“The spiritual master should not be treated as ordinary man, even sometimes the spiritual master behaves like ordinary man. It is the duty of the disciple to accept him as ‘superhuman man.’ (letter July 31,’70)
Prabhupāda: Their center is sex—this sex or that sex or that sex, even ordinarily. In Paris, Paris you know it is a city of prostitutes. On the roads there are prostitutes. Where we have got our temple, so many prostitutes are standing. And those who are prostitute-hunter, they go to Paris. From our childhood I know about one family physician. We are at that time boy, 8 or 10 years old. He was talking with his another Muhammadan friend how he toured many countries and how many different types of prostitutes he tasted. This was his talk. So he was talking of Paris, “Though you are boy…,” this we could understand.” This is the talk. Old men, retired men, they will also talk of the sex (indistinct), and they will enjoy. Now they could not enjoy sex, but by talking… And we have practically seen when we were young, our grandmother-in-law, my mother-in-law’s mother, old lady, she would talk freely about sex. She will ask me, “You capture the breast of your wife.” She would make a pun and enjoy. “You do like that, you do like that.” She teaches like that. We were… I was twenty, twenty-three years, so I was just married, but she will enjoy sex. She had other grandchildren. My father-in-law were two brothers. So my father-in-law, he was younger brother, and his elder brother, her daughter also the same age, she would enjoy (indistinct) son-in-law. (break) Ministers, prime ministers. The minister, famous.
Prabhupāda: (indistinct) So Akbar (indistinct) asked Birbal, “What is your idea of sex life? How long it continues?” He answered, “Up to the point of death.” “No, no. I don’t believe it.” “All right.” So one day all of a sudden Birbal came to Akbar (indistinct) house, “Sir, you have to go with me immediately with your youngest daughter.” So Akbar (indistinct)’s daughter, king’s daughter, very (indistinct). So the father and the daughter and Birbal went to see one dying man. The man was dying, and he asked, Birbal (indistinct) that “You simply see his face.” So when he was entering, that man was looking to that young girl, not the Akbar (indistinct). He was looking over that young girl. Both of them were intelligent. Then Akbar (indistinct) said, “Yes.”
Mādhavānanda: Śrīla Prabhupāda, once you said that to stop this transmigration, one has to become completely disgusted with this material world.
Prabhupāda: Yes, unless…, how he can take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness? If he takes as a fashion, that is another thing. Just like the man who cannot tolerate commits suicide. Therefore you told me. Yes. One who is completely disgusted with this material life, he becomes fixed up in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Satsvarūpa: What about Lord Caitanya who prayed that “I don’t mind coming back again and again”?
In times where so many face disillusion and disappointment, a lecture from Srila Prabhupada from 2nd of August 1970, given in Los Angeles, may be a constant source of inspiration.
There is a wave of incrimination in the United States against powerful men in politics and the entertainment industry and who are being publicly accused in very large numbers of being raped and molested.
But then something that no one could have predicted happened. It was a pre-Twitter, pre-internet, highly analog version of #MeToo. To the surprise of millions of men, the nation turned out to be full of women—of all political stripes and socioeconomic backgrounds—who’d had to put up with Hell at work. Mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives—millions of women shared the experience of having to wait tables, draw blood, argue cases, make sales, all while fending off the groping, the joking, the sexual pressuring, and the threatening of male bosses. They were liberal and conservative; white collar and pink collar; black and white and Hispanic and Asian. Their common experience was not political, economic, or racial. Their common experience was female.
Caitlin Flanagan, “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning”, 13 Nov. 2017, The Atlantic, 14 Nov. 2017 <https://www.theatlantic.com/. . .>
As followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda, we have been taught that service to the instructions of the guru (vāṇī) are given more importance than service to the form of the guru (vapuḥ). All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s followers know this. However, sometimes according to personal taste or circumstance, we may focus more on one or the other.
This year in Vṛndāvana on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance day, there was an occasion to see this. In the morning during the ceremony in honor of His Divine Grace, various disciples of his were called upon to glorify their eternal spiritual master and share some remembrance of him with the rest of us. Many told personal stories of some pastime of his they personally witnessed or had the great fortune to be a part of.
It was noted that some devotees tended to give special emphasis to his instructions or tried to explain their experience with him with reference to śāstra. These were classified as vāṇī presentations. Others tended to focus on some interaction he had with him, how he dealt with them, how they were encouraged by him, and so forth. These were classified as vapuḥ presentations.
In the world outside of ISKCON, the controversy over the firing of a Google engineer for distributing an allegedly sexist manifesto can be seen from another non-spiritual perspective: competitive chess. In 2015, a similar firestorm within the sport arose when Nigel Short, a U.K. Grandmaster said that “we should ‘gracefully accept it as a fact’ that men possess different skills to women that make them better able to play chess at a high level.” The reaction was widespread and brutal yet irrational.
For example, many, including many women international grand masters, pointed out that former women’s world champion Judith Polgar had formerly trounced Short in a series of games and held this up as proof that he was wrong. “Judith Polgar, the former women’s world champion, beat Nigel Short eight classical games to three in total with five draws, said Amanda Ross, who runs the Casual Chess Club of London. “She must have brought her man brain. Let’s just hope Nigel didn’t crash his car on those days, trying to park it. At least this resolves the age-old debate as to whether there’s a direct link between chess-playing ability and intelligence. Clearly not.”
But to such criticisms, Short noted that outlier events do not invalidate the general case. “The fact that I have one bad score against an individual doesn’t prove anything” he said. “I’m talking about averages here . . . statistically women don’t [compete] in the same numbers. The average gap is pretty large and that is down to sex differences . . . Those differences exist.”
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.
In an article titled “The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond,” (archived version here) one of the scientists, Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychology professor at the University of New Mexico, praises the memo for its adherence to science. He says, “Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course.” He thinks it’s spot on in terms of the current understanding of science, even though it is diametrically opposed to prevailing attitudes and trends about gender equality. The rest of the scientists in the article are between somewhat to generally supportive of the memo.
“I am so much disgusted by this troublesome business of marriage, because nearly every day I receive some complaint from husband or wife, and practically this is not my business as sannyasi to be marriage counsellor, so henceforward I am not sanctioning any more marriages. . .
From a talk by Tamal Krishna Goswami
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.