the Rupanuga Vedic College
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Getting to the Real Issues
By Janardana das
We can all relax now, knowing that Georgina Prabhu can spell and is capable of defending herself. That being said, in her recent post, she asks about answers to the Real Issues. Okay... I'll give it a try.
In her original post she says: "Yet it remains a fact that the daughters of ISKCON need education — most have to leave ISKCON to get it."
You are talking about an academic education, I assume? A lot women and men in ISKCON go to other sources for higher education. It’s not just a women issue or a knock on ISKCON. The fact that there is a lack of education in ISKCON is regrettable, but not exclusive to women. There are wonderful academic programs available within the society see: Girl's Vaishnava Academy Alachua (Florida) and ISKCON School Hillsborough (North Carolina) — http://www.supersoul.com/newgoloka/school — for a start. The need will always be there for more, but the reality is, devotees attracted to advancing in academics have to go where that's being provided. Again, this is reality for both women and men in ISKCON.
Actually, I think it’s a good thing that there is support in ISKCON for devotees who choose to go outside for academic advancement. Going outside ISKCON to further education is also a great way to preach. Please see the example that His Holiness Tamal Krsna Goswami has left for us. You use the words "leave ISKCON" which implies that one has to leave the association of ISKCON devotees for an education. That's a very personal choice that shouldn't reflect only on ISKCON.
"Women in ISKCON also need a deeply scholarly Vedic education and grounding in Shastra. How else can they give class?"
The Bhakti Sastri program is a main source for Vedic education in ISKCON, and it’s open to both women and men. Georgina, you even say you took part in it. How does that make any sense? You say women have to leave ISKCON to learn, yet in the next paragraph, you say you studied in the program at Caitanya College. My wife took the Bhakti Sastri course, as did many of her female devotee friends. They all did very nicely and are perfectly qualified to give a class. ISKCON has been affording the same chance to both women and men for a while now. You’re taking one program (the RVC) and using it as evidence that women still can't get a Vedic education within ISKCON. Its shortsighted and a disservice to the mothers of ISKCON who are getting and providing Vedic education.
The RVC program is headed up by Danavir Goswami. He's a Goswami, its his vision. We should be respectful and encouraging to anyone making such an endeavor. There is no restriction within ISKCON prohibiting women from making the same endeavor and setting requirements according to their vision and ashram. I think you should contact Mother Urmila Prabhu, Mother Laxmi Moni Prabhu, and Mother Malati Prabhu for a clear picture of what is going on with the women of ISKCON today. Maybe you can help further the education of both men and women in ISKCON with your academic knowledge. It seems as if you have a lot to offer in that regard.
Georgina Prabhu, you didn't have a great ISKCON experience. This is cause for regret within the society. But to take the RVC program and use it as a platform for finding fault in ISKCON in general is not fair.
© CHAKRA 4 June 2002
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