Home > Reader > Women: Masters or Mothers? — A book by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami > Reactions to the Ban
His Grace Basu Ghosh Prabhu (ACBSP)
Posted on June 14, 2016
I really wonder if there can be a "truly productive dialogue" with those devotees who would rather adhere to modern concepts of morality and ethics, rather than what Prabhupada himself taught, and what Vedic shastras teach?
Prabhupada never appointed a woman as a TP or a GBC. But the affirmative action push by the GBC has done so. What are the results? The free mixing between men and women who have no family relations -- as is/was (since I admit India - more so in urban India -- is giving up the old culture - that I heard Srila Prabhupada plead with a crowd of ten thousand to "please do not give up [your culture] at Hyderabad during March 1975) -- uncommon here in India, is being encouraged by the "egalitarians amongst us", i.e. Western ISKCON leaders who haven't spent much time in Bhaarata, and thus are both sadly ignorant of India's culture, but want to impose their ethos on us here in India.
The GBC resolution 313 of 2016 was passed without the GBC discussing the contents of the WMM book with Bhakti Vikas Swami, and having done so is thus unfair and inappropriate.
The GBC resolution states that the book WMM "has been seen to cause misunderstanding of Srila Prabhupada's instructions, alienation and polarization of many devotees". This statement appears to be allegation and overgeneralization, without providing even one example of supporting evidence.
The GBC resolution states that: "it (WMM) has the potential to create even more disruptions to many aspects of ISKCON's preaching work in the future". This statement is pure speculation with no basis in fact. Again the resolution does not provide any supporting evidence to prove the allegation.
The GBC resolution states that: "the book contains statements advocating practices that are illegal in the majority of countries in the world, notably polygamy, child marriage and child labor". The fact is that Srila Prabhupada himself in several places advocated these practices, which were common in ancient Vedic culture, and to present an opinion that is in consonance with the opinions that Srila Prabhupada himself expressed as found in his purports, lectures, letters, and conversations ought not be considered a crime, in and of itself.
It appears to us that what the GBC wrote is illogical, and in direct contradiction to what our Srila Prabhupada taught.
The spirit of this resolution appears to be ideologically misguided, and thus a discredit to ISKCON's highest managerial oversight body. Our opinion is that passing this was a mistake on the part of the GBC.
A few quotes (not exhaustive) from Srila Pprabhupada on the topics mentioned as objectionable by the GBC in resolution 313 of 2016:
"People have become so degraded in this age that on the one hand they restrict polygamy and on the other hand they hunt for women in so many ways."
From Srila Prabhupada's purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.26.6
"In India in those days and even until fifty years ago, polygamy was freely allowed. Any man, especially of the higher castes, the brahmanas, the vaishyas and particularly the kshatriyas could marry more than one wife.
In the Mahabharata, or the old history of India, we see that kshatriya kings especially used to marry many wives. According to Vedic civilization there was no restriction against this, and even a man more than fifty years old could marry. But to be married to a man who had many wives was not a very pleasing situation because the husband's love would be divided among his many wives. To punish the girls unwilling to offer Him the naivedya, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu apparently wanted to curse them to be married to men who had at least four wives.
The social structure allowing a man to marry more than one wife can be supported in this way. Generally in every society the female population is greater in number than the male population. Therefore if it is a principle in the society that all girls should be married, unless polygamy is allowed it will not be possible. If all the girls are not married there is a good chance of adultery, and a society in which adultery is allowed cannot be very peaceful or pure. In our Krsna consciousness society we have restricted illicit sex. The practical difficulty is to find a husband for each and every girl. We are therefore in favor of polygamy, provided, of course, that the husband is able to maintain more than one wife.
From Srila Prabhupada's purport to Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi 14.59
Prabhupada: Yes. That is psychological. They develop... Sex life, sex urge is there as soon as twelve years, thirteen years old, especially women. So therefore early marriage was sanctioned in India. Early marriage. Boy fifteen years, sixteen years, and girl twelve years. Not twelve years, ten years. I was married, my wife was eleven years. I was 22 years. She did not know what is sex, eleven years' girl. Because Indian girls, they have no such opportunity of mixing with others. But after the first menstruation, the husband is ready. This is the system, Indian system.
From Srila Prabhupada's room conversation with Shyamasundar, at London, August 15, 1971
"The woman is known as his better half, so if she looks after the comfort of the man, a man is working and he is looking after the comfort, then both will be satisfied and their spiritual life will progress. Woman is meant for certain duties; man is meant for... Man is meant for hard working, and woman is meant for homely comfort, love. So both of them, if they are situated in their respective duties under proper training, then this combination of man and woman will help both of them to make progress in spiritual life.
Hayagriva: Comte felt that love of God has always interfered with man's love of women. He says, "Love of God is inconsistent with love for our fellow men, and it was impiety for the knight to love his lady better than his God. And thus the best feelings of man's nature were repressed by his religious faith. Women, therefore, are not really interested in perpetuating the old system of religion."
Prabhupada: Generally, women are interested in comfortable home life. That is woman's nature. They are not spiritually very much advanced or interested. But the..., if man is interested, and the woman helps the man, either as mother or wife or daughter, then both of them, if the woman remains subordinate and the man is making spiritual progress and the woman is helping the man, then both of them will make spiritual progress. Or the woman, without working for spiritual elevation, because (s)he is helping the man (s)he will share the profit, spiritual benefit.
From Srila Prabhupada's philosophical discussion with Hayagriva, on the topic of the philosophy of French philosopher Auguste Comte (from an audio transcript).