Continuing with objections to the book Women: Masters or Mothers listed in that letter. It gets weirder and weirder, and I’m not talking about this particular letter but about what “feminists” in our movement find objectionable in general.
Btw, I don’t believe we have actual feminists in ISKCON, just devotees who want to accommodate some nontraditional aspirations. They are not demons in disguise of vaiṣṇavas, they are just trying to do the best with what the material nature has dealt them. It’s not like they chose what society to be born in and what influences it would have over them. Well, we can say they deserved it through their karma but let’s not forget that Kṛṣṇa is protecting them from making real mistakes every step of the way. Maybe that’s why they haven’t completly taken over yet, who knows.
For now I’m just having fun with the what ticks them off. To be fair, the traditional way of life promoted in the book looks unreal, too. I generally agree with what Bhakti Vikāsa Svami says there but it’s just too far from “reality” as I see it. Both sides are too far out.
“11. Whereas on page 109 he lays square blame on feminism/women for breeding generations of angry children who are attracted to cruelty, substance abuse and criminality. He suggests there might be a link between school shootings and the culture of selfishness whereby women are encouraged to neglect their children, although he doesn’t say by who;”
What’s so outrageous here? What has this observation got against Kṛṣṇa consciousness? It follows from the first chapter of Bhagavad Gītā where Arjuna warned us about unwanted progeny. To prevent it women are supposed to be under protection at all times while feminists argue that they can take care of themselves better. Who else but the feminists pushed for women’s independence? “… he doesn’t say by who” – does it really need to be spelled out? “They” do it, you know – feminists and atheists promoting an alternative, secular society based on their own norms and morality. Who else promotes acceptance of divorce, serial monogamy, and single parenting, or putting one’s own career ahead of the family? Christians? Of course not. The question in the letter should be rhetorical but somehow the author took it seriously.
“12. Whereas page 111 we are reminded that that “Formerly, the girl would be married ro a suitable boy at a very early age, say six years old.” Then,further down the same page, he states “So every woman should be married and the sooner the better.”
“13. Whereas on page 112 he outright advocates marriage of a disciple’s 5 year old daughter;”
What’s the problem here? Apart from the exact age there’s no argument that Śrīla Prabhupāda was in favor of early marriage. All throughout his books, letters and conversations it comes up time and time again, including the example of his own life. I can’t understand on what grounds this objection is even raised. Mind boggling. Yes, five year old sounds a bit too early even by what Prabhupāda used to say but I’m sure Mahārāja has a supporting quote for it and he didn’t think it up himself. The idea is that the girl should know who her husband is or going to be as early as possible so that she can keep her mind steady and not measure all the boys in her life for how much enjoyment she could possibly extract from their company. Chastity is as much mental as it is a physical concept and girls married off early are not supposed to physically consummate their marriage until they are truly ready to have a child. It’s not about sex but about controlling one’s mind. I’m pretty sure it is explained in the book itself, it must be.
I don’t know who that disciple was and what was the situation there. Quite possibly it’s not going to work unless all other conditions are met, too. In this day and age it’s nearly impossible to protect girls from association with other men and once that association is there there will be attraction and once the attraction is there they will see their marriage as obsolete and invalid. All they need to do is to post their story on Facebook and there will be so much support for their “freedom” that they will definitely leave their husbands and ISKCON will get a black eye for promoting pedophilia or something.
If we force these early marriages but then they fall flat with huge scandals for everybody, would it be a really good idea to have them in the first place? I’m pretty sure Mahārāja is aware of these potential pitfalls and knows what he is doing but I can also see how the other side might think it’s totally crazy. It makes us look like a cult. Kṛṣṇa probably doesn’t care but the mainstream society would and it would create problems in our preaching. If we do it we better do it right, see things through, and show people sustainable results.
“14. Whereas on page 113 he attributes all sorts of medical ailments, including breast cancer, to not having a child (even males contract breast cancer)”
True or not, this particular statement has nothing to do with Kṛṣṇa consciousness and it doesn’t show Mahārāja deviating from our philosophy in any way. Women are meant to bear children, if they don’t do that there might be consequences and there must be studies and statistics. It might go either way, I don’t know. Mahārāja probably read something supporting his position, why should he be chastised for that?
“15. Whereas further on page 113-114 he advocates marriage at puberty, having a chld by age 14 and if it is a female child, then expect to very soon be a grandmother;”
In the UK, where Mahārāja is from, 40% of girls lose their virginity by the age of 15. That’s just a fact. What’s better for these girls form KC point of view? Should we try to keep them from sex as long as possible and eventually lose this unwinnable battle? Should we teach them about contraception and having “safe sex”? Or should we accept that they already have sexual urges and are capable of carrying a child? From KC point of view the answer is obvious – get married as soon as possible and if they can’t stay without sex then they should have children. I wonder what is the “feminist” answer to this problem. I strongly suspect it’s going along with modern norms and not thinking about marriage and children until after the college. That would clearly be non-Vedic and against Prabhupāda’s teachings. Maybe they offer another solution but I’ve never heard of it yet.
Once again, trying to set up a Vedic society in modern times is going to be challenging and I don’t believe it’s possible at all. We need to be more like Amish to succeed but then we can forget about preaching and getting billions of people to chant the holy name. Ultimately, chanting is the yuga dharma, not varṇāśrama. We can’t have varṇāśrama at the expense of preaching and this means it must be only in supporting role and necessary compromises must be made, possibly on things like polygamy and early marriages. Neither of the sides in this debate can have it all going their way, they all have to give up at least something.