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Afghan Women: An 
Appeal from Indian Feminists

Rebuild Afghanistan in Partnership with Women and Civil Society

The oppression of Afghan women had become symbolic justification for repeated military intervention by the international alliance. The media has shown the need to liberate the most oppressed women in the world from the Taliban. This concern should now be turned to re-building civil society with women partners.


Reply to Sambhavi dasi
By Jayasri devi dasi 

I believe that when we are married, serving the husband is not only possible but makes for family harmony and sets a good example for children, if they are present. If there is anything our society needs, it is a stronger grhasta asrama. We as women have the power to make or break this asrama. Now that’s power.


Women as a Subhuman Species?
By Nandarani devi dasi

Women have a different role than men, but they are equally valuable. In our movement we seem to be taught that women are a subhuman species, less than complete, because more of their strengths are interior and of the nature of sacrifice.


Thanks and appreciation from oldchakra.com to our sponsor and host,

Prabhupada's Views on Women
By Urmila devi dasi

If we throw out the "external,” instructions that Prabhupada gave us regarding society-especially instructions that he repeated very often in his purports, lectures, letters, and conversations-we risk making our advancement so much more slow and difficult.


Female Foeticide in Karnataka, India
Times of India (Electronic Edition)

BANGALORE: Misuse of ultra-sonography by hundreds of unlicensed clinics has led to female foeticide being rampant in several districts in the state. The female sex-ratio had also declined in many districts due to this dangerous practice, official sources told The Times of India.


Krishna Conscious Marriage
By Jayasri devi dasi

Srila Prabhupada often states that the main reason that a marriage ends is because of an interruption in sense gratification. If devotees can find a partner, with the intention of making Krishna Consciousness the center of their relationship, then they will be guaranteed a successful marriage.  


Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships
By Radha dasi

I did my research in this field when I was working in academia and just wanted to add one point. Women who are in abusive relationships are in the most physical danger when they separate from their abusers. This country, at least, suffers from severe denial about the actual danger facing women in abusive relationships. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 26-May-2000


Apology Accepted and Thank You!
By Atmavana dasi

Jai! and thank you to all the devotees who worked so diligently in negotiating the women's issues at this year's GBC meeting in Mayapur, India. The apology from the GBC is most heartily accepted and brought tears of joy to my eyes that had tears of anger before, especially in reference to the incident in Vrindavan, India during Kartik where in ladies were disrespected in the temple room and elsewhere. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 21-May-2000


How New Vrindavan Deals with Ladies
By Prabhupada dasa

The points contained in this year's GBC resolutions concerning ladies are already being practiced here in New Vrndavana. One major reason is the exemplary behavior of Candrasekhara Maharaja, temple president of the Sri Sri Radha Vrndavana Candra Temple.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 14-May-2000


GBC Resolutions Pertaining to the Position of Women in ISKCON
By Madhusudani Radha devi dasi

CHAKRA (May 2, 2000) - The following historic resolutions from this year's GBC meetings underscore that the ISKCON leadership both regrets the prior treatment of women in ISKCON and is now trying to rectify these past mistakes.  Please note that all temples must implement the laws in section 619 below unless a special deal is worked out with the Executive Committee (i.e. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Ramai Swami, Giridhari Swami, and Bir Krishna Goswami).
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 2-May-2000


The Maha-mantra case: Why we need to speak up and how we can help
By Padmapani das

Shanta-devi has chosen to make this information public so that we can all learn some valuable lessons. Domestic abuse is everyone's business. It is not a private matter. Its effects on society are profound and far-reaching, and therefore we all need to be educated on this important subject matter. 
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 15-March-2000


Comments on Mahamantra das and domestic violence in ISKCON
By Kalavati devi dasi

Hare Krsna. Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I have no article to publish, but did want to comment on the article I read re: MahaMantra's abuse against his family.

I was horrified to read his wife's accounts of years of abuse at his hands. There are so many issues here to address that I do not know where to start.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 12-Mar-2000


Continuing the Journey
By Pranada dasi

How many of you have seen the September/October issue of BTG?  As I went to put the magazine down it dawned on me, “Hey, most of the articles in here are written by women and they are good articles. This wasn’t just filler stuff. There was refreshing depth of realization on a wide range of subjects. This has substance!” As I examined this magazine the whole history of women in ISKCON became clear.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 08-Dec-1999


Toward Krsna together.
By Visakha dasi

What we seek is for the members of a family and a community to work with the same vision. Drawn together in Krsna’s service, we stretch to understand each other and are invigorated by the stretching.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 30-Nov-1999


Giriraj Swami did not approve actions in Vrindavan
By Vipramukhya Swami

In an article on CHAKRA “ What really happened in Vrindavan?” Mahaman dasa, temple president of ISKCON Vrindavan, was quoted as saying, “There are many members of the resident community as well as visiting devotees including former President Deena Bandhu Prabhu, Daivisakti mataji, Giriraj Maharaj, Radha Govinda Maharaj and others who support our view and action.” Now, however, Giriraj Swami denies that he was consulted by Mahaman.  
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 27-Nov-1999


This is what happened in Vrindavan
By Deena Bandhu dasa

Last year a party of women headed by a senior Godsister, Mother Kusha, asked Mahaman for better darshan facilities for the women at Mangal Artik since at festival time it becomes quite crowded and the women are way in the back. It was mutually agreed that the sannyasis and men would be allowed to offer their dandavats at all the three altars and that after the ghee lamp was offered the men would leave the Radhashyamsundar altar to the women. The meeting was very cordial and Mahaman acted as the gentleman that he actually is. From the very beginning, Parvati and a few others never honored this agreement and stood in front of the Radha-Syamasundara altar from before the curtain was opened making it difficult for the sannyasis to offer their dandavats.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 26-Nov-1999


What really happened in Vrindavan?
By Vipramukhya Swami

CHAKRA (Freeport, Long Island, NY) - November 13, 1999: An incident in Vrindavan where women were allegedly manhandled away from the temple altar by men representing the temple administration has sparked a wave of controversy, with tempers continuing to flare up and threats of resignation from ISKCON abound. CHAKRA has investigated the issue and this is our report.

Of this incident, the GBC Chairman, Bir Krishna Maharaja, said, “The GBC will not tolerate… preferential treatment given to male devotees in any form.” He says that this is an official directive from the GBC Executive Committee.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 13-Nov-1999


Your voice is needed
A statement by the ISKCON Women's Ministry

The Vrindavan temple is supposed to set standards for all other ISKCON temples, and the GBC has been making an effort to turn ISKCON Vrindavan into a world center for education and training. Vrindavan ISKCON must be exemplary. Now it is a shame and a disgrace.

Unfortunately, ISKCON’s Vrindavan center (and, indeed, other ISKCON centers in India) have long been seen as seats of intolerance--and at times even hatred--toward women in our movement. Such unacceptable attitudes have been manifest in the denial to women of many facilities needed for their spiritual and material well-being.  
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 12-Nov-1999


Do the women deserve this?
By Pranada dasi

CHAKRA (Vrindavan, India) - Kartik festival: Tension between men and women escalated at the Krishna-Balarama ISKCON temple here until one morning at mangala-arati women were manhandled away from the front of the Deities’ altar, according to numerous reports from senior devotees. "Unfortunately the Deities had to witness the behavior," reported one devotee.  
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 12-Nov-1999


Balancing Prabhupada's Samadhi in Mayapur
by Sanandananda Manjari dasi

Dear Prabhus,
Please accept my respects to you all. Those who are reading here are certainly serving our beloved Srila Prabhupada in whatever way they can and are therefore glorious! I humbly pray for your blessings.

Two years ago I visited Mayapur the first time. I had not lived in a temple for 17 years. I lived in Boulder, Colorado and visited the Denver temple for festivals and occasional Sunday feasts.
>Full Story

© CHAKRA 17-Jul-99


Women in ISKCON
from Michael Warren


Dear Sirs/Madams,

I have read your issues on women. I'm no longer "involved" with ISKCON (not because of women!) but must say that it was "women" who kept me invoved to begin with! Not sexually, but emotionally. I love the women of ISKCON. Praise to the "female" devotees of Krsna! I love all of you godly women who sacrifice for God!

Hare Krsna!

(Especially Maha Bhagawat of Portland, OR)!

Michael Warren

© CHAKRA 20-Feb-99


Hate for Women:
A Practice of Celibacy?

By Ratna Sadal


My first shocking observation, when I entered the movement, is the misinterpretation of women roles within Vedic religious practices. The purpose of Lord Caitanya's preaching movement is especially focused on delivering the most unfortunate conditioned souls, such as sudras and women. My most shocking experience is that women are called "matajee," which means mother and are at the same time disrespected.

Not long ago I bumped into a young man who showed sexual interest for me and at the same time called me matajee. Well, I had to back out for a minute to figure out what was going on. The meaning "matajee" became a term of name-calling, a sexist oriented labeling, a big joke.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 12-Feb-99


Defending the Exposed
GHQ is Futile
from Srila dasa


Sriman Guru-Krsna Prabhu has bravely attempted respond to and rebut the numerous accusations that implicate him — along with all the other members of the now nefarious GHQ — in misogyny. We might note, however, that not once has Guru-Krsna distanced himself from the bigoted statements that document their (GHQ) collective foolishness.

Guru-Krsna's conspicuous silence must mean a fundamental agreement with the basic intent of those heinous letters, which are now a matter of public record. We don't have to speculate about the allegations: there is a clear and present danger expressed therein. The nonsense is self-evident and not worth repeating.

It is also to be noted that the North American GBC and the GBC Executive Committee have both joined to voice their strong disapproval of the tenor of the above-mentioned GHQ.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 24-Dec-98


GHQ Attacks in the Wrong Direction
from Pancha Tattva dasa


Dear Editors of CHAKRA,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Members of the 'GHQ' conference should consider the following verse and purport from Srimad-Bhagavatam:

Are you feeling compunction for the unhappy women and children who are left forlorn by unscrupulous persons? Or are you unhappy because the goddess of learning is being handled by brahmanas addicted to acts against the principles of religion? Or are you sorry to see that the brahmanas have taken shelter of administrative families that do not respect brahminical culture?

PURPORT

In the age of Kali, the women and the children, along with brahmanas and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age illicit connection with women will render many women and children uncared for. Circumstantially, the women will try to become independent of the protection of men, and marriage will be performed as a matter of formal agreement between man and woman. In most cases, the children will not be taken care of properly. (SB 1.16.22)

We shouldn't blame the women. They're not the problem. We are. It is specifically stated here that due to the circumstance of being exploited and neglected, women try to become independent. The burden of responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the men.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 24-Dec-98


The GHQ Issue
Anonymous Anathema?
from Guru-Krsna das


Dear Chakris,

The respected though anonymous author of "The GHQ Conspiracy," in reference to certain isolated unsavory remarks made by a mere few of the 17-member GHQ conference, has stated that the conspiring members were "in fact using these terms for another agenda—one of misogyny."

Of course, each of us has the right to our imperfect opinions, based upon our imperfect senses and our tendency to commit mistakes, to become illusioned, and to cheat. But shouldn't aspiring Vaisnavas very cautiously avoid such subjective, faulty "conclusions"? Or is it merely by our practice of sadhana-bhakti—whatever the quality of that practice may be—that we are automatically elevated to the status of court judges?
>Click Here

(See also "GHQ: One-Sided Coverage?")

© CHAKRA 21-Dec-98


GHQ: One-Sided Coverage?
A CHAKRA report

Several members of the now-defunct GHQ conference have written in to say that CHAKRA's coverage of the controversy was one-sided. CHAKRA, they say, did not present an accurate picture of what GHQ really stood for.

In this posting, then, CHAKRA presents
"Anonymous Anathema?" by GHQ member Guru Krsna das and the following two letters from the GHQ conference, both from Syamasundara das. We at CHAKRA feel that these letters, especially the following two, will present an accurate picture of the GHQ and explain why CHAKRA felt no need to defend this conference.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 21-Dec-98


The Importance of
Women in ISKCON
a talk by Hridayananda Maharaja

In the time allotted to me I wanted to speak on three related topics and leave as much time as possible for any questions or comments - we could have some discussion on these points. The topics I wanted to speak on are, firstly, how I think this process affects myself personally and also the men in ISKCON, as we sometimes say 'the male bodied devotees'; secondly, how from listening I think it is important for the women themselves; and thirdly, how the topic is important for the world and Srila Praphupada's mission.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 17-Dec-98


Vedic Women (part 1)
an interview with Umapati Swami
by Madhusudani Radha devi dasi


MR: Umapati Maharaja, what do you think about the notion that women in ISKCON are not Vedic enough?

US: If the men want the women to be Vedic, then the men should take the lead and become Vedic first. The men have to provide a society where the women are protected. What is the use of talking about Vedic culture if we do not create a society where people can follow it?

But I am not so sure that the people who speak the most about being Vedic understand all the imports of Vedic culture. I do not claim to understand them either. For example, ISKCON women distribute books on the street. Is that Vedic? If so, then the role of women in Vedic culture is wider than is commonly thought.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 17-Dec-98


No Censure for the GHQ?
from Hare Krsna dasi


There has been some question regarding my header of "NA GBC censures GHQ." Now, Bir Krishna Maharaja states that the GBC did not censure the GHQ. So I looked up the definition of "censure," to get a better understanding:

censure: 1. To criticize severely; blame; 2. To express official disapproval of.

The Dictionary said "See more at Criticize" where I found this, and I was trying to think of what would have been a better word to use:

Criticize can mean merely merely to evaluate good and bad points without necessarily finding fault. (But the GBC did find fault.)

Blame emphasizes the finding of fault and the fixing of responsibility. (As pointed out by Bir Krishna Maharaja, the GBC did not fix the responsibility on any particular persons.)

Reprehend implies sharp disapproval. (Perhaps this is the term I could have used.)
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 9-Dec-98


Vedic Women
by Radha Krishna das, Mexico City

The following paper includes some thoughts on the view held by some men that women should act in a Vedic way: always shy, in the background, to the point of simply observing festivals from the roof tops.

In my family we also had advocates of the "Vedic way." My maternal grandfather couldn't conceive of a woman driving a car and so he forbade my grandmother from ever driving one. Of course, being well off, they had two chauffeurs round the clock but I think that my grandmother would have enjoyed driving and it would have helped the family and her personally. When my grandfather died she had to continue depending unnecessarily on others for her transportation.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 9-Dec-98


Re: Women in ISKCON
from Padyavali ACBSP

Dear Prabhus

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Last July when I was visiting Toronto I happened to see on the front page of the Toronto Globe and Mail the report by the United Nations about women's abuse in the world. Their published findings stated that they knew that abuse of women was a rampant problem in today's world but they were unprepared for the numbers they came up with and they felt that these figures were not the full picture. The report stated that**** 60 million*** women were **missing** in the world. Most in and around Asia, Africa, but in many other nations as well. The figure was staggering. The details gruesome.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 9-Dec-98


The Twenty-six Characteristics
of a Misogynist
compiled by Mahanidhi dasa


1. He thinks that his masculinity depends on dominating women.

2. He feels powerful by subjugating women.

3. His emotional security depends on women being controlled.

4. He wants to insure that women are less powerful than he.

5. He controls women by destroying their self-confidence.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 4-Dec-98


The Women's Ministry Controversy
from Agni Deva Dasa




Hare Krsna,

PAMHO AGTSP

Just a brief comment on the opposition towards ISKCON's Women Ministry. I do not know why it really matters if women are inferior to men or if men are inferior to women. What does any of that have to do with the women having an organization? Just let them have it. Why should it matter?

I think Pancha Tattva Dasa's response has a ring of truth to it, where he says that he thinks that these men in opposition have just found a pseudo- philosophical way of concentrating their minds on them as much as possible.

Your Servant,

Agni Deva Dasa

© CHAKRA 4-Dec-98


The GHQ Conspiracy
name withheld on request




Regarding the "conspiracy" disclosure on VNN, some observations:

1) Incredible Misogyny.

The group of "GHQ" men and woman who had been hiding behind a veil of "Prabhupada said" and "Vedic culture" and "women's dharma" have had their veil blown off. They in fact are using these terms for another agenda — one of misogyny. There is much evidence of this in their communications, most unmistakably in the fact that Syamasundara das, the astrologer, posted a number of highly bigoted, general statements about nondevotee women from other nondevotees, like the Earl of Chesterfield, and not one of the members of the conference objected.
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 28-Nov-98


Questionable Behavior Debases the Sannyasa Asrama
from Hare Krsna dasi




I do not agree with the sentiment that only devotees like Jivan Mukta and Jaya Tirtha Charan should be condemned because they are the ones using foul language. It is the hateful and faultfinding attitude of their superiors that encourages them in this activity.

Bhakti Vikasa Swami for example takes no blame in the fact that leading women in the Hare Krsna movement are called "whores" or "prostitutes:

November 24, 1998 VNN2550

Bhakti Vikasa Swami Answers Conspiracy Charge

By Bhakti Vikasa Swami

..As regards calling women "whores": "prostitute" was the word Srila Prabhupada regularly used to describe women who didn't stick to one husband. So if re-married women in our movement get themselves into the limelight, it's unfortunate but not surprising if such descriptions are remembered.

Does he mean that it is unfortunate that Bhakti Vikasa Swami remembered such descriptions in his eagerness to find a way to defame ISKCON's leading women devotees?
>Click Here

© CHAKRA 28-Nov-98


Attacks on Women's Ministry
from Pancha Tattva dasa




Dear Editors at CHAKRA

After reading the lengthy article on VNN entitled "Conspiracy to Terminate the ISKCON Women's Ministry," I must admit that even I, although opposed to the feminist agenda, am aghast at the crude, offensive mentality of 'devotees' who seem to have either lost or never developed the capacity to see a woman as mother.

I cannot help but wonder whether by attacking women through insults and slander these men have simply found a pseudo-philosophical way of concentrating their minds on them as much as possible.

Pathetic.

Your servant,

Pancha Tattva dasa

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


Statement by the North American Executive Officers

The North American GBC/Temple President Executive Officers wish to voice our strong disapproval of, and our protest against, the demeaning and ill intended statements made by some members of the GHQ com conference that were recently brought to public attention.

It is our firm position that Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-acarya of ISKCON, intended his Hare Krishna Movement to be free from all prejudice, sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry.

We affirm that the first and foremost principle of our society is that all people (indeed all sentient beings) are eternal, sacred parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, and as such should be respected and affirmed in their individual relationship with the Lord, as well as their service to guru and Krishna.

Multiple statements made by members of this Internet conference ridicule, berate and vilify women, other minorities, and individual Vaishnava devotees. They document an organized attempt to prevent women from their God-given rights of self expression and service to Srila Prabhupada. We denounce such views. They are opposed to the core values and principles of Vaishnava culture which uphold the devotional offerings of all souls as sacred and worthy of our respect and protection.

While we endorse open debate and dialogue within our Krishna Consciousness movement, we must speak out against any discussion that crosses the line of decency, morality, and Vaishnava etiquette and supports an agenda to exploit or minimize a section of our society.

Bir Krishna Goswami, Chairperson

Anuttama Dasa

Sudharma Dasi

Vraja Lila Dasi

© CHAKRA 24-Nov-98


Her Grace Malati Devi Dasi
from Bhaktin Casey




Dear Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis,

I was very distressed to see Malati devi so brutally attacked by the anti-women's-ministry people. I lived in Malati's asrama for a year. Malati was such a huge inspiration to my Krsna Consciousness. Before I met her, I felt so excluded from Krsna Consciousness. To my 16-year-old eyes, it seemed like the movement was entirely male-centered. I despaired, because though I really wanted to be a devotee, I couldn't see how I could fit into Srila Prabhupada's family.

Malati was kind enough to allow me to move in her asrama even though I was a full-time student and very young. Four years later, her instructions and wisdom have stayed with me. Her encouragement was immeasurable. She showed me how I did have a place in Prabhupada's movement, and that even though I am female-bodied, I am potentially valuable and worthwhile.

People may attack her, but they can't possibly know how much she has helped me and other young women. I will always be grateful for my experiences in her asrama.

Sincerely,

Bhaktin Casey

© CHAKRA 20-Nov-98


The Conspiracy against the Women's Ministry
a comment by Madhusudani Radha devi dasi




I hope all the devotees who have read the GHQ texts on VNN and learned of the existence of this secret conference were profoundly disturbed by the shocking display of un-Vaisnavalike rhetoric and the use of labels such as whores, witches, people with no souls, feminazis etc. to describe Srila Prabhupada's daughters and granddaughters by the members of the GHQ group.

While the most base and offensive statements published were written by members whose level of consciousness is surely well known from their other COM texts with which we are continually bombarded, it is shocking that several devotees who are leaders of our society (TPs, sannyasis, etc) have tacitly participated in such discourse by not immediately correcting it, thereby allowing it to continue. This is irrespective of the appropriateness of their participation in such a conference in the first place.

It is highly questionable whether the Vaisnavis can now feel secure under the so-called protection of such "Vedic" leaders. Given the mood of reform in our movement, one can only hope that the GBC will deal with the nefarious agenda and appalling attitudes of this secret society in a forceful and unambiguous fashion, thereby signaling to the women devotees still somehow attempting to serve the ISKCON movement that they will not tolerate such blatant misogyny and un-Vaishnava behavior.

© CHAKRA 20-Nov-98


Participation, Protection
and Patriarchy

An International Model for
Women's Roles in ISKCON

Radha devi dasi


This paper examines the question of what constitute appropriate roles for women in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). I use concepts developed in international law in this examination and I begin by explaining the benefits of a model which incorporates international law. The second section of this paper addresses the relationship of human rights law to our own Vaisnava philosophy and raises problems in our treatment of women up to this point. In section three I discuss the kind of rights that human rights law embodies. Section four considers the application of those human rights in ISKCON and looks at the issue of protection of women from an international rights perspective. The concluding section highlights actions which ISKCON should take in order to ensure appropriate roles for women.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 14-Oct-98


Women's Conference in Europe
from Gaurangi Devi Dasi and Jyotirmayi Devi Dasi


European Women's Ministry
Conference in Radhadesh, June 28th 1998


1)
THE WORK OF THE WOMEN'S MINISTRY

The first European conference of the Women's Ministry took place in Radhadesh, Belgium, the last two days of June 1998. Around 40 women and a dozen men participated, coming mostly from different European countries, many being members of the European Communication team headed by Saunaka Rishi Prabhu.

Hari dasi, Jyotirmayi dasi, and Sudharma dasi organised the conference; the facilitators for the various presentations were Radha dasi and Hari dasi. On the first day, Radha dasi and Jyotirmayi Prabhu made a presentation of the American and European Women's Ministries and explained how the original group of ladies operating directly with the GBC evolved to the creation of branches of the Ministry on each continent with representatives in each country. The goal of the Ministry is to work together to help the women all over ISKCON.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 20 Aug 98


Women in Mayapur
from Anandini devi dasi

Hare Krsna!

I am writing in response to the discrimination against women in Mayapur. I am a young devotee, only 25 years old, and come from a generation where women and men are generally looked at as the same. It is really disturbing to my Krsna Consciousness to hear about the way women are treated in ISKCON still.

Don't get me wrong, I do see a lot of improvements in the short seven years I've been coming, but things like this still throw me off. The way I see it is that this is not the year 1400. Things are different in this day and age, and Prabhupada saw this. That's why he gave women initiation and so forth.
>Click Here

CHAKRA 1 Aug 98


Women in the Back
from Bhakta Rick

Hare Krishna. Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I would like to first say this is a very good, enjoyable, and informative news page. May Srila Prabhupada bless you.

I've been in ISKCON for a few years now, not long but long enough to see a few things concering women.

I would like to know, Is there anything I can do to help deal with these problems? Like at the temple I go to, women are on the right and men are on the left, which is fine, but then during the last part of the kirtan everyone goes to Nathaji hall, and then men are in front and women are in back. That has really bothered me, and I can tell it has bothered the women also, because more and more women are just leaving kirtana when everyone goes into Nathaji hall. This is only one problem, but is there anything I can do?

Your servant,
Bhakta Rick

CHAKRA 5-Jul-98


Women in Mayapur
A letter from Ed Yazijian


After reading the article "Discrimination Against Women in Mayapur" and the "correction" following it, I became disappointed when I read the reasons that were given for denying women the opportunity to give Bhagavatam classes by Dayaram Prabhu. First of all, it is not a Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition that only "male-bodied souls" give Bhagavatam classes. The Gaudiya Math and ISKCON are not the whole of Gaudiya Vaishnava society but rather a miniscule minority. Whether you agree with other Vaishnavas in the Gaudiya tradition or not, to think one's particular organization is the only existing one is arrogant.

There are plenty of examples of women doing the pujari work at temples, leading kirtanas, and giving Bhagavatam classes publicly throughout the history of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
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CHAKRA 21-May-98


Women in Mayapur:
Correction
by Madhusudani Radha Devi Dasi

There appears to have been some confusion about the reason why Malati Prabhu was not able to give class in Mayapur this year. The actual reason was apparently scheduling problems, rather than sex discrimination. CHAKRA regrets the error. (See "Discrimination against Women in Mayapur.")

The policy of the local management with regard to women's giving class in Mayapur has been stated by Dayaram Prabhu as follows:

"For the following reasons Mayapur administration is opposed to the idea of Matajis giving formal Bhagavatam classes in public places.

1. It is a Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition that male-bodied souls give formal Bhagavatam classes and not women-bodied ones. And Sridham Mayapur is a seat of Gaudiya Vaisnavism steeped in that tradition.

2. This will create problems in our preaching as we will be seen as acting against the well-established traditions and culture of the place. It will be used by Gaudiya maths to propagate that we are uncultured and act against the well-established norms of preaching Mahaprabhu's teachings.

3. It is not proper for people in the renounced order to hear from women. As it is very clearly illustrated by Mahaprabhu by his personal example and instruction ( "Darur Prakri hare munerapi manah": Even the wooden form of women can disturb mind of even a great muni). And we would have had a scene with many sannyasis hearing the class given by a woman-bodied Vaishnava."

For another point of view, here is a quote from Harikesa Maharaja's book On Social Issues (page 280):

"In 1973 in Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada and one of his Godbrothers were sitting on a vyasasana together. The Godbrother had brought his whole math, and Srila Prabhupada asked one of the ladies, Saradiya-devi dasi, to please give a lecture. Everyone was shocked: "A woman giving a lecture?" In Mayapur, that was unheard of. But she gave a good lecture and Srila Prabhupada was appreciative. . . . "

CHAKRA 17-May-98


Discrimination against Women in Mayapur
A report by Madhusudani Radha Devi Dasi


The news of Malati's election as a GBC candidate has given hope and inspiration to male and female devotees all over the world. Many devotees feel encouraged because the GBC has demonstrated that it is not the devotee's body but his or her qualifications that count when it comes to devotional service. One of the first things we all learned when we came to ISKCON was that "you are not this body," and now it finally looks as if we're willing to put that simple concept into practice, at least some of the time.

It was therefore disturbing to many devotees when the temple authorities in Mayapur prevented Malati Prabhu from giving class. Malati Prabhu has started several ISKCON temples and preaching centers and gives classes on a regular basis in ISKCON. Even Srila Prabhupada chose Malati as a speaker in India on several occasions, often when many qualified male disciples were also present. On top of this, Malati has now been elected to ISKCON's ultimate managing body.
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CHAKRA 8 May 98


Jyotirmayi's Paper
A letter from Urukrama dasa


Recently I had my first opportunity to browse the Chakra Home page and read many of the interesting, informative and also sometimes enlightening articles written on the many pressing issues of the day in today's diverse Vaisnava world. In particular, I was impressed with the wisdom expressed by certain individuals on some of the issues.

But of all the articles I read, the one written by Jyotirmayi devi dasi stirred me the most, in which she outlines the history of the woman's role in ISKCON during and after Prabhupada's time, as well as in the beginning era, middle era and now the current era. I especially appreciated her very thorough presentation of facts, quotes and historical data which, combined together, effectively created a clear view to the reader without undue emotional fervor.

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CHAKRA 23-Apr-98


Female Ascetics
A Look through Puranic Glasses
by Satya Devi Dasi

I'd like to take you on a short journey. It’s part of my personal journey, but it could very well be the journey of other women in this audience or within other parts of the world. This model of being protected at all stages of life by a man has not been one that has fit me very well. My father left our family when I was three years old, I'm divorced now after being married for thirteen years, and have a grown daughter. No father, husband, or son is there to protect me. My attempts to fulfill this model in my life have only left me frustrated. Other attempts to create alternatives were also frustrating. I wondered what other women in our tradition had done. Were there stories of women who had chosen not to be married, of women who lived alone, or who were somehow outside of this model? I decided to look to the Puranas, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana to see if I could find images and stories of other women that might be supportive, encouraging, or enlivening.


Thank You, Jyotirmayi
A letter from Deborah Warren

Dear Esteemed Vaisnavas,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you, dear Jyotirmayi devi, for your well written paper. The shadows in the back of the room have found a voice! I beg you all to listen, and ask the GBC to implement the changes Jyotirmayi suggested. Her paper is only a suggestion without the weight of the GBC behind it.

Srila Prabhupada's movement can be the whole, healthy, blissful family that it once was if we restore the balance, and empower the women in ISKCON, as Srila Prabhupada did so long ago. The fact that the women of ISKCON have suffered through this injustice for so many years attests to their saintliness.

How many intelligent men and women seeking spiritual knowledge have been discouraged from joining Lord Caitanya's movement because of the way ISKCON treats women? These things need to be rectified and Prabhupada's standards re-instituted if ISKCON is to go forward and reach a wider audience. Srila Prabhupada set it up that way FOR A REASON, the reason being that intelligent Westerners won't accept a movement that preaches equality of all souls, then relegates certain souls to the back of the room or the end of the line because of their bodily dress. "If we're not these bodies, then why…?" I've heard guests at the temples ask these questions.

Indeed, why are we still stuck with the standards a few powerful and very agitated sannyasis and brahmacaris imposed on our movement in the mid-70's? I implore you all, it's time for a change!

Humbly,
One of the shadows


Time to Stop Ignoring the Disease
by Madanalasa Devi Dasi

Srila Prabhupada was in the beginning encouraging the grhastas to open new temples and take care of new devotees. This was good for them of course, but also it provided a place of protection for the new devotees. Over the years however the sannyasis have taken over this service. Unfortunately as we now realise, many of them were not properly situated and this resulted in a destructive manner of preaching, meaning more and more discrimination against the householder asrma. The grhastas became less comfortable in their position — even to the point of being afraid (social pressure) to have children, and thus many were actually not really protected in their asrama. Because of their frustration it simply became a matter of routine for them to also cause trouble for other devotees. The philosophy became twisted.


Women in Back
by Amavasya Devi Dasi

Faith is the beginning of everything. To reinstate my faith in the spiritual and material leadership of this movement I have to understand the past, because the leaders of the past are also the leaders of the present.

Why, in God's Name, have the women in ISKCON had to "stay in the back" in the temple room during Deity-greeting, and in all regards, for the last 20 years?

They were not allowed to give classes, to worship the Deities, sometimes even to look at the face of a man while speaking with him. Women had to wait until the men ate, even if the children were crying in pain when their stomach hurt because of hunger (I experienced this personally with my daughter). Women had to chant outside the temple room during japa time, because the temple room belonged to the men etc. etc.

All this was, and is, totally against what Srila Prabhupada has given us.


Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Pranada Devi Dasi Addresses the Women's Issue

As a society, we have finally come to understand and accept the abuses our children have suffered in the gurukula system. I don't believe we have understood the physical abuses women have suffered. Neither do I want to dwell on this. But it should be stated that from inferior living facilities, to lack of equal prasadam facilities to physical abuse from husbands, women's parties leaders, and others, there is a staggering amount of physical abuses women have suffered in ISKCON. It is not less significant than the abuse our children have faced.


Women in ISKCON in Prabhupada's Times
by Jyotirmayi Devi Dasi
From about 1965 up to 1974, time when Srila Prabhupada had to get less and less involved in temple management because of translating work and the tremendous increase of disciples and temples, the women devotee's situation changed very little from what Srila Prabhupada had originally established. From 1974 their situation started to significantly deteriorate and got worse very fast until it reached its paroxysm before Srila Prabhupada's departure.


An Appreciation of Visakha Devi's Article
A Letter from Krishna Dharma das
I am writing to express my appreciation of Vishakha prabhu's paper on humility, chastity, surrender and protection. In my view these values bear much discussion amongst devotees. Vishaka has nicely shown us how women were honoured and respected in Vedic society, but unfortunately that has not always been our experience in ISKCON.


Humility, Chastity, Surrender, and Protection
by Visakha Devi Dasi
Had they not spoken out when circumstances demanded it, Draupadi and Gandhari would have been unchaste . Steeped in dharma, their very chastity forced them to speak and empowered their words. So let us not mistake humility, chastity, and surrender to mean meekness, acquiescence, and blindness. When there is cause to speak, the chaste, humble, surrendered woman must speak. Thus Draupadi and Gandhari remained chaste and faithful to their husbands and also remained chaste to dharma. Where there is dharma there is Krishna; the chastity of these exalted ladies is ultimately their unwavering chastity to Krishna. Srila Prabhupada writes how an exalted lady ìis described as chaste due to her unalloyed devotion to Lord Krishna.


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