Pre-test of Survey for SB 4.25.41 comprehension

There is a pre-test of a survey on a statement of Srila Prabhupada’s from his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.25.41 that is currently in progress. The pre-test is accessible here.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CMXJ2ZQ

You are encouraged to take the test and provide feedback, which will be used to improve the survey.

The ongoing results are available here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-M8QDR6GWL/

 

A Follow-up to the What the MS-13 Gang and ISKCON Have in Common Post Responding to some of the reactions

As a follow-up to the posting on MS-13 and ISKCON, I received a number of interesting reactions. But before I share some of those, I would like to make a few summary points:

  • ISKCON and the MS-13 Gang’s point of commonality is that women are kept out of decision-making on the grounds they are not suited for it.
  • ISKCON’s rationale is mandated by the scriptures, which say women should not be trusted.
  • MS-13’s rationale is based on consistently bad experiences in trusting them.
  • The big point is that MS-13’s experience “bears witness” to a Vedic truth, which is the position women should hold in society.

Some have found the comparison between the two organization so odious as to be beyond the pale. One devotee wrote,

“I did read your article and of course you are entitled to your opinion. No one can argue with an opinion.”

He portrays the essay as merely “opinion.” Indirectly, he has said there was nothing presented in the essay to support its conclusion. That, of course, is not true. So how do you account for it?

It goes against his values at a deep level, a level beyond the intellect. That level is the false-ego, which comes in two categories: “I” and “mine.” Because it is at the level of false-ego, it cannot be discussed rationally.

Aspiring devotees often have difficulty reconciling their attachment to women’s equality with Vedic principles. And because their attachment is not primarily a matter of rationality, overcoming it is a matter of purification and good association. Otherwise, both are lacking in one way or another.

Another devotee wrote,

If women are so much more lusty than men how come they are not raping men?

To which I replied, that first we must accept as fact what the śāstras and pure devotees have said. These sources are infallible. Then we can begin to understand things as they are. (I will address the above question in another post.) Otherwise, if we don’t first accept at this level, then acceptance and rejection will be limited to the material mind, intelligence and false ego. And that is merely a pretense of understanding.

Even if such a person apparently accepts the correct answer, he accepts it not on account of the authority of the śāstras or the authority of pure, saintly people, but because the correct answer happens to coincide with what his material conditioning predisposes him to believe.  That is why we often see that some devotees wholeheartedly embrace vegetarianism while at the same time they reject the gender roles that the śāstras and great devotees like Srila Prabhupada prescribe for women.

For them, it is sometimes useful to say “the śāstras say” or “Srila Prabhupada says”, and sometimes it’s not.

Some of these issues are addressed further in this essay.

 

The Limits of (Social) Science

The American Psyhciatric Association has produced this position statement about “Same Sex Unions” (gay / lesbian marriage):

The American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same sex unions and their associated legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities.“Action Item: Position Statement Proposed by APA Committee on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues Position Statement on Same Sex Unions (Approved by Board of Trustees, December 2000)

If prestigious organizations like the American Psychiatric Association can be so wrong in spite of their methodologies, then why is psychiatry, psychology and other similar social sciences being more and more employed by ISKCON? In greater society social policy and law is increasingly being formulated by professionals and academics who propound these grossly wrong, immoral conclusions. America and other affluent Western countries have already experienced the vicious effects of their influence.

Judging by the stated position and terrible influence of these so-called sciences, as devotees we should oppose at all levels the use of psychology, psychiatry and other similar disciplines as tools for shaping policy within ISKCON. Otherwise, it is not unreasonable to expect ISKCON to be misguided in the same way that its host cultures have been misguided.

(First published 17 May 2004)

Good Behavior is as Important as Preaching ISKCON's divorce problems made worse by bad leaders

Mata Radha Devi Dasi, a senior member of ISKCON’s Vaishnavi Ministry, is also a long-time divorce lawyer. The problem in this case is not that she is a lawyer or that, as a woman, she is running her own practice. It is that she has built her career on fostering the dissolution of marriages.

This provides a powerful economic incentive for sinful activity.  More divorces = more business.  But more business means more people are encouraged in sinful activity.

Even if sometimes it so happens that some marriages should be dissolved (and the dharma-shastras also specify some conditions for this, many of them intuitively grasped), baked into her line of work is an incentive to maximize the number of divorces. In her line, a success is a divorce in which the gains for the client are maximized. The more successes she racks up, the more successful her business and the bigger her income. But as a result, society becomes more sinful.

If divorce is sinful, then letting a lawyer continue with a divorce law practice and be recognized as a senior devotee is something like letting a butcher get initiated and cook for the Deities yet carry on with his business.

Even if she herself is not using her legal skills to divorce her husband (and to her credit she never has been divorced), just as everyone else in the “supply chain” who makes the slaughter of an animal possible is as guilty as the one who actually slaughters the animal, she is also no less culpable for the sin of divorce committed by others she has encouraged.

The big problem is here you have a woman whose day-to-day dealings in earning a livelihood are sinful, yet she is held up as a leader for the whole of the ISKCON society. Her actions are deeply and orthogonally opposed to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the matter.

The worst part about it is it reflects a personal choice. She could have practiced any other specialty in the field of law. Yet she chose this. No one forced her against her will to become a divorce lawyer.

This also reflects badly on her elders, who have not protested. As we know from the example of Bhishma and Drona, maunam sammiti lakṣaṇam, silence implies consent. For their silence, Lord Krishna also held them as culpable for the sin of atttempting to disrobe Draupadi as He did the other Kauravas.

This article has been a long way of saying this–achar (behavior) is as important as prachar (preaching). But this is an important example because yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas, whatever acts leaders perform, common men follow. On the authority of Lord Krishna, it is to be understood that many people within the ISKCON society and within society at large have been and continue to be adversely directed by Mata Radha Devi Dasi’s impious actions.

Hence, if you want to do something proactive about the problem of divorce in ISKCON, don’t start at the bottom, start at the top.

(Lest there be any doubt as to whether Mata Radha Devi Dasi’s choice of profession has been on the whole sinful and bad for just about everyone who has come under her guidance, this essay concludes with some of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the subject of divorce:)

Q. In your ISKCON society, do you allow for divorce?

  • Srila Prabhupada: There is no question of separation. There is no question of divorce. (Lecture: SB, 1975)
  • We don’t allow divorce; once they’re married, there is no separation. (Interview: NY Times, New Vrindavan, 9-2-72)

Q. But isn’t it necessary to have divorce as a legal option?

  • Srila Prabhupada: The divorce act is encouraging prostitution, and this should be abolished. (SB 1.17.38)
  • In Vedic civilization the husband and wife were not separated by such man-made laws as divorce. We should understand the necessity for maintaining family life in human society and should thus abolish this artificial law known as divorce. (SB 4.23.25)
  • …there is no such thing as divorce in the Vedic literature. A wife is always trained to be chaste and faithful to her husband, for this helps her achieve deliverance from any abominable material condition (SB 9.20.22)

Q. What if a woman simply cannot tolerate her husband any longer?

  • Srila Prabhupada: Generally, separation between husband and wife is due to womanly behavior; divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. The best course for a woman is to abide by the orders of her husband. That makes family life very peaceful. Sometimes there may be misunderstandings between husband and wife…but a wife should not leave her husband’s protection because of such misunderstanding. If she does so, it is understood to be due to her womanly weakness. (SB 4.4.3)
  • What is this nonsense, divorce? There is no such thing in the Vedic civilization, divorce. You must accept whatever God has given you as husband or wife, you must. They had no thinking even, idea of divorce. One may not agree with the husband.. That is natural. Sometimes we do not agree. But there is no question of divorce. (Room Conversation, Baltimore , 7-7-76)

(More instructions from Srila Prabhupada can be found here.)

Slander Advances the Left’s Agenda in ISKCON Why it works

Neema Parvini at Quillette.com explains how the Left’s use of name-calling and slandering is very effective at advancing their agenda. For the last few years, Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja on account of his book Women: Masters or Mothers? has endured slander at the hands of people who apparently hold a similar agenda.

From Parvini’s article:

Thinkers who typically oppose the left have long pointed out that they have been losing the war of words. As David Horowitz puts it in Take No Prisoners(2014):

Whenever a Republican and a Democrat square off, it’s Godzilla versus Bambi. They call us racists, sexists, homophobes, and selfish pigs, and we call them … liberals. Who’s going to win that argument? They spend their political dollars calling us names and shredding our reputations; we spend ours explaining why the complicated solutions we propose will work and why theirs won’t. But when you are being called a racist, an enemy of women, and a greedy SOB, who will listen to your ideas about the budget? Who is going to believe you when all of your motives are portrayed as vile? (p. 105)

“The Prison-House of Political Language”, Quillette, 4 June 2018 <https://quillette.com/. . .>

A similar thing happened to Maharaja on account of his book. Feminist ISKCON members and ISKCON’s GBC attacked him for writing a book based on Srila Prabhupada’s teachings about women’s prescribed social roles, status and behavior. The specifics of their dealings with him are documented here, here, here and here. The book itself can be referenced here.

The objective of the name-calling, as Parvini describes, is to ensure that a substantive discussion does not take place.

Given this fact, people who are part of the “Rebel Alliance” develop a way of speaking designed to circumvent the possibility of debate or even the introduction of evidence. They employ what Thomas Sowell called, in The Vision of the Anointed (1995), “pre-emptive rhetoric” (p. 64), a set of words and phrases that assert the correctness of the argument before anything else has even been said.

And indeed, this is what happened in the case of Bhakti Vikasa Swami. GBC office-holders deputed to deal with Maharaja initially delivered an ultimatum to him, to either withdraw his book or that the GBC will publicly declare that he has misrepresented Srila Prabhupada.

In response, Maharaja made the following plea:

You have given me an ultimatum of two alternatives, both of which (in my estimation) are unfavorable to me. You state that you have no choice in this matter as you simply have to execute a resolution made by the GBC.

My suggestion: another possibility is for you inform to the GBC members that after some initial correspondence with me, it seems that the resolution was made without receiving a balanced assessment of the book and that proper procedure was not followed inasmuch as the author was not consulted. You could recommend that hence this resolution not be published or implemented at least until proper procedures have been followed and full consideration taken of all issues concerning it.

The GBC made no further attempt at a reply before publishing their resolution against him.

Why is it so difficult to discuss women’s issues in ISKCON? Because you will be openly slandered and vilified if you try. As Parvini points out, not having discussion is the objective, so that the name-callers and slanderers can advance their own agenda without opposition.