“Shy” Lioness – protest against sahajiya deviation

“Shy” Lioness – protest against sahajiya deviation

What follows is an email exchange and youtube video I made about women lectures. Although Prabhupada did allow women to give lectures (in case there is no equally qualified man present), his general tendency was to emphasize chastity and shyness as primary qualities for women. Giving lectures in front of brahmacaries definitely breaks vedic culture.

My first letter

Message-ID: <CAHEdfkEX4PGRhoU56BJc8Z_n7zHGO4uBS_nV3f2PpB=3euMOyg@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2016 09:31:43 +0000
Subject: Gaura-purnima lecture in Zagreb
From: Hanuman das
To: devaki@pamho.net, Divya-prabandha das

Respectul mataji,

please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

My name is Hanuman das, I joined Krishna consciousness movement in Zagreb 24 years ago. I am very much inspired by your fight against feminism in ISKCON. You, and several others, such as Basu Gosh prabhu, Bhakti Raghava Swami, Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Sivarama Swami and few others are at the forefront of protecting Srila Prabhupada legacy.

Although female diksa guru is currently highlighted as the most important issue in the feminist sphere, stri dharma in general is also very important.

Although I am very inspired by your videos and seminars, I can not understand this move of giving lecture at Gaura Purnima in Zagreb. This will defeat the whole purpose of improving situation in ISKCON.

After your lecture, two things will happen, everybody will say: “Women can give classes, even most conservative mataji Devaki is giving Gaura Purnima lectures in ISKCON temples.” Feminists will go further than that, they will says: “Women giving lectures is for losers, we already conquered that, that is not enough, we want to have female diksa gurus.”

So, why should we voluntarily lose this battle over women lectures? Isn’t giving seminars around stri dharma enough to fight for genuine philosophy? I mean giving seminars is huge field in which a lot can be done, and there is enough service for couple of lifetimes. Especially if woman gives such seminars.

Giving main festival lecture in Zagreb will defeat whole purpose of your seminar. Feminist leadership of temple Zagreb tricked you into something which will defeat your purpose.

Not giving main festival lectures is not a problem, I myself am banned from giving lectures in Zagreb temple because I said divorce is not good. But not giving lectures is not a problem as long as you are able to die as genuine follower of Srila Prabhupada and you can say to Srila Prabhupada after you die “I didn’t betray you.” That is the moment I am living for.

So, please don’t give in and kindly reconsider the consequences of your lecture because “Deeds speak louder than words”. If you don’t give Gaura Purnima lecture, that will be much greater preaching than if you give lecture. You being in temple Zagreb for the festival and not giving lectures will show everybody what is stri dharma, and that in itself will have huge effect.

You can just shortly say at the end of the festival, you can introduce yourself, you can say according to stri-dharma, women should not give festival lectures, and that everybody who wants to find out more can come to Lika and attend your seminar. That will have huge impact, as an expert for propaganda war, I can guarantee you that.

Hoping to meet you on the Gaura Purnima festival in Zagreb.

your servant,
Hanuman das

Devaki’s reply

Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2016 12:10 +0200
From: "Devaki (dd) (Bangladesh/India/Ukraine/Germany)" <Devaki@pamho.net>
To: Divya-prabandha das , "Hanuman (das) SDHS (Zagreb - HR)" <Hanuman.SDHS@pamho.net>
Subject: Gaura-purnima lecture in Zagreb

Haribol Prabhu,

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

Thank you for your message sharing your concerns.

My name is Hanuman das, I joined Krishna consciousness movement in Zagreb
24 years ago. I am very much inspired by your fight against feminism in
ISKCON. You, and several others, such as Basu Gosh prabhu, Bhakti Raghava
Swami, Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Sivarama Swami and few others are at the
forefront of protecting Srila Prabhupada legacy.

Although female diksa guru is currently highlighted as the most important
issue in the feminist sphere, stri dharma in general is also very
important.

Although I am very inspired by your videos and seminars, I can not
understand this move of giving lecture at Gaura Purnima in Zagreb. This
will defeat the whole purpose of improving situation in ISKCON.

After your lecture, two things will happen, everybody will say: “Women can
give classes, even most conservative mataji Devaki is giving Gaura Purnima
lectures in ISKCON temples.” Feminists will go further than that, they
will says: “Women giving lectures is for losers, we already conquered
that, that is not enough, we want to have female diksa gurus.”

So, why should we voluntarily lose this battle over women lectures? Isn’t
giving seminars around stri dharma enough to fight for genuine philosophy?

I am actually not preaching about stri dharma. I never even use the word in
my vocabulary. I am trying to give insights into the universal, underlying
principles of spiritual culture. It is so much deeper and more subtle than
trying to establish what a woman should do and not do.

I mean giving seminars is huge field in which a lot can be done, and there
is enough service for couple of lifetimes. Especially if woman gives such
seminars.

Giving main festival lecture in Zagreb will defeat whole purpose of your
seminar. Feminist leadership of temple Zagreb tricked you into something
which will defeat your purpose.

A woman giving a main festival lecture does not necessarily mean she is a
feminist. Feminists are competing with men and think men and women are
equal. But one can also give lectures without having this mood and attitude.

The topic of women giving class, leading kirtan and being Guru we will in
detail discuss in our retreat in Lika. I very much hope that you will be
able to attend it, so I can offer some humble service to you and try to shed
some light on these topics.

I am quoting some parts of the materials of the seminar below:

CAN WOMEN LEAD KIRTAN OR GIVE CLASS?

  • For example in Mayapur the local leaders don’t so easily agree that women
    lead temple kirtans or give class. Cultural background:

Bhaktivinoda Thakur in Sri Sri Godruma Kalpatavi, Part 2:
“Women who are pure devotees can become traveling women salesmen for
distributing the Holy Name amongst other women, but they cannot give the
name to men. According to time, place and circumstances, however, and with
great care, a cautious and mature woman can distribute the name to men.
Apart from elderly women or very young girls, men preachers should avoid
discussions with other women.”

  • Srila Prabhupada in a letter to Jayagovinda, Feb. 8, 1968
    “Regarding lecturing by woman devotees: I have informed you that in the
    service of the Lord there is no distinction of caste or creed, color, or
    sex. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord especially mentions that even a woman
    who has taken seriously is also destined to reach Him. We require a person
    who is in the knowledge of Krishna, that is the only qualification of a
    person speaking. It doesn’t matter what he is. Materially a woman may be
    less intelligent than a man, but spiritually there is no such distinction.
    Because spiritually everyone is pure soul. In the absolute plane there is no
    such gradation of higher and lower. IF A WOMAN CAN LECTURE NICELY AND TO THE
    POINT, WE SHOULD HEAR HER CAREFULLY. That is our philosophy. BUT IF A MAN
    CAN SPEAK BETTER THAN A WOMAN, THE MAN SHOULD BE GIVEN FIRST PREFERENCE. But
    even though a woman is less intelligent, a sincere soul should be given
    proper chance to speak, because we want so many preachers, both men and
    women.”

  • a person sitting on the Vyasasana is representing Srila Vyasadeva. It
    requires a certain maturity and being off the bodily platform.

=> women could preach to women by having women’s programs and women’s
kirtans and thus qualify themselves. And when becoming a mature and more
advanced devotee they can also give the Holy Name to men, especially in
regards to temple programs such as SB class.


The above two quotes make it very clear what the criteria is. If a lady is
young, wearing silk saris and all kinds of decorations, then within
spiritual culture it would be a little odd to have her sitting on the
Vyasasana. The men would be distracted by her beauty. A certain maturity and
being off the bodily platform is required to represent Vyasadeva. Once she
is more mature, and especially when she is in the renounced phase of life,
and if she has the capacity and nature, then there is absolutely nothing
wrong with her delivering a lecture. This would be the purifying duty of a
woman in the renounced phase of life: sharing her life experience and
wisdom, according to her capacity. This is her dharma in that phase of life.
To simply establish a rule that a woman should not give a lecture sounds to
me like it is coming from the bodily platform. It is too simplistic.
Spiritual culture is so much more deep and subtle, and to receive insights
requires good intelligence and an open heart and mind.

Intuitively I followed the above two quotes within my life. While I was
young and married, and dressed in an attractive way, I never sat on the
Vyasasana, even though devotees invited me to give SB class. Only after my
husband left KC, and I moved into the renounced phase of life, giving up all
beautiful dress and decoration and wearing white, I accepted the invitation
to speak from the Vyasasana.
Even in the most cultured and traditional place such as Bangladesh the
devotees ALWAYS invite me to speak, and I have many times given the main
festival lecture for Gaur Purnima and other Vaisnava Festivals. It has never
even been questioned! But I also have to say, that they don’t so easily
invite any other lady to speak. And I am not saying this to glorify myself
and point out, that I am so super special. No, I am simply saying this to
try and explain to you that they do know the culture, standards and
criterias.

Having said all this, I leave it entirely up to the Zagreb devotees whether
they would like to invite me to speak or not. All I am interested is to
serve. I can serve by speaking, and I can also serve by hearing. It is all
service. There is no difference to me. If the devotees feel it is not
appropriate for me to speak, or they feel I am not qualified, then I will be
more than happy to hear, since I have so many opportunities to speak in all
different countries of the world. So it is up to the local devotees to
decide how they would like to engage me.

Hoping that this meets you well in all regards…..,

your servant, Devaki dd

My second letter

Message-ID: <CAHEdfkEEuEEHxpm-cxoeR4yqwAu4AyKXF_oAUbxpXrn1RTV=Ag@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2016 17:47:15 +0000
Subject: Re: Gaura-purnima lecture in Zagreb
From: Hanunman das
To: "Devaki (dd) (Bangladesh/India/Ukraine/Germany)" <Devaki@pamho.net>, Divya-prabandha das

Respectful mataji,

please accept my humble obiesances.

all glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Please note my answers below.

On Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 11:20 AM Devaki (dd) (Bangladesh/India/Ukraine/Germany) Devaki@pamho.net wrote:

So, why should we voluntarily lose this battle over women lectures? Isn’t
giving seminars around stri dharma enough to fight for genuine philosophy?

I am actually not preaching about stri dharma. I never even use the word in
my vocabulary. I am trying to give insights into the universal, underlying
principles of spiritual culture. It is so much deeper and more subtle than
trying to establish what a woman should do and not do.

This universal, underlying principles of spiritual culture are found in Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and Ramayana, nowhere in those scriptures we find women traveling around and giving festival lectures.

I mean giving seminars is huge field in which a lot can be done, and there
is enough service for couple of lifetimes. Especially if woman gives such
seminars.

Giving main festival lecture in Zagreb will defeat whole purpose of your
seminar. Feminist leadership of temple Zagreb tricked you into something
which will defeat your purpose.

A woman giving a main festival lecture does not necessarily mean she is a
feminist. Feminists are competing with men and think men and women are
equal. But one can also give lectures without having this mood and attitude.

Women giving class is problem for brahmacaries, this lectures should be attended by all devotees, and brahmacari is not supposed to listen to women, or to look at woman for extended period of time. Therefore, giving optional seminars are preferable. If you give class, other younger women will want to follow your example and also give class. And then brahmacari life will look completely stupid.

Since I am member of ISKCON, I prefer quotes from Srila Prabhupada. Your quote from letter in 1968 is correct, and there is another similar letter from 1968. So, we have two confirmations by Srila Prabhupada which are valid, but they are given at the time where he was gradually introducing vedic culture. At that time, hippies were still offering their jeans to Jaganath.

In the same time, we should not disregard all other Srila Prabhupada’s quotes regarding this issue, Srila Prabhupada mentioned many, many times, that woman should be chaste and shy, so how can women be shy if she is preaching from vyasa-asana to men? Also Srila Prabhupada said numerous times that women should be protected at all times and they they are happy in their constitutional position without desiring to travel around like Prabhupada:

Yogeśvara: Here’s a problem. The women today want the same rights as men. How can they be satisfied?

Prabhupāda: Everything will be satisfied. Just like our women, Kṛṣṇa conscious, they are working. They don’t want equal rights with men. It is due to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are cleansing the temple, they are cooking very nicely. They are satisfied. They never say that “I have to go to Japan for preaching like Prabhupāda.” They never say. This is artificial. So Kṛṣṇa consciousness means work in his constitutional position. The women, men, when they remain in their constitutional position, there will be no artificial. (Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, May 27, 1974, Rome)

a person sitting on the Vyasasana is representing Srila Vyasadeva. It requires a certain maturity and being off the bodily platform.

women could preach to women by having women’s programs and women’s kirtans and thus qualify themselves. And when becoming a mature and more advanced devotee they can also give the Holy Name to men, especially in regards to temple programs such as SB class.

These two quotes don’t have references so I will have to disregard them.

The above two quotes make it very clear what the criteria is. If a lady is
young, wearing silk saris and all kinds of decorations, then within
spiritual culture it would be a little odd to have her sitting on the
Vyasasana. The men would be distracted by her beauty. A certain maturity and
being off the bodily platform is required to represent Vyasadeva. Once she
is more mature, and especially when she is in the renounced phase of life,
and if she has the capacity and nature, then there is absolutely nothing
wrong with her delivering a lecture. This would be the purifying duty of a
woman in the renounced phase of life: sharing her life experience and
wisdom, according to her capacity. This is her dharma in that phase of life.
To simply establish a rule that a woman should not give a lecture sounds to
me like it is coming from the bodily platform. It is too simplistic.
Spiritual culture is so much more deep and subtle, and to receive insights
requires good intelligence and an open heart and mind.

This is imagined philosophy, it introduces that women should not preach while young and married, but she can do so when older. On the contrary, Srila Prabhupada said women should be protected in all stages of life and she should not travel around as visible from my previous quote.

Intuitively I followed the above two quotes within my life. While I was
young and married, and dressed in an attractive way, I never sat on the
Vyasasana, even though devotees invited me to give SB class. Only after my
husband left KC, and I moved into the renounced phase of life, giving up all
beautiful dress and decoration and wearing white, I accepted the invitation
to speak from the Vyasasana.

Even in the most cultured and traditional place such as Bangladesh the
devotees ALWAYS invite me to speak, and I have many times given the main
festival lecture for Gaur Purnima and other Vaisnava Festivals. It has never
even been questioned! But I also have to say, that they don’t so easily
invite any other lady to speak. And I am not saying this to glorify myself
and point out, that I am so super special. No, I am simply saying this to
try and explain to you that they do know the culture, standards and
criterias.

There is no such thing as “renounced phase of life” for women described in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

The fact that devotees in Bangladesh invite you to speak doesn’t prove anything. We prove things by quoting Srila Prabhupada, not by what “some devotees” are doing. Some devotees are selling liquor and lottery tickets in USA, but that doesn’t prove that these activities are bonafide.

Having said all this, I leave it entirely up to the Zagreb devotees whether
they would like to invite me to speak or not. All I am interested is to
serve. I can serve by speaking, and I can also serve by hearing. It is all
service. There is no difference to me. If the devotees feel it is not
appropriate for me to speak, or they feel I am not qualified, then I will be
more than happy to hear, since I have so many opportunities to speak in all
different countries of the world. So it is up to the local devotees to
decide how they would like to engage me.

Agreed, I am not in the management, and they seem to already decided what are they going to do. I felt obliged to Srila Prabhupada to raise my concerns, and I did that, I raised my concerns both to you and the management, now it is up to all involved parties to act according to their conscience.

your servant, Hanuman das

Conclusion

She did give the lecture.


Shares