Notes from a think tank



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6. “Dharma of Women” Conference
“inspired by their discussions on the COM conference ‘Dharma of Women’”
Please see Section 2 and read several inspiring texts from Vaisnavis who, through membership on this conference, have grown to appreciate Vedic culture and have learned how to follow their dharma as women. Here are some excerpts:
“I am convinced that Dharma of Women conference is essential to our movement, not just for the women but for everyone.”
“I just also wanted to mention that I liked your contributions to the ‘Dharma of Women’ conference. I am a member of this conference and I generally like what I read there and also try to follow the many good advices I get there.”
“Recently you posted a letter about Draupadi and her qualities. I printed it up and hung it in a high traffic area in my house. I thought it was a very good set of things to live by, although my American conditioning should have told me different!:)...However, every relationship I have seen, the women were very pushy and loud and disrespectful to their men, and the men left or were unfaithful. I am the only one who was not feeling that woman’s lib thing and here I am married almost seven years and going strong, while most of my ‘liberated, career minded’ old friends have kids with no father. Why? Because I respect my man and treat him like a man and my teacher and the leader of this house, and I act like the woman of this house....Draupadi didn’t feel degradation or humiliation in doing her duties why should we?”
“One last thing. Before I started trying to be a flea on the dog of a devotee, I was never surrendered to my husband, and considered men and women equal. But after reading the glory, love, and reverence of many of the ladies in the scriptures, and their sense of duty, I was simply entranced and amazed. I never knew being in this position could be so powerful. How very sad for those who read these stories, and turn their nose up while they mutter about being equal. We didn’t get a woman’s body for nothing, we got it for some reason. Perhaps to learn to surrender? Hmmmmmmm.........”
“I’m a member of your conference Dharma of Women. This conference helped me a lot to realize what a fool I was (and probably still am). I have been thinking all my life that women have to be equal to men. What a nonsense. I realized that now thanks to you and other wonderful devotees on DOW. Specially Mataji Jayasri helped me a lot to realize some things. I realized that all “fights” I had with my husband were all due to my wanting to be independent and in charge of everything.”
“My opinion is this: most women who are truly chaste, shy, and a good Vedic example (not me) are too busy in their womanly duties and too shy to come out and write :-). However, this is a goal, no matter how lofty, that I want to achieve, to be such a woman. My life has improved a thousand times, and so has my marriage, since I have attempted to be more surrendered to my home and husband. And he in turn has never been more surrendered to me, while being my strong protector.”
“Though we are not the body, we do HAVE a body. And since we have a woman's body, we HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RULES AND RECOMMENDATIONS prescribed in Vedic culture and which have been INSTITUTED IN VEDIC CULTURE and which has been accepted by all acharyas including Srila Prabhupada for what a woman can do and what she cannot do. It's simple.”

Comments by women about the International Women’s Conference (IWC)
“Actually, I cannot stand the womenlibs. I am also in their conference [IWC], just to be informed what they are thinking and what ideas they have. Most of their ideas I do not like at all. They have some good intentions, like prevention of child abuse, but their general philosophy...I cannot agree with it.”
“When I joined IWC, I had great hopes of hearing women’s perspective of becoming Krsna conscious and developing our devotional mood. But, in my humble opinion, most of the discussions are grounded in material considerations and aspirations. This is not why I came to Krsna consciousness. I have had my fill of this materially centered nonsense, and am seeking higher goals.”

7. Strategically renamed
“recently strategically renamed ‘Dharma of Men and

Women’”
Here is another example of “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” using a deliberately deceptive word. Indeed, why has he chosen this word? We suggest that his purpose is to portray the members of “Dharma of Men and Women” (DMW) conference as insincere, cynical, and duplicitous. Factually, the name of the conference was changed so as to more accurately reflect the subject matter being discussed therein. But “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” misleads the reader to believe that the organizers of DMW are actually ill-intentioned persons motivated by malicious, ulterior motives.

8. Women not acting according to Vedic principles
they tried to explain many current ISKCON problems as being due to women not acting according to Vedic principles.”
This is a complete misrepresentation by “Ardhabuddhi Dasa.” The real situation can be understood by examining the texts in Section 4, of which the following is a small sample:
“Here is one comment I received from a senior devotee (name withheld):
> > It’s Kali yuga--what can be done? The “womyn” don’t want to be >>“women”. And the men don’t want to be responsible.

>

> This is an important point. It is not that it is just woman who have to



> follow Vedic Dharma and not the men. Both have to, with the men >leading. It wont work if just the women are made to follow but the >men do nothing.”
To this text and a number of others, a woman made the following response:
“I also, incidentally, was able to read Shyamasundara’s comments and agree with him - he is also offering a very balanced viewpoint on this conference, what I’ve seen of it.”
“The more we develop a spiritual atmosphere the more conducive a relationship will prevail. The sweetness about the Vedic culture is that it is based on love and trust. When that mood prevails then all these unpleasant competitions will disappear. Ultimately we have to create Vrindavan atmosphere and we can see how the residents of Vrindavan relate to each other. Similarly, during Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time the residents of Navadwip experienced such sweet exchanges among themselves. The main point is that by nature’s arrangements men develop certain characteristics and women also develop their own. According to the Vedic description, man is like a tree and a woman is like is like a creeper and it is with the support of the tree that a creeper rises high. Therefore the most important consideration is that men and women behave according to their own nature. Any unnecessary competition will be artificial and hurt us individually and collectively.”
We suggest that “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” is purposely misrepresenting the actual position of GHQ to defame and bring harm upon us.

9. Selective use quotes
These men have been known to selectively use quotes by Srila Prabhupada, Manu Samhita and Chanakya Pandit to blame everything from divorce to wife abuse on the women’s attitudes and behaviors.”
Since Ameyatma Prabhu has already fully dealt with this topic in his recent rebuttal of the “GHQ Conspiracy” expose, we direct the gentle reader to the GHQ website where it is posted. We shall approach the subject from a different angle.
The fact is that these quotes of Srila Prabhupada and other sastras do exist, and despite “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” disliking them, they will not cease to exist:
tato vinihsvasya sati vihaya tam
sokena rosena ca duyata hrda
pitror agat straina-vimudha-dhir grhan
premnatmano yo ‘rdham adat satam priyah

TRANSLATION

Thereafter Sati left her husband, Lord Siva, who had given her half his body due to affection. Breathing very heavily because of anger and bereavement, she went to the house of her father. This less intelligent act was due to her being a weak woman.


PURPORT

According to the Vedic conception of family life, the husband gives half his body to his wife, and the wife gives half of her body to her husband. In other words, a husband without a wife or a wife without a husband is incomplete. Vedic marital relationship existed between Lord Siva and Sati, but sometimes, due to weakness, a woman becomes very much attracted by the members of her father’s house, and this happened to Sati. In this verse it is specifically mentioned that she wanted to leave such a great husband as Siva because of her womanly weakness. In other words, womanly weakness exists even in the relationship between husband and wife. 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, as found even in such an elevated family relationship as that of Sati and Lord Siva, but a wife should not leave her husband’s protection because of such a misunderstanding. If she does so, it is understood to be due to her womanly weakness. SB 4.4.3


There are many other purports like this. As we shall see, the feminists would literally like all such statements to be removed from Srila Prabhupada’s books and so that they are “sanitized.” And it should be apparent by the time you finish reading this document that “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” himself is quite a master of the selective use of quotes.
We now request our gentle reader to see Section 6, which graphically shows how “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” edited texts for his own designs. In this section we show three examples wherein he has cut and pasted GHQ texts to our disadvantage. Comparing the redactions to the originals, the reader will note three things:


  1. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” rendering of those texts casts GHQ members as villains, whereas the original version shows the foibles of the purvapaksins .

  2. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” versions are meant to hide the identity of someone.

  3. That someone is the same person in each case: Mother Madhusudani Radha dd.

Is there a connection? Why would “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” want to hide the identity of Madhusudani Radha dd from all these texts by editing her out? We suggest that there is very strong reason to believe that “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” (“‘Half-wit’ Dasa”) is actually a woman and should instead be called “Ardha-satya Dasi” (“‘Half-truth’ Dasi”). The author appears to belong to the Women’s Ministry and/or International Women’s Conference group. She appears to act not alone but under the direction of the Women’s Ministry.


In the first instance “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” omitted the following piece of text which quotes Mother Madhusudani Radha dd (see Section 6.1 for complete context):
“Here’s an example of what kind of response we can expect (Mad Radha re Basu Ghosh):
>I want nothing to do with these over-zealous, arch conservative,
>backwards, women-hating, oppressive people who give ISKCON a bad >name. I’ve engaged in too many discussions with them already. Tired
>of it. Sick of it.
We can deduce from this that they don’t want to discuss, no doubt because they are exposed each time. Thus the obfuscatory invectives.
GHQ needs to present a comprehensive, balanced presentation that answers every claim of the feminazis with ample evidence from guru (Srila Prabhupada), sadhu and shastra. Let the feminazis know that we want to respect them as our worshipable mothers, but that they cannot expect or demand respect if they insist on taking the role of prostitutes.
From the story of Mohini murti we find that even the demons did not want to enter into stri-vivada (argument with a woman). Might it not be better to discuss with the husbands of these women (if they have husbands, or even if they are on their fourth husband)?”
Now it may be argued that when “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” wrote the “GHQ Conspiracy” expose, he omitted the above simply for the sake of brevity----to cut extraneous matter, shorten the text, and make a more profound statement. But this appears not to be the actual case. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” has criticized GHQ, saying that we described Vaisnavis in unkind terms; he also claimed that our decision to temper use of descriptive adjectives was insincere and duplicitous. But the above omitted text certainly would have been damaging to the reputation of one staunch feminist, Mother Madhusudani Radha dd, as it quotes her using harsh and obnoxious language towards men and women who oppose her. Morevoer, it indicates that such responses are typical of her and other women like her.
“Ardhabuddhi Dasa” accuses us of slander, yet he and his kind are guilty of the very same act; and it now seems that they purposely hid this from the reader. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” doesn’t want to include evidence of feminists slandering their opponents, because his intention is to portray his opponents as the offenders. Can he accomplish that purpose alongside evidence of women doing the same? Certainly not; therefore he flagrantly distorts the truth. Yet the fact remains that GHQ members agreed to halt speaking ill of Vaisnavis not for devious reasons, as the feminists suggest, but for purely philosophical reasons. We will show these reasons somewhat later on.
Now we humbly request our gentle reader to see Section 6.2. Apparently this second editing was meant to conceal material very implicating to ISKCON feminists, and Mother Madhusudani Radha dd in particular. The following paragraph is what “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” has quoted:
“I have thought of asking Bharata Srestha for all the texts sent to that conference during that time and then filtering out those of the variety that MR wrote. Could either of Guru-Krsna or Krishna Kirti Prabhus please get these texts. You are his god-brother and it would be less suspicious than if I asked. It would be important research.”
We presume that the paragraph above is meant to show how the sender was looking for some “dirt” on Mother Madhusudani Radha dd, thus posing him as malicious. The complete text from which this small quote is taken is found in Section 6.2, but for the present we will deal with only a portion of that text--which “Ardhabuddi Dasa” wanted to hide because of its obviously incriminating nature:
“I do have the latest report from the European women’s convention where they make such points as:
“Two presentations were made, one by Radha dasi about a model for women’s participation in ISKCON from International Law and another one by >>Gaurangi dasi about the power of words and the correct understanding and use of certain expressions about women found in the sastras.<<“
This last point suggests that soon we will see very twisted interpretations of what Srila Prabhupada said about women.
The following was sent to me by a nameless devotee who is member of the VAST forum in relation to Madhusudani Radha’s (hence forth MR) insistence that Srila Prabhupada’s books be changed because SP had “misconceptions” because he was culturally backward and not up to modern times:

__________________

“Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I doubt if I have those texts to dig up. Perhaps the conference organizers, Brahmatirtha Prabhu (bobcohen@ivs.edu) or Bharata Srestha Prabhu (wwall@ivs.edu) will have them. Since her comments went to the whole conference, her views are not particularly secretive. I seem to remember that the discussion where she wrote about gender references in Srila Prabhupada’s books took place on the conference around March or April of 1998, though it could have been a little earlier than that. Again, the discussion was about whether to change Srila Prabhupada’s books for presentation in academic circles, especially with regards to altering passages with politically incorrect gender references. Mother Madhusudani Radha opined that these passages shouldn’t be changed merely as a preaching strategy, but because Srila Prabhupada had misconceptions, deriving from his cultural upbringing, about gender roles in society.
If you want to put me on some conference as an observer, that’s okay with me. If it’s too much of a botheration, then I’ll get myself off the conference. I’m interested to hear what devotees are saying about so many topics, but my time is limited. Hare Krsna.
Your servant, XYZ dasa”

_____________________________


I have thought of asking Bharata Srestha for all the texts sent to that conference during that time and then filtering out those of the variety that MR wrote. Could either of Guru-Krsna or Krishna Kirti Prabhus please get these texts. You are his god-brother and it would be less suspicious than if I asked. It would be important research.
The point is that if these feminists continue in their ascendancy they will force the BBT, that’s you Svasa Prabhu, to edit Srila Prabhupada’s books so that they are politically correct for the 90’s.”
What do you, O gentle reader, think, now being aware of a drive by feminists to change Srila Prabhupada’s books in a way he never intended? And isn’t it even more disturbing to know that a member of VAST testifies that Mother Madhusudani Radha dd has declared that Srila Prabhupada’s books should be edited for political correctness because Srila Prabhupada had “misconceptions ... about gender roles in society”? One devotee who read this recently immediately proclaimed it as “blasphemous.” Of course these days some tend to use the “b” word rather freely, but in the above case it is justly applicable.
Perhaps this attitude of Mother Madhusudani Radha dd is a reason that so many followers of Srila Prabhupada are disturbed by her and other feminists. Or should serious followers of Srila Prabhupada not be disturbed by such radical and offensive notions? It is not surprising, therefore, that the above passage was excluded from the “GHQ Conspiracy” expose, as it would have exposed Mother Madhusudhani Radha dd as having seriously offended Srila Prabhupada.
The disposition of ISKCON feminists regarding Srila Prabhupada and his books is very disturbing to lovers of Srila Prabhupada. Another devotee wrote:
“Don’t let this out, but one of the most disturbing things I saw in my life was a post on VAST, by a highly intelligent scholar in a highly respected U.S. University who seriously suggested editing out all of the sexist statements from Prabhupada’s books.” (6.3)
The organizers of the VAST conference are clearly relieved that all the texts relating to the period when these discussions were held have been erased (6.3).
“Mercifully, by Krishna’s arrangement, the texts from December 1997 to April 1998 vanished in a COM system crash.”
But their relief may be short-lived; for other VAST members have promised to organize other damaging texts for release. These texts will demonstrate the offensive mood of feminists regarding Srila Prabhupada and his books.
Now we humbly direct our gentle reader’s attention to Section 6.4. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” version excludes a considerable length of text bearing correspondence between Krishna-kirti Dasa and Mother Madhusudani Radha dd. In the unedited text Krishna-kirti Dasa plainly described how she related to him:
“I am being viciously attacked by the Mad Radha and some slightly lighter shades of ISKCON liberalism on another conference.”
Then he gave examples of her correspondence, which he described as “vituperative.”
“Here’s a recent vituperative reply from Mad Radha regarding the use of the word ‘Mataji’”
“Ardhabuddhi Dasa” deleted all this correspondence, most likely because it shows Mother Madhusudani Radha dd speaking directly to Krishna-kirti Dasa in a very unseemly manner whereas he remained very gentlemanly. She would evade an issue through assumptive comments or crude innuendoes, in order to win the discussion at all costs, even at the expense of truth. Mother Madhusudani Radha dd to Krishna-kirti Dasa:
“Are you really that sexually agitated? No please don’t answer that, I don’t really want to know.”
Many are pointing fingers at the members of GHQ but do not realize that three fingers are pointing back at themselves. At this point we would like to re-iterate the points covered in Article 9 so that our point is clear.
In this section we have shown three examples wherein “Ardhbuddhi Dasa” has cut and pasted GHQ texts to our disadvantage. Comparing the redactions to the originals, the reader will have noted three things:


  1. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” rendering of those texts casts GHQ members as villains, whereas the original version shows the foibles of the purvapaksins .

  2. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” versions are meant to hide the identity of someone.

  3. That someone is the same person in each case: Mother Madhusudani Radha dd.

These facts naturally lead to the following question: Could “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” and Mother Madhsudani Radha dd be one and the same person? At this time we don’t know. But it is our desire that a full investigation be made by the GBC to find out the identity of “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” and that they be punished for distorting the truth.



10. In a state of war
“it is obvious that they considered themselves to be in a state of war.”
We would now request our gentle reader to view Section 3. As pointed out by Ameyatma Prabhu the militaristic tone that was sometimes used on GHQ initially was actually borrowed from ISKCON “militant” feminists. They are known to address one another with military titles, as can readily be seen in this letter from “Private Visakha” to “Generalji” (believed to be Mother Malati dd). This text was accidentally sent by “Private” Mother Visakha dd to Mother Sita Dasi dd, who then forwarded a copy to GHQ members. It was posted also on the (then) DOW forum for public consumption. We have deleted the mid-portion of the text. (It can still be retrieved from DMW.)
Please note how “Private Visakha” accuses Jivan Mukta Dasa of beating his wife, a typical ploy of feminists (to accuse all their opponents of being wife-abusers). What about abuse of the truth, as committed by “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” and the feminists per their obuscations of facts?
What is remarkable about “Private Visakha’s” concern is that Mother Sita dd, the supposed possible target of Jivan Mukta’s frustrations, is an ardent opponent of feminism. Together, this husband-and-wife team are a potent force against the feminist heresy.
Please also note a typical symptom of feminists is their approach of Srimati Radharani instead of Lord Krsna. We certainly hope this is not an abhorrence for males extending even to the spiritual level. Known to be integral to secular feminism is the prominent “goddesss cult,” in which sakti is regarded as superior to purusa. So absorbed are they in identification with their female bodies, that they prefer to worship Sakti rather than Purusa. This is not Vaisnavism. While there is doubtlessly transcendentally perfect loving exchange between Sri Sri Radha-Krsna (embodiment of the profoundest theology), the unauthorized elevation of Srimati Radharani smacks of the “goddess cult” so often associated with militant feminists.
Letter COM:1652404 (159 lines) [W1]
From: Internet: Jivan Mukta Dasa
Date: 01-Sep-98 18:59
To: Shyamasundara (das) ACBSP [4101]
Comment: Text COM:1654038 by Shyamasundara ACBSP
Subject: ISKCON women calling themselves Generals and Privates
------------------------------------------------------------
Check out this response today from Visakha to Malati:

>Dearest Generalji,


>
>Dandavats. Srila Prabhupada, Srimati Radharani ki jaya!!
>
>My sincerest and deepest apologies for dragging you into the dialogue
>with Mr & Mrs Mukta. Please forgive me. I had asked TKG for his
>understanding of the GBC thing, and he sent me this copy of a letter
>that he’d early sent to Pranada:
>
>April 15,1992
>ISKCON Dallas
>
>Dear Mother Pranada,
>
>Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I beg to
>remembrances. I hope this meets you in the very best of health.
.
.
.
>Servant of the servant,
>Tamal Krishna Goswami
>
>P.S. I mentioned the list tiitled “G.B.” in my book Servant of the
>Servant, page 148, published in 1984.
>
>It appears that TKG is no longer exactly sure what Srila Prabhupada said
>in the conversation. And therefore, in my book, we can politely discount
>the conversation in trying to determine Srila Prabhupada’s desire re:
>women GBC’s. Certainly we can totally discount it considering that a few
>months after this conversation he appointed two women GBC’s. In any
>event, although Mr Mukta is fervently desirous of us all following
>Vaisnava etiquette, he is quite unable to follow it himself. I am now
>the brunt of his forceful anger, and I worry that he is taking out his
>frustrations on his wife physically.
>
>May Srimati Radharani guide and protect you in your journey back to Her.
>
>Please keep me informed as things evolve on your side. My thoughts are
>with you.
>
>much love, the private
>
(Text COM:1652404) -----------------------------------------

11. Sadhusangananda


The group also included Sadhusangananda TP of ISKCON Boston, although due to his travel schedule, he was not very active initially.”
Sadhusangananda Prabhu was never a member of GHQ. His name was included by “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” perhaps because Mother Madhusudani Radha dd has a personal vendetta against him and thought that he could be tarred with the same brush used to smear the GHQ members. The one and only text by Sadhusangananda Prabhu appearing on GHQ was a personal correspondence, forwarded to GHQ by a member.

12. Sita was the only woman
Jivanmukta’s wife Sita was the only woman active in these discussions. One of her main roles appears to have been to leak texts from the “International Women’s Conference” on COM to the GHQ members.”
Why Mother Sita dd was the only female member of GHQ is revealed in Section 1 by Mother Sita dd herself. Basically, she thought it best that GHQ be a “male only” conference, and her reasons are given in Section 1.
By stating the above, does “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” want the unknowing reader to feel that the conspicuous absence of ladies on GHQ was suspiciously deviant, thus fortifying the distorted image of GHQ that he intends to convey?
Actually we very much wanted input from chaste Vaisnavis, and originally three were slated to participate. But for various reasons, as explained in Section 1, they decided it best not to be directly involved in the discussions. DMW, however, has always consisted of both men and women. On the contrary, the Women’s Ministry’s COM conference includes no men. This fact should perhaps be investigated, for perhaps there are “nefarious” reasons why men are excluded.

13. Intended to disempower women
“...and to search folio for quotes intended to disempower women.”
Let us look at this word, “empower,” and its opposite, “disempower,” which are both trendy, psycho-babble-rap words of the New Age establishment. This word “disempower” is key to feminists, for they desire to be empowered with resources, administrative authority, false prestige, etc.---the selfsame goals that materialists vie for in quest for universal hegemony. But are these goals legitimate for us who seek to understand our relationship with God, to act according to that relationship, and to fulfill our birthright of pure love for Sri Krsna? Of course, they are not. In fact, this very quest for labha-puja-pratishta is a major cause of fall down from spiritual life.
One disillusioned former member of the feminist International Women’s Conference (IWC) on COM made the following observation:
“When I joined IWC, I had great hopes of hearing women’s perspective of becoming Krsna conscious and developing our devotional mood. But, in my humble opinion, most of the discussions are grounded in material considerations and aspirations. This is not why I came to Krsna consciousness. I have had my fill of this materially centered nonsense, and am seeking higher goals.” (2.3)
“Materially centered nonsense”: Is that what the Women’s Ministry and the feminist movement within ISKCON is about? How is it related to spiritual life? Or is it an impediment to spiritual life, being primarily aimed at material aggrandizement?
A Godbrother once commented that the problem with ISKCON feminists, the cause of their unrest, is that they are not self-satisfied. And why aren’t they self-satisfied? Because they are not preaching. For devotees caught up in the feminist movement, preaching has ground to a halt.
This same devotee is labeled by certain feminists as a “male chauvinist pig.” Yet he is preaching and inspiring many women from the educated class to become devotees; he has guided many professional women (teachers, doctors, etc.) along the path of devotional service. Yet in Alachua, the home of the Women’s Ministry, and with perhaps the highest percentage per capita of feminists in ISKCON, how many new devotees have been recruited? How is it that a “male chauvinist pig” is inspiring highly educated, professional women to become devotees but the women of Alachua cannot? We are being told that unless Vaisnavis become empowered and ISKCON modernizes for the 90s, we will not be able to attract intelligent, educated women. If that is so, then it follows logically that:


  1. Women who joined ISKCON strictly on the basis of Srila Prabhupada’s books are not intelligent.

  2. The Godbrother mentioned above, by his “fundamentalist” methods, should not have been able to attract intelligent, educated women to the sankirtana movement . (But he did.)

  3. All members of the Women’s Ministry must necessarily be empowered preachers, recruiting intelligent women (and men) to ISKCON. (But are they?)

Srila Prabhupada wanted to produce spiritually empowered preachers, whereas the Women’s Ministry seems to be interested primarily in “material considerations and aspirations.” Another woman writes:


“My question then would be then why are they married? Or more importantly, why did they get a woman’s body? Obviously they had some desire that got them that body so why not use it for what it was intended? Also, throughout history, oppressed people have taken action! If a woman feels she should be a preacher then she should preach!! And by showing her skill it would be undeniable that she was qualified. But walking around saying woman’s rights woman’s rights woman’s rights seems like a waste of breath.” (2.1)
The same above-mentioned Godbrother once hosted a leading member of the Women’s Ministry. He introduced her to professional women whom he had guided to become practicing devotees. He tells that she chose not to discuss Krsna consciousness with them but instead to encourage them: “Oh, you have a Masters degree? You should become a manger in ISKCON…” The women later commented to him that “We didn’t become devotees to procure some material position but to develop love for Krsna.”
Perhaps we should discount the attitude of those newly recruited educated women as merely utopian dreams of some who perhaps read Srila Prabhupada’s books too much! Is the goal no longer to become a humble devotee of Krsna, but rather to seize as much power as possible? Is that what the Women’s Ministry stands for? It is disturbing to think so. Most of us have spent the last twenty-plus years trying to break free from the clutches of materially motivated men in positions of power in ISKCON. Should we instead now give opportunity to materially motivated women? We maintain this to be an unacceptable proposition.
“Ardhabuddhi Dasa” objects that GHQ gathers quotes meant to defeat the feminist doctrine. But he and his camp are certainly equally free and entitled to defend their ideology in the same manner, by finding more and more sastra-pramana to substantiate their position. That is the way of Vaisnava brahmanas , which Srila Prabhupada wanted us to become. The brahmana sees through the eyes of the sastras (sastra caksus) and not through mundane logic spurred by material desires.
“The brahmana sees through the sastra, the King through his spies, the cow through her nose, and an ordinary man with his eyes.”

Canakya Pandita


The problem for “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” and company is that there is no sabda-pramana with which to conclusively substantiate their position; thus they defame the very Vaisnava-brahminical method of philosophical research (as taught by Srila Prabhupada) as hideous and treacherous, while they themselves apparently prefer to reword sastra for materialistic purposes. (see 6.2-3)
The question now arises, “Are they who espouse that men and women should follow Vedic dharma in fact disempowering women? The answer is “Certainly not.” For it is indeed that very neglect of stri-dharma which actually disempowers a woman and that very following of stri-dharma which actually empowers her both materially and spiritually.
"The wife of a brahmana suffering from leprosy manifested herself as the topmost of all chaste women by serving a prostitute to satisfy her husband. She thus stopped the movement of the sun, brought her dead husband back to life and satisfied the three principal demigods [Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara].
PURPORT

The Aditya Purana, Markandeya Purana and Padma Purana tell about a brahmana who was suffering from leprosy but had a very chaste and faithful wife. He desired to enjoy the company of a prostitute, and therefore his wife went to her and became her maidservant, just to draw her attention for his service. When the prostitute agreed to associate with him, the wife brought her the leprotic husband. When that leper, the sinful son of a brahmana, saw the chastity of his wife, he finally abandoned his sinful intentions. While coming home, however, he touched the body of Markandeya Rsi, who thus cursed him to die at sunrise. Because of her chastity, the woman was very powerful. Therefore when she heard about the curse, she vowed to stop the sunrise. Because of her strong determination to serve her husband, the three deities-namely Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara-were very happy, and they gave her the benediction that her husband would be cured and brought back to life. This example is given herein to emphasize that a devotee should engage himself exclusively for the satisfaction of Krsna, without personal motives. That will make his life successful.”

CC Antya 20.57

One mataji in the DMW comments:


“One last thing. Before I started trying to be a flea on the dog of a devotee, I was never surrendered to my husband, and considered men and women equal. But after reading the glory, love, and reverence of many of the ladies in the scriptures, and their sense of duty, I was simply entranced and amazed. I never knew being in this position could be so powerful. How very sad for those who read these stories, and turn their nose up while they mutter about being equal. We didn’t get a woman’s body for nothing, we got it for some reason. Perhaps to learn to surrender? Hmmmmmmm.........” (2.4)
By dint of her chastity, Mother Gandhari was so powerful that Bhimsena (more powerful than 10,000 intoxicated elephants) was afraid of her (this is reference to the fact that though Bhimasena had vowed to drink the blood squeezed from the heart of Dushasana, he only feigned drinking it because he feared the wrath of Mother Gandhari). Just see the power of chastity! Yet feminists claim that these histories are meant only to encourage undue control of women.
Rather than becoming disempowered (as the feminists claim) by following her dharma as ordained by Lord Sri Krsna, a woman becomes very powerful and achieves perfection:
yatah pravrttir bhutanam
yena sarvam idam tatam
sva-karmana tam abhyarcya
siddhim vindati manavah

“By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.” BG 18.46

A newly recovering feminist, who is now practicing the ways of stri-dharma, wrote to Mother Sita dd, marveling at how powerful a woman she must be:


“I have also one another problem. I would appreciate your help in this regard very much. I just don’t know how to manage time. You have to help your husband to run the business then you have four children and all house work and all the sadhana (chanting, reading, ...). How do you manage all this? “(2.5) [Sita is currently pregnant with her 5th child.]

Dear reader, please note the many texts in Section 2 providing ladies’ testimonies as to how their marriages became peaceful and happy once they began to follow their dharma as women. Such peaceful and happy family life is the natural desire of even normal, mainstream secular women. But it is attainable only by follow stri-dharma:


“However, every relationship I have seen, the women were very pushy and loud and disrespectful to their men, and the men left or were unfaithful. I am the only one who was not feeling that woman’s lib thing and here I am married almost seven years and going strong, while most of my ‘liberated, career minded’ old friends have kids with no father. Why? Because I respect my man and treat him like a man and my teacher and the leader of this house, and I act like the woman of this house.” (2.1)

14. Damaging the reputations of Vaisnavi leaders
As can be seen in the first text below, they used their secret conference to brainstorm strategies to terminate the women’s ministry (including many discussions on whether these efforts should concentrate on damaging the reputations of Vaisnavi leaders or of the male ISKCON leaders who support the women’s ministry)”
This is simply wrong and totally misleading. Our purpose from the very outset was to compile a philosophical treatise for presenting to the GBC. Although it is true that we discussed the possibility of terminating the IWM, our consensual agreement was to recommend that the IWM be governed by or amalgamated with the Grhasta Ministry. However, generally speaking, we also weren’t at all hesitant to frankly discuss what we perceived to be cases of serious philosophical deviance among certain leading personalities of ISKCON.
In reality, the party guilty of damaging Vaisnavas’ reputations by making false allegations is “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” and associaties. It is a classic in contrived propaganda.

15. Dossiers of “dirt”
“collect dossiers of ‘dirt’ on opponents in an effort to discredit them”
We now direct our gentle reader’s attention to Section 3.3. In this text, regarding her reply to Jasomatinanda Prabhu, Mother Malati dd includes another text forwarded to the IWC, which she had previously sent to other forums. The text is identical, except for the addition of a postscript:
“Yr servant, the most fallen and illiterate, Malati dd
(Text COM:1743305) -----------------------------------------
PS...(this was not sent as part of my reply) but does anyone out there know anything about above mentioned prabhu/temple president and alleged wife-beating?”
Here we witness a GBC Candidate clearly looking for “dirt” on someone who had challenged her philosophically. She was unable to counter his assertions philosophically, so it appears herein that she seeks to blacken his name as a last resort. “Private Visakha” made similar insinuations about her adversary Jivan Mukta Dasa when she wrote to “Generalji” (Mother Malati dd): “I worry that he is taking out his frustrations on his wife physically.” To which Jivan Mukta Dasa responded (See 3.2 for full response):
“Your accusations, nevertheless, have revealed to us that even revered Vaisnavis are not immune from the despicable tendency to make false and vicious accusations against men they dislike. They quickly stoop to yelling “ABUSER!”. Defamation of character is no small matter. Krsna (and Radharani) could never be pleased when you slander someone in this way. Why are you taking it so personally? I am simply challenging your conclusions. If you are unable to defend them then be a lady and admit defeat. It’s OK. We all make mistakes.”

16. Strategy to get women to lose their “cool”
Strategize how to get women to lose their cool on COM while they themselves appeared as gentlemen.”
There was no such strategy. Rather, as will be seen, our concern was to not degenerate to the same level of pettiness as our opponent matajis. It was suggested time and again to curtail debates with them, so as not to divert from our pursuit of more promising philosophical discussions with sober-minded devotees and GBCs. We were concerned also to avoid occasions for Vaisnava-aparadha, which is so easily done via e-mail. (This is discussed below in Article 22.)

17. Feminism: A form of atheism or Mayavada
Yes. It is heretical and can be demonstrated as such. Such heretical philosophies as åtvikvad and stri sämyavad are examples of manasikatvena nimita viddhiù "a system concocted by the mind (without reference to ñastra)." Feminism, in all its flavors, is mayavad philosophy (stri sämyavad = the theory that men & women are equal) it must be exposed and exorcised from Vaisnavism at all costs.
Garden Conversation--June 27, 1976, New Vrindaban
“Caitanya Mahäprabhu, He was so kind, but still there was distinction. When He was taking prasädam, personal associates, they were sitting with Him. Is it not? So this is called maryädä. Maryädä means honor. That must...Varieties must be there. Otherwise we become Mäyävädés-everything is equal, all one. This is Mäyäväda philosophy. No varieties. There must be variety. That is Vaiñëava philosophy. And as soon as you make it varietyless, all equal, that is Mäyäväda. Just see even in this flower, this is also flower and this is also flower. Does it mean they are of the same rank? This is understanding. Together they look very beautiful, but if you take separate value, then it is valuable than this flower. That distinction must be there. If somebody says "I am accepting even the leaf in this garland," then what to speak of rose? It is like that. Kåñëa says that. That does not mean leaf and rose have the same value. One is making a beautiful garland, "I am accepting everything." Mixed together it looks very nice, but individually the leaf has value, the rose has value, the flower has value. Not that because they are put together they have equal value. This is Vaiñëava philosophy.”

18. BSST and the brahmana-Vaisnava debate
“One of the much-discussed strategies in the GHQ focused on how to pre-empt the legitimate concerns of ISKCON vaisnavis. The most popular strategy for accomplishing this is illustrated in the following quote from one of their texts: ‘as a tactic (following BSST in the brahmana and vaisnava debate) put their concern as our first concern. Then we put the second concern to show how to deal with the first concern in reality. What do you all think? Before they jump in and show fingers to us as if we are abusing the women, we point fingers at the men and deal with this. So now they have nothing to point fingers at.’”
We will discuss in the next Article(19) “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” distortion of the truth with regard to “pre-empting the legitimate concerns of the women.” Here we will simply emphasize how one GHQ member suggests that we use a legitimate form of presentation as shown by our previous acarya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. If because of adopting his method we are to be considered hypocrites, the further implication then is that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura himself is the leading hypocrite of us his followers. Of course, to conclude so would be a very serious offense to our predecessor acaryas.

19. These men are not genuinely interested in women’s concerns
This quote clearly shows that these men are not genuinely interested in women’s concerns but that they would simply use calls for the protection of women to advance their own cause, i.e. control of women.”
Here we continue with the thread from Article 18. Why does “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” claim as above? What feeling does he want to evoke from the reader? First he labels followers of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaja as hypocrites for employing a certain method of presentation. Now he concludes that the members of GHQ have no genuine interest in the welfare of ISKCON Vaisnavis. (We may note here that many Vaisnavis remain active supporters of GHQ and its goals.) “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” leads the hapless reader to believe that GHQ’s so-called concern for the protection of women was a mere pretense, the actual motivation being the malignant desire for “control of women.” It is understandable that feelings of revulsion, distrust, or disgust would enter the minds of those who believe “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” version. Even one GHQ member admitted that upon reading the “GHQ Conspiracy” account, he thought “Boy, those guys on GHQ are a real bunch of jerks,” until he remembered that he was one of those guys and that we were not at all as “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” had posed us to be. Words are very powerful, and when misused with malevolent intentions, they can cause great harm.
By now it should be apparent that “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” is a master of disinformation. But what is the actual truth? To discover that truth, we would like to turn our gentle reader’s attention to Section 4, to which we will be referring often in this segment of the presentation.
First, we should point out that “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” has apparently purposely misled the readers into thinking that GHQ members’ concern for women was duplicitous. This conclusion of his was apparently not simply an innocent mistake conveyed to the public, but rather a calculated strategy to create in devotees’ minds revulsion towards the members of GHQ and their agenda. Why do we say that? Let us consider the following:


  1. ”Ardhabuddhi Dasa” misinterprets a statement of Vidvan Gauranga Dasa (VGd) and presents that misunderstanding as the mission of GHQ.

  2. However, “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” neglects to mention that VGd did not submit his first text to GHQ until October 26, 1998, nearly a month after the online inception of GHQ (September 28, 1998) and even longer away from the very first of these discussions held via personal e-mails between members. VGd had been travelling to Vrndavana for the parikrama and so was incommunicado via e-mail from September 19 to October 26. But up till that time, senior GHQ members had already logged considerable discussion.

  3. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” excludes many exculpatory texts prior to October 26, 1998, as well as after this date--texts which show that GHQ’s concerns truly were for the benefit and protection of women of ISKCON and society in general.

  4. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” presented texts out of their original context, thus creating confusion to his readers. The reader would thus be misled and drawn to a particular conclusion----a conclusion far removed from the truth.

  5. “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” deceit, as mentioned above, suggests his personal desire to further the cause of feminism within ISKCON.

Let us now examine a few quotes from the exculpatory texts, which verify that certain ladies misled the general devotees about our intentions (Complete texts available in Section 4.):


“I am also in full agreement with the proper cultural behavior in ISKCON. Women must be respected and protected but not allowed to act like men……So, although we didn’t allow women to lead kirtan in the temple, anyone misbehaving with women is dealt with heavy hand and offenders were publicly punished to create proper etiquette.”
“Just as Husband as Swami and has authority over wife (woman) he also has responsibility towards her. Men can’t have only authority and no responsibility. In Mayapura to the extent possible we tried to make sure that along with strict behavioral standards for the ladies they are not ill treated or dishonored eg. when we found that some man made lewd calls to some ladies we track the guy down and then gave him good punishment and he had to fall at the feet of the ladies whom he offended and beg forgiveness. And many ladies appreciate that. Although some ladies have made it a point to flog Mayapura on the internet or publicly, many resident ladies support us.”
On October 6,th twenty days before VGd joined GHQ, Ameyatma Prabhu wrote a very inspiring text called “Women Do Have Legitimate Issues.” His recently written long rebuttal of the “GHQ Conspiracy” file was an expansion of that text. He wrote:
“…The real root source is that the men were not fully self-realized, were not fully qualified …The whole women’s issue has arisen because there are legitimate complaints that the women have not been protected properly…I say our effort must therefore deal with whole issue, we must also address the legitimate issues concerning the women… If the leadership, and men, in ISKCON had provided proper protection for the women, they would not complain. The fact that women are complaining like mad is due to the fact the men have not properly protected them.”
“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 buffoons 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.”
In one text, VGd expresses his concern that nowadays early marriage for girls may not be safe, because the present social situation sorely lacks the necessary support to marriage partners that would otherwise naturally be provided per the extended family system. In another text he wrote:
“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!…

… 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 accommodation 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…”(4.17)

Jaya Tirtha Caran Dasa (JTCd) quoted many verses from Manu-samhita describing how women should be respected:


“55. Women must be honored and adorned by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and brothers-in-law, who desire (their own) welfare.

56. Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where

they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards….”
And then (JTCd) commented:
“To me this suggests that the Vedic goals were to satisfy all walks of society. The results of not following the Vedic path results in what we often see and hear complained about.”
Another devotee cited that within cultured families, if a man habitually mistreated his wife, he would be beaten by his own brothers:
“Rather I had different experience. One of my uncles was a drunkard and it was a big shame on the family and the uncle knew it very well. So, as long as my grandfather was alive he never came to the house in drunken state and behaved well to his wife. But later on, after Grandfather’s death there was no one, who could control him. So, he would come to the house in drunken state and then started beating his wife. This was understood by other ladies who were at home and reported to the other male members of the society. So, all the other brothers got together and warned him very heavily. But he repeated one in their presence, and then all my other uncles and father got together and gave him a good beating.”
Shyamasundara Prabhu said:
“Ameyatma Prabhu has emphasized the need for training men and then the woman problem will be solved. He is correct. In the following lecture SP emphasizes that woman are mostly imbued with rajas and tamas. Men also, but only men can rise to sattva. Thus the husband must become a devotee to be able to lead his wife.”
“In the following selection from a lecture by Srila Prabhupada he explains that in Vedic culture a woman doesn’t even go to a spiritual master for instruction and education what to speak of school or brahmacarini ashrama. Her instructor and teacher is her husband (father when young). BUT the husband must be of high quality and gentle, etc. So the onus is on the man.”

Why did “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” exclude all the exculpatory texts which show GHQ’s real intentions? Why instead did he prefer to paint GHQ as a conspiracy of insincere rascals?



20. Mother Malati’s GBC appointment criticized
One of the most discussed texts involved a letter written by Jasomatinandana, in which he criticized Malati’s GBC appointment. Although no GHQ members appeared capable of realizing why mainstream devotees had been offended by Jasomatinandana’s text, they agreed that it might be best if they tone down future attacks for tactical reasons.”
In Article 22, we will discuss the false charges by “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” as extrapolated from his insinuation that we decided to avoid “future attacks for tactical reasons.” But for now, we shall touch upon “Ardhabuddhi Dasa’s” use of the word “mainstream,” which appears to be his tactic for manipulating the reader’s emotions. For, once labeled as being outside the mainstream, a person is then easily marginalized as a misfit or fanatic. Notions of threat by so-called strangers who do not fit within the mainstream mold are thus easily conjured. Such antisocial characters then become the enemy because they do not follow the mainstream.
However, to be within the mainstream is often not at all good: mainstream Americans are proud to be beef-eaters, overly fond of illicit sex, habituated to intoxicants of wide description, and given to so many other unhealthy mainstream activities. They sport in the mainstream current of nescience, while cascading down to hellish conditions of future life.

Regarding the sentiments of various GHQ members towards Mother Malati dd, “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” (in his apparent strategy to misrepresent and malign the members of GHQ) excluded several exculpatory texts which showed that, despite certain differences, the GHQ members did maintain appropriate respect for Mother Malati dd. Please now see Section 5, wherein Mother Malati dd is the subject of several texts. HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami states:


“From my experience, Malati Mataji is a very nice, humble and sincere devotee. Not an anti male chauvinist pig type. Could be entered into dialog with.”
And HH Rasananda Swami said:
“But I have to reveal that I do not like to read what is being told about Mother Malati. I consider her a good vaisnavi. I lived in New Vrndavana for some time as sankirtana leader (about two years ago) and I had some exchanges with her and due to circumstances I had to visited her ashram. I have to tell you that I was always pleased by visiting her ashram. I appreciated the training that she gave to her girls. They were relating with me in a chaste and polite way.”
Again, we must ask why “Ardhabuddhi Dasa” has not presented these texts?
It must be apparent to the reader by now that both the public and GHQ members are victims of a deliberate program of deception designed to incite the contempt and scorn of the general ISKCON population toward the members of GHQ.

21. Women not having souls
In the initial conference texts, the GHQ members were more freely showing their true color and frequently referred to ISKCON women as ‘obnoxious’, ‘feminazis’ and even as not having souls, to the ‘ISKCON Women’s Ministry’ as the ‘ISKCON Whore Ministry’ and to the ‘International Women’s Conference’ as the ‘International Witches Conference.’”
We admit that in the earliest stage of GHQ there were some instances of loose talk. But GHQ members very quickly realized that this must cease, to prevent serious spiritual consequences to the speaker, as well as for other reasons. Details of this follow (Article 22). The essential fact is that, of the total 911 texts that comprised GHQ, a mere miniscule number of them contained such terms. Thus, to characterize the GHQ members on the basis of less than one percent of the total of texts is quite misleading and unjust. Even in “Ardhabuddhi’s Dasa’s” expose, wherein “he” exhibits 49 texts, very few contained objectionable language. Here are the facts:

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