Female Chauvinism in ISKCON

Aren’t you sick of being seen as just a piece of meat? An exploitable toy? I want the Hare Krishnas out of hardcore, and I’ll tell you why: blatant sexism. Sexism has no place in our scene. Female domination and male subordination must end!

That’s how I opened the “Sexist Things Krishna’s Say” article in Enquirer #6, which was attempt to unexpectedly flip the tables and show a plethora of Prabhupāda quotes about the superiority of women.

[Prabhupāda] belittles the male’s role in marriage by repeatedly describing the wife as, “the better half of the husband.” (SB 1.7.45)

A man is portrayed as spiritually incompetent. The “foolish” and “hard-hearted” man is said to be completely dependent on the mercy of his “good wife.” Without her help he cannot be elevated. Prabhupāda says, “the wife is considered to be the source of all liberation.” (SB 3.14.17) Thus, “Husbands as a class cannot repay their debt to women, either in this life or in the next.” (SB 3.14.21). “The wife is mentioned here as ishta, which means ‘worshipable.’” (SB 4.13.12)

The spiritual master of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s guru instructs that the wife should always be seen as the greatest exalted devotee. The husband should respectfully place the dust of her feet on his head, and serve her like a menial servant. He is to serve her every meal, taking for himself only what she leaves behind. And what fate awaits a husband who won’t do all this? Surely, he falls down into hellish existence. (Bab., part 1)

heraNext to this I had a painting of the Hera Pañcamī festival of Goddess Laxmī, showing the goddess on on a throne surrounded by women who were forcing men with bald heads and pony tails to bow down in supplication, threatening them with sticks.

Women are advised not to be allured by men, who are death-like representatives of Māyā [illusion and lust] “A woman foolishly looks upon māyā in the form of a man, her husband. A woman, therefore, should consider her husband… to be the arrangement of the external energy of the Lord for her death, just as the sweet singing of the hunter is death for the deer.” (SB 3.31.41-42)

Women, on the other hand, are to be seen as embodiments of divinity and the representatives of intelligence (SB 4.25.21). Krishna himself declares all these good qualities to be feminine, “Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness, and patience.” (Gītā 10.34) Even the ultimate source of intelligence, the Vedas (the body of knowledge on which the Hare Krishna movement is based) is treated as being of feminine gender. (SB 3.24.15)

Hare Krishna’s claim that their movement is based on spiritual equality. The truth, however, is that women are awarded absolute superiority, even in the realm of the soul. “The soul… is supposed to be originally a woman.” (SB 3.31.41) Hare Krishna’s boldly assert that the highest spiritual perfection is exclusively in the domain of the female (Cc. Mad.8.79). Without serving those most perfect women, a man has no hope of entering the spiritual world (Cc Mad.8.223). It is absolutely impossible, they say, for a male to attain that level of perfection, he must first become a woman (Cc. Mad.8.225).

Obviously this article was a parody, but by giving this glaringly one-sided interpretation I hoped to demonstrate that the male chauvinism in ISKCON (or the claims of sexism against us) was based on similarly one-sided interpretations.

Female chauvinism is a distorted view of Krishna consciousness. Male chauvinism is an equally distorted view. Both positions are based on hasty, unwarranted conclusions deduced from isolated quotes taken out of context.

– Excerpt from an early draft of

Train Wrecks and Transcendence: A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna

By Vraja Kishor [VrajaKishor.com]

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