Philosophical Refutation of the ISKCON GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

Women in ISKCON (Hare Krishna) and Srila Prabhupada

A Philosophical Refutation of the ISKCON GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

i got this from the internet, sounds scriptural , dont know the author though, i would not use the insults used here but it is still good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

This paper will be in three sections. The first part will be a philosophical refutation of the GBC’s “Women in ISKCON” Resolution of 2000. The second part, and much longer part, will be a point-by-point refutation of the ISKCON Womens Ministry’s (recently renamed Vaisnavi Ministry) Presentation to the GBC in the year 2000 regarding their concerns for equality for men and women within ISKCON. The third and last part will be a refutation of Urmila dd’s “Response to the Women in ISKCON Presentations“.

Part 1 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution
Part 2 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution
Part 3 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution
Part 4 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution
Part 5 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

Monday, November 3, 2008

Part 5 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

This is the final part of my refutation, and will be aimed at Urmila dd’s “A Response to: Women in ISKCON;
Presentations to the GBC
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It was with great satisfaction that I read the introduction and texts of presentations to the GBC from respected Vaisnavis.

Considering that most of those presentations were chock-full of feminist rhetoric, it is rather disappointing to hear that Urmila dd approved of it.

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However, when I was invited to deliver a scriptural lecture in Mayapur, during the usual morning class, it was in a facility outside of that normally given for the English ­Bhagavatam class. There is no objection to a woman speaking on the scriptures to devotees and guests on temple property during the official class time, as long as the class is in a separate place.

Why this happened? Because some of the bengali gentlemen who live at that temple might be completely freaked out to see a woman giving a lecture, something that they have probably never before seen in their whole life. Perhaps we should learn to at least respect the local culture, even if we ourselves don’t want to follow it, rather than trying to provocatively raise agitation against it at every available opportunity.

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Clearly the Mayapur administration knows that the spirit of its restrictions is incorrect, but it still enforces them to the letter.

Why? Their “restrictions” are merely based on sastra, that women are not supposed to be leaders, but are supposed to stay at home and take care of their children. By promoting equal rights or feminism, we are rejecting sastra.

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In Mumbai I encountered the same situation – an invitation to speak on Bhagavad-gita during the morning class, but not in the temple room.

Ditto.

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Besides the simple fact of inertia – these rules and procedures have existed for a while and we may find it hard to change course

Yes, we should just throw India’s Vedic culture in the trash, where it belongs, and we should replace it with our advanced western culture, where women have equal rights and the freedom to go out and get abortions, jobs, and divorces. Beware of people who talk about “change”. The very basis of her statement is biased.

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I read in all the presentations the pull between our external and spiritual duties

A woman’s duty to be a mother is not an “external” duty. Why try to make some artificial distinction between “spiritual” and “material” duties? Next thing they will be saying (or some are already so bold enough to say already) is that Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are in two parts: the “material” side and the “spiritual” side. Why do they say this? So that they can justify rejecting the parts of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that they don’t like, all those “mean and nasty teachings” that women should perform their natural role as mothers and not be independent or be given freedom.

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The many times that Prabhupada speaks and writes about women’s position in society, or the psychological differences between men and women, he is dealing with our external duties.

This is a complete speculation. How is being a mother an “external” duty? People talk like this so that they can subtly justify rejecting parts of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that they consider “external”, as if they are so advanced that they are now on the “internal platform” or spiritual platform.

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To promote a revival of ancient mores of female behaviour is laudable.

Would Urmila dd consider sastric “mores” to be laudable? The reality is, that sastra prescribes what modern feminists may consider “ancient”, “backwards”, “primitive”, etc, and we do not have the freedom to simply accept what we like, and reject what we don’t like. Sastra prescribes that women should be in the role of mothers, and this is an eternal principle. This does not change with the inevitable social degradation of society, and why should we as supposed followers of sastra change it? By changing it, we are denying those who actually want to strictly follow sastra and it’s regulations. Although the feminists claim to be giving more freedom to people, actually they are taking away people’s freedoms, freedoms to live a sane and normal life.

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First, we do not understand ancient varnasrama. Second, we often practise our already distorted understanding hypocritically. Third, we do not distinguish between external and spiritual duties.

Her first sentence is true. We do not understand varnasrama, and as a result, we are trying to modernize and westernize everything, while rejecting the varnasrama principles that are laid down in sastra. Her second sentence is disturbing. What is her definition of “distorted”? That which goes against modern social norms? And where are our “distorted understandings” coming from? Srila Prabhupada’s teachings as the sole source of instruction in ISKCON. Perhaps many of the ideas that Urmila dd doesn’t like are actually coming from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings? Her third sentence is incorrect, as we already pointed out. Generally when people want to minimize Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, they will try to justify that there are two sides to his teachings: “material (or external)” and “spiritual”. Thus, we are free to reject what we don’t like, calling it “external”.

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Our modern understanding of varnasrama, especially as it relates to a woman’s place in it, is often grossly inaccurate.

Where is our “modern understanding” of varnasrama coming from? Srila Prabhupada’s books. This statement is a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s authority.

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For many years ISKCON leaders described women as a fifth class.

Not just ISKCON’s leaders, but sastra itself. Bhagavad-gita says that women are equal to sudras and the fallen sons of brahmanas. That’s not a very high estimation of women, now is it? But rather than just admit that we do not have faith in sastra, we look for someone else to blame, in this case, ISKCON’s leadership.

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However, the scriptures clearly describe women in all four varnas as having distinct psychological natures befitting their class.

Incorrect. It never says that a woman becomes a brahmana by marrying a brahmana. Rather, women are in themselves their own class. This statement is a minimization of sastra.

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We think women made little economic contribution in ancient times, whereas in reality they had duties in both their varna and asrama.

And the modern western societies are much better because they allow women to become economically equal to men, with the side result that they have to associate with men other than their husbands. The result is illicit sex, pregnancy, abortion, then divorce, and a destroyed family situation, with the children being the losers, since they are now growing up in a broken home. This is the “benefits” of the modern social policies of equal rights, gender equality.

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Sometimes ISKCON members equate the culture of a part of modern India with varnasrama, although it is well known that there are many practices there which are a result of British and Muslim influence or just degradation over time. We have to carefully sort out what is and is not Vedic culture.

This is a perceptive and true statement, but just because India’s Vedic culture has degraded doesn’t mean that we should reject it. Because it is the remanents of the Vedic culture, it is far more valuable than all of the other cultures, including the modern western cultures, combined.

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We have also applied our misunderstood ideas about women’s social place in a hypocritical manner. For example, many temples have forbidden women from various services

So we should disobey the sastric injunction that women should never be given freedom? To throw out the baby with the bathwater is no real solution. What kinds of “various services” is Urmila dd referring to? The “right” to become a diksa-guru, a GBC, a temple president? If so, then why didn’t Srila Prabhupada himself establish a woman in those positions? At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s passing away, there was not even one female temple president, GBC, or diksa-guru in our whole movement.

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The fundamental problem of using Prabhupada’s good, clear and applicable instructions on the cultural place of women in order to deny women spiritual facility, is not misunderstanding or hypocrisy, but the confusion between external and spiritual duties.

The reason why these feminists are so confused is because they do not simply accept Srila Prabhupada’s instructions as they are, without speculation or trying to change them. Many women are now trying to justify that we should reject parts of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in the name of “those parts are material, prabhu”. What it actually comes down to is a lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada and in sastra.

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Prabhupada writes in the purport to Bhagavad-gita 9.30, ‘In the conditioned state, sometimes devotional service and the conditional service in relation to the body will parallel one another. But then again, sometimes these activities become opposed to one another.’

And also in the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says that it is better to perform one’s own duties imperfectly, than reject them and try to artificially perform another’s. Sound like a description of the modern feminist movement?

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Our spiritual duties of hearing, chanting, remembering, offering prayers, and so on, are fully on the transcendental platform and, while usually in harmony with our external duties, may sometimes appear to conflict with them.

Actually, we are NOT fully on the transcendental platform, and that is why we are sometimes confused. If we are actually on the transcendental platform, then why are we falling down? This is a theory that some feminists use to try to justify equal rights- “we’re all equal on the spiritual platform”. Well, if we are actually on that spiritual platform, why are we in maya? The reality is that we are not. Also, in reference to her statement “our external duties may sometimes seem to conflict with our spiritual duties”, Krishna says that it is better to perform your own duties (in this case, the duties of a mother, which is what sastra prescribes for women. Sastra never prescribes that women become independent or given equal rights) imperfectly than reject those duties and try to perform another’s duties artificially. Feminists want to reject their feminine nature and try to imitate the masculine and independent nature of men. This is the problem.

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And let us also live, simultaneously, the principles of equality of spiritual service that he (Srila Prabhupada) taught us.

But Srila Prabhupada in fact prescribed different roles for men and women. And sastra itself in fact prescribes different roles for men and women. What about the many statements Srila Prabhupada made against “equal rights”? And sastra never prescribes that women be given equal freedom as men. Therefore, Urmila dd’s statement is in contradiction to both sastra and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Part 4 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

Now we are moving on to one of the main presentations, which is given by Sudharma dd. Her presentation is quite long, so please bear with our refutation.

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These histories are important because they exemplify the severity of disregard for women in our society during the middle to late 1970s.

This is a biased statement. Where did this “severe disregard for women” come from? As far as I know, most ISKCON members (other than the feminists) follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings solely and wholely. Could it be a possibility that what Sudharma dd is referring to was coming from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings? Also, what are her definitions of “abuse” and “disregard”? Did someone actually request you to cover your head with a sari? Oh, what horrible abuse!

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Many of you have probably wondered why we felt it was so important to establish the Women’s Ministry.

Yes, so that you can further your feminist and liberal humanist agenda. And to undermine Srila Prabhupada’s direct instructions on this matter.

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Perhaps also, through my testimony and what you have heard from my Godsisters, you will understand that this is not feminism

The thief that cries “I’m not stealing!”. Actually, it is all about promoting feminism, but the promoters are so self-deluded that they do not even realize that that is exactly what they are doing.

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I hope that you will also recognise that the seeds of injustice towards, and prejudice against, women still bear fruit today.

Where does this “prejudice” that Sudharma dd speaks of come from? I see no other source but Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Her problem is actually that she is unwilling to accept Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in full, and she rejects teachings which she does not like, such as “women should never be independent”, “women are less intelligent”, or “Don’t follow equal rights”. She actually has a problem with Srila Prabhupada, but is not honest enough to admit it.

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Looking back, the significance of many experiences have become apparent and are shocking, but worse was bearing witness to the suffering of my devoted Godsisters. Even though unaware of the details, the pain was evident, immeasurable and unbearable to watch. Clearly, these experiences reflected a perversion of the edicts of protection for women.

And now she wants to simply throw out the baby with the bathwater. Since the Vedic system was misapplied, she wants to get rid of it and instead institute gender equality and equal rights. This is not a very intelligent choice. If your house is broken, one solution is to simply burn it down. A better solution is to fix the problems the right way.

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Next, through our own efforts, we were able to open a beautiful restaurant in Manila. When the restaurant became successful, I was told it was now time to put someone serious in charge; that a woman’s nature did not allow her to bear the managerial responsibility of such a project.

Yes, sastra says that a woman’s role is to stay at home and take care of the children, not to go out and become independent or a businesswoman. The person that told Sudharma dd that was merely following sastra. That Sudharma dd holds such a person’s opinion in contempt is showing that actually she holds sastra in contempt. She is rejecting sastra by making this statement.

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I do not know if the opposition to my efforts was due to a fear of losing collectors – who may prefer to preach – or to being a successful woman preacher, or both.

This is one of the arguements that feminists sometimes give. “The problem is that you men are just too insecure to accept a dominant woman”. What utter nonsense! Sastra does not prescribe for women to become dominant, masculine, but rather to become a chaste mother. The underlying attitude behind Sudharma dd’s statement is one of arrogance.

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More detrimental to me than the ill fate of being on a women’s party was my arranged marriage.

Westerners generally tend to have a hard time accepting arranged marriages, because they are generally prejudiced and think that it is just some “old-fashioned custom coming from the nasty Indian culture”. This is a huge misconception. Arranged marriages are found in sastra, and are generally far superior to the so called “love marriages” of the West, where a woman goes out hunting for a man to find as a husband, like a prostitute. Inherit in her attitude is a rejection of Vedic culture, and therefore a rejection of Krishna Himself.

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It was determined that the solution to the numerous fall-downs of New Vrindaban’s residing spiritual leader would be to give many of the men sannyasa and to marry off all of the women.

Actually that was Srila Prabhupada’s mood during the later part of his pastimes. He saw how difficult it was for the mlecchas to maintain a marriage, and he finally grew disgusted and refused to condone any more marriages, and he began giving sannyasa more and more to young men (notably he never gave sannyasa to even one woman). Sudharma dd is actually criticizing Srila Prabhupada by making such a statement, because that was indeed Prabhupada’s later policy, that he refused to condone any more marriages because the westerners simply couldn’t maintain them. Is it Srila Prabhupada’s fault that women could not stick to one husband? That men could not refrain from mixing with other men’s wives? And how will instituting gender equality or equal rights help that? Rather, it will simply encourage further free mingling between the sexes, increasing the rates of falldowns and divorces.

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But we came out of a sense of duty and concern; concern that extends, in truth, beyond our compassion for other female devotees.

In the name of duty, concern, and compassion these women are destroying Srila Prabhupada’s movement and rejecting his teachings. Of course they will claim to be acting for “the good of mankind”, as all humanists do, but in reality they are blind to the fact that they are doing the exact opposite of what they intend to do. By allowing equal rights and feminism, free mingling between men and women will increase, which will simply result in more and more cases of abuse. They are the kettle calling itself black.

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Perhaps the desire to renounce the object of sense gratification has led to a denouncement of women devotees,

But that is exactly what sastra and Srila Prabhupada has instructed us to do! Renounce! Take vanaprastha at the latest by the age of 50. Who is actually following these instructions? And because we are too weak to follow these instructions, we become envious and begin to indirectly criticize Srila Prabhupada and sastra for giving such instructions, saying that sastra is “misoginistic” and that Srila Prabhupada is “just a woman hater”. These kinds of covert atheists should be rejected from our movement before they destroy the whole thing.

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which in turn results in a denial of the more feminine Vaisnava qualities that each one of us holds within the core of our hearts – qualities that may now be needed to re-instil the trust and faith of our Society’s members.

This is a sentimental appeal that is coming from the emotional platform. Notice yet how these women tend to generally appeal more from the emotional platform than from the sastric platform? That is exactly why sastra forbids women becoming leaders. They are simply too emotional to handle such roles. Instead, their proper role and utilization of their emotional nature is to stay at home and take care of the children. But these modern women are not satisfied with such a simple role. They want power, equality, you name it. They are making such big demands, at the expense of rejecting sastra and minimizing Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. What a traversity!

Now we are moving on to the last presentation, given by Rukmini dd.

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We have been enriched in ISKCON by the sannyasa culture many of the GBC represent. Perhaps no other spiritual organisation has this strength of austerity. But in our efforts to follow Srila Prabhupada in his austerity and carefulness in dealings between men and women, the women of ISKCON have been denigrated.

Yes, the problems of the women is all because of those mean and evil nasty sannyasis and brahmacaris. What an arrogant statement for Rukmini dd to make in front of a room of sannyasis! As I already pointed out, independent women, self-proclaimed “strong and confident” women, naturally feel envy towards renunciates, because renunciates are not under the control of a woman, and this hits their false ego on a very subconscious platform. By “denigrated”, what does Rukmini dd mean? That you poor women were forced to stand in the back during kirtan? God, what abuse! Nevermind that if you were not in this movement and were just some karmi, you would be taken advantage of by 20 men a year (many divorced women frequently “date” other men, which usually ends up in sex). All in all, this is a very arrogant statement for her to make.

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In our Society, unscrupulous men, often in managerial positions, have abused and neglected women.

What an arrogant thing to say in front of a room of leaders. Oh, poor little thing. You were neglected? What was neglected from you? Your demanding of the right to become a guru, or a GBC, or a temple president? In that case, you are rejecting sastra, and are fit to be rejected.

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The abuses and neglect of women and children must be corrected immediately, as our sexist and inhumane behaviour reflects badly on Srila Prabhupada and taints his movement in the eyes of the world.

What does Rukmini dd consider “sexist and inhumane” behavior? That women should stay at home and take care of their children, rather than go out and get a job and thus become a prostitute? A woman who goes out and gets a job mixes with her fellow male co-workers more than her own husband, and therefore yes, the term “prostitute” is a right adjective to apply.

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About two years ago my husband (Anuttama Dasa), Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu and I met with the leaders of the anti-cult movement in North America. In a private meeting, we requested that they no longer refer to us as a cult. They said that for them to refrain from calling us a cult they would have to see evidence of accountability.

Are the anti-cultists our authority, or is Srila Prabhupada our authority? If the mainstream world accepts our movement, then that is a sure sign that we have deviated from our pure principles. The karmis are supposed to accept us on our terms, not that we have to accept them on their demoniac terms. Srila Prabhupada did not want us to change the movement or water down his teachings simply to appeal to the masses. To do so would be a serious and gross deviation from Srila Prabhupada’s mood and a minimization of his teachings.

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How can we expect our devotees to offer love and surrender if their human needs are not met and if our leaders do not love them?

Again, quite an arrogant thing to say in front of a room full of leaders, as if you are accusing them of these things. Women want to be respected, but are they willing to respect others? If women are not willing to offer respect to others, why should they deserve to be respected? Rather, if a woman is independent and disrespectful, she shouldn’t be surprised if she is disrespected, because the quality of independence in a woman is not a respectable quality.

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If devotees felt supported spiritually, emotionally and practically, there would be little danger of being vulnerable to rtvik or other aberrant philosophies.

Or the aberrant feminist philosophy? The solution to this is not to establish western social norms like equal rights and feminism, but to establish truly independent varnasrama living so that devotees can live happily without depending on the modern demoniac society.

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As leaders, you meet women in the course of your preaching. Often you give more deference to these women than to your Godsisters, whom Srila Prabhupada considered Vaisnavis and more intelligent than ordinary women.

Again, quite an arrogant accusation to be making against a room full of exalted sannyasis. Perhaps a reason why many men don’t feel respect towards these women is that they themselves, the women, are very disrespectful.

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Jayadvaita Svami says that what ISKCON needs is grandmothers.

Yes, because grandmothers generally have very motherly qualities. Perhaps what Jayavaita Swami meant was that we need less “masculine and independent women (feminists)” and more “feminine women who naturally command the respect that a mother deserves”.

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When I see the beautiful puspa-samadhi of Srila Prabhupada with all the male figures in kirtana, I feel excluded.

Yes, why not put up a few figures of western women dancing in kirtan? Or better yet, why not put up some figures of some women who are staying at home, taking care of their children, cooking, etc?

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Whose movement is this? Is it your movement, or does it belong to all of us?

Another very arrogant statement of accusation towards a room full of exalted devotees and sannyasis. Yes, it belongs to everybody, but it is meant for men to manage, not women. Women are supposed to stay at home and take care of their children. A woman’s voice can be represented through her husband. A woman that will directly try to represent herself is independent, and Srila Prabhupada called such women “prostitutes”.

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If ISKCON is to be considered relevant, the voices of our women need to be heard.

Considered relevant by whom? The anti-cultists, the mundane academic scholars, the karmi feminist movement, or the demoniac western nondevotee society? Srila Prabhupada said that who cares what you think. You have to accept us on our terms, not that we should accept you (the nondevotees). Rukmini dd’s statement is in contradiction to Srila Prabhupada’s mood, and could therefore be considered a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s mood.

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Yamuna, Visakha, Sitala, and other women are highly intelligent, glued to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, and their sadhana is impeccable. How enriched this GBC body would be to regularly receive their wise perspectives.

If Srila Prabhupada wanted our leaders to be influenced by women, why did he himself not establish a “Woman’s Ministry” to represent women for the GBC body? Why not just be honest enough to admit that what she is proposing is something different than what Srila Prabhupada wanted. If Srila Prabhupada wanted women to become leaders, why didn’t he make them leaders? At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s passing away, there was not one female GBC, temple president, or guru in the whole movement. Why try to change Srila Prabhupada’s philosophy and movement? That is an offense to him, and a rejection of his authority. It is also a rejection of sastra, because sastra does not prescribe that women should become advisors to leaders. Rather, that is the duty of the brahmanas. Because we do not follow sastra, we have so many problems, and then we try to blame sastra as the source of our problems. What blind ignorance!

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Before I conclude I’d like to quote Radha Devi Dasi, a Harvard law graduate:

The qualification of a woman is not to go out and become a professional prostitute, but to stay at home and become a chaste mother. A woman who is a graduate of Harvard Law may be very qualified from the material platform, but from the spiritual platform, such a person is in the grossest ignorance. Because we base our opinions on such people, we fall into maya and misconceptions.

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First, we misunderstand our own philosophy and misrepresent our founder-acarya, Srila Prabhupada, if we develop institutional structures that operate as barriers to the integration of women into our ISKCON society.

What does Radha dd consider an “institional barrier”? That women should be encouraged to become gurus and leaders, instead of following the sastric prescription of staying at home and taking care of their children? There are many misconceptions inherit in the very attitude in which Radha dd makes this statement.

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It is a mistake to contend that Vaisnava philosophy requires that women fill one, and only one, social role.

Whether Radha dd likes it or not, sastra does indeed prescribe one role- that women should be mothers, staying at home and taking care of their children, not going out and getting law degrees. She is rejecting sastra by making this statement. Why not be honest enough to admit that you cannot surrender to sastra rather than trying to change sastra to suit your own speculations and sense gratification? If you cannot accept sastra, why not leave this movement and stop contaminating everyone else with your faithlessness?

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In the first place, Srila Prabhupada made clear that our Vaisnava heritage is one of flexibility and adaptation with the goal of bringing as many people as possible to the practice of Krsna consciousness.

What a nonsense statement! To what degree was Srila Prabhupada willing to be flexible? Surely not “infinitely flexiable and infinitely accommodating”. How flexible does Radha dd want to make our philosophy? So “flexible” that women are free to reject sastra’s prescription that women should stay at home and be mothers? So “flexible” that women can go out and become prostitutes?

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Our Vaisnava history is not intended as a set of chains which will bind modern persons to an historic lifestyle which has not existed anywhere on this earth in a pure form for thousands of years.

Why then did Srila Prabhupada reccomend women to follow traditional women’s roles? Her statement is a rejection of Srila Prabhupada, most likely due to a lack of proper understanding of his teachings. Are we actually reading Srila Prabhupada’s books? Are we actually accepting everything he says, as it is, without rejecting or adding/subtracting parts that go against our modern western social conditioning?

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Used in such a way, our Vaisnava history becomes a bar – prohibiting others from approaching Krsna – and we fail to fulfill the injunction laid upon us by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to become spiritual masters and free the entire world.

And what is Radha dd’s solution? That we should allow all kinds of nonsense? That women should have the freedom to go out and get law degrees? That we should reject Srila Prabhupada’s teachings which state hundreds of times “Women are never to be given freedom”? Rather than admitting her own lack of faith, she is trying to change Srila Prabhupada’s philosophy to cater to her own lack of surrender. Is this not insanity?

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This discussion of the uses and place of our history and tradition has a profound impact on the actual operations and effectiveness of our institution.

And what is Radha dd’s solution? That we should reject the Vedic tradition which Srila Prabhupada gave us? Why not just outright reject Srila Prabhupada’s authority, and go join some other movement that you can feel more a part of, like the karmi feminist movement. If Srila Prabhupada didn’t want us to follow Vedic culture, why then did he glorify it so many thousands of times in his lectures, conversations, and books?

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By arguing that women must keep to traditional roles for which they may not be suited, by preventing them from participating in services where they could excel,

Regardless of whether or not Radha dd wants to surrender to the traditional roles which sastra prescribes for women, sastra does not change. Radha dd is outrightly rejecting sastra by making such arrogant statements. What kinds of services is she referring to? To become a guru, leader, GBC, etc? If Srila Prabhupada wanted women to become those things, why did he himself not prescribe it or establish it? Radha dd has no faith in Srila Prabhupada’s absolute authority and she is outright rejecting Srila Prabhupada by making such statements.

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It is no secret that ISKCON’s treatment of women and children has drawn criticism from anti-cult groups, rights organisations and even governmental bodies.

So we should adopt the demoniac standards that the above mentioned groups prescribe? That would be a rejection of sastric standards and the standards that Srila Prabhupada taught. Who cares what these demons think! If she want to follow their authority more than Srila Prabhupada’s, perhaps Radha dd should go join the anti-cult movement, or the human rights organizations, or even go join the corrupt government.

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It is easy, but foolish, to dismiss such criticism as envy or the uninformed opinion of materialists.

It’s even easier to dismiss Srila Prabhupada’s direct instructions about culture and social roles, as Radha dd is clearly doing in her statements.

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Srila Prabhupada himself engaged women in management, public preaching, his personal service, in fact, in virtually every aspect of his newly formed ISKCON organisation.

This is a blatantly incorrect statement. In saying “virtually every aspect”, she is totally wrong. Does “virtually every aspect” include guru, GBC, or temple president? But history shows that Srila Prabhupada never engaged any women in these roles. Therefore, why not be honest enough to admit that you are simply rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s example as well as teachings, Radha dd?

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Why should we offend half the world’s population in order to uphold a ‘tradition’ with which even Srila Prabhupada was willing to dispense?

Another blatantly incorrect statement. If this is true, why then did Srila Prabhupada criticize modern western society so strongly and so frequently? And why did he glorify India’s traditional Vedic culture so strongly and so frequently? Radha dd’s problem is that she has her facts wrong.

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Most women in ISKCON are engaged in traditional roles. We are mothers, wives, cooks, housekeepers and caretakers. We cook, we clean, we care for the children and the men in our Society, as well as caring for each other. But these tasks are not the whole of our abilities or of the contribution we have to make to Srila Prabhupada’s movement.

But they are the roles that sastra prescribes for women. To want to add to that is sastra-ninda, thinking that you are more intelligent than sastra. What an offensive position to take.

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There are important gender differences that cannot be ignored. This fact, often used as an argument for silencing women, is actually a reason why they should be involved in ISKCON’s public discourse.

Even the feminists cannot deny that there are indeed differences between men and women, as her first sentence shows. But her second sentence is a misconception. If Srila Prabhupada wanted women to have a “public voice” and influence on the leaders, why did he himself not establish a “Woman’s Ministry”? The fact is that the current ISKCON Women’s Ministry, recently renamed Vaisnavi Ministry, is just a vehicle for instituting feminist policies within ISKCON. This will simply spoil everything and destroy Srila Prabhupada’s movement. It is an outright rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

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Psychologists and others who have studied gender differences have concluded that women are, either through biology or socialisation, more invested in personal relationships than men are.

Yes, and this is why women are supposed to remain at home and raise their children, because they are better at nurturing and giving love to the children. To promote feminism, that women should have some role other than that of a woman, is the greatest social injustice, because it destroys the family and the home, and destroys the lives of the children. Even modern sociologists are beginning to realize this.

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Our Vaisnava society suffers when women are excluded from its public life, from decision-making, management and formation of policy.

This statement is actually very true. A woman’s role is to be the decision maker of the family, specifically in relation to dicisions related to children. A woman’s role is to be the manager of the children of her family. A woman’s role is to be the formator of policies within her own home, especially in relation to her children. It is NOT the duty of women to become ISKCON’s decision makers, managers, and policy formers. Otherwise, why did Srila Prabhupada himself not establish women into these positions, if that is what he wanted? Her statement is a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s mood and authority.

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In conclusion I have three requests for you to consider:

1. Lend credibility to the Women’s Ministry by increasing the representation of women on the GBC on some level and inviting senior women to your zones and temples to associate with your women devotees.

This is again a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s authority and teachings. If Srila Prabhupada wanted women on the GBC, why did he himself not establish it? In 1977, when Srila Prabhupada passed away, there was not one single woman on the GBC body. If Srila Prabhupada wanted women to be on the GBC, why did he not put them there?

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2. Issue an apology to women for lack of protection and exploitation under your management and the management of those who came before you.

This is a very arrogant accusational statement to make in front of a room of exalted sannyasis and leaders. It’s all the bad and mean sannyasis and leaders fault! Nevermind that part of the blame might rest on the women’s shoulders also, for being too independent and too inclined to feminism.

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3. Return to your respective zones and hold ista-gosthis in each temple. As you travel, establish the priority of providing equal facilities, full encouragement and genuine care and protection to the women members of our society. Hold meetings with leaders and women to openly address their needs and problems.

The term “equal facilities” is used here, a thinly viewed reference to equal rights, or feminism. Has this woman never read the many statements Srila Prabhupada made against equal rights? By encouraging this, she is rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Why not just admit that we have a problem with Srila Prabhupada, rather than masking ourselves as his followers and contaminating others under the guise of being “socially progressive”?

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As I mentioned earlier, the 1996 GBC-authorised survey of devotees told you that the devotional community has very little faith and trust in you as leaders. These steps would be very significant in re-establishing the community’s faith in your leadership.

Actually it would be quite instrumental in many devotees LOSING faith in the GBC, not in re-establishing their faith. Why? Because by following these nonsense steps, the GBC will be in clear deviation of Srila Prabhupada’s explicit teachings, and thus strict followers of Srila Prabhupada will reject the GBC promoting apasiddhanta.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Part 3 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

Next we move on to the next mataji’s presentation, Visakha dd.

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Are Prabhupada’s female followers changing these clear guidelines?

Yes. They are deviating from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and preaching apasiddhanta.

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The women who today are examining the mood and restrictions that some male members of ISKCON have imposed or would impose on them, are doing so on the strength of Prabhupada’s teachings and personal example.

The “male members of ISKCON” that these feminists blame for “repressing” their desires for independence are doing nothing more than following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for the roles of women. The women who are striving for gender equality are rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

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Whatever contradictions we may find in his teachings and example are only apparent. Closer examination and realisation will reveal that Prabhupada’s legacy is harmonious in all its aspects, including the role of women. It is only in the mature reconciliation of apparent contradictions that Srila Prabhupada’s priceless legacy will be left balanced and complete for future generations of his followers.

That these women find “apparent contradictions” in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings is proof that they are on the material platform. If we view Srila Prabhupada’s teachings from the transcendental platform, then there are no contradictions whatsoever. That these feminists find contradictions in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings is proof that they do not understand Srila Prabhupada’s mood, because one who actually understands Srila Prabhupada’s mood will not find any contradictions in his teachings.

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Apparent contradictions repeatedly originate from statements concerning the principles of bhakti-yoga on one side and varnasrama on the other.

What they are saying here is that one side of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are spiritual, those dealing with pure Krishna consciousness, and that the other side of his teachings are material, those dealing with varnasrama and Vedic culture. This gives them the justification to minimize and even reject what they consider to be the “material side” of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Actually they are rejecting Srila Prabhupada by doing this. Every word that comes out of Srila Prabhupada’s mouth is transcendental and absolute. That they reject certain parts of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that goes against their western cultural conditioning means that they have rejected Srila Prabhupada’s absolute authority. They are trying to relativize Srila Prabhupada, and that is extremely offensive. Sri Guru is absolute, not relative.

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Here, Prabhupada first explains the traditional, home-centred role for women in the varnasrama system, and then explains how a female leader can best remain in power – through her development in bhakti-yoga.

First off, this statement is totally incorrect. Srila Prabhupada never taught that a woman should be a leader or a manager. At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s passing away, there was not even one female GBC, temple president, or guru. Therefore if Srila Prabhupada wanted women to be leaders, why didn’t he establish it while he was still on this planet? Visakha dd’s statement is completely incorrect. Actually, Srila Prabhupada taught that a woman’s role is to be a mother, not a leader or a guru. Therefore her statement is in direct contradiction with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

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So, as conservative as one may consider Prabhupada’s stance regarding women in the varnasrama system, one will find Prabhupada’s stance equally liberal regarding women in bhakti-yoga.

Once again, Visakha dd is trying to minimize one side of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings as “material”, in an attempt to justify a speculative and deviant theory of gender equality. This is a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s absolute authority.

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So, as conservative as one may consider Prabhupada’s stance regarding women in the varnasrama system, one will find Prabhupada’s stance equally liberal regarding women in bhakti-yoga.

Once again, Visakha dd is trying to minimize one side of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings as “material”, in an attempt to justify a speculative and deviant theory of gender equality. This is a rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s absolute authority.

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If we are presently forbidding certain services to qualified Vaisnavis, we may be quickly gliding towards the caste system, the convoluted and stultifying misapplication of Lord Krsna’s divine social arrangement – daiva-varnasrama.

What “certain services” is she referring to? To become a guru, a sannyasini, a GBC? Why didn’t Srila Prabhupada establish even one woman as any of those if he wanted women to become them? Visakha dd mentions daivi-varnasrama, but she quite clearly has many misconceptions about what daivi-varnasrama really is. In the daivi varnasrama system in Goloka, women are not acting as gurus and sannyasinis. No, they are staying at home and performing the duties of a mother, duties that Visakha dd is rejecting by saying that women should go out and become leaders rather than staying at home. Visakha dd’s statement is in defiance of sastra and in defiance of the very culture that Krishna Himself follows.

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By not protecting the right of a woman to serve according to her capacities and by squeezing her into a box that all women are obliged to fit in, we follow this direction by default, unless we take definite steps to change. The rigid society that refuses to accept individual proclivities – whether in women or in men – harms itself and those it suppresses.

This is a completely nonsense arguement, something that sounds like it came right out of a secular liberal humanist’s handbook. Visakha dd is directly rejecting sastra by making this statement, calling it a “box women are forced into”. Sastra states that women are never to be given freedom, and that a woman’s duties are to stay at home and take care of children, cook, and clean. Visakha dd wants to reject this and change it, saying that “an individual’s proclivities should not be suppressed”. Regardless of what her speculations are, sastra does not “changes with the times”, and failure to follow sastra is the individual’s fault, not the fault of the system. Just face it! If you can’t conform to sastra, better that you be honest enough to simply leave this movement. Better to be an honest atheist, than a cheater in the garb of a theist.

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Similarly, discriminatory attitudes towards women have created, and will continue to create, havoc in ISKCON.

But sastra DOES discriminate a woman’s roles as being different from that of men’s. Visakha dd does not have enough faith in sastra to simply accept and surrender to it, and she tries to blame everyone else for her lack of faith, as we will see in her following statement.

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Prabhupada’s ladies request the gentlemen in his Society not to see them in terms of their birth. Please do not offer us sexism in the name of Krsna consciousness.

This is the typical arrogant “anti-male chauvanists” attitude you will find in a feminist. By making such a statement, Visakha dd is revealing her real position as a feminist. This statement is a completely loaded statement. Does Visakha dd consider the many statements Srila Prabhupada made against feminism to be sexist? If you don’t want to follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, better that you leave this movement and go join some other movement, such as the secular feminist movement, rather than stay and contaminate everyone else with your faithlessness. Regardless of Visakha dd’s speculations, Krishna’s Vedic culture is indeed “sexist”- it prescribes different duties for men and women. If you don’t like this, then fine- you don’t have to go back to Godhead, you can stay in thjis material world and follow your demoniac feminist culture.

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Srila Prabhupada offered qualified women, like qualified men, services commensurate with their abilities, and part of these women’s qualifications was that they were protected, dependent, faithful and chaste.

Not just “part”, but all. Why does Visakha dd prefer only “parts”, rather than accepting the complete package, as it is? Sastra says that a woman is supposed to be fully dependent on men, not partially. Her statement is a rejection of sastra.

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Women who are encouraged rather than suppressed

Does Visakha dd consider the traditional Vedic role of women that is given by both Srila Prabhupada and sastra to be “suppression”? Most likely. Her statement is a rejection of sastra.

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As far as is practical, women and men should remain separate and make gradual advancement in Krsna consciousness.

Even Visakha dd admits that to make spiritual advancement, men and women must not associate together. Unfortunately, she is not intelligent enough to understand that by promoting gender equality, she is also promoting free mixing of men and women, which will make spiritual advancement impossible. After all, since “we are all equal”, then there is no need to separate the two sexes.

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Julius Lipner, a British scholar of Hindu studies at Cambridge University, writes: ‘ISKCON needs all the help it can get in the years ahead. Unless it succeeds in convincing the female devotees that they have an equally important role to play – not only physically, but also intellectually and spiritually if they so desire – an immense resource will be wasted; more important, ISKCON’s prospects for the future will be seriously undermined. It seems to me … that the role of women must be reconstructed in ISKCON.’ (Lipner, p. 24)

Who cares what mundane scholars say? Their statements are by nature incorrect, since they are treating religion as an empiric subject, rather than a process of surrender. Mundane scholars simply lick the outside of the jar of honey. To form your opinions based on what scholars think is suicidal spiritually. Mundane academic scholars are also generally rooted in the humanistic sciences, of which modern feminism is simply an outshoot. So it is no wonder where Visakha dd gets her ideas from. Not from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, but from the speculations of demoniac and atheistic mundane academic scholars.

Next we will move on to the next mataji’s presentation, by Kusa dd.

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These past few days I have relished participating in the application of vaisnava-siddhanta to management.

Actually, you are contaminating the management with apasiddhanta. Srila Prabhupada spoke so much against gender equality, equal rights, and yet Kusa dd and the rest of the women are following such apasiddhanta.

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Burke Rochford’s report, submitted to the GBC last year, states: ‘I recommend that ISKCON leaders immediately move to restore the rights and responsibilities afforded women by Srila Prabhupada. Men should be educated accordingly. Guru and non-guru leaders should teach respect for women; women should again be viewed as capable devotees in the service of Prabhupada’s movement rather than as temptresses or other such derogatory characterisations. To do so would immediately increase the self-esteem of women and make them more productive members of ISKCON. This will also make the movement more attractive to potential members who view ISKCON’s position on women as antiquated and morally objectionable.’

Once again, who cares what mundane academic scholars think! If you follow such demons, you will go to hell, and unfortunately, these less intelligent women have been tricked by these atheistic scholars into following their ideas, and as a result, they have deviated from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Also, Burke Rochford is not a spiritual authority. He never really surrendered to Srila Prabhupada, and took initiation from him, but rather remained distant, viewing ISKCON merely from an empirical or anthropological angle. He is simply an atheist.

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Calling women temptresses and using other such derogatory characterisations

Where has this taken place? This is her own paranoid speculations, and she is very haughtily speaking such things in front of the GBC body, as if she is accusing them of doing such things.

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So, why do we sometimes utilise denigrating speech in relation to women? Perhaps it is because when a man is improperly trained, rather than taking responsibility for his own sex desire, he blames women and thus speaks harshly about them and to them.

Perhaps Kusa dd has not read much of the Bhagavatam? It is not just the “dirty evil misogynist men of ISKCON” that use derogatory language in describing women. SASTRA does. Sastra says that women are the personification of maya, and a trap for men. But rather than being honest enough to admit that she is criticizing sastra, she merely places the blame on a few imperfect men in ISKCON. Her statement is rooted in faithlessness and athiesm.

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Gender-biased speech wounds our Society; spoken from the vyasasana, it strikes a thorn in our hearts.

What about Srila Prabhupada’s quotes about women? Does Kusa dd consider them to be “gender biased”? Look, it is better to simply be honest enough to admit that you do not have faith in either sastra or in Srila Prabhupada. Why spread your misconceptions and contaminations to others?

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The Bhagavatam’s wisdom is not gender-exclusive. A small adjustment in the speaker’s elaboration of a sloka could make the instruction applicable to the whole audience.

Now Kusa dd goes so far as to dare to say that we should make changes to the Bhagavatam. This is the inherit problem of feminists. They have no respect or faith for sastra, and therefore they feel no guilt about wanting to change it. As we recently saw this year, due to feminist’s outcries, the GBC attempted to change and add footnotes and annotations to Srila Prabhupada’s purports that they don’t like, those dealing with women. Why not be honest enough to admit that you have no faith, rather than try to destroy Srila Prabhupada’s movement? The Bhagavatam is completely perfect, every single syllabal. To dare to change even a syllabal of the Bhagavatam is outright blasphemous. Such demons should be rejected from the society of devotees.

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A brahmacari who has been properly trained honours rather than denigrates women.

What about women who do not properly respect brahmacaris? Sometimes a brahmacari may be naturally repulsed by certain women who have no respect for brahmacaris, or celibacy. This is another big part of feminism, that feminists have no respect for celibacy and in fact, hold celibates in contempt. Why do they do this? Because to be celibate is like a slap in the face for them, that “Yes, I am celibate and thus not under your control”. This very much agitates their false egos, and this is why liberal women generally hate brahmacaris and sannyasis.

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Such a secure renunciate is not threatened by a woman’s power; on the contrary, he evokes it.

Yes, he encourages a woman to develop her motherly powers, not her “powers” to become an independent woman. He never encourages women to become leaders, because that would be a rejection of sastra. On another point- Kusa dd is supposed to be speaking about women’s roles. Why then is she speaking about brahmacaris and sannyasis? And what right does she have to give instruction to brahmacaris and sannyasis? How arrogant is this woman? We have all heard of “woman hating brahmacaris”. Kusa dd is a perfect example of a “brahmacari hating woman”.

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The feminine qualities of nurturing and compassion perish when pitted against the masculine lust for power.

This is actually a very good statement. When a feministic woman develops the lust for power and independence, generally her motherly qualities diminish, and she becomes very cold-hearted and harsh. This can be seen in the lives of feminists. They have very little motherly qualities, because they are trying to imitate men, rather than stick to the duties that are prescribed by sastra for women. This is the disease of the feminists.

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It is time to bravely and without sensuality affirm the feminine

What new age rubbish handbook did she get this statement out of? This sounds like something you would hear a new-ager say. These feminists dare to say that they are on the spiritual platform, where everyone is equal, and yet they are constantly talking about masculine, feminine, male and female, etc. In other words, instead of promoting gender equality, they are actually promoting gender discrimination to the extreme. Unfortunately, they cannot see their own hypocrisy due to the blindness caused by rejecting sastra.

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We may also note with caution that Krsna conscious feminine power can create havoc in the lives of those who don’t respect Vaisnavis: the unscrupulous Kauravas perished due to dishonouring Draupadi.

Kusa dd is so humble that she is daring to even indirectly compare herself with ideal CHASTE and submissive Vedic ladies like Draupadi. Guess what? Draupadi never went into an assembly of men and demanded equal rights, like Kusa dd is doing. Feminine power comes from being a mother, not from being an independent prostitute.

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Respecting a woman as an agent of Laksmi will do much to encourage her most precious devotion to the Lord.

But what about women who do not respect men? What about women who do not respect sastra? What about women who do not respect guru? Do these kinds of women deserve respect? First they must actually follow sastra and guru, and then they can receive respect. If they instead act like unchaste feminists, then they will naturally attract disrespect, because an independent woman is very unrespectable, but a chaste woman is naturally respectable. Become a chaste woman and you will earn respect naturally, rather than having to demand it.

Next we move on to the next mataji’s presentation, that of Saudamani dd’s.

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There was a rumour going around that we ladies were in Mayapura to present some feminist agenda. The idea was that, under the influence of the modern women’s rights movement or the theology which denies the hierarchical nature of existence, we would plead with the GBC to change the philosophy or adjust Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in order to fit in with the times.

Like the thief that cries “I am not stealing”. Actually, that is exactly what they are doing.

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The difficulty is not in defending or explaining the philosophy, but rather in trying to defend or explain our behaviour and, even more so, trying to defend our policies, unofficial and official.

Yes, rather than depending on sastra, they are depending on their own mental speculations and their own western cultural conditioning, of which gender equality or feminism is a big part of. Saudamani here says “our policies”. Why not follow sastra’s policies, and Srila Prabhupada’s policies? Why reject them by trying to advocate your own mundane policies which are based on the secular feminist movement.

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There is speculation that Srila Prabhupada dealt with the ladies very liberally in the early days because he was very kind and could see that they weren’t up to a very high standard; that the early examples of what Srila Prabhupada did or said are irrelevant to his actual desire.

Actually, it is Saudamani’s speculations that that WASN’T what Srila Prabhupada was doing. Srila Prabhupada wrote in the Caitanya Caritamrta that in the West, the men and women are not used to being separated from one another, and therefore he was making an adjustment or a compromise with them in order to spread Krishna consciousness. He then glories the Vedic culture, in hopes that his fallen western disciples would one day live up to that standard, or at least have a desire to follow it. Unfortunately, as we can see from these women’s presentations, they have not even developed the desire to follow that standard. Rather, they reject Srila Prabhupada’s statements that they don’t agree with. Why not just be honest enough to admit that you do not have full faith in Srila Prabhupada’s absolute authority?

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Rupanuga’s wife, Kalindi, told me that Srila Prabhupada was amazed to see that we (women) drove cars.

Yes, Srila Prabhupada was amazed in disgust to see women doing such an unfeminine thing like driving a car. Srila Prabhupada was very disgusted by a lot of the habits that his fallen western mleccha disciples were addicted to. He knew that he could not change them immediately, but he certainly intended for them to come up to a higher standard once they were a little advanced. Have they made that advancement? Clearly not, or otherwise why would they be preaching about feminism and equal rights, in clear rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings?

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The early instructions and examples establishing principles and strategies for spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world are extremely important

Once again, the feminists are trying to stress the 1966 standards over the later standards, when Srila Prabhupada had developed the movement more. This is a rejection of everything Srila Prabhupada established after 1966. It might be a slightly more rational idea to follow instead the 1977 standards, and not only that, but strive to INCREASE them, not water them down.

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It is my contention that we should not portray Srila Prabhupada’s early personal mood, his preaching strategy, example and instructions as some sort of compromise to necessity

But that is exactly what Srila Prabhupada was doing. He knew that he could not change these hippie mlecchas immediately. To reject Srila Prabhupada’s latter standards is an outright rejection of his teachings. The problem these women are having is that they are not fully surrendered to Srila Prabhupada, and they feel that they can pick and choose which instructions they want to follow, while rejecting the ones that they don’t like.

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His (Srila Prabhupada’s) faith was that the holy name would purify us so that we would eventually follow his instructions and example

But are you following his instructions? No, you are rejecting them and minimizing those instructions that you happen to disagree with. Therefore has the Holy Name actually purified you? It is perhaps because of a lack of surrender of your part towards Srila Prabhupada and sastra?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Part 2 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

This is the beginning of my refutation of the second page of the “Women in ISKCON: Presentations to the GBC”, starting on Sitali dd’s presentation.

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Many of you may be wondering what this women’s presentation is all about. So, before setting the scene, I would like to assure you what this presentation is not about..
*It is not about promoting feminism..
*It is not about disregarding Vedic culture.

Could this be like the thief who cries out “I’m not stealing!”?

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What it is about is looking at ISKCON’s social history, specifically from the female perspective

Why not look at it from the transcendental perspective? Feminists talk so much about giving up all discrimination and distinction, but it is found that they are the ones that are the most concerned with discrimination and distinction. Even better, why not try to look at ISKCON’s social history from the perspective of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings?

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There is a tendency in ISKCON today, however, to look on Prabhupada and his teachings as a source of proof-texts for ad-hoc policies and decisions rather than try to understand him and the tradition in which he stood more systematically.

But Srila Prabhupada intended for his instructions and teachings to be used as the policies which guide ISKCON. Was Srila Prabhupada just speaking for his own amusement? No, he was speaking and hoping we would follow his instructions. From the very beginning of her presentation, Sitali dd is taking the dangerous step of trying to separate Srila Prabhupada from tradition. The covert meaning of her statement is that Srila Prabhupada was conditioned by the culture in which he grew up in, and that many of Srila Prabhupada’s statements are the result of that cultural conditioning. In other words, she is indirectly saying that Srila Prabhupada is a conditioned soul. That is quite a dangerous policy for someone who is trying to make spiritual advancement, to blasphemy a pure Vaisnava like Srila Prabhupada by saying that he was materially conditioned.

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In what may seem a paradoxical way, it may be necessary to pay less attention to specific statements that Prabhupada made in order to preserve the vitality of what he stood for.

Now she is directly saying that we should minimize various statements that Srila Prabhupada made. Why would she say such a thing? Is it because her western cultural conditioning is being threatened by certain statements of Srila Prabhupada’s, and that it is easier to simply minimize his statements rather than surrender to them. She is actually rejecting Srila Prabhupada’s authority by making such a statement.

SECTION MISSING- LARGE SECTION ACCIDENTALLY DELETED

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Part 1 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution

This paper will be in three sections. The first part will be a philosophical refutation of the GBC’s “Women in ISKCON” Resolution of 2000. The second part, and much longer part, will be a point-by-point refutation of the ISKCON Womens Ministry’s (recently renamed Vaisnavi Ministry) Presentation to the GBC in the year 2000 regarding their concerns for equality for men and women within ISKCON. The third and last part will be a refutation of Urmila dd’s “Response to the Women in ISKCON Presentations“.

Women in ISKCON 2000 Resolution by the GBC

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WHEREAS, the Women’s Ministry presentation on March 1st, 2000 to the international GBC Body brought a clearer understanding of the mistakes of the past and the need to provide equal and full opportunity for devotional service for all devotees in ISKCON, regardless of gender, and

The first warning sign here should be the usage of the word “equal”. Srila Prabhupada understood that the souls in women’s bodies also deserve Krishna consciousness. But He clearly prescribed different duties for men and women. The term “equal and full opportunity” used in the resolution is in defiance of Srila Prabhupada’s explicit teachings that men and women’s roles are different.

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WHEREAS, it is our belief that many of the social issues that confront us are exacerbated because the voice of our women, who are the mothers and daughters of our Krsna conscious family, have been hushed and stifled due to misinterpretation of our Vaisnava philosophy, and thus the human and interpersonal needs of our devotees have been minimized,

They blame the past abuse of women due to “misinterpretation” of our philosophy. They do not specify what kind of “misinterpretation” that they are refering to, which leaves the door wide open for speculation. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada’s statements on society were wrong? Perhaps we shouldn’t follow it? Perhaps it would be better for women if we instead following a western cultural standard, which values equal rights (even though Srila Prabhupada was explicitly against the “women’s liberation” movement, which promoted equal rights for women. Note the usage of the words “human and interpersonal needs”. This is an appeal to the emotions of the reader, and is coming from the emotional platform. It is not attempting to appeal to the intelligence of the reader, nor is it coming from the sastric platform.

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FURTHERMORE, All GBC Body members and other leaders shall hold ista-gosthis in each of their respective temples to establish the priority of providing equal facilities, full encouragement and genuine care and protection for the women members of ISKCON. Also, separate meetings should be held with the leaders and women of each temple to address the women’s needs and concerns, and

It is not the duty of the GBC, nor the temples to provide care and protection to women. That is the duty of their families to do that. Note again the term “equal facilities”. This is such a broad term that it again opens the door wide to speculation. Should women also become GBC? Should women also become diksa-gurus? Should women also become temple presidents? Once again, Srila Prabhupada clearly said that women’s roles are different from men’s. What kind of “full encouragement” are our leaders giving to women by passing such a resolution? Are they giving “full encouragement” to the women to become mothers, capable of raising their children and serving their husbands? Or are they encouraging women to become independent and to follow a materialistic culture based on gender equality?

A Philosophical Refutation of the “Women in ISKCON: Presentations to the GBC, March 2000

Quote: From the Introduction, by Mother Visakha and Mother Sudharma:Is ISKCON’s attitude to women a reflection of Vaisnava values or is it perversion of them?

Where does “ISKCON’s attitude towards women” come from? Srila Prabhupada’s teachings remain the sole foundation of ISKCON. This statement by Visakha dd and Sudharma dd is an indirectly accusation against Srila Prabhupada. And once again, their statement is very vague, and it opens the door wide to speculation. What kinds of “perversions” are they refering to? It is easy to use rhetoric to achieve your goal, but much more difficult to actually clearly explain your statements.

Quote:
Are ISKCON members following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions or manipulating them to support their own agendas?

We can look at a statement made by Mother Sridhari, a female member of ISKCON, to answer this question. Here is her statement:

So many women are falsely thinking they’ll be happy by gaining the same posts as men. Why then doesn’t the Women’s Ministry minister to them by teaching Srila Prabhupada’s teachings–as they are!–without looking for power and fame. Why aren’t they satisfied to be shy and protected by their husbands, and to follow the example of most Indian ladies and also many Western ladies who by their shyness simply do not enter into them realm of GBC decisions? Most women who are truly chaste, shy, and a good Vedic example (not me) are too busy in their womanly duties and too shy to come out and write–what to speak of physically lobbying during the annual GBC meetings!
Source: http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET0005/ET26-5965.html

Another statement made by Mother Sita, another female member of ISKCON, sheds further light on the very basis of the Women’s Ministry representation of ISKCON’s women. It is as follows:

I have noticed that the Women’s Ministry’s (WM) primary objective is to achieve complete material equality with the men, similar to the nondevotee feminist agenda. Though the WM is supposed to represent all ISKCON women the majority of representatives of the NA Women’s Ministry are divorced and remarried or single women.
Source: http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET9812/ET19-2705.html

Since we are on the subject of remarriage and divorce, what does Srila Prabhupada say about this?

“Regarding remarriage, no, remarriage should be always discouraged. Remarriage means encouraging sense gratification. Our mission is to curtail sense gratification. Three times marrying in a year, this is not good, and they are doing this.”
(Letter to: Rupanuga, New Delhi, 21 August 1975)

Quote:
so the early temples that he established had a family spirit. Women served side by side with their male counterparts, opening centres, giving class, singing and chanting, performing varieties of other service, and personally caring for their elderly spiritual father.

Is it a possibility that Srila Prabhupada was simply making an accomodation for people who were unable to disassociate themselves from constant association with women? If Srila Prabhupada was in favor of men and women mixing together, why did He write the following in one of his Bhagavatam purports?

Therefore, Vedic civilization carefully restricts mingling between men and women. If one cannot understand the basic principle of restraining association between man and woman, he is to be considered an animal. That is the purport of this verse. -SB 7.12.9. P

Why should the 1966 standards be kept as the eternal standard for ISKCON? Wouldn’t it make a little more sense to not only maintain the 1977 standards (the year that Srila Prabhupada passed away), but to continue to increase those standards? Why revert back to the 1966 standards, when the devotees were all practically still hippies that did not follow any regulations? Logically, this makes no sense, and therefore their arguement makes no sense.

Quote:
A growing number of Srila Prabhupada’s male disciples accepted the renounced order of sannyasa; and subsequently devotee women were no longer viewed as partners in a spiritual renaissance, rather they were categorised as personifications of the illusory energy, Mayadevi, who threatened to cause men to deviate from their noble spiritual quest.

This statement is loaded with preconceptions and prejudices. It is indirectly demonizing celibacy and sannyasa life. This statement is coming from the emotional and sensual platforms, not from the platform of intelligence or sastra. It is not only NOT coming from the platform of sastra, but is criticizing sastra becauses sastra declares that women are the personification of Maya. They are rejecting sastra by making such a statement. All in all, their statement is highly biased, and this should be apparent to anyone with sober intelligence.

Quote:
Generally, women were no longer asked to give classes, to lead kirtanas or to manage. They had to sit through many discouraging and disparaging lectures in which the intelligence, motives and capabilities of womankind were criticised or scorned.

This is called throwing out the baby with the bathwater. That there were indeed abuses in the past, does that mean that we should simply throw away the whole system of Vedic culture and sastra, and implement western standards of gender equality instead? Not a very intelligent arguement.

Quote:
By 1974, this mood reached a zenith: women were now unwelcome.

This is another loaded statement, intending to appeal to the emotions of the reader. It is coming from the emotional platform, rather than the platform of intelligence or sastra. They next give an example of their statement, quoting a statement Tamal Krishna Maharaja had made, “The [male] visitors felt strengthened by the atmosphere of renunciation, not so easily available in the temples, where there were so many women. Visnujana strictly maintained a principle of not preaching to women. Seeing that I was bent on making new devotees, men or women, he had sagaciously directed, ‘Whenever you make a woman a devotee, you lose one man.’ [Referring to the fact that women had to be married eventually, and there was the possibility that the men would become absorbed in household life and thus be diverted from preaching activities.]“. Saying that “women are now unwelcome” and then quoting a statement by Tamal Krishna Maharaja to support their statement, is a way of indirectly criticizing him.

Quote:
While the standards and expectations regarding women varied from place to place, in general women were not considered for any managerial positions, their counsel was not sought in any decision-making

If Srila Prabhupada wanted women to have managerial positions, leadership positions, such as GBC, diksa-guru, or temple president, then why did Srila Prabhupada not establish it while he was still on this planet? At the time of Srila Prabhupada’s passing away, there was not even a single female GBC, temple president, or guru in the whole movement. Their statement is also against sastra, which says that women are not supposed to have positions of management or leadership. Therefore, their statement is a rejection of sastra.

Quote:
Conditions for women living in the temples became abysmal, and the terms “protection” and “exploitation” seemed practically interchangeable.

A person who is conditioned by a western cultural outlook, one of gender equality, will generally consider the Vedic conception of protection for women to be the same as ”exploitation”. An example of this are some of the secular feminists who write social criticisms of traditional cultures, making statements like “Those poor women in India are forced to cover their heads with a sari. What exploitation!” How is a woman being encouraged to cover her head with a sari to be considered exploitation? When I hear the word “exploitation”, I generally think of someone being violently exploited against their will to engage in some horrendous activity, like a sexual rape. But the modern feminists have redefined terms like “exploitation” to mean something as insignificant as a woman covering her head with a sari. The fallacy of their statement is the vague and perhaps exaggerated definitions they apply to words like exploitation and protection.

Quote:
Women galvanized their efforts and thinking and began to seek support, which they found in the Communications arm of the Society. Discussions ensued, papers were written, and Priti Laksanam, a publication of uncensored presentation, was established by Pranada Dasi.

They are refering to ISKCON Communications. Many in our movement feel that secular liberal western values are being infiltrated into ISKCON through the ISKCON Communications Journal. And, their feelings may not be invalid, as a perusal through some of the issues of the ISKCON Communications Journal reveal that liberal values, such as gender equality, are being directly promoted. An example of this? The very Women’s Presentation that we are refuting appeared in their Journal.

On another note, the same Pranada Dasi that is mentioned in their statement is the same Pranada Dasi that had a sexual affair with Satsvarupa Maharaja, causing him to fall down from his vows and become banned from giving diksa. This is the practical result of gender equality, that falldown rates will highly increase. Still want to follow Pranada dd’s advice and implement gender equality, considering that she caused a sannyasi to fall down?

Quote:
In 1992 a conference was held by ISKCON Communications on the subject of women in ISKCON at the German farm (Nava-jiyada-nrsimha-ksetra), then widely viewed as a bastion of male dominance.

More evidence that modern social theories such as gender equality are being promoted by ISKCON Communications. Notice the usage of terms like “bastion of male dominance”? This is a highly rhetorical statement, aimed at invoking the lower emotions of the reader, rather than sastric intelligence. Since they used the term “widely viewed”, I will also give some of my own experience. In my experience in discussing with various devotees, I can say that it is “widely viewed” that feminism, women militantly pushing for gender equality, is very strong in Germany. They told me that feminism in ISKCON is affecting Germany the worst, more than any other place in ISKCON.

Quote:
In 1995 Harikesa Svami, at that time GBC for Germany, declared that ‘where there is discrimination, it should be abolished.

They use Harikesa Prabhu’s (He is no longer “Swami” as he fell down in 1998) statement to try to justify giving up gender discrimination. Srila Prabhupada did not “abolish discrimination”. Rather, he very clearly instructed that roles for men and women are DIFFERENT. To have no discrimination means to think that everything is one, or in other words, Mayavada philosophy. Srila Prabhupada was the greatest enemy of Mayavada philosophy. Why then are they supporting this kind of Mayavada philosophy, that we should give up all discrimination? Srila Prabhupada gave the humorous example, if you want to give up all discrimination, then why do you discriminate between your mouth and your rear? Why not instead put food into your rear? Therefore, Visakha Mataji’s and Sudharma Mataji’s statement is against sastra and Srila Prabhupada’s whole mood of preaching.

Quote:
Sudharma’s repeated requests for the GBC to examine the situation of women in ISKCON was postponed year after year until, in September 1999, a crisis brought the topic to the forefront. One morning, just before mangala-arati (the first ceremony of the day, at 4:30 a.m.), in ISKCON’s International Krsna-Balarama Temple in Vrndavana, the brahmacaris formed a human chain, linking arm-and-arm, to prevent the women from taking close darsana (view) of the Deities. Some women tried to break through this chain and were physically rebuffed.

This is a highly biased and one-sided account of the incident that took place in Vrindavan. An accurate report coming from the management of the ISKCON Vrindavan temple of that incident is as follows:

This is to humbly submit to the community of Vaishnavas all over the world that what happened in Vrindavan between the Vrindavan Management and some matajis headed by Parvati was purely an administrative and managerial issue. It had nothing to do with undermining the position of women devotees. The following detailed account should make everything clear. About three weeks ago, just after the curtains opened for mangala aratik at 4:30 am. HH Giriraj swami approached me and complained to me that he could not even have darshan of the Radha Syamsundar altar or offer his obeisances because the whole altar was taken over by the ladies even before the curtains were opened.

Previous to this, several other sannyasis and other devotees including HH Lokanath Swami and HH Radha Govinda Maharaj had also complained that they were experiencing difficulties in offering obeisances in front of the Radha Syamsundar altar. The management committee discussed this issue and resolved that sannyasis and men be allowed to take darshan and offer obeisances to Radha Syamsundar until the passing of the ghee wick lamp. The men would then move towards the Krsna Balaram altar leaving Radha Syamsundar altar free for the women till the end of mangala aratik. This system for darshan was suggested by the ladies themselves. The next morning a clear announcement was made about this decision.

On the day when this arrangement was to begin, I was personally present early in the temple room and was surprised to see that some ladies were already holding tightly to the railings infront of the altar. I requested some of the matajis to please move back and let the men offer their obeisances and after the ghee wick lamp is passed they could come forward. Some of these ladies followed my instructions gracefully but some others like Anada and Parvati flagrantly refused. Parvati started pushing even the innocent and obedient ladies to the front. This created an embarassing sitution for the men who were surrounded by the ladies. The management and other devotees were naturally very upset by this unruly and defiant behavior. As a solution to this problem the management team decided to go back to the system that has been existing since the time of Srila Prabhupada, i.e. the men stand in front and the ladies at the back. So Aindra Prabhu moved his 24 hour kirtan party in front of Radhe Shyam’s altar and many other brahmacaris joined him. Angered that her plan was not successful Parvati started to push around the men on the Krsna Balaram and Gaur Nitai altars. She started elbowing everybody out, pushing them and shoving them. Because she pushed the brahmacaris first, the brahmacaris who were already alarmed by her previous day’s misbehavior pushed back in self defense.

This is what Parvati calls gang rape, hugging, molestation etc. When she got what she was giving to others she started fabricating all kinds of lies and stories such as that women were gang raped, hugged, molested etc. in front of the deities. We have rarely seen a more deceitful and shameless attempt to lie and make up a story. Look at the travesity of justice! Here is the person who acts in the most uncivilized, uncultured and uncooperative manner and she uses the words gang raped, hugged etc. and the whole ISKCON world without asking us starts believing her and passes judgement on us.
Source: http://www.vnn.org/world/WD9912/WD09-5048.html

Quote:
The presentations that follow will lend insight into the struggle of the women of the Krsna consciousness movement – a struggle that has encountered and helped synthesise the apparent contradictions between Eastern and Western lifestyle and culture.

The very basis of their statement is incorrect. This is not about eastern culture versus western culture. This is about Vedic culture versus the mleccha western culture. Srila Prabhupada criticized the demoniac western culture hundreds, if not thousands, of times in his books, lectures, and conversations. Srila Prabhupada also glorified India’s Vedic culture hundreds and thousands of times, saying it was far superior to the western civilization. For them to make the above statement of covert accomadationism with western culture is a blatant rejection of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

Now the Women in ISKCON Presentation moves on past the Introduction page, and seven female members of ISKCON begin giving their own individual presentations to the GBC body. We will now start with the first of those presentations, given by Sitali dd in our next post, Part 2 of A Philosophical Refutation of the GBC’s 2000 “Women in ISKCON” Resolution.

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