First Gaudiya Institution Organized by Female Devotees
Published on April 10th, 2017 | by Harmonist staff4
Originally published at Vina.
Shree Guru Prapanna Ashram, focuses entirely on women devotees. This ashram is an indispensable part of the Gaudiya Vaishnav institutions. But there are certain things that make this organization somewhat special. One of them is that this is the first reported organisation of the Gaudiya institutions that entirely focuses on women devotees.
It was founded by His Divine Grace Shrila Patitpavan Goswami Thakur, one of the disciples of Jagatguru Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur, with the primary motive of helping the cause of the suffering women and bringing them to the shelter of Lord Shri Krishna.
This ashram is mainly run by the women sevaits and regular weekly classes are organized where women from various localities of Kolkata assemble to take a course on the teachings of Gaudiya Acharyas, The Gaudiya Philosophy and much more.
This is indeed an attempt on behalf of us to distribute the mercy of Lord Shri Gouranga Mahaprabhu to the women devotees so that they too get the privilege of knowing the great Lord, His pastimes, His glories.
Our present Acharya is Shrimati Jayshree Devi and we are currently preparing a preliminary version of a webpage. If you visit the galleries and About Us sections, you will be able to see the pictures of deities. We also have a Facebook page.
And the location of the Kolkata Ashram in Google Maps.
Thanks a lot to Harmonist for publishing this news about us.
I wonder what is actually meant by “the cause of suffering women”, and if men who would find Sri Guru in that math would be accepted.
As a disciple of Ashram Acharya, Shrimati Jayshree Devi, and being involved with the Ashram, for last 27 years, and being a male devotee myself, I think I am eligible to answer this question raised by Syamasundara Prabhu.
The answer to your second question is yes, she accepts male devotees and I am myself one of his brahmachari disciples and stay in the math. Imagine someone is extremely thirsty and requests for some drinking water from you, would you discriminate whether he/she is male or female? I think the answer is NO. Similarly, our gurumata does not discriminate between male and female devotees, and gives initiation and permission to stay in the math to quench their spiritual thirst, but, at the same time they should be keeping distance to the female devotees. This is in accordance with the vision of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami PrabhuPad, whose opinion regarding establishing such ashrams is contained in ‘Saraswati Jayshree’, Vaibhav Parba, Part 1, Ch 32. [1st published in 1934, compiled by Srimad Sundarananda Vidyavinod prabhu]
“Our maths are being constructed in various places and many sanyasi, vanaprastha, grihasta and brahmacharis are getting special opportunities to learn the virtues, by continuously staying there. But, since long, we are also trying to provide opportunities of Hari bhajan to the women devotees. Though it is not necessary for the women getting the opportunities and advantages of Hari bhajan staying at home, to stay in separate places, but, often, we hear of the problems they face in Hari bhajan due to the company of immoral people. For them, if we try to construct Shri Vishnupriya Palli in Sridham Mayapur near the house Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then, they even can perform Hari bhajan staying at separate places from their home and hence may be benefitted. They are the associates of Shri Vishnupriya Devi. Thereby, staying at the home of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they should serve Shriman Mahaprabhu under the allegiance of Shri Vishnupriya Devi. The close association of other men and immoral people should be avoided there. Only a few male devotees (like Sri Ishaan, the senior devotee who used to serve and protect Sachimata and Sri Vishnupriya Devi) should serve and protect these associates of Vishnupriya Devi, staying at distance from them. Women devotees should not engage in internal quarrels, and should stay there for Hari bhajan, should read the scriptures and related books everyday, always engage themselves in spiritual discussion and discourses and, leaving all sorts of prating, they should follow and preach the ideals of Suddha bhakti in association of pure devotees. Hence, the construction of such an ideal Vishnupriya palli is strongly essential for them to stay there, to perform Hari bhajan renouncing the worldly luxuries, to honour prasadam, to lead life like ideal Sadhus, to chant Mahamantra always, to take care of and protect the materials required for service of Shriman Mahaprabhu and to spend their lives by serving Shriman Mahaprabhu in every possible ways.”
– Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupad , 21st September, 1925. (5th Aswin, 1332 according to Bengali Calendar).
I think when you read this excerpt, you had an idea why the term ‘suffering women’ has been used. Still, I will try to provide an explanation. In India, the condition of many women is deplorable.
Firstly, they have very little independence in taking decisions about themselves and are compelled to marry as soon as they cross 18 (even, sometimes less than 18!!). This is done mostly by their guardians to protect the ladies from the clutches of the evil men. So, they do rarely have a shelter where they can do their bhajans peacefully and lead a dedicated, unmarried life. So, they are suffering!
Secondly, after marriage, often the women are oppressed, tortured in their in-laws and hence, they have no place to escape, nowhere to find peace. Often they take the drastic decision of committing suicide unable to bear the troubles. So we ought to save these innocent lives by bringing them to the cool soothing shelter under the lotus feet of Shri Gaurachandra.
Thirdly, the gender discrimination is too much here and many new born female babies are killed or thrown away to dustbins right after their birth. But, human birth is for bhajan, isn’t it?
Fourthly, at old age , many widows find themselves a burden of the house and their children are not willing to take their responsibilities any more. So, they are often subjected to rigorous humiliations and mental tortures, if not physical. So, they should find a place to perform bhajan where they can serve guru gauranga.
Fifth, many women from poor families suffer from chronic diseases, psychological disorders etc, and their families are reluctant upon keeping them in their houses as they seem to be ‘good-for-nothing’ to them and are expelled from home.
And last but not the least, the educated, wealthy women, having everything else in their lives except the peace and tranquility that they desire. (Remember the verse uttered by Shrila Sanatan Goswamipad at the beginning of Sanatan Siksha “K ami kene more jare tapatraya” – CC Madhya Ch 20) We all know that taking shelter of Harinam and association with guru vaishnavas and reading Shastras can give this very desired peace to these suffering women. And our math tries to provide those.
So, I have mentioned these 6 types of suffering women , but there may be lot more. In fact I mentioned these 6 types, because we have all these 6 types of suffering women devotees in our ashram. That’s why, the expression ‘the cause of suffering women’ has been used here. Thank you very much for asking the question. We request for all your support and cooperation to help us. In case you want to contact us, our email id: firstname.lastname@example.org , our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/shreeguruprapannaashrama/ , our facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/shreeguruprapanna.ashram.9 , our website (on the way of construction) : http://www.shreeguruprapannaashram.wordpress.com .
Very comprehensive reply, Acyutananda Prabhu! Thank you.