Instruction applies logic, not force
Posted August 21, 2003
Dear Brahma Prabhu,
In your article, "Without reason or justice", you wrote: "A female guru would have to possess a demeanor that would conflict with the natural feminine qualities that are so attractive in a Vaisnavi and that task would be greatly demanding."
I'm wondering what you meant by this, as I cannot think of any natural female qualities that conflict with the qualities necessary to be a guru. Certainly none of the ones that Krsna mentions in the Gita would conflict. So I am wondering what you mean by this.
Forgive me if I am wrong, but may I propose that you are thinking thus, due to the prevailing notion that a guru must be authoritarian. This comes from a misinterpretation of the word "instruct" -- taking it to mean "tell others what to do."
That is not how Srila Prabhupada instructed. Rather, he presented the parampara teaching with logic and reason, convincing us of its truths through our intelligence. His instruction was not to give out orders and wield authority thus. Rather his mood was, "Don't do it because I say so; do it because it makes sense to you -- that it is in your best interest to do it." Therefore he gave so many reasons for a course of action.
Unfortunately, ISKCON gurus are juggling management and brahminical responsibilities. -- being GBCs and gurus both, though it is impossible in terms of varnasrama. A brahmana will never coerce through laws, as the GBC does (re ISKCON Lawbook). He/she will convince a person through intelligence, thus empowering the hearer to connect with the Lord's guidance from within.
Coming in tune with one's conscience and connecting to the Lord in love is the desirable goal for the disciple, not merely being obedient to laws. To the extent that the laws support this goal, the sincere disciple follows them. To the extent that they do not, he does not follow. Yet the GBC have made laws to punish those that do not, assuming the role of the Paramatma, and the gurus who are GBC also, have helped make these laws, so one wonders about them as well.
The guru who is qualified is the humble servant of everyone. That is his or her mood. So the natural simplicity and humility of women are assets in this regard, at least to the extent that these qualities are actually present. Their natural submission -- if it is a fact -- is an asset, for to be a guru means to be the most submissive servant of the Lord, and not to deviate either by example or precept.
It means that no matter how many people humbly come to the guru for him/her to take responsibility for their advancement, s/he will not own that problem, but rather empower them through their intelligence as to how how to advance. To be able to do this requires a high assimilation of the philosophy -- no small task, regardless of one's gender.
One should therefore disregard gender altogether, when considering issues of the guru. The fact we consider it at all means we are culturally and socially conditioned, mistaking material qualifications to be spiritual and vice versa.
The guru is not qualified or unqualified by gender, but only on his/her
ability to instill others with consciousness of Krsna's presence and
guidance in their lives, to be faithful to that, and discard other
conceptions as illusory. No matter how he or she appears on a social or
bodily level, that is guru.