Being a Homemaker: Honor or Disgrace? by Devaki Devi Dasi

I arrived in Kolkata on the 17th of November to offer a two-day seminar for the ladies over the weekend. The local devotees had chosen the topic “Being a Homemaker: Honor or Disgrace?” – a highly relevant subject for the young generation of ladies in modern India.

We had dedicated the entire Saturday and Sunday for this seminar – with a morning and afternoon session, and the temple provided the lunch prasadam for all participants. More than one hundred ladies eagerly participated, and we conducted the event in a spacious flat near the temple. I had compiled course materials, which were also translated into Bengali and Hindi. In this way we could welcome a maximum of participants, offering simultaneous translation into Hindi and Bengali.

I have certainly noticed, that the young generation of ladies in India are very eager for a professional career, thinking it to be great progress for a woman to enter the work force and earn money. Even amongst practicing devotees I have observed a strong trend towards economic development and material progress being the main and foremost goal in life. In a country like India, where spiritual traditions had been strictly maintained until recent days, it indeed seems so appealing and progressive for young ladies to abandon these seemingly old-fashioned customs of ladies being mainly engaged in the home taking care of the husband and children. Thus the ladies in India are now dreaming of becoming independent career women, and it appears all so attractive and glittering! read more

TKG – How Prabhupada was and was not equal to women

From a talk by Tamal Krishna Goswami
8-24-2000, Hungary
I will give you some instances to show you that Prabhupada was not equal to women. I was sitting with Prabhupada at 7 Bury Place, our first temple in London. He told me that if Jamuna Devi who was the wife of the temple president, had been a man, it would have been she that would have been the temple president. In other words, she was more qualified than her husband. But because she was a woman, he could not make her the temple president.

Later on, I was handed three slips of paper in which the names of different persons were listed when Prabhupada was preparing to form his first GBC. They finally found these three pieces of papers in the archives. They are in Prabhupada’s own handwriting on backs of envelopes and on the first two he lists, on one of them he lists three women, on one he lists two women and in the third list that I got, he lists only eleven men. And when he formed the GBC, there were no women. Now he wouldn’t allow women to be temple president, so how could he allow women to be GBC? I am just showing you how he was not equal.

Another way he was not equal is after a while, very rarely did women accompany him on a walk. Now the women claim that this is because of the sannyasis. I don’t know which sannyasis they are talking about, but some of the sannyasis, they say, were really pushing the women away and not letting them have an equal right. There may be some truth to that but Prabhupada allowed it. Prabhupada was not so unaware of the fact that there were no women on the walk. He could have said, “Where is so and so, where is so and so?” and he did used to say, “Where is so and so, where is so and so?” but that so and so was always a sannyasi or a senior man. So I don’t think that Prabhupada was equal to all. read more

WHEN WOMEN SHOULD BE ATTACKED

No civilization can actually be considered civilized unless it protects its weaker sections, especially the cows, brahmanas, women, children, and elderly members. In Vedic society, as in any civilized culture, women must be protected as they are physically weak and are easily misled.

Srila Prabhupada said in a lecture:

“According to Vedic culture, first protection — to the cows, to the women, to the brahmanas, to the children, and to the old man. This is the first business of the government, to give protection. Practically, there is no criminal charge against them — against a brahmana, against a woman, a child. Suppose a child steals something. Who is going to prosecute him? It is not taken very seriously.” read more

Chastity – What Does It Actually Mean?

On the 26th of July we welcomed 40 ladies in Kharkov/Ukraine, who had traveled all the way from Moscow, Minsk, Moldova, Crimea and various corners of Ukraine to participate in the two-week course for ladies entitled “Exploring the Roots of Spiritual Culture”. As every year we had arranged for their accomodation in a nearby hostel of a ladies’ college. Our youngest participant was ten years of age and the oldest mid fifty, and everyone was excited to embark on this transformational journey. Each and every participant received a colorful folder with printed materials and articles. We had a tight schedule with a three hours’ session in the mornings, and another 2 hours in the afternoon. Every morning we began the lessons with a role play demonstrating the topics of the previous day’s discussions. Whenever ten-year old Manjari took part, the role plays were especially heart moving and sweet.

One of the many captivating topics was chastity – what exactly does it mean? These days we often have a very shallow and superficial understanding of this most important quality, and since women in materialistic culture don’t aspire for it at all, the term is therefore almost lost and forgotten today. I distinctly remember how I was preaching at a Sunday program many years ago in Sydney, Australia, and I mentioned this term ‘chastity’ to some newcomers. One of the ladies exclaimed with a thousand question marks written all over her face: “Chastity? What’s THAT??” Also in the German language the term chastity (Keuschheit) sounds like something from the Middle Ages.

The two main tools for a woman to cultivate chastity are tolerance and shyness. Unless a woman is tolerant, she will demand, complain, answer back, get disturbed at the slightest provocation and inconvenience, and can easily leave her husband and walk out. Tolerance is a most important quality within spiritual practice. It is the main criterion in order to measure a devotee’s advancement and spiritual strength. Tolerance indicates that the false ego is subdued and reduced. Prahlada Maharaja and Haridas Thakur are always famous examples for the topmost level of tolerance. Also Devahuti serves as a wonderful example of a wife following her husband in utter tolerance and submission. And she received such outstanding rewards— great opulences in the flying mansion which Kardama Muni created, and finally giving birth to the Supreme Lord Himself! What more would a woman desire?! She received those wonderful benedictions by paying the price of serving her husband in tolerance and submission. The main tools for cultivating tolerance however are humility and firm faith in Krsna. Unless these two elements are there, it will be impossible for a person to be tolerant. read more

KRSNA CONSCIOUS MOTHERHOOD

(An expectant mother, who is also a devotee book distributor, submits a question to H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami. He gave a short answer and asked one of his female disciples to give further advice.)

QUESTIONS

 Dear Guru Maharaja read more

HUSBAND AS GURU – HOW ABOUT SRILA PRABHUPADA AS GURU?

The article “Husband as Guru” presents much of what could be considered common-sense advice for husbands struggling to come to the human platform. However, some grave faults mar what otherwise might in some contexts have been valuable suggestions.

By predicting “that some men will not agree with me (although I doubt any woman will disagree)” the author anticipatingly dismisses any opposition from males as being mere chauvinism. I am currently imprisoned in a male body, but it is not on such flimsy grounds that I perceive significant blemishes in what he calls his “illumination.”

The author constructs his thesis on a series of assertions (for instance, that “we have a higher divorce rate in ISKCON than in the outside society”) for which he submits no evidence.  Presumably the reader is supposed to accept everything he says just because he says it. However, no serious scholar in any field would give credence to a series of opinions built on unsubstantiated pronouncements. Such is the stuff of cultism and propaganda, not intelligent journalism. read more

The Position of a Widow

Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3: Chapter Twenty-three, Text 52: PURPORT

It is said that the father himself becomes the son in another form. The father and son are therefore considered to be nondifferent. A widow who has her son is actually not a widow, because she has the representative of her husband. Similarly, Devahuti is indirectly asking Kardama Muni to leave a representative so that in his absence she might be relieved of her anxieties by a suitable son.

Krsna: Chapter Forty-Nine: Krsna Erects the Dvaraka read more

A response to Hari-kirtana prabhu regarding my article

Many thanks to Hari-kirtana prabhu for his thoughtful response to my submission on the relative intelligence of men to women. He has clearly done a little homework and I appreciate his reminder that we have to be careful when we cite scientific findings as support for our preaching work. His admonition that “one small slip on the scientific slope (in this case, asserting that testosterone suppresses oxytocin to prove that a man’s biological response to stress is different than a woman’s) is enough to undermine our credibility with educated people and, with it, the credibility Vedic scripture as axiomatic, infallible, and of Divine origin” is well taken. It reminds me of an exchange we had with Srila Prabhupada on a morning walk on December 8th 1975 in Vrindavana:

“Nevertheless, despite his often humorous critiques and sometimes general condemnations of the modern materialistic scientists, Prabhupada cautioned us that any attempt to preach on a scientific basis must be done expertly. When Alanatha, a European devotee, told him of plans to publish a magazine in Sweden with articles challenging the material scientists, Prabhupada warned him. “Don’t write anything nonsense. It must be very solid. Otherwise you’ll be laughing stock. One must be confident before challenging others. In all stages he must be able to defend himself from the opposing elements. Then such challenge is all right. We are confident that this soul cannot be manufactured by any material combination. Therefore we can challenge. And we can defend ourselves in any stage.”

(Transcendental Diary, Vol. 1) read more

Srila Prabhupada said that women are less-intelligent than men. Can we support this?

Session Two of a seminar on Sri Isopanishad given in Mayapur on 31.01.06 at MIHET

Hari sauri dasa: Who asked the question yesterday? That we were going to answer later on? Repeat the question please. Identify yourself so the tape recorder can record who you are! (everyone laughing).

Doyal Nitai dasa: In the introduction of Sri Isopanishad there is a statement by Srila Prabhupada that says that women are less-intelligent. So I distribute books. I sometimes meet ladies and they ask what actually, you know, sometimes they are immediately intimidated and they start to argue, that you say we are less-intelligent. So what would be the best way to address such issues? read more

What are the benefits of an arranged marriage?

There are many benefits, provided that there are empowered assistants at work helping the two conditioned souls regulate their lives, so that spiritual progress becomes possible.

Recently, yet again, a devotee expressed his lack of faith in arranged marriages pointing to the shockingly high divorce rate in ISKCON. As he was a sincere soul, I pointed out to him in return that karmis are certainly not less affected as devotees are by Kali. The argument that; “unless both, the boy and the girl like each other, how can the marriage work?” is irrelevant from all points of view. It assumes that arranged marriages are conducted by artificial force, which is in itself a wrong assumption.

It also advocates the sensual platform of perception which may quite likely result in unwanted progeny. First of all liking or not liking is entirely a product of the sensual and mental platform and as such can change instantly according to the movement or changes of the modes of material nature. read more