Destination Varanasi
28th of February, 2008 - 13:22
Leaving within the hour. It just dawned to me that Siva-ratri is right behind the corner, and Varanasi is approximately on the way...
Bengali lessons concluded
26th of February, 2008 - 15:53
Two months of Bengali lessons with Sakhicharan and Bisakha came to a conclusion today with the last chapter of the textbook discussions finished.
New section: Downloads
26th of February, 2008 - 7:55
A new section has been opened, hosting a number of media for download.
Raganuga for grabs
25th of February, 2008 - 21:26
Raganuga.Com and Raganuga.Org are available if someone wants to take the domains over and begin something anew.
Vraja Journal Digest - Newsletter discontinued
25th of February, 2008 - 7:52
The newsletter is discontinued in favor of a RSS newsfeed. I'm also heading towards Orissa in a few days, will be away for the better part of two months.
25th of February, 2008 - 3:44
I received a letter asking about the specifics of the design Visakha-sakhi draws on Radha's forehead after her morning bath, otherwise described as kama-yantra in Govinda-lilamrita. This is the reply.
Project Index - Concluding words
23rd of February, 2008 - 19:16
The project index at Madhavananda.com is indefinitely frozen. These are the concluding words posted today in the news section in announcing the same.
Soundscapes Reloaded
22nd of February, 2008 - 14:16
This is a continuation of the earlier blog entry featuring random sounds from Radhakund.
The Eve-teasing Problem
21st of February, 2008 - 15:24
In light of the recent rape and murder of Ananda-lila, an Australian girl who was staying in Vrindavan, people have asked for my comments on the culture of sexual harassment regrettably prevalent in India, sometimes labeled "eve-teasing", a rather archaic and tidy expression for an ugly social wrong.
Project ongoings
19th of February, 2008 - 11:09
Notes on diverse projects as the show is winding up. The ongoing-section of Vraja Journal retires.
Levels of Mantra and Meditation
17th of February, 2008 - 5:22
There are different levels on which a mantra functions or may be employed. Awareness of them, along with honest assessments of one's internal mental growth and present state, can prove to be helpful. I am also contrasting them with the theology of the four common aspects we know as nama, rupa, guna and lila.
And if you want to discuss...
16th of February, 2008 - 8:49
A few days back, my friend Jijaji told me he'd like to see a feature for leaving online comments on blog entries.
Gaudiya Discussions - Archives Reloaded
16th of February, 2008 - 8:26
These are the archives of Gaudiya Discussions, the once mighty giant of online Gaudiya Vaishnava discussions, debates, history, theology, controversy and creativity...
To Russian disciples of BVNM
15th of February, 2008 - 8:57
I keep hearing from several sources that some Russian disciples of BVNM have, as I had much predicted, employed my recent writings as ammunition in their hate campaign against the babaji tradition. Since none have contacted me in person, this is my open letter to them all.
Random soundscapes from Radhakund
12th of February, 2008 - 16:23
A while back a friend asked me to record some random bits of sound at Radhakund to get a better feel of the atmosphere. Here goes.
What I really want to say
11th of February, 2008 - 16:46
I just received a comment asking: "Do you want to stop posting clarifications and disclaimers and get down to the nitty-gritty of what you want to say?" Now, what do I really want to say? <pin drop silence follows>
My insight ventures
11th of February, 2008 - 7:15
With the occasional reference to yogic or Advaitin scriptures, or Buddhist suttas for that matter, some have been wondering about my explorations of knowledge outside the classical Vaisnava canon. Let's have a brief gloss on the why and the what to give everyone a better picture of what things are all about.
For all of you who want to spread the word
5th of February, 2008 - 19:39
Today I'm writing a note to all of you there, whether you're disciples of Narayana Maharaja, gurubhais of mine, or just random folks who want to interpret what I've written and tell all about it to your pals and all. And here's what I wish to say.
When the weather report is on
4th of February, 2008 - 19:30
I'd like to put in a note to all those who would judge me for what I am as I dive into the dark depths of my heart and pull out these horrendous blog entries. And yes, also for those well-wishers who have already concluded that I am a person with zilch spiritual authority or insight and informed me of the same. As well as for anyone else who might alter their perceptions of me because of what I have written, what I am writing and what I will come to write.
TBI - Part 3 - The factors that made me credulous
4th of February, 2008 - 19:16
From my last blog in this series, you'll remember the picture of someone rather stressed out by noise and corruption, pondering his future direction. What were my inner workings in the period that immediately preceded meeting this babaji? What made me so vulnerable to being duped? That's in turn for today's blog.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
1st of February, 2008 - 18:13
A word of clarification is in place, as my blogs as of late seem to have created some buzz in the blogosphere. Was Bhaktisiddhanta right about those bad babajis after all? My recent blogs were briefly mentioned in Jagadananda's recent blog, and a comment popped in: "Perhaps now its understood what Bhaktisidhanta was talking about...?" This needs some attention.

Back to top
The Eve-teasing Problem
Posted: 21st of February, 2008 - 15:24
In light of the recent rape and murder of Ananda-lila, an Australian girl who was staying in Vrindavan, people have asked for my comments on the culture of sexual harassment regrettably prevalent in India, sometimes labeled "eve-teasing", a rather archaic and tidy expression for an ugly social wrong.

I must admit my shortcomings in commenting on the issue. I haven't interviewed women here, I haven't read thorough studies on the topic either. Regardless, as I've lived here for a while and have become quite familiar with the culture and practical realities, let me toss in my two cents worth. Some observations and a bucketful of common sense will go a long way.

Let me open by frankly stating that in my opinion, a great many Indian men behave like brainless swine. I find their behavior appalling, falling well below standards of decency one would expect from animals, even. Having said that, I wish to extend my apology to the wonderful swine of India for using the simile; they do a fine job in cleaning the sewers. There certainly are cultured gentlemen out there. Yet, there is also a very unfortunate undercurrent of extreme sexism and chauvinism, evident in the way the opposite sex is objectified, and even treated as a commodity, pervading much of Indian culture.

Not being an anthropologist, I cannot offer a comprehensive gloss on the roots of the problem, though it evidently is an agglomeration of factors from diverse cultures. The old Vedic tradition and the dharma-shastras speak of the subordinate and dependent position of woman in no uncertain terms. Kama-sutra and other works of the genre reflect the great deal of sexual freedom men in ancient India enjoyed. The Islamic rule that swept across medieval India left its deep cultural impact as well. An atmosphere of Victorian morality following the British rule served to stir soup further. And now, the mindless imitation of what are considered "Western" values, which really only means the cream of materialism scooped off the hypothetical American idyll, is in vogue. Pray tell, can anything good come out of this discrepant blend?

For what I've heard from Western women living here, sexual harassment in bare daylight is indeed very much of a reality even in this small village of Radhakund, a place of pilgrimage you'd hope would be imbued with an atmosphere of sanctity and peace. It's not uncommon at all to have men looking at you with drooling eyes, pinching or touching your butt or breasts in the crowd, or scarier even, following you — and you never know if it's for harmless, lusty curiosity or for worse.

My former wife had a modest experience; nothing too extreme has ever happened, and one hopes she'll manage to stay out of harm's way in the years to come, too. Men learned to back off from their "accidental" touching quite fast as she got in the habit of "brushing" a touching hand off with a characteristic sharpness that followed our kung-fu practice and some subsequent attitude training I helped her with. There was a fair learning curve from projecting an image of "Hi, I'm a sissy" to "Hello, will bite off your head", but it was well worth the trouble.

It wan't that there was no potential for things to get more serious, though — a local friend overheard a certain young guy looking after her and commenting to a friend, "We need to grab her one day, and, you know...". Another man came and blocked the entrance of a public toilet she was visiting. The "I-stare-straight-through-you-with-fire-eyes" technique coupled with a modest and determined push effectively opened the route.

Ladies need to learn to kick some ass. Really. Enough for their own protection, anyway. I remember a certain fellow lady once taking a rickshaw from Govardhan to Radhakund, alone. Somewhere along the way, the driver turned off to a lonely alley and began what was evidently going to turn nasty. Her tae-kwon-do lessons hadn't gone wasted — the man was bundled up in no time at all. Had I been her, I'd have just taken the cycle and gone, but she had the driver finish the drive at the end of the lesson. It certainly wasn't an experience he was going to brag of to his friends! Indian men can often be quite feeble in their physique, timid and uneducated in their combat skills. Facing groups is, of course, a tougher issue.

That's not the solution however! It's an emergency measure you need to be set for. Otherwise, consider carrying with you one of those shrieking loud alarm sounding key fobs to scare away the abuser in a dangerous situation. And learn to scream, to scream out real loud.

What other good measures are there to take in minimizing the potential problems? There are some. Bear in mind that the following has nothing to do with equality of sexes or other lofty values that have little bearing in the current situation. Just the nuts and bolts of what helps you avert unnecessary trouble.

Dress modestly. Dressing modestly means wearing a shirt that covers your shoulders and a skirt down to your ankles. Leaving your entire forearms exposed is a bad idea. Wearing a top or a shirt that reveals the shape of your breasts too clearly is a bad idea. Wearing pants with no loose upper cloth to hang well beyond your butt is a bad idea. Anything too tight or revealing is a bad idea. Keeping your hair loose is a bad idea. Wearing excessive makeup is a bad idea.

Really, anything that a woman might do to adorn herself to make herself attractive to the opposite sex, a trend that dominates much of the Western fashion, is a bad idea. Should women then aim at looking ugly like a scarecrow, sacrificing their dear feminine charm? There is no doubt a golden median there. But the median here is located a great deal south from what you may be used to in the West!

Behave in a reserved manner. Any talk beyond the bare practical necessity, especially when accompanied with giggling and expressive gestures, makes you the center of attention for most young men in the area, whether you're talking to a local or to your friend. It isn't their fault, really — they receive little education on thinking with the brain instead of the genitals when it comes to sexual matters. There's no social factor that'd force them to do any better, their behavior is acceptable. Then, the responsibility of avoiding an undesirable dynamic is squarely the woman's. It isn't right, but the reality is what it is.

A single woman shouldn't be walking alone in the dark, especially in solitary or unfamiliar places. If you have a husband or a boyfriend, train them to tag along. No harm having a free bodyguard, huh? Aside providing extra security for the moment, it aids the locals in understanding she isn't alone or free meat. There's a substantial risk of repercussions. The good bodyguard should keep in mind, however, to keep physical encounters with locals to an absolute minimum, for villagers rarely have a sense of justice in cases like this. It's a "he beat up one of us, we all go beat him to pulp" law where right and wrong are determined with a simplistic us versus them formula.

Domestic violence, which appears to be a commonly accepted part of the unwritten social values, is another related topic, and a rather broad one at that. I've seen points of view range from a beaten woman stating how it's actually for her good to a friendly baba observing in a case of domestic violence — that incidentally involved a Western couple — that "Here we first beat up men, and then the women". However, people shouldn't be beaten up at all, whether men or women, black or white.

The standard of holistic non-violence is the only acceptable mode of civilized behavior, and old contradicting paradigms must die away, buried in the dark ages of history for good. Yet a pair of tough elbows can come in handy in the period of transition where a need for self-defense can become a sudden reality. Keep your self on your guard, be mindful of potentials.
Back to top