Gender Bridges:
Bhakti Tirtha Swami's Visit to Stonefort Ashram

by Dhanistha dasi
Posted March 15, 2003


Last December His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami visited here at Stonefort Ashram. He stayed for 4 days spending much of his time immersed in his writing while surrounded by the peace and quiet of our woodland winter setting and Srila Prabhupada's relics and inspiration. He also took patient time to speak openly to me on matters of great importance to this ashram project. We talked in great depth about the challenges (both past and present) of Krishna devotees and we had several lengthy and intense discussions particularly on the subject of our women and third gender.

I was quite surprised and delighted to discover such rarity of personal kindness and consideration from him as a Godbrother. Though knowing him by reading some of his books and by some personal interactions, I admittedly was suspect of any leader of our society to enter my home and the delicate atmosphere of the temple project we have here. But he has always supported my service on many levels with enthusiasm (even beyond my own at times) and I feel his love always. So I risked my fears and encouraged him to come visit the ashram. He made his decision to do so suddenly in December almost Christmas time with snow all around. It was very special.

I found Bhakti Tirtha Swami to be almost childlike in a kind of transcendental innocence and at the same time extra ordinarily enlightened and spiritually powerful. He seemed profoundly intent on three things: truth, compassion and integrity for all concerned. These qualities in him and his personal and respectful dealings with me during our communications was presented as quite common in his nature and exactly on the level of the purest bond between spiritual brother and sister.

Though I was rendered almost speechless at first as he began to speak to me directly open and honest about my being third gender, when I did recover, I realized finally I had met a leader who truly cares about each soul. When I was alone and to myself that evening, after talking with him almost all day on these delicate matters of women, ashrams, gays and lesbians, bisexual, and all other third gender topics, I cried all night in relief! in prayer! giving thanks to Prabhupada for sending someone to release me from the excruciating silence and pain of my own needless closet.

Up to these past few months, I had been somewhat open with my sexual identity to most friends and at least never lied when asked directly about it, and when appropriate I always told others rather than apply a cover up technique, but I had also been very careful mostly silent and in much anxiety to be so contained.

At present, after much processing of this spiritual journey and by the wisdom and ongoing encouragement of many good friends I have received fresh air of life back into my soul and my work. I realize now how much I can do to help others by publicly and totally being honest for the sake of releasing positive healing and creativity for many devotees who have long been forced into the darkness of a closeted life of danger, lonliness and fear. Time has come. There is incredible shelter in truth and Krishna is Truth.

The second day of Bhakti Tirtha Swami's visit I was able to speak openly to him and answer his many questions according to my own experience and realization and in ways I had not thought ever possible for me to do with any of the leaders of our beloved ISKCON society.

To be in the position of being third gender in this beautiful Hare Krishna Movement in the Age of Kali Yuga is a blessing. To do something positive and to help my third gender friends and many of the female devotees be relieved of unnecessary burden and excessive tribulations is a great blessing for me. This work has been one of my deepest desires since 1979. But I found no way to present it until now. Now the time has come, now the hearts are softening, now the wisdom is superior in its power rather than the ignorance of the masses. I feel it is my duty and worth to my guru Prabhupada to continue this ashram with dignity by providing a shelter and a healing ashram for us. I am very thankful to be encouraged in this work and to now be able to help express things truthfully to the entire public audience of devotees. These efforts by each and every one of us according to our own capacity will build the simple bridges of love and devotion between all hearts.

I want to thank the Chakra Website, you my brother, Bhakti Tirtha Swami and my many loving and wise friends for such a comfortable position you have placed me in, that of truth. Now I am brave and happy and as I speak more and more openly in order to help others, I find there is an unlimited resource of strength, integrity and compassion available to me for my work. I pray everyone tap into this resource with the best of intentions and love.

Dhanistha

All glories to the compassion, love, and devotion of the Vaisnavas.