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Comments Posted By Basu Ghosh Das

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Tribute to Siddhavidya prabhu

Thanks for posting this article, Shankarshan Prabhu! Siddha Vidya Prabhu ki jaya! Personally, I don’t recall meeting him, but your article and Bhushaya Prabhu’s article gave us — the readers — an intimate glimpse into his life. Thanks for that! Hari hari!

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Apr 3, 2013 @ 8:05 am

On the Subject of Female Diksha Gurus

Dear Achyuta Prabhu @ comment #40

Namonamaha. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Prabhu, I did not feel that you were being arrogant in your writing. You made your points humbly, as I recall, without ad hominem(s) and innuendo and that is appreciated. Hopefully I am doing this as well.

However, the conclusion that females can be diksha guru is mistaken, in my humble opinion.

You say you based your conclusion in this regard on the body of Prabhupada’s teachings. Here is where we differ. You and most of the devotees commenting on this thread know that Prabhupada wrote “being a woman… Suniti could not be Dhruva’s diksha guru”. This was written by Prabhupada in plain, simple English.

Prabhupada was teaching his disciples — and the world — through his purports. In the very same purport, he explains that Suniti was Dhruva’s patha pradarshaka & shiksha guru, and that the shiksha guru is non-different from the diksha guru.

So why not that qualified ladies be satisfied with being shiksha guru and not clamor for being diksha guru?

Prabhupada told Prof. O’Connel [room conversation @ Toronto, June ’76] that female gurus were extremely rare & Jahnava Devi “did not declare” [herself as guru].

Consider that we Westerners were raised in an atmosphere where we were indoctrinated with the concept of egalitarianism: “the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights”.

Our ideology teaches that “on the platform of the soul” this is true [that we are all “equal” — as jivatmas], but while embodied we are to follow varnashram dharma — the principles of religion & social occupational duties. This means distinctions and differentiations, not equality. That’s very hard for we Westerners to accept, due to our being “brainwashed” — or rather “indoctrinated” — with this concept since childhood!

Therefore, Prabhupada’s clear prohibition of a woman being a diksha guru is so very difficult for many Western devotees to accept. If Prabhupada had desired, he could have written that Suniti was indeed Dhruva’s diksha guru — after he clearly wrote that she was his padapradarshaka and shiksha guru — and we would all accept his instruction. But he wrote the opposite! It would therefore we wise for his followers to accept his instruction in this regard.


Basu Ghosh Das

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 20, 2012 @ 2:00 am

Corrigendum/errata — and a bit of additional explanation.

This appeared in my comment, #37 above:

“When Prabhupada wrote that it was introduced by Srila Saraswati Thakur (SBSST) (in CC M24.330), he did meant it was his invention.”

It should read: “When Prabhupada wrote that it was introduced by Srila Saraswati Thakur (SBSST) (in CC M24.330), it does not mean that it was his invention.”

[The sense is that Srila Saraswati Thakur did not invent something new, when he introduced conferring the sacred thread. Based on panchatratrika viddhi, he did confer the sacred thread on men from lower castes, whom he considered qualified — those who performed the purashcharana. As per the verse quoted by Prabhupada in his purport to CC Antya 16.29, those persons become brahmanas. He did not confer the thread to women].

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 17, 2012 @ 1:49 am

@ Achyuta Das: comments #35 & 36

Prabhu, the gayatri mantra goes along with the sacred thread. When Prabhupada wrote that it was introduced by Srila Saraswati Thakur (SBSST) (in CC M24.330), he did meant it was his invention.

Conferring the thread is as ancient as the mantras. Mahaprabhu & the goswamis demonstrated “vairagya” – total renunciation . SBSST & Prabhupada stressed revival of varnashram dharma, as sahajiyaism had become rampant.

Paancharaatrika diksha, as introduced by SBSST, was given after the “harinaam”, that Prabhupada called “first initiation”, & not diksha. We both know that Prabhupada gave women the gayatri mantra, but did not confer the thread. So if women do not have the thread, how can they confer it?

If you examine the first vilas of Haribhakti Vilas, you will see that Gopal Bhatta Goswami recommended taking diksha from a qualified brahmana. Qualified brahmana was always a male. While in vedic culture, women who were born in brahmana families are referred to as brahmani, they did not take up the occupational activities of the men, neither did they wear the thread. This is ancient tradition.

What Prabhupada wrote about, as per the quotes you referenced above, SB 12.2.3, etc., is a condemnation of the “false birthright claim” to be a brahmana. That does not change either the fact that a qualified brahmana is one who underwent the samskaras, including the thread ceremony, & would later become a “vipra”, one who studied the vedas by memorization (as per tradition), and also one who becomes a brahmana by paanchaaratrika diksha as Prabhupada wrote in his Purport to CC Antya 16.29

yatha kancanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksha-vidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrinam

“As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so one who is properly trained and initiated by a bona fide spiritual master becomes a brahmana immediately.”

As for women engaging in brahminical occupations in ISKCON temples in the West, it can be accepted in two ways. One is that it was the order of the guru, Prabhupada, and it was a “time & circumstance” instruction by Prabhupada.

Studying “the body of Prabhupada’s instructions”, its clear that he gave abundant instructions that women would best be engaged in griha karma — household work. Sadly, in your eagerness to post a retort to what I wrote, you’ve neglected to take cognizance of those instructions.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 16, 2012 @ 6:59 am

@ Sitaram Prabhu, comment #18. Prabhu, your speculation — indirectly, admittedly — that Prabhupada wrote his comments to Bg 16.7 based on circumstances & prevalent social psychology in the Western World, is, just that: speculation. I contend that his comments were based on the vedic outlook — as instituted by Lord Krishna (Bg 4.13) that humans have duties in accordance with their gunas, karmas and gender.

To repeat what I wrote in my comment on your comment #10, SP had a definite outlook on stri-dharma – the duties of women, but he did not impose that during his lifetime within ISKCON, due to his observations on Western life. So he was “lenient”, but he did not, as some would like us to believe “over-ride” vedic teachings.

We should understand that Western thought is contaminated by the lower modes of nature, and atheism.

Therefore it IS demoniac, as SP wrote, numerous times. The subtle influence of Western thought has crept into ISKCON, and that is why the issue of female diksha guru is being made a “prestige issue’, by devotees who are indeed influenced by the egalitarian value system prevalent in modern society!

Prabhu, you obviously seem to be in favor of female diksha gurus. Please present the evidence from vedic literatures that there is a provision of females diksha gurus. Kindly cite the examples of these female gurus in Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Valmiki Ramayana, the Puranas, etc., to enlighten us in this regard.

What can’t a women take sannays? Why can’t a woman be conferred the sacred thread? And why can’t a man bear a child (why weren’t men created equal to women and have wombs)?

The answer should be clear. It is that there is gender distinction in human society.
And there are distinctions made between human beings that SP and vedic thought — and law — accept.

But we don’t want to accept them, because Western thought teaches “we perceive that all men [and women] were created equal”. That is the egalitarian viewpoint.

The fruit of that viewpoint is the “free mixing of men and women in society” that leads to the situation you’ve described in your comments. Immorality is accepted as morality. Homosexual marriage is now being recognized in many states in the USA, and many countries in Europe, and yet SP clearly condemned homosexuality as “insanity”. At present, society is being misled by atheistic leaders & their atheistic ideology. Should we follow that? Kindly consider.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 2:12 am

@ Sita Ram Das – 1. The aim of posting the quotation, Bg 16.7, above, was to support the concept that we have duties according to varna and ashram, and gender as well. The duty of women is to be grihini, housewife. Srila Prabhupada (SP) was “lenient” with Western women, in view of his oft repeated observation that men and women “freely mix” in the West. As you should be aware by studying SP’s stated views on women, he often mentions that women should cook, clean, etc., i.e. household chores/engagements.

Becoming a diksha guru is incongruent to these duties. Further, an intrinsic part of diksha is conferring the sacred thread. As per numerous statements of SP in his purports, i.e. CC Madhya 24.330, etc., etc.

SP specifically commented in SB 4.12.32 — as I’m sure you are well aware, that “being a woman… Suniti could not be Dhruva’s diksha guru.

Phalini Mataji very nicely explained this in her essay. She quoted numerous statements of SP from his purports to support her contention(s).

The reason that there is any support whatsoever for female diksha guru is that egalitarian thought is so popular in the Western world.

If there was a clear basis in the vedic literatures for female diksha guru, then I for one would accept it!

However, the opposite is the case.

For example, at the Sandipani ashram at Avanti, Sandipani Muni is the guru, both shiksha and diksha, of boys, i.e. Krishna, Balaram and Sudama. His wife is mentioned, but no mention of her being the guru. Guru patni — one of the seven mothers ( the real mother, the wife of a teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a king, the wife of a brahmana, the cow, the nurse and the mother earth), but not the guru herself.

There are so many such examples in vedic literatures: Atri and Anasuya, etc., etc.

Diksha means conferring the sacred thread, and since woman cannot wear the sacred thread, they cannot be the diksha guru. Even shiksha guru, at least for the general public, as we see in the case of Jahnava Mata, is “very rare”. She instructed and lectured from behind a curtain – never revealing herself to the public.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 1:46 am

Atmavidya Prabhu requested me to explain why we reject Bipin Bihari Goswami (BBG), the so-called diksha guru of Bhaktivinoda Thakur (BT) and the line gurus who came before him, wherein several names of women are mentioned.

There is an argument, it was the line of thought of one of the Thakur’s son, Lalita Prasad, that BT never rejected BBG. However, it is well known amongst the followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur (SBSST), that BT had in fact given up the association of BBG and (informally) took shelter/shiksha from Srila Jagannath Das Babaji.

The logic here is that SBSST clearly rejected brahmanism by birthright only. BBG and his line believe that only the son of a brahmin or goswami can be a brahmin or goswami.

Also, Srila Prabhupada (SP) and SBSST do not mention BBG and his predecessor gurus ANYWHERE in their writings.

Certain ISKCON devotees who associated with Lalita Prasad became influenced by the concept of guru/brahmin/goswami by birthright and at least one of them is a very scholarly and communicative person. They read his writings and they have borrowed this lineage of gurus to support the concept of female diksha guru.

Generally, the concept of caste birthright has been abused to protect one and one’s family status in “strict Hindu society”. The “upper castes”, the brahmins, kshtriyas, and vaishyas, over a period of time, became degraded abused this upper caste birthright status to exploit others. Therefore the British condemned the “caste system”, that we know from Bhagavad-gita is the varnashram system that Lord Krishna Himself established (vide Bg 4.13).

In his purport to SB 1.16.31, SP wrote:
“When God-made varnasrama-dharma, which is strictly meant for developing animal consciousness into human consciousness and human consciousness into godly consciousness, is broken by advancement of foolishness, the whole system of peaceful and progressive life is at once disturbed. In the age of Kali, the first attack of the venomous snake strikes against the God-made varnasrama-dharma, and thus a person properly qualified as a brahmana is called a sudra, and a sudra by qualification is passing as a brahmana, all on a false birthright claim. To become a brahmana by a birthright claim is not at all bona fide, although it may be a fulfillment of one of the conditions.”

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 1:30 am

More on Varnashram dharma, by Srila Prabhupada, wherein what he writes supports what Phalini Mataji wrote, and negates the view that varnashram is unimportant:

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 16.7

pravrittim ca nivrittim ca
jana na vidur asurah
na saucam napi cacaro
na satyam teshu vidyate


Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.


In every civilized human society there is some set of scriptural rules and regulations which is followed from the beginning. Especially among the Aryans, those who adopt the Vedic civilization and who are known as the most advanced civilized peoples, those who do not follow the scriptural injunctions are supposed to be demons. Therefore it is stated here that the demons do not know the scriptural rules, nor do they have any inclination to follow them. Most of them do not know them, and even if some of them know, they have not the tendency to follow them. They have no faith, nor are they willing to act in terms of the Vedic injunctions. The demons are not clean, either externally or internally. One should always be careful to keep his body clean by bathing, brushing teeth, shaving, changing clothes, etc. As far as internal cleanliness is concerned, one should always remember the holy names of God and chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The demons neither like nor follow all these rules for external and internal cleanliness.

As for behavior, there are many rules and regulations guiding human behavior, such as the Manu-samhita, which is the law of the human race. Even up to today, those who are Hindu follow the Manu-samhita. Laws of inheritance and other legalities are derived from this book. Now, in the Manu-samhita it is clearly stated that a woman should not be given freedom. That does not mean that women are to be kept as slaves, but they are like children. Children are not given freedom, but that does not mean that they are kept as slaves. The demons have now neglected such injunctions, and they think that women should be given as much freedom as men. However, this has not improved the social condition of the world.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 7, 2012 @ 4:20 am

Women Gurus In Kali Yuga?

Further to the above comment on Kusha devi dasi’s comment #6

The “self evidence” that all men are created equal, is in contradiction with Lord Krishna’s instructions in Bhagavad-gita 4.13:

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.

PURPORT [By Prabhupada]

The Lord is the creator of everything. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. He is therefore the creator of the four divisions of the social order, beginning with the intelligent class of men, technically called brahmanas due to their being situated in the mode of goodness. Next is the administrative class, technically called the kshatriyas due to their being situated in the mode of passion. The mercantile men, called the vaisyas, are situated in the mixed modes of passion and ignorance, and the sudras, or laborer class, are situated in the ignorant mode of material nature. In spite of His creating the four divisions of human society, Lord Krishna does not belong to any of these divisions, because He is not one of the conditioned souls, a section of whom form human society. Human society is similar to any other animal society, but to elevate men from the animal status, the above-mentioned divisions are created by the Lord for the systematic development of Krishna consciousness. The tendency of a particular man toward work is determined by the modes of material nature which he has acquired. Such symptoms of life, according to the different modes of material nature, are described in the Eighteenth Chapter of this book.”

So, while the souls are equal, when they are embodied there are differences, and varying duties according to these differences! That is our ideological outlook, at least if we accept the teachings of the Gita and Prabhupada!

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 4:25 am

@ Kusha devi dasi’s comment #20:

Not sure how you remembered me here, Mataji, since till today I hadn’t commented on Govinda dasi’s article.

However, since you mentioned my name (even if you spelled “Ghosh” as “Gosh” [as in “oh my gosh!”]), I hope you won’t mind my responding to what you wrote. Or maybe you meant to comment on what someone else wrote, and mistakenly wrote my name? Whatever! :-)

Sadly, many of Srila Prabhupada’s intimate associates in Western bodies (yes, like our’s), fell away from ISKCON, bhakti, and became degraded. Prabhupada himself stated that he didn’t have so much personal association with his Guru Maharaj.

My contention is simple, let us understand the issue of female diksha guru should be through shastras, and the instructions of Prabhupada and our previous (purva) acharyas (teachers/gurus).

First of all, “diksha” is one of the samskaras, and that is conferring the sacred thread. The sacred thread is not conferred to females. Just like sannyas.

Prabhupada wrote about this numerous times in his purports. For example in CC Madhya 24.330:

“He is then recommended for a second initiation, during which a sacred thread is offered and the disciple is accepted as a bona fide brahmana. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura introduced the system of giving the sacred thread to a bona fide Vaishnava, and we are following in his footsteps.”

The system that Prabhupada refers to IS the Panchatratrika system. We all know that females are NOT conferred the sacred thread, so how can they act as diksha guru?

Why not be satisfied with grihasta dharma — household duties — that are recommended for women by Prabhupada in numerous places? Be the patha pradarshaka & shiksha guru of your children & other women. Why imitate the men?

My contention is that the demand for female diksha guru is simply the subtle contamination of the egalitarian outlook of modern Western society, that we Westerners cannot remove from our psyche!
This outlook is deep rooted in the USA, where in the US Declaration of Independence it is written:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the of the governed”.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 4:21 am

Just to clarify the resolution I posted, above, was passed by the ISKCON India Regional Governing Body (IRGB) during October of 2010, and has been submitted as a formal resolution for GBC consideration at the upcoming GBC AGM during February/March 2013.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 3:55 am

GBC resolution 305 of 2009 and GBC Resolution 425 of 2005 both state the need for female diksha gurus in ISKCON;

2) Whereas, the statement “there is a factual need for more diksha gurus in ISKCON to accommodate worldwide preaching” can be met by following the traditional system of male diksha gurus, “as is the rule” in the Gaudiya Sampradaya, all other Vaishnava Sampradayas, the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in SB 4.12.32, 7.11.25, and in many other places;

3) Whereas, one need not have a formal position of either shiksha or diksha guru to preach Krishna Consciousness or to do enthusiastic service, nor does the principle of offering respect and protection to women imply that they be offered such formal positions of spiritual authority;

4) Whereas, in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line, there are a few “rare” exceptional examples of female diksha gurus, (all of whom were “liberated souls”) and that by institutionalizing the appointment of female diksha gurus, it thus becomes a rule, and not an “exception” to the rule;

5) Whereas, instituting fundamental and monumental changes in well established Vaishnava tradition and adjusting the rules of dharma shastra, are the prerogatives of empowered acharyas;

6) Whereas empowered acharyas such as Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur did make path breaking adjustments to tradition, but they did not, in practice or in their teachings, provide for female diksha gurus;

7) Whereas, considering all of the above, the IRGB submits that it is inappropriate for the GBC body to venture into a domain of this nature that has momentous and far reaching implications of a permanent nature for the Krishna Consciousness movement;

Therefore, the IRGB humbly requests the GBC to suspend both resolution 305 of 2009 and resolution 425 of 2005 until in depth discussion on the topic can take place with representatives of both points of view-pro and con.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 12, 2012 @ 3:29 am

Report and pictures from the Sadhu Sanga festival, South Russia

Many of the pictures taken of the festival that I uploaded to the internet were taken by my translator during the festival, Bhakta Ilya Korostov, of Rostov-on-Don, in South Russia. He deserves much credit for taking the pictures and for translating my lectures during the four seminars I conducted at the festival. I owe him a debt of gratitude! “Spaceba bolshoye” [“many thanks”] to Bhakta Ilya! :-)

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 1, 2012 @ 8:51 am

Govindas– A Cuisine with a Philosophy

Glad to see pictures of Govinda’s here at ISKCON Baroda — the first two that appear in the article, above! :-)

At least we should be credited for those pictures! They are NOT pictures of Govinda’s at Bombay…

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Aug 9, 2012 @ 1:10 am

Supreme Court of India orders in ISKCON vs Madhu case

An explanation of the the Supreme Court (SC) order:

The Supreme Court of India created an “oversight committee”, more or less “receivership” [dictionary definition of “receiver”: 3 a person or company appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs of a business or person that has gone bankrupt : the company is in the hands of the receivers.]

The “oversight committee” will consist of 3 members, as mentioned in their order.

The SC is under NO OBLIGATION to hear ANY case.

Therefore, “SLPs” – “special leave petitions” – are filed in the SC by parties desiring that their case be heard.

To date, the SC has NOT agreed to hear Madhu Pandit Das’s appeal of the Karnataka High Court Judgement that went against him on May 23 (declaring that ISKCON Bangalore is a branch of ISKCON Bombay). In the above order, the SC has stated that a final decision on admitting Madhu Pandit Das’s appeal will be declared on Feb 15, 2012.

In the meantime, until Feb. 15, the appointed committee will manage the affairs of ISKCON Bangalore. The committee has one representative each from ISKCON Bombay and Madhu Pandit Das’s ISKCON Bangalore and is headed by retired SC Judge Ravindran.

This explanation was first posted on my Facebook page in response to a query from a godsister at Sridham Mayapur who requested I explain the above “in plain English”. Therefore, I think it appropriate to post here as well.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Dec 20, 2011 @ 3:05 am

OPEN LETTER TO Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Letter to: Gurudasa
13 May, 1972

My dear Gurudasa,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 5, 1972, and I have noted the contents. You can accept Suri’s plan, it is very nice, so you execute it perfectly. That will be the grandest temple in Vrindaban. May be a little costly, but if you can collect Rs. 25,000 per month and also Gargamuni can collect Rs. 25,000 per month, then it can be done nicely.

In the Hindi BTG there are so many mistakes, spelling, grammar, and some places the philosophy is faulty with some other ideas mixed in; the printing is shabby, the second page is almost invisible. So this has to be improved somehow or other. Dr. Kapoor has remarked exactly. So you may inform Ksirodakasayi, and you try to help him for improving Hindi BTG.

You must construct something wonderful. Otherwise, it will be a discredit to you American boys. That will exalt the position of America in India. And in every temple food distribution must go on profusely with American food supplies. Have the Americans given us the food supplies, is there any tangible donation? Or is it simply promises? If we can supply some proof they have given us such and such amount of foodstuffs, some document, that will help us in all parts of the world as propaganda and for approaching your country’s government in other places for supplying us. So if you have got such document, kindly send me one copy.

If we open a branch in Madras, actually there are so many poor children there. Spiritual education and food, that is proper. Simply supplying food is nonsense. Spiritual education means just to inject in their ears about our philosophy, externally they chant beads, wear tilak, without any discrimination of Hindu or Muslim or anything.

So I am very much encouraged by your letters, and I am confident I have entrusted this Vrindaban project, which is one of the most important of our this ISKCON, to the right persons, namely, yourself, your good wife, Yamuna devi, and Ksirodakasayi Prabhu. So kindly offer the others my blessings.

Hoping this meets you all in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Nov 5, 2011 @ 1:16 am

Part two of my letter – below:

Therefore the IRGB [ISKCON India Regional Governing Body – of which I am Secretary] had approved the program, provided it was “accompanied by kirtan and lectures”.

On the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation website we find statement of objectives:

> A Strategic program to address two of the most pressing problems of India
> : Hunger & Education. The Government of India has made education for
> children in the age group of 6 to 14 years compulsory, but poverty
> prevents the underprivileged from getting full value of their educational
> experience.
> Hunger obstructs education as children are forced to leave schools and
> take up menial jobs. Lack of education curtails opportunities for
> development and leads to the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
> Education empowers a child to explore his potentials and earn a decent
> living and live a respectable life in our society.
> ISKCON FOOD RELIEF FOUNDATION, has resolved to liberate the
> underprivileged from this vicious cycle by feeding the poor with
> sanctified and nutritious food.

Sounds 100% social welfare oriented without Krishna bhakti and vedic/
vaishnava culture. Sad state of affairs. Again, this is “just my humble
opinion”, what I understand from Prabhupada’s condemnation of social welfare
work, and as above, trying to pass off unofferable foodstuffs as “prasadam”.

Hope this meets you well.


Basu Ghosh Das

P.S. Priyavrata Prabhu wrote in his comment, number 19, above:

“Bashu Gosh, also good point, however, I think it is unfair to label any kind of prasadam distribution as “social welfare activities.” Doing so, in my opinion, lessons to service of those involved. If the food is prepared and offered with love, then it is prasadam, and prasadam distribution is transcendental.”

P.P.S. My question stands: how is “the food prepared and offered with love” is the reason the hired help is there to cook, simply for their salary? It’s love of the money/salary, no?

Admittedly, we hire cooks for our Govinda’s Restaurants. The logic of doing so is that Govinda’s restaurants bring members of the public to ISKCON temples, as well as the income from Govinda’s supports ISKCON temples and projects.

Mid-day meals does NOT do so. It neither brings the children to the temples (they may be some exceptions where the meals are served in the temple – usually they are NOT), nor does it help the temple: it’s non profit!

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 19, 2011 @ 5:47 am

The following letter I’m posting here in response to Priyavrata Prabhu’s comments to me earlier in this thread, about ‘prasad distribution’. It was written to a “godbrother” who basically accepts Priyavrata Prabhu’s ideas, in response to a private letter to me. Hence I’m anonymizing his name herein below. Kindly note that the letter appears in two parts herein below:


Dear Godbrother Prabhu,

Namonamaha. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Received your message.

Prabhupada established the system that only brahmanas – brahmin initiated
devotees – could worship and COOK for the Deities.

Prasadam is the remants of foodstuffs offered to the Deities.

You might know the story of Vadaraja, a Madhva sannyasi, who came to the
famous “annakshetra” – the famous “food distribution center” at
Dharmasthala, some 40 kilometres from Udupi, some 500 years ago, around the
same time as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Read about it:

The story goes that Vadiraja was invited for “bhiksha” – “bhojan” – by the
Jain “Dharmadhikaari” of Dharmasthala. He refused to eat unless the food
was offered to a “vedic Deity”. The Dharmadhikaari agreed to install any
vedic Deity as per the instructions of the Sannyasi (Vaadiraajaa).
Vaadiraajaa instructed his disciples to go out of the then tiny village and
find a vedic Deity and he would install it and they would offer foodstuffs
to the Deity. They found a Deity of Lord Shiva, now famous as “Manjunath”,
and “the rest is history”.

The mid-day meals in question here are NOT cooked by brahmanas and offered
to “vedic Deities”.

Hence, how can it be prasad.

Another evidence is the “prasad” that was brought to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by
the Buddhists. It was contaminated. As per the story in CC Madhya 9.53

So, you may claim that anything cooked by anyone is “prasad”, but this is
neither the vedic/vaishnav tradition, nor what Prabhupada taught during his

Therefore I say you are under a misconception – with all due respect – and
that borders on “sahajiyaism”.

You wrote: phalena parichiyate. How many children who take the mid-day
meals are becoming Krishna bhaktas? Personally, I haven’t seen such a “mass
movement” towards bhakti from those children that would be expected by those
who praise the mid-day meals program.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 19, 2011 @ 5:38 am

[Prabhupada’s reply to Sri Kapadia, continued]:

I therefore request you, as leading members of society, to join this movement. There is no loss on anyone’s part for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, but the gain is great. According to Bhagavad-gita (3.21), what is accepted by leading men is also accepted by common men:

yad yad acarati shreshthas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

“Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”

The sankirtana movement of Krishna consciousness is very important. Therefore, through you I wish to appeal to all the leading men of India to accept this movement very seriously and give us all facility to spread this movement throughout the world. Then there will be a very happy condition, not only in India but all over the world.

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

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Here’s a separate letter to Giriraj (now swami)

Note the following sentence from the letter – “and actually, OUR TEMPLE should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge.” [Caps added to emphasize the statement]

Letter to: Giriraja

23 April, 1972


My dear Giriraja,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated April 15, 1972 and I have noted the contents. This food distribution program is to be done very, very nicely as I have already written in my last letter. Generally people make a plea that why are there so many hungry and naked. So we invite all hungry and naked people to come to us and we will give them food and clothing and Krishna consciousness as well. This will attract the general public and there will never be any shortage of food-stuffs, so continue regularly. In Bombay there are many generous persons who like food distribution programs, and actually, our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge. Our Bombay program should be based on giving Krishna consciousness through the English medium and distribution of prasadam without any discrimination. This will enhance our prestige and will accelerate our spiritual life as well. The temple program of arati, kirtana, bhoga offerings, discourses, etc. should continue. There should be no neglect of that program.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 16, 2011 @ 9:22 am

[Due to space limitations, the rest of Srila Prabhupada’s letter appears in the fourth comment in this “chain”].

My dear Mr. Kapadia,

Please accept my greetings.

With reference to your letter and your personal interview, I beg to inform you that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can become happy. Unfortunately people do not know who God is and how to make Him happy. Our Krishna consciousness movement is therefore meant to present the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly to the people. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Seventh Canto, Sixth Chapter: tussle ca tatra kim alabhyam anent adye/ kim tair guna-vyatikarad iha ye sva-siddhah.

The idea stated in this verse is that by pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we please everyone, and there is no question of scarcity. Because people do not know this secret of success, they are making their own independent plans to be happy. However, it is not possible to achieve happiness in this way. On your letterhead I find many important men in this country who are interested in relieving the sufferings of the people, but they should know for certain that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead all their attempts will be futile. A diseased man cannot live simply on the strength of the help of an expert physician and medicine. If this were so, then no rich man would ever die. One must be favored by Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Therefore if you want to perform relief work simply by collecting funds, I think that it will not be successful.

You have to please the supreme authority, and that is the way to success. For example, due to the performance of sankirtana here, the rain has begun to fall after a drought of two years. The last time we performed a Hare Krishna Festival in Delhi, there was imminent danger of Pakistan’s declaring war, and when a newspaper man approached me for my opinion, I said there must be fighting because the other party was aggressive. However, because of our sankirtana movement, India emerged victorious. Similarly, when we held a festival in Calcutta, the Naxalite [Communist] movement stopped. These are facts. Through the sankirtana movement we can not only get all facilities for living, but also at the end can go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are of a demoniac nature cannot understand this, but it is a fact.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 16, 2011 @ 9:20 am

[Note: Prabhupada’s reply to Sri Kapadia will appear in a third comment, to follow this one, a continuation of the first comment in this “chain”].

The Committee is prepared to send some of its representatives along with members of your Society wherever you wish to distribute prasada to the
hungry millions in the state.

As manava-seva is madhava-seva [“Service to man is service to God”], the Committee is confident that even a little effort by your gracious Society will go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of hundreds and thousands of people.

Yours ever in the service of the Lord,

T. L. Kapadia, Secretary

Andhra Pradesh Relief fund Committee
Hyderabad, India

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 16, 2011 @ 9:17 am

Here are a couple of interesting letters that Prabhupada wrote about “mundane social welfare work”.

Notice in the second letter the sentence: “and actually, OUR TEMPLE should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge.” [Caps added for emphasis herein above. Note that the letter from SSR, below, extends to a second, “separate” comment, that will appear, below].

From: The Science of Self Realization, Chapter 6 “Altruism: Temporary and Eternal”

In 1972, the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh was stricken by a severe drought that affected millions. Hoping that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness would provide assistance, T. L. Kapadia, Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund Committee, wrote to Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada responded with this surprising and edifying letter.

Revered Swamiji,

The residents of the twin cities are happy to have this opportunity to meet you and your esteemed followers. You may be aware that due to inadequate rainfall during the last two years and its complete failure this year, more than half of our state [Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India] is in the grip of a serious drought. With a view to supplement governmental efforts to combat this evil, a Central Voluntary Organization of citizens drawn from various walks of life has been set up. The members of this organization surveyed the areas affected by drought. The situation is pathetic. There are villages where drinking water is not available for miles. Due to scarcity of fodder, the cattle owners are parting with their cattle for a nominal price. Many of the stray cattle are dying away due to unavailability of fodder and water. The food problem is also very serious. Due to high prices of food grains on the open market, purchase of grains at market prices is beyond the reach of poor villagers, with the result that at least five to six million people are hardly having one meal a day. There are many who are on the verge of starvation. The entire situation is most pathetic and heartrending.
We therefore appeal to your revered self to consider how your Society could best come to the rescue of these millions of souls who are in unimaginable distress. The Committee would like to suggest that members of your Society appeal to the bhaktas [devotees] attending your discourses to contribute their mite to the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 16, 2011 @ 9:15 am

Footnote: Sri Nathji Das recently announced a donation of US $1,000,000.00 (One Million US dollars) to the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium at Mayapur. For that kind contribution, ISKCON will remain grateful, and I very much appreciate his kindness and generosity – not only for this outstanding donation, but for the many, many services that he has rendered to ISKCON for the past 35 years! Again, I want to stress that those of us who are not in favor of ISKCON engaging in “social welfare activities” have no personal animosity or “axe to grind” with anyone. It’s a “principled stand” – nothing more, nothing less.

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 15, 2011 @ 7:31 am

Part 2 of my letter (see above)

Ten years ago at “Radhadesh”, ISKCON’s center in Belgium, HH Jayadvaita Swami gave a series of lectures entitled “Food for Death”, wherein he staunchly opposed “social welfare oriented” activities, based on his understanding of Prabhupada’s instructions.

Those lectures appear on Jayadvaita Maharaj’s website at the following URL (link):

That Prabhupada wanted prasad from Mayapur temple to be sent to needy villagers in the area (the “10 kilometer radius” quote you mentioned, but overgeneralized) was a “specific time and circumstance instruction” by Prabhupada and not one of his “key teachings”.

The point, Prabhu, is simple. There is an urgent need in the world for spreading the teachings of the vedic literatures, which the governments of the world are totally neglecting. Mid-day meals is a diversion from this mission – in my and many other devotees opinions.

To be frank, charity, in the view of the “mleccha and yavana West”, is hospitals, schools, poor feeding, emergency medical assistance, etc., etc.

Prabhupada did not outline such activities for ISKCON, and hence the Bhaktivedanta Hospital was not allowed by the GBC – and not by Bhima Das or Basu Ghosh Das – to be a part of ISKCON. Why blame us here? Why become angry when we humbly point out that these activities were not what
Prabhupada (nor our previous acharyas, specifically Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur) envisioned to be part of his (their) preaching mission?

In conclusion, I humbly request that you have a “rethink” here. Kindly consider – after all you a very highly learned, intelligent, and devotional individual – that spending our time and money on social welfare activities is a deviation from the vision for spreading Krishna bhakti and vedic sanatan dharma as taught by Prabhupada.

So while I agree that we should show mercy to the distressed – whatever their personal physical and mental distress happen to be – we as Gaudiya Vaishnavas should aim to propagate the ideology propagated by Prabhupada and Srila Saraswati Thakur, menionted herein above, for the “shreyas” – the
liberation of the atma from the “samsara chakram” – of mankind.

Thank you, Sri Nathji Prabhu, for your kind consideration of these theological and philosophical points. Whatever you may think, I will continue hold you personally in high regard.

Hoping this meets you well.

daso’smi (I am your servant),

Basu Ghosh Das

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 15, 2011 @ 7:28 am

In this regard, I had written a letter to Sri Nathji Prabhu, the Chairman of the ISKCON India mid-day meal program, this past July. Here is the letter – it appears in two parts – part one appears, below:

From: Basu Ghosh (das) ACBSP (Baroda – IN) Date: 29-Jul-11
To: “Dr.N D Desai”
Subject: ISKCON and social welfare work

Dear Sri Nathji Prabhu,

Namonamaha. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

Received both of your messages, written in response to my comments on Bhima Prabhu’s posting on the ISKCON India Continental Committee (ICC) conference on

Kindly accept my personal and unconditional apology if you in anyway feel personally insulted by what I wrote on the ICC conference regarding the “mid-day meals” program.

My intention was not to attack you personally or slander your integrity. As you well know I hold you in high esteem, and respect with high regard the many wonderful services you have rendered to the ISKCON institution. I’ve always dealt with you with the utmost respect and regard.

However, I do feel that I have right to express my personal opinion regarding what I consider here to be both an ideological as well as a practical issue. Is that “in and of itself”, wrong?

It would have been nobler, that instead of launching a “frontal attack” on my personality and integrity – which seems to be political in nature – that you would have simply stuck to the issue of “mid-day meals” and “social welfare work”, and not decided to tread on the right that Bhima Prabhu and I have to express our opinions regarding the direction and functioning of the ISKCON institution.

Imagine if the crores of rupees that have been collected (as well as the time and effort put into making those collections) for the mid-day meals program had been channeled into book distribution, “scientific preaching” (BI/Drutakarma Prabhu), and youth preaching (as Radhe Shyam Prabhu is so successfully undertaking at Pune and all over India)?

» Posted By Basu Ghosh Das On Oct 15, 2011 @ 7:26 am

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