Letter of Bhakti Vikasa Swami

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By Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Dear devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Some recent lectures in which I expressed concern about ISKCON have caused considerable concern within ISKCON. Several devotees have stated that they empathize with many of my points, but not with the manner of presentation and the fact that not all my statements were entirely accurate.

This has caused distress to many devotees, for which I must apologize. I particularly apologize to HH Radhanath Maharaja and his followers. I request them and the whole Vaisnava community to forgive my offenses.

I would also like to make the following points about HH Radhanath Maharaja.

1. He is known for his humble disposition in personal dealings.

2. He lives simply; for instance, he sleeps on a mat on the floor, and eschews luxurious accommodation.

3. He is an excellent story teller of both Krishna and Chaitanya lilas.

4. He has an exemplary history of brahmacharya.

5. He has inspired an unprecedentedly large congregation.

Regarding my concerns: I request the Vaisnavas to not, on account of my crudeness, discount them. Some GBC men have told me that they would like to see certain of my concerns addressed, but in a manner that will not cause unnecessary disturbance.

vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah

Your servant,

Bhakti Vikasa Swami

P. S. If anyone would like to discuss these matters, please contact me at: BVikasa.swami@pamho.net

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1 Sita Rama 108

Dear Bhakti Vikasa Mahraja,
Please accept my humble obiesances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I made a comment on first post regarding this issue. It was an amateur attempt to discourage people from taking offense from your statements. I hope I gave full respect to you when I did this. I beg forgiveness if I did not.
I moved into the Boston Temple in 1980. I became a bramachari book distributor for 3 years. There was an understanding that a lecture was meant to encourage the highest standard of surrender and cut through the things that inhibited it. At the same time the overall mood was one of accepting and appreciating the service of all. My initiating Guru gave particularly heavy classes but in his dealings with disciples he was very broad minded and accepted people from where they are at.
So I take it for granted that this is the mood behind all advanced Viasnavas such as yourself. You may strongly criticize a practice but this does not mean you are insulting the devotees who are on a certain level. Going to a class means hearing I have a long way to go before reaching complete surrender. But it doesn’t mean I should reject the level of surrender I can remained steady at. I just means I should realize what the ultimate standard of surrender is and not resent the fact that I ultimately need to come to a higher level as soon as possible.
Your servant,
Sita Rama das

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on November 15th, 2011
2 Unregistered

Dear Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja!
All glories unto you
I would like to give you my two cents
on the food for life issue

You recently initiated
Bhaktin Luise, an Irish lassie
She is a fired up devotee,
her new name is Labhanga devi dasi

She joined from Food For All
which is a nonreligious charity
She was in a dark cloud and
by the mercy of Prasad is now a devotee

In kali yuga people ar dull
confused, ignorant and sad
and i belive they’ll stay that way
without a BIG PLATE OF PRASAD.

Comment posted by Parasurama on November 16th, 2011
3 vishnujanadasa

Dear Parasurama prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

His Holiness Bhakti Vikas Swami’s point about non-religious charities is that they don’t preach. Clearly the non-religious “Food for All” program was preaching to this girl, and probably gave her Srila Prabhupada’s books as well. Otherwise, there is no way she would have known about Krishna Consciousness or become a devotee.

His point is that preaching must accompany prasadam distribution, as Srila Prabhupada wanted. Why else would Srila Prabhupada deny the Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund Committee Prasadam distribution when asked for help as related in the “Science of Self-Realization?” Rather, he told them they should contribute their efforts and resources towards spreading the Krishna Consciousness Movement. This is Maharaja’s point.

Thank you and Hare Krishna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on November 17th, 2011
4 NityanandaChandra

Hare Krishna Vishnujana Prabhu
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada

So nice to see your face here. You have certainly inherited a proper name due to gentle Vaishnava character.

I would just like to encourage all the devotees interested in this subject to listen to the honest and clear 5 day seminar of His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami. It has been made available on his website http://jswami.info for quite some time now. It is known by the title “Food For Death” For those actually interested in this subject should properly do a faithful study of Srila Prabhupada’s words on this matter. Not only are the instructions explicit on what to do and what not to do, they are also quite numerous as well.

Those who are in ISKCON have a duty to be faithful to instructions of Srila Prabhupada. If we are to discuss and press on our convictions it is important that we are well informed of all the evidences related to this subject.

Comment posted by NityanandaChandra on November 19th, 2011
5 Unregistered

If my memory serves me right I believe I recall HH Bhaktivikasa praised “Food For All” as a good example. I don’t have access to the MP3s or a transcript of it now but I am pretty sure that if it were checked we will find that he didn’t criticize “Food For All.”

Could someone with access to the material do the needful. I’m traveling and don’t have access.

Comment posted by Atmavidya Dasa on November 20th, 2011
6 Unregistered

Though many of us may have differing views on range of issues pertaining to propagation of the Krishna consciousness movement, it is highly important that devotees learn to appreciate and glorifies the activities of other devotees. The assumption of holding to the views that our method of following the directions given by Srila Prabhupada as the only proper way and that all other views are wrong simply invite dissensions within the Vaisnava community.

Every devotee who is executing their devotional activities be it in the form of Mid-Day Meal programs, operating hospitals, holding medical camps, food for life accompanied by kirtans, etc., are all trying their best in serving Krishna. Criticizing such devotional activities just because we feel they are not direct preaching can itself be termed as committing offenses against the devotees who have dedicated their lives in spreading the holy names of the Lord.

It is better to appreciate and glorify what others are doing. Public condemnations of other devotees’ activities do no good to anyone, but rather dissatisfaction.

Comment posted by isvaradas on November 21st, 2011
7 Akruranatha

I thought it was very instructive and serves as a good example to be followed that Bhakti Vikas Maharaja has made an apology for criticizing other leading devotees and particularly to Radhanatha Maharaja and his followers.

We should always be prepared to recognize our mistakes and ask forgiveness, and this exemplary behavior should be recognized and appreciated. Also, we appreciate the behavior of the followers of Radhanath Maharaja who refrained from retaliating and allowing bad feelings to spiral out of control. Disaster avoided.

As for the larger discussion about styles and methods of preaching, it is a fascinating and all-important subject, as we are unquestionably a preaching mission, and how the preaching should go on is our main business. We have to be dedicated to keeping things pure and in line with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, but we also have to be intelligent and energetic in discovering methods that really are successful and practical.

I think we are a big enough movement now to accommodate many different styles and strategies, but we should thoughtfully and respectfully discuss different opinions about all these things.

Certainly I think everyone would agree that we do not want to go the way of Salvation Army and become more or less a mundane relief agency without any visible philosophical or spiritual message.

People should not think, “Oh, Hare Krishna is a charity dedicated to feeding and clothing the poor.” They should think, “Hare Krishna is a dynamic spiritual organization with fascinating literature and a profound, beautiful culture and history.” Better yet, they should think, “Hare Krishna is a society full of saintly, intelligent people who are my honest well-wishers and who can help me live a more happy and spiritually successful life.”

And yet, it is no harm if they also think, “Hare Krishnas are always kind and respectful to everyone and they are willing to bring Krishna’s grace to people from all walks of life, including the poor and distressed.”

The problem is, materialistic people generally think that unless people are poor and distressed, they have no need for Krishna consciousness or religion. We want to reach the jijnasis and jnanis, too (they are also pious people who approach Krishna), but the materialistic people can only appreciate, “You do some good by feeding the hungry and healing the sick.” We need to explain to them that everyone, including the rich and healthy, need Krishna’s grace.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 22nd, 2011
8 Unregistered

So the point is appreciation is there, but that doesn’t mean you stop discriminating. Just like in this letter H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja showed his appreciation for H. H. Radhanath Maharaja by glorifying all the wonderful qualities that he has. However, that doesn’t mean that he has changed his position on what the proper standards are, as seen in the statement where he is urging vaisnavas to not discount his concerns because of his apparent crudeness. Hope this helps.

Hare Krsna

Comment posted by Radhananda Dasa on November 23rd, 2011
9 Unregistered

Dear Isvara Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your good self have suggested to appreciate whatever activities devotees perform and glorify them. But if everything accepted and appreciated without reference to guru, sadhu and sastra then there will no more difference between us and Ramakrishna mission, who expounds yato mata tato patha, everything is OK. Isn’t it?

Also Prabhu, how are you going to stop criticism? As you already made a criticism of those who you said “criticizers.” So it is a logical fallacy. How can senior vaisnavas guide us without going to show us a difference between wrong and right? If you say that a criticism than Lord Krsna also criticizes in Bhagavad-gita, na mam duskritino mudha…

Criticism in itself is not wrong but rather necessary if it has done with a proper attitude of helping Vaisnavas.

Here is one good quote from Srila Prabhupada Founder Acarya of ISKCON

Purport of SB 3.25.27:

Those who are not devotees, therefore, are interested in so-called
humanitarian or philanthropic work, such as opening a hospital or charitable
institution. These are undoubtedly good works in the sense that they are
pious activities, and their result is that the performer may get some
opportunities for sense gratification, either in this life or in the next.
Devotional service, however, is beyond the boundary of sense gratification.
It is completely spiritual activity. When one engages in the spiritual
activities of devotional service, naturally he does not get any opportunity
to engage in sense gratificatory activities. Krsna conscious activities are
performed not blindly but with perfect understanding of knowledge and
renunciation.

(end of quote)

Your servant,
Vrindavana Chandra Das

Comment posted by Vrindavanchandra on November 24th, 2011
10 Akruranatha

ISKCON today is very much different in many ways from how it was in the 1970s. It is bigger, more accommodating, sometimes we say more “mature” (we could probably do well to analyze, examine and unpack what we mean by this “maturity”). It behooves us to carefully examine these changes and discuss them from many angles.

It is a huge subject and can be a touchy one. I hope everyone is willing to admit that there have been positive as well as possibly some negative changes. Discrimination is important, but negativity and unnecessary faultfinding can have some bad effects and consequences. We do not want to cause quarrels or hurt the morale within our society.

It is such a big issue that it is hard to know where to begin. I guess as good a place as any is to recognize that our message has always been, and always will be, that only completely pure, unmotivated and uninterrupted devotional service to Lord Krishna can satisfy our true selves. That unalloyed devotional service done without any expectation of reward, in full submission and surrender, is what the Hare Krishna movement uniquely has to offer.

Lord Caitanya has shown the true form of that actual love of Krishna. All the so-called love of the material world — for our family, community, humanity, mundane art, literature, philosophy, or ideals like truth, justice, chivalrous honor, skill, humility, detachment and even spiritual knowledge — all pale by comparison.

And yet that unalloyed devotional service is actually very rare. It is achieved gradually by slow degrees by those who chant regularly and constantly endeavor by right means (vaidhi-sadhana bhakti) under proper guidance of scriptures and saintly devotees. Most of our members are either in the category of beginning to become steady in proper sadhana practice, or even just coming to appreciate what the goal is and the means of attaining it without yet having become steady in following all the proper rules and regulations.

In our youthful enthusiasm we tended to have an optimistic notion of how we would advance quickly, both in our own spiritual progress and in the progress we expected ISKCON to have in transforming the world. Srila Prabhupada encouraged us: “You can do it. It is simple (for the simple). You can become a pure devotee. Even a child can do it. What is the difficulty?” “ISKCON can take over the world in 18 days.” That was his vision, his mercy. We should try for perfection, and nothing else.

But…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 24th, 2011
11 Unregistered

Dear Akruranath Prabhu

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

You wrote
“I think we are a big enough movement now to accommodate many different styles and strategies, but we should thoughtfully and respectfully discuss different opinions about all these things.”

Actually, I might have my opinion, you might have your opinion but that is not the point. What is Srila Prabhupada’s opinion? It’s all there in His books, conversations lectures, very clearly explained. We have gone all out now doing this and that welfare work, but not only did Srila Prabhupada never do any welfare work personally, but he actually denounced it continually.

We are not social welfare worker or political worker. We are worker for Krsna. [break] …in this world that people are suffering for want of Krsna consciousness. Let us try to make them Krsna conscious. That is our only interest. Otherwise we have no interest in this material world.
[Morning Walk — January 10, 1974, Los Angeles]

The highest perfectional project of philanthropic activities is to engage everyone in the act of preaching bhakti-yoga all over the world because that alone can save the people from the control of maya, or the material nature represented by kala, karma and guna, as described above. The Bhagavad-gita (14.26) confirms this definitely.
[ SB 1.13.46]

What is more public welfare than Krishna Consciousness? To awaken everyone’s original consciousness is the best public welfare in the whole world.
[ Letter to: Yasomatinandana — Bombay 9 January, 1976]

According to Srila Prabhupada, welfare work, Philanthropy etc are different guises of maya.

In politics, social service, altruism, philanthropy, and ultimately in religion or even in salvation, the very same tint of sense gratification is ever-increasingly predominant.
[ Ref. VedaBase => DWT 5: What the Senses are Meant For]

Philanthropy is when one becomes interested in Krsna’s interest, that is real philanthropy. Otherwise it is all kama.
[Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.7 — Vrndavana, October 29, 1976]

Srila Prabhupada is the founder acarya of ISKCON meaning he set down what should or should not be done. If someone started a society for a particular aim and some of the members started doing some activities not according to the aim of the society, then this should be brought to their attention and persons should desist or else continue the same outside the umbrella of the society.

Your servant,
Murari Das

Comment posted by Murari Das on November 24th, 2011
12 Unregistered

Dear Isvara Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Actually, the first person to criticize the opening of schools and hospitals was our ISKCON founder acarya; His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Hrdayananda: You’re the only one, Prabhupada, who dares to criticize hospitals and schools. (laughter)
Prabhupada: Yes, so many people came to request me… Even Dr. Ghosh. Eh? You know.
Satsvarupa: He wanted you to open a medical dispensary.
Prabhupada: “No, no, we are not going to waste our time in that way.” I frankly told him. We have no extra time to waste like that. What he thinks very big project, we say it is waste of time. (laughter)
Jayatirtha: Yes.
Hrdayananda: Jaya. It is a completely revolutionary idea.
Prabhupada: Yes. I cannot allow anyone he’s waste his valuable time of human life.
Guru-krpa: You said before that the more hospitals they open that means the more people have to become sick.
Prabhupada: That, more… Yes.
Guru-krpa: To get in the hospital.
Prabhupada: They are very much proud, “We have opened fifty hospitals.” That means fifty thousand people have become sick. “We have increased so many beds.” That means so many people have more increased their disease. But they’re proud of doing this.
[ Morning Walk — July 9, 1974, Los Angeles]

You can open a hospital for the human being but where is your hospital for the tiger? Can any man open a hospital for the tigers, for the snakes? And why not? You are compassionate with living entities. Are they not living entities? This is the frailty of imperfect knowledge
[Bhagavad-gita 5.17-25 — Los Angeles, February 8, 1969]

They are very much puffed up, that “We are doing this, opening hospital and school, and philanthropism, nationalism.” Is there any such thing in the Bhagavad-gita? Is there any advice that “You open hospital, school and do this philanthropic work”? No. If you have got anything to give in charity, you are charitably disposed, Krsna says, “Give it to Me. If you are so rich and if you have got this good intention to give in charity, give it to Me.” Yat karosi yaj juhosi yad asnasi yat tapasyasi dadasi yat. Dadasi yat means “whatever you give in charity.” Kurusva tad mad-arpanam: “Give it to Me. Yes, I am expanding My hand. Come on.” But they have forgotten Krsna or Krsna’s advice, and they remain puffed up, that “I am engaged in this activity, that activity, this activity.”
[Bhagavad-gita 2.2 — London, August 3, 1973

Comment posted by Murari Das on November 24th, 2011
13 Akruranatha

Speaking for myself, at least, some of us had a tendency to be impatient with those we preached to. Our message was mainly that people should accept the truth of what we were saying, and their conclusion should be to move into the temple and live like we were living, under strict regulation. We did not really have much of a program of vision for interacting with those who were not suited by temperament or stage of life to do as we were doing, living in the temple, trying to cut off all ties with the rest of society (which is mostly preoccupied with making better arrangements for eating, sleeping, mating and fighting).

I was, and still am, a neophyte devotee, not very good at recognizing the situation of others as devotees, innocent or envious, not knowing very well how to interact with them. Nor was I (am I) very learned, even after all these years, about the science of devotional service in spite of so many instructions in Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Some of our youthful exuberance was expressed in our missionary activities as a kind of religious fanaticism or flag waving, establishing our own superiority for having joined the right “party”, not very sympathetic or tolerant of the needs, interests and concerns of outsiders, or of the legitimacy of others’ unwillingness or inability to “join” ISKCON by shaving up, moving in with us, and accepting the political authority structure of our organization.

So, we sometimes came across as unsophisticated, fanatical, cult-members, fundamentalists, Bible thumpers, not really as honest spiritual scientists in different stages of progressive enlightenment.

ISKCON is now broader, more accommodating, more sophisticated in our modes of communication. We do have leaders who have deeper, broader understanding of the science of devotional service and its relation to the broader range of human pursuits.

And yet we do not want to lose enthusiasm and exuberance and optimism, nor can we afford to lose the clarity of our message.

I had a professor of Medeival European History who remarked in one of his lectures, “As the world became more Christian, Christianity became more worldly.” We do not want that to happen in ISKCON, that by growing in wealth and influence and incorporating devotees who have responsible occupations in the world outside out little “cult” bubble, we give up our dedication to the principle that there is no good fortune outside of pure devotional service, the source of all auspiciousness.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 24th, 2011
14 Unregistered

Hare Krishna Vrindavan Chandra Prabhu
Criticism maybe there, but it shouldn’t be something that will divide the devotees. If we are unable to change a situation, whats is the point of criticizing. Normally one criticizes because of sanctimonious feeling. The feelings of knowing what is right better than others. Only Krishna is the decider of one’s activities. If we are not in agreement with devotees method of preaching or methods of activities, then the best way to serve such devotees is to let the organizations management deal with the situation. In this case, the GBC. That is why Srila Prabhupada created the GBC. And if the GBC feels its not something that is worth considering, then we should remain humble and be mindful of our own bhakti. We should not be attached to our ideas and be creating all kinds of confusions among the Vaisnava community.
What will make us dear to the Lord is not so much how we try to correct others, but rather our own sincere efforts in serving guru and Krishna.

Comment posted by isvaradas on November 24th, 2011
15 Unregistered

Dear Isvara Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

What your good self has mentioned that:

What will make us dear to the Lord is not so much how we try to correct others, but rather our own sincere efforts in serving guru and Krishna.

Sincere efforts in serving guru and Krishna mean that preserving the teachings they have given. And to preserve those teachings would take to fight also as Srila Prabhupada told many times “preaching means fighting.” Lord Nityananda’s preaching is prema pracarana ara pasanda dalana. You cannot love Krishna unless you hate Mayavada. How is it possible for a genuine lover to hear ill of his beloved?

We should not be attached to our ideas and be creating all kinds of confusions among the Vaisnava community.

Prabhu, what are you referring here as creating confusions among the Vaisnava community is actually a greatest service to all Vaisnavas. Showing the path of pure devotional service untinged with mixture of karma and jnana is the purpose of preaching.

The whole problem is that what we are reading in Srila Prabhupada’s books is not seen in practice. How many times Prabhupada criticized bogus Mayavadis, and spoke strongly against them and if we are trying to promote those Mayavadis on an excuse of preaching and close our eyes of discrimination with a fear of committing offense, is that our bhakti? Do you think that Srila Prabhupada would be pleased with that attitude?

In this case, the GBC. That is why Srila Prabhupada created the GBC. And if the GBC feels its not something that is worth considering, then we should remain humble and be mindful of our own bhakti.

I would request you to listen to that lecture if you have not do so, all these points were already discussed there.

Please don’t take any offense. Your servant, Vrindavana Chandra Das

Comment posted by Vrindavanchandra on November 25th, 2011
16 Akruranatha

Dear Murari Prabhu,

You say: “Actually, I might have my opinion, you might have your opinion but that is not the point. What is Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs opinion? It‚Äôs all there in His books, conversations lectures, very clearly explained.”

It is true that we are all interested in understanding and accepting Srila Prabhupada’s opinion, and that he has given us a wealth of books, conversations and lectures so that we can go on contemplating and discussing for lifetimes, and being purified by such discussions.

We should not lose sight of the fact that Srila Prabhupada himself said that these books could be seen from many angles. What did he mean by that?

I think he may have meant we are to avoid being impatient with other. We should accept that all devotees sincerely trying to understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are special souls, and that if some have not come to exactly the same conclusions as we have (over issues such as, whether to open a hospital or school), it may be that they are seeing some other angle that we have missed. There really are many angles. At least we should discuss charitably and give them a chance to explain themselves.

Of course you know that Srila Prabhupada did open schools, and that he spent his householder life in the pharmaceutical business.

In Bhagavad-gita and even in Srimad-Bhagavatam, the path and perfectional stage of pure devotional service is revealed, but there is also discussion of how those who may be mixed devotees or even nondevotees can live their lives honestly, keep body and soul together, and make spiritual progress.

Srila Prabhupada spoke and wrote quite a bit, actually, about how to live as a householder devotee in this world, and how we should make scientists, politicians and businessmen into devotees also. Not everyone has to become like the six goswamis and Haridas Thakur. In fact, hardly anybody really can.

These are important topics facing real devotees in real life. They have families, children who need to be educated, parents who need to be hospitalized.

I am not saying that ISKCON should give up its message of pure devotional service, that the Hare Krishna mantra is the only panacea for all the world’s ills. However, we should at least be capable of talking to each other about how real people and even good devotees can look after their material needs and conditional duties while continuing to steer a course towards the abject surrender of the greatest lovers of Krishna.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 25th, 2011
17 Puskaraksa das

Srila Prabhupada wrote to Badrinarayana, on November 7, 1971:
” The difference between a devotee and a nondevotee is this, just like the bee and the fly: the bee always is attracted by the honey and flies go to the open sores. So the devotee is only attracted by the good qualities in other people and does not see their faults. ”

Srila Prabhupada also wrote to Govinda dasi, on November 5, 1970:
” Your description of past incidents may be forgotten. We are not concerned with past misunderstandings; we are concerned only with progressive service to Krishna. ”

So, there may be different approaches and different ways of serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission and establishing Krishna consciousness in society, i.e. transforming society and turning it into a Krishna conscious society…

To do so and have the high court judge wear tilak on the forehead as Srila Bhaktivinoda envisioned, there has to be a tremendous revolution and change taking place in society. This will require a massive adherance of the largest fraction of citizens to a Krishna conscious model of governance.

While being engaged in this process of spreading Krishna consciousness on a large scale, there may be some flaws and, at times, the impression given that the Krishna conscious message is somewhat diluted, stricto sensu.

But as long as the leaders know where they are heading to, and do not compromise with the goal and the essence of Krishna bhakti, it is understandable and is to be considered acceptable if they use some tricks to enable people to develop some appreciation and some attachement to the Krishna conscious process. In that line, Srila Prabhupada, in the early days, used to have gulab jamons prepared for visitors to take when they would come in and out the temple room.

Nevertheless and unavoidably, due to each one’s nature and conditioning, we may have, on one side, the fundamentalists and orthodox wing, who will agree to only distribute prasadam when they are sure that people will simultaneously be forced to hear the Hare Krishna maha-mantra or some Krishna katha while taking prasad… By the way, it is by forcing their preaching on people while distributing food to the needy, that the Salvation Army became unpopular, while being disregarded as manipulators and fanatics.

We may also have a more liberal wing, who will agree to distribute prasad even if the maha mantra or some Krishna katha is not simultaneously broadcasted on loud speakers or individually…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on November 26th, 2011
18 Puskaraksa das

Whatever be one’s personal inclination, I guess the best method is to preach by example. It is a far better method than putting others down and criticizing the way they serve Guru and Krishna.

In this way, one is free to examplify the validity of one’s approach, which may well complement other devotees’ approach and seva.

Srila Prabhupada used to question: ” Why do you think small ISKCON ? Think big ISKCON ! “.

So, the question may be asked : Why would we want to shrink ISKCON and bring its expansion and increasing fame, down ? Why would we also envy devotees who are instrumental in this expansion and gain some fame in the process…?

We have to understand that we are like an orchestra. Each devotee and even group of devotees is meant to serve the Supreme Lord and Srila Prabhupada’s Movement in a certain way, as per their own nature, inclinations and qualifications.

So, rather than try to undo the service of others, best is to bring one’s own valuable contribution to ISKCON, which is to be seen and considered as a whole, yet including many different facets and aspects.

This is unity in diversity.

This being said, there was a valid point raised concerning the quality of the offering and I personally suggested, in some other posts, some ways by which we could try to ensure that the food distributed is prasadam, and not just mere vegetarian food (which would still be good, but not sufficient as per our Krishna conscious spiritual standards).

I am not sure this point has been considered seriously, but I think it would bring a general consensus, if we were at least sure that the conditions for some proper offering of the bhoga were met.

If we do so, this will also legitimate and crown with success Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja’s concern and intervention…

In this way, we are always looking for ways to improve, both individually and collectively…

Srila Prabhupada wrote to Abhirama, on November 9, 1971:
” Because you have given your life to Krishna, you are already perfect. But it is just like the ocean, if you are swimming in it you may swim forever and not reach the shore. Similarly, there is no limit to the perfection of Krishna Consciousness. ”

Hoping this finds you all well,
I remain

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on November 26th, 2011
19 Akruranatha

It is an important part of our message that only pure devotional service is auspicious, and that material, fruitive activities — even high-grade material activities like working selflessly for the material welfare of others — are in a totally different category, of no value.

Material activities come in three basic varieties — those in goodness, those in passion, and those in ignorance (and there are unlimited mixtures of these three). But whether they are of precious metal or iron, chains are still chains. Therefore we recommend pure devotional service as the only solution.

However, we should know the difference between goodness, passion and ignorance, and encourage others to know the difference. Goodness is relatively better, because only in goodness can we start to glimpse spiritual reality.

In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says not to disrupt the minds of those who are attached to material activities by advising them to give up action, but rather to engage them in works of devotion.

Saintly kings and others set a good example of responsible, pious action for the sake of “loka sangraham”, the commonweal and wholesome, beneficial condition of the general populace, though they themselves were already situated in self-realization, understanding that they were not the cause of the fruits of their action and were transcendental to such interactions of the senses caused by the modes of nature (”svabhavas tu pravartate”).

On the one hand we should tell those who have ears to hear: “Even the biggest and best material activities cannot compare to even a tiny drop of devotion to Krishna.”

On the other hand, if people are going to be interested in performing some material activity (and they are), they should be guided so as to perform such activities properly and beneficially while striving to use all their actions and words and thoughts in Krishna’s service.

The danger of opening schools and hospitals, as I see it, is that we may be liable to miss the distinction between devotional service and high-grade material activities, or may even think that the value of ISKCON is to engage people in altruistic work, when it really has a much higher purpose.

But otherwise, if devotees can be farmers and merchants why not teachers and doctors? There is no prohibition. They just need to know that what is really of value is only pure, unalloyed devotion, free from any tinge of pious deeds or high philosophy, scholarship, patriotism and so on.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 27th, 2011
20 vishnujanadasa

Dear Puskara Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I don’t think His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami wants to shrink the orchestra that is ISKCON, but rather wants to make sure everyone is playing in tune-and according to the wishes of the conductor, Srila Prabhupada.

And his earnest concern is justified-we’re playing to a large audience.

Your servant,

Vishnujana Dasa

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on November 27th, 2011
21 Unregistered

Dear VrindavancandraPr

pl Support your following statement with valid Quotes

“You cannot love Krishna unless you hate Mayavada”

Comment posted by gourhari on November 29th, 2011
22 Akruranatha

High grade material activities like giving charity, cultivation of spiritual knowledge, austerity, sacrifice, discharging one’s duties to family, ancestors, countrymen, superiors and demigods, sense control, mystic yoga, being truthful, kind, tolerant, humble, simple, compassionate, and so on, are all useless if they do not lead one to Krishna consciousness.

We should know perfectly well that chanting Hare Krishna sincerely even once is thousands and millions of times better than performing a hundred horse sacrifices or opening a hundred universities and hospitals or planting thousands of fruit trees and digging millions of wells.

Therefore we are the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, not a society for pious activity. Material pious activity without Krishna consciousness is not attractive to Krishna.

And yet… It is well known that advanced devotees of Krishna display all the good qualities of the demigods. It is generally to be expected that one who is a devotee will also act piously, and one who acts impiously is not an advanced devotee. (See, B.G. 7.28: yesam tv anta-gatam papam jananam punya-karmanam te dvandva-moha-nirmukta bhajante mam drdha-vratah)

Actually it is included in the rules and regulations of devotional service that one should not act impiously. We must follow the four regulative principles, for instance, becoming completely free from the four pillars of sinful life (intoxication, illicit sex, meat-eating and gambling).

Some sahajiya may complain, “Why are you so concerned with this external, pious behavior? All that matters is that you love Krishna.” But we would answer, “How could you really love Krishna if you behave in a way He does not approve of? So-called love of Krishna that is not in keeping with the rules of morality is simply a disturbance.” [We know that Krishna enjoys when great devotees, out of truly pure love, violate some external moral principle for His service, but those are rare, truly-liberated devotees]

Devotees should be known for their exemplary behavior in all circumstances. Not that they should think, “I am a doer of pious deeds”. They should do everything for Krishna. But their deeds should never be impious. (If they are “ananya-bhak” devotees, then they cannot do anything impious, or any trace of impiety in them will very soon vanish).

SBSST once instructed some householders on pilgrimage that they should give charity to some beggars and not be hard-hearted.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on November 29th, 2011
23 Unregistered

So far as your question about controversy amongst the disciples . . . that is a fact. But this controversy is not material. 
Just like in a national program, different political parties are sometimes in conflict and make propaganda against each other, but their central point is always service to the country. 

Similarly, amongst the disciples . . . there may be some controversy, but the central point is how to preach the mission of His Divine Grace. If the central point is fixed up then there is no harm in such controversy. Every individual being must have his opinion; that is the significance of individuality, but all such differences of opinions must coincide in Krishna. 

In the battlefield of Kuruksetra were Arjuna and Bhisma who were fighting with one another, and because Krishna was on the side of Arjuna, sometimes Bhisma pierced the body of Krishna also with arrows. But still they remained the greatest devotees of the Lord.’”¬†

(Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Mandali Bhadra, July 28, 1969)
Dear Puskaraksa prabhu, as¬†individuals we are empowered not morons or unthinking zombies… thats why KC is for intelligent people. Would you not agree prabhu?
Ysvt. 

“Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy” - ¬†Srila Prabhupada.¬†

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on November 29th, 2011
24 Unregistered

Dear Akruranath Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for your reply,

We should accept that all devotees sincerely trying to understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are special souls, and that if some have not come to exactly the same conclusions as we have (over issues such as, whether to open a hospital or school), it may be that they are seeing some other angle that we have missed.

I am in favour of dialogue and discussion, on the basis of Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs teachings, to try and come to an understanding of ISKCON’s role in relation to welfare work. We should definitely try to understand properly, our role as Prabhupadanugas. Srila Prabhupada gave a formula for how we can become fully Krsna conscious. If we change this formula the result will change, we will not advance spiritually (see quote below), however many lifetimes we engage ourselves. This is the concern. This movement is supposed to be there for the next 10,000 years and if we start making adjustments to the formula now, then how will future generations become purified?

I urge the respected devotees not to see this as a criticism but rather a call to action for us to delve deeper into Srila Prabhupada vani to thoroughly understand the philosophy in terms of practice as well as how we (ISKCON) can do the utmost service for the suffering souls. Go through Srila Prabhupada’s conversation, lectures and letters on this subject and try and see how His Divine Grace wanted ISKCON to alleviate the suffering condition of living entities. And also what He considered the highest welfare activity.

‚ÄúIn this verse the word atad-arhanam is very significant, for it means that one should not be overly engaged in welfare activities for one’s family members, countrymen, society and community. None of these will help a person to advance spiritually. Unfortunately, in present-day society so-called educated men have no idea what spiritual progress is. Although they have the opportunity in the human form of life to make spiritual progress, they remain misers. They use their lives improperly and simply waste them thinking about the material welfare of their relatives, countrymen, society and so on.‚ÄĚ [SB 4.28.22 purport]

If one tries to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, he should be understood to be performing the best welfare activity.[SB 8.7.44 purport]

Your servant

Comment posted by Murari Das on November 30th, 2011
25 Unregistered

So far as your question about controversy amongst the disciples . . . that is a fact. But this controversy is not material. 
Just like in a national program, different political parties are sometimes in conflict and make propaganda against each other, but their central point is always service to the country. 

Similarly, amongst the disciples . . . there may be some controversy, but the central point is how to preach the mission of His Divine Grace. If the central point is fixed up then there is no harm in such controversy. Every individual being must have his opinion; that is the significance of individuality, but all such differences of opinions must coincide in Krishna. 

In the battlefield of Kuruksetra were Arjuna and Bhisma who were fighting with one another, and because Krishna was on the side of Arjuna, sometimes Bhisma pierced the body of Krishna also with arrows. But still they remained the greatest devotees of the Lord.’”¬†

(Srila Prabhupada’s Letter to Mandali Bhadra, July 28, 1969)

“Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy” - ¬†Srila Prabhupada.¬†

Ysvt

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on November 30th, 2011
26 Unregistered

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur-The faults of others can be deliberated upon if one has a virtuous motive. We should consider that, without the right motive, it is inappropriate to reflect, even impartially, upon the faults of any living being, what to speak of Vaisnavas. To blaspheme pure Vaisnavas is an offence, but even blaspheming other jivas is a sin. Vaisnavas have no interest in performing such a sinful act. However, provided one has the right motive, the scriptures have not condemned a careful critique of someone’s faults. Proper motive is of three types: desiring the welfare of the person criticized, desiring the welfare of the world and desiring one’s own welfare There are three types of proper motive: 

(1) If the intention in analyzing someone’s sins is to ensure that he attains his ultimate welfare, then such reflection is auspicious. 
(2) If the motive behind reflecting on someone’s sins is to benefit the whole world, then this is to be counted as an auspicious act.
 (3) If such reflection is undertaken for one’s own spiritual welfare, then it too, is auspicious. There is no fault in such reflection. 
When a disciple humbly asks his spiritual master to instruct him on how to identify a Vaisnava, the spiritual master, desiring the welfare of his disciple and of the whole world, explains that those who exhibit unholy behaviour are non-Vaisnavas. He thus points out how to identify true Vaisnavas through antithesis. With the motive of encouraging one to accept the shelter of the lotus feet of a true Vaisnava by abandoning false, so-called preachers of religion, one neither risks committing blasphemy of saints (sadhu-ninda) nor vaisnava-aparadha (offence to Vaisnavas). In such cases, even criticism directed at a specific person is free from fault. These are all examples of criticizing with the proper motive.
Ysvt

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on December 1st, 2011
27 Unregistered

Hare Krishna Prabhus

Dandavats. Jai Srila Prabhupada

Since the topic of the hospital has come up, I wanted to share the thought process behind it. It is in a lecture by HH Radhanath Swami. I will write as much as my memory serves me.

He mentions that there were several arguements and counter arguements when the hospital project was to be implemented. Several logistical reasons etc. Then he says something interesting. The thing why he gave his approval was because he saw that the doctors wanting the hospital were serious in their endeavor. And he fanned that spark to serve Krishna. Several of these doctors have done wonders after this, preaching in colleges, starting the hospice for devotees in Vrindavan, becoming counselers for several aspiring devotees etc. The end result should be seen. If the doctors were not given that chance, then would they have been inspired to continue in their devotional life as much?

Another way of looking at this is what the doctors would have done if the hospital werent there. They would have had their own practice. I believe that that hospital allowed them to engage their propensities in Sri Krishnas, Srila Prabhupadas and their Gurumaharajs service.

Finally several devotees including Sanyaasis have benefited from the hospital. Another aspect of a growing ISKCON societies needs are being addressed.

Hundreds of books go out through the hospital with the book display prominently displayed at the entrance. Srila Prabhupadas vigraha is the first thing one sees as one enters the hospital.

I think as long as the mood of the devotees serving in the various programs is to preach the glories of Lord Chaitanya, as long as the mood is there, then the mission will move on and progress. If the mood changes to just participate in the well being of society as a humanitarian initiative then there is no need for all this.

Just my thoughts..

Comment posted by rasarajdas on December 10th, 2011
28 Unregistered

Thank u Rasamrita Pr

Recently in Vyas Pooja Celebrations of Radhanath Swami, Dr. Madhavananda Pr (One of his Highly Educated Doctor discple)shared instructions he received From Radhanath Swami in initial days before starting Hospital, ” we can shut down the hospital TEN Times if there is no preaching” Also Dr. Madhavananda Pr cited several Examples of people becoming Krsna Conscious by getting treatment. One would do better by going through the Offering.

The hospital also has Spritual Care Department & many many more “Krsna Conscious Preaching” Activities.

There is a saying in Marathi, “Grazing Cattle & sheep while sitting on the back of a camel”.

So those Dear devotees who have doubts regarding Bhaktivedanta Hospital would do better by visiting the hospital than being “Arm Chair Philosophers”

P.S. This is only for 2nd & 3rd generation Devotees,None of these is directed for HH Bhakti Vikas Swami, as we know he has the right to correct / disagree with his godbrothers.

Pl don’t take any offence

YS

Comment posted by gourhari on December 12th, 2011
29 Akruranatha

Rasaraj Das writes:

“Another way of looking at this is what the doctors would have done if the hospital werent there. They would have had their own practice. I believe that that hospital allowed them to engage their propensities in Sri Krishnas, Srila Prabhupadas and their Gurumaharajs service.”

This makes sense. Eventually we want to make the doctors, scientists, politicians, corporate executives and everyone into devotees. If we can give them an opportunity to work with other devotees and do it as service for Krishna, that is a good thing.

Of course, when and if they decide to become sannyasis, they can travel and preach and perhaps stop the practice of medicine for the body, at least as their full-time profession.

We used to encourage people, “Give up your job, drop out of school, abandon your non-devotee family, and move into the temple to live with other full time devotees.”

However, in practice most of the devotees would get married and move out of the temple again and get jobs or businesses. The temple economy was insufficient to support their families, nor did they feel that as householders they should be draining temple resources in that way.

The idea of moving to an ISKCON farm commune and supporting a family through agriculture is great as an ideal, but it has yet to catch on among many of our members in practice. Our farm projects often struggle with insufficient devotees who have an interest in small-scale sustainable agriculture.

I think it is great that devotees are doctors, engineers, lawyers, small business owners, etc. Of course earning a livelihood that way generally involves a lot of interaction with nondevotees and their concerns, but the association is just economic. It need not overwhelm devotees and throw them into maya.

Yet, if a group of devotee doctors can work together in a devotee hospital where preaching is going on and books are being distributed, isn’t that so much better?

We can still take Bhakti Vikas Swami’s point to see it from this perspective and not think that ISKCON’s purpose is to do mundane charity work. It may be tempting to try to raise money by playing on the sentiments of materialistic potential donors, who would be less attracted to donate to pure sankirtan activities but are interested in relieving material distress. Maharaja wisely reminds us not to fall prey to that mentality, first by appealing to donors that way and eventually thinking that way, forgetting our higher preaching mission.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 13th, 2011
30 Unregistered

dear devotees

please accept my humble obeisances
all glories to srila prabhupada

I have just seen the letter/poem from Parashuram prabhu and I would like to clarify that attached to the food for all distribution in the area was a hare krishna centre where i met the devotees and got introduced to the philosophy at the morning program, being introduced to the srimad bhagavatam changed my life , there was a morning program every day and evening programs also, lots of people came to eat and then automatically would be exposed to the philosophy and kirtan, without the centre it would be miraculous for me to become a devotee only because of a plate of very nice vegetarian food, although I recognise the merit in eating prasadam even if you are unaware of the fact. When I distribute prasadam for food for all I try and distribute books and invite people to the friday evening program and discuss philosophy with whoever is interested, there are Gaura Nitai dieties in the front of the food for all van. I also have been at the university distribution with parashuram doing kirtan as we distributed prasadam and he also distributes hundreds of bhagavad gitas and other books every christmas as well as during the year , and everyone has great opportunity to enquire.
My guru maharaj hh bhakti vikasa swami has given class at the centre.

Comment posted by lavangalatikadd on December 24th, 2011

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