Avoiding Scandal: The Case for Gender Segregation in Society

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.[...] read more

Google Sexism Scandal from Another Perspective: Chess

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.”[1] 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.”[...] read more

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

What about Srila Prabhupada’s Books?

“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. . .

BLAST FROM THE PAST: NECTAR OF THE FAMILY LIFE (2001)

In these matters woman is more than intelligent – she is brilliant! She so surpasses man in this regard it isn’t a contest! And it is only when man seeks to delight in her company and swim in the bountiful praise and glorification which she is so eager to shower upon him, does he also find meaning or purpose and indeed pleasure in sharing her vision of a permanent home in this miserable and so very temporary material world!

Reflections on Vaisnavi-dharma

I recently took up the study of Bhakti-Sastri under the instruction of my spiritual master. Living in Azerbaijan, the best option seemed to be to do it online, as various courses are available nowadays via the internet. I signed up with Bhaktivedanta College (Radhadesh), for a module of their online Bhakti-Sastri course.

The module on the Bhagavad-gita was being taught and facilitated by a mataji. Although within me I felt some doubts about accepting tuition from a mataji, I decided to proceed with applying for the course as I assumed that it was standard in ISKCON nowadays for matajis to act in such roles and I considered that the Bhaktivedanta College had a good reputation. I have nothing against women, but put my faith in Krishna knowing what is the best way to organize society and giving appropriate roles for various members of society.[...] read more

Varnasrama-dharma and Srila Prabhupada

Although Lord Caitanya stated that varnasrama is external to bhakti (CC Madhya 8.59), all Vaisnava acaryas have recognized the importance of varnasrama in regulating society, and that it should be followed by devotees at least until they reach the perfectional stage. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura particularly emphasized the need for daiva-varnasrama-dharma, stating that premature abandonment of it had led to mere imitation of advanced bhakti by persons who were actually fallen (prakrta-sahajiyas).

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura instructed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati to establish daiva-varnasrama-dharma and the pure chanting of the holy name. These two are linked, for the widespread chanting of the holy name necessitates the support of daiva-varnasrama-dharma; otherwise as history has shown it devolves into offensive chanting by prakrta-sahajiyas. Thus when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati first toured South India, before launching his preaching mission, he took special interest in learning from Sri Vaisnavas and Madhvas about daiva-varnasrama-dharma.[...] read more