Comments Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa

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Bhaktivinode Thakura and Varnasrama

Balakrsna Prabhu,
Referring to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings you say, “If there is a contradiction in Manu Samhita and the teaching of the Gita or Bhagavatam regarding varnashrama then we can assume it is an interpolation and only accept the conclusions of the Gita and Bhagavatam.”.
I find this statement incomplete. In truth we can assume interpolation, OR INAPPLICABILITY,of any Vedic text if we find it contradicts the Gita, Bhagavatam, OR ANYTHING SRILA PRABHUPADA SAID OR ANY POLICIY HE ESTABLISHED REGARDING WOMEN, OR ANY OTHER ISSUE.
If we can err by skipping over Acahryas we can also err by skipping to texts that have possibly been tampered with. We know Srila Prabhupada is aware of the difference between what is genuine and what is an interpolation and what is ,or is not, applicable to ISKCON. A Vedabase search on Manu Samhita gives 228 hits. That is all we need to know about it!.
When we go to the direct text, we then must argue with our limited ability weather something is an interpolation or not, and weather something is applicable or not. This is a distractions which undermines the fundamental principal that we can ,and should, rely exclusively on the teaching of Srila Prabhupada- which give the most authoritative instructions on how to attain the goal of all Vedic Scriptures.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 13.02.2013 @ 02:57

Mother Vishaka Priya,
Thank you so much for sharing the wisdom of Srila Bhativinoda Thakura, and explaining the logical connection between it and several points currently being debated in ISKCON.
Sometimes we hear Srila Prabhupada make a point, then when we hear it explained by another Viasnava authority and this helps us understand what our ultimate authority, Srila Prabhupada ,is saying.
For example, at the sannyasa initiation of Gurudasa Prabhu(San Francisco ,July 21, 1975) Srila Prabhupada says, ” His wife is also great devotee, you know, Yamunä. So now Yamunä has taken a very nice path. She has also become sannyäséné. Although there is no sannyäséné for women, but she has voluntarily taken.She is doing very nice; therefore I advised her husband that “You also take sannyäsa.”
So some would say that this is a precedent for women sannyasa to become a norm in ISKCON. Others will bring up quotes against women sannyas and say it is absolutely forbidden while simple ignoring Srila Prabhupada statements above. Other people know that neither of these extremes is correct and call for a nuanced understanding. But those with a political agenda are often expert at framing a nuanced perspective as the opposite of their extreme view, in other words they polarize views that are not in total agreement with their own. Therefore it is valuable to have an authoritative statement which explains why Srila Prbhpada’s says their is no sannyasa for women and at the same time calls Mother Yamuna a sannyasini.
I am referring to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s point “Women are allowed to enter the grhastha asrama and vanaprastha asrama only. Though some women, being exceptionally qualified, achieving high education, expert understanding of scripture and great expertise, may become a brahmacari or sannyasi, it is not the normal rule, as women are usually of weaker body, faith and discriminating power.”

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 10.02.2013 @ 03:40

Not male or female, the real question is who is qualified?

I find Srila Prabhupadas explanation of the topic above to be extremely clear (see purport to verse 5 of, “The Nectar of Instruction”).
Srila Prabhupada says, “A neophyte Vaiñëava or a Vaiñëava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikäré as a spiritual master.”
Srila Prabnupada explains that we can understand the inner level of ones chanting, by observing their behavior, which is a manifestation of their level of faith.
The neophyte stage is described as, “A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a präkåta-bhakta, or kaniñöha-adhikäri.” Srila Prabhupada says this person’s faith is soft and pliable.
In contrast the madhyama adhikare has firm faith described by Srila Prabhupada , “Çraddhä means accepting the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä in their totality, especially the last instruction: sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja. “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.” Srila Prabhupada goes on to say, “A person whose conclusive knowledge of the çästras is not very strong but who has developed firm faith in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra and who is also undeterred in the execution of his prescribed devotional service should be considered a madhyama-adhikäré.
The uttama adhikare is described, “When a person realizes himself to be an eternal servitor of Kåñëa, he loses interest in everything but Kåñëa’s service. Always thinking of Kåñëa, devising means by which to spread the holy name of Kåñëa, he understands that his only business is in spreading the Kåñëa consciousness movement all over the world. Such a person is to be recognized as an uttama-adhikäré”,and further, “Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikäré Vaiñëava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaiñëavism.”
Prior to the reform of the mid 1980’s one might say the guru’s were, “rubber stamped”; but now the GBC simply gives the green light if a devotee determines a person is qualified to initiate them.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 21.01.2013 @ 00:10

Response to Bhaktarupa and Madhavananda prabhus recent post on “Education and Guruship of Vaishnavis”

Sitalatma Prabhu,
Your concerns are based on a framework of questioning the compatibility of FDG with the practical nature of the material world and the culture of ISKCON society. The framework of some other arguments is that FDG is absolutely forbidden and/or, women are incapable of knowing the science of Krishna to a sufficient degree. I have argued that the second framework is objectively wrong. I cannot take such a strong stance against your framework.
It seems hard to deny that there are healthy concerns that need to be addressed. There are many healthy concerns regarding male gurus which have been addressed by the GBC as numerous laws and guidelines; and I suspect that there will be some specific to FDG when FDG is actually implemented.
Those adamantly opposed to FDG, per se, have presented an argument to the GBC; I think it would be good to prepare a list of healthy concerns within your framework for the GBC to consider.
I believe arguments within your framework can lead to a dialogue wherein perspectives from each side add to a more complete understanding. I believe the other framework is divisive, and the logic involved in it could lead to numerous fallacious conclusions.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 18.01.2013 @ 05:55

Gokula Candra Prabhu,
You wrote, “Sloka doesn’t say that they are independent diksa gurus who travel all around the world without their husbands and initiate both men and women.” It seems you are implying that the duty of a diksha guru is to travel around the world alone and preach. But traveling alone to preach is the dharma of the sanyasi, we all know that one does not have to be a sanyasi ,or artificially adopt the lifestyle of a sanyasi ,in order to be a guru.
It is wrong for a man or women to neglect their household duties. Therefore we see that the eternally transcendental pure devotee Srila Prabhupada never neglected his household duties as an example for the conditioned souls to follow. But no one has the authority to say one must be a snayasi( with no household duties) in order to be a guru because this is directly opposed to Lord Caitanya’s teaching that one can be a guru in any varna or asrama. Individuals must take all measures that are needed to ensure that being a guru does not make one incapable of performing their occupational responsibilities. One might argue that certain measures are required; but to ban women per se is not justified because they are not necessarily caring for children ,or serving their husband full time, throughout their entire lifetime.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 16.01.2013 @ 23:29

You wrote; ““On top of it he never allowed equal education for boys and girls for this is against sastric instructions. And later; “As quoted above Srimad Bhagavatam says no equal education for woman and Srila Prabhupada follows the same conclusion, that boys were thought different knowledge and the girls different.”
Of course it would be absurd to say that boys and girls should be given equal education regarding their duties in household life. But it does not logically follow that women are not taught the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. Srila Prabhupada undeniably engaged women in preaching ; for them to do this they must have an education in Vedic knowledge. Therefore Srila Prabhupada says:
“I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program.” (Letter to Hamsaduta on Jan 3, 1969). And elsewhere, “Women in our movement can also preach very nicely. Actually male and female bodies, these are just outward designations. Lord Caitanya said that whether one is brahmana or whatever he may be if he knows the science of Krsna then he is to be accepted as guru.” (Letter to Malati, December 25, 1974)(cited in “Women Diksha Gurus, Yes But Not So Many, SP, by Ajamila Prabhu).
You have cited a conversation wherein Srila Prabhupada says girls should be taught to serve their husbands; cooking, sewing etc. This ends with Srila Prabhupada saying , “They should be stopped, this practice of prostitution. This is a very bad system in Europe and America. The boys and girls, they are educated-coeducation. From the very beginning of their life they become prostitutes. And they encourage.”
You have given no evidence as to exactly what Srila Prabhupada wanted stopped ,but he mentions coeducation. There is nothing in this conversation which can be accepted as Srila Prabhupda forbidding girls from being taught Vedic philosophy because we know for a fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted women to acquire the Bhaktivedanta title and preach.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 16.01.2013 @ 23:27

Gokula Candra Prabhu,
The main thrust of your argument seems to be that in traditional Vedic society the role of women was to serve their husbands and be mothers. This is an indisputable fact. You also acknowledge:
“Do you remember example from Krsna Book- where brahmanas were engaged in fire sacrifices and their wives were at home. And this was their glory, they did not know how to do sacrifice but they knew how to please Krsna. They were better devotees than their husbands without doing fire sacrifice.”
The point is, as with men engaged in their occupational duties, women can please Krishna by engaging in their occupation. This is also an indisputable fact, reiterated by various examples in the scriptures, including Krishna statement in BG that all can approach the supreme destination.
We cannot ignore the teaching of the Yuga Avatar, Lord Caitanya and the verse by Him, quoted numerous times by Srila Prabhupada; one example being:
Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. [break] In our material world, is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor.( see, “Female Diksha Gurus - “Yes. But, Not So Many.” Sp” by Ajamila dasa ACBSP).
You say that women can please Krishna; and we must agree that pleasing Krishna is the science of Krishna and that is the qualification for being guru. Thus to deny that women can be guru is to deny the statements of Lord Caitanya as explained by Srila Prabhupada. No amount of previous history can trump the direct teaching of the Avatar and Acharya of the current age.
Your argument is that male gurus in ISKCON are bonafide but women gurus are unauthorized because we do not find that to be common in past Vedic history. Your argument is incomplete unless you can show that in Vedic history, communities of male gurus were generally comprised of men who were converted to Viasnavism from the yavana and melaccha class, as is the situation in ISKCON today. In other words, if you require a precedent to support the position you are opposed to you should be able to provide a precedent supporting the position you are in favor of.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 16.01.2013 @ 05:05

Varnasrama: Protection or Exploitation!

Nataraja Prabhu,
Please forgive me if I have failed to understand you. Right now it seems you are saying that for a woman to be qualified to be guru she must not neglect her occupational duties. I agree, and add that is true in every way. One mataji wanted to have another woman take care of her child so she could do pujari work. Srila Prabhupada wrote that he was surprised, and said for her, baby worship is more important than Diety worship.
Devotees do not neglect their family duty, we see the example of the Founder Achraya , Srila Prabhupada. He preached as much as possible while he was married, but he fulfilled the household duty.
I was taught, in the early 1980’s that am man giving a Bhagavatam class is giving empty words if he is unkind to his family. Charity must begin at home. I can only say that we teach that the disciple must be intelligent and see these things. In fact if we are doing our duty as disciple, and scrutinizing the potential guru correctly, we will not accept a guru who is not qualified.
To be an ISCKOPN guru the GBC says they have,”no objection”. It is up to the potential disciple to determine if they feel someone is able to be their guru. As for inside marriages, if the husband and wife have a firm relationship they will both decide if the woman should, or should not, be a guru.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 28.12.2012 @ 21:39

I want to make one last attempt to explain my entire position. I do not claim to have the wisdom to know precisely how the topic of women gurus should be managed: that is up to the GBC. But I object to certain types of arguments.
I believe Mother Phalini’s opposition to women’s gurus uses a legitimate framework. That framework is in regard to whether women gurus are incompatible with the practical realities of this material world. It was simply my humble opinion that her arguments within that framework were not effective.
There are two other frames; that women are categorically incapable of the level of spiritual advancement required to be a diksha guru, and historical Vedic teaching as well as Srila Prabhupada’s instructions prohibit women gurus. It is these arguments which I feel compelled to repudiate as objectively wrong.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 28.12.2012 @ 02:55

Sitalatma Prabhu,
You say, “There’s another list there where women could be considered under the category “whatever” but that is a rather loose interpretation, it’s not direct evidence.” I assume you are not aware of Srila Prabhupada answer when directly questioned about this subject:
“Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. [break]( see Women Guru’s: Yes But Not So Many SP) by Ajamila Prabhu”
In ISKCON we do not accept Srila Prabhupada’s answers about the meaning of verses as a relative opinion, or an interpretation; and we certainly do not consider them, “loose”. He is the Founder Acharya and he says that this verse applies to women. When Srila Prabhupada is questioned directly on a subject his answer is direct evidence.
You also say, “The quote about word guru equally applicable to diksa guru as well as all other kind of gurus is in response to a particular argument from caste brahmanas. It doesn’t mean that the same answer would be given if the argument was raised about women desiring to give out diksa.”
You then say, “Also, if we accept that there’s no distinction between diksa and siksa gurus, then why this big push to legitimize this transition from siksa to diksa?”
The cast brahmana’s were trying to make a false distinction between siksha and diksha to prohibit other castes from initiating. The point is, if there is no distinction you cannot say siksha is allowed and prohibit dikhsa. You are arguing that there is no distinction but also saying the distinction of allowing women siksha gurus and prohibiting diksha guru should remain. This is not logical. The push may be to make our policies logical and consistent with the scriptures.

Comment Posted By Sita Rama dasanudasa On 28.12.2012 @ 02:29


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