Dear GBC members and other leaders of ISKCON, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The determination of the GBC body to create new rules for female diksa-gurus in secret and then vote on them, also in secret, without taking into account the views of the rest of ISKCON’s devotees has been divisive and ill-advised. The ISKCON India leadership in particular has already passed a resolution formally protesting this.
Other Vaishnava sampradayas have also raised concerns. Attached with this message are letters from three leading scholars in the Sri Sampradaya who are very concerned that ISKCON in approving of female diksa-gurus is taking the path of adharma.
Professor M.A. Lakshmithathachar, a leading scholar in the Sri Sampradaya, a recipient of numerous awards, including from the President of India, and head of many institutions, as well as being the presiding Acharya of the Anantarya Peetham in Melkote, cautions that,
“If ISKCON, an internationally famous organization, goes against the shistacara and be successful, probably the other schools of Vedanta like Ramanuja, Vallabha, Nimbarka, etc., may follow suit, which results in the practice of violating the shishtacara and is not desirable. I wish ISKCON, an internationally reputed organization, will not establish a new shistacara violating all the shistacaras practiced even today in all the schools of Vedanta.”
Sri Muralidhara Bhattar, Chief Archaka of the Sri Ranganatha Swami temple, Sri Rangam, Tiruchirapalli, and descendant of the brother of Sri Venkata Bhatta, at whose house Lord Caitanya stayed, and whose famous son was Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, writes,
ISKCON is a reputed institution for propagating and protecting Santana Dharma. Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, has done a monumental service to the whole world, especially the Vaishnava communities, by propagating Srimad Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam all over the world and presented in an authentic manner, or “As It Is.”
But recently, it came to my notice that the ISKCON GBC is proposing the appointment of women within ISKCON as acharyas, mantra-gurus who will give diksha. If this is indeed true, then I would like to bring to your kind attention that such decisions are asastriyam. This would be against sanatana dharmas, proper acharams and anusthanams.
Professor Lakshmikumara Tatacharyar (Vasudevan), of Sri Rangam, PhD Vishishtadvaita and professor at the Raja Sanskrit College, Kumbhakonam, writes,
“ISKCON is an international sampradaya and thus a natural leader of other smaller size sampradayas. Many youth of our sampradaya get influenced by ISKCON and then start to follow santhana dharma and come back to teachings of Ramanuja sampradaya. Many of them stay in ISKCON dharma, still we are not disturbing them because they get full opportunity to follow our dharma and we feel secured that in ISKCON they will be protected from adharma.
“But, if adharma comes into ISKCON also, then it will influence our sampradaya also. Our sampradaya members may also start asking us to implement this adharma. After Sabarimalai incident, it is already a push from outside factors; but now ISKCON also doing so will give strength to adharmic parties of the modern world to push adharma into our sampradaya.”
We pray that you take the time to read carefully the letters that we have included in this email to understand the intent and advice that they have presented for your consideration.
When ISKCON itself was a very small organization, it depended on the good will and recommendation of these very sampradayas so that the people in India and Indians around the world would recognize, honor, and assist Srila Prabhupada work and mission. And Srila Prabhupada was immeasurably pleased to have their support. So, you have to ask yourselves this: if you lose their support, will Srila Prabhupada be pleased?
In this regard, please find attached a PDF file with the statements of support for ISKCON from different sampradayas. (Anandamaya Prabhu in Hyderabad kindly supplied them.) If you review them, I am sure that you will agree that their support for Srila Prabhupada’s mission, ISKCON, has been exceptional, heart-felt, and sincere.
It is our sincere hope that the GBC will reconsider their impending decision to have female diksa-gurus and, at the very least, discuss the matter with the leaders of these other sampradayas that have helped ISKCON so much in the past.
Your servant, Krishna-kirti Dasa