Ачарья-основатель Его Божественная Милость
А.Ч. Бхактиведанта Свами Прабхупада

16 Days of Activism to 365 Days of Action
By Rādhā Devi Dasi, Karuṇā Śakti Devi Dasi & Loka-pāvanī Devi Dasi   |  Дек 17, 2022
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Manu-Samhita states, “The gods are very happy with those families where women are respected. And where women are not respected, there all kinds of sacrifices/charities are futile.” Yet the abuse of women and children is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world, what to speak of spiritual violation? ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada emphasized the importance of protecting women and the vulnerable throughout his teachings.

In order to serve this important instruction, this year the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry joined the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign for 16 days, the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry shared references from Prabhupada and sastra, panel discussions, video messages from ISKCON leaders, and social media posts with educational information on recognizing and responding to domestic abuse. The campaign ended on December 10, 2022. The ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry extends its gratitude to the devotees who have responded so favourably to this important initiative and to the various organisations who co-sponsored the campaign.

 

Watch the full campaign here:

 
 

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated, “As a fort commander very easily conquers invading plunderers, by taking shelter of a wife, one can conquer the senses which are unconquerable in the other social orders”. The purpose of the grihastha āśrama is to provide a safe environment for advancement in bhakti-yoga. Its role in that sense cannot be overstated. Srila Prabhupāda explains the first duty of a householder in the following way: “You must fully consider, however, your wife and child; your first duty now as a householder is to provide nicely for your wife and child.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda, Letter August 29, 1967).

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of misconceptions about the purpose and importance of the grhastha āśrama (married life). As a result of these misconceptions, problems of abuse have crept into our society. “Devotees around the world experience abuse, including domestic abuse,” (Her Grace Krishnarupa, Women’s Misnter, Australia). The aim of this 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign was to create awareness and address these problems in our movement. “In our Vedic science of living, it is enjoined that the society should be organized in such a way to protect women, children, old people, and cows because factually all of them are innocent.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda Letter to: Mr. Loy; Vrindaban 7 November, 1972).

In order to remove all forms of domestic abuse, we must first remove the silence and the stigma that covers these topics. A healthy society is one that talks about its problems and deals with its problems in a healthy way.

In March 2020, the GBC passed a resolution against domestic abuse, clearly stating that such abuse cannot and will not be tolerated in our society. This resolution was the focal point of the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry 2022 campaign.

Find a copy of the GBC resolution against Domestic Abuse here: https://gbc.iskcon.org/domestic-abuse-policy/

However, a resolution can only go so far. In order for us to eliminate domestic abuse—and by extension gender-based violence— from our communities, we have to work together to create a safe space for abuse victims to receive the help they need. We are calling on devotees to help turn these 16 Days of Activism into 365 Days of Action by sharing the information from this campaign and taking action to address abuse in your local communities.

The reality is that everyone who comes into this movement comes with baggage, consisting of our past karma, impressions, qualities, character, and background. Such is the nature of being a conditioned soul. Sometimes people bring very unsavoury baggage into our movement. As a result, the problems we see in the larger society still exist within ISKCON.

Education and proper understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are the best prevention for domestic abuse. In the first of his Seven Purposes for ISKCON, Prabhupāda states that it is his goal to achieve real unity and peace in the world and to check the imbalance of values in life by educating all people in the techniques of spiritual life.

First of all, we need to educate devotees that our scriptures don’t justify abuse. “Justification of abuse doesn’t exist in our scriptures,” says Her Grace Citi-Śakti devi dasi. In fact, our scriptures call for respect, protection and compassion. Domestic abuse is based on power and control, which have no place in Vaiṣṇava communities.

Moreover, Vaiṣṇava communities are built on the idea of āśrama, a place of shelter. A place of shelter refers to a place where we feel protected and safe. To give someone protection means to create a safe and emotionally healthy environment that fosters growth, especially the growth of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Domestic abuse is a failure of compassion and tolerance, which are fundamental to bhakti. Such abuse is an offence to a Vaiṣṇavas and to Kṛṣṇa. “Committing domestic abuse is committing Vaiṣṇava aparādha,” says His Grace Pragoṣa dasa.  By neglecting to help or covering our eyes to the abuse that is happening within our society, we are complicit in that abuse and aparadha. How we protect (or fail to protect) the members of our society also affects our preaching, it affects our communities, and it affects the faith in the heart of each member of our ISKCON society. “Unless we address issues on the abuse of women and children, and environmental concerns, we will not be accepted by society,” says Her Grace Uttama devi dasi.

Men have a special role to play in preventing abuse. We often hear the term, “toxic masculinity”, but what is the alternative? “The masculine principle means to be a provider and protector”, says His Grace Mahātmā dasa. As sādhakas, men must embrace sattvic masculinity which means to follow in the footsteps of the great Vaiṣṇava acaryas and other devotees of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada explains in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.19.5, how Lord Rama set the ideal example of how a husband protects his wife, and must never neglect to provide for his wife. Just as Lord Rama sacrificed everything to find and protect Sita, we must make every effort to protect the vulnerable in our Vaiṣṇava society.

 “Protection does not mean negligence, no. Protection means to give her all facilities. That is protection.” (Śrīla Prabhupāda Lecture on SB 3.28.18 – Nairobi, October 27, 1975). Śrīla Prabhupāda himself set the example by repeatedly calling for the protection of women and condemning failures of protection, both emotional and physical. Abuse of any kind is definitely something that displeases Śrīla Prabhupāda whose conduct towards everyone he met only showed kindness, compassion, care and respect. There are innumerable references throughout the śāstra about the importance of protecting women.

In the third of his Seven Purposes of ISKCON, Prabhupada states that the purpose of ISKCON is “To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Kṛṣṇa).” The only way for us to truly make this Srila Prabhupada’s vision a reality is by eradicating abuse from all corners of our society. Let us strive to do everything in our power to make ISKCON a healthy, compassionate, and safe society.

We are calling on all devotees to join us in taking these 16 days of Activism to 365 days of Action. Some actions that you can take are:

  • Educate yourself with the resources shared by the ISKCON Vaiṣṇavi Ministry’s 16 days campaign
  • Read this ISKCON GBC resolution against gender-based violence
  • Share the content from the campaign with your communities
  • Dedicate one Sunday Programme to talking about domestic abuse
  • Compile a list of resources in your local area and keep them on hand
  • Reach out to devotees in your community and create safe spaces for them to reach out if they need support
  • Facilitate educational programmes about domestic abuse in your local area
  • Facilitate the development of a support system in your local area
  • Consult with your Vaishnavi Minister for the zone

 

Watch the full campaign here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS7fSOfAwmwqT-zHK_Sui4ZFSuQ7_XgmA

Find a copy of the GBC resolution against Domestic Abuse here: https://gbc.iskcon.org/domestic-abuse-policy/  

Download this step-by-step guide on how to prepare your personal safety plan http://www.ncdsv.org/images/DV_Safety_Plan.pdf  

Additional resources: 

Karuna Care Education:

https://karunacare.iskcon.org/get-help/  

Grihasta Vision Team: 

https://vaisnavafamilyresources.org/…/domestic-abuse/  

No More Abuse Global directory: 

https://nomoredirectory.org/  

 

This 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2022 was Co-Sponsored by 

Co-Sponsored By: 

ISKCON Communications Ministry; 

ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry; 

ISKCON GBC Devotee Care Committee; 

ISKCON Justice Ministry; 

ISKCON HEARTS; 

ISKCON News;

Grihasta Vision Team; 

Sadhvi Sanga; 

Karuna Care Education; 

IFAST

 

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