‘We should not remain hippies forever’
-Basu Ghosh Das
2. The separation of the sexes at this level is the standard that Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to adopt –- vide his purport to SB 1.11. 24
3. Therefore whatever concessions made by Prabhupada due to time, place and circumstances, should gradually be replaced by the standards that Prabhupada advocated.
4. Therefore, the order that women give class once a week at Mayapur – affirmative action by the Mayapur GBC committee – is moving us in the wrong direction.
5. Women giving class/lecturing to men violates the “feminine principle ofshyness” that Prabhupada taught.
Basu Ghosh Das From another ongoing conversation here on FB:Today, over the telephone, Jasomatinandan Prabhu was telling me, Bhayahari Das Collen Prabhu, that during his years in India with Prabhupada – and I was here as well during those years, from 1974-1977, he never heard even ONE woman give a class.
Maybe Prabhupada had one or two women speak at his earlier public lecture (“pandal” = “tent”) programs, sure. But by 1974, it was discontinued.
I myself attended Prabhupada’s public lectures at Hyderabad during 1974, 1975, and at the opening of Hyderabad temple during 1976 – a huge public program on Janmastami day. There were no women speakers in sight!
Also, I attended Prabhupada’s public lectures at Tirupati (April 1974), Madras (now Chennai – January 1976) Nellore (January 1976), and later on his public program at Wardha, Maharashtra, where there was an “acharyas conference”.
Again, no women speakers in sight.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur described in his Jaiva Dharma a scene where a bhakta goes into a room and see a Vaishnavi lecturing to other vaishnavis.
Same is the tradition in Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbaraka and Vallabh sampradayas. There is no tradition of women lecturing to men.
Why? To preserve their “lajja” – shyness! That’s why!
Bhayahari Prabhu, Prabhupada wanted us to learn Indian/vedic/vaishnava culture, and religion, and he encouraged us — his disciples — to spend significant time in India doing so!
Basu Ghosh Das Srila Prabhupada has said and done so many things on so many occasions that anyone can pick and chose whatever he did or said to justify almost anything they want.That is why it is not enough just to say “Srila Prabhupada did this” or “Srila Prabhupada said that”. We also have to look to the shastras and our tradition to be able to determine what is normative (i.e. the standards we have to come to/should follow/should teach & advocate) and what isn’t.
It’s not beneficial to try to do run around Srila Prabhupada by ignoring all this other evidence (that I have presented earlier in this discussion) in the name of Srila Prabhupoada. We have plenty of that already. Just quoting Srila Prabhupada and being done with it–especially on controversial issues–is a disservice to him.
The problem here is some devotees are taking a time-place-circumstance
adjustment to be an eternal principle. That is happening because of their lack familiarity with standard vaishnava siddhanta and our guru parampara traditions, and sometimes this lack of information is wilful.
“That poet Allen Ginsberg, he said, “Swamiji, you are very conservative.” No, I am the most liberal. You do not know. If I become conservative, then none of you will come to me.
So a brahmachari is strictly prohibited not to see even one young woman. But what can be done? In the Western countries, the boys and girls, they mix very freely. And if I say, “My dear boys, you cannot see even a young girl,” then finished. My business there is finished. Therefore I have to arrange according to the country, according to the circumstances, as far as possible. So gradually, they are coming to the perfectional stage. So we have to adopt desha-kala-patra, according to time, according to… But we are keeping our principles as it is, but making arrangement according to the circumstances. That is required.”
Srila Prabhupada in his lecture on SB 1.2.10, Nov. 16, 1973
5. Women giving class/lecturing to men violates the “feminine principle of
shyness” that Prabhupada taught.
See Prabhupada’s purports to SB 1.11.31 & 32, 4.26.23, 5.1.29, 10.59.44.
“So these things are there. The purpose is that our mind is like that, pumschali, unchaste wife. Not that everyone is unchaste. We have got many example, the character of woman. It is not that. It is not generalization. But there is chance. If they are not controlled, not properly educated, there is chance of becoming pumschali, and there have been many instances that woman, for being attracted by paramour, has killed even one’s own son. There are cases. So Bhishmadeva also advised that the shyness of woman, lajja, is the control. If you break that shy, what is called, shyness, then there will be disaster. That is the control valve naturally given. And woman’s shyness is one beauty, beauty. We have got practical experience. And command also.
We have practical experience in our life. You have seen that my friend came, Dinanath Mishra. They were our neighbor. So one day we were sitting on the corridor of the house. One sweeper woman, she wanted to come within, but very shyful, and with a covering of the head, although with broomstick and bucket, she was waiting because we were sitting both side. So she was feeling little shy not to enter the house. So we decided to move so that she may come. This example is given. She is a sweeper, not very respectable, maidservant or sweeper, but on account of her shyness we had to welcome, “Yes, we are moving. You come in.” Just see. This is psychology. Therefore Bhishmadeva, at his dying stage, he advised that woman’s shyness is the valve to control. If their shyness is broken, then it will create disaster. Pumschali. This is the psychology. So things are changing nowadays everywhere, not only in India, in other countries also. But this is the psychology. So all these examples are given. Why? Just to control the mind. In Hindi there is a proverb that money and wife you should always keep in control. There are so many examples.”
From Prabhupada’s lecture on SB 5.6.4 at Vrindavan, Nov. 25, 1976.
“Shyness of the ladies is a particular extra-natural beauty of the fair sex and it commands respect from the opposite sex. This custom was observed even during the days of Mahabharata i. e. more than five thousands of years before. It is only the less intelligent persons who are not well versed in the history of the world, do say that observance of separation from the male is an introduction of Mohamedan period in India. This incidence from the Mahabharat period proves definitely that the ladies of palace observed strict Pardah (restricted association with men) and instead of coming down in the open air where Lord Krishna and others where assembled, the ladies of the palace went up on the top of the palace and from there paid their respects to Lord Krishna by showers of flowers. It is definitely stated here that the ladies were smiling there on the top of the palace checked by shyness. This shyness is a gift of nature to the fair sex and it enhances their beauty and prestige even they are in the less important family or even they are less attractive by personal beauty. We have got practical experience of this fact that a sweeper woman commanded the respect of many respectable gentlemen simply by manifestation of a lady’s shyness. Half naked ladies in the street does not command any respect but a sweeper’s wife with shyness of a woman, commands respects-from all.”
From Prabhupada’s purport to SB 1.10.16
Basu Ghosh Das More from the above mentioned conversation ongoing elsewhere here on FB:Prabhu, consider that Prabhupada sending out women to distribute books on the road/in public in the early days of ISKCON was “time & circumstance”. It is NOT “stri-dharma”. We also have women distributing books here – on occasion.
See the purports above, and kindly consider. The letter that a woman can give a class, but if a man is present who is a better speaker is also “time & circumstance”.
Women lecturing to men violates the principle of feminine shyness – and that’s the “plain vanilla” truth! Bhayahari Das Collen Prabhu, you also kind consider. Many women understand this, such a Hladini Shakti Mataji, who so nicely commented, above.
Again, I am not opposed to women lecturing, but the tradition is that they lecture to other women. Prabhupada clearly said that a brahmachari should not even LOOK at a women, what to speak of hearing her lecture! But due to our mleccha & yavana samskaras (the impressions and teachings we had during our childhood – for those of us who were born in families where beef eating, alcohol consuming, and gambling, etc., were daily activities, taught to us by our parents, relatives, friends, teachers in the school, etc. — we did not have the “proper upbringing” and that interferes with our proper understanding of vaishnava/vedic/sanatan dharma principles.
The question here is an ideological one. We should not remain hippies forever – nor Western intellectuals as well!