This is from an exchange I had with an ISKCON leader and sannyasi regarding the misunderstandings many devotees seem to have about Manu-samhita. The first message begins with an exchange between Basu Ghosh Prabhu and the ISKCON leader, and the last message gives a short introduction to the application ofContinue Reading

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This video explains how the ISKCON GBC’s Shatric Advisory Council gave too narrow a definition for the evidence cited in support of the overarching principle for their system of hermeneutics. Verses like acaryavan puruso vedah and yasya deve parabhaktir, etc., actually apply as equally to Srila Prabhupada’s successors as they do to Srila Prabhupada himself. Hence, the SAC’s overarching principle has the fault of avyapti (definition is too narrow), which is explained in the video.

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The SAC’s mistake is just like quoting the Vedic injunction that the stool of an animal is impure and then using inference to say that because a cow is an animal, its stool is also impure. Shastra is quoted, but the conclusion itself is still based on inference, not shastra. This is a mistake, however, because there is also a Vedic injunction that says that the stool of a cow is pure. The SAC made the same kind of mistake when they created their overarching principle.

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When conducting any survey, one of the most important concerns a researcher has is in eliminating bias. Even if the bias is unintentional, if your survey is biased in any way, the results will be unreliable or misleading. As declared in the first verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, “The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all.” Bias prevents the discovery of truth. Therefore, both researchers and devotees have a common interest in eliminating bias.

My overall assessment of the survey is that while some of the questions are reasonable and interesting and not without some utility for ISKCON policymakers, the survey itself is strongly biased to produce results that reflect the opinion of the survey’s sponsor. In the survey there are various problems of response bias, especially framing bias, and also selection bias. It is also apparent that those who created the survey are unfamiliar with some of the basic principles of survey design. Prior experience and training do matter.

Now, I will present examples of these different biases. After that, I will address some general epistemological issues related to this survey and its purposes.

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In the paper The Sunīti Pramāṇa and Set Theory, the authors apply formal logic to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s statement in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.12.32 in order to prove that it does not indicate that women are generally disallowed from becoming dīkṣā-guru. However, their application of logic depends on three erroneous maneuvers: 1) accepting the possibilities of falsity or intentional ambiguity within that statement; 2) the unnecessary use of lakṣaṇā-vṛtti (indirect meaning) instead of the statement’s mukhya-vṛtti (direct meaning); and 3) oversimplification of the statement’s grammar to support a naïve, inadequate model of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s intent.

Before addressing the authors’ errors of interpretation, I would like to briefly state what the correct understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s text is and why it should be read this way.

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Dear Maharajas and Prabhus, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada Kalakantha Prabhu (and probably some others) have been circulating a paper titled “Suniti’s Ineligibility in ISKCON”, dated 11 January, which is saved and edited by someone named Anuttama.IC as per the document properties. Their paper explainsContinue Reading

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