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To have a healthy society, it is necessary to have a forum for publicly stating what is acceptable and what is not.
RADHIKARANI DEVI DASI
ISKCON Vancouver, Canada
With leadership comes responsibility. If one cannot make decisions or take the responsibility of being accountable, then such devotees should step down from leadership posts and let others manage.
VNN's "Killed by Friendly Fire"
By Radhikarani devi dasi
accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
regards to the Mahamantra issue in general and the VNN editorial story in
particular, I wish to humbly put forward several points and what I
perceive as solutions. This is not a personal attack on anyone and neither
is it my intention to get embroiled in this sorry state of affairs.
Suffice to say, and what most would fail to recognize is that in this
"war," the wife of Mahamantra is not the only victim. There are
other causalities as a result of the snowballing effect.
us not be so quick to identify "heroes" or call for quick fixes.
Simply rendering the punishment to Mahamantra won't solve the problems. I
can guarantee you that there will be other Mahamantras and other victims
like Shanta devi again and again. It will just be a new set of characters
with some on the guilty side and some on the victim side. And this is
because we have not touched base with the root of the problem.
I perceive it, the following is some of the ways to address the core
children, particularly male, must be taught to respect their mothers and
sisters. This education starts with the mother instilling these values in
a child. It is called samskara. It must be taught that violence -in words
or otherwise- is not acceptable. That chanting beads cannot be used as
weapons, for example. Do not assume a child will naturally not be abusive.
Acceptable and unacceptable behavior has to be spelled out. The gurukulis
must be given examples of what is acceptable behavior. Every temple
president is morally bound to ensure that those living on the property are
following these simple rules. Let us talk about behavior in SB class in
the mornings. It is ideal to be talking of the glories of Lord Krsna but
if one cannot conduct oneself properly then what is the point? It becomes
brahmacari leaders should be morally bound to inform all the new bhaktas
(and themselves) that women are to be respected and not perceived as
"Mayadevi." In relation to this point I would like to share
something I observed about two years ago. I was traveling on a bus (in
Vancouver) one day when a group of brahmacaris - fired up sankirtana
devotees got on the bus. Shortly after, an attractive woman wearing
clothes in a less then modest way got onto the bus. The brahmacaris
immediately started to sing a jingle on "Mayadevi." This poor
lady had no idea that she was being made fun of. I thought how sad those
women are treated this way. The brahmacari ought to be informed that all
women, no matter how they are dressed, or where they come from, or what
their status is, are still to be respected as mothers. Perhaps we even
need to look into this concept of having brahmacaris. It is not working
out correctly as these are the men who get married and abuse their spouses
because they have no idea how to deal with women. Perhaps the emphasis
should be on training young men to be responsible men as a grhastas. Let
us not live in the illusion that being a celibate brahmacari is working.
If it did, we would not have such high incidence of abuse of women and
children or even incidents like abortions within temple property. In Vedic
times that was the training - for all men to be responsible and in process
of training, some who could really and truly live the life of a celibate
emerged and observed their vow perfectly. As long as we emphasize
brahmacari as being the ideal way to be, we will find men who wish to be
the top and fail miserably because we do not come from an ideal home where
self-denial is the norm. Rather, this is the age of self-indulgence to the
max. How difficult it is to overcome this barrier! Might it not be better
to train them as responsible householders and progress from there? What
have we learnt from our past experiences?
have a healthy society, it is necessary to have a forum for publicly
stating what is acceptable and what is not. I refer to the media. We have
the BTG where everything is portrayed as being fine and dandy. When we
have issues like Mahamantra, it might be an idea to publish their pictures
as a deterrent to others from behaving in a similar fashion. This is the
most essential function a media has in any society. Otherwise it is
totalitarianism and propaganda. Such propaganda may initially attract one
to come in but it can also have the disastrous effect of disillusion for
the individual as they see things are different from how they are
portrayed. Let us be realistic and start addressing our issues in a way
that is beneficial for us all. Let us talk about it and stop pretending
the society has no problems.
leadership comes responsibility. If one cannot make decisions or take the
responsibility of being accountable, then such devotees should step down
from leadership posts and let others manage.
understanding of Vaisnava philosophy
is true "we are not the body"; but does that make it all right
for one to either physically or verbally abuse others? Instead of trying
to preach to others that we are not the bodies, first let us understand
this injunction correctly.
in our attitude to each other and all around us. Let us come down from our
high cloud of thinking "we are better because we are initiated or
chanting." If only we understood the third sikshastaka of Lord
Caitanya, our problems would be wiped out. Just that one point is the sum
and substance of how to gauge our own behavior
me conclude this by saying that wanting to practice Krsna Consciousness is
a noble goal. It is a great training ground for us to manifest good
spiritual qualities towards each other. For this to continue being a great
training ground for each one of us. Let us deal with our root problems and
take corrective measures. Some things can be done by each one of us
immediately, here and now.
devi dasi. Vancouver.
© CHAKRA 14-April-2000
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