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Comments Posted By Sankarsana das

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How to address a woman?

I thought Devaki mataji’s article was well thought out and did not indicate any spirit of competition between the sexes as she was accused of. Her further explanations of her article were to the point and well stated. I also agree with her following statement:

“What our words express ultimately depends on the consciousness with which we are saying it, and the audience also understands things according to their own consciousness with which they are reading those words.”

The latter part of this statement is known as “atmavan manyate jagat” which Srila Prabhupada quoted often. Recently on Dandavats Mahatma prabhu wrote an article expanding on the hisory of Cyavana Muni and Sukanya, and he discussed the responsibility of men in marital relationships. Afterwards there were a backlash of comments and accusations by devotees who thought Mahatma was way off. Later Mahatma spelled out the “controversial” statements he had made for those who misconstrued them, and it seemed to pacify the situation. So it can be seen with controversial topics (such as male and female concerns), people can misunderstand information which doesn’t click with their conceptions. Or they can become the instructor to the experienced devotee rather than going further to try to understand what the experienced devotee is saying. The tendency to trump a qualified presenter, as if they are not aware of the depth of a subject, is not a good quality, and it can be offensive. It’s much better to ask respectfully for further explanations of a point which is not understood or agreed on.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Aug 12, 2014 @ 12:47 am

Female Diksha Guru — some considerations

I am somewhat surprised with Akrurantha prabhu’s comments because he discredits Basu Ghosh prabhu’s entire article on the basis that it is ill motivated. Even if the beginning few short paragraphs of the article were left out which had to deal with the motive in question, Basu Ghosh prabhu compiled a great deal of impressive evidence that female diksa guru is an unknown species in our tradition, so why abandon tradition for the sake of liberal considerations which are minuscule in comparison. Regarding the motive, if someone is aware of tradition and is able to back up his statements with strong authoritative evidence to support the tradition, his listening charitably to a notion which goes outside the tradition is asking a great deal. Akruranatha prabhu had nothing to say to compromise the bulk of the article with all the quotes and sastric evidence provided. To introduce legitimate opposing evidence would have been much more impressive. He even states at the end regarding the motive, “It strikes me as an illegitimate tactic, the sort resorted to when one has little means of refuting the opposition’s direct statements.” There was plenty of means of refuting the opposing position in the article.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 4, 2013 @ 12:55 am

Thanks also for your response Puskaraksa Prabhu, and thanks also for correcting my mistake about bhakti sastri. What you say and the Prabhupada quotes you provided warn against the ambition to become a guru, which certainly is an anartha. At the same time disciples of Prabhupada gravitating towards becoming gurus (by qualification or not) can use the quote you provided (as well as others) to indicate it is Prabhupada’s order for all of his disciples to become guru, since he said he wanted it. The “maybe” indicates that Prabhupada had some doubt how qualified his disciples could become. In Prabhupada’s own case (correct me if I’m wrong) I am not aware of a specific instruction Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur gave him to become guru. The well known general instruction Prabhupada got to go to the western countries and preach was an indirect order to become guru though. So if the order is indirect or direct it still can be arguably accepted as an order, as long as one is linked to the parampara line.

You also brought up a good consideration that someone should not flatter themselves into thinking they should become a guru because a neophyte approaches them with interest of becoming their disciple. That brings up more serious considerations not only of the qualification of a disciple, but also what the qualifications of guru are such as controlling the pushing agents, and being able to deliver dependents from death.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 1, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

Thanks for the acceptable reply Krishna-Kirti prabhu, but it seems from Urmila mataji’s comments that she is referring to the situation where she has been giving siksa to female devotees for years and wonders why it is those women under her shelter have to be initiated by a male guru when they have primarily taken shelter of her. In a scenario of women only giving initiation to women the sex attraction consideration tends not to be a problem. So the question follows what would be the problem under these conditions of there being women gurus for exclusively women disciples? Is it just begging the question since it’s not women’s dharma to be diksa gurus for some of the reasons cited earlier?

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 1, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

Thank you for the well presented and authoritatively based article Basu Ghosh prabhu, and the informative follow up by Krishna-kirti prabhu. How do either of you (or anyone well acquainted with this subject) respond to a popular Prabhupada quote the pro FDG devotees use that Srila Prabhupada wanted all his disciples (both men and women) to take the Bhakti sastri exam, and whoever passed could initiate disciples? By the way this instruction does not corroborate with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to Tamal Krishna Maharaja about not having gurukula for girls, and what girls need to learn. This casts doubt on the idea that the female role in Prabhupada’s view would change much when girls became women. From my perspective not everything Prabhupada said has to be taken literally. Especially when something he said he did not implement himself, not to mention he made comments to the contrary on and provided references for (as Basu Ghosh prabhu provided quotes for in this regard). It’s possible he could have said something like that just to encourage all his disciples to preach.

Also how do you respond to a logical argument Urmila mataji makes as follows: “In a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many years–even a decade–to a particular disciple, where there is a firm relationship of guru/disciple, where the disciple has been worshiping and studying from and serving his or her siksa guru for many years–why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the “someone else” has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).”

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Nov 30, 2013 @ 12:25 am

Tribute to Siddhavidya prabhu

I had a dream of Siddhavidya prabhu who came to fulfill my desire to have a more satisfactory farewell than had happened. I was feeling disappointed that Siddhavidya didn’t notify me of the serious condition his illness had taken, and thus I was unable to visit him before he departed. I was even thinking of going to Miami in January but decided since I was planning a visit there in April I would go somewhere else instead. When I found out he was in grave condition in the hospital I was in Mauritius and not in a position to drastically change my travel plans. I did speak to him (although he was unable to speak to me) on the phone a couple of days before he departed. I was under the impression then that he was recovering, and I just told him I was happy to hear he was going to be okay and that I looked forward to seeing him in April. I then heard the news he departed when I arrived in Vrindavan a few days later. I was devastated.

Anyway in my dream Siddhavidya called out “Breeze!” (as he always called me… since I did some kirtan tapes called Vaikuntha Breezes). He looked healthy and surrounded by effulgence and seemed to be communicating to me from a higher realm. He then said in a half humorous way “You’re still alive.” We then hugged and that was the end of the dream. I then felt satisfied that Siddhavidya remembered me and paid me a visit just to encourage me that much better things are ahead after this life.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Apr 10, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

Please Pray for Siddha Vidya Prabhu

I spoke with a devotee I know who was present with Siddhavidya prabhu in the hospital. He said Siddhavidya is recovering nicely and is out of the danger zone of perhaps leaving his body. He spoke with much ease as if there is nothing to worry about. He then turned the phone over to Siddhavidya who could not speak, but could only hear me express my well wishes for him and when I will visit Miami. I could hear him breathing but that was all. So this is very good news for the vaisnava community that Siddhavidya prabhu will continue to give us his much valued association. Your servant, Sankarsana das

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 9, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

A couple of updates from devotees who visited Siddhavidya prabhu:

Jeff Jatayu Das Baptist: I want to thank Syamakunda for making this trip possible to Siddha Vidya yesterday.Sidha Vidaya was very Krsna conscious,and when I came to him and said,I am here,this is jatayu,he burst out in tears,and I also was crying.The whole experiance was very touching and full of reading,chanting verses and just some times just looking at this great Vaisnava and friend.His devoted wife,Krsna Katha was very devoted and positive,hoping he would pull through this critical time.On positive note,yesterday they removed his breathing tube,and he was breathinf on his own.I hope this great vaisnava will pull through this time,for his association would be missed so much

Syamakunda Das: I want to thank Jatayu for inspiring me to visit Siddha Vidya at the hospital yesterday. They had just removed the breathing tube but he was still on a ventilation machine and we could not hear what he was saying. However, I can say that his firm determination to always chant the Holy Name of the Lord, always attend mangala arotika, to distribute books, and to chant his rounds is bearing fruit. He was so Krsna Conscious lying on this bed. It was just amazing that although Siddha Vidya was hooked up to so much equipment and despite the fact that he had to endure so much inconvenience, he was remaining fixed in his Krsna Consciousness. He appeared to be chanting all the time despite all of his troubles. I want to say, that the goal of Srila Prabhupada’s exchanges of love with his devotees that we cherish, as described in all of the rememberances of devotees, were meant to create other Beautiful Vaisnavas. After visiting Siddha Vidya in the hospital, I can proclaim, that he has succeeded with this son of his. Hare Krsna. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada and All Glories to his stalwart son, Siddha Vidya Das. I hope that I get his association again in the future.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 8, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

During the 90’s I spent my winters in Miami and regularly went on walking Harinama with Siddhavidya prabhu, and he also would join me for a stationary Harinama I did in downtown Miami. His knack of interacting with people on Harinama was a pleasure to see, and it created a sense of strength in other devotees present. He would acknowledge every passerby and induce them to join in the spirit of kirtan. Often he would enter shops and play the kartals over his head and chant and smile at customers and workers and get them in the spirit of Harinama. Since he was such a regular on routes he took some shops anticipated his arrival and the workers would grab spoons and pots and play along in time with the kirtan. In the many experiences I saw of him entering places I rarely saw anyone becoming irritated by his presence. After a few minutes sometimes an employer would kindly let him know it was enough, but usually he could decide when it was time to move on. Even people eating at sidewalk cafes picked up on his transcendental spirit and got into the kirtan or showed some sign of appreciation. At times a large group of people got in the spirit of Harinama and danced or clapped along with the kirtan.

Associating with Siddhavidya on a personal level was always a pleasure and one I hope to relive as long as possible. He’s honest, humble, intelligent, gracious, steady, and very much appreciated by the community of devotees in Miami. I still visit Miami about every year and he is reason alone for me to visit. Last year we went out on Harinama together and although it was more obvious our time is getting shorter it was good to know we were still on the battlefield doing Harinama as Srila Prabhupada desired.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 6, 2013 @ 8:01 am

Download for free the book “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa-gurus?”

I thought Krishna Kirti’s heavy responses in 40 and 41 were accurate philosophically as well reasonable and appropriate in light of the dubious tactics employed by Akruranatha and Mother Visakha Priya to manipulate their objectives. The half a hen logic could be seen in what Krishna Kirti was getting at – how the GBC referred to tradition to defeat the ritvik theory, and it should be also be applied in this consideration over women diksa gurus. For the illustrious Mother Visakha Priya to resort to the remark about “true colors” and “May Krsna help you” seems to provide a case study why women may not be so suitable to be gurus in itself.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 10, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

I agree with what Sitalatma prabhu states in regard to this book lacking credibility on the basis of misquoted and misappropriated information being found in it. As soon as I understood that from Krishna Kirti prabhu I knew I would not read it because it could be laden with doubtful evidence. Akruranatha prabhu says this should be overlooked as long as general arguments which have been heard are defeated. He also stated he has seen such arguments on Dandavats and Facebook being easily defeated and therefore he’s suggesting everyone should take his word for it and anti-FDG folks should admit defeat, as if they have no good counter arguments of their own. It seems to me more of a battle between the conservatives and the liberals. And it seems from what was apparent from Prabhupada’s example in regards to women being placed in a position of spiritual authority, not to mention any leadership position, he would be on the side of the conservatives. During his time no woman was placed in a post of temple president, GBC or guru. Could the push for women gurus be the western disease of changing things which Prabhupada spoke of? Without a demand of candidates waiting to take initiation from a certain vaisnavi it could seem so.

I noticed no one posted any counter quotes or arguments about quotes I previously posted from the Srimad-Bhagavatam and in Prabhupada’s purports which described that the nature of women was not suited for such a post of diksa guru. It doesn’t seem a good idea to ignore short comings due to the female body even apparent in historically great women devotees like Kunti and Draupadi. The surge of interest to overlook these short comings and assume transcendence to these natural flaws is overly optimistic, and not realistic. That could be why some of us anti-FDG people suspect an agenda on the part of the pro-FDG party, since from our view their view is not substantial.

I still believe there are a few women in ISKCON who could be gurus. I also believe there are several men who would be or are better gurus than any of our present women can be simply because a man’s body is gifted with that proclivity as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. So why not stick with the best according to the Bhagavatam until an extraordinary woman can be distinguished as gifted for the post of diksa-guru?

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 9, 2013 @ 8:41 am

I have some doubts about the ongoing debate of the women diksa guru topic since there is seemingly not a demand of candidates wanting to take initiation from women gurus. Considering a couple of historical ISKCON instances which I’ll mention later it seemed Srila Prabhupada wasn’t inclined to place women in the position of diksa gurus. Also to take an obscure facet of the history of vaisnavism and make an extensive effort to bring it to fruition seems to be bringing more attention to something than it deserves. It can even make one wonder if there is an agenda behind it, such as leveling the playing field and creating more equality between the sexes in ISKCON. That would imply that Prabhupada made some mistake with how he set things up by making distinctions and dividing roles between the sexes. The title of this book “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa-gurus?” seems a bit of a stretch in itself. The title can come off with an impact like, “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Book Distribution?”, but it seems more comparable in utility to a title like, “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Previous Vaisnava Works Translated?”, which has implied restraints on it.

Going on to the historical ISKCON instances which give some indication on how Prabhupada gauged women’s status in the society, originally he wasn’t
even going to give women brahman initiation. It was only when Govinda dasi
and Jadurani put up a big fuss that Prabhupada consented that since the
women and men do things equally in the west he would also give women brahman
initiation. Prabhupada made other adjustments to encourage women such as
having ladies ashrams, but to think he actually “wanted” women gurus is
doubtful. Rather he recommended acting according to qualitative differences (or according to one’s nature) of the sexes than trying to transcend conditioned natures prematurely, which he knew and preached leads to fall down.

The other instance was Prabhupada said he would have Mother Yamuna on the
GBC except that she was a woman. So even though Yamuna was
qualified Prabhupada didn’t put her on the GBC and it’s significant since it shows how much emphasis Prabhupada placed on social status. So it’s doubtful Prabhupada would make any push for women gurus in ISKCON. Anyway, in the absents of a
situation where people in numbers are waiting to be initiated by a
particular vaisnavi it seems this topic could well be put off for a more suitable
time.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Mar 2, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

I read the introduction to this book and liked the regard for vaisnava etiquette expressed as primary to observe over a controversial topic. I did not read further since I am familiar with some good arguments from both sides and could not expect a landslide change in opinion based on one side’s presentation. After reading what Krishna Kirti prabhu had to say my confidence grew that the authors would find the evidence they were searching for to prove their view and I see much less reason to read the book.

The buyer beware proposal which Akruranatha prabhu put forth seems a good barometer to go by for selection of a guru. A candidate can see who inspires them spiritually and then consider the qualifications of a guru and determine who they can place their faith in. If a candidate (notably in a female body) genuinely feels inspired to take shelter of a qualified female guru that is reasonable and should be acceptable.

The buyer beware concept also indicates a leaning towards accepting a guru in a male body. Unless a female guru notably shines forth with spiritual attributes male gurus lack this is a natural conclusion based on historical evidence. It may appear chauvinistic but it is the truth that the guru function is more suitable for souls in male bodies based on characteristic differences (some of which I brought forth from Srimad Bhagavatam texts earlier) between the sexes. Women supercede men in some ways but for the role of guru they don’t save for some gifted exceptions.

A practical example could be considered that if ISKCON had to select someone to represent the organization in a debate on a very large scale such as a nationally televised audience the choice would most definitely be a male representative. Similarly for such a crucial life decision of accepting a guru most informed buyers will go the conventional route of searching for and finding out a qualified male guru instead of considering an alternate route of selecting a female guru.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Feb 27, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Part 2) It would be erroneous to think that either Queen Kunti or Draupadi were in maya by expressing an inability of women to speculate like great philosophers, or to have shown a lack of ability to discriminate. They are among the most exalted women vaisnavas and yet they even showed short comings of being in a female body. So our present women could very well assume to have similar short comings at least, which in the position of accepting disciples is not so desirable. Not that our present men are devoid of short comings either, but for the role of accepting disciples (qualified) men clearly have an advantage over (qualified) women due to having a general superior ability to reason by logic and argument – by being able to bring forth newer and newer arguments based on sastra, and also by having a superior ability to discriminate. The question of how much our men and women have transcended the limits or conditioning of our bodies can be considered as to who is qualified to initiate but these are some general considerations.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Feb 26, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

Part 1) I can think of at least a few ISKCON matajis who I believe are qualified to be initiating gurus based on their knowing the science of Krishna, and by their exhibiting a consistent happy state of consciousness with behavior not influenced by the lower modes of material nature. I believe however that Srila Prabhupada’s statement of “not so many” in regard to female gurus should not be overlooked due to the new enthusiasm of women possibly being given the green light to initiate. Although women may be qualified to initiate, men by nature are more suited for this role than women (as long as the men are also qualified). A definition of guru is heavy which means deep or vast in philosophical understanding and reasoning based on scriptural knowledge. While women are not exempt from having this quality, men by nature more commonly have it as expressed in the following passages from Srimad Bhagavatam and also in Prabhupada’s adjoining purports.

SB 1.8.20: (Queen Kunti speaking) You Yourself descend to propagate the transcendental science of devotional service unto the hearts of the advanced transcendentalists and mental speculators, who are purified by being able to discriminate between matter and spirit. How, then, can we women know You perfectly?

In Prabhupada’s 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.

SB 1.7.42: Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: Draupadī then saw Aśvatthāmā, who was bound with ropes like an animal and silent for having enacted the most inglorious murder. Due to her female nature, and due to her being naturally good and well-behaved, she showed him due respects as a brāhmana.

From purport: Aśvatthāmā was condemned by the Lord Himself, and he was treated by Arjuna just like a culprit, not like the son of a brāhmana or teacher. But when he was brought before Śrīmatī Draupadī, she, although begrieved for the murder of her sons, and although the murderer was present before her, could not withdraw the due respect generally offered to a brāhmana or to the son of a brāhmana. This is due to her mild nature as a woman. Women as a class are no better than boys, and therefore they have no discriminatory power like that of a man.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Feb 26, 2013 @ 11:56 am

A sober reply to Mother Govinda Dasi ACBSP

I know it could be considered as a booby prize (sorry for the pun, but that is an accurate phrase) by devotees in favor of women gurus, but there is a way to settle this issue which in no way categorizes women as inferior in spiritual status or achievement to men. Since giving diksa can be considered a formality, and since it’s still up to any disciple to ascertain who is their primary guide, whether siksa or diksa, let spiritually advanced women allow advanced men to continue performing diksa, and then in cases where women are the primary guides for initiates assume the role as the disciple’s primary guru. To argue against this seems to be arguing for a sense of status which is supposed to not be of great importance to devotees. In this way the western public can know there are women gurus in ISKCON, which could help preaching in the west, and the arguments for tradition of the east won’t be violated since the diksa function is still clearly reserved for men.

I also liked the point Pusta Krishna prabhu elaborated on – that a devotee should be able to consider various elements and persons as gurus, if we are open to seeing the direction Krishna is placing us in. This goes along with although devotees have a primary guru, we can also be benefited by the association of many other gurus or devotees.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 11, 2013 @ 1:35 am

How Will the Forthcoming Eclipses Affect You?

Dear Somayaji Prabhu,

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

Coming from someone who did a course at Krishna’s School of Hard Knocks for being a perpetrator of vaisnava aparadha I was not surprised to see that you belittled the good counsel offered you by some devotees regarding your mood of presentation in your articles in this colomn. No one has recommended you to be a sycophant or to be untruthful. That is a cop out on your part to suggest this and it really is just another offense since it suggests you are dismissing yourself from the association of those who advocate untruthful sycophancy. The devotees have your interest at heart and they want you to come to a deeper level of spiritual understanding for your own good. We are on the path of bhakti and that means applying what is favorable for the advancement of bhakti. That requires spiritual intelligence. Just like in the case of Yudhisthira Maharaja when he failed to lie on Krishna’s order to say “Asvattama is dead” his attachment to truthfulness was his spiritual misfortune. The important thing was to carry out Krishna’s interest over all other considerations. For representing truth Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita 17.15: “Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature”. Srila Prabhupada also said, “Discretion is the better part of valor”. So a devotee is not crass or oblivious in his presentation. What we also have to consider is that Krishna is the giver of bhakti and He is also the withholder of bhakti. If we are offensive to Krishna’s devotees there is no hope of achieving bhakti. We should also be able to appreciate devotees since they are dear to Krishna. This is so important because without this understanding we will have difficulty staying on the path of bhakti. When I was going through my dark period of vaisnava aparadha many years back I saw my bhakti lata drying up and I realized if I didn’t change my attitude I would not remain a devotee. So when I see a devotee display similar unhealthy devotional symptoms I hope to lend a hand (as other devotees have done for you) so that you can progress spiritually. I saw an intellectual devotee friend do down a negative spiral with vaisnava aparadha and he has yet to resurface after some years. He was speaking near the end like someone out of touch with reality. Krishna let him go.

ys, Sankarsana das

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 24, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

I heard a recent class given by Radhanatha Swami in Los Angeles in which he was speaking about an important quality of a devotee is being non-envious. He said in the mundane world if a painter rises to success a farmer does not care. It is only another painter who becomes envious and tries to discredit the success of his competitor. He went on to say that in Krishna consciousness a devotee should appreciate the accomplishments of another devotee who excels in a service similar to their own. The purport of this is that the mean-spirited and righteous articles submitted by a couple of devotees who have some knowledge of astrology have missed the essence of the Krishna conscious spirit of appreciating the credibility and efforts of another prabhu knowledgeable in their field. Such antagonists may see this comment and think “Who’s this simpleton?” and continue on their rampage of discrediting Patita Pavana in some form or other and go on attempting to prove who is right. But vaisnava aparadha is never right and this is a much more critical matter to get right along with appreciating other devotee “competitors” and giving them the benefit of the doubt. This is especially applicable to such a senior devotee as Patita Pavana Prabhu who should be respected and honored for his long standing service to Srila Prabhupada. This is not to say that questions, doubts and corrections can’t be introduced, but these should be done with humility or vaisnava etiquette for bringing forth a deeper understanding of the matter for all. Amen.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 21, 2009 @ 6:46 am

Thanks for the heads up with your article Patita Pavana Prabhu. Although much of it describing astrological influences was beyond me what I certainly gathered from it is I have to step up my Krishna consciousness if I hope to be pardoned from the grimness of this situation.

» Posted By Sankarsana das On Dec 11, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

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