Women and roles of spiritual leadership in the movement of loving, transcendental service

That women are to be banned from leadership posts, was a statement never to be said of Srila Prabhupada’s lips. Therefore, accepting him as the Guru-Acarya of the spiritual movement, following his previous gurus in the line as bona fide, we know that body may be limited in many ways, one should expect disease, old age and any other negative outcomes during the course of life of the material body, but the real bona fide guru keeps on his business, exactly as he Srila Prabhupada did, under all material outcomes and situations.

Are there any limits or boundaries when telling about and spreading the glories of God? Are there any limitations to that practice, that should be known? If there were any limitations regarding the external body, that we should have known about, the leader of Guru of the movement of Sri Caitanya should have told so.
He, however, never disclosed any explicit opinion in this regard, although countless interviews were bent and recorded on extracting his opinion about women as spiritual leaders in his global movement. Never, he chose to express or formulate any opinion, which, had this been an important thing to adhere to, would have taken him a mere official statement by words, if not to press reporters, than to his chief male disciples.

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Since the service the spiritual, the science also spiritual, and the real student always a sincere spiritual inquirer, how can there be any statement, about the external circumstances of the Guru, such as origin or gender, taking him to be unqualified, where his real business is to deliver the student from all misconceptions arising from material nature & duality during the student’s course of life?

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Since the guru is taken, he should be considered heavier in knowledge (guru means heavy), so that in each situation, one’s knowledge is always taken to be smaller than that of the bona fide guru, in a comparison. That is the way to effectively develop one’s ability to transcend the material modes that push the body and mind to respond in so many ways, that are ineffective for crossing over the ocean of material existence and nescience.

If there was an exclusion for women, by popular common opinion, that would deny the very need of a real bona fide guru, to teach by example, how to lead a real, thriving spiritual movement that shows the simple, direct way towards God Consciousness, or Krishna Consciousness.

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Following in the footsteps of the great spiritual leader, who showed how the footsteps of other great personalities can be applied, in the most unexpected, adverse conditions, it is expected that one’s knowledge and ability to judge should be put after one considers the spirit of advice given by the great example leader or bona fide guru, who never stressed any importance to bodily gender, origin, or material qualifications.

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Given enough opportunities to simply speak so, his aversion to such biased opinionated thoughts about women, show his general attitude of compassion and open-mindedness to let everyone serve to his best capacity, the spreading of the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, and by doing so, crossing the obstacles of nescience to the last of them, in these very life, making a best use for a bad bargain, the material body of all its sorts and varieties.

The only statement that came of his mouth regarding this situation, is that nothing should be taken blindly, but everything should be adjusted according to time, place & circumstance. Not an easy thing, Srila Prabhupada admits, in his absence, his teachings should be taken as they were back then, meaning that nothing is above adjustment by time and place and circumstance.

Though in the material world, leadership is enforced by savage weapons of quarrel & war, meant for exhausting one’s inclination for karmic acts of Lordship over material nature, in the spiritual world leadership is more often viewed in women than in men, as in this material universe. Considering Srila Prabhupad’s repeated statements, that “The man is also woman, with the passion to be enjoyed”, and “The woman is also man, as long as the tendency to lord over material nature is exhibited”, how can a practical evaluation be made, by qualities that are visible and clear for men, but not so predictably manifested for the women of this material world?

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Asta-sakhi Gopi Deities, nauka-keli, boat pastimes

Any conclusion that contradicts this instruction or approach, puts our own knowledge as guru above that of the bona fide guru which we have accepted, meaning that our own past thinking, our past conditioning, will not be sincerely put in a humble service mood before our own spiritual teacher, which we have originally accepted by seeing how limiting is the thinking of us, in our conditional stage and how a spiritual teacher in necessary to free ourselves, being tied up by our own conditioning to mass opinion from the very tight clutches of material nature.

How can the tight knot in our own hearts, that binds us again and again, life after life, to our competitive entities such as friends, family, society and various religions under various designations, which deepen our struggle in material nature’s relentless elements that finally destroy us, can this knot be ever released without fully accepting the bona fide spiritual teacher, in the same way all self-realized have accepted, always seeing an example in his deeds, of an empowered figure of greater knowledge than our conditioned brains can otherwise comprehend?

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Rama in his forest exile, Sita loyally following in spite of all danger

Finally, is success in spiritual life determined by one’s rigid opinions, or by one’s dedicated, unalloyed devotion to the real values of spiritual life, respecting and honoring every body as a seat for Paramatma, the supersoul along with the individual soul, which are pure observers in all bodies? The example of every great soul is of one leaving the dictations of the mind in ordinary life, and adopting the transcendental loving service of the Lord, which is completely spiritual and cannot be checked by any other material means, or prior conceptions of the mind?

If another definition is taken, what is the value of success in spiritual life? Does it matter, the gender or origin of the body of a unique individual, showing his unique example of surrender in loving service? Are the means of approaching the Lord bounded when so many different Acharyas are present, each teaching a unique example in the history of Bhakti, or devotional service? If the spiritual realm is full with so many different figures of supreme devotion, such as the Gopis, Srimati Radharani, or Mirabai, would the material world be bounded in its ability to protect such noble, extraordinary figures in their purity and ability to instruct the science of God, or self-realization?

The original article by Hrdayananda Das Goswami:
http://iskcon.us/hridayananda-das-goswami/woman-guru/

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Mana and magic in the 21 century

Is there any kind of magic on the earth? Or is it “something of the heavens”? Is magic always an omen from God? Or there are certain kinds of black magic, which belong to another, otherworldly, “other realm”? What is mana, and how it is related to our personal and spiritual presence, being living creatures that think and act, rather than just react as dull material objects do? What is magic in the realm of the soul, rather than the unusual workings of material nature, that appear contrary to the order that we contemplate in our daily life? Is there a spiritual connection that can be derived? What about the position of the self, how is its constitutional position related?

A central term that is used, the “mana”, has been appearing in masses and philosophical conversations of modern days’ minds since the beginning of the previous century. What is mana? A vocal equivalent of the Sanskrit “mana”, meaning “mind”, mana is not simply a force, that is acted upon, but “action, quality and circumstance”. It is said to be at the same time, a noun, a describing adjective and a verb. Mana is a collective term, which does not relate to an experience of some sort, rather, it is how the experience is consumed, paving the road for another experience. How can an experience be consumed, or rather, digested, is a point to understand the structure of society by the term Potlatch, which means, simply a sharing of gifts.

The sharing of gifts is an ancient custom, which appears as early as the Ramayana, or Mahabharata, especially Bhagavad Gita shows, that gifts are an inherent part of our human relations we live to, a vital ingredient without which only a stale experience may come up, repeating the same mind set within the relationship. Although gifts have a tendency to become consumed, their real value is present in the thought behind the gift. The gift may become a person, as Krishna has given itself as a gift to Arjuna, the great warrior, becoming his chariot driver, who later instructed him in the manner of self-realization in the most famous conversation in the realm of yoga.

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Since Arjuna took the gift spiritually, taking Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and his dearmost friend, Arjuna, although exhausted and consumed by the rival side’s politics, became inspired by the eternal instructions which enlivened him to take up to the battle, he thought as being lost, immoral and useless. His relationship with Krishna, having regretted calling him informal ways in the past, have proven to be a source of strength, in the moment of glory, when the gifts he had received, his Gandiva bow, his training, Krishna as chariot driver, all proved to be part of an eternal relationship, an eternal exchange that made Arjuna act to his utmost, in order to please Sri Krishna, the real Lord behind everything in the created universal world of phenomena.

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On the other hand, Ravana accepted a chariot from Siva, who as a powerful demigod gave a blessing according to Ravana’s immense sacrificial offerings, one that cannot be defeated anywhere in the universe. However, when Ravana tried to use it against the Personality of Godhead, who showed Himself incarnated as the righteous powerful king Rama, Siva, a great devotee of the Personality of Godhead, could not let the chariot be used against Him. Therefore, ironically, the gift was there, in the hands of Ravana, but the intent was to reform the receiver, into a self-realized person, gradually to become a devotee of the Personality of Godhead.  Finally, when Ravana tried it against Him, He was defeated and gained liberation from the miseries of material existence, losing his entire city of Lanka, and all the gold and women. An exchange of gifts was there, to liberate Ravana, but covered and masked with irony, in one extreme example there in the classic epoch.

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Back to the Potlatch, which is an exchange of gifts in the material world. A reflection of the original exchange found on the plane of the absolute, that of a continuous blissful, eternal conscious exchange full of spiritual satisfaction, we see that also great societies and families in this world, only existed due to the exchange of gifts. The gift receiver, had to reciprocate the gift with the giver, or risk family, tribe or dynasty war. In the ancient times of this world, often disguised as an exchange with ancient gods, in modern times, the idea is the central thing that is given, perhaps because things cannot take place outside of this frame of exchange.

Described as being endowed with some kind of activity, a living being repeats his activities over and over in the material realm, unless given the mercy of a higher form of exchange. That exchange is the mana, and its consuming nature, simply propels the exchange upwards to the eternal realm or form. In this way, the idea that is shared, accepted and reciprocated cannot be separated from the actual act of giving. Receiving all technological breakthroughs and social revolutions, the process of gift-sharing on the personal realm, cannot be separated from us, but we may have the power to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead by it. How is it done?

“A devotee never loses sight of Me, nor am I lost to Him. It is possible for He sees everything in Me, and Me in everything.” – Bhagavad Gita 6.30

Therefore, whether one acts personally, in relationship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or on the ordinary platform of social activity, if one pleases the Supreme Personality in his actions, one may remember and see Him in everything, as Krishna desired the Pandavas the rule the world, being righteous in the era of corrupt Kuru offsprings or descendants. That is the secret behind the mana, and of all magical inventions, that revolve around a central magician, who is unaffected by the state of affairs in the material platform.

“Whenever a devotee offers me with love and devotion a fruit, a flower, a leaf or some water, I accept his offering.” –
Bhagavad Gita 9.26

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The main point about accepting a humble offering, is that Krishna accepts only the devotion and love of the devotee. He wants to reciprocate His love to the devotee, making him completely His own. Therefore, when the devotee offers a simple offering simply to please the Lord, whether simple or  complex, the offering tells the Lord, the devotee is ready to receive the Lord’s mercy out of gratitude. The ordinary man, however gifted in speculation and academic degrees, cannot receive such a blessing, because he does not spare any time to enliven his connection with Krishna. Having no appreciation for the exchange of relations, in a humble state of mind, an ordinary person cannot conceive of Krishna in his mind, and as a result, he is negligent of understanding how a simple offering of devotion and love, can have an endless impact, for by satisfying the Supreme whole, Sri Krishna, everybody becomes satisfied as a hand attached to the body is satisfied, by receiving food from the stomach.

The result of offering something to the Lord, through the knowledge gained by self-realized persons, is transcendental, and is experienced as boundless sweetness and pleasure derived through Krishna’s pleasure potency, that is entirely Sac-cid-ananda, full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. A regular exchange of gifts, however thoughtful and generous, or sometimes provoking, cannot have the original quality of exchange on the original spiritual platform, because it is based on thoughts that are limited, and whose results are depleted in due course.

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