Mothers & Masters

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Publisher: Bhakti Vikas Trust Publication Year: 2015


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Women: Masters or Mothers? presents traditionalist arguments for the direction of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, proposing that we should take up Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mandate to establish varāśrama-dharma rather than capitulate to the norms and ideologies of secular culture. Particularly discussed are gender roles, parental responsibilities, feminist follies, and some of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s more controversial teachings, such as those concerning early marriage, divorce, and polygamy.


Working on Bhakti Vikāsa Swami’s book Women: Masters or Mothers? has been inspirational in helping to deepen my understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s example and instructions and has shown that we must carefully avoid the onslaught of the degraded mentality of Kali-yuga.

– Madana-mohana-mohinī Devī Dāsī
[disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda – Prabhupāda Village, North Carolina, USA]
Dear Ladies,
The choice is yours. The modern society is going in the wrong direction at a very high speed, and those women who want to escape from degradation can escape by following the guidelines in this book. Women in the modern age especially need such guidance, because this is now not available to us from any other source. By imitating the Western and materialistic lifestyles, the degradation among Indians is now even worse than that among Western people. The result is social calamities like divorce, gang rapes, child abuse, abortion, murders, etc. To stop these things, or at least escape from them, we women should use our intelligence to read this book and implement the teachings in our lives and thus benef it ourselves and the society. I was about to be spoiled by so-called women’s education, career etc., but fortunately I escaped by following the instructions of my spiritual master, His Holiness Bhakti Vikāsa Swami, and by the guidance of my devotee husband. I am now living very peacefully by being a housewife and a mother to my son.
– Gīta Govinda Devī Dāsī 
[resident of Māyāpur]
This book discusses all the important aspects of a woman’s life, such as marriage, childbirth, education, and career, and provides the authorized Vedic perspective on them, being full of relevant quotes from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings and the śāstras. It encourages open-minded readers to question their own preconceived notions and the fact that today’s society largely rejects traditional culture, which was superior, as primitive and exploitative. It describes in detail how accepting the real Vedic culture is not only benef icial for society in general but is particularly so for the members of ISKCON, as it provides an atmosphere which is most conducive for practicing spiritual life.
Women: masters or mothers? It is not actually a question of being one or the other. As Bhakti Vikāsa Mahārāja explains: “In Vedic culture, a woman may certainly be a ‘master’ in the sense of overseeing and being the queen of the home, or in the sense of being highly expert.” This book suggests that women do not have to necessarily work with other men outside of their homes to be “empowered,” but instead have a more powerful contribution to make by following their innate tendencies and being ideal wives and mothers at home by ensuring that the family is well taken care of. The need of the hour is indeed to return to traditional gender roles for, as Mahārāja points out, “ISKCON already has many devotees competent to deliver learned lectures, but we have yet to demonstrate to the world a better way of life based on stable, happy families.” This book is a must-read for both men and women, because they must work together towards having stable Vaiṣṇava families across the entire ISKCON society.
– Indirā-sakhī Devī Dāsī
[resident of Māyāpur]
Women: Masters or Mothers? is refreshingly dif ferent in that it makes us halt and review the direction our movement is taking and the path that we, its individual members, are treading.
His Holiness Bhakti Vikāsa Swami appears to have delved deep into the recesses of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mind and instructions before coming up with a searchlight to show us the way ahead.
This book draws attention to the danger for ISKCON in assimilating ideas wholesale from mainstream society, in the course of preaching.
It makes an urgent appeal to members to practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness without striking compromises with materialistic society. It shows how such compromises harm, hamper, and slow us down and how it could even eventually derail our movement.
While containing a wealth of advice on how female members of our movement might make their lives successful, the relevance of this book is by no means restricted to Vaiṣṇavīs alone.
This book has answered questions that troubled me and put to rest a growing sense of disquiet that I had been experiencing as a result of what I observed around me.
I urge those who are wary of picking up Women: Masters or Mothers?   to disabuse their minds of prejudice and preconceived notions, and to take a good, hard look at what it proposes.
– Su-gītā Vāṇī Devī Dāsī
This book makes no apologies for its stand on rules and roles. The controversial topic of the female-bodied soul is ongoing; one should understand it carefully, because it’s not about putting down females but def ining the use of the bodily machine for elevation. Even for the male-bodied there are def ined rules according to one’s duty. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness neither is put down, yet for both male or female a role is def ined within certain parameters, the aim being elevation to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There are two pathways from the f ine to gross, and vice versa – the f inest being spirit soul, where there is no distinction, all being feminine/servitors. Yet this platform is a very elevated position. One cannot, simply by bodily designation, claim to be on the supreme platform, where one of the features is extreme humility. This book attempts to address that issue. Another point that comes out in this topic is that although many of the conf idential associates of Lord Caitanya were sakhīs or mañjarīs, they took male forms on this plane for preaching purposes – something to contemplate and meditate on.
– Bhakta Piyush and Mādhavī Devī Dāsī
[residents of Māyāpur]
Full Title Mothers & Masters
Binding Paperback
Pages 320
ISBN 9789382109297
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition
Part One
The Direction of the Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Movement: Merge with Modern Society, or Present the Varṇāśrama-dharma Alternative?
Devotees’ Concern with and Approach to Social Issues
Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Is Largely Incompatible with Modern Culture
Scientism, Liberal Humanism, and Self ishness
Hedonistic Civilizations Are Doomed
Traditional Societies and the Dharmic Culture of India
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Outlook Was Not Mundane
Śrīla Prabhupāda Wanted to Introduce Divine Varṇāśrama-dharma
“Varṇāśrama-dharma Is External”
Devotees Need Varṇāśrama-dharma
Varṇāśrama-dharma (the Perfect Institution) Must Be Based On Kṛṣṇa Consciousness
Varṇāśrama-dharma Inculcates Selflessness
A Revolution of Consciousness
Varṇāśrama-dharma for Overcoming Sexual Desire
Śrīla Prabhupāda Slowly and Carefully Introduced Vedic Culture
Shared Cultures of Traditional Societies
“Preach Now, Varṇāśrama-dharma Now”
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vision for Kṛṣṇa Conscious Farms
Rural Living Af fords More Time for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness
Accepting Kṛṣṇa’s Social System
An Experimental Revolution
ISKCON’s Disconnect with Varṇāśrama
Traditional Culture Is Misunderstood
Slaughterhouse-education and Child Labor
Indian Culture and ISKCON
Preaching of Traditionalism in the West
An Overview of Religious and Political Reform
Ṛtvik Folly
The Basic Mistake of All Reformers
Understanding the Issues – Siddhānta
ISKCON Has the Solution
Part Two
Women: Masters or Mothers?
Section One
Why Śrīla Prabhupāda Opposed Feminism
Demons Promote a Puf fed-up Concept of Womanly Life
Respect for Women in Indian Culture
Feminism in ISKCON
Nasty Ef fects of Feminism Within ISKCON
Misunderstanding Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Adjustments
Tweaking History by Blaming the Men
A Case Study: Yamunā Devī Dāsī
The Transformation of Women’s Roles
Lust, Greed, and Exploitation
Sigmund Freud and His Followers
Sex, Dissatisfaction, and Family Decline
Men and Women Are Dif ferent
Feminist Folly
Demonic “Broad-mindedness”
Why Women Need Protection
Independent Women Are Unprotected, Exploited, and Unhappy
The Vital Role of Gṛhasthas
Women Should Be Married (Gṛhasthas, Not Sannyasis, Should Protect Them)
Women in Bengal
Illicit Sex in the Name of Religion
F ire and Butter
Even Paramahaṁsas Are Cautious About Female Association
Devotees Must Reject Feminism
Section Two
Fulf illing Women’s Potential – As Mothers
Children Are the Victims
Frustration Due to Unrealistic Expectations
Early and Late Marriage
Arranged Marriage
“Love Marriage”
The Real Formula for Marital Success
Homemakers and Working Wives
The Scourge of Divorce
Discouraging Divorce Among Devotees
Divorce Can Be Averted
Family Planning and Big Families
Joint Families
Education for Girls: Chastity and Cooking
Victory for a Woman
Hopeless Women Become Feminists – Men Should Become First-class
Some Misconceptions of Men
Duties of Married Men
Section Three
Women As Leaders
Women As Gurus
Women Giving Classes and Leading Kīrtanas
Calling Women “Prabhu”
Traditional Culture Is Still Appreciated
The Way Forward
Part Three
Gurudevis and Grandmothers
Feminist Rhetoric on Dandavats
On the Subject of Female Diksha Gurus
Krsna Conscious Motherhood
Time for a Revolution
Playing the Hindu Card
Suggested Further Reading
About the Author