Comments Posted By krishna-kirti
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Sankarsana Prabhu, quoting Urmila Mata, wrote:
Also how do you respond to a logical argument Urmila mataji makes as follows: â€śIn a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many yearsâ€“even a decadeâ€“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 yearsâ€“why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the â€śsomeone elseâ€ť has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).â€ť
The response to this, as per my prior comments, is in Lord Caitanya’s reply to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s observation that Maharaja Prataparudra was a great devotee. “Only because the siksa guru is female” is not an inconsequential fact, as Mother Urmila believes it to be. Sex attraction is there, and the means for avoiding it are strict separation at the societal level.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 30.11.2013 @ 14:37
I would like to congratulate Sriman Basu Ghosh Prabhu on this excellent essay. A point which is the proverbial “elephant in the room” is why were female diksha-gurus so exceptional, to the point of almost being non-existent in our sampradaya and in other Vaishnava sampradayas we respect as bona-fide. For example, to this day, neither the followers of Madhvacharya or Ramanujacharya have female diksha-gurus.
One clarification needs to be made about Basu Ghosh Prabhu’s discussion of the yajno-pavita and women not getting it in our tradition: who gets the yajopavita is actually governed both by pancharatrika shastras and by dharma-shastras such as Manu-smriti. Neither permit women to have them.
Women can receive (and hence give) mantras which are not Vedic (that is, mantras that are not to be given to stri-shudra-dvijabandhu (women, shudras, and unqualified offspring of brahmanas). But mantras like the brahma-gayatri are not to be given to women. That is why up through Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura no acharya gave it to women. Doing so is against sruti-smriti-purana-pancharatra. (I’ll explore this more in depth in a coming essay.) Basu Ghosh Prabhu’s focus was specifically on Vedic mantras, not necessarily non-Vedic mantras.
Srila Prabhupada gave the brahma-gayatri to his female disciples, but the only official record we have for his reasons are in the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, where it is described that Srila Prabhupada felt there could be “no harm” in giving to them. The context of this is that his two lady disciples, Jadurani and Govinda dasis felt slighted by not being included in the second initiation. That’s the context.
Now, as to the difference between getting a mantra because it “causes no harm” and getting the mantra because it will be beneficial is a great difference. There is absolutely no support in the shastras–sruti or smriti–that that supports any notion that chanting the brahma-gayatri will benefit women. To allege it does, one will have to concoct an elaborate theology that will necessarily contradict the corpus of Vedic literature–especially srutis and smritis.
To justify women giving upanayanam and upavita, along with the brahma-gayatri, to others would require us to contradict the Vedas and hence establish us as nashtikas, persons who do not accept Vedic authority. This would immensely disgrace Srila Prabhupada.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 29.11.2013 @ 16:41
Mukundadatta Prabhu has made a very important contribution to our understanding of Vaishnava epistemology. As per the Bhagavatam, there are four pramanas we accept. The first three we are already familiar with: pratyaksha, anumaan, and shabda. On pages 7 and 8 of his essay, Mukundadatta Prabhu shows the importance of aitihya relative to these other pramanas: (QUOTED FROM PAPER)
One is Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.19.17:
srutih pratyaksam aitihyam
vikalpat sa virajyate
â€śFrom the four types of evidenceâ€”Vedic knowledge, direct experience, traditional wisdom and logical inductionâ€”one can understand the temporary, insubstantial situation of the material world, by which one becomes detached from the duality of this world.â€ť
Here, Lord KrsĂ«a describes aitihya as a valid proof, an authoritative evidence (pramaĂ«a), like the other three pramaĂ«as Srila Prabhupada more often mentions (pratyaksa, anumana, and sabda). In other words, Krsna clearly affirms that tradition itself is a fourth pramĂ¤Ă«a.
The other verse is Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.28.18:
jnanam viveko nigamas tapas ca
pratyaksam aitihyam athanumanam
ady-antayor asya yad eva kevalam
kalas ca hetus ca tad eva madhye
â€śReal spiritual knowledge is based on the discrimination of spirit from matter, and it is cultivated by scriptural evidence, austerity, direct perception, reception of the PuraĂ«as’ historical narrations, and logical inference. The Absolute Truth, which alone was present before the creation of the universe and which alone will remain after its destruction, is also the time factor and the ultimate cause. Even in the middle stage of this creation’s existence, the Absolute Truth alone is the actual reality.â€ť
This is an even stronger reference. By using the word â€śaitihyaâ€ť (instead of sabda) in apposition with the other two pramaĂ«as (viz., pratyaksa and anumana), it further and more clearly shows that aitihya is not only an acceptable evidence, but that it has authority equal to that of sabda specificallyâ€”as indeed was recognized by the Indian legal tradition.
Why does this matter? When there are questions or matters that cannot be understood properly even with all of pratyaksha, anumaan, and shabda, it is aithiya that will be necessary to help us come to the right conclusion.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 29.10.2013 @ 04:33
Great article, good research Sita Rama Prabhu Ji!
At the very least, you have established that a traditionalist social model is also a viable model for growth through preaching.
I look forward to more such well-written articles from you.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 22.05.2013 @ 03:58
Whoa! We’re already at WW 11?? And here I thought we had been trying to prevent WW III by chanting Hare Krishna. :-)
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 04.04.2013 @ 04:07
. . . [From my last comment]
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said,
‘Just as one is immediately frightened upon seeing a live serpent or even the form of a serpent, one endeavoring for self-realization should similarly fear a materialistic person and a woman. Indeed, he should not even glance at their bodily features.’ (CC Madhya 11.11)
Mahaprabhu has pointed out that even if a woman is a devotee, her form is still a cause for bondage. This verse and commentary from SB 3.31.35 describes the same thing:
The infatuation and bondage which accrue to a man from attachment to any other object is not as complete as that resulting from attachment to a woman or to the fellowship of men who are fond of women.
Attachment to women is so contaminating that one becomes attached to the condition of material life not only by the association of women but by the contaminated association of persons who are too attached to them. There are many reasons for our conditional life in the material world, but the topmost of all such causes is the association of women, as will be confirmed in the following stanzas.
In Kali-yuga, association with women is very strong. In every step of life, there is association with women. If a person goes to purchase something, the advertisements are full of pictures of women. The physiological attraction for women is very great, and therefore people are very slack in spiritual understanding. The Vedic civilization, being based on spiritual understanding, arranges association with women very cautiously. Out of the four social divisions, the members of the first order (namely brahmacarya), the third order (vanaprastha) and the fourth order (sannyasa) are strictly prohibited from female association. Only in one order, the householder, is there license to mix with women under restricted conditions. In other words, attraction for woman’s association is the cause of the material conditional life, and anyone interested in being freed from this conditional life must detach himself from the association of women.
The conclusion here is that women rarely became acharyas because the attraction between men and women is in and of itself a cause for bondage. Not only that, but it is the superlative cause for bondage. Thus women rarely became acharyas.
In the next comments, we will discuss Sanatana Goswami’s verse that SP comments on, and then we will discuss the legitimate female exceptions.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 13.03.2013 @ 05:39
In comment #45, I introduced Srila Sanatana Goswami’s (SSG) recommendation in HBV for one not to accept a spiritual master from a lower varna if a spiritual master who is also a brahmana is present. And Srila Prabhupada’s comment is that this is an instruction “meant for those who are overly dependent on the mundane social order and is suitable for those who want to remain in mundane life.” Furthermore, SP states that “If one understands the truth of Krsna consciousness and seriously desires to attain transcendental knowledge for the perfection of life, he can accept a spiritual master from any social status, provided the spiritual master is fully conversant with the science of Krsna” (CC Madhya 8.128 purport). And the Shastric Advisory Committee (SAC) in their 2005 paper inferred that “any social status” also implies women.
But the statements of either SP or SSG do not imply women. The reason is simple: for men associating closely with men regardless of varna, the possibility of illicit sex does not arise. But if there is a woman involved with a man, then that possibility is there, and it is strong. On account of sexual attraction, the relationship between men and men is much different from that between men and women. Therefore the SAC has come to a wrong conclusion when it says “gender is also a consideration to be discarded in judging a guruâ€™s eligibility.” Gender is indeed considered, and that is why in our disciplic succession female diksha-gurus have always been rare.
“Since I am in the renounced order, it is as dangerous for Me to meet a king as to meet a woman. To meet either would be just like drinking poison.”
Greatly lamenting, the Lord then informed Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, “‘Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than drinking poison willingly.’”
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya replied, “My dear Lord, what You have said is correct, but this King is not an ordinary king. He is a great devotee and servant of Lord Jagannatha.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Although it is correct that the King is a great devotee, he is still to be considered a venomous snake. Similarly, even though a woman be made of wood, one becomes agitated simply by touching her form. (CC Madhya 11.7-10)
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 13.03.2013 @ 04:47
Kaunteya’s fabrication of his opponents’ statements and the outspoken support for this from some of his colleagues shows that the socially progressive devotees have a tendency to prefer to address their own stereo-typed notions of devotees they disagree with than to address the actual devotees themselves. I say this is a tendency, not an absolute judgment, of devotees who are socially progressive. There are devotees who are liberal and who have more integrity than this. I know some of them. But here is a warning to those devotees: the longer you stay silent about this, the more their misbehavior will implicate you. Maunam samiti lakshanam–silence implies consent. Please speak up now while there is still an opportunity to distance yourself from what Kaunteya has produced.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 12.03.2013 @ 05:28
Prabhu Somayaji wrote,
I donâ€™t know if it makes sense to Krishna Kirti Prabhu but it doesnâ€™t make sense to me. Kauteya did not specifically attribute the lexically engineered text to Krsna Kirti Prabhu but he did attribute it to his opponents, which is just as unethical.
No, it does not make sense to me either that a devotee would do this. Why, if the public discourse is so full of statements that accurately portray the points Kaunteya wants to attack does he have to fabricate his example statements from another’s text that does not make those points? Here Mata Ji Vishakha Priya has stated in no uncertain terms that she thinks it’s ethical to use another person’s words to construe some meaning clearly not intended by that person, and the rest of us are supposed to think we can hold a rational conversation with someone who believes that?
Srila Prabhupada identified Mayavada-bhashya as attempting the very same thing–unscrupulous scholars take Krishna’s words and ascribe some other meaning than that intended by Krishna. Unfortunately, Prabhu Kaunteya’s book has employed the same kind of misrepresentation, and therefore his work is objectionable on moral grounds.
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 12.03.2013 @ 05:08
This is a continuation of comment #41, which introduces the topic of the rareity of female acharyas in bona-fide Vaishnava samparadayas. The assertion in #41 is they were rare on account of varnashrama. In order to better understand why varnashrama accounts for their rareity, we shall take a closer look at a statement of Srila Prabhupada’s the SAC uses in its 2005 paper on female diksha-gurus as well as examine more closely the claims of the SAC with regard to this statement:
It is stated in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa that one should not accept initiation from a person who is not in the brahminical order if there is a fit person in the brahminical order present. This instruction is meant for those who are overly dependent on the mundane social order and is suitable for those who want to remain in mundane life. If one understands the truth of Krsna consciousness and seriously desires to attain transcendental knowledge for the perfection of life, he can accept a spiritual master from any social status, provided the spiritual master is fully conversant with the science of Krsna (CC Madhya 8.128 purport).
Now, why would SP criticize something Srila Sanatana Goswami (SSG) said? SP is not questioning that SSG himself is the origin of this reference to the Hari Bhakti Vilasa (HBV). And SP is not suggesting that this is some modern corruption and that SSG’s true text is lost. On its face, according to SP’s statement SSG is giving instructions to people who want to remain in mundane life; if one does not want to remain in mundane life, one will not accept this instruction of SSG. But why at all would SSG give an instruction that had no merit for spiritual life whatsoever?
One understanding we could come to is that SSG is wrong and that SP is correcting him. That conclusion is so unpalatable and wrong that it does not warrant further investigation, other than mentioning it for the sake of completeness.
Another, and better, understanding is that this instruction from SSG does have spritual merit for a certain class of devotee. Who comes into this class? Devotees who are too attached to the varnashram social order–they are overly dependent on it.
But what if you are not attached to varnashrama-dharma but are nevertheless overly dependent on some other social order? What if, instead, you are attached to the modern, secular regime, wherein “equal rights” is a sacred value? Does SSG’s instruction have relevance? It does (to be continued.)
Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 10.03.2013 @ 21:53