I got to the point in the NA GBC letter where I fail to understand the grounds for criticism of the book Women: Masters or Mothers completely. I just can’t find any KC justification for it here. See for yourself:
“16. Whereas on page 114, he discusses how career minded women panic by age thirty and want to get married but “no one want to marry them because the men want beautiful young girls, not worn out thirty-year olds who have already been used so many times.”**”
The asterisk points to the following footnote:
“2. **pg. 114 statement about 30 year old women his is such a slanderous statement that along with the statement on page 15 regarding ‘pristine Vedic culture’ as being Srila Prabhupada’s primary objective and along with advocating child marriage from age five years, should be regarded as sufficient cause to prevent this book from sale or distribution in or around any NA ISKCON center, project, or ISKCON sponsored program.)”
And the statement on page 15, which I discussed in the beginning of this series, is this:
“5. Whereas beginning on page 15 it is stated:
“But a major objective of Srila Prabhupada’s misson was to, as far as possible, reestablish pristine Vedic culture-including early marriage), polygamy and a non-egalitarian social system. (*which he later establishes as age five years for female children);
There’s no closing quotation marks and so we can only guess that Bhakti Vikāsa Svami’s sentence end on “social system” but then why there’s a closing “)” between early marriage and polygamy? Who put it there and where is it’s opening counterpart? Emphasis is also probably not from the book itself.
Anyway, the main gripe here seems to be the word “major” qualifying priority of establishing varṇāśrama, and “pristine Vedic culture” here is certainly varṇāśrama and nothing else. I guess there are still holdouts somewhere in ISKCON who don’t think varṇāśrama is important but after all Prahhupāda wrote and said about it, after all our experiments with Hare Kṛṣṇa farms including New Vrindavana or French New Mayapur, I just don’t understand where these people are coming from and why they forbid to speak for varṇāśrama with such vigor.
The “major” in the text became “primary” in the call for the ban of the book, btw – “‘pristine Vedic culture’ as being Srila Prabhupada’s primary objective”. This makes it sound that for Bhakti Vikāsa Svami chanting and saṅkīrtana are less important than varṇāśrama but he said no such thing. We need varṇāśrama so that we can chant in peace and without deviation – that’s what any proponent of it would say here. They often refer to the famous conversation with Satsvarūpa Dāsa Gosvāmī and Hari Śauri:
Hari-śauri: But in Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s practical preaching He only induced them to chant.
Prabhupāda: That is not possible for ordinary man.
Prabhupāda: Chanting will go on. That is not stopped. But at the same time the varṇāśrama-dharma must be established to make the way easy.
Hari-śauri: Well, at least my own understanding was that the chanting was introduced in the age of Kali because varṇāśrama is not possible.
Hari-śauri: So therefore the chanting was introduced to replace all of the systems of varṇāśrama and like that.
Prabhupāda: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? The… People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura to chant, it is not possible.
That’s all there is to it, really. We can’t have high thinking without simple living and we need regulated life in the mode of goodness to concentrate our minds on chanting. Who would argue against that? That’s where I just can’t follow the letter writer at all, she must have read this conversation a thousand times, varṇāśrama proponents never fail to bring it up.
Another reason for banning the book mentioned in the footnote is the discussion about panicking thirty year old women who want to get married but no one would take them because men want younger girls, not worn-outs who have been used so many times.
What’s the outrage here? It’s common knowledge that it’s nearly impossible for women in their thirties to get married. Helpful google offers an answer to the suggested query “odds of getting married after 30”:
“The Marriage Crunch” was based on a study by Harvard and Yale researchers that projected college-educated women had a 20 percent chance of getting married if they were still single at 30, a 5 percent chance at age 35, and just a 2.6 percent chance at age 40.
What’s there to argue? Maybe that these women don’t panic? Other google results are filled with enticements from match making sites specifically targeting people in their thirties so the need is clearly there. If women of 35 with only 5% chance to get married are not panicking then it’s only due to the cover of illusion or reluctance to admit severity of their situation.
What’s Mahārāja’s fault in all this anyway? Part of his statement is an indictment of men who don’t want to marry worn out thirty year olds, btw. Maybe the objection is to women being called worn out and used but how else can you describe them if you are being honest? How many sexual partners have they had by the age of thirty? Google tells four and it probably means serious relationships. Of course “experienced” would be a more diplomatic word but men are not looking for this kind of experience in their wives, maybe in prostitutes but definitely not wives.
To be fair, I don’t think Mahārāja’s statement describes men correctly there but that is of no concern to his critics and he is not chastised for that.
Another thing is that this statement sounds like something Prabhupāda would have said himself but I’m not in the mood to search for a suitable quote right now. He didn’t have many kind words for the modern society and it’s sexual freedoms, that’s for sure. When his disciples continuing this line of attack they are continuing his legacy and they hardly ever overdo it, imo. Even if they occasionally do it’s at least clear where they are coming from while I’m absolutely puzzled how their criticism can be supported by anything taught in our books. It’s not supported even by Google.
The only explanation I have is the wounded ego. Then every little thing starts to be taken personally and as greatly offensive. I’m not a thirty year old woman with heavy sexual baggage trying to find one true love and maintaining the image of chastity. If I were I might have been offended, too, so I can’t criticize those who are. What is clear to me is that while the reaction might be justified from material point of view it doesn’t have any spiritually solid reasons for it.