“I am so much disgusted by this troublesome business of marriage, because nearly every day I receive some complaint from husband or wife, and practically this is not my business as sannyasi to be marriage counsellor, so henceforward I am not sanctioning any more marriages. . .
If the senior disciples of His Divine Grace simply inspired devotees in the medical profession to collaborate together to manifest these facilities among themselves, then no harm, no foul. It is the duty of the grhastha community to populate the Vaisya varna and manage all the various resources required to keep society functioning properly.
I was prowling the internet recently for some cyber-association and encountered a well written, straight forward presentation that raised questions about the role of ISKCON in the construction of Hospitals. I was so appreciative of how honest the article was I decided to leave a two sentence comment to that effect, not realizing that by doing so it would be automatically posted back to my Facebook wall. Two days later I discovered that I had unintentionally stirred up quite a fury of commentary about this apparently very sensitive subject. A robust exchange ensued and with great interest I read and appreciated many comments representing all sides of this controversial issue. Should ISKCON be involved in building hospitals or NOT?
There isn’t any controversy regarding how Srila Prabhupada felt about this topic. He had a clear idea of what he wanted ISKCON to be and he admonished us to not let it slip into just another mundane philanthropic organization. He reminded us several times that those who do not acknowledge the Supreme Personality of Godhead can’t serve Him so they take up benevolent humanitarian causes as an alternative to that. Instead of serving Krishna, they serve man by giving aid to the poor and distressed. Srila Prabhupada specifically pointed out how building hospitals and schools was the most popular example of such mundane philanthropy.
It is not one of the purposes of ISKCON to open hospitals.
Srila Prabhupada told his disciples not to open hospitals:
Hospital-making business is there, going on by the government, by the state. You are not meant for making hospitals.
Even before but more so after the sensational Nirbhaya gang-rape case of December 2012 India has been portrayed as the rape capital of the world where violence against women is enshrined. But what do the numbers tell us?
Other countries in fact have much higher rates of rape than India, but the media for their own reasons sensationalize the ones in India – more on that later. According to this “country-by-country rape statistics” India has one of the lowest rates of rape in the world something one would not know if one listened to the media reports. It proves the adage “don’t believe everything you read in the paper.”
The rate of rape is determined by dividing the total number of reported rapes by the total population and the units of measure are the number of rapes per 100,000 people. Thus even though India may seem to have a rather large number of rapes reported in any given year but considering that India has a population of 1.3 billion people the rate of rape (number of rapes divided by 1.3 billion) becomes very small. And even if as some people claim that many rapes go unreported that even if we double or even triple the number the rate would still be low compared to many so-called First World countries.
This is a response to a comment made by Gaura Keshava Prabhu in which he espouses the opinion that head covering by North Indian women is an imposition from Islam.
The theory that North Indian women cover their head with a sari because of Islamic influence is not a sound idea for several reasons. There are places in North India that had very little or no Islamic political domination yet the women cover their heads with sari. And there are large swaths of South India that were under Islamic domination for centuries and the women there don’t cover their heads with saris.
In 2013 the GBC resolved that a four-man committee comprising of Badrinarayana Swami, Bhanu Swami, Bir Krishna Goswami, and Praghosa Prabhu would write a paper on the FDG issue in time for the October 2013 interim GBC meeting. No such paper came forward but instead the SAC was secretly tasked to do this. The SAC paper was presented in October 2013. But it was not well received and generally lambasted as a “hack job” of incompetents and corrupt persons with a conflict of interest, so much so that out of embarrassment its availability to the public was delayed for a year. For reasons why the SAC paper of 2013 is deeply flawed see Politically Motivated Wrongdoings of the Sastric Advisory Committee.
Because the 2013 SAC paper was obviously written with the pre-determined objective of sanctioning Female Diksha Gurus it was clearly biased and not acceptable to any fair minded lover of the truth. It was rejected by many especially the Indian Yatra. To deal with this debacle the GBC passed the following resolution in 2014 at the AGM in Mayapura. (Please note the parts I have put in bold.)
321. Female Diksa Gurus
Recently there was a meeting in Tirupati, India by the GBC on whether to allow female bodied devotees to become initiating Gurus in ISKCON. This question had come up twice before in the last few years and there was a lot of debate about it and so it didn’t go ahead. This time it seems to have been more or less decided to implement it although there was a mention of another final session on it in Mayapur this January.
I was very happy to see leaders of the Indian Yatras jointly stating their complete opposition to this strange idea, in the form of a resolution which they also submitted to the Sampradaya Sun website sometime last week. What I found particularly enlivening was the word ‘Varnasram’, which I saw occurred in the document. This for me is probably the first time that I saw a mention of this aspect of our mission on any GBC level document.
For anyone regularly hearing Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and reading his books with a submissive mood this idea seems so far-fetched from the direction that we are supposed to be going. I say submissive because there is now a class of devotees in ISKCON who read Srila Prabhupada’s books and hear the lectures with the idea that some of what he says is wrong and needs to be corrected and edited. That is extremely offensive and thus cannot lead to any spiritual advancement.
Some of the numbers given in Vedic literatures seem too fantastic to be true. For example, the forty-first verse of chapter ninety of the tenth canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam states:
tasraḥ koṭyaḥ sahasrāṇām aṣṭāśīti-śatāni ca
āsan yadu-kulācāryāḥ kumārāṇām iti śrutam
[In Dwarka] the Yadu family [had so many children] that they employed 38,800,000 teachers to educate them.
While Anuttama Prabhu directly shows his aversion to varnasrama, Nityananda Prabhu, North American GBC and Dallas Temple President, is more nuanced in his approach. While he acknowledges that at some unspecified time in the future, intelligent devotees will introduce varnasrama, he makes a case to keep the status quo. He has a chart which he uses in leadership seminars for non-devotees, showing nine levels of people in general, and he classifies them into three groups. The first group from levels one to four fall under Sense objects, senses, mind and intelligence. The second group is the fifth level, consciousness. The third group are from levels six to nine, Soul, Brahman, Supersoul and Supreme Absolute Truth. He uses this chart to state his case. Key quotes by Nityananda Das, “as he said it,” are found at the end of this article.
He sort of speaks in circles, repeats without getting to a direct point about where devotees stand on this chart. But his idea is that the materialists are from levels one to four and upwards from that are devotees. His vision is to bring the consciousness of the materialists to the mode of goodness using modern techniques such as his leadership seminars to non-devotees.
I disagree with his view that because we engage in ninth level or transcendental activities, we are on the ninth level and transcendental, and therefore we do not need those traditional trappings such as that which would be found in varnasrama. So he pushes devotees right up there, not considering that most of us are still struggling with the senses and trying to control the mind.