Notes from a think tank



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4.13 He again restates that it is the men who are at fault.
Text COM:1792974 (50 lines)
From: Internet: ameyatma (ACBSP)
Date: 23-Oct-98 03:24
To: GHQ [408]
Reference: Text COM:1792041 by Trivikrama Swami
Comment: Text COM:1793034 by Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Comment: Text COM:1795268 by Trivikrama Swami
Subject: DIS a 3rd point of action
------------------------------------------------------------
I have had no time lately to take an active part in this very noble and needed effort.

I will join the others and welcome Trivikram here, and offer my respects to


all those in ear shot of these messages.

As I pointed out in a previous post, I still feel it is essential that we not just attack the feminists (which includes the shastric support of the idea that women can not and should not be leaders of society - they are to be dependent subordinates), but I very strongly feel our efforts will carry much more weight if we also produce a solid plan that addresses the ‘real’ problems that have driven so many women to desire to take on leadership


themselves. And why so many men are willing to hand over leadership to
them.

My point, which was not picked up and discussed, and so maybe others don’t


agree, is that there are many legitamate concerns these women have.
However, in almost 95% of the cases, they do not seek solutions based on
Guru -Sadhu -Shastra. For instance, women claim that many have been
abused in ISKCON by husbands who were fallen. And they had no sympathetic leaders to go to for help. Then when they divorced with children, no one to help them, so they were forced to remarry, etc.

I say we must also have Vedic solutions to these problems as a part of our


attack plan. Otherwise our attack would be seen as only a power-play - a
bunch of chauvinistic male devotees trying to turn the clocks back when the
women are just coming to a point of being able to make changes that they
and others think will finally help their situations. Men also have sentiments, especially when it comes to feeling compassion for women who claim to have had difficulty. It will help us to succeed if we can win the confidence that we will address their real issues with real solutions. This will win even the compassion of other men and would gain us added support when we do strike.

I will repeat myself from a previous post, if the men had been more qualified leaders then the women would be satisfied. It is because our


leaders have failed us, all of us, the children who were beaten and molested, the women who were left without protection, the wives who were abused with no where to go, etc., that these women have felt so powerless and so much at the mercy of baffoons for so long, that out of frustration they are demanding to take matters into their own hands. We must earn the respect of leadership by becoming good leaders before most women will back off. So, somehow, I am thinking we should incorporate these ideas into our efforts and deal with these issues as a part of our plan.
---
ys ameyatma das ameyatma@iname.com

Chk out my web page at: http://home.earthlink.net/~kgrafx


(Text COM:1792974) -----------------------------------------
Note that everyone agrees with him. Shyamasundara Dasa had already agreed with him the first time he proposed this. (See 4.9.)

4.14
Text COM:1793034 (4 lines)
From: Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Date: 23-Oct-98 04:20
To: GHQ [409]
To: ameyatma@iname.com
Reference: Text COM:1792974 by Internet: ameyatma (ACBSP)
Comment: Text COM:1800638 by Vidvan Gauranga (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)
Subject: Re: DIS a 3rd point of action
------------------------------------------------------------
I agree with you 110%. Do you have al list of recommendations we could
start with?

ys. JMd
(Text COM:1793034) -----------------------------------------



4.15
Text COM:1795268 (10 lines)
From: Trivikrama Swami
Date: 24-Oct-98 03:37
To: GHQ [413]
To: ameyatma (ACBSP) (sent: 24-Oct-98 03:43)
Reference: Text COM:1792974 by Internet: ameyatma (ACBSP)
Subject: DIS a 3rd point of action
------------------------------------------------------------
I also agree 110% with Ameyatma prabhus point 3. It could be actualized in conjunction with point 2 very nicely. Weren’t there some ladies who who had a news letter, and group that was interested in actual womens protection. They had some good quotes from Srila Prabhupada on the subject. I remember giving them a donation for their work in Mayapur a couple of years ago. Maybe we could get one of our householder couples to sort of take over their operation, and then all chip in with some financial aid and thus make it into something substantial.
Does anyone know the group that I am talking about?
(Text COM:1795268) -----------------------------------------

4.16 He is concerned that in the modern day young marriage may be dangerous for the girl.
Letter COM:1832282 (41 lines)
From: Vidvan Gauranga (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)
Date: 26-Oct-98 16:18
To: Shyamasundara (das) ACBSP [6257]
To: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Cc: ameyatma@iname.com
Reference: Text COM:1697831 by Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Subject: Re: women & management
------------------------------------------------------------
Jivan Mukta Pr wrote:

> PRESENTATION FORMAT (For discussion purposes only)


>
> I. Prabhupada’s instructions on:
>
> 9. marriage of our daughters
> a. kanya-daya
> i. father’s religious obligation to daughter and society
> ii. getting her married early

I was thinking about this second point “ii. getting her married early”,


trying to understand in what context it operated and it will operate without
problems. I got some ideas which I note below:

In a Vedic setup, a girl at the age of around puberty is given in charity to


a grown up boy who had taken brahmachari training and had got sufficient
preparation as a snaataka to enter into Grhastha life. When the girl came
into boy’s house, they didn’t live in a nuclear family. The very young girl
was factually taken care of like a daughter by her mother in law and father
in law, like a sister by her sisters in law (if any) and by others in appropriate ways with great love and affection. So she had this support from the whole family which enabled such a nice system to have proper effect.

If we don’t have such a family for the boy who can take care of such a girl,


it would be very dangerous to get such a young girl to marry. This consideration is besides the other all important considerations such as she
must have been born out of proper garbhadana samskara, she should have had an affectionate yet strict training from her mother and other ladies, she
should have had training in chastity, and to take care of house, children,
and she should have been taught the great value of taking care of the house
and children and family members, etc.

So we need to create this environment wherein we can get young daughters


“married early”.

Just a thought.

yhs
vgd
(Text COM:1832282) -----------------------------------------

4.17 Detailed list of legitimate female concerns.
Text COM:1800638 (270 lines)
From: Vidvan Gauranga (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)
Date: 26-Oct-98 18:34
To: GHQ [414]
To: Jivan Mukta Dasa (sent: 26-Oct-98 18:40)
To: ameyatma@iname.com (sent: 26-Oct-98 18:40)
Reference: Text COM:1793034 by Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Comment: Text COM:1801756 by Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Subject: Re: DIS a 3rd point of action
------------------------------------------------------------
> > I say we must also have Vedic solutions to these problems as a part of
> > our attack plan.

> I agree with you 110%. Do you have al list of recommendation we could


> start with?

I also agree 108% with this approach. I also thought the same thing. When I


discussed with an IWC-sympathizer sometime back, I discovered that many of their concerns are indeed valid. Here’s a sample of what I have heard:

1. In general, women are not being protected. For eg. During public harinams, men lead kirtans, and women follow behind. One lady told me that sometimes some karmis would try to ‘attack’ her and other ladies but the men were absorbed in the bliss of harinama and they got fried!


2. Women are treated as it they are non-entities.
3. Husbands don’t care for the wives.
4. They have God-given potential to do service in some way but it is not
recognized and used in devotional service.
5. Many ladies can’t be housewives. They need to be active doing this and
that. They feel that if they are told to be only housewives, their very
service is threatened.
6. When men lust over them, no one gets on their (men’s) cases. Women want to be treated with respect.
7. They don’t want men to exhibit superiority complex.
8. Vedic standards are too difficult for many ladies and are thus impractical. This discourages them because they are not Hindus.
9. They need encouragement and support from men.
10. They naturally need a lot of emotional support. So they tend to go
wherever they can get it from (TP, Guru, just anyone who would care to give
them the attention).

I thought I would also comment on these points:

> In general, women are not being protected. For eg. During public harinams, > men lead kirtans, and women follow behind. One lady told me that
> sometimes some karmis would try to ‘attack’ her and other ladies but the
> men were absorbed in the bliss of harinama and they got fried!

This should be the concern of the grhastha devotees. One essential thing


that is taught in Indian traditional families is: vasudhaa eva kutumbakam.
The whole world is your family, not just your immediate family. So it is the
concern of the Grhastha men and women to take care of women.

The ideal situation is that every woman is a part of a family. But now that


it is not, we have to have a midway solution to this problem. Grhastha men
or women should take care of the women as their sisters. Physical protection
from the men and emotional care from the women.

In Navadvipa Mandal Parikrama that ISKCON conducts every year, both before and after the women’s group, there are men, either security guards or


grhastha devotees who have been appointed for security purposes, just to
make sure that women are protected.

I also remember that once when I was a child, I went on pilgrimage with my


mother, aunt, grandmother, younger sister, and grandfather. There was no
accomodation in the Guest House. Finally my grandfather argued with the
guest house manager that there are ladies here and that he should at least
provide a small room for the ladies to stay and that he and his grandson
will sleep in the corridor or in the lounge. He got a small room and the ladies stayed there while I and my grandfather slept in the corridor that night (after getting some eatables for the ladies). It was always understood that giving physical protection and emotional support to ladies was a very high priority.

Even when there were disagreements and fighting, the men always made sure that the ladies ate and were okay. I heard that from my aunt.

We have to CARE for the ladies. I mean the Grhastha devotees have to take up that responsibility. It has to start somewhere and traditionally that meant the grhastha men.

> 2. Women are treated as it they are non-entities.

They feel that they are non-entities because that care is not there. Women
are naturally more emotional and want to feel wanted. That is why they are
meant for family life. But in nowadays modern world of rugged individualism, they also want to be independent. So this is a challenge: how to care for them even when they don’t have a family environment. I leave it to you to deliberate on this.

> 3. Husbands don’t care for the wives.

Apparently this is a big complaint. I don’t know. We need to introduce some
law in ISKCON that when brahmacharis want to get married, they should first change into white and then consult with senior grhastha devotees and spend 2 years or so in preparing themselves materially, economically, emotionally and spiritually to become responsible grhasthas. Then they can get married. Vedic times, this was called snaataka. This comes after brahmacharya and before entering grhastha life.

Of course, I notice that most of this training in India comes right from


childhood. I can personally remember so many things my mother, aunt,
grandmother would tell me about “after you get married in future”. So many
many things. Some sort of preparation was there. Expectations were clear and you could also see elder brother getting married and how they are coping with married life, etc. So there was some system of training.

So we need to have that training in ISKCON for prospective husbands on how


to deal with their wives and care for them or whatever. Training in the
sense not simply lectures but something more impressionable and concrete.

Also women have to be trained to become wives and mothers similarly.

This problem seems to be mainly due to lack of training.

> 4. They have Godgiven potential to do service in some way but it is not


> recognized and used in devotional service.

This is a very large area of concern for many of them. Everybody needs to do


some activity since they have talents which need to be used up.

Traditionally in India, women were trained to become housewives and mothers and hands-on managers of the family (families were joint-families) and household. And husbands and other men were responsible. The immense value of doing domestic services was very much taught and these values were transmitted from generation to generation. Also families were generally very conservative about changing any value and had their own circles within which such values were preserved.

So all their potential were dovetailed with household in such a way that
they were compatible with their household activities. For example, let’s say
a woman has a talent to learn singing. Now, what was done was that she was
trained in singing in private in home and taught that she had to offer her
songs to her husband and please him. (That’s why the 64 arts are discussed
in the kama-sastras.) The point is that that potential is dovetailed with
their household so that their essential role as housewife is not in any way
disturbed.

Of course nowadays, things are soooo different. So we need some midway


solution for most women who are not able to be that kind of housewives
mentioned above. So maybe in the beginning allow them to do somethings. But have them understand that these things will also create social mess. But
since Krsna explains that everyone acts by nature, they are unable to control their second habits. But social mess is inevitable. Simultaneously we explain to people the real standard and modus operandum in Vedic culture and all the advantages of that culture. They should be clearly told that Vedic culture is superior to our modern culture and it is better to do yukta vairagya in Vedic social framework than within modern social framework. WE have to show how and why it is better too. We have to create a sense of pride in associating with Vedic culture.

Then people, at least the sober ones, will understand why it is needed, at


least for the future generations. So even if they can’t come up to the Vedic
standard, we should advertise the glories of Vedic culture in such a nice way that they think, “Even though I am unable to live by Vedic culture, may be my sons and daughters or perhaps my grandsons and granddaughters will be able to imbibe Vedic culture.”

Just like in modern India, so many parents tell their children, “When you


grow up, you should go to America. We wanted to, but we can’t. But at least
you should do better than us. You have to go. Or even if you can’t go, at the very least, my grandchildren should go to America.” So they have some sort of pride in going to America. They are unable to go; but they want their children to go or grand children to go to America.

Just as it is popular to go to America amongst modern Indians, we should


make it popular for men and women to come up to the Vedic standard. They
should be made to feel that even if *they*can’t come up to the standard, their next generations should come up to that standard.

Till then, we have to tolerate. I find that the IWC doctrine is that Vedic culture is not really superior. It is *another* culture. This is wrong. We need to show that Vedic culture is superior and desirable for each and everyone. Actually that is what the Mahabharata and Puranas are doing: simply getting everyone’s faith in Vedic culture. So somehow that has to be established. Then people will WANT to follow Vedic culture.

Otherwise, I see no foreseeable solution to this problem.

> 5. Many ladies can’t be housewives. They need to be active doing this and


> that. They feel that if they are told to be only housewives, their very
> service is threatened.

We have to make it popular amongst all levels of ISKCON that domestic


services are dustyajya (cannot be abandoned) at any cost. And combined with a pride of association with Vedic culture, they will at least think, “Let my daughter become a good housewife. I can’t because I wasn’t trained and so on.”

But we have to have that kind of cultural progress. step by step.

Step 1: Get people to agree that Vedic culture is the best culture. It is not simply some archaic culture, but it makes sense from every point of view
and is all beneficial. Simply saying SP wanted it may not convince everyone
but you have to show HOW it is all beneficial. This is just an on-principle
acceptance that Vedic culture is the best and our modern culture is not the
best.
Step 2: Get people to WANT to have Vedic culture in their environment.
Step 3: Get people to have it as their goal, to have Vedic culture as their
families’ culture in the future.
Step 4: Get people to learn how to train their children in more aspects of
Vedic culture.
Step 5: Their children, the next generation, wants more of Vedic culture. And so on...Vedic culture is introduced over a few generations.

> 6. When men lust over them, no one gets on their (men’s) cases. Women


> want to be treated with respect.

Men should be trained to respect women from a distance. We should have clear explanation of what this means. Probably including various scenarios. In Vedic culture, people were taught to respect and not simply neglect women. Of course, for those who are in the renounced ashrams such as brahmacharya, vanaprastha and sannyasa, they also should be taught how to behave as human beings without compromising their ashram principles. And women should be trained to not expect personal attention from those in the renounced ashrams. However, they should have someone to take care of them.

> 7. They don’t want men to exhibit superiority complex.

This is same as above, because even though men have a tendency to lord it


over, they should be trained in the concept of protecting dependents. Women
have to be protected and not exploited. Women should be trained to accept
protection.

> 8. Vedic standards are too difficult for many ladies and are thus


> impractical. This discourages them because they are not Hindus.

They should be told that even if they can’t come up to that standard, they


should train up the next generations to come up to whatever level. And the
next generation can carry forward further. That should be their vision. And
we should have them buy our vision.

> 9. They need encouragement and support from men.

Again a point of snaataka training for prospective husbands. And also women need to be trained on what to expect and how to elicit such encouragement and support from men.

> 10. They naturally need a lot of emotional support. So they tend to go


> wherever they can get it from (TP, Guru, just anyone who would care to
> give them the attention).

This is what happens when you don’t give it through properly trained husbands.

I can tell you one case: I know one Western lady who is yet unmarried. She
is in her 20s. She wants to get married and is looking for a husband. In the
West, this would be considered normal and nothing would be wrong with this situation. However, I was discussing with one Indian Grhastha couple who are her friends about this. I told them, “Suppose she was in your family and she was your sister. Would you let this happen? A lady about 25 years old wanting to marry someone or rather anyone compatible?” That Prabhu told me, “Actually this would be inconceivable to me because had I been in my family, I would never let my sister have to worry about marriage. It is a great shame upon the men in the family if the women themselves have to worry about their own marriage! This is horrible!” Now he is trying to find out what kind of husband she requires and his wife is trying to get someone for her.

The point is that women need emotional care and a lot of attention but they


have to be looked after. At least those who agree to be looked after.

One thing is that when I say Vedic culture in a modern Indian context, I am


referring to those aspects of Vedic culture that are there in modern India
and not to every silly and stupid modern Indian idiosyncrasies that Pranada
dd thinks we are talking about. In other words, abuse of children, forced sati, these are not Vedic. We should be very very clear on this.

Our definition of Vedic culture should be that culture that has been instituted by Vaishnava acharyas. Just like Gaudiya Vaishnavism does not


really include aul, baul, sahajiya, etc.

IWC ladies should not lump Vedic culture with modern Indian stupidities.


They should use their discrimination, based on SP’s teachings.

Anyway, these were some real concerns that I had heard from a IWC


sympathizer and my views on how to fulfill these concerns. I am sorry for
this long text.

yhs
vgd


(Text COM:1800638) -----------------------------------------

4.18 Importance of treating women nicely
Text COM:1805435 (192 lines) [W1]
From: Jaya Tirtha Charan (das) JPS
Date: 28-Oct-98 00:49
To: GHQ [480]
Comment: Text COM:1807863 by Vidvan Gauranga (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)
Subject: A FEW INTERESTING POINTS FROM MANU SAMHITA
------------------------------------------------------------
55. Women must be honoured and adorned by their fathers,
brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own)
welfare.
56. Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased; but where
they are not honoured, no sacred rite yields rewards.
57. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon
wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever
prospers.
58. The houses on which female relations, not being duly
honoured, pronounce a curse, perish completely, as if destroyed by
magic.
59. Hence men who seek (their own) welfare, should always honour
women on holidays and festivals with (gifts of) ornaments, clothes,
and (dainty) food.
60. In that family, where the husband is pleased with his wife
and the wife with her husband, happiness will assuredly be lasting.
61. For if the wife is not radiant with beauty, she will not
attract her husband; but if she has no attractions for him, no
children will be born.
62. If the wife is radiant with beauty, the whole house is
bright; but if she is destitute of beauty, all will appear dismal.
63. By low marriages, by omitting (the performance of) sacred
rites, by neglecting the study of the Veda, and by irreverence towards
Brahmanas, (great) families sink low.
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