Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Conversation About Women and ISKCON

ND: Statements may have to do with women acting based on emotions. Men act more based on logical interpretation of the situation. This is based on study.

TS: Oh, I think this may be a lengthy discussion around the ability to separate illusion from truth. And, what so easily draws one into illusion.

VS: You haven't dated much have you ...I'm kidding! Sort of. Anyway, this doesn't really apply to devotees. According to Srila Prabhupada, if a woman is a devotee, judgements have to be made according to qualification and not on the bodily platform, that's it. And if we compare materially speaking, then it has to be on a grand scale wouldn't it?

HF: Material intelligence (parrot learning) can vary for both. But men have greater spiritual intelligence (the ability to see life from a spiritual perspective) because they are generally less attached to their body, bodily comforts, home, family, etc... Whereas women are more attached to these, therefore less spiritually intelligent. That's why in India, we see men becoming renounced monks & going to the Himalayas to meditate, or becoming renounced devotees (sanyasis) simply. But this is speaking for the general population. If given proper spiritual knowledge & training, both men & women can become equally spiritually intelligent.

VS: Atreya Rsi asked Srila Prabhupada if women could be given great responsibilities. Srila Prabhupada answered, "Yes, if they are Krishna Conscious." Then he gave the example of Jahnava, the wife of Nityananda Prabhu, who took charge of the whole Vaishnava community after Nityananda Prabhu's departure. (Atreya Rsi) * "Chanakya Pandita said not to trust those who do not control their senses, politicians and women. But this applies to non-devotee women, not our women, because they do control their senses." (class in Los Angeles 1972) * When a male devotee refused to be instructed by Jadurani, the head of the art department, because of her being a woman, Prabhupada called him in and ordered him to accept her instructions.

"In the Bhagavad-gita we find that women are also equally competent like the men in the matter of Krishna consciousness movement." (letter to Himavati, 1969) * We are Vaishnavas. We are not concerned with male of female position in life. That is simply bodily concept of life. It is not spiritual. Whether one is male or female, it does not matter, simply chant Hare Krishna and follow the four regulative principles and your life will be perfect." (letter to Jennifer, 1975) 

PADA: Unfortunately, many mothers in ISKCON complained to the "men" managers and leaders about the abuses of their children in the gurukula system (which was managed by these men) and these men clearly did not listen. Simply having a so-called man's body does not mean one is automatically more intelligent necessarily, it might mean one should be a better overseer, but one might not be. A person who has the right idea -- has the right idea, man or woman. ys pd

JR: Some women are more intelligent them men. Some even have more common sense. Depends on the person and soul.  When Prabhupada decided to accept women in the movement, he did so according to the reasoning he himself quotes in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, 

PADA: "In the age of Kali, the women and the children, along with brahmaṇas and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age illicit connection with women will render many women and children uncared for. Circumstantially, the women will try to become independent of the protection of men." - Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.16.21 purport 

[*** So this is what has happened, women were not treated well, even when they reported child abuse it was often ignored, so they are starting to declare their independence from this sort of mis-management. Therefore, these circumstances have to change. These "men" leaders need to act as proper leaders and protect the women, of course had they done that in the first place -- then this issue would never have even arisen. ys pd]

SR: Speaking of this, does anyone else feel that we should not elect a woman president?

MV: So long as it is Elizabeth Warren! 

PADA: Right, a few ISKCON women told me that the Donald Trump phenomena is similar to the current ISKCON situation, he does not respect women very well and so he is alienating many of the women as a group. Again, the ISKCON women were the main people complaining about the child abuse, and the "men leaders" did not respect their opinion, because women were not being respected, i.e. the men as a group did not listen thinking they are "more intelligent," and the result was that many (most?) ISKCON women were and are alienated, and this also produced a giant lawsuit. 

And this is also alienating many of the second generation gurukula children of these mothers who complained and were not heard, because the ex-children also cannot understand why their mothers were ignored as well. So there needs to be some sort of rectification of this process, or it will continue. 

But yes, its ironic, several women told me Donald Trump is the political version of the ISKCON leadership, women are not given their proper place of protection, rights, respect, etc. in both examples. Srila Prabhupada said the duty of the men is to protect the women and children, and if the men are not doing that, they are not actual men. ys pd

VS: That Trump guy is not a good comparison to anyone, being that he has NPD and is clinically insane, and by definition a pathological liar who is TOTALLY unconscious. Hes a predatory codependent and a threat to all, by definition. But, IGNORANCE is a human problem. We all pay the price.

PADA: Well right, Donald Trump is ignorant, and ignorant in part means "to ignore the facts," and that is what happened in ISKCON, the ladies were telling the men leaders there is an abuse problem, these ladies were ignored. Ignore means ignorant, you got it! And we all payed the price for that ignorance. And the women being ignored problem has still not been solved in both cases. ys pd

VS: But whats your point, I mean, we all know this. And these problems will not change overnight. We have to actively practice KC in our own life, to grow, get strength, patience, knowledge, mercy, become balanced etc, spread it to others to the best of our capacity and patiently do all that we can to resolve these issues. Just being outraged isn't going to change much...

PADA: First of all, most devotees do not even recognize that this issue is a problem. Bhakti Vikas swami for example just wrote a book saying that ISKCON women should have no place in managing, they should be having babies living in a village, and he is one of the "men" who was told about all these problems, and he ignored the problems thinking he is "a man." 

Problems are problems, what difference does it make if the person forwarding the problem is a man or woman? And where are his alleged villages where all these women can go? Its simply creating another artificial set of problems -- for women. 

There are no practically functioning varnasrama farms or villages for these women to go and live with their babies, its another example of pushing the women issue aside, by ignoring the issue. Worse, its making an artificial standard, these women should all be living in a village with their babies, but there are no proper GBC managed villages and farm communities being established where these women can go to? Its like telling a person, "You need to drive a Cadillac." "OK, are you going to give me a Cadillac"? "Well, nope." Its artificial.

Ignoring means ignorance. These men have to first of all admit they have failed to listen to the women, instead of doubling down in self righteousness, all based on, they have a male body? They did not listen to the women, that is what happened, and they have not recognized this yet. The first step in fixing a problem is to recognize the problem ... ys pd

ND: Lord Krsna says BG 10.34 Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.

PADA: Right. These "men" leaders who failed to listen to the women's complaints about the gurukula issues -- and so many other things -- are not factually leaders. Yet they still pose themselves as such even today. And many of these "men leaders" still take away a lot of ISKCON's financial and property resources for their personal lives, while many -- even elderly ISKCON women -- are not given any facility, rather many are often struggling on their own with little or no resources or support, 

So, these women -- some of whom collected millions of dollars -- and who were among those making the complaints should be recognized as the actual leaders, because they were ahead of their time in pointing these issues out. And the situation right now is -- that I personally know a number of ISKCON women who are now somewhat elderly and are struggling very hard with little or no resources, because a few "elite men" are hogging ALL of those resources. 

NONE of these ladies are getting a dozen servants, nice big house, new car, travel expenses, and health care -- that these few elite men are getting. So Vedic society is based on protection of the women, and that is not what has happened. Rather one lady told me recently, ISKCON is like North Korea, the leaders live opulently, while the peasants, not so much opulence and often no resources, health care etc. And thus the women as a class are the most victimized by this process. The point of this conversation is not about how we view and treat our society's women? ys pd

VS: No its not. Pls re read the original post. I think that you are very passionate about all these very valid women issues that you've pointed out, and feel very deeply deeply about them, many of us are. Its very frustrating. ..but its not what the original post is asking about.

PADA: OK, should we trust women when they say there is abuse? Or should we marginalize them and ignore them? I think we should listen to them. Should we marginalize women and allow only a few elite men to hog most or all the resources, while hundreds of women get little or none, -- and a number are struggling just to get by on almost nothing but a government social security hand out? 

I think not. How we view women is also -- how we treat them. We are going to have a discussion about women. Yet NOT discuss: how they are ignored? How they are marginalized? How resources are being hi-jacked from them by a few so-called men? Then what is the point of discussing women if we are not going to discuss them, and isn't this the whole problem from square one, their situation was not discussed, and that is how it has come to this current state of them being marginalized, ignored, and deprived of resources? ys pd

VS: Are you a robot? You are like and abuser yourself.

PADA: Robots have no feelings for anyone else. Yep, that is also what some women have told me, the people who ignore them are like zombie robots. Agreed. And anyone who points out victimization of women is also an abuser? Same psychology of what happens in North Korea, anyone who points out abuses and exploitation is shipped off to the concentration camp prison, because the person pointing to abuses is the real oppressor. 

Its not the regime that is the oppressor, i.e. the victim becomes the criminal. How handy is that! This is how you thinkers created the women exploiting program in the first place, you folks said their complaints are the abusive element. ys pd

TS: Is there more you have to contribute to this discussion outside the points you keep making over and over again? I think it's fair to say all who have read this get it. And now you are making inappropriate generalizations about others. The message you are sending (over and over again) is that since there were (and perhaps still are) some unqualified leaders in ISKCON, that all members of ISKCON are unqualified spiritual seekers. 

And by default, all sincere seekers, Sastra & Srila Prabhupada must be at fault, (i.e, be to blame for all the failings of others). If this is not your position and you have something more constructive to add to the discussion I think you would find a sympathetic and engaged community here. There really is no need to keep screaming about the same points.

PADA: I am asking the same question because, it is not being answered? I said that many ISKCON women are living without facility NOW while many men leaders are living like kings NOW, and this is because women have been marginalized NOW. I said that women advised the men about the gurukula abuses and other things and they were ignored, and the same men who ignored them then are still in charge NOW. 

So if we are going to fix the view of women, and the practical support they need, how are we going to do that practically? That is constructive, we need to make a practical solution to this issue, or else, many women will remain alienated, and lacking facility, and feeling like they were ignored over major issues, because they were, and so on and so forth. 

I did not ever say Srila Prabhupada is at fault, he said women need to be protected, and so on and so forth, and that is not what has been happening. The Bhagavad Gita does NOT say a few elite men should live like kings while elderly ladies are suffering with no facility, no health care, and so forth. I am asking what is your solution, and instead I am being told this is screaming and etc, which does not answer the point at hand. I also never said also that all the seekers are not sincere, these women were and are, so it seems this is straw man argument. ys pd

TS: I think I am not alone in hearing a message you may not have intended, but none-the-less seems loud and clear. This may not be the appropriate forum to solve all the issues at large, but it would be constructive for me to hear you contribute in a way that guides the discussion to a more in depth understanding of Sastra, since this is about the Gita. 

Seeking out the said abusive members towards women (who are not on this thread) would perhaps be constructive. Contributing in a way that separates the symptoms of the disease from the cause of the disease on a more subtle and less gross level would be helpful.

PADA: Shastra needs to be applied practically. If women are equal to men because they are spirit souls, and in fact even snails, ants and mice are our equals because they too are souls, then it would seem to me that women being marginalized, neglected, ignored etc. is a -- lack -- of understanding of shastra. You tell me if that is wrong? I am asking if the teachings of Bhagavad Gita have been understood correctly, aham brahmasmi, then would there be these levels of marginalizing of women and stripping them of resources etc.? At all? You help me answer that. Its a point of siddhanta, and its not a personality issue per se. ys pd

TS: Do you think Srila Prabhupada understood correctly?

PADA: Yes, he wanted women to be protected, he wanted children to be protected, he wanted the seniors and elderly to be protected, and this is not what has been happening -- due to a lack of realization of what he wanted, what shastra says, and a lack of common sense and etc. Its a collective problem. I have Mormon neighbors and they take good care of their women, children, and a few big strong men come over from time to time and they help the old lady over here clean up her house and yard and they bring her food and etc. In other words, in Vedic society, the leader was judged by how well the lowest members were being treated, even the animals. That is the standard of shastra. ys pd

DD: I was asked by a member of this group to delete a number of comments given here because he feels the discussion went in a direction that could perhaps be disruptive to the faith of many people in this group who are new to Krishna consciousness. 

However, I do feel that the issues brought up in the above comments do in fact illustrate PERFECTLY how misunderstanding of scriptural teachings & Srila Prabhupada's statements can lead to gigantic problems for individuals, groups & society as a whole. I am, therefore, going to keep this thread as is. 

Please, everyone who has read or commented on this thread, read my new post & try to see how practical Prabhupada's teachings are. If we follow them, we all benefit; if we misapply them, we all suffer. Even our august society (ISKCON) suffered, & continues to suffer, due to misapplication, which is itself founded in misunderstanding. 

PADA: Goody! ys pd

A woman can be more realized than many, many, many men:

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