31st. October 2014
Macho Mantrics - By "J.J"
Before I start this, I would like to make it clear that I wouldn't consider myself a feminist, and certainly not the type to seek out gender issues and sexism, in perpetuum. I'm well aware that males and females have differences, but I don't believe those differences are detrimental to coexistence, obviously. I think there needs to be a balance between male and female energies, as with yin and yang in Chinese philosophy. However I do consider myself an educated individual who has passed several examinations ergo having an analytical mind capable of sifting sense from nonsense.
I became interested in Iskcon (Hare Krishna) because I was seeking a deeper meaning to life for many years. At first it was Taoism, Buddhism, then various writers such as Alan Watts and Ram Dass, which led me on to Hinduism. I decided to read a previously unread Iskcon book which had been in a cupboard for a long time. Years before, a devotee dressed in a dhoti pushed the book in my hand when I was in town with some school friends, thinking he was giving it me for free, I said thanks and continued walking, but then he seemed annoyed and told me I would have to give a donation for it. I can't even remember how much I paid, because at the time I only had a Saturday job while at school. It was the Science of Self Realization, which was very interesting. Then I read the Bhagavad Gita by an author not connected to Iskcon, which made the point in Chapter 13 verses 28-31, about our body only being a covering, and we shouldn't judge others for their outward covering, rather, we should recognize god's existence within everybody.
The idea of god being a man was unusual to me, because before I had mainly believed in the Brahman concept. I tried to find out more about Krishna, so read stories about how Krishna wanted to please Radha more than any other, how they lived in harmony together, and how the best devotees are Gopis in his spiritual abode of Goloka. Radha and Krishna together in harmony, made me think of the yin and yang theory. I had read books before from Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), who isn't connected to Iskcon, about the guru being like a mirror of god, and is supposed to be the perfect example to teach us, so I thought I understood why the Iskcon founder Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was so admired by his devotees. He is also known as just Prabhupada for short. I was told Iskcon isn't a new organization, because they only teach ancient Indian spiritual theories, so a form of Hinduism, even though the founder said Hindu was only a name made up by the Muslim invaders for Indians. I went on to join the organization, even though I heard it has a shady past with gurus abusing children and murders. I heard that Iskcon in the USA had become bankrupt after paying abuse victims, but then I put it to the back of my mind, thinking it was just a few rogue bad people and didn't represent the organization as a whole.
I first started to have problems with the organization when I was told that the original texts weren't the parts which should be concentrated on, as the explanations and introductions by the founder (Prabhupada) were of greater significance. Many of his explanations didn't seem to have any basis on the original words they were supposed to be translating, and contradicted many times, so was confusing. I was recommended the KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead book, which proclaimed women as less intelligent. I felt quite insulted, so looked online to see if there were logical explanations, and I read that Prabhupada had said there are less women scientists than men, so an example of why women are less intelligent. I thought to myself that he also said women shouldn't have much of an education, and their only duty is to serve their husband, so how can they become scientists anyway with no education? Even in Europe, Marie Curie had been refused entry into a university in Poland, and despite much bigotry she went on to become one of the greatest scientists. Ada Lovelace was one of the first computer programmers, before women were officially allowed to enter university in her own country. He also said women have half the brain size of men, but science says the only difference in brain size is due to body size, and there are many creatures with a much larger brain than humans. Neanderthals had a larger brain than modern humans. Then I read the Queen Kunti book, which explained how even though women are less intelligent, Kunti was a devotee of Krishna which made her intelligent. Does that mean her brain suddenly grew when she became a devotee?.If the Hare Krishna founder was equating intelligence to brain size, then that is surely what he implied. He also said devotee women aren't like ordinary women, as if being an ordinary woman is bad, but he didn't say men who aren't devotees are like ordinary men in an insulting way.
This is his exact quote about the brain size of women:
"To understand Brahman is not the business of tiny brain... Physiologically, within the brain there are brain substance. It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to 64 ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than 34 ounce. You'll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher, among women. You'll never find because their brain substance cannot go. Artificially do not try to become equal with men. That is not allowed in the Vedic śāstra. Na striyaṁ svatantratām arhati. That is called śāstra." (Lecture, February 3, 1975).
He obviously had bigotry, and I would say even a dislike of women, so I don't see why he wouldn't translate his books to reflect his personal opinions.
He then contradicted himself by saying intelligence isn't about intellectual ability, and said most scientists are demons trying to hide the real truth, so what was he going on about before when he said women are less intelligent because there are less female scientists? His books said women are more likely to be found in Krishna temples, because women are more soft hearted, and intellectual ability to be philosophical to question things is a barrier to reaching Krishna. Yet he also said men are in a more superior position to go back to Krishna, while saying they are more intelligent because of having a larger brain ergo more philosophically apt.
In all honesty, I am not instigating a battle of the sexes, and I don't think men or women are better, but if being philosophical is a barrier to reaching Krishna and he said women are less philosophical, then surely that would mean women are better devotees with the right intelligence, when he was contradicting himself about that, such as saying women only exist to be a barrier for men on their spiritual path. He would get angry if a male devotee got married, and said the wife would drive him away from spiritual duties, as if cohabiting with similar spiritual parities was not possible. Maybe Prabhupada was jealous because he didn't like his wife, and his wife didn't follow his Krishna Consciousness. It wasn't as if he didn't already have many homosexual disciples not interested in marriage to women, who enjoyed massaging him. I was starting to think he didn't sound like a good person, because before I joined Iskcon I had felt free, knowing my body was just a covering and I was in touch with my true spiritual self, but after I joined I had never felt so guilty and paranoid about my body. I was starting to feel more attached to my body than ever before, when the Bhagavad Gita says to do the opposite. I didn't see how he could have been a pure spiritual teacher if his teachings made me depressed about my bodily covering.
I feel I'm a compassionate person who understands that anybody can find themselves in a bad situation, but I found it rather insulting to discover homeless men who hadn't showered or shaved for ages, who showed up for free food (prasadam), and after reading a few pages of Iskcon literature, declare themselves Krishna devotees, and held in higher esteem than women who had invested their lives in the organization.
His books say women are automatically in the same low caste as sudras. When I asked a few male devotees, they said it must be true because Prabhupada's words are infallible. There wasn't any argument from them to say I had the meaning wrong, because they agreed with me that women are sudras. Nobody went through the verses to look into the real meaning, because most men in Iskcon aren't as intelligent as they believe gender automatically defines them, and most have no academic training, while thinking they can teach others. When I spent time looking into the translation myself, it seems as if the Prabhupada translation had made it look as if women are in the same category as the Sanskrit words 'papa-yoni' (sinful species). After the word papa-yoniya, there should be a comma, so that instead of the correct translation of just including women in with many types who can reach the supreme abode, the books are written to make women look like the sinful species.
I was trying to rationalize it in my mind, because I didn't want to leave the organization. I was telling myself that he didn't have to be accepted as perfect, because he was just a person with personal opinions, depending on his upbringing. I thought he had done some good things such as promoting vegetarianism, and what I thought are Vedic texts to the western world, but I had to sit through talks from his devotees he had met once, about how he was some kind of god figure with special powers. Then I read he even admitted he hadn't read the Vedas. I was starting to wonder if he was only corrupting those ideas, then maybe the Indian philosophy and spirituality wasn't best introduced by him. It wasn't as if he was the first to introduce classical Indian work to the west. Many people, including Jiddu Krishnamurti were popular in the west before him. When I was told the temple was doing a talk on a certain book, I took the same book translated by a different author into the meeting. I didn't think it would matter if they were promoting classic Indian spirituality, but they told me I shouldn't read anything apart from Prabhupada books. I was told the Bhagavad Gita by Gandhi was stupid because it promoted peace.
I realized in the end it must be a cult if no rational thought can be used. It says on this web page:
>>A first-class devotee [which Prabhupada classed himself as] does NOT fall down! When the Spiritual Master speaks it should be taken that Krishna is speaking. That is a fact. <<
That seemed strange, because the original stories about Krishna without Prabhupada's personal opinions added on, has Krishna holding women in high regard. Then it goes on to explain that a devotee can't be first class if he mixes with others who aren't devotees.
I tried talking to other women about it, but I was told I shouldn't ask questions, and it would become more clear if I spend all day chanting. That seemed to be becoming a brain dead moron to me, and Prabhupada said women are less intelligent because they are less philosophical, but when I tried asking philosophical questions I seemed to be causing trouble, and they didn't like the questions. All the examples of female devotees I met didn't make sense either. If men are more intelligent in Krishna consciousness, then why were there so many women in the organization who have partners that don't believe in it? I had a woman tell me she lies to her husband about where she's going, because he would accuse her of joining a cult. I wondered how does she put up with ideas from the founder about how men should be the main devotee in the household, and women should only serve their husband? Another woman told me that her husband complains she's interested in Krishna Consciousness.
I asked why women and married couples are seen as having less ability to reach heaven than celibate men, when they worship Krishna and Radha as a couple, but I was told that Prabhupada said Radha isn't like any woman they know, including their wife, mother or sister. I also asked why women are seen as a hindrance to a man's spiritual progress, when the Gopis are the best devotees, but I was told that male devotees are more like the Gopis. I don't know why the Gopis are depicted as looking exactly like females then, with their wide hips, breasts and female charms. Anything good about women would just be put down with excuses. Iskcon is unique in being part of a Vaishnava sect, who think Lord Caitanya is an incarnation of Krishna and Radha together, but despite Lord Caitanya being both male and female, even sometimes wearing female saris and breast feeding devotees, Prabhupada didn't have many nice things to say about females.
The books by Iskcon say if men think of their wife before they die, then they will come back as a woman and that isn't good, but it's fine for the woman to think of her husband before she dies, as she will be exalted to the great position of a man in her next life. I asked if I could go back to Krishna without a man, because I had become divorced after my husband was mentally and physically abusive. I was told it is possible to go back to Krishna without a man, but they didn't explain how. I wasn't told that women should think of Krishna before they die. An Iskcon book said because a great female devotee had children, then she didn't have to throw herself into her husband's funeral pyre, as if it's saying women without children should die with their husband and are worthless without a man. Many women without partners, or with partners not interested in Iskcon, seemed to be the main players in keeping temples open, even while being insulted. Prabhupada said women without husbands are like prostitutes. I wondered why the other female devotees without partners didn't mind being compared to prostitutes? Yet although Krishna already had many wives he wasn't married to Radha. There is a story of the hot milk, where the wives of Krishna were jealous of his relationship with Radha, so they gave her milk which was too hot, but it was Krishna who had the stomach pains, because they were so close he took on the pain from Radha.
I was told the ideas aren't sexist or misogynistic, because they're just recognizing there are differences between men and women. Yet I didn't hear anything to make women feel proud about their unique qualities. I was told Prabhupada was nice to female devotees to their face, but that made him seem two faced to me, if he put them down in his books and when talking to male devotees.
Apart from what I thought of as misogyny, the founder seemed to have many other hypocritical qualities, such as telling devotees not to smoke, while it's well known he used snuff. They had to make sure his snuff box was in his baggage when he traveled. He married his wife when she was 11 and he was 22, boasting about how she was very devoted to him, yet he said he never liked her and wanted a second wife. He said devotees shouldn't enjoy a normal sexual relationship with their spouse, and only have sex once a month while thinking of Krishna. Because his wife was too young to have children when they married, his wife had suffered miscarriages before having 5 children, so he seems to have had a lot of sex himself. After devoting her life to him as he said women should do, he abandoned her as an old man, then told his devotees that sex just makes us attached to our body. He also said children should be sent away to school having little contact with their parents, when he lived with his family as a child, and his children weren't sent away. Many of the children sent away to those schools were the ones who sued USA Iskcon for the abuse, including sexual abuse by an organization which preaches sex is wrong.
It seems quite ironic then that Prabhupadafs introduction to Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta on here: http://vedabase.net/cc/introduction/en blames women for men liking them. Why isnft there ever any mention about things males do to females? Were the male and female children not gkicked in the face by "maya" when the Iskcon pedophiles abused them?? Aren't women trapped in abusive relationships, kicked in the face? Wasn't his 11 year old wife kicked in the face by her 22 year old husband's actions when she had miscarriages from being too young to be pregnant? I doubt she had any choice but to marry him at that age.
This is copied from the page of the link
>>gIt is a fact that we are constantly being kicked by māyā, just as the male ass is kicked in the face by the she-ass when he comes for sex. Similarly, cats and dogs are always fighting and whining when they have sex. Even an elephant in the jungle is caught by the use of a trained she-elephant who leads him into a pit. We should learn by observing these tricks of nature.
Māyā has many ways to entrap us,
and her strongest shackle is the female. Of course, in actuality we are neither
male nor female, for these designations refer only to the outer dress, the body.
We are all actually Krrishnafs servants. But in conditioned life we are shackled
by iron chains in the form of beautiful women. Thus every male is bound by sex,
and therefore one who wishes to gain liberation from the material clutches must
first learn to control the sex urge. Unrestricted sex puts one fully in the
clutches of illusion. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu officially renounced this
illusion at the age of twenty-four, although His wife was sixteen and His mother
seventy and He was the only male in the family. Although He was a brāhmaṇa and
was not rich, He took sannyāsa, the renounced order of life, and thus extricated
Himself from family entanglement.h <<