On Sahajiya

What does sahajiya mean today? I was just listening to a class and the speaker said that there are some traditional sahajiyas still present, meaning those who believe proper sex leads to attaining real rasa. Okay, but in another part of the same class they talked about attaining this same real rasa through immersing into emotions evoked by discussing rasa pastimes. The speaker posed questions like “How would it make YOU feel?” when describing gopis first meeting with Krishna, for example, and he elicited audience responses. It’s a typical tactic, btw, not just a one off occurrence in this type of classes.

It’s at this point that I fail to see principal difference between engaging in touching and kissing, which is a big part of the same lila, and imagining how it would feel in one’s mind. One is gross sex and the other is subtle, so what’s the difference? It’s not like people can see Krishna in their minds during these re-enactments, they imagine a person imbued with their ordinary perceptions of how men should behave and they just call him “Krishna”. How’s that not ascribing spiritual qualities to mundane objects and emotions, which is also a definition of sahajiya?

The argument could be that these devotees are not encouraged to imagine how kissing and touching feels but I don’t think this breaking up of the pastime is valid. How the gopis feel when the see Krishna is intrinsically connected to how they touch Him. The feeling, moreover, is contained within the touch and the touch is contained within the look they cast upon Him. Both are parts of the same rasa, just expressed differently. It’s like, pardon me for the gross example, avowing to abstain from sex but going step by step through foreplay, except in one’s mind.

Traditional sahajiyas get this unity of looks and touches and they come to actual sex by starting from the discussion of feelings first – just like the devotees are encouraged to do here, except they are expected to stop their imagination when it reaches a certain point, which is not yet defined. I can see how they could allow imagining how touching Krishna’s feet feels, and maybe even touching His hand, but probably not the kiss. The exact red line is to be determined, and then possibly moved as practitioners reach a new level of maturity. I also believe traditional sahajiyas took several hundred years to get to actual sex as embodiment of rasa-lila. I also don’t see how it could end up any differently either – as long as “rasa” expressed through material mind is nourishing the practitioner. At some point they would put this direct experience above any sastric injunctions, too. And we should remember that traditional sahajiyas do not see their rasa-lila sex as mundane either, they see, feel, and are absolutely convinced that it’s the epitome of spiritual reality. They do not see their bodies, they look beyond them, they see Krishna and the gopis instead. I’m sure it also makes them very happy and there is nothing in this world that can convince them otherwise. I said “in this world” because, as our acharyas explained, they have no access to actual spiritual rasa which is also the only object that can defeat their misconception.

This is where this sahajiya discussion makes a full circle, inexplicably – by indulging in material things and feelings people go all the way away from spiritual reality but in the end they try to look beyond matter and see the same spirit they have been running away from. Does it make it into an actual circle? It’s not supposed to, but there is an arch bending towards this meeting point from the spiritual world, too – Radha and Krishna come to this world to be human, not to be spiritual. For some reasons I’m not going to discuss here, They feel that expressing themselves through what looks like ordinary matter gives Them a better thrill than hanging out in Goloka only. The point is that rasa IS best expressed through material bodies for Them. The counterpoint is that we are not Them and even if we might be gopis in the spiritual world, none of us is Krishna. In this way the circle can never be complete, it just comes to someone getting closer and closer to imitating Krishna, but it will never be the same thing. This deserves a separate article, really, so let’s get back to the topic at hand.

There is an argument that by discussing Krishna’s amorous pastimes our own lust will be extinguished but I first would love to see an explanation, preferably backed by experience, of how it works. Otherwise lust can be extinguished by chanting Hare Krishna, too, and Srila Prabhupada was absolutely convinced of that. Somehow we manage to screw it – because we are not chanting it right, obviously. I think the same should apply to rasa-katha as well – first we need to learn how to do it right, not just dive headfirst without having a clue how it works and what we are actually doing.

Another, closely related subject, is that the same speakers often collate restrictive village life that tied gopis to their husbands with conservative devotees in ISCKON and compare gopis breaking away from those social norms with ISKCON progressives who want no restrictions on women leading kirtans, giving classes, accepting disciples, getting education, having careers etc etc.

To this my objection is that no matter what gopis felt inside and discussed among each other they never failed to follow these rules in public. Starting a campaign to change these rules was unthinkable, too. I mean is this what these devotees would do as soon as they get to Goloka? Start changing everything to fit with their ideas of what is correct behavior? Do they see imperfections in Vrindavan? Are they also going to tell Brahma to redesign people’s eyes just because gopis complained about it?

Connection to the earlier discussion on sahajiya is this – why do they assume that their upheaval against conservative views is purely spiritual in nature and not just some mundane emotion caused by following mundane news and mundane examples of mundane activism? Aren’t they assigning spiritual rasa to objects of this world again?

“Women are less intelligent”

One female devotee volunteered a comment on this statement. She said she carefully considered it from different angles of vision and her conclusion is that it doesn’t make sense. Umm. This by itself is proof that women are less intelligent, sorry to say. She doesn’t have enough intelligence to understand how this shastric statement is correct. What more needs to be proven?

Seriously, though, first she looked at modern day women and concluded that they are no less intelligent then men. Because there are female devotees in GBC now, was the argument. Okay, but getting on GBC is not a big intellectual achievement and it doesn’t speak about average intelligence anyway. I thought of another test – how many female Sanskrit scholars are in our movement? How many female devotees bother to learn Sanskrit? How many can give in-depth explanations of slokas and words and demonstrate different shades of meanings? I can’t think of any. I’m sure there are female students of Sanskrit somewhere but no one has noticed them and their intelligence so that their names become known throughout our society. Rupa Goswami wrote about a hundred thousand Sanskrit verses – comparable to the size of Mahabharata. Do we know of any female devotees who achieved anything close to that? This is taking us into history, however, which was the second argument.

Draupadi and Kunti Devi were undoubtedly very intelligent women and they were used as the examples in the video. Who is going to argue that they were lacking intelligence? That would be suicidal. And yet we can compare their intelligence with that Maharaja Yudhisthira, who was ruling the entire world. With the help of his younger brothers. I’m sure he occasionally received wise council from Draupadi, too, and most certainly from his mother Kunti, but I don’t remember anyone suggesting that these women were as qualified to make decisions as Maharaya Yudhisthira himself. We can also remember a couple of episodes, like Kunti Devi getting pregnant with Karna – where was her intelligence then? Of course it was an easy and a natural mistake but I would guess that on average male students were not as careless with invoking mantras. There is, of course, a famous incident of the son of Samika Rishi cursing Maharaja Pariksit but he was a young boy and his lack of intelligence in this matter was exceptional, too.

Another episode we can consider is punishment of Asvatthama when Draupadi suddenly brought up the plight of Asvatthama’s mother. For men who just emerged from the war in which millions perished that should not have been a consideration at all (meaning not intelligent) but eventually her suggestion was incorporated into punishment. Which brings us to a different point – there are different kinds of intelligence. Men excel at some, women excel at others.

Okay, let’s consider that. Usually by intelligence we mean something that can be measured by IQ, but there is also EQ testing and let’s agree with studies that show women, on average, have higher EQ scores. What should concern us more, however, is definition of intelligence used by shastra and Srila Prabhupada. EQ did not exist back then. I think we can agree with the basic premise of intelligence as the ability to make spiritual progress and for that one needs to see the difference between matter and spirit and, more importantly, control his mind. Women are not very good at that. They are better at getting what they want but it’s the opposite of mind control, actually.

Ideally, strong intelligence means one understands things as they are, understand their relative values, and so the mind does not get attracted to that which has no value. In other words, strong intelligence means no anarthas – literally things of no value. By definition women are “stri” – those who expand the field of enjoyment, and that is anartha by itself, a not so intelligent thing to do.

This is not to say that men are free from this anartha – far from it.  In our psyche both male and female natures are mixed in different proportions at different levels, that’s why we usually alternate male and female births when gross body grows out of the subtle one, allowing for these changes, so there are plenty of “stri” elements in men’s mental make ups, too, they just haven’t become “gross” yet. On average, however, there are less there in men just as there are less pillows on bachelor’s beds. Some women have less than some men and for every man there is always a woman who is more intelligent than him in any aspect of intelligence, but, on average, women don’t do renunciation very well. Neither do modern men, of course, but the innate capacity is there and we better find the way to use it. Otherwise what’s the point of being a man?

At the same time we should be honest with ourselves and not try to pretend to be better then we really are. There is no place for pretense in devotional service.

Here is the video again. I haven’t watched it until the end, perhaps I’ll modify my opinion once I hear more. I just found it ironic how a female declares that she honestly can’t understand how she has lesser capacity for understanding things.

Vanity thought #1633. Indians are on it, too

Feminism is traditionally a western invention but it’s on the rise in India, too, albeit in their own peculiar forms. Perhaps we can’t cite India as an example of proper attitudes to various female related issues any longer.

It was only a couple of years ago when Indian GBC strongly opposed female dīkṣa guru decision by Śāstric Advisory Committee. They practically threatened to ignore implementation of this particular rule in their zone. I don’t know how much effect their opposition had in the end, every year we can expect some new announcements from Māyāpura meetings but so far it has been quiet on FDG front. Maybe they’ll spring a surprise for us this time, who knows, there’s a new push for it I wanted to address separately.

Indian GBC might be strong in their convictions but not the Indian public. The most popular guru there at the moment is a woman, I’ve heard, the one that gives free hugs, so if we do have female gurus in ISKCON it won’t be seen as something outrageous by the public at large. We are obviously are not going to judge our decisions by public reactions but we can’t appeal to Indian masses any more either.

India is undergoing one of the biggest transformations in its history, perhaps on par with getting used to be part of a British Empire. They’ve been modernizing themselves for over a century but this is the first time when India is getting truly plugged into the global economy and global way of life. Up until twenty years or so ago they modernized at their own pace, they had their own industry, their own cars, their own entertainment etc. To westerners it all looked clownish, from their Ambassador cars to their obsession with “Number 1” proclamations in their advertising. Then came the internet and Windows 95, and the rest is history.

They had no western brands or supermarkets or shopping malls at all. No McDonalds, no Toyotas, only Coca-Cola and SevenUp. With the internet and with Indians getting thousands of jobs at western software companies they suddenly learned what they have been missing, government eased related regulations and westernization began in earnest, and with it came western values of rights and freedoms.

Newly minted middle class credit western attitudes as much as western economical model for their prosperity. If one wants to work in a multinational company, for example, one has to project a fitting image, has to have proper aspirations, pursue proper goals, share proper values, and, generally, appear non-different from job applicants in the west. If one plays the ball he gets rewards and so naturally feels validated in his beliefs so now we have half a billion people who think they are middle class and so have to stand by middle class values. The actual number of middle income people is about 2% there but I’m talking about self-perception and self-identification which is more important for my case.

Gender equality is one of the most fundamental of those values and “middle class” women there see their roles and duties differently from the tradition we in ISKCON expect from Indians. Nope, they want education, they want career opportunities, they want to be professionally successful, they want it all. I don’t want to look up stats on birth rates or marriage rates, they might not look so bad yet but the point is that women have become very assertive there.

Then we had a couple of bad rape stories that agitated public not only in India but around the world and women there thought they had to assert themselves even more. They demand safety, which should be provided, of course, but the problem is that they demand it and they demand it not from their traditional protectors – fathers and husbands, but from the government, from the society, from random men on the streets, or that it should simply be there. They demonstrate with banners, march up and down the streets, stage PR events, protest, make noise – all the kinds of things we’d expect from politicized western public pushing for their democratic rights. There’s nothing traditional about it at all. We can’t say “in India women…” any more. Maybe on some issues they still keep traditional attitudes but not on the issue of their power.

They tasted it, it tasted good and they want more of it, there’s no turning back. Everything they do is right and everything they want is righteous. Whoever or whatever gets in their sights needs to comply or cease and desist.

Just like with adopting western business models and western science they adopt western atheism, too. I mean they value their rational thinking and logic above śāstra and tradition even though they still go to the temples. That’s their peculiarity – they are too afraid to give up their “superstitions” but at the same time they want to be all rational about them.

A year ago I wrote several posts on the move PK, which I think is still the most popular Indian movie of all times, and the main message of that movie was that we should rationally re-examine our gurus and sādhus and weed out “wrong number” ones. Who would argue against expunging cheaters from the temples and positions of religious authorities they so clearly don’t deserve?

However noble goal that is, they are going about it the wrong way – on the basis of their own speculations of what “right” religion should be, not on the basis of śāstra or tradition. Driven by the mode of passion they will never achieve satisfactory results, however. In the beginning it feels great but only because they get what they want, not because what they want works.

BBC just gifted us this little gem of Indian feminism gone unhinged – they are demanding entrance to the temples that are traditionally closed to women. I don’t know the exact reasons why it is so, there must be more than cited in the article, but even a simple “This deity is a brahmacārī and He does not associate with women” should be enough to put restriction on what female worshipers can and cannot do in that temple. Some demanding the right to touch the deity, for example. Just look at their arguments:

“Ms Desai – who describes herself as a “practising, believing Hindu” – says it is her “constitutional right” to enter any temple and blames patriarchy for keeping women out.
“These are man-made traditions. God does not differentiate between man and woman. He was born of a woman too,” she says.”

Seriously? Constitutional right to enter any temple? What about that particular deity’s right not to allow women inside? Does the constitution cover that right, too? At least it’s put in quotation marks so this Ms Desai might no be really serious about constitution.

The rant about man-made traditions is incomprehensible, too. How does she know and why does she think that her current demand is what God wanted all along and not her man-made concoction. Oh, wait, maybe she means man-made as opposite to woman-made. In any case, whatever she wants is right and whoever stands in her way is wrong.

They want to worship God, okay, but they do not believe God had communicated the way He should be worshiped or that He controls His servants, or that He has His representatives, or that it’s God who ultimately enforces His rules. It’s atheism pure and simple, never mind that they want to practice it while going to the temples.

Sadly, we are losing an important ally in trying to either build varṇāśrama or preserve whatever is left of it. It looks like if anything will ever get better in this regard it will get a lot worse first.

Vanity thought #1516. Debatable value

A few days ago I said, regarding Chopra-Dawkins debate, that these debates don’t change anybody’s opinion but only confirm one’s previously held biases. Actually, it was Chopra who said it, but I concurred. Checking with atheists, however, they quickly gave an example of the debate that worked – on the value of the Catholic Church.

The motion was that Catholic Church is a force for good and two sides argued for and against it. The audience was polled before the debate started and votes were collected at the end again. Here’s the link to the results. Roughly the third of the audience changed their minds, and if you look at the numbers closely, more “Catholics” changed their minds and voted against their church then undecideds. It was a clear victory for the atheism.

It is possible that some undecideds or those originally against switched to the Catholic side, too, but that would need even more Catholics to change their minds and vote against to balance them out. Some might have become newly undecided but the number of remaining undecideds was very insignificant, less that 1.5%, so it doesn’t change the overall result in any way.

So, what happened? Does it mean that mine and Chopra’s assertion that debates don’t work is wrong? Well, of course it’s not absolutely correct, the better wording would be “debates don’t show results instantly”. Some people fortify their positions, for some they start to erode and this process might take a very long time but some effect must be there, every action must bring some reaction. Even when we, as devotees, expose ourselves to atheistic arguments we must face some sort of contamination. We might feel like our Kṛṣṇa conscious arguments became validated but simple exposure to alternative views opens the possibility that they might be valid, too. Association matters, it affects us no matter what, so we should always be aware of the risk, and we can take it only in service to the mission of Lord Caitanya, not for any other reason.

Still, even in modified form the assertion doesn’t hold in this particular case. Is it an exception? Was it a particularly bad performance by the losing side? Or should my rule be modified? Well, obviously it needs modification to account for exceptions such as this. And it was an exception – it’s from six years ago, the only case that atheists could muster from hundreds if not thousands of debates widely available on youtube. In fact, when this discussion started, both atheists and believers agreed that we should not expect an instant change of mind, and no one could explain this case (or rather they didn’t even try).

Okay, it was an exception, exceptions are said to prove the rules, but the exact meaning of this saying can be contested. Originally, it was “to test the rule”, not prove it, and another meaning could that “proves that rule exists”, not that the rule is true. In any case, an exception is not a cause to freak out but rather an opportunity for deeper examination of the nature. So, what made this debate particularly bad for the Catholic Church?

One thing that needs to be mentioned that it’s possible the count was rigged. Not by the organizers but by the devious atheists (all atheists are devious by our definition). They could have known that “before and after” vote was going to take place and they could have initially stated their position as pro-Catholics only to change it to anti-Catholic later. It could have been as easy to organize as a flash mob. I don’t think these people were responsible for all the 700+ switched votes, though. Something else mush have gone very wrong for Catholics there.

Next question – how catholic were those Catholics to begin with? It is unthinkable that a person who dedicated his whole life to the church would, in just two hours, change his opinion on such a fundamental matter – is his church good or bad? And if they did change their minds so suddenly, was it a lasting change or only an instantaneous reflex to the mountain of accusations heaped on them during this debate? Would they change their minds back if they watched it again or thought deeply about it? Possibly.

Neither I nor Chopra nor numerous atheists and believers alike have any solid studies and numbers to support our view that debates don’t matter much in the short term but it doesn’t mean that we must accept any kind of quantified proof as an overriding evidence. It is evidence, we add it to the wealth of our experience, but don’t expect it to outweigh everything else that was stored there in the course of our lives. We can just dismiss it as a freaky accident and nether speak of it again – which would only confirm our rule – biases are extremely hard to overturn.

Speaking of numbers – there are studies showing that to overturn one bad impression one must counterbalance it with seven good ones. Applied to this particular debate every unpleasant fact about Catholic Church must have been given seven positive ones to balance it out, perhaps seven times more time must have been given to pro-Church speakers, but that was not the format, of course.

There’s another psychological fact that people tend to trust those saying negative things more, they assume that those criticizing are smarter than those praising. Psychologists might have explanations for this, too, but the fact stands, and it should have been accounted for by debate organizers.

The way the motion was put, “Is Catholic Church a force for good in the world?”, immediately made it into good vs bad argument, meaning making it emotionally charged and thus governed by rules other than reason and logic. It’s not what the organizers intended, of course, but something they clearly overlooked. Well, the moderator was a woman and no matter how smart they appear, they are not generally very intelligent. In this case the moderator was brilliant, witty, and had a very good control over the speakers and the audience, but this one slip on framing the discussion probably ruined it for all, and it seems for all eternity, too – since people still keep quoting it.

Would have a male moderator spotted it? Not guaranteed, of course, but in this case it was a female. Were there any males on the organizing committee – very likely, but since they gave the moderating job to a woman they were also very likely to have been captivated by her charms and considerable wit, and thus they lost their intelligence, too.

Here’s what I think we all miss about this “women have less intelligence” adage – men mixing with women are equally stupid, there’s no difference anymore. That’s why Lord Caitanya told us to avoid BOTH equally. In the contemporary society there are no independent men left, they are all willfully beholden to women, and so when feminists say that men’s superior intelligence is a myth they are absolutely right – as far as they can see.

The organizers of this debate should have stayed clear of inappropriate association with women but they probably didn’t and fell for the charms of their chosen moderator.

There was something else that I thought was odd about this debate but it escapes me now. I’m not going to dissect it statement by statement like I did with Chopra-Dawkins, it was two hours long, but I still want to cover important points, not necessarily in the content but implicitly assumed ones, like the unfortunate framing of the question or giving the moderating job to a woman. They all affected the outcome and if we continue to miss them they will affect the outcomes in the future, too. We should be able to spot and avoid such setups ourselves.

Vanity thought #962. A couple of wrong assumptions

Yesterday I missed an important point when discussing proper reaction to TV show Cosmos. First of all, before we think about anything else, we should remember that there’s no TV show Cosmos, there’s no Neil DeGrasse Tyson presenting arguments for us to consider, there’s no Carl Sagan to pay tributes to – none of those things actually exist.

Let me clarify – we should not see those arguments as having separate, independent existence. While there surely is a separate living entity in the body of NDT and previously there was a soul in the body of Carl Sagan, their external appearances are illusory.

Illusion is real, of course, so both NDT and CS exist and can very well smack us on the head with a shoe, but their existence is not independent.

While in a conditioned stage we identify ourselves with a particular body and we allow the same identification to everyone else. This makes us perceive ourselves as separate, independent doers and thinkers, and then we afford the same right to others, too, but that’s just an illusion.

We see a line between forces of nature and our own lives. We know that we can control certain things but we don’t control the rest of the world. We think that we are in charge of our bodies, other people are in charge of their bodies, and God is in charge of the universe (or natural laws are in charge, according to NDT).

There are two steps to escape this illusion.

First step is when we see that other people are not as independent as they seem or as they imagine themselves to be. This means that they can be influence, this means their behavior is predictable, this means that God is in control of their lives just as He is in control of the dead matter.

Some would become manipulative once they realize that but as devotees we should see other people bringing us results of our own karma.

At this stage we should already see that there are no NDT’s arguments – there are only impressions on ourselves that we have fully deserved before. We might feel offended, we might feel validated, we might feel agitated, we might feel inspired – all those reactions are ours, they do not depend on arguments themselves nor do they depend on Cosmos presenter.

How we feel about the show has nothing to do with the show itself but only with what we deserve to feel due to our karma.

This means we should react to ourselves, not to the show and not to NDT. Whatever the show makes us feel, there’s a Kṛṣṇa conscious response to it as well. If we feel confused – there are books to read or questions to ask. If we feel like the show is misleading the general public – there are people to preach to, and so on.

This is just the first step, however. The second step is to realize that not only the show is following the directions of the karma and thus have no independent existence but that we ourselves do not have independent existence, too.

We can be perfectly content with everyone else being an agent of the illusion but that is false complacency, we should also accept that our own existence is an agent of the same illusion, too. The same force that controls the universe, that controls how other beings affect us, also controls our own existence as we imagine ourselves here.

The reactions in our mind and intelligence in response to the show are not our own, they are fully under control of the same karma and the same material nature that produces it. When we think we can choose how to respond – it’s an illusion.

We will respond according to our previous experience and knowledge and according to the situation. Our intelligence will reach into its bank of memories and our mind will express predictable desires – retaliate, defend, praise, compromise, agree, disagree.

The only difference we can make is to behave as devotees of the Lord. If we have that attitude of service then it doesn’t matter how our mind and body responds, it will all be beautiful and purifying.

So, before thinking HOW to respond to this show we should surrender ourselves to the Lord and let Lord’s agent, the material nature, take over and do whatever it thinks is necessary. Our job is to be Kṛṣṇa’s servants and do not try to control the world around us, nor try to control our own bodies.

That’s a very important point that needs further elucidation but I’m not ready for it yet.

Second misapprehension I wanted to discuss today is completely unrelated, it’s about that dreaded Female Guru issue.

One big (and some say the only) driving force behind this issue is women’s desire for equality. I will talk about it from this angle, discarding all other considerations for the moment.

Modern civilization has gone a very long way towards “liberating” women from their traditional position of being their husbands’ servants. We might not like but this is the reality we can’t change even in our own society.

Some of our female devotees might aspire for traditional Vedic roles but clearly not all of them do, to say the least. They argue, quite rightfully, that men fail at their duties, cannot offer protection, cannot even offer proper maintenance, so there’s no other way for women but to take charge of their own lives themselves.

Women need to have jobs and their own income even if they contribute it all to the family pool, these days everyone has to work. With jobs come interests and careers. We cannot deny this to women, too. Many of them are very skillful and powerful and we can’t demand that they stay at home and do the dishes, it’s just not happening.

It’s completely natural and we should not try to stop it but rather engage these propensities in the correct way. So, why do I object to women being gurus then? By gurus I mean traveling preachers who lead many disciples and control many projects, I’m not talking about initiations just yet.

The answer is surprisingly simple – women might have become powerful and capable but it doesn’t mean these capabilities are conducive to spiritual realization.

We can say – look at this woman, she can do a very big and important job, just let her.

This proposal, however, sneakily imposes a value on power and capacity that is just not there. For Kṛṣṇa it doesn’t matter – big or small. It only matters to someone in the material consciousness where bigger is better. As devotees we should be indifferent.

Will being a boss of a large corporation be of any value to the Lord? No. It will impress us, sure, but from the point of view of devotion it has no use whatsoever.

So, when women argue for getting more rights because they can do bigger things it sounds like a reasonable demand only to those caught in the material illusion. As devotees we should not allow ourselves to undermine our principles so easily. If people want to do bigger things it means they want to be in bigger illusion, they want to be bigger controllers. Why should we encourage them? Why should we support such aspirations? They are fundamentally undevotional.

Now, if women devotees have other, legitimate reasons that’s fine, today I only wanted to talk about this little incorrect assumption – that doing bigger things is unquestionably better.

Not only we should see through this ourselves but we should also help women be aware of this false assumption. We all know they want to do things, big things, important things, and I doubt we can ever stop them but it does not automatically mean that it will make them into better devotees.

There’s a lot more that can be discussed after realizing this point but let’s take it one step at a time.

Vanity thought #942. Scratching the itch

For the past couple of days I’ve been writing about woes of feminism, how it destroys lives of women and children. My conclusion was that feminism is irrational and that modern society, which prides itself on following the scientific method, fails to implement logic and reason but acts rather out of strong attachment to self-destructing ideas.

Seeing people doing this to themselves immediately irritates the itch to start blaming them for their stupidity and lecturing them on what to do. Should we scratch that itch? What are our solutions anyway? Do we know how to run this world better?

As devotees we spend a significant amount of time castigating materialists for all their faults. We need to hear this in order to break our own bond with and trust in science. We also need to know this because it’s the truth about this world, materialism IS an erroneous philosophy and we need to know how it is so. We also have example of Śrila Prabhupāda who loved to berate scientists and call them rascals and other names, so it’s legit.

Or maybe not – we are not in the same position as Śrila Prabhupāda, his heart was free of envy and his criticism did not affect his ego, did not make him feel superior himself. This could be the area were we should follow footsteps but not imitate. We need to know how materialism is wrong but we should be careful about effect of this knowledge on ourselves. If it makes us proud we should stop and change our attitudes and direction of our attacks.

Materialists might be wrong about many things but they are also sensitive towards hypocrisy, they can smell self-aggrandizement a mile away and so our preaching can quickly become counterproductive. Śrila Prabhupāda could get away with it but we cannot. He once said that this is the natural advantage of children and old men – they can say anything and go anywhere.

There’s also one very instructive verse in this regard (SB 11.28.1)

    One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.

This was spoken by Kṛṣṇa Himself so it’s as authoritative as possible. We can try to explain how Śrila Prabhupāda complied with this instruction while ostensibly criticizing materialists but we should not try to find a wiggle room for ourselves.

So, when we see materialists doing something wrong it should not be an excuse to criticize them, we shouldn’t scratch that itch.

Okay, what about offering solutions? In case of feminism it’s very simple – there shouldn’t be any to begin with, it’s a non-Vedic concoction and it can’t be fixed, it must be abandoned. We need varṇāśrama instead.

Women should act according to their nature, ie be raised and trained to become nurturing mothers, not try to imitate and compete with men. To me it doesn’t even need quotes from Manu samhita or any other Vedic literature, it seems like a perfectly reasonable solution on its own strength. If materialists want science, there’s a game theory which, according to wikipedia, is meant for intelligent and rational decision makers, and which calls for men and women to adopt different roles for the sake of mutual benefit rather than try to outdo each other in the zero sum game of feminism.

Actually, feminism is worse than zero sum game because when women perform duties of men it leads to a host of side effects, it affects how men perform their duties in other areas, it affects how women perform their remaining duties, too.

If, for example, you need to clean the house it doesn’t really matter who does what as long as the house is clean, the amount of work is the same even if men and women could argue who did more and who did less. That would be zero sum outcome. With feminism, however, house would remain dirty and men and women would be angry at each other, and the fact that instead of cleaning a lot of other work had been performed would be irrelevant because no one really asked for it, it’s just a distraction.

So, women scientists, soldiers, fire-fighters etc are distraction. Great that they can do that but it’s not really necessary, especially if we get less wives, mothers, and children as a trade off.

Anyway, we propose varṇāśrama dharma instead but I’m not sure it’s the correct answer. Dharma for this age is harināma sañkīrtana, not varṇāśrama. If we want to fix people’s problems we should teach them to chant, not force them to follow rules they strongly rebel against.

One could say that varṇāśrama has never been a yuga dharma so the argument is incoherent, it’s not an either/or proposition, but I could answer that practicing yuga dharma would naturally lead to varṇāśrama, not the other way around, and that varṇāśrama was created by Kṛṣṇa Himself so it’s not up to us whether to establish it or not – it exists perfectly fine in one form or the other without our interference.

We can try to implement it better, ie we can try to suggest how people should perform their existing duties in whatever situation they find themselves in but if we want a complete revolution we need to start with chanting, not Manu Samhita.

Consider this, for example. In China and Taiwan they just started using something called baby hatches – a specialized areas with boxes where people can come and drop their unwanted babies. It is illegal to abandon a baby and it also illegal to have more than one so there are plenty of mothers who find themselves in a twist. In places like Shenzhen an abandoned baby if found every day, often in sewers or dumpsters and with umbilical cords attached, many of them die before being discovered.

We can flatly say that abandoning babies is unlawful, from the POV of varṇāśrama, but our declaration wouldn’t matter because people would still be doing it, so it needs to be regulated instead. It’s the same logic as with jails – the king needs to build them even though he doesn’t plan for his subjects to become criminals. It’s the same logic with goat sacrifices, too, or consuming liquor – can’t stop this and so Vedas propose a regulated solution.

Baby hatch is a regulated solution to child abandonment, so it’s good. Will it encourage more mothers to abandon their babies? Probably, but we have to weigh it against how many babies would be saved. Some countries in western Europe have pretty comfortable jails and so some people from less developed countries come to Europe specifically to commit crimes because they’d get better living conditions in jails there. It’s an unfortunate side effect but, afaik, no one proposes to roll jails back to the times when it was really uncomfortable there. Main purpose of jails is to correct the criminal behavior, not to make people suffer needlessly.

Same with gay marriage – many of us would flatly deny such a thing but if we consider it as a regulated sex life, however illicit, it beats gays blowing each other in public toilets, so it’s good. I mean, what is a better way to reduce one’s sex drive than being married? It’s only half a joke, btw, marriage DOES decrease sex drive pretty fast – five six years and that itch is almost gone.

It would seem that I’m against varṇāśrama but, actually, I am not, I’m only pointing out that implementation should be suitable to the modern age, which will definitely come short if compared to varṇāśrama of the Vedic times. Following some sort of varṇāśrama is unavoidable and I would conclude this post with another instruction given by Kṛṣṇa Himself (SB 11.10.1):

    Taking full shelter in Me, with the mind carefully fixed in the devotional service of the Lord as spoken by Me, one should live without personal desire and practice the social and occupational system called varṇāśrama.

What could be clearer? What is not clear is implementation. We’ve been told that Kṛṣṇa’s own description of varṇāśrama is impossible to implement in present day and ago so precedent for re-considering old rules is there. In the absence of an ācārya telling us exactly what to do we have only principles and our own intelligence to go on, it’s not the best way but we have no other choice.

Vanity thought #941. Rise Of The Brats

Yesterday I talked about situation with western women, how they are going to solve problems rising from feminism with administering more feminism. One of those problems was unattended children which feminists plan to transfer into the care of the state. They have tried it already and it has been a disaster.

First the disclaimer – I don’t know the whole story, I picked up only what I think fits with our view of the world and where it’s heading. I’m sure that whatever I state today here can be vigorously disputed and on some other day I would probably gladly consider the counterarguments but that day is not today and I’m in no mood to wade through defense of feminism. I’m not in the mood to condemn feminism either, this post is just to bring awareness of the situation, not to offer any solutions.

Or I could say it straight away – the only solution to these problems is harināma, everything else is non-essential and temporary at best.

So, children. The first country to ban physical punishment of children was Sweden and they made it into a law thirty five years ago. Sweden is also at the front of the feminist movement and genderless society. They have been at it for a while, longer than anybody else, they had generations of people who never knew “tradition” and so it’s a fair game for a case study in effects of modern style society building.

Last year a Swedish psychiatrist published a book that is awaiting translation into English but it already raised a stir in Swedish society with its unfavorable assessment of child education policies. Commentariat on that is reportedly split fifty fifty which also means that the book resonated with about a half of Swedish society, which isn’t a bad thing even in that feminist wasteland.

The book title is loosely translated as “How The Children Took Over” and it describes pretty much what is says in the title – how in modern Sweden children have become primary decision makers on matters such as what to have for dinner, what to watch on television, when to go to sleep etc. These rights were given to them by child centered education and parents and teachers were taught how to respect and facilitate them. This has turned kids into uncontrollable brats.

Anyone who thinks pre-school kids can make fair and balanced decisions over their diet or entertainment needs to have his head checked. Their answer to this is to redefine fair and balanced to mean whatever the kids want. It’s like we do with Kṛṣṇa – whatever He does is good, rules and customs don’t matter.

Kṛṣṇa, however is not a conditioned living entity, He is full of knowledge and He is the ultimate author of the Vedas so we accept His judgments for a good reason. There aren’t many reasons to accept judgments by human children as absolutely perfect.

The reason given is that kids will learn what is best for everybody through trial and error, so even if errors are made they will eventually lead to better choices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way, if ever. For one thing – even though kids are supposed to learn good from bad in natural environment their actual environment is anything but natural because the state puts all its might on their side and renders people they are supposed to negotiate these decisions with, the parents, into a legally helpless situation.

No wonder there’s a lot of abuse going on there. The first thing kids learn is that if there are no boundaries and no punishment they can push the limits of their imagination on what they can get away with. School teachers are probably getting the worst of it because they do not have bonds of love that grow between children and parent simply through close association and they don’t have any authority to discipline them.

Kids can make calls on their cellphones at any time during the lesson and teachers can’t stop them because studying is optional, if they don’t feel like it they can walk out. In fact, I bet teachers would prefer kids walking out instead of hanging around and annoying them until teachers snap, and once kids learn swear words it becomes unbearable. And you can forget about making them clean up after themselves.

There are statistical results to show the effects, too. While neighboring Finns keep getting best test scores in the world Swedes has witnessed a steady decline that they have no idea how to arrest. Sweden also tops the world in attempted teen suicides, or so I heard. Actual suicide rates are pretty low but this only masks the problem of dissatisfied generations that go as far as threatening their own lives to get some sort of attention from the society.

Finns, btw, top the world in successfully offing themselves though it’s probably unrelated to the problem at hand today.

Now, here’s the paradox of Swedish child centered education experiment – they let children learn rules and values all by themselves in order to prepare them for life in the real world but what they got in return is exactly the opposite – spoiled brats do not make into responsible adults and so they cannot successfully integrate into the adult society.

The reason for this is that, as I said, the “natural” environment they are creating for kids is not natural at all and once that invisible power of state is withdrawn they are left to deal with adults’ unadulterated power and they invariably lose. This fault is built in and fairly obvious but, as usual, reason and logic fail the modern man.

I bet what they would do next is to extend the “fair field” even further, forcing adults to behave by the same rules of irresponsibility as the kids. Eventually there will be enough kids to gain the critical mass and establish new societal norms. I have no idea what they would be and whether they would work at all.

Here’s another thing about material world – contrary to our hopes things are not obliged to turn for the better and so success is never guaranteed, especially if you don’t even have a plan how it would come about. This observation is also fairly obvious but, once again, human nature fails rationality and we assume that future will always be bright.

The sober assessment of our situation would be that no matter how good and reliable our predictions look now at some point our logic and planning will fail us and things will go south. It happens every time, as certain as death and taxes, yet modern men hope against hope.

We, the devotees, also hope against hope but we put our hopes in Kṛṣṇa, not in our own abilities like atheists do. Kṛṣṇa’s infallibility guarantees eventual success while betting on our imperfections guarantees eventual failure, and that’s even before death gets us.

Looking at it his way – surrendering to God is the most rational choice, ironically made by people who are often accused of irrationality. Yet we don’t mind, we understand that atheists don’t know how they harm themselves and we don’t see them as our enemies, we see them as enemies of their own good, and that’s why real devotees are friendly with everyone even when they preach.

But, for our own sake, associating with atheists should be avoided or we will lose whatever little devotion we hope to develop. We are not real devotees yet and so shouldn’t overplay our hand.

Vanity thought #940. Sense is overrated

Yesterday I talked about how rationality and logic have no place in searching for Kṛṣṇa. Mostly it’s because Kṛṣṇa is beyond the laws of nature from which logic and reason originate. He is also beyond time which is essential for application of logic – the word “then” would make no sense if there was no time and no sequencing. My conclusion was that while on the material platform we should certainly follow rules and regulations, which are logical, of course, but we shouldn’t expect our practice here have any effect of Kṛṣṇa’s decisions regarding granting us the boon of devotion.

If logic doesn’t work on Kṛṣṇa it should still work here, right? Not true.

It is true in a sense that logic, reason, cause-effect and time based laws of nature still work. It’s not true that it would work for us.

Nature’s laws are unbreakable because it’s Kṛṣṇa’s energy but we are full of faults and can never hope to implement them in our lives with the same certainty and precision.

Modern society prides itself on being based on science and rationality and has no qualms of claiming to be better than religious societies which are based on superstitions and ignorance. Science knows that the Earth is a spherical object hurling through space while religion taught everyone that the Earth is flat and that it’s resting on elephants who stand on the back of tortoises. What do tortoises stand on? No clue, those ignorant Christians never asked themselves, or so says science. When scientists, Christian scientists, mind you, discovered that the Earth is not the center of the universe they were persecuted and even burned at stake. Such celebration of ignorance, modern science says.

This sounds convincing but we cannot extrapolate those limited triumphs to assume that logic and reason will hold true for scientific method in all other cases and all other circumstances. It is possible only in theory but in reality our conditioned nature will always spoil everything in the end, we just have to be patient enough and wait for science to trip over itself.

The wait won’t be long. The best of the best, like nerds working on Hadron Collider, will take longer to make fools out of themselves but the general crowd we meet in every day life does not stand a chance, they are hopeless. Sometimes it feels like reason and logic are alien concepts to them. Sometimes they willingly discard it if it makes them feel better about any particular topic.

Take recent turmoil in Ukraine, for example. The whole western world has ganged up on Putin and want to protect Ukraine’s democratic aspirations from Russian imperial ambitions. Emotions run high and to sustain that high people will do anything – lie, ignore, avoid, deny any information that doesn’t fit with their preferred agenda.

I personally seen one otherwise reasonable man tweeting fake pictures about the subject. When pointed out he simply shrugged it off and reposted the same picture the next day simply because it made him feel good. “You don’t understand our aspirations”, he said. Actually we do – they are so strong that they make you blind and you would rather be wrong than abandon the comfort of your dreams.

People win Nobel prizes for theories that show how to exploit our innate irrationality. We may claim to be reasonable people but in reality we are anything but, we follow our minds and senses and discard advise from our intelligence more often than we dare to admit.

The other day I was reading an article by former director of UN Population Division about inequality in education. Women get more of it then men, he said.

The way the article was presented I see no reason to doubt this man’s deep knowledge of the subject and relevant statistics. He skillfully summarizes and distills numbers to present a clear picture of social dynamics of the modern world. It was an enjoyable read in that sense but then he went on and spoiled everything.

The trend he was talking about is a familiar one – “liberated” women in developed countries pursue careers and are catching up with men even though gaps and ceilings still remain. In education, however, women have overtaken men and now they outnumber them at universities. In the 70-ies there were 160 men for 100 women in colleges, at the turn of the century it was parity, and now, only a decade later, there are 93 men for 100 of women.

There are differences in what men and women study and feminists, like this guy, want to address this imbalance but that is not what is interesting. What is interesting is that he says well educated women have trouble finding suitable partners. In Australia one in four college educated women will not be able to find an equally educated man of the same age.

One could say that college education does not make one smart, it’s just a degree, but the truth is that attaining this degree requires certain amount of dedication, intelligence, and hard work that lesser educated people cannot usually muster.

This means that women have to marry below their own social level and that is never good for marriage. Many of them won’t marry at all, which is a problem in itself in many developed countries. It’s a problem because children growing up with single parents don’t do as well as those coming from solid families.

Childbearing is another challenge to the modern women – it takes time and distracts them from their careers which only reenforces inequality feminists strive to eradicate.

So here they are, presumably rational and very knowledgeable people, caught in a dilemma – they try to pursue path that creates unresolvable problems yet their solution is to keep doing the same thing and keep piling those problems up – more freedom for women, more education, more opportunities, less time spent on raising children and so on. The real clincher, however, is this – if trying to break through barriers of gender inequality is so difficult then we should do away with genders altogether and raise boys and girls equally right from the start, with equal preferences between arts and engineering so that gender differentiation ceases to exist.

There’s a tiny little problem with child bearing, though. Only women can do that, but our rational and logical feminists have answer for this, too – child bearing should be reduced to a minimum, women should work all through pregnancy, take a very short leave, and come back ASAP without missing anything in company’s business.

What will happen to these children raised by the state instead of their mothers? Will they have enough of them to sustain the population? No idea, never bothered to ask themselves like those Christians with their tortoises.

There’s one more thing they totally missed – in their fight for equality they make all women to be like men. That’s what it means, right – women must be equal to men? In their ultimate society there won’t be any women at all, only workers, which is a traditional male role. There won’t be any mothers, there won’t be any wives, there won’t be any femininity.

And yet they call themselves feminists.

Nope, if we try to succeed in this world on the strength of reason and logic we will fail. It won’t get us anywhere in the long term, only for the duration of the initial spark of brightness that will soon be replaced by darkness of our innate imperfection and ignorance.

Maybe that’s why intelligence is said to be created out of mode of passion – it drives us to be rational and logical just for the sake of the rush but in the end leads to our destruction.

To sum it up – this world is hopeless.

Vanity thought #811. Crossing warpaths

Checking up on Dina Sarana’s mataji situation it turned out that the original letter was pulled off dandavats. Did it contain factual mistakes? Was it at the request of the mataji herself? Maybe it was because a commentary on that letter accusing GBC of spreading feminism has been reposted at multiple sites and elicited a number of responses. It’s a war out there.

As expected, ISKCON’s perennial adversaries couldn’t miss a chance to have another go at GBC and how they ruin everybody’s lives both spiritually and materially. That’s an old horse, however – boring.

The new development is the emergence of anti-feminist community whose allegiance to ISKCON is unquestionable, so far, they just want to clean the house from the inside.

These guys and gals are on the mission, they are on a warpath, they are primed and ready and they shoot from the hip. Should they be engaged? Umm, no, I think it’s better to get out of their way because all they will achieve is havoc and destruction. Here is why.

They justify they campaign by saying that we are at war with maya, that all misconceptions and deviations must be smashed, that it’s Srila Prabhupada’s mission and feminism is a legitimate target. That may be so, but there’s a difference between the war on feminism and the war on feminist devotees, if such even exist. Once you start fighting devotees your game is over, it’s just a matter of time.

“War on maya” cannot be used as an excuse to pick up a fight whenever you feel like it. It’s not even a real thing, per se, it’s a figure of speech. Mayadevi is Krishna’s trusted servant, we don’t fight His servants. We see her as our enemy because of our immaturity, on an advanced level of devotion one does not see her actions as separate from Krishna’s desires. Besides, if you think about what it is exactly that we are supposed to be fighting in the war on maya we would see that it’s actually a war with our own desires, not anything external. There’s a nice analogy in this regard – it’s like embracing a tree with all your strength and at the same time blaming it for not letting your go.

If we use this phrase when talking about preaching then “war on maya” is a war for people’s hearts. We want them to appreciate Krishna’s message more than maya’s allurements. In this sense of a term there’s no scope for fighting devotees either.

But what about real deviants? Aren’t they a legitimate target for our righteous outrage? Maybe so, but are devotees in the cross-hair of this group legitimate targets? For that we need to step back and put things in perspective.

There’s one often quoted conversation in defense of our varnashrama mission but look for Prabhupada’s reasoning for it:

    Hari-sauri: But in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s practical preaching He only induced them to chant.

    Prabhupada: That is not possible for ordinary man.

    Hari-sauri: What, to simply induce people to chant?

    Prabhupada: Hm?

    Hari-sauri: He only introduced just the chanting.

    Prabhupada: But who will chant? Who’ll chant?

    Satsvarupa: But if they won’t chant, then neither will they train up in the varnasrama. That’s the easiest.

    Prabhupada: The chanting will be there, but you cannot expect that people will chant like Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They cannot even chant sixteen rounds. (And) these rascals are going to be Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

    Satsvarupa: No. But if they at least will chant and take some prasada…

    Prabhupada: Chanting will go on. That is not stopped. But at the same time the varnasrama-dharma must be established to make the way easy.

    Hari-sauri: Well, at least my own understanding was that the chanting was introduced in the age of Kali because varnasrama is not possible.

    Prabhupada: Because it will cleanse the mind. Chanting will not stop.

    Hari-sauri: So therefore the chanting was introduced to replace all of the systems of varnasrama and like that.

    Prabhupada: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? The… People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridasa Thakura to chant, it is not possible.

More to follow.

To me it looks like Srila Prabhupada wanted varnashrama to help us with chanting and all our other vaishnava duties. We need proper, regulated life in order to become vaishnavas and stay as vaisnhavas. On it’s own varnashrama is of no use to us at all.

When Ramandanda Raya famously started with performing varnashrama duties as a goal of life Lord Chaitanya cut him down – it’s external. In that same conversation Srila Prabhupada elaborated on this further:

    Prabhupāda: No. Our position is different. We are trying to implement Kṛṣṇa consciousness in everything. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally took sannyāsa. He rejected completely material. Niṣkiñcana. But we are not going to be niṣkiñcana. We are trying to cement the troubled position of the… That is also in the prescription of Bhagavad-gītā. We are not rejecting the whole society. Caitanya Mahāprabhu rejected everything, ihā bāhya. Rejected meaning, “I do not take much interest in this.” Bāhya. “It is external.” He was simply interested in the internal, the spiritual. But our duty is that we shall arrange the external affairs all so nicely that one day they will come to the spiritual platform very easily, paving the way. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu, personality like that, they have nothing to do with this material world. But we are preaching. We are preaching. Therefore we must pave the situation in such a way that gradually they will be promoted to the spiritual plane, which is not required.

Again, the goal is clear – getting fixed in spiritual practice, and the tool is clear – having a regulated varnashrama life.

The “feminist” devotees who are under attack, however, have been chanting and serving Krishna and our society for decades, they don’t need fixing, they have already demonstrated their dedication and their abilities. It’s foolish to subject them to the neophyte boot camp just to satisfy our desire to have everyone following the same rules, in this case stri-dharma.

About that, stri-dharma, duties of women – there are plenty of quotes in our books in support of it but it’s also a fact that stri-dharma falls under external duties and so under sarva-dharman parityajya principle. We might follow these external duties but we don’t devote ourselves to them and we don’t lament if we don’t succeed in this entirely.

There’s also a question whether stri-dharma as it’s described in Manu Samhita and Srimad Bhagavatam is applicable to our “feminist” devotees. The idea that one’s nature is fixed simply by his birth had been successfully refuted a century ago. To determine someone svabhava we must look at the actual traits and qualities, and svabhava is not some theoretical concept either, we don’t need to look up ancient books to find out what it is for this or that person.

The material nature has already provided the answer – just look at that person’s body, their emotional and mental make up, at their situation in life, at their means of earning livelihood and so on. That’s how we determine what duties one should follow and where one is located in varnashrama system. Why should we reject this method when determining women’s duties?

It is also immature to think that women raised in career minded societies have no sense of duty and no sense of right and wrong. It might not be up to our standard but they know what they have to do. Not many of them raise children but they still fully accept responsibility for them just as they accept responsibility for supporting their husbands. They believe that they can manage being in three roles – mothers, husbands, and professionals, it’s never an “either or” situation for them.

Sometimes they manage just fine, sometimes they bite more than they can chew, but to say that they have no interest in performing their stri-duties whatsoever is just plain wrong, and it’s doubly wrong when we say that our female devotees are not interested in them, too, it’s downright offensive because no one is idling about here, everyone is engaged in Krishna’s service and everyone tries their best, especially women who have to juggle so many things in their hands.

The warriors then say that it’s better to put women back into their traditional roles where they will quickly rediscover their lost taste for proper motherhood. Sounds reasonable but it’s probably one of the stupidest arguments out there. It’s surely is not presentable to the general public – it resembles ridiculous gay reorientation camps that are folding like a house of cards all over the place.

There’s no provision for re-education camps in Krishna consciousness either. Just look at this part from that same conversation:

    Satsvarūpa: We tell them, “Go on with your job, but chant also.”

    Prabhupāda: Yes. Thākaha āpanāra kāje, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Āpanāra kāja ki. Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended, sthāne sthitaḥ. And if they do not remain in the sthāna, then the sahajiyā’s chanting will come. Just like the sahajiyās also have got the beads and…, but they have got three dozen women. This kind of chanting will go on. Just like our (indistinct). He was not fit for sannyāsa, but he was given sannyāsa. And five women he was attached, and he disclosed. Therefore varṇāśrama-dharma is required. Simply show-bottle will not do. So the varṇāśrama-dharma should be introduced all over the world, and…

Sthane sthitah means stay in your place, it’s a Bhagavatam verse from prayers of Lord Brahma which, among other things, tells us NOT to go to any kind of re-education camps, and Srila Prabhupada explains it further – suppose you put yourself in a new, “better” position, then sahajiya will come – you will think yourself more advanced than you really are and eventually you will fall.

What could be better proof that we should not force people to change their existing situations? And the irony of that proof coming from a conversation that our varnashrama warriors carry on their banners? Priceless.

There’s another angle to this sthane sthitah quote – it was given by Ramananda Raya in that same conversation with Lord Chaitanya (CC Madhya.8.67) five steps up from the verse prescribing following varnashrama and it’s the first verse where Lord Chaitanya, instead of rejecting Ramananda Raya’s proposals outhand, has said “This is alright.” Of course there were many more steps to follow but the fact is that serving Krishna while being sthane sthitah is a superior proposition to perfectly following duties of varnashrama.

It’s foolish to say “Oh no, you have to become a perfect stri first, then you can become a devotee” to someone who already IS an exemplary devotee in every other respect, but I digress.

There’s still so much ground to cover in relation to this fight on feminism but this post if getting way too long, maybe some other time.

Vanity thought #808. Living with feminism

First thing we need to realize that feminism is bad. Check. Then we need to realize that feminists in our society are not going anywhere and feminist attitudes cannot be magically purged and that it’s a long long battle. Half check. Then we have to realize that aside from fighting it we have to learn to live with it.

How? I think it would be remarkably close to how we live now. The only thing that would visibly change is that we stop promoting it as a glorious lifestyle choice. Those who have already made this choice will have to accept that it has no future and become apologetic for their own ways but at the same time we don’t want them to drastically change their behavior either. Let them be feminists for Krishna.

How? By doing what they are doing now – engaging their energy and skills in Krishna’s service, not in husband’s service. In traditional Vedic society these two are one and the same and for a Vedic woman one does not exist without the other but in our society, sadly, there’s a difference.

It takes a lot of realization, maturity, and faith to accept that serving one’s husband is as good and even better than doing active preaching service as we’ve been practicing since the inception of our society. When I put it like that I don’t believe in it myself but that is what shastra tells us regarding stri dharma.

Initially, even Srila Prabhupada was “feminist” in his approach and it wasn’t until he took his disciples to India that he had to make different arrangements for men and for women. This is what I understand from memoirs of his first female disciples and they were okay with it at first but eventually things fell back to their old ways – women demanded equal opportunity and equal recognition on the basis of merit, not gender.

This is how we got where we are now – divorced women preaching to sannyasis from vyasanas and demanding diksha guru status. It’s a rather cynical take on the situation but this is a typical picture in the minds of traditionalists. Another typical picture is a traveling female preacher who takes all the glory while her husband sits home holding his d*ck in his hand. Sometimes literally.

Recently there was a public letter circulated in Europe about tough situation with Dina Sarana mataji. She was serving as GBC assistant there while her husband found himself another woman and, despite being asked to stop his affair, eventually decided to separate from his wife of forty years. Immediately someone came up with accusations against Dina Sarana – she neglected her wife’s duties in favor of serving a big GBC man and it was all her fault.

I don’t know. After forty years of marriage any wife would seem to have proven herself as qualified for the job and if a man in his sixties wants a new wife there’s not much she could or even should do about it. It’s unwise to assign blame to any one single party in domestic disputes but I bet until very recently Dina Sarana’s example was a banner one for the feminists and now, capitalizing on her troubles, the traditionalists want to run with it instead.

Bad things happen even to best people. We cannot forbid women of her capabilities from engaging in responsible managerial or any other service. It’s a fact of life – women are often more qualified to manage people or projects and, increasingly, better at bread winning, too. If this is what they do best then it’d be futile and even counterproductive to try and stop them whether we call it feminism or not.

Of course we all want varnashrama, at least in theory, and in our theory there should be four classes of men going through four stages of lives. Four classes of men, noticed that? Women are not part of this arrangement. Of course they are always there but in the assisting role. Fine, but for this varnashrama to work we need brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras of both genders.

What we have now is mlechhas, yavanas, chandalas and mudhis as varnas and lusty, lustful, lusting and lascivious as ashramas. We cannot expect them, or rather us, to live like Vedic brahmanas. It simply won’t happen, we can’t imitate brahmanic qualities and we can’t establish them artificially.

A hundred years ago our acharyas have won the battle in recognizing vaishnavas as superior to brahmanas and that didn’t change, but this superiority is spiritual, in our everyday lives we would still live according to our materialistic qualities. Being devotees fixes up spiritually but, besides following four regs, it doesn’t change our external karma.

If our devotees can’t behave like brahmanas in their personal lives we can’t have Vedic varnashrama no matter how much respect we should afford to them as vaishnavas engaged in the most important preaching mission.

Spiritually our society is doing just fine but if we want to fix our material troubles, too, we should recognize our limitations, and that means living with feminism.

Somehow or other, if we keep chanting and keep serving guru and Krishna our lives will become perfect. Spiritually perfect, and that’s what really matters. If we want to have varnashrama with that then sometimes it might not be on the cards. If and when the Lord desires, or when it’s scheduled according to the laws of the universe, varanshrama would reappear. We can’t rush it even if we accept reestablishing varnashrama as our primary service.