Comments Posted By acyutadasa.nrs
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Nice post, Brijabasi Prabhu. It reminded me of one of the appendices from Sivarama Swami’s latest book, Nava-vraja-mahima. The following excerpt is from an appendix titled “Deliberation on the Ages of Krsna and His associates,” in which Maharaja addresses (among other things) the timeline you’ve posted here. Isn’t it surprising that Krsna started herding the calves at age two, or that he danced with the gopis at age eight?
Here’s the excerpt (edited for length):
That Kåñëa’s nava-yavana age and qualities fully manifest themselves in Våndävana leads one to the conclusion that He left for Mathurä in His fifteenth year. And Rüpa Gosvämé’s analysis of Kåñëa’s three primary ages as being five years each confirms that conclusion. Çrémad-Bhägavatam, however, says that Kåñëa lived in Våndävana for only eleven years before leaving for Mathurä. By that account He left Våndävana at the beginning of adolescence, not the end.
Çré Uddhava says to Vidura:
“Thereafter, His father, being afraid of Kaàsa, brought Him to the cow pastures of Mahäräja Nanda, and there He lived for eleven years like a covered flame with His elder brother, Baladeva.” (SB 3.2.26)
…Accepting that both statements must be correct, it is justified to wonder, “Is there a way to reconcile the two different ages?”
Luckily, Jéva Gosvämé has given a hint. In discussing the five-year periods given for each of Kåñëa’s three ages, the äcärya says, “This is a general description. Kåñëa should be understood to be special.” (Durgama-saìgamané 2.1.309)
And to our further good fortune, Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura further elaborates on this subject. He explains that Uddhava has correctly measured Kåñëa’s stay in Vraja at eleven years, but within that time the Lord progressed through each age at an extraordinary pace—fifty percent faster than a normal human being does—to reach nava-yauvana. In other words, it took only ten years for Kåñëa to reach the point of maturity that others reach at fifteen. (Särärtha-darçini 10.45.3)
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Feb 27, 2013 @ 7:47 pm
Thank you for this, Kesava Krsna Prabhu. And thank you for sharing this mature and compassionate approach to living as a devotee in the real world – heartfelt and much needed.
I think the following quote is apropos:
“Those who think that devotion to God and kindness to the jivas [souls] are mutually different from each other, and perform accordingly in their life, such persons will not be able to follow the devotional culture. Their performances are only a semblance of devotion. Therefore, all the types of beneficence to others — like kindness, friendliness, forgiveness, charity, respect, etc., are included in bhakti. Among these, according to the triple catagories of the recipients. viz., high, medium and low, the actions of respect, friendliness and kindness are the very form of love and the characteristic portion of bhakti: Charity of medicines, clothes, food, water, etc., shelter during adversities, teaching of academic and spiritual educations, etc., are the activities included in the devotional culture.”
–Tattva Viveka-Tattva Sutra-Amnaya Sutra- A Comprehensive Exposition of the Spiritual Reality by Bhaktivinoda Thakur [Tattva Sutra portion (sutra 35)]. Sree Gaudiya Math, Madras. English translation by Narasimha Brahmacari. pp. 185-6.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Jan 18, 2013 @ 8:53 pm
Basu Ghosh Prabhu:
To clarify, I did not mean to suggest that the sacred thread was an invention of Srila Bhatisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. My understanding is that brahmana Vaishnavas at the time of the Thakura did not wear the thread, as a statement of Vaishnavism’s superiority to caste consciousness, but that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta re-introduced the thread in our line for both spiritual and socioreligious reasons. My intention was to suggest that this may be evidence of the sacred thread’s being a detail rather than an essential principle of brahmana initiation (and that if it were a detail, Srila Prabhupada’s not giving the thread to his female brahmana disciples should not necessarily close the book on the possibility of qualified women acting as initiating spiritual masters in ISKCON).
Please accept my apologies if you sensed some arrogance in what I wrote (something in your reply makes me feel that you may have done so, and after re-reading my posts I can see how I may have given that impression). It was not my intention to compose a “retort” or to philosophically “defeat” you, just to present a perspective that I thought was not being presented. And I assure you that I did so only after much thought and consideration.
Ultimately, any decision on this issue is out of my feeble and insignificant hands. While I feel it is extremely important (and while I have my own opinion about it, an opinion I feel is based on studying the body and soul of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, at least to the best of my severely limited ability), I’m sure my time would be better spent by neglecting whatever future discussion may develop here.
My respectful obeisance to you, Prabhu.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 18, 2012 @ 3:01 am
(Part 2) The same is evident in Srila Prabhupada’s own actions (and statements, as I will show presently). In adjusting to the social climate in which he endeavored to establish his new movement, Srila Prabhupada gave mantra-diksa to women as well as men, though he declined to give the sacred thread to his female brahmana disciples. Wether or not he did so in consideration of the same caste-conscious Indians the sacred thread may well have been used to impress in the time of his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada obviously understood that the true intrinsic element of diksa is the diksa-mantras. (He certainly considered his female brahmana disciples to be genuine brahmanas, did he not? If he did not, then why did he allow them to perform the work of pujaris in his temples, work traditionally reserved for brahmanas?)
Srila Prabhupada spoke clearly about the relative importance of disk-mantras and the sacred thread on many occasions, virtually all of which were in service of explaining one of the symptoms of Kali-yuga, as presented in Simad-Bhagavatam (12.2.3), vipratve sutram eva hi: “…A man will be known as a brahmana just by his wearing a thread.”
Here are two of Srila Prabhupada’s statements regarding the same (there are several more, including a reference in Srila Prabhupada’s own Vyasa-puja offering to his spiritual master from 1961):
“In the Kali-yuga brahmana means one two-paisa thread, that’s all. But that is not brahmana. Brahmana means samo damo titikñva. [BG 18.42] These are the symptoms.” (Lecture, SB 5.5.3, Vrindavana, 25 October 1976)
“Vipratve sütram eva hi: ‘And one will be considered a brähmaëa simply by this thread.’ These are all written there. A two-cent-worth thread, you get it…, ‘Oh, you have got thread. Oh, you are a brähmaëa.’ That’s all. This is going on in India. Two-paisa-worth brähmaëa. He has all the qualification of less than a caëòäla, but, because he has got this nonsense thread, he’s considered a brähmaëa.” (Lecture, CC Madhya 337-353, New York, 25 December 1966)
Please note in the second quote above that Srila Prabhupada identifies this as a problem (then) particular to India. While you, and others, so appropriately remind us that we should not allow Western cultural conditioning to taint our deliberation on this issue, we should be equally vigilant we are not adopting another form of cultural conditioning, thinking it to be transcendental.
Thank you, Prabhu.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 14, 2012 @ 8:29 pm
(Part 1) Basu Ghosh Prabhu, thank you for your participation in this discussion. Please don’t mind, but I would like to take issue with something that seems to be central to your arguments here, as you have repeated it (and iterations of it) more than once in your comments above and in your comments to a related post.
You say, “Diksha means conferring the sacred thread, and since woman cannot wear the sacred thread, they cannot be the diksha guru.” It is a clear enough argument, and would be persuasive if it weren’t based on a faulty premise, which you have also given: “…an intrinsic part of diksha is conferring the sacred thread.”
I assume that by “intrinsic” you mean essential, perhaps indispensable. To support this statement you offer Srila Prabhupada’s purport to CC Madhya 24.330, in which we find: “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 Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura introduced the system of giving the sacred thread to a bona fide Vaisnava, and we are following in his footsteps.” (You yourself quote this excerpt in commenting on another post on this site.)
Here Srila Prabhupada says nothing about the diksa-mantras we receive during second initiation (not to mention the qualities of a genuine brahmana). Are these not an intrinsic part of diksha? I don’t think an intelligent person would consider this an actual point of contention.
Moreover, what Srila Prabhupada goes on to say about his spiritual master’s role in “introducing the system of giving the scared thread to a bona fide Vaishnava” suggests that the sacred thread is not as intrinsic as you make it out to be. Did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta introduce the system of giving diksha-mantras? No, he introduced the system of giving the sacred thread. This was, arguably, a social statement particular to the time and place. Inarguably, the diksa-mantras are clearly intrinsic to brahminical initiation, while the thread itself is less so.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 14, 2012 @ 8:28 pm
[Part 3] So, what can we make of this? It reminds me of something Ravindra-svarupa Prabhu has said about the ritviks. Over and above the many, many convincing arguments against the deviance of the ritvik philosophy, he suggests that the strongest evidence against the system of ritviks initiating disciples on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf after his physical departure is that if Srila Prabhupada had wanted such a system, he would have made it absolutely clear, given that it was a significant departure from tradition and from everything else he had to say on the subject of guru-parampara.
I’d like to suggest that we have similar situation here. Srila Prabhupada was not naïve or unintelligent. It was clear that he realized the roles of women were changing, and though he had strong words to say about women’s position in society, he also yielded to the influence of time, place, and circumstance by allowing his female disciples to receive the Gäyatré mantras and to serve in his temples as püjärés. He also encouraged them to preach, even requesting them to speak about our philosophy on public forums (on at least one occasion even to his own godbrothers). I think it myopic at best to imagine Srila Prabhupada could not see far enough in the future to know that we might one day be having this discussion about the possibility of female devotees in his movement becoming diksa-gurus. And though he had ample opportunity to do so, he did not make it absolutely clear what his decision was about this issue. Again, either side can point to strong evidence and say that surely he meant this or obviously he meant that, but there is no occasion on which Srila Prabhupada said “My desire is that there shall never be female initiating gurus in ISKCON.” There is also no occasion on which he said “My desire is that women should take up the responsibility of becoming initiating gurus in ISKCON.”
And so here we are, burdened by our various levels of cultural conditioning and our impurities and our material desires both acknowledged and concealed, and we have to come to some decision based on a dispassionate discussion of the evidence and the advantages and disadvantages of either possibility. Let us all, on either side and everywhere in between, do our best to give up our predispositions, to overcome our material conditioning, and to honestly and intelligently examine both possibilities, leaving ourselves open to yet another possibility – that we might just change our minds.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 10, 2012 @ 8:34 pm
[Part 2] Regardless of how we choose to interpret this statement, however, we should acknowledge the fact that Srila Prabhupada, given a clear opportunity to do so, did not choose to say “…and therefore, women shall never become diksa-gurus in ISKCON.” Nor did he choose to say “…but in the International Society for Kåñëa Consciousness women shall one day become diksa-gurus.” You can decide for yourself what you think Srila Prabhupada implies or means to say, but the fact remains that he did not say it.
On the other side of the issue we have Srila Prabhupada’s conversation with Professor O’Connell from 1976. In reply to Prof. O’Connell’s question “Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession?” Srila Prabhupada says yes. There is much in this conversation that can be used to support the possibility of female diksa-gurus in ISKCON. Those who oppose this possibility give their reasons why Srila Prabhupada’s statements on this occasion should be dismissed or re-interpreted in a particular light, suggesting that conversations are a less reliable form of evidence than Srila Prabhupada’s books, or that Srila Prabhupada was pandering to his academic Western guests, or that Prabhupada did not have diksa-gurus in mind but rather siksa-gurus or just preachers, or that Jähnavä-devé cannot be considered an example for other women to follow as she was Lakñmé-tattva. And those who are in favor of ISKCON having women initiating spiritual masters will dismiss these arguments, saying that while Prabhupada’s books should be considered first we should not ignore his other recorded statements, or that Srila Prabhupada was not known to pander to anyone at all, or that by citing Jähnavä-devé as an example he was clearly referring to diksa-gurus as she was one, or that there are other examples of female diksa-gurus in our line whose examples can also be given if Jähnavä-devé is too exalted.
And still, given the opportunity, Srila Prabhupada did not say “…and some day my female disciples will also become disciples and initiate disciples of their own.” Nor did he say “…but this is a special case, Jähnavä-devé, and while I encourage my female disciples to become siksa-gurus and preachers to inspire others, I forbid them from formally initiating disciples.”
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 10, 2012 @ 8:32 pm
[Part 1] Speaking objectively, neither side on this issue can point to a definitive statement from Srila Prabhupada that settles all debate; Srila Prabhupada has not said “Women can be diksa-gurus in ISKCON,” but neither has he said “Women can not be diksa-gurus in ISKCON.” It appears from the discussion on this site that there are two references, one on either side, that are seen as particularly persuasive and which cannot be dismissed (though neither is definitive in the sense I’ve already mentioned).
Those who oppose the possibility of female diksa-gurus in ISKCON cite Srila Prabhupada’s statement in the purport to SB 4.12.32: “Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru.” But this is not a definitive statement. It does not clearly deny the possibility that at some point in the future women in ISKCON will initiate disciples. Srila Prabhupada does not say that women cannot become initiating spiritual masters. He says that Suniti could not become Dhruva Maharaja’s diksa-guru, which does not categorically bar women from becoming diksa-gurus under other circumstances. It does not even bar Suniti from becoming the diksa-guru of some other prospective disciple.
Srila Prabhupada gives two reasons why Suniti could not become Dhruva’s guru: (1) she was a woman and (2) “more specifically” she was his mother. Srila Prabhupada’s statement that, because she was a woman, Suniti could not become a diksa-guru under those circumstances gives no clear and incontrovertible indication that there exist no other circumstances (perhaps in a future in which the roles of women have changed) under which a woman like Suniti could feasibly initiate disciples. And the phrase “more specifically,” of which much has been made, can itself have a variety of interpretations, though an impartial reader should at least admit that the most common meaning is that this reason, this “more specific” reason, should be considered the more important of the two; Suniti was disqualified because she was a woman, but on top of that consideration there was another consideration that was considered an even stronger disqualification – she was his mother.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 10, 2012 @ 8:31 pm
And again in 2009 (http://gbc.iskcon.org/2012/02/02/2009/):
“305. Female Diksa Gurus
Whereas there is a factual need for more diksa-gurus in ISKCON to accommodate the worldwide preaching;
Whereas there are mature female preachers qualified to take on diksa-guru responsibilities;
Whereas there are a number of such qualified women who already have siksa disciples;
Whereas the GBC Body previously issued the following statement in 2005, which has now been given further consideration:
425. Female Diksa Guru
The GBC accepts the basic philosophical conclusion presented in the SAC’s Female Diksa Guru Paper, i.e. that a mature, qualified, female devotee may accept the role of an initiating spiritual master. The implementation thereof is pending further GBC consideration.
1. That resolution 425/2005 – Female Diksa Guru is amended to read as follows:
The GBC accepts the philosophical conclusion presented in the SAC’s Female Diksa Guru Paper that a mature, qualified, female devotee may accept the role of an initiating spiritual master.
2. The GBC Body authorizes local area committees to put forward for approval as initiating guru any devotee in their area, male or female, who is qualified according to existing GBC Law.”
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 5, 2012 @ 10:00 pm
It is also worth noting the GBC’s official response to the findings of the Sastric Advisory Council:
“425. Female Diksa Guru
The GBC accepts the basic philosophical conclusion presented in the SAC’s Female Diksa Guru Paper, i.e. that a mature, qualified, female devotee may accept the role of an initiating spiritual master. The implementation thereof is pending further GBC consideration.”
(Cited from the GBC resolutions for 2005: http://gbc.iskcon.org/2012/01/31/2005/)
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 5, 2012 @ 8:47 pm
My respectful obeisances to the (virtually) assembled Vaishnavas. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Gaudiya Vaishnava Guru-parampara.
I don’t believe it has yet been mentioned that the GBC’s Sastric Advisory Council has already (nearly ten years past) completed an investigation of this issue. It is available here: http://gbc.iskcon.org/2012/01/26/female-diksa-guru/
I urge all devotees interested in this topic to take the time to read it.
Among the many interesting points (including their cautious but clear support of female diksa-gurus in ISKCON), I would like to highlight two:
(1) “Furthermore, in order to ensure that all sides of the topic were properly represented, SAC accepted a temporary member representing Vaishnavas raised in Bharata where one might question the propriety of female devotees as gurus due to cultural background.”
As has been repeatedly mentioned, devotees born and raised in Western cultures should be cautious that their position on this issue is not influenced by the cultural norms to which they have grown accustomed – we should be careful that the cultural prevalence of “feminism” and social equality does not prejudice us toward emotionally favoring the possibility of women gurus. At the same time, devotees born and raised in more “traditional” cultures should be equally cautious that their specific cultural conditioning does not keep them from soberly and dispassionately exploring the possibility of female diksa-gurus. Cultural conditioning is never transcendental.
(2) To echo Chaturatma Prabhu’s comment above, and to respond to another frequent objection against women gurus, please note that the SAC paper gives five examples of female diksa-gurus from the time of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. While some object that Jahnava-devi is the lone example of a woman guru in our line, it stands to reason that if there are at least four more of her female contemporaries that also gave diksa, then there are likely more that have not been recorded in the scriptures. That is to say, for every male guru on the level of a Madhavendra Puri or a Lokanatha Goswami, are there not hundreds more whose names have been lost to history? Why should we not expect that the same is true in the case of women gurus?
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Dec 5, 2012 @ 8:37 pm
Dear Dhanesvara Prabhu,
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Please note: the errors in The Nectar of Devotion that Aindra Prabhu mentions in the third and fourth paragraphs of this transcript have been corrected by the BBT.
“For the latest printing of The Nectar of Devotion, at the beginning of chapter 15 the BBT’s editors have six times changed the word raganuga to ragatmika.”
For more details see:
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Feb 1, 2011 @ 11:30 am
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P.S. All interested devotees should be aware that the Boston temple DOES NOT have accommodations for couples or families with children. Any householder couples wanting to take advantage of this opportunity must be willing to live apart from one another in separate ashrams. Our apologies for the inconvenience.
» Posted By acyutadasa.nrs On Nov 30, 2007 @ 12:17 am
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