Gender Equality and Google: Some Lessons for ISKCON

So, there is a lot of discussion in the news about a Google engineer who posted a 10-page internal memo at Google about improving work-place gender diversity without resorting to the usual affirmative action policies and who subsequently (and very quickly) got fired for it. Many have characterized the engineer’s manifesto as a heresy, most condemning it and others lauding it, one even comparing it to Martin Luther’s act of nailing his 95 Theses to the wall of the Roman Catholic Church.

But the most interesting part of this open discussion so far has been what some experts in the field of psychology have been saying. For the most part, the experts seem to agree with the engineer. read more

Good News: ISKCON told to include eggs in menu

Some good news:

Amaravati: Taking serious note of non-implementation of prescribed menu of mid-day meal scheme in several schools, the government has decided to make it a mandatory on providing three eggs per week for each student studying in government-run schools  across the state as part of providing nutritious food for the children. read more

Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s Viveka-satakam Release

Almost five hundred years after its composition, Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s Viveka-satakam (A Hundred Verses of Wisdom) has been published for the first time. Although an ancient manuscript of the text was listed among a private collection in 1883, its whereabouts was unknown for many decades. After locating the manuscript in the course of my research work, it was a joy to verify that it was at least four hundred years old. Upon analyzing the text, it became clear that it had many characteristics common to other works of Srila Prabodhananda. Yet there was a difficulty – it was a poor transcription into Bengali characters and a number of incorrect readings compromised the text intelligibility to some extent. I was fortunate to come across a manuscript in Devanagari that proved to be essential to determine the original readings.

In a quasi-autobiographical tone, Srila Prabodhananda tells us some of his experiences and impressions in life, his struggles in worldly affairs, his anxieties in family life and above all, his burning desire to give up everything to go to Vrindavan, which is glorified throughout the book. It is clear that at the time of composition the author was already an adherent of Lord Caitanya’s philosophy, as he expresses his desire to serve the Lord birth after birth, declares that Krsna, the Lord of Gokula, is superior even to Lord Visnu, and mentions Srimati Radharani’s name several times. He also mentions the name “Radha-ramana” a few times, which hints that this name had special significance to him. read more

Rochana Prabhu’s Double Standard

Janus

On 12 June 2017, I submitted to the Sampradaya Sun website an article addressing some of Sanaka Rsi Prabhu’s recent, misleading statements and unfair accusations against Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja (my guru maharaja). But the site’s editor, Rocana Prabhu, rejected it.

In his response to me, dated 16 June 2017, he outlined two reasons for his rejection. The first has to do with giving those directly affected by past abuse the opportunity to respond first. He said he wants to wait for Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja to first post all his responses to Sanaka Rsi Prabhu (although he refused an article from Maharaja as well! This is now published here) and then only will he be inclined to publish articles from supporters, from both sides. He also clarified that he has been publishing commentaries only from those who have a direct personal connection with the child abuse issue. read more

Men of Sterner Stuff

With regard to Sanaka-Rishi Prabhu’s recent communications on the Sampradaya Sun website, specifically on the matter of corporeal punishment in relation to some statements made by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami (who is my spiritual master), I would like to share an experience of mine that I think germane to this matter.

In 2011 I worked as a civilian contractor at a U.S. military installation in Dallas. During my time there, I spent eight months sharing a 6 x 6 foot cubicle with a colleague from Nigeria by the name of John (not his real name). He was about my age, was married and had three children, all of them boys and teenagers. He was also quite visibly a Christian. When we ate together he said his prayers and sometimes spiced his speech with phrases like, “Lord, have mercy!” He was also a strict disciplinarian with his children. Often during the course of the day, he would call his children to find out what mischief they were up to and reprimand them, sometimes threatening them with sterner punishment that can be delivered only in person. And he was quite capable of carrying out his ultimatums, too. He was very strong; his arms were as thick as legs. He was a hard worker, thoroughly honest, devoted to his family, and a gentleman. read more

Serious Accusations, But False

After a hectic visit to Mayapur (that was long previously scheduled), I am gradually catching up with pending matters including discussions on the Sampradaya Sun regarding child abuse.

Sanaka Rsi Prabhu has made serious accusations against me. He wrote: read more

Sorry, Sanaka, You Are Wrong

Response to http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/05-17/editorials14911.htm

Sanaka, you are intelligent, articulate, and dedicated to a noble cause. You also seem to be fully convinced that you are right in all respects and that anyone who disagrees with you must be just plain wrong. However, you have erred in your portrayal of myself as quoting Srila Prabhupada out of context. The context is Srila Prabhupada’s statements on corporal punishment of children, especially in gurukula. I supplied quotes in which Srila Prabhupada generally endorsed corporal punishment and one in which he himself advised beating (pito) a badly behaved gurukula boy. (See http://akincana.net/gurukula_controversy/child-abuse-definitions-and-subjectivity/) read more

About Bhaktividya Purna Swami

In the mid 1980s when talk of Bhaktividya Purna Swami and child abuse first surfaced I made a point to ask him about it on my next visit to Mayapura. Which I did. He explained to me that in the early days of the Mayapura gurukula he had no control over which boys were admitted and that many parents sent difficult cases, children who they could not control. And that the only way to keep some kind of order in the school was via argumentum ad baculam.

Did he go too far? Seems so, according to CPO reports. Although until the advent of liberal values throughout the world, in most countries corporal punishment—even to quite a severe degree—in homes and schools was generally considered normal and proper, and some quotes from Srila Prabhupada (cited in a previous article) indicate that he also felt the same way. read more

Child Abuse – Definitions and Subjectivity

What exactly does “child abuse” mean? Different people will have different ideas, possibly completely opposed. Of course, there is unlikely to be disagreement about its more egregious forms. But some behaviors toward children are less clear—some would define them as abuse, others would not. For example, one person might consider a child’s ear being tweaked as an offense so bad that it should be internationally publicized. Whereas someone else might think that some measure of corporal punishment can be actually beneficial for children.

Today’s world is beset by many “hot” issues on which opinions diverge widely and acrimoniously, and concerning which no middle ground has been reached even after many years of back and forth—and probably never will be. Such issues include abortion, the existence of God, the ordination of women and homosexuals as priests, and so on. It seems that, within ISKCON, child abuse is a similar issue. For while some people are horrified by ear-tweaking, others see their horror to be ridiculous. read more