Comments Posted By Akruranatha

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Female Diksha Guru — some considerations

“The eagerness of a section of devotees to see a female blessed as diksha guru in ISKCON posthaste is akin ‘affirmative action’ in the USA, as well as the reservation system for the backward classes here in India.”

“Posthaste”? That word means “with the greatest possible speed”. I think the GBC approved female diksa gurus in ISKCON back in 2005. Maybe even sooner. So I do not see any signs of impatience or urgency on this issue.

Rather it seems that the opponents are extremely anxious to prevent even a single woman from serving as diksa guru. Are they afraid that it may prove so successful that many more women will follow?

There are many different devotees who accept the principle that women in ISKCON can serve as diksa gurus. Some may indeed be influenced by egalitarianism in western society, as Basu Ghosh Prabhu suggests, but I do not think it is fair for Basu Gosh to speak to the mentality of all of them.

I rather expect that most of the devotees (including most of the GBC apparently) who approve women serving as diksa gurus are more likely influenced by egalitarianism in Lord Caitanya’s teachings and Srila Prabhupada’s explanations of them, as explained by Kaunteya in the “eye of the storm” book (

Why does Basu Ghosh feel he has to tell us what other devotees’ motivations are? He should speak for himself and let others speak for themselves. Does he really believe he knows the minds of his opponents on this issue better than they do? It comes across kind of high-handed for him to presume to characterize the motives and influences of his opponents, especially when he does so in an unflattering light, as if they are opponents of Vedic culture and champions of modernity and its accompanying ills (atheism, materialism, illicit sex, divorce).

I can’t help but think that he is wrong, that he is not listening charitably to his opponents and what they have to say about their own motives, and that rather than directly address their strongest arguments (including the statements of Srila Prabhupada when directly discussing the issue of women serving as diksha gurus), he is stooping to the tactic of impugning his opponents’ character, motives and influences. It strikes me as an illegitimate tactic, the sort resorted to when one has little means of refuting the opposition’s direct statements.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 03.12.2013 @ 06:45

More On The Hot Issue - Female Diksa Guru

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 04.12.2013 @ 06:22

The Not-So-Hot Issue: Women Diksa-gurus

Raja Gopal’s comment #7 states: Personally I judge SP’s BG 3.9 purport to be wonderful in regard to “disciple” and “guru”.

I looked up B.G. 3.9 (I am always eager to read something wonderful in regard to ‘disciple and guru’) , but I was not sure which part of the Purport he meant. There was a statement in the second paragraph that says, “One should therefore act very diligently, under the expert guidance of a devotee of Lord Krsna, or under the direct instruction of Lord Krsna Himself (under whom Arjuna had the opportunity to work).”

The words “guru” and “disciple” are not actually found in that particular Purport.

I guess I am asking Raja Gopal to explain which part of the Purport he found wonderful in regard to “guru” and “disciple”, or whether he was actually referring to a different Purport?

It is a nice Purport, no doubt, but I just could not see what Raja Gopal meant. I want to hear something “wonderful”.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 26.11.2013 @ 00:33

The Hot Issue - Female Diksa Guru

Sitadasi writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 29.11.2013 @ 17:02

Devaki says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siksa gurus should also be revered and worshiped by disciples

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

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

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 27.11.2013 @ 01:15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued…)

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 27.11.2013 @ 00:47

The Secrets And Beauty Of Spiritual Culture

“Devaki Mataji is also planning in the near future to conduct a course for the men aswell - they certainly also have to learn a few things about spiritual culture….!”

Yes, and we might also want to listen to the course for women if the materials are made available.

Thank you also Kaunteya for reminding us of the “Eye of the Storm” book about Srila Prabhupada’s instructions regarding women preachers and gurus. I am not sure we should get sidetracked into a discussion of this contentious issue here, in connection with Devaki’s course, but it is a good book which does have many relevant things to say about women’s service as preachers and otherwise.

[Basugosh Prabhu might want us to point out that although he is mentioned in the “Acknowledgments” as one whose ideas contributed to the book, he does not approve the book’s conclusions and did not appreciate being mentioned in the Aknowledgments, and was not contacted beforehand about it.]

I myself found the book to be very well written and I appreciated that it bent over backwards to understand and sympathize with the mentality and concerns of those who very strongly oppose the GBC’s decision that qualified women can serve as diksa gurus in ISKCON, although the book disagrees with them. Whenever there are very strongly-held views on some point, this may pose a challenge to the unity of the Society, but we have enough in common in our dedication to serving our common acaryas that we can remain united in spite of our differences.

I realize it may seem “easy for me to say,” because on this point I agree with the majority GBC opinion that women can be diksa gurus (for all the many reasons set forth in the book). I would like to think that if I were in the minority on one of these issues of contention I would be willing to still put my paramount loyalty to the overall Society above my disagreement about a single point such as this one.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 13.11.2013 @ 18:30

Who Should Give Bhagavatam Class?

Okay I found a recording of “On Chanting hare krishna” on YouTube:

Most of us have already heard it before but it is the kind of thing that remains always fresh and we can listen over and over again. Srila Prabhupada very clearly and concisely explains the whole philosophy of chanting Hare Krishna. It is really brilliant!

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 13.11.2013 @ 18:10

“Akruranatha prabhu: You state that we should hear the Bhag. from pure devotees, ‘As far as possible.’ But this is not what Srila Prabhupada says. I don’t know where you got your reference for that one:

“Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN by Srila Sanatana Gosvami” (SB 10.1.4)”

Vraja Vilas Prabhu:

I want to avoid the kind of tit-for-tat, “debating club” mentality that often for some reason infects internet discussions. But since you ask, I got the “as far as possible” from the recording of “On Chanting Hare Krishna”. Have you heard it? It was something we used to listen to a long time ago (I hope devotees still listen to it). It begins, “As explained on the cover of the record album…”

Many phrases from that recording of Srila Prabhupada are seared into my memory. This phrase sticks out in my mind and I can still hear it in Srila Prabhupada’s voice: “As far as possible, chanting from the lips of nondevotees should be avoided, as much as milk touched by the lips of a serpent causes poisonous effects.”

I do not think you and I have a real disagreement. You seem to agree that devotees should attend lectures in ISKCON because they are carried on under the instruction of pure devotees.

Devotees by nature ought to be able to get along well with one another. They naturally are respectful to all, and display the wonderful daivi-sampat qualities of tolerance and humility. They respect senior devotees, make friends with those on their level and give blessings to juniors.

I admire your determination to keep the teachings of parampara pure and free from speculative ideas introduced by those without realization.

I like Pusta Krsna Prabhu’s observation that Srila Prabhupada had faith in the process of chanting Hare Krishna and that his followers, even if lacking in Vedic culture, would become pure devotees over time. Even beginner chanters should be respected in our minds.

All devotees I know have some degree of transcendental realization, some personal experience with Krsna and the maha mantra. Otherwise they would not be regulating their lives according to the instructions of the scriptures and spiritual master. They may not be fully realized, but they are devotees and we should hear their chanting and encourage them as Srila Prabhupada did.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 13.11.2013 @ 17:47

Yes, I have to agree with Pusta Krishna Prabhu. This is one instance where we have to understand the principle (i.e., that as far as possible we should hear the holy name/Srimad Bhagavatam only from the lips of a pure devotee) in light of Srila Prabhupada’s own example of how he personally applied it. Mahajano yena gatah sa-panthah.

Those devotees who are following and are careful not to add or subtract anything are empowered by Srila Prabhupada to convey the message, just as an electric wire carries the current from the powerhouse. If this were not so we would not see so many new devotees joining and making palpable advancement.

Of course, we should also listen directly to Srila Prabhupada’s recorded lectures and discussions, and we must make time to read his books repeatedly, but we also have to follow the whole program as he implemented it. He engaged his “green mango” disciples in giving class. That is his example.

One may ask, what is the difference from some young devotee in ISKCON giving class and a professional Bhagavatam reciter? The answer is given by Pusta Krsna Prabhu: The young devotee is following the principles and serving in accordance with the orders of Guru and Gauranga. His or her realization may not be complete, but as far as he or she has realized he can convey. Srila Prabhupada would point to little children who said “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead” and say their preaching is perfect.

One devotee told me a story on himself. He went on a preaching tour to India in the early days with Srila Prabhupada and a group of devotees. They engaged paid cooks, and this devotee noticed the cooks were smoking bidis; they were not pure devotees. He complained to the leaders that the food they cooked would not be accepted by Krsna, but the senior devotees said Srila Prabhupada approved so it was alright. This devotee thought, “it might be alright for others, but I must only eat prasadam.” He thought Srila Prabhupada would appreciate that he was not eating what the other devotees were eating, that he was more strict, more pure. But when Srila Prabhupada heard about it he only said, “Why is he making trouble?”

Mainly, we should get over the urge to invent something new. Follow the senior, experienced devotees who saw how Srila Prabhupada was doing things. The secret to success is already known to us. We just have to surrender, not try to distinguish ourselves by adopting some different new policy.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 12.11.2013 @ 23:19

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