Vanaprastha Or Divorce by Manjari Dasi
September 16, 2003 (VNN)
Dear Devotees, Hare Krsna!
In the full text of Urmila "prabhus" nomination it states:
"3. Should not be involved in any abnormal personal situation. An example of such a situation would be a disrupted or anomalous family life which could distract a guru from his guru duties or otherwise prove a disturbance to him or his followers."
"My situation has been stable for some time. I'm living separated from husband as vanaprastha since 1996; we have a legal separation agreement. I'm under the authority of our sons and son-in-law. I will soon have own cabin for residence."
However in the following separation agreement (see below) between Urmila and Pratyatosha (drawn up by her lawyers and forced on him see item #11--don't let the term "free will" fool you) sounds more like a divorce than Vanaprastha. Vanaprastha doesn't require the interference of the legal fraternity and division of property etc. Also in Vanaprastha the wife is still with the husband and under his protection/control and not living independently. But in this agreement "Urmila Prabhu" wants to be independent of her husband as seen in items #1 & #2. We note also that Urmila prabhu kicked her husband out of his house as seen in item #5. It seems that Urmila was able to hire very good lawyers to get her husband kicked out of his home.
So what is the difference between this agreement and a divorce? It seems to be equivalent. The husband loses the house and pays child support etc. This is most definitely adharmic and nowhere near Vanaprastha. Is there not a law in the GBC books that says that no divorced persons can hold a responsible position in ISKCON if the divorce took place after a certain date (1989?). This "Legal separation" appears to be merely a legalistic ploy to circumvent ISKCON laws.
If a sannyasi or brahmacari were nominated for any position it would be important to see how they carried out their respective duties in those two spiritual ashramas. One would not consider nominating a sannyasi or brahmacari who regulalry failed to fulfill the vows of those two ashramas as described in the sastras. Since Urmila Dasi was a grahasta until her seperation/divorce it would behoove us to examine how she complied with the vows of a married woman. Was she faithful to her husband? Did she obey him in every instance? Or did she argue with him and make his life a living hell? Narada Rsi in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.25-29 explains the duties of a woman in the grhasta ashrama:
"To render service to the husband, to be always favorably disposed toward the husband, to be equally well disposed toward the husband's relatives and friends, and to follow the vows of the husband-these are the four principles to be followed by women described as chaste. A chaste woman must dress nicely and decorate herself with golden ornaments for the pleasure of her husband. Always wearing clean and attractive garments, she should sweep and clean the household with water and other liquids so that the entire house is always pure and clean. She should collect the household paraphernalia and keep the house always aromatic with incense and flowers and must be ready to execute the desires of her husband. Being modest and truthful, controlling her senses, and speaking in sweet words, a chaste woman should engage in the service of her husband with love, according to time and circumstances."
In verse 25 this is the word for word:
strinam ca pati-devanam
tad-bandhusv anuvrttis ca
strinam-of women; ca-also; pati-devanam-who have accepted their husbands as worshipable; tat-susrusa-readiness to render service to her husband; anukulata-being favorably disposed towards her husband; tat-bandhusu-unto the friends and relatives of the husband; anuvrttih-being similarly disposed (to treat them well for the satisfaction of the husband); ca-and; nityam-regularly; tat-vrata-dharanam-accepting the vows of the husband or acting exactly as the husband acts.
And in the purport to verse 29 Srila Prabhupada writes:
In this regard, Srila Madhvacarya gives this opinion:
harir asmin sthita iti
strinam bhartari bhavana
sisyanam ca gurau nityam
bhrtyanam svamini tatha
"A woman should think of her husband as the Supreme Lord. Similarly, a disciple should think of the spiritual master as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a sudra should think of a brahmana as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and a servant should think of his master as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way, all of them will automatically become devotees of the Lord. In other words, by thinking this way, all of them will become Krsna conscious."
Hence a chaste woman is more than one who has not slept with another man, but rather one who is a pati-devanam-who have accepted their husbands as worshipable and as good as God. Is Urmila prabhu such a woman? First of all such chaste women would not call themselves "Prabhu." However this separation/divorce agreement below totally disqualifies Urmila prabhu from any semblance of chastity. Also anyone who knows their history would understand that she is surely not qualified to teach other women how to serve their husbands. Only a woman can teach another woman how to be a pati-devanam.
We are told that there is the "book bhagavatam and the person bhagavatam" so how does Urmila prabhu demonstrate the qualities of the exalted female devotees in the Srimad Bhagavatam as described in these previous verses by Narada Muni? She does not.
This brings us to the question: Who is the one who put Urmila "prabhu" up to leaving the shelter of her husband and divorcing/separating from her husband Pratyatosha Prabhu? Who is the GBC that Urmila "prabhu" has been working under and who knew all the circumstances? Who is the GBC who sanctioned her to divorce/legally separate from her husband? Could it be the same person who has nominated her for being a Diksha Guru in ISKCON?
How can someone who encourages a woman to divorce her husband (that is how the document reads) have any understanding of Krsna's Vedic culture? How can he allow this to go on under his nose what to speak of encourage it and then nominate the divorced woman (this is not Vanaprastha) to become a Diksha Guru? While Urmila "prabhu" may have many faults which disqualify her from becoming a Diksha guru (she should not be one) the real problem is with the person who nominated her to this position. He obviously has no sense of what is right or wrong from a KC perspective. However well intentioned he may be these acts of his (condoning/encouraging a woman to leave the shelter of husband, etc) clearly indicate a person who has imbibed very little sound understanding of Vedic culture.
Separation Agreement and Property Settlement
State of North Carolina
County of Orange
THIS SEPARATION AGREEMEN AND PROPERTY SETTLEMENT is made and entered into this 23 day of August, 1996, by and between HOWARD C. BEST of Orange County, North Carolina (thereinafter referred to as "Husband") and EDITH E. BEST of Orange County, North Carolina (hereinafter referred to as "Wife")
THAT WHEREAS, Husband and Wife were lawfully married on October 12, 1973 and lived together as Husband and Wife until on or about the 8th day of April, 1996, at which time they separated one from the other, and intend to continuously live separate and apart: and
WHEREAS, because of unfortunate differences and incompatibilities which now exist between them, they are no longer able to live together in peace and harmony as husband and wife; and
WHERAS, Husband and Wife have had the opportunity to consult independently with attorneys of their choosing, respectively, concerning this Agreement, and both parties agree that it is entered into mutually of their own free will, and
WHEREAS, both parties stipulate that they have carefully read and understood the terms and conditions of their Agreement, and deem them to be fair, just, and equitable, and are in full and complete satisfaction of all claims, present or future, arising out of or in any manner related to their marriage; and
WHEREAS, each party warrants that he or she has disclosed to the other all assets in which he or she has an interest and all debts on which he or she is liable, in an amount in excess of @00;
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth, Husband and Wife mutually covenant and agree as follows:
1. Separate Maintenance. The parties agree that hereafter each may at all times live separate and apart from the other, free from each other's marital control and authority as if each were single and apart from the other, free from each other's marital control and authority as if each were single and unmarried; may reside at such place or places and with such person or persons as each may desire; may conduct and engage in any employment, business, trade or profession each may desire, choose or deem fit, and to enjoy the benefits thereof.
2. Covenant of Non-interference. Husband and Wife hereby agree that neither of them will, in any manner, molest of interfere with the personal rights, liberties, privileges or affairs of the other. Each shall, henceforth, live his or her own personal life as he or she may see fit, unrestricted in any manner by the marriage and relationship previously existing between them.
3. Future Debts. From and after signing this Agreement, neither party shall charge, cause or permit to be charged to or against the other any purchase which either of them may hereafter make. Hereafter, neither party shall create any obligations in the name of or against the other, not secure or attempt to secure any credit upon or in connection with the other, or in his or her name. Each party shall promptly pay all debts and discharge all financial obligations which he or she may incur for himself or herself, and shall indemnify the other against any and all debts and all other obligations which he or she may incur for himself or herself.
4. Children. Of the marriage of the parties were both three children, Michael David, born November 9, 1974; Yamuna Devi-Dasi, born September 21, 1978; and Keshava Dasa, born July 14, 1981. Husband and Wife shall have joint legal custody of the minor children, Yamuna and Keshava, with Wife having primary physical custody. Husband shall have the right to visit with the minor children at any time that that is mutually convenient to the parties and upon the giving of reasonable notice to Wife. At such time as Husband is working and is able to afford paying child support to Wife on behalf of Keshava, he shall do so at the rate of $200.00 per month. If Husband is able to afford more than $200.00 per month then he agrees to pay Wife such additional amount as he is able to afford.
5. Division of Personal Property.
A. The parties hereto have previously divided the household furnishings and personal effects. All of the furnishings, equipment, and personal effects in the possession of the Wife and located at her residence (915 Dimmocks Mills Road, Hillsborough) shall be the sole and separate property of the Wife. Husband expressly acknowledges that he has no interest in any of the property and no desire to have as his own any of the property located in said residence. Any and all personal effects in the possession of the Husband shall be the sole and separate property of the Husband.
B. The Wife shall keep as her own funds any and all bank accounts she has in her sole and separate name. The husband shall have as his own funds any and all bank accounts he has in his name.
C. The parties agree that at the current time there is certain equipment located at Computer Network Solutions (owner Butch Flake) in Hillsborough. So long as Husband either takes such property into his possession or sells such property on or before September 30, 1996 then all such property and/or any and all proceeds from such property shall be his own and separate property. In the event, however, that Husband does not take such property into possession or sell such property on or before September 30, 1996 then, in that event, such property shall be considered marital property and Wife shall have the authority to take the property into her possession and the parties shall divide it between themselves as they may be able to agree between themselves; also, Wife shall have the authority to sell such property after September 30, 1996 at a reasonable price and she shall be obligated to hive to Husband one-half of any proceeds of such as sale.
D. The Wife shall have the 1987 Toyota Van as her sole and separate property.
6. Mutual Release. Except as expressly set forth herein, each party does hereby waive any and all rights- past, present, and future- which either party may have against the other for support, alimony, post-separation support, any claim under the Equitable Distribution Statutes, and all other claims which the parties may have by reason of the marriage. Wife waives any claim she may have against Husband for the support and living expenses of Husband's son. Except as herein provided, each party may dispose of his or her property in any way and may convey any real property or any interest therein without the consent or joinder of the other party. Each party does hereby release and forever discharge the other, his or her heirs, executors, administrators, assigns, property and estate, from any and all rights, claims, demands and obligations of every kind and character for past and future support and maintenance, homestead rights, widow's year's allowance, rights of inheritance, dissent, and distribution and specifically relinquishes the right to act as executor or administrator of the estate of the other, rights of election against the Will of the other, and from all other rights, claims, demands and obligations of every kind and character arising out of or by virtue of the marital relationship of the parties, except as in this Agreement may be otherwise expressly provided. Each is forever barred from having or asserting any right, claim, demand or obligation at any time hereinafter for any purpose, except only things which may arise under this Agreement.
7. Act for Equitable Distribution of Marital Property. Husband and Wife are fully aware of the extent of assets titles to each other. Each party hereby waives and releases any and all rights they may have which may arise out of the enactment of North Carolina General Statues 50-20, more commonly known as the "Act for Equitable Distribution of Marital Property", except as herein set out.
8. Enforcement of Agreement. The parties agree that, in the event either party fails to comply with any of the material provisions of this Agreement, the other party may seek legal counsel and may initiate an action in the District Court of North Carolina asking for specific performance, for damages, or for any other remedy available by law. The non-complying party shall be responsible to the other party for any and all expenses incurred by him or her therein, including a reasonable attorney's fee.
9. Cooperation. The parties agree and understand that in the event of a sale, transfer, or conveyance of any property, whether real or personal, now owned or hereafter to be acquired by either of the parties hereto, it may become necessary in order to guarantee good title thereto, for the parties to this Agreement to execute the said deed, conveyance or bill of sale, conveying said property.
10. Agreement. This Agreement can be altered and amended only by further written agreement duly executed by the parties. Any failure by either party to specifically perform or enforce performance exactly according to the letter of this Agreement shall not constitute an alteration of the same by way enlargement, reduction, estoppel or otherwise, unless confirmed in writing by the parties, and duly executed by both parties except as may be otherwise provided above. It is understood that the parties may, by mutual agreement, make temporary modifications from time to time as conditions require, but this Agreement shall nonetheless be binding upon the parties as written, except in the event of a material breach.
11. Legal Counsel. Both parties acknowledge that they have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney of their own choosing. Husband acknowledges that Wife is represented by Attorney Mark T. Sheridan, Hillsborough, North Carolina, that Mr. Sheridan has drafted this document, and that he has not provided any advice to him. Husband further acknowledges that he has had the opportunity to consult with an attorney of his own choosing.
12. Entire Agreement. This Agreement contains the entire understanding of the parties. There are no representations, warranties, covenants, or undertakings other than those expressly set forth herein.
13. Situs. This Agreement shall be construed and governed in accordance with the laws of the State of North Carolina.
14. Binding Effect. Except as otherwise stated herein, all provisions of this Agreement shall be binding upon the respective heirs, next of kin, executors and administrators of the parties.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals to the instrument executed in duplicate originals, all this day and year first above written.
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