Bhakti Vikas Swami vs ISKCON Women

Bhakti Vikas Swami vs ISKCON Women

bhakti vikas article
A woman’s place?
Regarding Bhakti Vikas Swami’s New Book Titled Women: Masters or Mothers?
With commentary by PADA
A message from a mataji in ISKCON

24hr NAM KIRTAN mngr with ISKCON Vrndavana will be glorifying Vaisnavis as Srila Prabhupada’s significant “secret weapons”… during SB Class this morning in such a sincere manner.

Actually, just yesterday in the new Devotee Care office near the BGIS School, there was a fantastic, brilliant, incredible satsang of 25 empowered and notable senior Vaisnavis. I felt so honored to be sitting amongst many of Srila Prabhupada’s sincere, intelligent, committed and humble Vaisnavis of ISKCON who have given their lives to Srila Prabhupada to push on his Mission, many of us for 40 years or more.

Grandmothers, mothers, daughters and grand-daughters convened to discuss, with all due respect…the personal disturbances and the global tumult in Prabhupada’s Society of Vaisnavis…. caused by the controversial information compiled in the newly published Bhakti Vikas Swami book entitled: Women, Masters or Mothers.

Unanimous agreement that IOHO, the mood of the book and the contents are not in line with how Srila Prabhupada raised us to be preachers…..There are references in the book that “weaving baskets” or making chapattis and babies is more suited for a Vaisnavi! BVK Swami said in one lecture, “A chaste woman would appreciate a burka.”

The front book cover shows a Vaisnavi depicted in full-on military fatigues and even toting a MACHINE GUN with an aggressive face!!!… standing next to a Vaisnavi in saree who is holding a baby…what??? There are devotees selling this book outside our gate near ISKCON Vrndavana during the Kartik Festival. Imagine showing such a cover of a book to Prabhupada who loves all of his Vaisnavis…AS THEY ARE:)

Prabhupada tells us to chant our 16 rounds, follow the regs, and just add KRSNA so that our natural devotional service will manifest. He appreciated so much his American, European and Western devi dasis and their bold spirit to push on his Mission.

The young male devotee outside the front gate selling these books certainly got an earful from all of us individually, as well as collectively…smile emoticon…He told us that women in ISKCON don’t know how to behave and that’s why this book had to be printed!!! (I think he was in diapers when Ragatmika and I started the Anchorage, Alaska preaching center and distributed Prabhupada’s Books in the Anchorage Airport for ten hrs a day:)

….And the book tells us all about our menustration periods??? From a sannyasi? We were all like with eyes rolling and shock flowing….like are you kidding? We have been inspired by Prabhupada to push on his global Mission….and he encouraged us to be preachers. And how come no one was telling us to weave baskets when our quotas were 500-1000 dollars a day….

60% of ISKCON Society’s devotee husbands have abandoned their wives and small children under 15 (many times whimsically for other women) and there are subtle indications in this book where such incidents are the woman’s fault?? OMK!!! I would have loved to weave baskets and hang out in the kitchen, but when my devotee husband left us for another woman, I was too busy working 2 jobs to pay the bills and support my children.

At least they could have made the military outfit on the cover a bit more stylish and colorful :)…maybe pink, green or lavender with a nice sunhat, matching purse and shoes:) And where were the bead bags shown? Most Vaisnavis never go anywhere without bead bag.

Women: Masters or Mothers?….. Damn straight we had to somewhat master being a mother, grandmother, plumber, electrician, mechanic, pay the numerous bills, driver, gardener, help with the homework late at night, attend PTA meetings, shop for meals and make the lunches for school, cook, all around counselor, emergency doctor, on call 24 n 7…chant our sixteen, somehow or other and do some puja.and STILL after our children have grown up, we STILL are giving our daily efforts to serve Prabhupada and His Mission…

Yes, we had to somewhat master our senses to tolerate and serve our children unconditionally with love and dedication and STILL, Vaisnavis are so determined to serve Prabhupada’s Mission in one way or other. What about telling us more about Prabhupada, Krsna, and devotional service, not subject to gender. What about following in the footsteps of how Prabhupada preached to Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis….as spiritually equal. And if we are truly your mothers or “matajis,” then natural respect would follow as mothers are 1 of the 7 natural gurus.

There is a seminar planned to propagate this book in Vrndavana during Kartik. We have put forth a request that this book be carefully reviewed by the GBC. Hare Krsna and may we always take shelter of Srila Prabhupada, no matter what….

 

Commentary by PADA

There has been a “misogyny” (anti-woman) problem going on in contemporary ISKCON under the current leaders and managers, never mind there has been an “anti-children” problem also going on, with many abuses of women and children being reported under BVKS “gurus and managers.” First of all, women and children are supposed to be protected, and that does not seem to be happening as it should. Now some folks in ISKCON want to make women into gurus, that is for sure not protecting them, just look at what happened to most of the men who took the post of guru and they suffered tragic results, and they still are suffering tragic results more and more. 

Another problem is — a number of women have been finding themselves with a “devotee husband” who simply could not maintain them materially, or he was chasing other women, or worse, he was abusing these women. The husband was often worshiping an illicit sex — if not sexual predator guru — in the BVKS program, so he was worshiping sexual exploiters and thus — the husband took on the same qualities, i.e. we become what we worship. 

So, before we tell women en masse that they have to surrender to the Bhakti Vikas swami “male managed” program, that program has to offer these women solid men who will make it possible for them to be protected as “at home mothers.” That is a tall order in any event since many women have to get a job and work around the San Francisco area, because merely the rent alone on a one bedroom apartment in the city is about $4,000. Thus, the man and woman are expected to both be working. Where are these women going to live under the Bhakti Vikas scheme for them to be “at home mothers”? 

The BVKS GBC first of all sold the three houses we had at Berkeley temple, which were the main living quarters for the householders, and rents in Berkeley are almost as bad as San Francisco. So, where are all of the BVKS “at home moms (and their children)” going to live? He never tells us? Rather he says we have to worship the people who shut down and sold these houses, and the Berkeley farm, where ISKCON women and children were supposed to live? We have to worship the people who tossed the ISKCON women and children out on the street with nothing, and sold their residences? 

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to have varnasrama farms where married couples could live without participating in the mundane rat race society, and they and their children would be housed there, but that process has not happened hardly at all. So Bhakti Vikas is painting an unrealistic picture of how women are going to be able to live sensibly in modern culture. He and his GBC have also been back-pedalling the varnasrama projects meant to provide housing for the “in home mothers” idea. So we are left with some unrealistic sentimentalism that has no practical application for modern women.   

Then again, Bhakti Vikas swami has no problem supporting his guru lineage — which contains illicit sex, and thus created a huge exodus which drove out thousands and thousands of women and children from ISKCON, and which simultaneously closed, sold and / or shut down their living facilities. Then again, how many women in the world want to worship a BVKS guru lineage which contains sexual predators, womanizers, abusers, drug addicts, molesters, deviants and criminals? Why does BVKS think women are all going to flock to his worship of illicit sex program, does he think women are fools, and they all want to worship deviants as their messiahs like BVKS is promoting just about all of his adult life? 

Nope, even the most foolish and ignorant farmer’s daughter in the USA wants to worship someone like Jesus, and not the BVKS worship of illicit sex messiahs program, because the average woman in America has some solid idea that the guru must NOT be a sexual predator false messiah, she has much more spiritual brains than BVKS program. 

Worse, the BVKS idea that women have to worship illicit messiahs is TURNING OFF millions and millions of WOMEN and sending them away from ISKCON in droves, by the bucket loads, every single day. So his program is trying to force women to worship deviants, and they are not buying it AT ALL, because they have more spiritual intelligence than the BVKS group has. Women know instinctively that the BVKS worship of illicit sex  project is TOTALLY bogus, and worse, it produces an atmosphere where women and children are being exploited, as happens left, right and center in the BVKS program.

The BVKS program also says we have to offer our bhogha to his illicit sex messiahs in order to make it prasadam. Meanwhile, our Prabhupadanuga’s women do know what is prasadam. Our women have a million times more spiritual idea than BVKS program, because they know for starters that we cannot offer bhogha to persons engaged in illicit sex, that is not the process! 

Anyway, more and more women are standing up to these folks and that is a good sign. First of all, BVKS needs to make a program that women can be protected in, then he can put out a sign offering them a space in that program. Right now most ISKCON women are not being protected and they are struggling along to survive in many cases.

We personally know a number of ISKCON women who are barely making it materially, and they have all sorts of problems because they cannot participate in the BVKS worship of illicit sex project because for starters, as soon as they announce they are not going to worship BVKS illicit sex messiahs, they are booted out the door of the BVKS program and forced to struggle with no ISKCON society to protect them. 

These issues need to be addressed first … ys pd

14 comments

  • This article whosoever might have written is totally misrepresentation of BVKS’s book and idea. If you reduce your sense gratification where is the question of maintenance? Many time in the article writer has mentioned that their husband could not maintained them properly so they have to work? This clearly shows that person who has written above article have never experienced Ancient Indian culture. There was a poor Brahmin his name was Sudama a great devotee of Lord Krishna . He could hardly maintained his wife and children ,but Sudama’s wife never complained about the maintenance. I am an Indian born and brought up in middle-middle class . Raised by my mother with love. She was the first Guru who put the seed of faith in my life. Women are supposed to do this to raise devotee and help the soul to become the servant of Lord Krishna. My mother never complained about the low salary or how they could not send us to big private schools? Or why do not we had scooters , cars or many other things … however i am very insignificant to be in this conversation …Chant Hare Krishna and be Happy

  • Siriusstar11

    You really arent making any sense – she was saying she did not have enough money for basic living such as rent, not to buy scooters or private school education. Just because Sudama lived in poverty (as a karmic punishment, mind you) doesnt actually mean we should all be imposing starvation on ourselves and have to live on streets.

  • Siriusstar11

    “60% of ISKCON Society’s devotee husbands have abandoned their wives and small children under 15 (many times whimsically for other women) and there are subtle indications in this book where such incidents are the woman’s fault?? OMK!!! I would have loved to weave baskets and hang out in the kitchen, but when my devotee husband left us for another woman, I was too busy working 2 jobs to pay the bills and support my children.”

    They are saying this because Srila Prabhupada actually said that when a man leaves a women it is because it is the woman’s fault due to her not being submissive enough. Why do you not recognise that?

    • Mukunda Das

      ” Sirius ”

      ” Srila Prabhupada actually said that when a man leaves a women it is because it is the woman’s fault due to her not being submissive enough ”

      But he also said that the man has to have a decent spiritual level , and not be some useless slob !

      He said a woman is lucky if she can find a husband situated in the mode of goodness .

      • Anna

        Sirius,

        Your misogyny is on full display in your comments about women being submissive, and it all being the women’s fault if her husband sins. We all know there are plenty of times devotee men leave their wives because they want a newer, shinier model, because these men are still very much attached to maya despite their spiritual postering and pretending. Thank you for reminding us all what too many Hare Krishna men value above all else– their sense of spiritual entitlement to act like barbarians.

        Mukunda, I am truly appreciative of what you wrote. It shows that there are also a number of sincere Hare Krishna men who don’t view have the ego-based view that their gender is a license to be cruel to women and to leave them on a whim. Thank you.

        • Dattatreya

          The point is that Vedic culture is not misogynistic …

          Whatever kanishta adikaries concoct as excuses to behave in substandard manners is not Vedic culture or Vaishnavism …

          Since you’re here , let me give you a true account :

          Prabhupad wanted every morning ( as you probably know ) that upon opening up the deities , the ” Govindam adi purusam ” song be played …

          But this Tamal Krishna creep decided otherwise …

          He declared that the song was maya , because 1) a woman was singing , 2) they used Western instruments …

          So … here we got somebody who , before joining the movement , use to live in trees naked and spit on passers bye ( in the 60’s !!! ) , and then , a few years later decides he can counter Prabhupad’s instructions , and become more royalist than the King himself !!!

          Some so called devotees can’t even wash their asses properly yet !!!

  • Anand

    Westerners can never understand the traditional Indian culture, howmuchever they try researching on the subject.

    If women go out and preach, who will take care of the children? Except for Mother Jahnava devi, which woman initiating guru can you name? That’s hardly 1 in a billion.
    When the men are doing it well, why do we need competing females? Of course, Prabhupada told everyone to be gurus. That does not mean, I too start aspiring to become a diksha guru one day.
    With due respect, why are female disciples of SP aspiring to be gurus? Becoming guru is a responsibility not an ambition.

    Please hand over the ISKCON reins to Indians because they only can understand their culture and educate the world.

    • Dattatreya

      ” Anand ”

      Vedic culture is not ” Indian culture ” , and many Indians are pretty useless whern it comes to Vedic
      culture … just like the Sun doesn’t have ” Made in Japan ” wrtten on it because it rises in the East !!!

      Try to come to the West and preach about ” Indian culture ” , with all the burning of would be brides … throwing acid in their face , or these poor ” dhalit ” women who have to carry stool all day , the epidemy
      of rapes etc … etc …

      Of course , the intense poverty in many parts of India is mainly due to the British / Yiddish ” raj ” that
      stole ALL of India’s vast gold / silver / jewels reserve , back in 1947 , via their … rather convenient …
      ” Home bill ” , but why does India have the karma to be invaded … first by the Muslims , then the British , and maybe the bloody Chinese next ?!?

      Since you are such a fine connaisseur of ” Indian culture ” , pray … tell us why ?!?

      P.S. A hint … it’s explained in some Shastra why India will be invaded three times , and each time will
      be worse !!!

      • Lol

        Hare Krsna prabhu, Just wanted to put my own views in this: Please understand whatever you call by the name India is the tract of land where vrindavan and mayapur are designated to be present by Krsna. So better not to disparage bharata khanda.

        I am not able to also comprehend your comments prabhu, since they are both alluding to India’s misfortune due to invasion and to an assumption / allegation that indian (which is
        basically right now a smaller form of actual vaidic culture) culture is bad. You should probably know by now that Indians have been mislead by invasions and their culture taken from them or rather ripped apart from their lives. So Indians followed a very twisted version of their own culture and many follow still, but that does not and should not demonise vaidic dharma which is recommended in all veda sastra. And your comment is misleading : rapes do not happen because of vedic culture, how horrible of you to mean that, it happens due to people being mislead by capitalists from the west and desire mongers who actively and viciously spread the culture of extreme,gross sense gratification in the name of cultural advancement. Please refrain from misleading ideas. I understand you feel that westerners dont like current culture followed in India, but what about western culture, not so pristine, drugs and alcohol everywhere, same acid attacks, same rapes etc just in a more comfortable environment. So the conclusion should be that all this is happening due to advancement of Kali and not due to vaidic dharma. Vaidic dharma is the only thing that can stop this, which in its apex has the hare krsna maha mantra and materially the varnashrama dharma.

        Also as to why it was invaded, it is very clear in sastra as to why India would be / was invaded. In Kali yuga, people of intelligence , faith and karma in the gunas of tamas and rajas gain prominence over sattva. But suddha sattva can be always engaged no matter what time it is . This is in bhagavadam please.

        • Dattatreya

          ” Lol ”

          ” Please understand whatever you call by the name India is the tract of land where vrindavan and mayapur are designated to be present by Krsna. So better not to disparage bharata khanda. ”

          Besides the fact that ” India ” is a Muslim name for Bharat Khanda , I understand very well that Vrindavan and Mayapur should be the navel of the world …but don’t give me that ” do not find fault ” crap , because that’s what brought down ISKCON !!!

          You want things all black and white , but that’s not how the world works …

          ” So Indians followed a very twisted version of their own culture and many follow still ”

          Precisely … and since bride burning , forced Sati , nor ” Dhalits ” ( and many other things ) , are NOT part of Vedic culture , and I’d appreciate if you didn’t imply that I’m offending Vedic Dharma by pointing out these gross deviations … ( It’s hard enough to try to explain … much less implement true Vedic concepts to your average world citizen , what to speak of completely phoney and horrifying concoctions !!! )

          Of course , Western influence is by and large a destructive force , even when it looks ” cool ” …
          and the 250 million Muslims tolerated in India are not helping the ” Dharmic ” picture either …

          It’s the lack of true Vedic Dharma , and the cowering down to Western influence that I’m pointing out … and rightfully critisizing …

          And … that’s not why India will be invaded ( and each time will be worse ) , according to Shastra , it’s because they’re spreading Mayavadi philosophy ( I thought you knew that much ) !!!

  • Lol

    About the book itself,
    I’d wanted to read this as I heard that there were devotees who are rebelling against management over some book. So i gave it a read a few days back.I found that the book by itself, actually does not have what you call ‘wrong’ statements as I was being lead to believe, rather it looks to be specifically a good asset or tool for an honest man or woman who requires some basic understanding of what is stri dharma and decides to follow , irrespective of where they are, what they do or whether they do it right or not. This in my take is the beauty of the book itself. It is very concise, to the point and can be understood and practiced easily as the author makes it clear that changes may not be forced and can be gradual.

    And I really I don’t really understand what the hullabaloo was about,and the author tells it , quite clear that you can follow what you feel you must and is unlike being forced into something. But he lays down prabhupada’s quotes quite clearly there for all to see, irrespective of he may have said in personal talks, memories (which I like) or some other letters. Now this was interesting since many devotees dont want to follow prabhupada in as much as they want to change his teaching to suit them instead, and this book tells out for all that and feels like a very nice book to have to understand what prabhupada was actuallý like in terms of what he wanted from women in the ideal world (which is what ISKCON must bring about ).

    The problem in my mind seems to be not this book but whether or not devottes actually want to follow or just want a concocted / watered down version of what they can follow and desire to follow instead.

    In my view the author was made a bit of a scapegoat by the GBC etc to show the society what it can do to a person who lets say seems to be a bit against some aspects of how GBC wants Iskcon to be run.

    The funny thing though, is what is happening to some of the current devotees who seem to be getting kind of his treatment from current GBC, is basically the same treatment some of the current crop have gotten used to and rebelled to in the past including being mushroomed out from any say in what is decided.

    It’s also a bit insulting to the intelligence of a reader to ban books, its like saying all of us are children and the top brass know what we have to read, basically because thats what they think is right and tight.

    I believe that most readers in the movement are intelligent enough to separate milk from the malt. Banning it is basically a slap to the author and then the reader for different reasons : for the former for performing anything which seems against the flow of the movement undertaken by authorities. The reasons for the latter is more astounding and plain wrong : GBC feels they are to be guided (or fed or grown up) in a certain way regardless of how an individual may ultimately decide. Basically just plain authoritarianism. And intellectually unsound. The whole thing though leaves very bad taste especially as I saw that there is nothing especially controversial about it after actually reading it. They couldve just let it be.

    Anyway I can remember similar lectures/books from other sannyasis from other mutts like Chandrasekharendra saraswati who wrote about following dharma in general and spoke of similar ideals for women to follow. Keeping that in mind, this seems as practical as it can possibly be for a woman in Iskcon to actually follow stri dharma. Stri dharma is a bit different from dharma of the soul which is to render service to God. But the author makes a valid point that currently we are not fully acting on a spiritual platform, so it would be best to recongnise and follow both bodily dharma and the dharma of the soul in tandem.
    I just found the following in the Gita,’One has to sacrifice everything for the good will of the Supreme Lord, and at the same time discharge prescribed duties without claiming proprietorship’ and

    ‘Kṛṣṇa consciousness helps one to get out of the material entanglement, even though one may be engaged in his prescribed duties in terms of material existence. Therefore, without being fully in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one should not give up his occupational duties. No one should suddenly give up his prescribed duties and become a so-called yogī or transcendentalist artificially. It is better to be situated in one’s position and to try to attain Kṛṣṇa consciousness under superior training. Thus one may be freed from the clutches of Kṛṣṇa’s māyā..

    Both of these are in chapter 3 in the gita somewhere near verse 35 in purport. These are very clear that men must follow varnashrama dharma and matajis have to follow stri dharma, conducive to spiritual advancement and people, atleast in India tend to like it.
    But then again, westerners may feel different, due to cultural differences that are innate due to upbringing/ subtle bodies etc.

    Ultimately atleast as a society we have misjudged how ISKCON is to be represented in India, and basically just mirroring the west and even some westernised cities in other Indian locality would be its own undoing.

    Wow that was a big comment, didn’t plan to. Sorry for that.

    • Lila Kirtana dasa

      Very nice and also sane. I find BVKS to be honest and sincere and not duplicitous in his dealings and talks. Also he acts as a gentleman and doesn’t compromise the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. The world needs more notable devotees as he is. Hare Krishna.

  • Mukunda Das

    ” I don’t really understand what the hullabaloo was about ”

    It’s about that … milk touched by the lips of a serpent becomes poisonous !!!

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