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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In this part we show that, after eighteen pages of a paper that extensively uses mathematics, MMD and his fellow mathematicians say that Sunīti could not initiate Dhruva because she was “afflicted by grief out of affection for her son” as well as by “jealousy and resentment toward Suruci and Uttānapāda” and therefore lacked the qualification to become his dīkṣā-guru. They further insult Sunīti, an elevated personality, by relegating her to mundane platforms, not worthy of becoming a role-model for ISKCON’s devotees.

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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 order to defend H.H. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami’s criticism of the attempt to use mathematics to interpret Śrīla Prabhupāda’s statement about the ineligibility of Sunīti to become her son Dhruva’s dīkṣā-guru, Dāmodara Dāsa (BVKS) replies to Madana Mohana Dāsa (MG). Dāmodara Prabhu shows how the words “complete nonsense”, “foolish” and “supposed devotees,” as used by Mahārāja, are indeed justified. Dāmodara Prabhu also shows how Madana Mohana Prabhu has misunderstood Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentary regarding Sunīti and falsely portrays her has “jealous” and “vengeful,” in opposition to Śrīla Prabhupāda having nothing but the highest praise for Sunīti.

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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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