Nitai Dasa: Academically contrived Affirmative Action has raised its ugly face in our ISKCON society with the recent push by feminist women backed by the GBC and the Śāstric Advisory Council (SAC). The most earnest of these feminist activists, is Urmila Devī Dāsī who also happens to be a member of the SAC and who has submitted several applications for the position of a guru rejected by the GBC in the past.

Affirmative action – A policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities. Affirmative action has been extremely controversial and was challenged in 1978 in the Bakke decision. (Wordweb)

Affirmative action has also been widely criticized – Opponents of affirmative action such as George Sher believe that affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of people who are chosen based on the social group to which they belong rather than their qualifications, thus rendering affirmative action counterproductive. Opponents, who sometimes say that affirmative action is “reverse discrimination”, further claim that affirmative action has undesirable side-effects in addition to failing to achieve its goals. They argue that it hinders reconciliation, replaces old wrongs with new wrongs, undermines the achievements of minorities, and encourages individuals to identify themselves as disadvantaged, even if they are not. It may increase racial tension and benefit the more privileged people within minority groups at the expense of the least fortunate within majority groups (such as lower-class whites).{Wikipedia}

This issue within our ISKCON society can be seen from various angles of vision with the devotees who have dedicated their lives to serving Śrīla Prabhupāda and view it as yet another move to deviate away from the teachings of the previous Ācāryas (Parampara) by liberalizing and modernizing our ISKCON society, while the GBC and feminist/equalitist devotees see it as a natural evolution in bringing the Vaiṣṇava tradition into the 21st century while keeping up with modern trends in the greater society.

This issue was very nicely explained by Kṛishṇa Devī Dāsī in her article posted here where she gives not only the events that have led to this issue becoming public but also cites examples from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions and precepts.

So far the politically correct ‘affirmative action’ devotees in our ISKCON society are winning this battle with the main opponent being the Indian Bureau while the rest of the society, who are uneducated in the teachings and instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda, are more or less left in the dark regarding this ‘backdoor’ move to institutionalize women gurus.

It was on the foundation of SAC politically motivated paper that the GBC passed the resolution approving the FDG post. (Rubber-stamped Feminist Diksa Guru)

The rationale why we term the SAC paper highly prejudiced is as follow:

“Firstly, Urmila claimed that as a member of SAC she was not involved in any capacity in procurement of this paper. Urmila devi dasi, who [in 2010 when this paper was written] was the woman to be nominated as a diksa-guru, and hence was the very reason that the SAC was asked to research the matter. However, since Mother Urmila was also a member of SAC, a very clear conflict of interest resulted, which is why the SAC stated:

“SAC members felt that the circumstances of the task were valid, and the topic interesting, and so accepted the task. Urmila-devi, however, being a SAC member involved in this case before the GBC, excused herself from the discussion and writing of this paper.”

Yet this turned out to be a false statement. On our inquiring about the veracity of this statement, two SAC members (HH Bhakti Rasamrta Swami and Sriman Mukunda Datta Prabhu) stated that while Mother Urmila did not participate in the actual writing of the paper, she was definitely involved in the discussions that constituted the substance of the document. To exactly what extent her involvement might have swayed the outcome of the SAC paper is conjectural, but the fact that the SAC chose to cover up her involvement is in itself troubling.

Secondly, the SAC wrote:

“Furthermore, in order to ensure that all sides of the topic were properly represented, SAC accepted a temporary member representing Vaisnavas raised in Bharata where one might question the propriety of female devotees as gurus due to cultural background.”

This statement is actually misleading. That sole member from Bharata, Devamrta Prabhu [now H.H. Bhakti Rasamrta Swami], explained that his involvement was very limited, and only in the initial stages:

“I was involved in the initial stages. I helped in the research with the Madhva sampradaya. But then since I was not able to cope with my heavy load of other services I withdrew myself from the SAC after speaking to the convener, Purnacandra Prabhu (now Goswami).”

While Devamrta Prabhu’s leaving was not the SAC’s fault, the SAC should have replaced him with someone else, or better still, with several others born in India. Not only did the SAC not do this, but it falsely stated that native-born Indians were actively involved and “properly represented.” Again, that simply was not true.

These two anomalies of obfuscating the truth are completely incongruent with brahminical behavior, which of course the SAC is supposed to embody. Besides damaging the credibility of the SAC, such a discrepancy sows doubt in the minds of the reader: Was the SAC paper fair and unbiased, or was it written from a strictly “Western-centric, modernist, feminist” position, with a predetermined conclusion already in place? This lack of transparency on the part of the SAC seriously undermines its credibility.” Krishna Devī dasi

Hence, we must pose the question; how can an individual like Urmila Devī Dāsī who is willing to lie, twist and misrepresent facts in order to realize her own agenda of “becoming an initiating guru”, be accepted as Brāhmaṇa, qualified to hold the esteemed role of a member of the SAC?

It is crystal clear that she is unable to exhibit even the basic quality of truthfulness, which is the fundamental prerequisite to be considered a brahmana in the first place?

Furthermore, how can a person who is not qualified to be a brahmana be considered in the role of an initiating spiritual master, regardless of gender?

What is even more troublesome is the fact that it is rumored that Urmila Devī Dasi is ‘allegedly’ already giving clandestine initiations (Diksa) secretly to ISKCON members, without the official approval of the GBC.

Furthermore the idea of a conditioned woman, fraught with materialistic ambition, becoming an initiating spiritual master in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON society has no support in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions and teachings (pramana).

The fact that Urmila Devī Dāsī and other ‘conditioned’ devotees in women’s bodies subjected to four defects, are desperately hankering after taking disciples and becoming official ISKCON gurus must never be taken lightly or condoned in our Vaiṣṇava society.

The role of an initiating spiritual master must never be denigrated to include ambitious conditioned souls who are ensnared in the bodily concept of life and the GBC should not be influenced by unqualified women desirous of equal status with men, who themselves, have already made a mockery of the initiation process and the esteemed position of an initiating spiritual master.

No devotee who has personal interest/ambition should be allowed to short track their way into the role of an initiating spiritual master by conducting clandestine initiations in an attempt to influence/blackmail ecclesiastical bodies such as the SAC and GBC into changing policy on guru tattva.

The fact that they can or did means that the GBC and SAC members are in themselves unqualified to hold such esteemed posts.