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Comments Posted By Urmila

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The Hot Issue – Female Diksa Guru

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

At the request of Devaki devi dasi, I am making some corrections to my previous comments. Please excuse my misunderstandings of her service.

She is no longer the official vice-president in Dhaka. She gives vision and direction in several temples in Bangladesh – in Dhaka, and also Chittagong and Sylhet, introducing the Prabhupada marathon and also Prabhupada’s vision on Deity worship, and other things.

She never had anything to do with organizing the Ukrainian festival. She has been visiting Ukraine as a preacher for the last 14 years, and gives every year a seminar at this festival. She *is* the main person who brought this festival to three other countries: Bangladesh, Nepal and Scandinavia, and is overseeing the whole event there as a mother hosting it.

She also didn’t own a business, but over ten years ago was doing extensive and successful fundraising for ISKCON Bangladesh and Nepal.

Devaki devi dasi does already have siksa disciples, some of whom request diksa from her. You can read more about her here: http://www.theholynameretreat.net/devaki-dd.html

My hope and prayer is that diksa guru in ISKCON cease being perceived as some sort of title, or institutional position, and be restored to its sastric and traditional understanding of a personal relationship between student and teacher, devoid of institutional pomp and fanfare. Throughout the world, both men and women are teachers. There is nothing particularly masculine or feminine about being a teacher–what to speak of being a teacher of transcendence. Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada ask all of us to be such teachers of transcendence. And some of those teachers will have a formal relationship of initiating their students into the sampradaya. It’s a service, not a title. And it’s a service of sacrifice, like being a mother. May we all fulfill Prabhupada’s desire to have 100,000 gurus.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Nov 22, 2013 @ 5:46 am

Obeisances. Jaya Prabhupada!

While I disagree slightly with some points of Devaki devi dasi’s presentation here, I have served with her on GBC committee work and find her totally dedicated to the spiritual care of devotees in the many countries in which she serves. She radiates warmth, caring, friendship, and a no-nonsense dedication to Prabhupada’s mission. She is uncompromising in her spiritual practice.

Devaki devi dasi is a great preacher. She lives as a renunciate depending only on the Lord for her maintenance and protection. She is the long-time vice-president of ISKCON Dhaka, Bangaladesh, and one of the main organizers of the Ukraine festival. She has been very successful at business and fundraising, and takes a lot of managerial responsibility in the Hare Krishna Movement in a leadership role. Many men and women, including senior men in ISKCON, hear from her and find her inspiring. She teaches sastra as well as practical seminars in many countries and has thousands of students. Although she has no biological children, she radiates a motherly and caring mood toward all she guides and takes responsibility for. Her own intelligence is not obscured by some sort of mundane feminine cloud–rather her heart and mind are clear in the light of bhakti.

Perhaps some of her students have already established a relationship with her as their siksa guru. If not, I assume that such will happen someday, and perhaps some of them may ask her for diksa, and perhaps her guru will also ask her to take up that service, as Prabhupada asked of all of his disciples to do. I hope and pray that if and when such happens, she will expand the generations of devotees with the same dedication that she shows in her service at present.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Nov 21, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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).

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Nov 20, 2013 @ 11:55 pm

Powerful Food For Thought

Obeisances. Jaya Prabhupada! I find it fascinating, sad, and amazing that Prabhupada’s instructions to men (not to women!) to see and address women other than their wife as ‘mother’ have spawned a concocted philosophy about women’s roles in society. Prabhupada explained that this cultural (not spiritual) instruction from Canakya Pandita serves the purpose of men seeing women other than their wife in a non-sexual way. There is never any instruction from sadhu-sastra-guru for women to call other women mother, or to call themselves mother, or to see this cultural address as something spiritual, or to then make up all sorts of explanations about women’s positions based on something cultural and practical–men seeing women other than their wife non-sexually, as they would see their mother. Unless women have wives, how can they see other women “except their wife” as mother?
Of course, in a natural society both men and women marry young and become parents at a young age. So, for the majority of women to become biological mothers in their youth is the way of nature and, for most women, is helpful to make the mind peaceful for spiritual life. So, if we really and truly want to apply sadhu-sastra-guru to women’s cultural role in society, let us help young people to find good spouses and encourage them to raise godly children.
But most important is that we all develop bhakti and see ourselves as the servants of everyone, especially all other devotees. Most important is that we free ourselves from upadhis and come to the platform of “I’m a servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna.”
Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 15, 2013 @ 7:07 am

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

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In the society envisioned by the author of this article in Dandavats, we would not be able to read this other article: http://news.iskcon.com/node/4233/2012-03-03/mumbais_bhaktin_radhika_breaks_book_distribution_records#ixzz2GjMdfN00

Your servant

» Posted By Urmila On Jan 17, 2013 @ 9:38 am

The Best of Both Worlds

This post is excellent testimony to the power of studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. HH Bhakti svarupadamodara Maharaja personally told me that Prabhupada had instructed him to combine the BI with gurukula in terms of developing curriculum. This cooperation between primary/secondary education and the MI must please his Divine Grace very much.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Sep 23, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

“I do not want to be a woman in varnashrama”

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for this article. I have personally concluded that a woman’s place in varnasrama is not well understood. A philosophy and social organization that are true, that come from the Absolute Truth, must be one that provides each individual with authentic personal expression both material and spiritual. If we understand a social system to mandate that a person’s nature is repressed (which Krishna advises against) then such a system must not be fully true. Because I believe varnasrama to be a system of truth, I also believe it must be a system where both men and women can authentically express both their ashrama and varna natures and to do so in such a way as to nourish and allow full expression of their spiritual nature.

I have found that those who say women do not need such expression cannot live what they preach and end up being who they are anyway. Such is what Krishna predicts in the third and eighteenth chapter of the Gita–our choice is not to repress our nature, nor to artificially do another nature. Our choice is to use our nature properly in devotional service, or improperly for maya. We each–yes, women, too–have three aspects to our nature. One is spiritual and eternal. One is varna and for this life. It changes from one life to the next. The other is ashrama that changes as we age in life. All three need authentic expression in Krishna’s service, whether one is male or female, black, white, brown or otherwise.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jul 10, 2011 @ 1:34 am

My Brief Against Feminism

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Anyone who is interested in guru/sadhu/sastra on this issue can read the paper on female disksa gurus at http://www.dandavats.com/?page_id=506 The GBC accepted this paper and approved, in 2009, the idea that women could initiate disciples in ISKCON.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 24, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you, Sita devi dasi, for your comment 350 which makes things very clear and helps me appreciate your concerns, your courage, and your dedication to your service.

I offer my obeisances to all those participating on this comment thread and reading it who recognize the pivotal role of women in whether a society is stable or unstable, even when we do not agree on all areas of application.

“Wherever there are individuals there is bound to be difference of opinion.” (Letter to Rupanuga, 14 February, 1973) “If there is sometimes slight disagreements between devotees, it is not due to impersonalism, but it is because they are persons, and such disagreements should not be taken very seriously.” (Letter to Atreya ,4 February, 1972) “I am very much stressing nowadays that my students shall increase their reading of my books and try to understand them from different angles of vision. Each sloka can be seen from many, many angles of vision.” (Letter to Tribhuvanatha, 16th June, 1972) “Just like in your country there are political parties, Democratic …Republican. Although they are party, their aim is how to develop the country… So don’t think the party means some opposite party. No. Everyone has got for the advanced devotee to serve the Lord in a particular way so that the Lord may be more satisfied. That is their intention. Sometimes we also have some parties in the temple… everyone wants that “I shall serve the Lord in this particular way.” We cannot change the original rules and regulation, but there is variety. We are not impersonalist. Every person has got to serve the Lord in a particular way, and that is allowed. The central point is Krsna. So although there are parties, if the central point is Krsna, so there is no dissension. It is a competition, that “My Godbrother, my Godsister, is serving such a way. She is so well versed in this art. Why not try myself to do something?” This is variety. That is not this ordinary party strife if we make Krsna the center.” (lecture Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.15 Dallas, March 4, 1975)

Offering all respects to the sanga of Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis here, I regret that due to pressing family and service responsibilities, I do not have time at present to continue adding to this discussion. Begging your forgiveness, I remain

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jul 20, 2011 @ 9:05 am

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In response to comment 340 quoted here:

Dear Mataji,

Hari Bol.

Could you explain the meaning of what you are trying to say in this text. It really seems unrelated to the whole comment thread.

yhs
MMdd

and in response to comment 343 quoted here:

Dear Urmila Devi. I like your explanation to instruct us better in devotional service! I am ten years of aspiring service and not chosen guru maharaja. To me topics like dandavats inspire me to work better in spiritual consiciousness so I know Krsna speaks through devotees. I hope you will kindly give more explanation about your post about Caitanya caritamrita.

yours in service
bhaktin lisanne
Mtl

Dear Madana Mohini devi dasi and Bhaktin Lisanne,

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This comment thread is to some extent about the subject of my class-the educating of children in Krishna consciousness. It is also to a greater extent about whether or not I, in a woman’s body, should be giving a class, or any instruction at all, in the presence of superiors according to ashrama, gender, and managerial position. I posted that quote (CC Madhya 25.267) to show that superiors have, as part of their duty, asking inferiors to speak and give instruction in their presence. Doing so is part of the training of the juniors.

My point is that if the superior instructs the junior to speak or give instructions in the presence of the superior (and/or other superiors), then deference to the others’ seniority takes the form of speaking in their presence.

Who has asked me to speak/ordered me to speak and preach? My guru, Srila Prabhupada, my local GBC (various ones over many years), my husband, my sons, and the local ISKCON authorities at places where I speak.

I hope that is clear.

I have also asked–and never received a reply–as to why those who feel a junior should never preach or give instructions in the presence of superiors are giving instructions on this thread although their superiors (in the way they define superiors) are present. I believe their reasons for doing so are not that much different from mine.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jul 18, 2011 @ 5:58 am

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu broadcast the purpose of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He sometimes spoke for the benefit of His devotees and sometimes empowered one of His devotees to speak while He listened.

PURPORT: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as an ideal teacher, or acarya, explained Srimad-Bhagavatam very elaborately Himself. He sometimes also empowered His devotees to speak while He listened. This is the way an acarya should train his disciples. Not only should he describe the Bhagavata cult personally, but he should also train his disciples to speak on this sublime subject.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 25.267

» Posted By Urmila On Jul 14, 2011 @ 1:39 am

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

Thank you, Sita Rama, for your comments. Yes, in Mayapur the morning classes were given by sannyasis, householders, vanaprasthas, GBC, non-GBC etc.

Prabhupada writes, “Materially a woman may be less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction. Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no such gradation of higher and lower. If a woman can lecture nicely and to the point, we should hear her carefully. That is our philosophy. But if a man can speak better than a woman, the man should be given first preference. But even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and women.” Letter to: Jayagovinda — Los Angeles 8 February, 1968

Please note that Prabhupada says preference should only be given to a man if the man can speak better (not according to age or varnasrama or gender), and that all sincere souls should be given a chance to speak. In order to fulfill that desire of Srila Prabhupada, senior people sometimes will request juniors to speak. Yes, the quote of SB 3.4.26 says the junior should not be eager to speak in the presence of a senior, but if the senior requests or orders, then the junior should follow the order of the senior.

Here is an example, in an unrelated topic, of this same principle:
“It is the duty of a chaste wife, devoted to her husband, not to utter her husband’s name, but all of you chant the name of Krsna. How can this be called a religious principle?” ..Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “You do not know religious principles. Actually, the first duty of a chaste woman is to carry out the order of her husband. “The order of Krsna is to chant His name incessantly. Therefore one who is chaste and adherent to the husband Krsna must chant the Lord’s name, for she cannot deny the husband’s order. (CC. Antya 104, 106-107)

I continue to be confused as to why some of the women unconditionally opposed to women “imparting instructions” in the presence of superiors are writing comments here, even if their husbands are dictating every word. Or even if someone has requested to (since they seem to feel such requests should be disregarded). By age, time in Krishna consciousness, position of the person’s guru, and ashrama status, the seniors of these women *and their husbands* are writing here.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jul 1, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Because 50-150 new people a day are reading this thread, some friends convinced me that I should continue to contribute at least from time to time….

I just finished giving a Bhagavatam class on 1.10.23 and was meditating on the fact that verses 21-30 in that chapter are the words of women of Hastinapura glorifying Lord Sri Krishna. Those women are not just giving a class about Bhagavatam–those women’s words and realizations are the very Bhagavatam itself. Highly elevated men and women have read, heard, and meditated upon those words of women for thousands of years.

Certainly, Ram Mohan Prabhu (comment 283), if a person wants to elevate themselves they should follow the advice of the Bhagavatam:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam

Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
SB 1.2.17

I do not have any good qualities and yet I practically experience that speaking about Krishna is the most wonderful and enlivening activity possible anywhere, for anyone. If we want to elevate the people of the world, we should engage everyone in this process. It is most amazing. Thank you, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for opening the floodgates, and thank you, Srila Prabhuapda, for bringing this sweetness of Bhagavatam hearing and chanting to the world. I also deeply respect, and am grateful for, the traditionalists who have contributed to this thread and elsewhere (I consider myself a traditionalist, as well, though some will disagree!) because they want to uphold standards of proper behavior in order to have a foundation for spiritual life.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jun 21, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

While preparing for the class I’m giving tomorrow on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.20, I thought these statements from Prabhupada’s purport to that verse would be enlivening to those following this thread:

“The ladies, who were all absorbed in the thought and actions of the Lord, developed the consciousness of Vedic wisdom by the grace of the Lord. And therefore although such ladies might not have been very learned scholars in Sanskrit or otherwise, still whatever they spoke was more attractive than the Vedic hymns. The Vedic hymns in the Upaniṣads are sometimes indirectly directed to the Supreme Lord. But the talks of the ladies were directly spoken of the Lord, and thus they were more pleasing to the heart. The ladies’ talks appeared to be more valuable than the learned brāhmaṇas’ benedictions.”

and, now I need to supervise the grandkids doing their chores and then cook lunch.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jun 15, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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

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

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

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

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

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 24, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

Dear Atmavidya Prabhu,Obeisances. Glories to Prabhupada!

Regarding your comment #109

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

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

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

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

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 19, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

Dear Atmavidya Prabhu,

Obeisances. Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In regards to your comment #110

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

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

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

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 19, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

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

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

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

All glories to our Vaisnava family!

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 18, 2011 @ 12:37 am

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

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

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 18, 2011 @ 12:24 am

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

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

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 15, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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

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

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

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 15, 2011 @ 2:09 am

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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

If you would like to see the video of the class, go to: http://www.mayapurtvarchives.com/search/label/Urmila

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

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 10, 2011 @ 6:54 am

Re: comment #16

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Apr 8, 2011 @ 6:01 am

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

“So I am very glad that you both, husband and wife, are executing the mission of Lord Caitanya so nicely and faithfully. Please continue to act like that and certainly Lord Caitanya will bestow all His blessings and power upon you. Personally I am so much engladdened that the pairs of young boys and girls whom I have placed in householder life are doing so nicely in the Western world. When Lord Caitanya delivered Jagai and Madhai He was also a householder, but when Jagai and Madhai were actually reclaimed, His wife, Visnupriya, was not there. But in this case and in many other cases also, I find that my disciples combined together, husband and wife, are doing this preaching work so nicely. So I am especially proud how my householder disciples are preaching Lord Caitanya’s Mission. This is a new thing in the history of the Sankirtana Movement. In India all the acaryas and their descendants later on acted only from the man’s side. Their wives were at home because that is the system from old times that women are not required to go out. But in Bhagavad-gita we find that women are also equally competent like the men in the matter of Krishna Consciousness Movement. Please therefore carry on these missionary activities, and prove it by practical example that there is no bar for anyone in the matter of preaching work for Krishna Consciousness.”

Letter to: Himavati — London 20 December, 1969

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

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

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Mar 30, 2011 @ 5:20 am

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabupada!

It is Prabhupada’s analogy.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Mar 10, 2011 @ 1:20 am

Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth

Hare Krishna!

I am glad that Ratnavali’s story has provoked discussion of these important considerations. Krishna Himself says that the unperfected yogi comes back to get another chance.

Whether an individual believes Ratnavali or not, many people are inspired by her story, and she has great courage to come public with it. I know her personally, and she is a very stable, solid, and honest person.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

The Diary of Ratnavali Devi Das

Obeisances. glories to Prabhupada!

It takes a LOT of courage to come forward and discuss something publicly like this–so much criticism results. The main result of Ratnavali’s realizations is that she is extremely serious about attaining spiritual perfection in this life. We applaud whatever brings us closer to Krishna.

Thanks, Ratnavali, for sharing your wonderful story that is inspiring so many and bringing these topics to public discussion.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

Forget Me Not

Dear Praghosa Prabhu,

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I do not think we can offer specific scriptural guidance for the exact process by which children who are born via C-section also forget. Some empirical evidence is that people who remember their C-section births via hypnosis decribe them as far more tramatic when compared to those who describe memories of natural births. The descriptions are of a shock of being ripped from the mother. It is described as terrifying.

Major life transitions are always difficult, and, generally, when they happen in a gradual way they are easier to deal with. I think most of us would like at least a few moments to prepare for death, for example. Natural birth allows for the child’s body and mind to gradually adjust to a very different environment.

And, some children do not forget, regardless of the method of birth.

I hope this is helpful.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jun 13, 2008 @ 6:39 am

Please accept my obeisances. All gloires to Srila Prabhupada!

I am concerned that some elements of the posting could encourage Caesarean Sections, which greately increase dangers for both mother and baby and are already performed far more than is necessary or healthy. It is far more likely for children to remember Krishna if we live our lives as He intended, in a natural way. Prabhupada certainly recommends natural birth:

“I understand you are now expecting a nice child for raising in Krishna Consciousness. In this connection, you should avoid any spicy foods so long the child is within the womb. So far this soy sauce, I have no personal experience with it. I understand soy beans are nice, but I do not know about this soy sauce. So far natural childbirth is concerned natural delivery is possible if we keep ourselves naturally. And so far I know that a pregnant woman should not eat any pungent food stuffs, she should not move in cars, and she should not sit idly. She should move and do some physical work. These are the general rules and regulations I have seen in India, and they have natural delivery. But so far your country is concerned, and especially the situation of the women here, that is a different thing. I cannot say definitely what is to be done. And under the circumstances, the best thing is to consult a doctor as they usually do. And after all, Krishna is the ultimate master, so if we keep the natural habits and depend on Krishna, then everything will be done nicely without any difficulty.”
Letter to: Satyabhama — Hawaii 24 March, 1969

I have attended and assisted with dozens of births of devotee children and would suggest that the best service to do for the child at such a time is for the mother to be focused on Krishna, and to chant to the newly born child.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On Jun 11, 2008 @ 7:18 am

Happy Dolls

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The fact that Srila Prabhupada expresses a desire or gives an order does not by itself assure “success” in a superficial, exteral and mundane sense. Krishna ordered the cowherd boys to beg from teh yajnic brahmanas, and they returned a failure. Many many other such examples could be given. The success is whether or not guru and Krishna are pleased by the endeavor, not necessarily the external “results.”

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila On May 16, 2008 @ 2:01 am

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