Archive for the 'Women' Category

Q&As: Was Srila Prabhupada conditioned? [part one]
5 November 2009

From time to time I hear comments or get asked questions which imply that Srila Prabhupada was affected by his apparently material circumstances that existed before his becoming the Founder Acarya of ISKCON.

sp east village other

As it goes, the accusation states that Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of Krsna consciousness, its practice, was tainted by his personal failures or by his upbringing in early 20th century Bengal. One such critique centers on his explanations of the intelligence of women; another on his insistence of the four regulative principles; another on his comments about the moon. And the list goes on.

It is to be expected because this is Kali Yuga and people cannot easily escape their conditioning and see things from the transcendental perspective. The tendency is to modify transcendental teachings to fit within their own conditioned frameworks.

ISKCON is going the same way all pure spiritual movements go in Kali-yuga. It is being materialized by people who don’t have the ability or desire to transform themselves or be transformed, and instead transform Krsna consciousness to their mundane convenience.

As George Bernard Shaw once wrote:

George Bernard Shaw

“The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion
of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its
fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it,
drags it down to its level by degrading it.”

“The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it, drags it down to its level by degrading it.”

Even though this trend is to be expected, I was still surprised to hear this latest criticism of His Divine Grace, sent to me for comment by one of our Mayapur devotees:

Read the rest of this entry »

Women pujaris: another letter from Srila Prabhupada
2 April 2009

Sriman Gaura prabhu from Canada just sent me this letter from Srila Prabhupada to Amsu das, wherein he clearly affirms the right of women to do pujari work:

13 August, 1974

My Dear Amsu das:
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter
dated July 23, 1974 and have noted the contents. Regarding the worship of
our Gaura Nitai by women pujaris, we worship Lord Caitanya in His
householder life when He was with His wife, and not as a sannyasi. So, it is
alright for women to do this service. But, besides this, service is
spiritual and there can be no material designation. In Bhagavad-gita it is
stated by Lord Krishna: striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te’pi yanti param gatim.
The principle is that everyone who is properly initiated and following the
rules and regulations can worship. This activity can not on the material
According to the smarta vidhi, women cannot touch deity during menstrual
period but the goswami viddhi allows. But it is better not to do it. One
thing is that the seva can never be stopped for any reason. This also for
the cooking.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Q&As: women sannyasis
12 November 2008

November 12 2008

We sometimes hear outlandish stories attributed to Srila Prabhupada. Here’s a curious question I received some months ago from Laksmana Prana dasa:

“I heard one story that may have serious conclusions, and therefore I would like to ask your either to confirm or to refute.

One mataji who preached a lot begged Shrila Prabhapada to give her sannyasa, referring to Jahnava Ma. Prabhupada gave her sannyasa and in one month that mataji left the movement forever and got married to a karmi.”


 I never heard this before. As far as I know Srila Prabhupada never gave sannyasa to a woman. It would have been completely contradictory to everything he ever said on the topic. I think this is a completely bogus story.

In 1976 requests for sannyasa were becoming frequent. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada gave sannyasa to seven men at the Gaura Purnima festival:

7 new sannyasis

But he never gave sannyasa to a woman even though he was asked:

[TD Vol 1] February 4, 1976 – Mayapur

The acceptance of sannyasa has become so popular recently that even some of the ladies are asking about it. Aditya dasi sent an enquiry from Bombay. “I am writing this letter on behalf of myself, as well as the other women in our Society. Sometimes the question has come up, but no one seems to know the real answer, about sannyasinis. I know that sannyasa is the highest order of spiritual life, therefore is it not possible that we can be eligible? Myself, I do not feel like a woman, although I am in this body.”

Prabhupada’s reply was concise and clear. Quoting from Bhagavad-gita, he told her the soul is neither man nor woman, and for those engaged in Krsna’s service, there is no distinction between man and woman. “Anyone acting for Krsna, he is a sannyas or sannyasini. Spiritually everyone is equal. But materially a woman cannot be given sannyasa. But you should not be bothered because you are serving on the spiritual platform.”

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