Follow by Email

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Mr. Mādhavī, Preaching Strategies and Puruṣottam vows

Bhakta: "What do you think of the new custom of giving women the title 'Prabhu'?”

Advaitadās: "The word Prabhu is of masculine gender, and translated into English it would be 'master', 'lord' or 'mr.' Some lady is named Mādhavī for instance, so you would say Mr. Mādhavī? That is just too absurd for words. It is not that ladies should not receive respect, but this is just totally out of frame and linguistically totally wrong. Needless to say, this is not coming down through paramparā. Furthermore, even for men the title Prabhu is not meant for every vagabond and totally loose fellow. In shastra that title is reserved, even for men, for great acharyas like Śukadeva, Vyāsadeva, or Sanātan Goswāmī.

Returning to the ladies, the title 'mātājī' is also not meant for every 15-year old girl but is traditionally reserved for elderly female gurus, although shastra does say that all women other than one's own wife should be considered mother - mātṛvad para dāreṣu. Sādhu Bābā gave great respect and position to women, and he did address young girls as Mā, or mother, but not as mātājī, for that is for another class of ladies, the elderly female Guru. Generally in traditional Vaiṣṇavism ladies are addressed with the Hindi/Bengali word 'didi' or sister. As a westerner it is hard to imitate a great sādhu like Sādhu Bābā by addressing young women as 'Ma' and we have a totally different culture here too, but Prabhu [Mr.] Mādhavī is really totally out of frame. If you said that in India you would really make a ridiculous fool of yourself."

Bhakta: "Do you think it is good if devotees preach fall-, envy-, free will-, choice-, or fall-from-taṭastha theories just as preaching strategies?"

Advaitadās: Such preaching strategies strengthen already so strong causal or Christian logic in the western minds. When it is apasiddhānta it is apasiddhānta, and it creates the heavy task for properly educated Vaiṣṇavas of re-educating 10000s of misinformed devotees. Some philosophical issues are really hard to conceive, if not impossible to conceive, with simple logic - they require shastriya shraddha, or scriptural faith instead and must be accepted without questioning or rationalizing."

Bhakta: "Puruṣottam Month, the extra Vedic month, is approaching, and many devotees make special tapasya this month."

Advaitadās: "One should follow one's own Guru in this. If Guru has prescribed special tapasya on that month, then follow that, but don't just adopt some self-invented vow this month which Guru has never given. Haribhakti Vilāsa does not prescribe special devotional vratas for Puruṣottam Month. Just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa with love and devotion bol haribol. I took dīkṣā in Puruṣottam Month in 1982, and later, when I found that out, I asked Sādhu Bābā, if it was either very auspicious or inauspicious. Sādhu Bābā shrugged his shoulders and said it did not make any difference. Haribhakti Vilāsa (2.16, 19) actually says mala-māsaṁ parityajet, one should not take initiation in Puruṣottam, the stool-month, but this is clearly in the context of karma kāṇḍa. This also counts for the last verses in chapter 16: "During the Puruṣottama-adhika-māsa, one should donate thirty-three milk cakes cooked in ghee to householder brāhmaṇas who are well-versed in the scriptures, while remembering Lord Kṛṣṇa. By failing to do so, one will lose all the piety that he had accumulated during the previous year." There is no more on Puruṣottam Month in the Haribhakti Vilāsa."


  1. Prabhuji pranam, prabhuji if I say that to bring the mlechhas into KC I have blended it with their religion. If I say for the sake of Krishna I can speak a lie like Yudhisthira and Sanatana Goswami. If I say (offcourse jokingly) that take a sword in one hand and Gita in another, than will you say (like the Russians) that I am spreading terrorism? Radhe Radhe

  2. Bhagavad Gita chapter 17. TEXT 15

    anudvega-karam vakyam satyam priyam hitam cha yat...vangmayam tapa uchyate

    Speech should not be agitating, it should be true, dear and beneficial. This is austerity of speech.

    dharma projjhita kaitavo'tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam - SB 1.1.2
    This religion rejects all cheating and is only for the non-envious.

    are cetah prodyat kapata kutinati bhara kharah - Manah Siksa

    O mind, why are you bathing in the donkey-urine of deceit and diplomacy?

    satyam param dhimahi - SB 1.1.1

    We meditate on the truth supreme.

    Furthermore, about the sword and the Geeta, Prabhu Sitanatha also made some militant statements - cakra loimu haate paashandi koribo sarva naash - "I will cut the heads of the atheists with my disk and totally wipe them out."
    Nothing wrong with that bhaav, but better not implement it like some real time terrorists do.

  3. Hare Krishna,

    I don't think the Prabhu/Didi issue will ever go away. 40 years ago we called everyone Prabhu, as we were thinking that everyone is our master. But Didi has always seemed too familiar to me, I know that Prabhu is masculine, and I would never call another woman Mataji. I have just never found a title I'm comfortable with. At the same time, if we're using Didi for women, no man has ever complained that we call him Prabhu. :) Would Baba be comparable to Didi? Radhe Shyama!

  4. Satya Mataji,
    Female is Didi and male is Dada. That is the overall custom in India. It is very nice, familiar but not too familiar. I myself usually object to be addressed as Prabhu. The name is Das. Advaita Prabhu is up there in the eternally revolving Gaura nitya lila, and He is the Lord (Prabhu), not me.

  5. Although 'didi' (sister; more properly for older sister) is not so uncommon in hindustan, 'dada' or 'da' ('da' being more common, suffixed after the name like 'ji') is the bengali equivalent of 'bhai', used like 'mate' is in English. So although you might find the hindi person saying like "Thank you, Rajiv da" to a bengali friend, he would never use it in daily life with other hindi people. Only bhai - and 'bhaiyaa' for older men.

    None of that is applicable to southern India.

    'baba' is not in any way equivalent to 'didi'. The term 'baba' is used in a religious or quasi-religious context, for someone who is senior in some field of knowledge or experience.

    > "I don't think the Prabhu/Didi issue will ever go away."

    Perhaps not, but people go away from iskcon because they ultimately do not want to do role-playing, using cult jargon that has no meaning in the broader society.

    Brian aka Cat ji

  6. This would be still totally out of parampara, but at least it would be grammatically correct - call women 'prabhvi', which is the feminine equivalent of the masculine 'prabhu'.