ISKCON Governing Body Commission: Keep the resolution permitting female devotees to serve as diksa guru
There is a proposal now to the GBC, to rescind, or delete GBC resolutions of 2004 and 2009 which would allow women in ISKCON to give diksa. The group who supports the proposal has been writing articles and sending emails to the GBC. It is helpful to the GBC to know how ISKCON members in general feel, and those of us who would like the GBC to keep their present resolutions can indicate such by signing this petition.
We, the undersigned, petition the GBC to keep the resolution permitting female devotees to serve ISKCON members as both siksa and diksa gurus. We further petition the GBC to approve diksa guru candidates solely on the basis of spiritual qualification without any bodily consideration, including gender.
Our reasons include, but are not limited to the following:
• Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that one can be a guru regardless of one’s material bodily situation. That includes diksa guru.1 Gender is part of the bodily situation that is irrelevant to becoming a guru.2
• Prabhupada specifically and explicitly said that he wants all his disciples, male and female, to be guru, and he specifically stated that he wanted his female disciples to be diksa guru.3
• Our Gaudiya Vaisnava diksa lines contain a number of bona fide female diksa gurus, such as Jahnava Mata, Sita Thakurani, Gangamata Goswamini and Hemalata Thakurani. There are also modern female diksa gurus in the line from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
• There are senior and qualified female devotees in ISKCON who have siksa disciples, and some of these siksa disciples have been waiting over a decade for diksa from their guru.4
• Srila Prabhupada wrote that his brahmana-initiated female disciples could give the gayatri mantra, sacred thread and perform the fire yajna like “any twice-initiated brahmana.”5
• Giving instructions and initiation to people does not contradict any duties of women in the asramas (grhastha or vanaprastha) or the varnas. Anyone in any asrama or varna can become guru, so the duties of guru and the duties in varnasrama are complementary.
• If there are any conflicts between a person’s material and spiritual duties, spiritual duties take precedence. We are ultimately interested in bhakti.6
• Women spiritual leaders and gurus are already functioning and widely accepted in most religious organizations throughout the world, including in India. If we deny to act as diksa gurus, in opposition to Prabhupada’s direct instruction and our own tradition, people may lose faith in ISKCON or see it as irrelevant.
1. In Prabhupada’s purport to this verse (Madhya 8.128), he says: “To spread Krsna consciousness, one need only be cognizant of the science of the spirit soul. It does not matter whether one is a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, sannyasi, grhastha or whatever. If one simply understands this science, he can become a spiritual master…. as vartma-pradarsaka-guru, diksa-guru or siksa-guru.”
2. “Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection.... Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. [break] In our material world, is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.” (conversation, Toronto, June 18, 1976)
"Women in our movement can also preach very nicely. Actually male and female bodies, these are just outward designations. Lord Caitanya said that whether one is brahmana or whatever he may be if he knows the science of Krsna then he is to be accepted as guru." (Letter to Malati, December 25, 1974)
3. "I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975, all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the numbers of the generations. That is my program." (Letter to Hamsaduta on Jan 3, 1969)
So I hope that all of you, men, women, boys and girls, become spiritual master, and follow this principle. Spiritual master, simply, sincerely, follow the principles and speak to the general public. Then Krsna immediately becomes your favorite. Krsna does not become your favorite; you become Krsna's favorite. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah: "One who is doing this humble service of preaching work, Krsna consciousness, nobody is dearer than him to Me." So if you want to become recognized by Krsna very quickly, you take up this process of becoming spiritual master, present the Bhagavad-gita as it is. Your life is perfect. (Sri Vyasa-puja -- London, August 22, 1973)
4. “According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru, and generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru.” (purport SB 4.12.32)
“There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating [diksa] and instructing [siksa] spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service.” ( purport C.C. Adi 1.47)
5. Even though you have had no gayatri mantra, still you are more than brahmana. I am enclosing herewith your sacred thread, duly chanted on by me. […] Ask your wife to chant this mantra and you hear it and if possible hold a fire ceremony as you have seen during your marriage and get this sacred thread on your body. Saradia (name of Vaikunthanatha’s wife), or any twice-initiated devotee, may perform the ceremony. (Letter to: Vaikunthanatha, Saradia, 4 April, 1971)
6. Thus the Krsna consciousness movement is so nice that there is no need of even designating oneself brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha or sannyasi. Let everyone be engaged in whatever occupation he now has. Simply let him worship Lord Krsna by the result of his activities in Krsna consciousness. That will adjust the whole situation, and everyone will be happy and peaceful within this world. (NoD 2)
In other words, the prescribed forms of varna and asrama are ritualistic ceremonies of religion intended for economic development, sense gratification or salvation. All of these things are recommended for persons who have not developed Krsna consciousness (NoD 13)
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