Home > Reader > Women: Masters or Mothers? — A book by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami > Reactions to the Ban
His Grace Gadadhara Prabhu (BVKS)
Posted on June 14, 2016
Seeing the information about the medieval, barbarian act of banning H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja's WMM book, my proverbial cup of patience overflowed and I feel the urge to write something from my insignificant position of a struggling grihastha who is taking shelter in the wonderful teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhhupada.
For me it is shocking that now in Srila Prabhupada's own movement, a book consisting mainly of his quotes and based on his personal teachings is being banned. Sometimes I am wondering if some GBC members are still aware that ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada's own movement, founded personally by him.
From what I have read about this issue I learned that the GBC did not give any sound reason for their ban. In the resolution they have mentioned:
"Whereas when one ISKCON devotee's preaching efforts, however well-meaning, are seen to work at cross purposes with the preaching efforts of others, it is the responsibility of ISKCON's leadership to step in and take regulative action that it considers will be most favorable for the fulfillment of the objectives of ISKCON;"
So I would like to ask the GBC, what are the preaching efforts of nowadays ISKCON, and what they consider favorable for the fulfillment of its objectives? If they don't find Srila Prabhupada's own words fit for that purpose, then I am doubtful whether they still understand that they should just act as servants of the Founder-Acharya's order.
I understand that the WMM book may cause some disturbance in someone's view of how present day ISKCON should appear in the public, but still I consider it mature Vaishnava behavior that these contrarieties should be discussed on both sides, on the basis of Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. Just banning it without a sound reason does not remind us about the proper Vaishnava attitude, but more about the arrogant, bureaucratic, out of reality and even dictatorial act of some elite, inaccessible group of leaders hiding their personalities behind some impersonal executive institution. Such kind of executive we would expect from Washington D.C. or Brussels, but not from the GBC.
Of course, some notorious names regarding the dislike of the traditional Vedic outlook are known. By the way, I am greatly surprised how Praghosa das, after his great debacle in Mayapur and other places, is again granted the position of Vice Chairman in the GBC. Is the GBC post some kind of hereditary lifelong status? Anyway, if the GBC have a problem with Maharaja's WMM book we would like to hear the pros and cons. So far I have heard only pros regarding the WMM topic. Not any sound counterargument. The resolution manipulatively states:
"Whereas as stated by the author, the book "features many generalizations and personal views of mine;'"
But actually, when reading the WMM book we could find that this sentence has an important appendix in parentheses:
"It also features many generalizations and personal views of mine (albeit derived from a perspective grounded in sastra)."
So this is an important point. The WMM book is strictly based on sastra and ISKCON's Founder-Acharya's own words. So, either the GBC did not bother to look into the book before they voted for the ban or more probably, highly biased people inside and around the GBC pushed this ban. Therefore again, this book is based on Srila Prabhupada's own words and vision of how this dark world could be saved by implementation of Varnashrama dharma. Just to ban this book without solid discussion is a horrible act of stealing this movement from Srila Prabhupada and introducing personal subjective ideas. Let us remind the responsible members of the GBC that in traditional societies, the thieves are beaten with sticks or shoes. Publicly.
We understand that this action against WMM book is mainly based on worrying about what the secular, liberal and pseudo-humanistic society will think about ISKCON after getting in touch with this book. So again and again, the official ISKCON is making the same mistake by trying to adapt to, or even flatter the modern atheistic leading forces in the world. However more and more we can see how this artificial materialistic civilization is going to its bitter end. So should we be always adjusting to ever-changing and continuously degrading political and social trends in the society, or should we just follow and for the benefit of society, propagate the timeless and transcendental doctrines of Krishna conscious lifestyle? Of course, some adjustment should be there but to ban totally the words of Acharyas about this issue is surely the way straight to hell.
The GBC is worried about the point that WMM propagates polygamy, child marriages and child labor. First, from the diction of the WMM I did not get the feeling that the book itself is stating that from now we should propagate polygamy, etc. What I see is that the author is systematically and openly presenting sastric and Prabhupada's views about this topic and showing us that in traditional Varnashrama these concepts have their solid place. Regarding the child labor, I do not understand where it is propagated. There is only a paragraph where Maharaja describes how in the Vedic system, children are trained from the beginning to work according to their inborn psychophysical propensities. And he gives an example of the Marwari mercantile community. Every intelligent person can see the difference between the case when the child is happily engaged in developing his father's business and when the lonely child is forced to work in some horrible factory. By the way, by not supporting the Varnashram, which is comprised of self-sufficient local independent communities, the GBC indirectly supports the present capitalistic trade system based on the Third World manufactories often running on child labor.
Polygamy? It exists all around the world. In Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Africa, China, in the different tribal communities and even in some Christian societies. So should we ignore this natural tendency of males because of some sick motivations of the present world leaders? It is truth that in many countries it is illegal, but in many places it is still going on. Secular society does not allow polygamy but at the same time through education, media etc. they are supporting indirectly or even directly the promiscuity. So should we follow them? Aren't promiscuity or remarriages another type of irresponsible polygamy? How many ISKCON leaders are in this situation themselves? And again, according to my understanding, the WMM book is just giving suggestion in a brahminical way for the benefit of the society. I do not see there any immediate commands to start it right now. So it is not clever to just ignore these facts because of the present legal system.
For example in many countries it is illegal to preach or even practice Krishna consciousness. However still many bold devotees struggle to propagate the Holy Name there. Did Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu follow the order of the Kazi when he made harinama sankirtana illegal? So should we feel bad about our tradition and philosophy when something is illegal somewhere? Or using this logic conversely, should the devotees feel bad about the fact that they don't (I hope) practice cow killing and abortions while living in countries where they are legal?
The same goes with child marriages. The Vedic system is very scientific and protective. Of course, for implementing this we should first create the healthy atmosphere in our society. However to trash this idea and to accept blindly the secular model instead is unreasonable.
Right now here in Europe some Islamic branches preach much more radical doctrines than taking responsibility about one's wife(s) or one's daughters by marrying them early. And even though these radicalisms are not legal and not allowed officially to be practiced here in Europe, these groups are gaining strength and they have large communities and places where they are practicing their own traditional laws in total opposition to the present official legal system. There are even statistics that Islam would be the major religion in Europe and the West after some 20 or 25 years. Not by military confrontation, but just by expanding their families and by keeping their traditions and beliefs. Shouldn't this fact be food for thought for our leaders, who are puzzling their brains about how to expand our society?
Therefore by banning the WMM book, what kind of signal are the GBC giving to the traditional Indian community? Do they say that the traditional lifestyle proved successful for yugas is becoming now useless and harmful for our preaching strategy? What kind of signal do they give to other religious groups who accept polygamy? Does the GBC tell them that they are uncultured tribals? Shouldn't we preach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's message to them as well? How will they be inspired by our merging with the secular views? The Vedic system is the best and most scientific alternative to this hellish direction of our civilization. It's proven by all Vedic scriptures and all Acharyas. Do the GBC members have faith in it? If not, how can they in their posts represent the will and opinion of the Founder-Acharya?
The GBC resolution declares:
"Whereas when publications are sold or promoted on ISKCON premises it gives the impression that ISKCON as a whole is endorsing the contents of such publications;"
At present many books in total philosophical opposition to the teachings of our Acharyas circulate in ISKCON. So should we infer that by not banning them, the ISKCON as a whole is endorsing the contents of such publications? Who is responsible for that?
The resolution states that Praghosa das is disturbed by the relaxed behavior of Hridayananda das Goswami as a sannyasi. However we see that the GBC gave the green light to his Krishna West bogus speculation. On the other hand, when Bhakti Vikas Swami is properly acting as a strict sannyasi presenting the scriptures and words from the mouth of the Acharya, then the GBC is again disturbed. So how to understand that?
The resolution continues:
"Whereas the book, "Women: Masters or Mothers" by Bhakti Vikasa Swami, has been seen to cause misunderstanding of Srila Prabhupada's instructions, alienation and polarization of many devotees, and it has the potential to create even more disruptions to many aspects of ISKCON's preaching work in the future;"
So will there be any future of ISKCON if the present GBC does not agree with Srila Prabhupada's own words? Who misunderstands his instructions?
"The opinions expressed by Bhakti Vikasa Swami in his book "Women: Masters or Mothers" are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and practices of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), or its Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada."
Srila Prabhupada's own words do not reflect views and practices of Srila Prabhupada? What a lunacy! Those who will read the book will find that Maharaj is backing his statements by Prabhupada's own statements and by sastra.
So I found this resolution totally biased and manipulated. By banning Srila Prabhupada's own words, what kind of signal does the GBC give us? The GBC demands loyalty and trust from us, but by issuing such resolutions they rather become more and more unreliable.
I still believe there are many wonderful Vaishnavas in the GBC. However, when they are members of institutions which deliver such strange resolutions, I just do not understand on what prerequisites is this whole apparatus working, and I actually wonder to which ranks are some of the GBC people connected? Sometimes I even wonder whether some GBCs do believe in karma, hell, Krishna and ultimately in the unique position of Srila Prabhupada, whom they should represent
There are many people willing to support ISKCON because they are inspired by reading Srila Prabhupada's books. However, every sane man will first check the atmosphere about the project in which he is going to invest his money. And I am asking – where will ISKCON be after 10 years under such kind of (mis)guidance?
Therefore I am turning to the GBC members. Please wake up! You are losing your credibility more and more. Just look how devotees worldwide are upset about your strategies. You are losing ground under your own feet. Will it be pleasing to Srila Prabhupada to see the condition of GBC policies today?
By practical experience, by observation and of course from the sastra I could see that women are just not fit for the top management. In spiritual management the same is true about men who are controlled by women. So by seeing how unintelligent this resolution is I could clearly see the hand of women behind it. There is no support on Srila Prabhupada's side for women being elected as GBC, so I would not bother to speak to them here. However I turn to GBC men. Please wake up, again! Do not be dancing dogs in the hands of some feminist, gender activists. Do not make this disgusting show of stealing from Srila Prabhupada his own movement for your shaky purposes in front of our eyes. Do you know that you can even be impeached for diverting the movement from its original purpose on the basis of the Founder-Acharya's own words in his Will and legal foundation documents? What did pollute your minds? Money, fame, position, women, Kali himself? Please do not open this tamo dvara any more. Please do not hijack this movement just for the sake of some ill-motivated people behind the curtain.
In awaiting the brighter future of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON,