Comments Posted By tulasi-priya
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My suggestion: Establish programs to teach new converts what guru actually means, train them in critical thinking skills so they’re not swayed by emotion and peer pressure, and emphasize that the guru-disciple relationship is a very personal one, not a cult of personality and charisma. It’s not an issue of male of female guru, it’s a matter of who inspires you, and the relationship you have with them. The person who may actually get you back to Godhead might not be the “big gun” (with a thousand disciples) sitting on the vyasasana who you see only once a year, but the humble soul in the kitchen who has patiently answered all your questions and soothed all your doubts every day since you came off the street as Bhakta or Bhaktin Nobody, looking for shelter.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 27.11.2012 @ 00:18
There’s been a mistake here. I had initially sent some comments, then thought I should edit them down to fit in a single post. Before it was published, I asked the editor to NOT publish the three-part long post and asked him to send it back to me, which he did (I don’t actually know who I was communicating with). Somehow there was a misunderstanding and EVERYTHING I wrote got published. I still stand behind my words, but the longer post wasn’t intended for public comsumption. If there was any offense on my part, please accept my apologies and obeisances.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 04.06.2011 @ 23:15
Krishna-kirti prabhu’s response leaves me astonished. He certainly did a neat job of pegging me, my philosophy, and my character. Too bad it was all wrong. Never mind, since I have no hope of my words not being twisted, I’m withdrawing from this discussion. But first I’m going to set the record straight regarding my views on varnasrama-dharma. I will not post further here on this topic.
I most certainly did NOT express “extreme doubt” about the efficacy of varnasrama-dharma. I posed a rhetorical question, that’s all. Putting words in my mouth and doubts in my head that have no purchase there is more than a bit rhetorically dishonest. Nor did he address the valid questions I asked. Since I can’t trust him to not twist what I say or draw erroneous conclusions, I will withdraw from further comment here on this topic. I just wanted to set the record straight about me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have no argument with traditionalism and sex-segregation in general, or more specifically, daivi-varnasrama-dharma. In fact, I have recently established a non-profit expressly for the purpose of promoting simple living and high thinking, in a way that might actually bring about real change. It’s still in the development stages but will go public soon.
However, my views radically depart from Krishna-kirti prabhu’s in the matter of priority. I don’t think that attempting to enforce rigid sex roles and segregation takes priority over establishing self-sufficient communities based on economic inter-dependence between devotees, cows, and the land. Sex is secondary to food. ISKCON has not yet solved the food problem.
When we finally excise ourselves from our profound dependency on the mainstream culture for even our most basic sustenance, when our bodies, which are made of earth, live more closely in sync with the natural cycles, disciplines, and traditions related to an agrarian culture, when we live in closer relation to land and cows, then other aspects of Vedic culture will naturally fall into place. When the body is rightly situated, the mind will be peaceful, and thus we can more easily pursue transcendence. But VAD cannot be separated from bhakti, otherwise it’s simply organized sense gratification, as the Amish experience has shown. Focusing on rigid sex roles in preference to other aspects of varnasrama-dharma is like putting the cart before the ox. Obviously, you won’t get anywhere that way.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 02.06.2011 @ 18:25
I’m not going to comment any further on this topic here, and have no wish to read comments by Krishna-kirti prabhu, et al. This is not because I’m closed-minded to their views. I happen to agree with most of what the traditionalists say. No, I don’t wish to hear from Krishna-kirti because I have been reading his writings for years, and have concluded that his agenda and his concerns are way too narrow to be meaningful or practical.
As for the others, they strike me as disagreeable. They may be pure devotees for all I know, but they’re not able to persuade me of the rightness of their cause, a cause I actually happen to believe in, because of their vindictive attitudes toward another devotee. Urmila mataji posted about education, a vitally important matter to our society. Those who highjacked this thread for their own agendas really should have been deleted, since it was way off-topic. It’s amusing that Krishna-kirti prabhu misread me so badly, but that was to be expected when we seek acquiescence, not consensus
I was a fool to have joined in this discussion, but I did it because I like Urmila mataji, even while not necessarily agreeing with her on every point. She is doing valuable service and I appreciate her efforts. I simply wanted to express my views here for anyone who is interested, which I know KK is not. It’s too bad that he and the others who have posted here are not able to apply their intelligence to something more than just the issue of sex roles in ISKCON, but I won’t permit myself to get entangled in their obsession just to prove something.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 01.06.2011 @ 16:53
To have completely submissive and compliant women in the context of a culture divorced from nature, with its high technology, consumerism, and general godlessness, is not doing men any favors. Men, even devotee men, are still affected adversely by that culture, and partake of its sexual attitudes. An artificially-imposed submission of women will only add fuel to their fire. It will only make men lustier, and make women more willing to take advantage of that lust in order to manipulate men to satisfy their material desires. And by “women” I mean wives. Even a wife can act like a prostitute. I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse any so-called traditionalist devotee man of promoting sex-segregation, extreme chastity, etc., intentionally for that purpose, but I’ve heard enough stories to know that it can be a by-product.
If we attempt these artificial impositions out of context, if we treasure this sort of material arrangement in hearts not sufficiently purified by sadhana-bhakti, the result is sure to be a miserable failure, because the potential for abuse will be so great. If pursued by individuals, I see no problem, but to attempt to establish it as a policy in what is still essentially a neophyte society is premature, dangerous, and irresponsible. Furthermore, it is no other man’s business how I relate to my husband or other men, provided I don’t cause trouble for him. And if it is he can address me personally. I am so repulsed by the notion of men not my husband or guru telling women how they should behave. It’s a kind of subtle sex, in my view, and they should stop it, or risk being seen as (subtle) sexual predators.
We have to focus first and foremost on the foundation of a varnasrama society: devotional service. We have to become purified enough to ascertain the next step. I believe that the next step concerns food and livelihood, not sex.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 01.06.2011 @ 16:37
In an agrarian, low-tech society, roles and functions harmonize with the natural world, not fight against it. In a natural, God-designed economy, necessity dictates what people do, not self-styled authorities with nothing more than bombast and intellectual trickery to achieve their doubtful ends.
When I look back on some of my dealings with men who (unknown to me at the time) avidly support their notion of traditionalism, what stands out is the undercurrent of sexual predation I felt coming from them. I would be repelled by their attitudes, only to be shocked months and years later when I found out that they were gung-ho for chastity in women. It has only led me to believe that the real reason for this single-minded pursuit of a sexual idea in the absence of so many other social needs is, simply, ideal sex.
I’ve long held the view that feminism has royally screwed (pun intended) the sex lives of modern Western civilization, particularly for men. The less submissive that woman have grown with the passage of time, the more impotent and uninterested men have become, hence the rise of pedophilia, extreme porn, and human trafficking. But the change in sexual mores does not exist in isolation, but grows from an increasingly industrialized mode of life, starting with the Industrial Revolution and on down the line to the Internet. For sex to be interesting, for a large majority of men, a sense of dominance is required. Short of violent rape (the kind performed by “inexpert” men), there is no meaningful outlet for men’s sexual needs, even if they are engaged in the act, because women are not as submissive as they once were.
The whole present society colludes in this dilution and perversion of sexual nature via advertising, high technology, etc. It’s my considered opinion that those whose interest is almost solely concentrated on this one aspect of human existence are the victims of feminism, people whose sexual natures are gasping for breath, but can find no outlet that doesn’t violated their principles. But to artificially attempt to “put women in their place” in a way that clashes with the day-to-day reality we all know, without the support of a culture that is more holistic and natural, starting with how we feed ourselves and conduct our livelihood, is to exacerbate the problem. (continued)
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 01.06.2011 @ 16:17
Krishna-kirti prabhu wrote: “This is reflected in Mataji Tulasi-Priyaâ€™s expression of extreme doubt about the necessity of varnashram,’If our characters arenâ€™t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?’â€ť
Prabhu: you are dead wrong. I have no doubts whatsoever about varnasrama, and your attempt to put words in my mouth and thoughts in my head that have no purchase there is intellectually dishonest.
I am a sold-out believer in varnasrama-dharma, but where we differ radically is how it should be implemented. Before we become sexually mature, before we self-identify with either gender, before sex organs even manifest externally in the body of a fetus, all living entities are engaged in the process of seeking nourishment, food.
Over and over again, whenever Prabhupada spoke of varnasrama, he reiterated the need for devotees to grow their own food, utilizing the cow and bull in the process. Has it ever occurred to you, or any of the blindered proponents of sex segregation (which I am almost totally in favor of*) who comment here, that many of the issues revolving around the relation between men and women would fall into place naturally if we lived in a agrarian, low-technology society, a society in which the gender roles and sexual relationships develop naturally and chastely in harmony with the day-to-day realities of survival and cultural development.
All these so-called traditionalists venting here are abstracting, beyond all recognition, something that is completely natural, but can only fully manifest when we live in a natural environment.
In short, you’re putting the cart before the ox. Instead of focusing exclusively and narrowly on sex, better to address the most basic issue that affects humans in general and devotees in particular, before the problem of sex rears its multiple heads: livelihood and food self-sufficiency. When we get that straightened out, everything else will take care of itself.
Even monks have to eat. Focusing on sex roles in the absence of community, livelihood, and food self-sufficiency is, in my admittedly non-humble view, a perversion. Is it really necessary to dwell on sex to the exclusion of everything else? Is it necessary to see everything in sexual terms? Reminds me of a saying, “Get your mind out of the gutter.” Yes, sex is a big problem, but it’s secondary to existence; you can survive without sex, but you can’t survive without food.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 01.06.2011 @ 15:48
As far as giving preference to more learned man over a woman speakerâ€”well, haven’t they been getting that for decades already? Is it possible that maybe, just once in her long service history in ISKCON, before she leaves the planet and we lose her association, Urmila mataji could be allowed to purify herself, serve her guru, and benefit the assembled devotees, men and women, by speaking her unique realizations in Mayapur-dhama? Are we so puffed up and in the bodily consciousness that there is nothing we can learn from another, if that other is a woman? Do we really believe that men are the only ones with anything of substance to say?And it seems that to perceive Vaisnavis as women first in all situations constitutes an aparadha, as delineated NOI, text six.
Certainly it would be proper (if perhaps a bit Phariseean) if, prior to the class, the assembled male devotees were asked if they object to Urmila mataji giving the class. I would be keen to see who steps forward to assert his male privilege. I doubt that any man present, even the most traditional, would do so. But if he does, what would that say about him?
There may be agitation if we gaze upon a member of the opposite sex sitting on the vyasasana, but nobody gets pregnant on the vyasasana during a Bhagavatam class. (Though I suppose nothing is impossible for the determinedly lusty.) For illicit sex to take place, there has to be contact away from the vyasasana after the class, planning a rendezvous, lying, sneaking, etc. Nobody needs to give a class for that to happen, but if devotees are not following the process, it will happen somehow, no matter how segregated we keep ourselves. If the mere sight of the opposite sex will result in taking reproductive action, then we need to cease all preaching and classes right now, since the risks of the current system are insurmountable.
One other thing: lust and illicit sex don’t stop, or even reduce, just because the sexes are segregated. Visit any prison or single-sex school for proof. Nor do so-called traditional values guarantee sexual purity. The Amish are a case in point: wildness among the youth during their Rumspringa, and incest in Amish families. If our characters aren’t reformed by sadhana bhakti, why should anything else work?
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 30.05.2011 @ 04:46
Hare Krishna. If a man thinks he’s the controller of his wife out of a desire for his own sense gratification, controlling her as he would a personal possession, in order to prop up his ego and to enjoy either the subtle or gross sense gratification thereby, they are both in trouble. He then in fact becomes the servant of his own sense gratification, and by extension, of his wife. An intelligent but materialistic woman, knowing her husband’s weaknesses, can use both scenarios to her advantage by manipulating the husband’s material desires to achieve her own. The marriage may be peaceful and happy, but they both go to hell.
But as Prabhupada said, devotee women “are not ordinary women,” so it would behoove their men to not think so much in terms of controlling, and more in protecting and serving. There is no fault in becoming the servant of one’s wife, if the husband sees her as the Lord’s property, not his own. Whatever “controlling” is done is out of concern for her as a servant of the Lord and respect for her as His property, not his own.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 05.11.2010 @ 15:26
Thank you for this article. I find your argument very balanced, and in line with both the spirit and the letter of Srila Prabhupada’s instruction.
After sixteen years of marriage, I am only lately beginning to understand the meaning of submission to one’s husband. We women might want to get over our preconceptions and stereotypes, our bad attitudes and grudges against men as a class, which we often take out on our husbands. Instead, we can wise up and learn how to handle them properly. We are meant to learn this art and science from watching our mothers interact with our fathers. Unfortunately, if we have grown up in broken homes, or if our mothers weren’t trained in the skills of husband-handling themselves, we are left to figure things out on our own, which can take a long time, if we don’t drop out of the School of Matrimonial Hard Knocks before then.
Being submissive does not mean being an abused doormat. It means using your intelligence to figure out how to serve someone whose conditioning is off wildly at odds with one’s own. I do think that some women too easily divorce their husbands. I don’t blame them, because their current distress renders them unable to take a long view. When we’re suffering, as they say on TV, we want FAST relief. Divorce can be a painkiller for a husband who’s a headache (although many times the cure is worse than the disease). But if we would only “tough it out” a little longer, we might find that the man we can’t stand grows into a devoted servant and ally.
This is not to suggest that anyone submit to ongoing physical or psychological abuse. But with the passage of years, the things we once thought were intolerable or unforgivable about one’s husband, when seen through the eyes of compassion, turn out to be the merely human flaws and failings of another human being, just as we become more aware of, and compassionate toward, our own shortcomings. Submission is what allows us to put a lid on the false ego long enough to get to that place. It’s a dance of humility, and humility is what we must all cultivate if we are to chant the holy name in pure love and submission, thereby conquering the supreme husband, Sri Krishna.
Comment Posted By tulasi-priya On 04.11.2010 @ 14:16