A historic new anthology entitled “The Emergence of Women’s Voices in ISKCON: A Collection of Letters, Articles, Papers, and Conference Reports from 1988 to 2020” is set to be released with a special online book launch event on August 22nd and 23rd.
Compiled by Srila Prabhupada disciple Pranada Dasi, the work is a written documentary of the voices of the first-generation pioneer women of ISKCON. Within its 540 pages, thirty-three authors speak about their relationships with Srila Prabhupada, what women bring to Krishna consciousness, and the importance of women’s voices in ISKCON. They tackle difficult issues with philosophy, reason, common sense, decades of personal experience, and Krishna consciousness.
According to the book’s blurb, “The essays in this anthology will bring light to ISKCON members around the world. They are as applicable today as they were yesterday and can be used as a road map to move into the future. Many senior devotees have poured out their wise hearts here, having thought deeply about this topic. They knew Srila Prabhupada and lived under his roof.”
Because the pioneer women of ISKCON wish to pass their torch of experience and lessons they’ve learned to protect, guide, empower, and inspire future generations, they are releasing “The Emergence of Women’s Voices in ISKCON” for free to everyone.
Directions for how to download the book for free will be given out to those who attend the virtual book launch, entitled “Sharing Hearts,” which will be held on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/586078468722087.
The launch will kick off on Saturday August 22nd with kirtan by Nadiya Mani from 9:30am to 10:00am EDT. Next, Nandarani Dasi will interview Sudharma Dasi and Pranada Dasi, who both helped establish the Vaishnavi Ministry, on “How the Past Impacts the Future” from 10:00am to 11:30am.
The interview will cover what initiated the discussion about women’s roles in ISKCON, the formation of the Vaishnavi Ministry and its goals, what women can expect and how they can overcome obstacles, what inspired the production of the book, and lessons learned on the way. Sudharma and Pranada will also suggest where to turn our attention to make a difference for women today.
The next day, Sunday August 23rd, will begin with kirtan by Dhanya Dasi from 9:30am to 10:00am, followed by a panel discussion on “Revitalizing the Heart of ISKCON” from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The panel will be moderated by Sudharma Dasi, and will consist of Bir Krishna Goswami, Anuttama Das, Rukmini Dasi, and Visakha Dasi.
“The panel discussion is intended to bring increased understanding in our society about gender,” Pranada says. “The panel members will consider the importance of passing the torch on from our initial generation to the future, especially in regards to relationships with Vaishnavis. They’ll share memories of how Srila Prabhupada treated his daughters and what Srila Prabhupada’s legacy was in this regard. They’ll also consider ashrama, service among various members in ISKCON, and community: how these have suffered in our growth and how we can improve. Though we place more emphasis on building community now than in the past, they will discuss ways we can continue to improve.”
The E-book cover for ‘The Emergence of Women’s Voices in ISKCON’
All sessions will be interactive, with time included for questions and answers on both days, and attendees encouraged to add their voices, ask questions, share their vision for the future and make a difference.
Early readers of the book “The Emergence of Women’s Voices in ISKCON” have already called it “A must-read,” and one reader, Mathura Mandala Dasi, commented, “Emergence opened a floodgate of emotion and gave me solace and wisdom.” The book will be released for free in all digital formats on launch day to make it widely available, and an audio version is already in production, to be released soon.
Compiler Pranada Dasi joined ISKCON in 1975, served at Back to Godhead magazine for nearly thirty years, launched Krishna.com in 2000 with three other devotees, and was co-director of the BBT Special Projects division. She also published the quarterly newsletter Priti-laksanam to educate devotees about the role of women in ISKCON and provide an avenue for devotees to communicate with the GBC about other topics of concern, along with her role in starting the Vaishnavi Ministry. With so many years supporting Vaishnavis and helping them to have their voices heard, the new book means a lot to her.
“This is not only an important book of history, but a useful resource – a veritable encyclopedia of responses to misconceptions about women and their role in Krishna consciousness,” she says.
She recalls sharing documents from the book at a recent online Vaishnavi conference. “After viewing the presentation, a godsister wrote me, ‘I encourage you to get that information bound up all together in some form so that when we [Prabhupada’s daughters] are all gone from this earth, generations to come can find our footprints in the sand,’” Pranada says. “She was right – we need to give the wisdom of our experience to others.”
Pranada adds: “In that same online conference, many women expressed frustration and confusion. I knew that the papers in Emergence would go a long way to educate, illuminate, and enthuse devotees. I felt it was time to document the history as a service to women around the world.
“History offers us many lessons, and this one in particular can lift the cloud of unknowing for women around the world.”
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Both men and women are invited to read the book and attend the book launch. Please visit the online Emergence book launch event, hosted by ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry, here, and share it with your friends: www.facebook.com/events/586078468722087
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org