The very first supporting argument in the recent GBC resolution concerning female devotees becoming gurus contains the following sentence:

“So I hope that all of you, men, women, boys and girls, become spiritual master and follow this principle.”

It’s taken from London Vyasa Puja address given on 22 August, 1973, available here. Let’s have a look at what Srila Prabhupada meant by “spiritual master” in that lecture. The phrase appears no less than ten times in that speech, refining its meaning with each mention. GBC resolution quotes the very last time Srila Prabhupada said it, so let’s rewind a few paragraphs back:

As soon as you see Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, you get some impression. Think of that impression. Where is the difficulty? Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto. “Worship Me.” If you have got opportunity, worship. If you are initiated, worship here. Or you install Deity at home, as our Kṣīrodakaśāyī Prabhu is doing. Everyone can do it. Where is the difficulty? Now ask him how he is happy. The whole family is happy. Not only he, but his wife, his children, everyone is happy. Practical. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). And if you cannot do anything, simply come and offer your obeisances: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, I am so poor, so unfortunate, I cannot do all these things, but I offer my humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet.” That much also. If you do this, you become spiritual master.

So simply by accepting this principle, and even if you are not learned—illiterate—you are hearing so much from Bhagavad-gītā, you simply repeat that. Simply repeat that. There is no question of becoming very learned scholar. God has given you this ear. Even if you are blind, you cannot read, you can hear. So kṛṣṇa-upadeśa, what is Kṛṣṇa…? This is ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa. And at last, Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). So if you simply preach this cult, “My dear friend, my dear brother, you surrender to Kṛṣṇa,” you become spiritual master. You become spiritual master.

Then Srila Prabhupada quotes the famous  dante nidhāya tṛṇakaṁ padayor nipatya verse by Prabodhananda Sarswati. It’s about taking straw in one’s mouth, approaching people and praising them as great sadhus to get their attention, and then humbly begging them to forget all they know and simply take the instructions of Lord Caitanya. Srila Prabhupada’s explanation concludes with:

Just adhere yourself to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Then you become spiritual master. That’s all.

And then comes the quote from GBC resolution.

As one can see, it has absolutely nothing to do with female qualifications for becoming diksha gurus and giving out names and beads and accepting all kinds of worship. A question automatically arises – did anyone actually read or listened to that lecture before enlisting it to support FDG?  Did anyone on the SAC committee read it before putting it into their research papers? Or did they just searched Prabhupada Folio for “women” and “spiritual master” in the same sentence?

This particular supporting quote was refuted ten years ago and for an entirely different reason by the “erstwhile Indian Regional Governing Body (IRGB)” – available here. Why is it coming back as if that didn’t happen? To my knowledge, no reasons to reject that refutation exist and if they did they should have been mentioned – you can’t just repeat the argument your opponent had already rejected as false, which raises another question – does the winning party here even care what the opponents think?

At this point one could easily go on, piling one argument after another against this supporting quote and then get to the next one, and then to the third one and so on. However, I would humbly suggest that the actual lesson to be learned here contains in that same Vyasa Puja lecture:

… simply come and offer your obeisances: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, I am so poor, so unfortunate, I cannot do all these things, but I offer my humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet.” That much also. If you do this, you become spiritual master.

Or even from GBC quote itself:

 Spiritual master—simply, sincerely, follow the principles and speak to the general public.

If we imbibe this mood and take this instruction to the heart we’ll see that it’s quite out of jurisdiction of any resolutions or any institutions and no one has any power to object or to forbid it. It’s safe and it’s backed by Krishna and Lord Caitanya. It doesn’t require fifteen years of SAC research either. And it’s not like Srila Prabhupada is giving us any choice here – we must take it. Of course it’s also tempting to expose errors in pro-FDG arguments and demand sanity and compliance with shastra and so many other things, but that’s not what Srila Prabhupada begged us to do in that address. Saving GBC from making a mistake is also not there and very few of us can make any difference anyway – because GBC has apparently decided not to indulge in FDG arguments anymore. So, once again – let’s forget about the power to make a difference in the world and take shelter of this simple and sublime instruction:

… simply come and offer your obeisances: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, I am so poor, so unfortunate, I cannot do all these things, but I offer my humble obeisances unto Your lotus feet.” That much also. If you do this, you become spiritual master.

Your servant,
Sitalatma das

Follow us

Share: