherever there are individuals there is bound to be difference of opinion.” (Letter to Rupanuga, 14 February, 1973)

Let’s read the letter a little further:

“Wherever there are individuals there is bound to be difference of opinion. Therefore for this purpose I have formulated the GBC. Therefore any new programs or proposals or discrepancies should be submitted before the Governing Board Commission and then their conclusion should be submitted to me for the final approval. In other words I am requesting you as my senior men not to tax my brain with so many details but simply come to a conclusion amongst yourselves and then present this final conclusion for my sanction. In this way I will be free to concentrate on my translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. “

In other words, “any new programs or proposals or discrepancies”, like women giving class to sannyasis, women becoming GBC, women becoming diksa guru, requires consultation with Srila Prabhupada via his books, to be supported or rejected.

2. “If there is sometimes slight disagreements between devotees, it is not due to impersonalism, but it is because they are persons, and such disagreements should not be taken very seriously.” (Letter to Atreya ,4 February, 1972)

I don’t believe this to be of the category of “slight disagreements between devotees”. An example of this could be whether the Deity should wear pink or green on a particular day.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 22nd, 2011
368 Unregistered

cont
3. “I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision.” (Letter to Tribhuvanatha, 16th June, 1972)

This is not really about understanding the philosophy from different angles of vision. It’s a matter of how the philosophy has been misconstrued and how Prabhupada’s instructions have been taken out of context to attempt to justify senior women transgressing laws of etiquette. This point has not actually been addressed however.

4. “Sometimes we also have some parties in the templeeveryone wants that “I shall serve the Lord in this particular way.” We cannot change the original rules and regulation, but there is variety. We are not impersonalist. Every person has got to serve the Lord in a particular way, and that is allowed. The central point is Krsna….” (lecture Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.15 Dallas, March 4, 1975)

The first section above indicates a section which was omitted from the lecture. That omitted section appears in bold in the next post:

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 22nd, 2011
369 Unregistered

The omitted section appears in bold below:

“Sometimes we also have some parties in the temple: someone wants to dress the Deity in a way, another wants to… Of course, they are not transgressing the rules and regulation, but still, everyone wants that “I shall serve the Lord in this particular way.” We cannot change the original rules and regulation, but there is variety.”

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 22nd, 2011
370 Unregistered

First, this is not a matter of individual differences in serving the Lord, for ex: someone wants to dress the Deity in pink whereas someone else thinks it should be green. That idea is also there in the previous quote #2. Second, Prabhupada states twice that we cannot change or transgress the rules and regulations. This topic IS a matter of changing the rules and regulations, not for the sake of newcomers who may need some adjustments at the beginning, but for longstanding women who are deemed qualified to give Bhagavatam class.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 22nd, 2011
371 Unregistered

In #31 I posted a quote (unpublished but cited by Jyotirmayi in her paper) wherein Prabhupada is asked whether women can give lectures. Prabhupada’s answer was “Yes. With the husband. She is always helping hand to hand the husband…. Assistant.”

Prabhupada is asked a second time whether women should not give class and Prabhupada answered, 
 “Why not? If she is a brahmana’s wife, she can give lecture.” Then he explains 
that “This varnashrama dharma, woman is according to the husband. That’s all. Jadurani is suppose to be a brahmana’s wife, her husband has taken sannyasa, so she can preach.”

What does “if she is brahmana’s wife, she can give lecture mean? Does it simply mean that if a woman’s husband is second initiated it’s okay for her to give class? Or does it mean that if the woman’s husband is second initiated AND gives classes himself then it’s okay for her to give class? From this and other quotes, we conclude it is the latter.

Should a wife whose husband does not give/has not ever given class be doing so? Just because a husband has brahminical initiation doesn’t mean he is a brahmana by practical varnasrama standards. The wife isn’t supposed to supersede her husband so if, practically, her husband is not a preacher and does not give formal Bhagavatam classes in the temple, out of chastity she would not choose to do so because it would be humiliating to the husband. The same principle applies to women gurus. If a woman’s husband is not an authorized diksa guru, how can she think of becoming one?

But the main point is not whether women or even children are authorized to speak and preach. That is a straw man argument. The main point is whether women are authorized by Srila Prabhupada to preach in the specific manner of giving Bhagavatam class in temples where qualified men are present.

If a husband, son, GBC, or TP is “ordering” this, they are obviously not following Srila Prabhupada’s example and precepts.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 23rd, 2011
372 Unregistered

Women are indeed helping their husbands in the discharge of their duties and that is why shastras recommend marriages within the same varna. Otherwise, why would that instruction be there? Duties of a queen are very,very different than duties of a washerman’s wife, requiring proper training and proper personality.

If by “varna” you mean guna then yes I agree there are compatibility issues.

I wrote that presently in Iskcon there is no general practice of identification devotees with any particular varna. What is your varna Mother Sitadasi, for example? Or if you claim to be varna-less, what is the assigned varna of your husband?

I don’t see how this is relevant.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 23rd, 2011
373 Unregistered

Kulapavana Prabhu earlier wrote:

“provide a quote or example from the shastras where a wife takes on the varna of her husband”

to which scooty-ram had replied:

“Sthrinam upanayanam sthaane vivaaham meaning for women marriage is in place of upanayana.

During marriage the scarfs of the two people are tied. This is an indication of varna mix where the wife gets the varna of husband.

There is also a section in marriage ritual where the gotra of the girl changes from her father’s gotra to husbands goitre.”

What is the meaning of the marriage samskara that the man and wife “become one” if it does not also apply to varna?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 23rd, 2011
374 Unregistered

KP: The very reason why pratiloma and anuloma marriages are considered mixed is because the woman retains the varna of her birth and does not take on the varna of her husband.

Would you please explain the meaning of the wife “becoming one” with her husband at the time of marriage. Please also explain where Srila Prabhupada says the woman keeps the varna of her birth.

You had written something different in #234:

“THAT is reality, where people are judged on the basis of qualifications, not merely the body.”

In our current society, is a woman’s varna determined by “her birth” or “on the basis of qualifications”?

Are the duties of a queen the same or different from the duties of a king? And are the duties of a brahmani the same or different from the duties of a brahmana? Why should a woman serve a husband who is of a varna below her? Why doesn’t her husband become her assistant? If a “brahmani” marries a man below her varna, does that mean she can be independent (brahmanas are independent)?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 23rd, 2011
375 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

My humble pranams to Urmila Prabhu. I would like to share my 2 cents on this topic.

1) When you call some one prabhu, you mean you are uplifting them above Stri/Shudra category. Prabhupada have few times called his senior female disciples as prabhu and that uplifts them from the female figure. Urmila Prabhu is above stri/prusha/varna boundaries as she is a Shri Krishna devotee and hence she can be called Prabhu and when we call some one prabhu we must be ready to hear them too!!

2) I think way back we have come above the debate of Bhakti is above any Varna based rules and regulation. A pure devotee does not care about Varna based restrictions. A pure devotee is always eager to speak about Shri Krishna. Here in Urmila Prabhus scenario she was asked to speak and she spoke about her eternal love to Krishna, her service to Prabhupada and her service to devotee community by serving children devotees to make them Krishna Conscious.

3) Even according to Varna samstan a women should speak when asked to speak, here Urmila Prabhu is speaking from Vyasasana only when asked by senior men and Sanyasis. If she had rejected offer to speak then again she would have committed offense of not obeying senior men and sanyasis!! VS man senior vaishnavis are speaking here even without any invitation and infact arguing with some senior men too!! Even by their own philosophy, women is less intelligent then men, they should never argue with men as no matter what men does women will always remain less intelligent and hence should simply follow their stri dharma :/ (Personally I do not agree with women or men discrimination in Bhakti Yoga).

Thats it… rest debates will always go on… they have happen in past too when ladies of Bhramanis were not following their husbands and they will go on for ever… Again my humble obeisances to Urmila Prabhu.

Comment posted by omdas on July 24th, 2011
376 Unregistered

KP: So, if a woman is very, very highly intellectual by qualification, can she be a brahmana, because she will understand Brahman?


A brahmana woman doesn’t get the sacred thread and if she doesn’t assist and be faithful to her brahmana husband she loses respectability. But a woman can still worship the Supreme Lord.

KP: Is Devahuti also of papa-yoni class? How about Mother Yasoda?


We don’t go around calling them or women papa yoni, that would be disrespectful. However Queen Kunti and Sati, did not think themselves above this designation (see SB 4.4.17 and 1.6.18, 1.8.22). Although Vaishavis, they played the role of chaste women (Draupadi’s marrying 5 husbands is not to be imitated obviously).

Here are some excerpts from SB 6.3.13:

“In this material world, everyone is conditioned, regardless of who he is” ie. human or demigod, animal or plant. Living entities in human bodies are “systematically controlled by the Vedic injunctions in terms of the divisions of varna and asrama. A human being is expected to follow the rules and regulations of varna and asrama; otherwise he cannot escape punishment by Yamaraja. “

“The divisions of varna and asrama are necessary to insure the proper execution of duties and peaceful existence for everyone, but everyone is directed to worship the Supreme Lord, who is all-pervading”

“therefore if one follows the Vedic injunctions by worshiping the Supreme Lord according to one’s ability, his life will be perfect. “

“O best among the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve, by discharging his prescribed duties [dharma] according to caste divisions and orders of life, is to please the Lord Hari.” The varnasrama institution offers the perfect process for making one eligible to return home, back to Godhead, because the aim of every varna and asrama is to please the Supreme Lord. SB 1.2.13“

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 24th, 2011
377 Unregistered

KP:How can a sudra-like woman give birth to a brahmana or a king? That defies logic and practical experience.

Woman is the field and the seed is given by the father.

KP:The very reason why pratiloma and anuloma marriages are considered mixed is because the woman retains the varna of her birth and does not take on the varna of her husband.

So now you are saying a woman’s varna is determined by birth?

This anuloma and pratiloma stuff becomes very complicated because it’s from a time when the population wasn’t all “mixed” aka varna sankara. Prabhupada kept varnasrama pretty simple.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 24th, 2011
378 Unregistered

“Although we may try to revive the perfect varsasrama system, it is not possible in this age.” TLK 14

It is not possible in Kali yuga to revive the perfect, original, complete varnasrama system. This does not mean we shouldn’t try to fulfill Prabhupada’s desire to implement essential and basic varnasrama elements as per his other instructions. Many things will not be possible such as performing elaborate yajnas or asking brothers to beget children in the womb of one’s wife (the child would have then belonged to the wife’s husband, not his brother). Prabhupada gave us the essential elements and he did not say women should retain the varna of their birth after marriage.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 24th, 2011
379 Kulapavana

Mother Sitadasi,
Our particular discussion revolves around two issues: 1. Whether a devotee in a female body can ever be good enough to give a class in front of sannyasis and senior male devotees.
2. Whether a woman has her own inherent varna, or is she assuming the varna of her husband through marriage.
After reading this entire very interesting exchange I am inclined to think that in case of #1 it is entirely up to the temple authorities and listeners to make this choice, as there are ample arguments both ‘for’ and ‘against’.
In case of #2 I am inclined to think that while the past and present practice in India makes it clear that women have their own inherent varna, Srila Prabhupada is proposing a slightly different system, where a wife simply accepts the same varna as her husband. The DAIVI-varnashrama concept was originally introduced into our sampradaya by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He saw DVAD as a way to modify the existing birth based caste system stemming from both shastra and past practice, which restricted qualified devotees from acting in a capacity of brahmanas. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada considered that in his ISKCON society DVAD means that women should be known by the varna of their husbands, regardless of their qualifications - past, present, or those they might be able to develop in the future. Or perhaps that all women should be seen as sudras only, again regardless of their qualifications. That may be the case, but let us not pretend that this approach is based on Manu-smriti or historical practices in the Vedic or post-Vedic society.

As to the unity of husband and wife in marriage… here is a quote from Manu-smriti 9.45:
” He only is a perfect man who consists (of three persons united), his wife, himself, and his offspring ; thus (says the Veda), and (learned) Brahmanas propound this (maxim) likewise, ‘The husband is declared to be one with the wife. ”
It has nothing to do with the varna of either party - the meaning is much deeper.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 24th, 2011
380 Unregistered

Re. #375 by omdas

“A pure devotee does not care about Varna based restrictions. “

Please provide a reference to support your statement.

“Even according to Varna samstan a women should speak when asked to speak, here Urmila Prabhu is speaking from Vyasasana only when asked by senior men and Sanyasis. If she had rejected offer to speak then again she would have committed offense of not obeying senior men and sanyasis!!”

Please provide a reference to support your statement.

By accepting the offer to speak, offenses were made: by the speaker, by those who gave the invitation and by those who said nothing. Offenses were made to sannyasis, to senior men (including the speaker’s husband) as well to women who were shown a bad example. It would have been chaste and correct to reject the offer to speak for the benefit of everyone.

“Even by their own philosophy, women is less intelligent then men, they should never argue with men as no matter what men does women will always remain less intelligent and hence should simply follow their stri dharma :/ “

Please provide a reference to support your statement.

This means women should remain silent when men are saying and doing things that are unsupported by guru, sastra and sadhu….. therefore Draupadi should have been silent and not appealed to the assembly.

In an open public istagosti forum such as this, everyone is welcome to share arguments that are supported by guru, sastra, and sadhu. Since it pertains to women in a big way, it is very appropriate that women, especially those who are trying to follow stri-dharma, participate and speak up. Men don’t follow stri-dharma so many men will not understand what it feels like to see it defiled.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 25th, 2011
381 Akruranatha

In comment #355 Sitadasi has asked me to elaborate on my statement “We do not want to erect artificial barriers to Krishna-katha in the name of enforcing a dharmic social order.”

It is a big subject, and a really worthy one. As I see it the Krishna consciousness movement has two goals, which ordinarily will be expected to be in harmony.

Lord Caitanya has descended to protect the devotees, to annihilate the miscreants (by transforming their demonic tendencies) and to re-establish dharma, a righteous social order in accordance with the will of God. Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami has elaborated on the internal and external motives for this most merciful Golden Avatar.

The Krishna consciousness movement is meant to serve these purposes of Lord Caitanya. One of our goals is to help establish dharma. We should stamp out crime. There should be no more stealing, lying, unauthorized violence (including slaughterhouses and abortion clinics), illicit sex, intoxication; moreover, people should not waste their leisure time in frivolous sporting and mundane literature and entertainment of vapid TV shows and cinema. We want to bring about a very healthy and righteous human society where everyone performs his or her role properly and expertly and thereby brings about good for himself or herself while contributing to the greater good of society.

But also we are to primarily establish the higher dharma of bhakti, which is the real sanatan dharma or jaiva dharma, inasmuch as the eternal constitutional position of all living entities is as loving servants of Krishna.

The two goals are complimentary, but the goal of spreading bhakti yoga, primarily through congregational chanting of the Maha Mantra and distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books, is all important. It is our main mission. When people become devotees through hearing and chanting, they will develop an understanding of how to be righteous and the means and the will to do so.

Of course, generally people cannot chant Hare Krishna successfully without becoming suci. They have to follow the four regs, and beyond that we offer them brahmana initiation so they can worship the deity and chant gayatri and become fit to chant the maha mantra without committing offenses.

There is some latent tension between the two verses in B.R.S., “yena tena prakarena manah krsna nivesayet” and “sruti smrti puranadi pancaratra vidhim vina…”

We are basically a movement to get people to remember Krishna…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 25th, 2011
382 Akruranatha

And yet remembrance of Krishna should be authentic, not something fanciful and outside the prescriptions of the sruti, smrti, purana, pancaratrika, etc. We do not want to promote sahajiya-ism, nor do we want to promote a smarta-ism that is overly concerned with moral rules and rituals without understanding the ultimate purpose behind them.

Sita Dasi asks, “What is a natural barrier [to Krsna-katha] and what is an artificial one?”

This question (or some form of it) should be the crux of the whole matter. It is not a rhetorical question, the end of the argument, a conversation stopper. It is really the beginning of the real discussion of how to spread Krishna consciousness effectively and authentically.

The barriers governing relations between men and women or men of different varnas should not be barriers to Krishna-katha but should facilitate it. The purpose of the vedas is to know Krishna and not the other way around.

Madhavendra Puri prays to be excused for not bathing, saying his thrice daily prayers, worshiping demigods and anscestors and so on, because remembering the enemy of Kamsa is sufficient for him.

Srila Prabhupada warns us that such leaving aside of obligatory duties, which is fine for those with genuine spontaneous attraction to Krishna consciousness, is not for neophytes. For us we must practice the rules of bhakti yoga (and the lesser rules of a moral social order) in order that we may be elevated to the platform of constant remembrance. Or, failing that, we should try to work for Krsna.

So the question of how much or little to emphasize strict adherence to Vedic rules and regulations while spreading Krishna consciousness is one that requires some wisdom, tact, sense of proportion, good judgment, genuine kindness and concern for the well-being of the devotees. It may not be the same in every country or for every preacher.

That was the example given by Srila Prabhupada. We must try to follow in his footsteps. As Srila said, “mahajano yena gatah sa panthah.”

Krishna consciousness is not spread by a formulaic insistence on a laundry-list of rules, though a willingness to follow rules must be there. A preacher has to be a truly sensitive and empathetic person. “Atmaupamyena sarvatra samam pasyati yo ‘rjuna”

Aside from which, there is no rule against women speaking about Srimad Bhagavatam, and Srila Prabhupada never discouraged his women disciples from giving classes, whether in America or India.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 25th, 2011
383 Akruranatha

I have to say that the equation of Urmila Mataji giving a nice Bhagavatam class in Mayapur to the attempt to disrobe Draupadi in the Kaurava Court does not make any sense to me at all.

How is hearing a Srimad Bhagavatam class from anyone — regardless of external c0nsiderations of caste, sex, race or social position — comparable to being physically insulted, brutally dragged by the hair and stripped naked in public by a bully? The two things do not seem even slightly analogous.

Why would it be an insult to Sita Dasi that Urmila gave class? Sita Mataji was at one time saying it was an insult to the senior men and sannyasis to hear from someone who was, at least by material estimation, their social inferior. But now she seems to be saying that the senior men and sannyasis, by failing to speak against the supposed breach of etiquette, sat idly by while *her* honor was affronted, like the assembled ksatriyas who failed to intervene on Draupadi’s behalf. The analogy just does not make any sense.

It is one thing to want to discuss or even debate whether women giving classes in ISKCON temples while sannyasis are present is a violation of Vedic social norms. However, to suggest that having a woman give class is an affront to the honor of other Vaisnavis, to the point that it is compared to the disrobing of Draupadi, suggests a highly unbalanced sense of proportion, and a lack of humility and tolerance.

The Hare Krishna Movement is not, essentially, a movement to force everyone to conform to complex rules and manners. It is essentially a movement to reawaken everyone’s dormant love for Krishna.

It is true that there are plenty of rules for smooth interaction of human society, and that serving Krishna according to such rules is desired, and violation of such rules in the course of devotional service can cause disruptions and social hiccups.

But another thing that can cause disruptions is an overly demanding and judgmental attitude about whether other people are properly following various rules. I think to a large extent such an attitude is being displayed in this discussion by some of those who take the position that it was wrong for Urmila to be asked to give class.

I can understand expressing an opinion that women should not give class (though I disagree with the opinion), but I do not understand why anyone would take it so personally that she would feel as if she were being brutally manhandled in public. Why is it really even her business?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 27th, 2011
384 Unregistered

“AKP: Krishna consciousness is not spread by a formulaic insistence on a
laundry-list of rules, though a willingness to follow rules must be there. “

Yes, I agree, a willingness must be there. At the same time, Prabhupada expected a certain standard to be followed under the name of ISKCON. It is to be expected that devotees who are sitting on the vyasasana in Mayapura are willingly following a higher set/stricter set of rules.

Prabhupada was lenient in the beginning and later requested stricter standards to be implemented in the areas of deity worship, marriage, GBC and temple managers, sannyasa and brahminical initiations and gurukula. For example:

“Tamala Kṛṣṇa: Of course, if someone has a falldown, just like in the past some GBC men have fallen down…
Prabhupada: He should be replaced.
Tamala Kṛṣṇa: Then he should be replaced. But that’s a serious falldown, not some minor discrepancy.
Prabhupada: They must be all ideal acarya-like. In the beginning we have done for working. Now we should be very cautious. Anyone who is deviating, he can be replaced.

When one is not strictly following the rules, one is deviating to some degree or other. Women follow a somewhat different set of “rules” than men of which chastity is paramount.

“AKP: Aside from which, there is no rule against women speaking about Srimad Bhagavatam, and Srila Prabhupada never discouraged his women disciples from giving classes, whether in America or India.”

Srila Prabhupada also didn’t discourage his male disciples from giving classes, in fact he expected those men with brahmninical and sannyasa initiation to be acarya-like and be teaching the other orders of society. So how do we encourage that when we also encourage women to be giving class TO THEM?

I don’t see how your conclusion explains the following letter and purport:

“The women are best for teaching small children, especially if they are themselves mothers, and when they become brahmacaris at 5 or 6 years old then they may be instructed by the men.” SP letter to Satsvarupa dated June 16, 1972

or this:

“A brahmacari is supposed to assist a sannyasi; therefore a brahmacari should not try to instruct a sannyasi. That is the etiquette.” Cc. Madhya 7.27 PURPORT

or this:

“Kapiladeva was a brahmacari, and His mother took lessons from Him. That is the prerogative of the male.” Teachings of Lord Kapila 5.

continued…

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 29th, 2011
385 Unregistered

A brahmacari is supposed to assist a sannyasi and similarly a woman is supposed to assist her husband. How then can we support women (especially those who don’t live with their husbands who are devotees and who are alive) giving class to senior men and sannyasis?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 29th, 2011
386 Unregistered

My question again: “What is a natural barrier [to Krsna-katha] and what is an artificial one?”

There are “barriers” that exists in a Krsna conscious society that is trying to follow natural and basic varnasrama principles. These “barriers” are self imposed when women choose to follow their codes of chastity and sannyasis agree to have minimal association with women.

Jahnava Devi was considered an acarya yet she was also “acarya like” in that she she was perfect in Krsna consciousness and still followed stri-dharma.

Giving preference to men and sannyasis might seem an artificial barrier to outsiders and newcomers but it should come naturally to someone ISKCON deems fit to lecture from the vyasasana.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 29th, 2011
387 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu: I have to say that the equation of Urmila Mataji giving a nice Bhagavatam class in Mayapur to the attempt to disrobe Draupadi in the Kaurava Court does not make any sense to me at all.

I presented Draupadi’s example as an explanation as to why I was speaking after it was critically questioned why Bhaktilata and I were doing so here. I felt that example was appropriate, explaining that “women as a group” were being misled by the example of a single woman giving class to senior men and sannyasis. Thankfully, Locanananda Prabhu appears to understand my reasoning.

How is hearing a Srimad Bhagavatam class from anyone — regardless of external c0nsiderations of caste, sex, race or social position — comparable to being physically insulted, brutally dragged by the hair and stripped naked in public by a bully? The two things do not seem even slightly analogous.

It is similar in that Draupadi’s natural position was to be united with her husband(s). It was (and is) an artificial position for women to be separated from their living husbands. Draupadi was left in a position where she needed to appeal to the assembly for justice. Normally she would have been protected and not put in that artificial unprotected position.

continued…

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 30th, 2011
388 Unregistered

AKP: Why would it be an insult to Sita Dasi that Urmila gave class? Sita Mataji was at one time saying it was an insult to the senior men and sannyasis to hear from someone who was, at least by material estimation, their social inferior. But now she seems to be saying that the senior men and sannyasis, by failing to speak against the supposed breach of etiquette, sat idly by while *her* honor was affronted, like the assembled ksatriyas who failed to intervene on Draupadi’s behalf. The analogy just does not make any sense.

Sorry Prabhu but I did not say “I” was personally insulted or dishonored, I said that it was an insult ”to the women it misleads”, to “women as a group. I can add to this list women who live with their living husbands who are not sannyasis. I don’t expect many men will comprehend this.

It is one thing to want to discuss or even debate whether women giving classes in ISKCON temples while sannyasis are present is a violation of Vedic social norms. However, to suggest that having a woman give class is an affront to the honor of other Vaisnavis, to the point that it is compared to the disrobing of Draupadi, suggests a highly unbalanced sense of proportion, and a lack of humility and tolerance.

I can argue the exact same inbalance, lack of humility and intolerance is present when single but married women give such classes. Prabhupada’s instructions to Yamuna suggest single women preach to other women and keep aloof from sannyasis.

The Hare Krishna Movement is not, essentially, a movement to force everyone to conform to complex rules and manners. It is essentially a movement to reawaken everyone’s dormant love for Krishna.

These are not complex rules and manners, this is basic etiquette.

It is true that there are plenty of rules for smooth interaction of human society, and that serving Krishna according to such rules is desired, and violation of such rules in the course of devotional service can cause disruptions and social hiccups.

Which rules are you referring to then?

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 30th, 2011
389 Unregistered

continued…

AKP: But another thing that can cause disruptions is an overly demanding and judgmental attitude about whether other people are properly following various rules. I think to a large extent such an attitude is being displayed in this discussion by some of those who take the position that it was wrong for Urmila to be asked to give class.

I can understand expressing an opinion that women should not give class (though I disagree with the opinion), but I do not understand why anyone would take it so personally that she would feel as if she were being brutally manhandled in public. Why is it really even her business?

Are you referring to me here? Are you saying I think I was brutally manhandled in public? Are you saying I am just taking this personally? Are you saying this is none of my business? Please explain further.

Comment posted by sitadasi on July 30th, 2011
390 Akruranatha

Dear Sita Mataji,

You asked me: “Are you referring to me here? Are you saying I think I was brutally manhandled in public? Are you saying I am just taking this personally? Are you saying this is none of my business? Please explain further.”

I had taken you to be saying that what Duhsasana had done to Draupadi, dragging by the hair, attempting to disrobe in public, making suggestive, insulting comments as also Duryodhana did to Draupadi in the public assembly, was somehow similar to what Urmila dasi (and others?) had done to you, by her Srimad Bhagavatam class. It just sounded like a totally warped analogy. Why would it be an insult *to you* whether Urmila gives class?

And the fact you keep attacking her personal marital relationship as making her unfit to speak about Srimad Bhagavatam also seems mean-spirited and petty to me.

When Srila Prabhupada speaks of GBC members being replaced for “deviating”, I take it to mean for repeatedly breaking the four regulative principles, habitually not chanting, or teaching some serious philosophical deviation.

Yes, he said they should be ideal and acarya like, but I do not think he had some cookie-cutter set of standards in mind. Sometimes an acarya shows an ideal by properly responding in unusual situation. People criticized Srila Prabhupada for arranging for his disciples to get married although he was a sannyasi, and while it might be a technical violation of a rule, it was precisely *because* he was an acarya that he knew when certain rules were to be bent or even broken to meet the needs of the circumstances.

Besides, I would think the standards for who may serve as GBC should be different from those for who may give Bhagavatam class.

You ask: “So how do we encourage that when we also encourage women to be giving class TO THEM?”

Personally I am encouraged to speak about Krishna consciousness when I hear someone speaking nicely about Krishna consciousness. The race or sex or age of the speaker doesn’t matter.

I think it is important for us to learn how to listen charitably and appreciate the valuable insights we hear from other devotees.

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to understand and discuss his books from “all angles”, and I believe it helps to hear from devotees whose different experiences give them different perspectives and realizations.

Why should it be discouraging that a nice class is given by a woman? A pandit sees with equal vision a brahmana, cow, elephant, dog and dog eater.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 2nd, 2011
391 Akruranatha

“Sorry Prabhu but I did not say “I” was personally insulted or dishonored, I said that it was an insult ”to the women it misleads”, to “women as a group. I can add to this list women who live with their living husbands who are not sannyasis.”

Okay. I just found it to be a very strange analogy.

Personally I feel that you and Bhaktilata do not have to give any excuse for why you are participating in a public discussion on the internet. You are devotees. You read Srila Prabhupada’s books and follow his instructions. You are interested in discussing them favorably in association of devotees. That is your right, perhaps even your duty.

In ISKCON we have no bar that prohibits women from doing so, whether or not anyone is being insulted in a manner that is similar to how Draupadi was insulted.

I just returned from Ratha Yatra in L.A. (which was fabulous, as always, though there were some problems with Lord Baladeva’s chariot). Now I have some work deadlines and I do not have the time I would like to have to keep up with this fascinating discussion.

I think we all ought to be able to discuss with each other sincerely and faithfully and charitably, in a mood of isthaghosthi. I do value your dedication, Sita, to the rules of Vedic orthodoxy as set forth in dharma scriptures like Manu-Samhita and Parasara-smrti. There is certainly a place for such scholarship in ISKCON, and we do need to be able to explain ourselves and our activities (such as offering sacred thread to people born in non-brahmana and even in mleccha families) to orthodox Hindu smartas.

But I do think in such discussions there is something disturbing about your repeated reference to Urmila’s marriage to Pratyatosh. It seems too personally judgmental, and the judgments seem unfair to Urmila. If anyone is being “insulted” in this discussion and has a right to be compared to Draupadi I think it is Urmila Mataji, by such comments.

We can disagree on many things, even as sincere devotees trying to understand Srila Prabhupada’s desires for standards of acceptable behavior in ISKCON, but we should be able to disagree in such a way that is still respectful and affectionate. We are all godbrothers and godsisters and -nieces and -nephews and gurus and disciples and so on.

One of the main rules we should always try to follow is “trnad api sahisnuna…amanina manadena kirtaniya sada hari.” In following that rule, we generally are strict with ourselves but lenient with others.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 2nd, 2011
392 Akruranatha

I said: “However, to suggest that having a woman give class is an affront to the honor of other Vaisnavis, to the point that it is compared to the disrobing of Draupadi, suggests a highly unbalanced sense of proportion, and a lack of humility and tolerance.”

Sita replied: “I can argue the exact same inbalance, lack of humility and intolerance is present when single but married women give such classes.”

Yes, we can argue about it. Sita and I clearly do have a disagreement, and we can recognize that it is a disagreement about etiquette and tact and social judgment, and it is quite possible that in such matters we will never agree. Perhaps there ought to be room for such disagreements in the Hare Krishna movement, inasmuch as wherever there is variety and personality there may be different tastes and judgments in such matters.

It may well be that sincere devotees have different answers to some of these questions. I do not think that formalistic, rule-oriented, cookbook-style application of mores is the proper approach to these issues, however. Again, as Srila Prabhu said (in his comment #360, which was really fantastic), the Mahabharata verse “…mahajano yena gathah sa panthah” is very aptly quoted here.

As for relations between men and women, the important thing to recognize is that the sex attraction is very strong and dangerous and has to be properly regulated, and that this is generally accomplished through sacred marriage and through a certain degree of separation and lack of informal mixing. A man and a woman who are not married to each other should not be alone in a secluded place or otherwise fraternize or flirt in such a way that even the possibility of illicit sex or an improper emotional attachment is allowed to arise and take root.

In different cultures it is handled differently, and in western countries (which are increasingly influential culturally throughout the world) there is practically unrestricted mixing and widespread illicit sex. I think we all agree this is a problem.

However, Srila Prabhupada never restricted women in ISKCON from giving class in front of men. He encouraged his female disciples to become preachers. The fact that he said that they were especially suited (”best”) for teaching the small children did not mean they were not suited for book distribution or speaking engagements. That was not his approach. Rather, he encouraged the women to preach.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 2nd, 2011
393 Locanananda dasa

Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to Harivilas prabhu who was the president of the Paris temple at the time (1971-2) informing him of his plan to send two sannyasis to each zone to preach for one year. Soon thereafter, Bhagavan das and Indradyumna das, both grhasthsas, arrived in France.

Srila Prabhupada’s intention was to firmly establish the Krishna consciousness movement by having his leading preachers set up headquarters in centers throughout the world. Of course, in our society special respect is due the members of the sannyasa asrama, but preaching can be carried out by any devotee who is surrendered to the spiritual master and conversant with the science of Krishna. The Supreme Lord can empower anyone, male or female, sannyasi or grhastha, to speak on His behalf. Anyone who displays acarya-like symptoms can address the assembled devotees in class, at Sunday feast lectures or speak at any other public event.

The question then becomes, “Can women manifest all acarya-like qualities and can they therefore be offered the same opportunities to preach as sannyasis or other senior men, or are their preaching opportunities limited by vaisnava etiquette and social norms?”

In a local temple, the etiquette may be a litle different than at the Mayapur festival. A sannyasi in charge of a temple actually should want to hear class given by anyone who regularly preaches to the devotees, just to verify that the philosophy propounded by them is accurately parampara. The leader will also want the devotees under his jurisdiction to develop as preachers and that means giving them every opportunity to speak as representatives of the disciplic succession, giving Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita classes, included.

(cont.)

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on August 2nd, 2011
394 Akruranatha

And yet when we preach in western countries (or perhaps in other countries) we are sometimes challenged that we display misogynistic attitudes. We have to be able to credibly and truthfully present that our culture of minimizing improper mixing of the sexes is not a product of anti-woman feeling or of unjust discrimination.

Young celibate men have a well-known tendency to be repulsed by femininity, which seems to them designed to assault them and distract them from their higher purpose. Maybe this is even stronger in western countries when young men are departing from the culture of promiscuity in which they were raised.

I remember shortly after I joined, after spending a few weeks on Sri Sri Radha Damodar’s bus, I left the bus in Louisville, KY, and hitch-hiked to St. Louis, MO, where I ended up joining the temple (though that was not my conscious plan). Along the way I met a boy about my age (I was 17) who invited me to sleep at his parents’ house one night (I was on the road with no money and somehow people always took me in). There, I met his parents and young sister, and naturally I was telling them about my interest in Krishna consciousness.

I probably had not seen a girl up close for several weeks, and even though I was yet not a committed devotee, some of the brahmacari attitude must have rubbed off on me. I remember the sister said something and casually made a natural feminine gesture, and I shot her a withering look, as if she were behaving like a whore, and she shot me a very hurt and defensive look, as if she could not understand why I was so cruel and hostile.

A couple weeks earlier, when our bus had been in Chicago, the ladies from the Chicago temple came to pay respects to Sri Sri Radha-Damodar, and Jayananda Prabhu had invited them on the bus for darshan. When Mahamuni Prabhu later found out he was furious with Jayananda. He felt it was a brahmacari bus, and women should not set foot on board.

I think Mahamuni would today be embarrassed by his former attitude, but there was a kind of weird, misogyny in 1976 ISKCON. And some young sannyasis, inspired by that attitude and through contact with Indian devotees, tried to create an unfriendly attitude toward women in ISKCON, but Srila Prabhupada resisted it.

We cannot let our repulsions interfere with our duty of friendship to all jivas, as Krsna’s parts and parcels. Yet of course we must become completely free of illicit sex. How to do it influences culture and mores.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 2nd, 2011
395 Locanananda dasa

It has been made clear by citing Srila Prabhupada’s instructions that women are not barred from giving class in local temples. In fact, it should be strongly encouraged in the case of any woman who is so inclined.

I mentioned in a previous comment that giving class in Mayapur is a somewhat different situation. Those who decide who will be asked to give class must make their decision based not only on vaisnava etiquette (senior-most sannyasis first) but also by determining which speakers will inspire the assembled devotees to push forward this movement. I believe that asking a woman to give the Bhagavatam class in Mayapur breaches the etiquette of the festival. Giving Bhagavad-gita class or conducting a special seminar or workshop at the festival might be more appropriate.

The morning class in Mayapur is also about establishing the leadership of the movement. Devotees coming from all over the world want the reassurance that the movement is in good hands. They attend the Bhagavatam class to be preached to and to feel inspired to give their lives to Krishna.

According to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the activities of devotee women, they do not function independently. I therefore agree that to ask a woman to give the all-important Srimad Bhagavatam class during the Mayapur festival sends a subtle message that we no longer accept this social norm. It makes the men look weak, and I can understand why women would feel unprotected when the free speech and equal rights tenet of modern society is thrust upon the traditional hearers of Bhagavata philosophy in the Holy Dhama. We have to take into account the time, place and circumstances in our decision making process. We have to be very careful not to allow the modern values of a mundane civilization to distract us from following the time-honored values transmitted by Krishna’s pure devotee.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on August 2nd, 2011
396 Akruranatha

This world is functioning under the spell of Cupid, which infiltrates behavior through both repulsion and attraction, not only bonding couples but also deliniating social boundaries. The Freudians are right to see sex and its influence everywhere. Just as the madhurya rasa is the most complete in fully expressing love of God, so the maithuni shackles are the all-pervading, underlying regulators or materialistic, conditioned social behavior.

Pure devotees are able to transcend these invisible force fields, though they understand why there must be carefully drawn barriers and formality and feminine shyness in the matter of sexual attraction.

And yet we do live and work and interact in a world of both men and women. Both have important roles to play and the role of chaste women in society is a very important and civilizing influence.

For preaching in the west and throughout the modern world it is important that we have men and women devotees who can properly represent Krishna consciousness in mixed-sex situations. A sannyasi who could not speak to women or respond to questions from women or interact at a lecture or an auditorium in that way would be severely hampered in his ability to reach the public.

If a particular sannyasi feels he cannot be present in the temple room while a woman devotee gives a lecture, he can absent himself from that lecture. I am not aware of any sannyasi in ISKCON who has such scruples, however.

Certainly none has objected here on Dandavats in this thread. (The suggestion has been made that sannyasis do object but are afraid of becoming unpopular by speaking what is on their minds. I do not believe it. If anyone should feel free to speak the truth without fear or favor it should be the sadhus.)

Exactly where we draw the lines between acceptable behavior between men and women in different cultural settings may be a question not all devotees agree on. However, I have not seen any evidence that Srila Prabhupada intended ever stop his program of allowing his women disciples to give lectures about Krishna consciousness in the temple or in public preaching engagements.

The etiquette that a brahmacari does not instruct a sannyasi does not mean that a sannyasi cannot attend a Srimad Bhagavatam class given by a brahmacari (or grhastha, or woman for that matter). It only means the brahmacari should not boss him around the way Damodar Pandit was doing to Lord Caitanya.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 2nd, 2011
397 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu, I have already explained why this particular class was insulting to women as a group in addition to senior men and I do not wish to keep repeating my points. This is a serious social and spiritual issue that is a travesty of the womanhood Prabhupada proposed for all of his daughters and granddaughters.

You can keep trying to pigeonhole this a personal gripe (which it’s not) and make me appear harsh and judgmental. You may see with equal vision all living entities but most of us are not on that level nor do our acaryas recommend this higher vision be superficially imposed. No one has been recommending a cookie cutter, stereotypical or smarta method. These are basic moral ethics being transgressed and this transgression is being supported by a serious philosophical discrepancy. This is a storm in the making and it poses a severe threat to a healthy future.

Leaders are supposed to ensure devotees are following their duty (a basic principle we follow from Bhagavad gita) and when they don’t, this is the type of problem that arises.

“There are regular scriptural injunctions for different persons engaged in different occupational duties, and one who follows them is called svadharma-stha, or faithful in one’s prescribed duties. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.48) it is advised that one should not give up his occupational prescribed duties, even if they are not always flawless. Such sva-dharma might be violated in cases of emergency, if one is forced by circumstances, but they cannot be violated in ordinary times. The state executive head is to see that such sva-dharma is not changed by the follower, whatever it may be, and he should give all protection to the follower of sva-dharma. The violator is subject to punishment in terms of the sastra, and the duty of the king is to see that everyone strictly follows his occupational duty, as prescribed in the scripture.” SB 1.17.16

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 5th, 2011
398 Unregistered

AKP: When Srila Prabhupada speaks of GBC members being replaced for “deviating”, I take it to mean for repeatedly breaking the four regulative principles, habitually not chanting, or teaching some serious philosophical deviation.

Yes, he said they should be ideal and acarya like, but I do not think he had some cookie-cutter set of standards in mind. Sometimes an acarya shows an ideal by properly responding in unusual situation. People criticized Srila Prabhupada for arranging for his disciples to get married although he was a sannyasi, and while it might be a technical violation of a rule, it was precisely *because* he was an acarya that he knew when certain rules were to be bent or even broken to meet the needs of the circumstances.

Besides, I would think the standards for who may serve as GBC should be different from those for who may give Bhagavatam class.

What then are the standards you see for a woman/women considered by some to be qualified to be acarya/diksa guru?

I challenge this idea but I’m curious to know what non-cookie-cutter standards you think Prabhupada had in mind for them?

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 5th, 2011
399 Unregistered

From my exposure to western women, I do not see any sense of discrimination between men and women in west and women are successful leaders in many places in west.

Being born from such a backround, Iskcon women has shown good nature exceeding expectation in their obedience and chastity. It is very tough to go beyond the acquired nature from birth and society. Iskcon women or srila prabhupada disciples have shown pristine purity and obedience in this.

Demanding much more things or being more strict to them is definitely a kind of harassment to women who have sacrificed so many things.They need to be given a chance and this will surely benefit a larger part of society

Comment posted by scooty.ram on August 5th, 2011
400 Unregistered

Re. #394

I wonder whether a sannyasi guru today would be labeled a misogynist who has a problem with women if he were to say the following:

“Why there are so many women in Vrindaban? Vrindaban is meant for retirement, elderly persons in Krishna Consciousness can devote all their time to devotional service. Such men are wanted to live in Vrindaban, not women and children. That is a fact, the holy dhamas are meant for the sannyasis and brahmacaris especially. If necessary, the management must be done by sannyasis and brahmacaris, not grhasthas.”

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 6th, 2011
401 Unregistered

Re. #396

If a particular sannyasi feels he cannot be present in the temple room while a woman devotee gives a lecture, he can absent himself from that lecture. I am not aware of any sannyasi in ISKCON who has such scruples, however.”

Why should the onus be on the sannyasis to leave the temple room when a woman is giving class as per this situation in Mayapura? I’m sure they were all able to tolerate the situation but that’s not the point. Are the sannyasis supposed to speak up and say they were offended by it?? If they did, they would probably be criticized (I was criticized for suggesting women were offended by it).

Certainly none has objected here on Dandavats in this thread. (The suggestion has been made that sannyasis do object but are afraid of becoming unpopular by speaking what is on their minds. I do not believe it. If anyone should feel free to speak the truth without fear or favor it should be the sadhus.)

Perhaps they can be invited to comment on the subject and their answers can be posted here.

The etiquette that a brahmacari does not instruct a sannyasi does not mean that a sannyasi cannot attend a Srimad Bhagavatam class given by a brahmacari (or grhastha, or woman for that matter). It only means the brahmacari should not boss him around the way Damodar Pandit was doing to Lord Caitanya.”

A sannyasi should be given preference over a brahmacari when it comes to giving class, that is etiquette. Similarly men are preferred for teaching brahmacaris while women teach other females and young boys.

Why does it appear so repulsive for our women to give class in a separate room to other women?

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 6th, 2011
402 Unregistered

Hare Krishna.

As I enjoyed reading HG Urmila Devi dasi’s excellent discussion I found myself thinking the same thought I used to have, many years ago, reading her column in BTG: “This woman is as sane as it gets.”

I kind of giggled over the obvious serendipity of Krishna’s little joke, as I read the Verse & Purport … as these were so perfectly suited for Mataji’s talented expertise.

Including the Verse and Purport, her 68 of the 70 paragraphs gave expert, well-researched advice that, if heeded, could truly change the world in one generation.

Yet, sadly, almost the entire 401 comments that follow focus on the last two paragraphs of her lecture - which were simply a little side-note.

Wow.

The implication of that makes my head hurt.

(And my heart very, very sad.)

Comment posted by Damodaradasa108 on August 8th, 2011
403 Akruranatha

I appreciate your sentiment Damodar Prabhu, but I also would like to add that the last two paragraphs of the class, though they were not part of the body of the main lecture and were something that Urmila added at the request of one devotee, are nevertheless important.

“There is one letter where Prabhupada is very much, many but one particular where he is very much encouraging the women to be preachers. And he says in regard to women preaching prove it by practical example that there is no bar to preaching Krishna consciousness. So I hope that in all of our centers our preachers of Krishna consciousness will be young like Dhruva or old, black, white, purple, green, Indian, American, Australian, Russian, Brazilian, Portuguese and both men and women, not just that there’s one woman guest that comes once a year that they ask.

“But that there are so many women in each community who have studied Bhakti Sastri and Bhakti Vaibhava. Mother Narayani is visiting here. She is one of only two people in the world who is teaching Bhagavatam at the level of Bhaktivedanta. Somehow by the grace of Prabhupada, he said, show by practical example that there is no bar in the preaching of Krishna consciousness and this is part of our International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”

I am very glad Urmila Mataji made these important points. I am troubled that they caused so much controversy, because I think they ought to be echoed and cheered by the devotees generally.

Sita suggests that sannyasis should be invited to comment and their comments should be posted here. I agree.

I believe the sannyasis and GBCs and senior teachers of Srila Prabhupada’s books ought to all applaud the statements (above) made by Urmila about how Srila Prabhupada requested us to show by practical example that there is no bar in the preaching of Krishna consciousness. I think they need to make their voices heard so that we can clear up any apparent misunderstandings and conflicts as we have seen in this thread.

A lest we forget, many of those who claim to be stalwart followers of the dharma sastras will insist that one must be born within a family of brahmanas to perform the work of brahmanas, and will criticize the idea that men from non-Hindu families can become actual sannyasis and qualified initiating spiritual masters. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to show that regardless of one’s birth, race, gender, age, if one genuinely knows the science of Krishna one can preach Krishna consciousness.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 9th, 2011
404 Unregistered

Akruranatha Prabhu, perhaps you did not read my post #398. In it I asked you a question.

You had stated in #390 that Prabhupada said GBC members “should be ideal and acarya like” but you said you thought “the standards for who may serve as GBC should be different from those for who may give Bhagavatam class”.

I had asked you,:

“What then are the standards you see for a woman/women considered by some to be qualified to be acarya/diksa guru?”

This discussion, remember, has not been about general standards of anyone giving Bhagavatam class to any audience.

The letter to Himavati is a general instruction about women preaching (ie. on sankirtana) and, because of many other instructions, cannot be applied to this specific Mayapura scenario (as I mentioned in #351).

It also has not been established how/why etiquette is not important and can be disregarded when it comes to giving class.

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 14th, 2011
405 Akruranatha

Sita Mataji, I did see your question. I do not see it as particularly relevant to the question of whether women can give Bhagavatam class.

My own views about women gurus and acaryas are not particularly important. We should all study what Srila Prabhupada said on the subject.

May I ask, why do you ask me this question now? What is the relevance in this discussion? Didn’t we just discuss this in another thread, where I told you my views?

We have already had over 400 comments to this class, which was really a class about education in ISKCON. Most of the comments seem to be about whether it was appropriate for Urmila Dasi (or any woman) to give Bhagavatam class in the temple room during the Gaura Purnima festival.

Do we really want to start another debate now, about whether women can give diksa in ISKCON?

Anyway, since you ask, I believe that a qualified woman may be accepted as guru, on the strength of Lord Caitanya’s dictum, ‘kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kena naya yei krsna tattva vetta sei guru haya.’ One who knows and explains the science of Krishna is a guru, and it does not depend on one’s varna, one’s asrama or any other social designation. It depends only on one’s ability to train disciples properly.

Some people have recently said, “A woman cannot become a sannyasi, and only a sannyasi can be a guru.” That is nonsense. Lord Caitanya says being a sannyasi or not is not a criterion for who is guru.

Srila Prabhupada has said that one who can understand Lord Caitanya’s order, “yare dekha tare kaha krsna upadesa amara ajnaya guru hana”, or one’s own spiritual master’s order, in the same parampara, can become guru.

As far as women becoming diksa gurus in ISKCON, there may be social considerations. One who serves as diksa guru automatically gets some fame and notoriety and becomes a spokesman in ISKCON. Therefore the GBC should be careful about whom it gives its “no objection” blessings to. Still, if some highly qualified women are candidates, why not? Many gurus are needed.

Srila Prabhupada said to Prof. O’Connell (6.18.76): “If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 15th, 2011
406 Akruranatha

“Woman: Swamiji, would you say something about the place of women in your movement?

“Prabhupäda: There is no distinction between man and woman. That is clearly said in the Bhagavad-gitä. Mäm hi pärtha vyapäsritya ye ‘pi syuh päpä-yonayah striyo südräs tathä vaisyäh [Bg. 9.32]. The first is mentioned, striya. Striyah südräs tathä vaisyäh. These classes are understood to be less intelligent-woman, südra, and the vaisyas. But Krsna says, “No, even for them it is open.” Because in the spiritual platform there is no such distinction, man, woman, or black, white, or big or small. No. Everyone is spirit soul. Panditäh sama-darsinah [Bg. 5.18]. Vidyä-vinaya-sampanne brähmane gavi hastini suni caiva sva-päke ca panditäh [Bg. 5.18], one who is actually learned, he is sama-darsinah. He does not make any distinction. But so far our material body is concerned, there must be some distinction for keeping the society in order.

“Woman: The women could become panditas, then.

“Prabhupäda: Oh, yes. Te ‘pi yänti paräm gatim. Not only come, she can also attain perfection. There is no such restriction. Krsna said.

“Woman: Do you have any panditas in the Western movement?

“Prabhupäda: There are so many Western woman, girls, in our society. They are chanting, dancing, taking to Kåñëa consciousness. Of course, because superficially, bodily, there is some distinction, so we keep women separately from men, that’s all. Otherwise, the rights are the same.

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

“Prabhupäda: Yes. Jähnavä devi was-Nityänanda’s wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vettä sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vettä, sei guru haya. [break] In our material world, is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.”

I’m not sure what Srila Prabhupada meant by, “But, not so many.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 15th, 2011
407 Unregistered

Sita Mataji, I did see your question. I do not see it as particularly relevant to the question of whether women can give Bhagavatam class.

I feel Akruranatha Prabhu is stonewalling this discussion. I see this question as relevant because the question here is not “whether women can give Bhagavatam class”!

My related question about disregarding etiquette has still not been addressed.

Prabhupada expected his GBC men to be “acarya-like”. This instruction is relevant to wives of “acaryas” as well but in a different way because standards prescribed for women are different from standards for men.

In the letter to Himavati (Hamsadutta’s wife), referred to by Akruranatha, Srila Prabhupada mentions how previously in India the acaryas’ wives stayed at home and did not going out for preaching. He is talking about husband and wife teams acting together and from that point of view, there is “no bar” for women preaching because they are acting as part of a team. Similarly a wife may help her husband perform a fire sacrifice but doesn’t do so independently.

Some devotees take this letter to mean there is “no bar” to women giving class to sannyasis or giving class when their husbands don’t ever give class but there are no instructions from Prabhupada to support this. It’s not vedic to have women in superior positions to their husbands. Think about it: Prabhupada doesn’t talk about husbands of acarya wives (or husbands of queens or husbands of brahmanis).

May I ask, why do you ask me this question now? What is the relevance in this discussion?

You had stated you thought the GBC” should be ideal and acarya like”, but didn’t explain what standards he had in mind. Can you define what you mean by non-cookie-cutter-like standards? You said you think the standards GBC members should be different from those who give Bhagavatam class so I wanted to know more specifically what standards you thought Prabhupada had in mind for women of the type who give Bhagavatam class to sannyasis. I believe you don’t want to answer this question. You are criticizing me for asking it but I believe it’s a legitimate and relevant question.

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 17th, 2011
408 Unregistered

In #185, Akruranatha Prabhu asked these questions:

“How high do we set the bar of minimum acceptable behavior? Which cultural observances should we regard as minimum standards?”

So why not define these standards for women?! Jahnava Devi, wife of an Acarya and a guru herself, spoke from behind a curtain and she asked men to lead kirtana. When we use her as an example, why not take those things too?

Eight years ago, the GBC Executive Committee said they would “conduct a separate discussion about the cultural impact” of the decision whether or not a woman can become acarya. As far as I know they never did this but here is such a discussion on Dandavats. Eight years have passed and still no word from our leaders. The GBC cannot keep silent forever on this issue or there will be a backlash and they will have to do crisis management.

Anyway, since you ask, I believe that a qualified woman may be accepted as guru, on the strength of Lord Caitanya’s dictum, ‘kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kena naya yei krsna tattva vetta sei guru haya.’

I don’t believe this or AKP’s other quotes answer my question. He says he doesn’t understand what Prabhupada means by “not so many” women will be acarya but if we keep in mind that the few women considered as such (with the exception of lifelong celibate Gangamata) were wives of acaryas, we get a better idea of the rarity. Anyways, with regards to my question, it was more of a general question of standards:

What then are the standards you see for a woman/women considered by some to be qualified to be acarya/diksa guru?”

AKP said the standards for someone giving Bhagavatam class are different from the standards of a GBC but the standards of a guru are at least or more stringent than the standards of a GBC! If the GBC should be “acarya-like” then women gurus/acaryas should also not be deviating from parampara’s instructions.

I have already (somewhat) answered my question with these last posts. I believe, based on my understanding of Prabhupada’s instructions and my personal life experience, that it can be philosophically and socially deviant to consider women as functionally independent preachers who can give class to sannyasis. At the very least, it is something our leaders need to discuss and address in the very near future.

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 17th, 2011
409 Unregistered

406:

Because in the spiritual platform there is no such distinction, man, woman, or black, white, or big or small. No. Everyone is spirit soul. Panditäh sama-darsinah [Bg. 5.18]. Vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva sva-pake ca panditah [Bg. 5.18], one who is actually learned, he is sama-darsinah. He does not make any distinction. But so far our material body is concerned, there must be some distinction for keeping the society in order.

Our society will not be in order if we do not take this into consideration.

As Locanananda Prabhu so nicely said:

“According to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the activities of devotee women, they do not function independently. I therefore agree that to ask a woman to give the all-important Srimad Bhagavatam class during the Mayapur festival sends a subtle message that we no longer accept this social norm. It makes the men look weak….”

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 17th, 2011
410 Locanananda dasa

The men are weak. The women are weak. We are all weak as we stand before Krishna. He is the strength of the strong, and the source of our spiritual strength, as well. It is a symptom of spiritual strength that a man or woman will preach Krishna consciousness with the purpose of uplifting a misdirected materialistic civilization. Externally, that is the objective of the Hare Krishna movement.
Internally, our purpose is simply to please Krishna by our words, thoughts and actions, and to awaken our transcendental love for Him.

It is my understanding that Srila Prabhupada’s instructions concerning how initiations would be conducted when he would no longer be physically present were to a large extent managerial in nature.
Of course, to give diksa one must be qualified to act as guru, but Srila Prabhupada was also concerned with sustaining the role of leadership of his GBC to maintain order within the Society.

We previously pointed out that in ISKCON, the managerial role of women is that they direct from behind the scenes, whereas the men present themselves as managing externally (publicly). The role of the acarya includes the giving of diksa and the acceptance of disciples as Krishna’s representative
and as the official link to the guru parampara. This public role of leadership of a spiritual movement
could not possibly have been meant for female devotees to occupy since their role, according to Srila Prabhupada, is to manage internally, not externally (publicly).

If women as a class are more easily than men taken advantage of, duped or misguided, they must remain under the protection of qualified male leaders. For our GBC to authorize women to give diksa is a subtle admission that the men are not qualified to do so themselves. We don’t see women who follow Vedic principles and are of ksatriya stock, for example, fighting on the battlefield’s front line. Nor do we hear of the women of Vrndavana switching roles with the men so they can tend the cows. Nor would the wife of a sudra do the extra heavy lifting in the presence of her husband. Similarly, the position of initiator within our movement will be most effectively executed by male leaders who exhibit acarya-like qualities. Their wives may assist them in those duties to the extent to which they themselves are suitably qualified.

All in my humble opinion.

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on August 18th, 2011
411 Unregistered

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, quoting from Manu Samhita 4.200:

“if someone accepts the symptoms and occupation of a status for which he is not qualified, he is guilty of breaking the principles of varnasrama and as a result of those sins he will take birth as an animal.”

Brahmana and Vaisnava by BSST

From this we conclude that although women can preach, formally preaching to sannyasis is an example of breaking the principles of varnasrama and is considered sinful.

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 19th, 2011
412 Unregistered

“Prove it by practical example that there is no bar for anyone in the matter of preaching work for Krishna Consciousness”. The letter to Himavati was clearly about wife and husband teams of preachers and in contrast, the letters to Yamuna and Dinatarine (see also texts 9, and 126-127) gave women who were not living with their husbands a different type of instruction about preaching. There was still “no bar” for them to preach, but it was done from within a different circle.

“Herein the statement of Bhagavatam is that the highest aim of life or the highest perfection of the institution of the varṇasrama-dharma is to cooperate jointly for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. This is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (4.13).“SB 1.2.13:

To “cooperate” in terms of preaching means women assist their husbands in preaching and when they are no longer with their husbands they can “attract the fair sex community” and stay “aloof from men” ie. at a distance.

Comment posted by sitadasi on August 20th, 2011
413 elin108

Hare Krishna! Jaya Sri Krishna Caitanya!

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

I would like to share a verse which makes it much clearer how to appreciate a Srimad Bhagavatam preacher or a spiritual master.

CC Madhya 8.128: “Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a sudra — regardless of what he is — he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna.”

Purport: This verse is very important to the Krishna consciousness movement. In his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that one should not think that because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was born a brahmana and was situated in the topmost spiritual order as a sannyasi, it was improper for Him to receive instructions from Srila Ramananda Raya, who belonged to the sudra caste. To clarify this matter, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed Ramananda Raya that knowledge of Krishna consciousness is more important than caste. In the system of varnasrama-dharma there are various duties for the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaisyas and sudras. Actually the brahmana is supposed to be the spiritual master of all other varnas, or classes, but as far as Krishna consciousness is concerned, everyone is capable of becoming a spiritual master because knowledge in Krishna consciousness is on the platform of the spirit soul. To spread Krishna consciousness, one need only be cognizant of the science of the spirit soul. It does not matter whether one is a brahmana, kshatriya, vaisya, sudra, sannyasi, grihastha or whatever. If one simply understands this science, he can become a spiritual master.

It is stated in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa that one should not accept initiation from a person who is not in the brahminical order if there is a fit person in the brahminical order present. This instruction is meant for those who are overly dependent on the mundane social order and is suitable for those who want to remain in mundane life. If one understands the truth of Krishna consciousness and seriously desires to attain transcendental knowledge for the perfection of life, he can accept a spiritual master from any social status, provided the spiritual master is fully conversant with the science of Krishna…

…This does not mean that people should take to His teachings and remain sudras or candalas. As soon as one is trained as a pure Vaishnava, he must be accepted as a bona fide brahmana. This is the essence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions in this verse.

Comment posted by elin108 on October 9th, 2011
414 elin108

Therefore a pure Vaishnava, whatever his or her social status, should be accepted as a bona fide brahmana. Spiritual considerations should always override material ones. However, the spiritual essence is subtle and difficult to perceive, being covered by externals.

Therefore ISKCON needs to maintain even higher standards and monitor regular preachers. We can especially recognize a good preacher by his or her fruits. The disciples are the mirror of the guru. In particular, does he or she inspire, in his or her disciples and regular listeners, a strong desire to serve Lord Caitanya and be loyal to Srila Prabhupada?

However each individual devotee is ultimately responsible for themselves. As Srila Prabhupada says, “The whole world is full of cheaters and cheated. Because we want to be cheated, there are so many cheaters. “ Especially, when choosing a spiritual master a prolonged period of getting to know each other is always a must.

And even after finding a bona fide spiritual master, the devotee still needs to be careful not to cheat himself or herself. A devotee’s bad karma or inappropriate behaviour can bring down a spiritual master if the spiritual master is not careful enough to reject such a devotee at the first place. Therefore continuous self-purification is absolutely essential.

Sorry for changing the topic or rather for going back to the original topic of Vaishnava education but i have questions regarding the heart of all education - chanting and the Panca-tattva mantra in particular.
Personally, i have felt that my relationship with the Panca-tattva is not properly developed. So, i was thinking about chanting the Panca-tattva mantra for several full rounds in addition to my regular chanting. Is this alright?

I mean when we chant the maha-mantra we are pleasing Lord Caitanya and when we chant the panca-tattva mantra we are pleasing Sri Sri Radha Krishna. They are like the two sides of the same coin, right?

What is the general rule - should one chant Jaya Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita Gadhadhara, Srivasadi-gaura-bhakti-vrinda just at the beginning and end of chanting my rounds or before each round? What mood should one chant this mantra in? Why exactly do we chant it? I’ve been around for a few years but i’ve got only superficial answers so far and i will appreciate if someone can explain this in detail, please. Thanks a lot in advance.

Your fallen servant,

Bhakta Elin

Comment posted by elin108 on October 9th, 2011
415 Unregistered

Thanks to Bhaktin Elin for sharing that excerpt from CC Madhya 8.128 in post 413:

“Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a sudra — regardless of what he is — he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna.”

Note Srila Prabhupada’s use of the word “he” throughout his purport and lack of the usage of “he or she”. He also does this consistently when he speaks of the four orders of brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra as classes of men.

Bhaktin Elin’s conclusion in post 414 related to women being diksa guru, exhibits the misunderstanding many members of our society share. I believe this confusion is rooted in a refusal to accept the traditional vedic varnasrama position of women. Bhaktin Elin’s conclusion, summed up in her sentence below, is false and leads to social chaos:

Spiritual considerations should always override material ones.

It is precisely this that caused sannyasis to abandon their young wives and children, caused men and women to divorce each other, etc. etc.

In terms of women becoming diksa gurus, we might rephrase this idea to:

Women and men are equal spiritually, therefore women can do anything men can.

or

Children and adults are equal spiritually, therefore children can do anything adults can.

or

Sudras and brahmanas are equal spiritually, therefore sudras can do anything brahmanas can.

you get the idea…..

Prabhupada never taught this.

Comment posted by sitadasi on November 1st, 2011
416 Unregistered

I beg your pardon, I wrote about Bhaktin Elin’s post in error and referred to it as hers rather than his…..

Comment posted by sitadasi on November 3rd, 2011
417 Unregistered

Bhakta Elin says:

“Spiritual considerations should always override material ones.”

Acccording to Krsna the spiritual consideration of the soul is:

“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.” BG 2.23-24

Therefore it doesn’t require material food, clothing or shelter. Nor does it require to mate, sleep or defend itself. Since these are the spiritual facts then they override the material needs of women in ISKCON for having a home to live in, family, clothing, food, protection, medical treatment, etc. They can all just wear tree bark, live under a tree, and eat dry leaves every second week.

We also note that animals have souls therefore dogs, cats, pigs, horses, crocodiles etc. should be allowed into the temple and do arotika. Why discriminate against them? After all spiritual considerations should always override material ones.This of course is utter foolishness.

Self-realization means to understand not only that we are spiritual souls who are eternal servants of Lord Krsna. But it also means to understand what our psycho-physical nature is in the material world and in that regard to act according to sastra so that we can make actual advancement. The fatal mistake made by many in ISKCON is to think that we are way more advanced than we really are. How many scandals do we have to see before we finally realize the truth?

Comment posted by Balakrsna das on November 5th, 2011

Comments are closed. Please check back later.

 
 
Home » Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji
 
  • Post Details

Author: Administrator Administrator's website Administrator's email
Post Date: Friday, March 4th, 2011
Categories: Urmila Devi Dasi, Classes
Trackback: Trackback
 
  • Last update: Sun September 21

  • Who is online

    • 31 currently online
    • 170 maximum concurrent
    • 12155543 total visitors

    Registered users online

  • Registered users: 6394

  • Navigation

  • -OTHER INCOMING LINKS
  • BC VTE Bhakti Sastri Online
  • Bhaktimarga Swami's blog
  • Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  • Bhaktivedanta College
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute (Alachua)
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
  • Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online
  • Cooking with Kurma
  • Darshan of SS Radha-Londonisvara
  • Dharmapatnis
  • Diary of a Traveling Preacher
  • Euro GBC
  • Forbidden Archeology
  • Gaudiya Vaisnava texts
  • Indradyumna Swami Media
  • ISKCON Bangalore Official
  • ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry
  • ISKCON Health & Welfare Ministry
  • ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development
  • ISKCON's Congregational Development Ministry
  • Iskcon-desire-tree
  • Iskcon.com
  • Jayadvaita Swami's personal site
  • Krishna Dharma's website
  • Krishna Lila Entertainment
  • Krishna.com
  • Krishnamarriage.com
  • matchlessgifts.org
  • Mayapur Academy
  • Mayapur Days
  • Mayapur International School
  • Ministry of Educational Development
  • Our Spiritual Journey
  • Parisisvara
  • prabhupadavani.org
  • Radio Krsna Central
  • Saligrama Sila site
  • Sridham Mayapura
  • The Bhaktivedanta Archives
  • The ISKCON Sannyasa Ministry
  • The Official GBC site
  • The official website of Radhanatha Swami
  • Trivikrama Swami
  • Vaisnava Calendar
  • Vaisnava Calendar Reminder
  • Vaisnava care website
  • Vanipedia
  • varnashrama.org
  • Vedic Astrologer
  • Vedic knowledge online
  • Vedic view on controversial issues
  • Website in Bengali language
  • Yadunandana Swami's personal site
  • Alachua Temple Live Podcast
  • Comments by author
  • Donate through searching
  • Founder Acarya
  • Incoming Links
  • Iskcon News TV Channel
  • Iskcon Radio stations
  • Iskcon Universe Feed
  • Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
  • Krishna conscious "youtube"
  • Krishna Conscious Media
  • Most commented articles
  • Most read articles
  • New Dwaraka Archived Lectures
  • Polls
  • Stats
  • Temple webcams
  • Thanks!
  • The last seven day's most read articles
  • New Gokula Farm Celebrates Local Community Work
  • TOVP Kartika Announcement
  • Ludhiana Rath Yatra On Nov.16,2014
  • Cow Protection Service Available At New Vrajamandala (Spain)
  • ‘Faith and Personality’ - a Holistic, Value Lecture for High School Students
  • Vaishnava Encyclopedia
  • Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project Update and Visvanatha Cakravarti’s “Gaura-gana-svarupa-tattva-candrika”
  • The teaching of Saint Francis are alive and well in the heart of a killing culture
  • Devotee v/s device- whose association do you seek?
  • Flourishing cow slaughter houses in India needs immediate closure