Today we live in a world that is full of war, strife, hatred and exploitation between people. It is a world based on a bodily conception of life that categorizes and then mistreats living beings on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion, etc.
The Krishna consciousness movement teaches a higher guiding principle based upon the soul. We offer to the world a panacea: We can live together peacefully only when we respect each other as individual spiritual beings, part and parcel of God. All living beings are eternal, all are sacred, and all--in their essence--are equally dear to the Supreme Lord.
To effectively teach this principle, members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness need to be vigilant that it be properly understood and practiced within our own society and among our members. We must believe in the principle of loving, respecting, and caring for all beings as parts and parcels of Lord Krishna.
It is our sacred duty to teach, speak, and live the principles of humility and respect for all, as taught by Lord Caitanya and our Founder-Acarya, Srila Prabhupada. We must also speak out against deviations from those principles.
In 1998, the North American GBC/Temple Presidents Executive Committee found it necessary to speak out against an email conference that claimed to be founded on Vaishnava teachings that was belittling and demeaning to women.
It minimized the contributions of women, and failed to fully appreciate the role women play in our society, our families, and our temples. (See Appendix 1 below.)
Today, the International GBC Executive Committee is disturbed to learn that a blog site claiming affiliation with ISKCON, and using "Hare Krishna" in its name, has included sexist and misogynist statements. Such writings are not authorized, and they are against the principles of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and our Vaishnava culture.
We condemn any effort to minimize the contributions and importance of women in our society. Instead, we offer the women of our society the highest respect. Women are of great value to our Vaishnava community, and have made immeasurable, indispensable, and saintly contributions as mothers, daughters, wives, pujaris, priests, teachers, and leaders.
We call upon all members of ISKCON to be living examples of the highest respect and appreciation for all living beings and to resist any temptations towards disrespect or prejudice.
The GBC Executive Committee
1998 Statement by the North American Executive Officers
The North American GBC/Temple President Executive Officers wish to voice our strong disapproval of, and our protest against, the demeaning and ill intended statements made by some members of the GHQ com conference that were recently brought to public attention.
It is our firm position that Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, intended his Hare Krishna Movement to be free from all prejudice, sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry.
We affirm that the first and foremost principle of our society is that all people (indeed all sentient beings) are eternal, sacred parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, and as such should be respected and affirmed in their individual relationship with the Lord, as well as their service to guru and Krishna.
Multiple statements made by members of this Internet conference ridicule, berate and vilify women, other minorities, and individual Vaishnava devotees. They document an organized attempt to prevent women from their God-given rights of self-expression and service to Srila Prabhupada. We denounce such views. They are opposed to the core values and principles of Vaishnava culture which upholds the devotional offerings of all souls as sacred and worthy of our respect and protection.
While we endorse open debate and dialogue within our Krishna Consciousness movement, we must speak out against any discussion that crosses the line of decency, morality, and Vaishnava etiquette and supports an agenda to exploit or minimize a section of our society.
Bir Krishna Goswami, Chairperson
Vraja Lila Dasi
Women in ISKCON
International GBC Resolution March 2000
WHEREAS, the Women's Ministry presentation on March 1st, 2000 to the GBC Body brought a clearer understanding of the mistakes of the past and the need to provide equal and full opportunity for devotional service for all devotees in ISKCON, regardless of gender, and
WHEREAS, it is clearly following in our line that all people are welcome to join Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement and are capable of developing full love of God, and
WHEREAS, it is our belief that many of the social issues that confront us are exacerbated because the voice of our women, who are the mothers and daughters of our Krsna conscious family, have been hushed and stifled due to misinterpretation of our Vaisnava philosophy, and thus the human and interpersonal needs of our devotees have been minimized,
THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED THAT:
501 [STATEMENT] 1. The members of the Governing Body Commission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness offer their humble apologies to the women of Srila Prabhupada's society who, because of our own shortcomings and those of the Society, have suffered due to a lack of protection, support, facility and appreciation for their service, devotion and vast contributions to the Society, and
2. [ACTION] All GBC Body members and other leaders shall hold istagosthis [meetings] in each of their respective temples to establish the priority of providing equal facilities, full encouragement and genuine care and protection for the women members of ISKCON. Also, separate meetings should be held with the leaders and women of each temple to address the women's needs and concerns,
Women's Participation 19 [LAW]
A. All ISKCON temples are to allow all qualified devotees, regardless
of gender, to speak on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, etc. during the regular temple class.
B. All ISKCON temples designate half of the temple room area, divided
in the center from the altar, for the ladies.
C. If the management in a particular temple feels it is unable to
implement these proposals, the Executive Committee will appoint a small team of senior devotees, including women, to sensitively review the particular local situation.