Question: What are the scriptural instructions on women chanting the Gāyatrī mantra?
Answer: I think it would be better to be specific. India is a vast country and there are at least twenty Smṛtis available. So as far as Bengal is concerned, women don’t chant Gāyatrī. We traditional Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas follow the Bengal tradition.
Question: Can women worship on the altar?
Answer: Again, it is better to be specific because the answer will vary geographically. Traditionally, in India women did not go on the altar unless it was their private temple. The reason being that in a public temple, various types of people come, including sannyāsīs, who may not appreciate a woman on the altar. For such reasons women did not do that. It is more of a custom than a scriptural injunction. Moreover, women in general in India were very shy to appear publically. With time things are changing. In India also women can be seen on the altar now.
Question: Can men who are not brāhmaṇas worship on the altar if they have Vaiṣṇava dīkṣā?
Answer: Traditionally not. But as said above, many things have changed and are changing, so now non-brahmins also worship on the altar.
Question: Śri Haridas Śāstrī Mahārāja makes the point that the guru-disciple relationship has to be close. But how is this practically possible given the distance.
Answer: The closeness does not depend on physical distance, but on the closeness of heart.
Question: How is this achieved by the disciple? Is this only achieved through vani and vapu
Answer: How do you achieve closeness with any person? You must have some experience of it. You achieve it by communication, sharing your heart, service, asking questions, giving gifts, appreciating the work etc.
Question: What is the long-term vision for Jiva Institute?
Answer: To have a central place in Vraja for studying śāstra, and if possible a deemed university. Next, to translate, comment and publish all the major Gauḍīya literature. The ultimate goal is to create devotees who are learned and realized in śāstra.
Question: Will there be temples all over the world?
Answer: Certainly no.
Question: Will there be devotees all over the world?
Answer: Very doubtful of this, because we want devotees who are sincere and serious about śāstra.
Question: Bābājī, you are traveling so much; there must be a goal?
Answer: Of course there is a goal, and that is to establish the educational center in the Vraja area and to publish books.
Question: Is there a Golden Age in Kali Yuga?
Answer: In my studies I’ve not come across any scriptural predictions that say that a Golden Age will begin now after 5000 years of Kaliyuga, which seems to be a popular belief. The closest to such a concept are two ślokas in Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa (1.29.49):
kaler daśa-sahasrāni mad bhaktāḥ santi bhū-tale
eka varṇā bhaviṣyanti mad bhakteṣu gateṣu ca
“For the first 10,000 years there will be my devotees on earth. After that there will be no devotees and people will belong to one varṇa, or class.”
According to my understanding, one varṇa here means non-devotees. That means after 10,000 years of Kaliyuga there will hardly be any devotee left on earth.
The other verse says that after 5,000 years, the Ganges will disappear and Kṛṣṇa’s arca-vigraha will be there for 10,000 years. This matches with the verse quoted above because as long as the devotees are present, the arca-vigraha will also be present. That period is 10,000 years of Kaliyuga. There is also a statement in Cāṇakya nīti, which also says that the Ganges will remain on earth for 5,000 years.
Question: Could you further explain when the holy rivers will disappear and no sādhus will be available?
Answer: Please come to Vrindavan and see that the Yamunā has already disappeared. There is only sewage water and the Ganges is also very polluted.
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