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.


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?


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.


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.


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?


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?



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:


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