Pitfalls of Democracy

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By Abhaya Mudra Dasi

In popular historical accounts the word democracy was first used in ancient Greece denoting a contemporary system of governing. In ancient Athens the word democracy was a compound term which could be broken into two parts: demos meaning people and kratein to rule. This ideal of governing inspires us even today. Democracy echoes the ancient ideals of equality and freedom into the modern governing systems.

Some authors like John Keane (author of Life and Death of Democracy) think that democracy has much older origins. He traces the meaning of the word democracy back to the Mycenaean period which preceded the rule of Greece in the Mediterranean region. There the word demos (a person) is slightly changed to be pronounced damos. John Keane discovered the word demos in the Sumerian language as well where it is pronounced dunu meaning ‘inhabitants of a designated region.’ In the ancient world the many of the different languages enjoyed a greater connection to one another than they do today. That is due to the fact that they all kept close phonetic link to their unifying origin, the prototypic Sanskrit. In Sanskrit or devanagari (lit. “language spoken in the cities of the demigods”) dham means “place.” Dhamu means “one who hails from a particular region.” Kratu implies intellectual ability. It becomes apparent that in ancient time dhemokrat meant to employ the thinking ability of every man and utilize it for the welfare of the total society.

How democracy was applied is evident by one such example taken from Shri Ramayana, the epic about Shri Ramachandara’s life. After defeating Ravana and returning to the throne of Ayodhya, Lord Ramachandra overheard that some low-class person, dissatisfied with his wife, calling her behavior “like Sita’s” (because She was forced to stay in the home of another). Shri Ramachandra immediately took the opinion of the shudra seriously. As consequence He ordered his wife, Shrimati Sita Devi, to be taken to the forest ashram of Sage Valmiki. The Personality of Godhead Shri Ramachandra could not allow the citizens of Ayodhya even to think or discuss Mother Sita in an unfavorable way. By sending Her to Valmiki’s ashram, He protected both Her and the citizens alike. Of course, we may think that the opinions of women were never taken into account in ancient times even when democratic verdict was applied. But women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men. Kings were only considered true kshatriyas when they offered equal justice to all citizens.

The queen was equal to the king in making decisions. One such example is illustrated by the story of punishment applied to Ashvatthama, the son of Dronacharya. When Ashvatthama killed the five sleeping and helpless sons of Draupadi, he was captured by Shri Krishna and Arjuna. When the Lord and his friend were determined to kill Ashvatthama, Draupati was also consulted for a verdict. Her punishment was much milder and considerate of the mother of Ashvatthama. Consequently, Shri Krishna only disgraced Ashvatthama. For this reason the son of Dronacharya is alive even today. And if someone is fortunate to meet him he could be able to hear the stories of the Mahabharata war from a contemporary of Shri Krishna.

As long as there were true kshatriyas the citizens were protected. But the moment the kings became corrupt the people decided to take the reigns of power into their own hands. In ancient Athens democratic votes were given every day. Whenever there was a predicament all the people discussed the situation. For this reason the governments constructed large places for congregation. Every citizen had the turn to rule the city at some point of his life. Of course a big city was considered even a village of 10,000 people. But that made the application of democracy easier. Even in Manu Samhita and Shukra Niti it is noted that if a city is to be under the control of its ruler it should not exceed the population of 56,000. What is the situation today? We live in gigantic conglomerates. The idea of democracy is stronger than ever in our modern world. But although it may be one of the most used words in political accounts and discussions democracy remains an elusive dream when it comes to practical application.

Words have vast power in today’s world of the variegated media. Words in the form of information rule the world today; they change and shape the global perception of each generation. When we hear “democracy” we think equality and freedom. But there are many different forms of democracy and all of them are meant to discourage the straightforward practice of control by the people.

In Representative democracy the people elect a few candidates amongst themselves and those representatives run in an election. The pitfall of representation is that not all people in the population of a country are politically active and only the political parties elect representatives. Most people end up voting for candidates they do not like or they do not identify with. In this form of democracy the president will never be able to stand for all the views and wants of all the citizens at large. The main reason is because in this form of democracy the rule is wielded by the majority. This situation creates an oppressed minority. The oppressed minority acts in opposition to the elected representative. Because the opposition wants a share in the decision making process, this desire is used as an excuse to create a situation where a consecutive election is inevitable. Thus nobody remains on top of the political game for too long. No president has enough time to solve the major problems concerning his country and the world. Most presidents come to power, enrich themselves for their term of four or five years and then go away to make place for the next elected “leader” to come along and repeat the performance.

Because the Representative democracy, depending on the winner amongst the two leading parties, is either black or white, the more open-minded societies employ another type of democracy called Parliamentary. In this form of democracy there is an extended representation of the citizens in the form of a parliament. In the parliament all major political parties in a country have their representatives. The parliament has the right to vote against the decisions of the prime minister and the president. Although this is a better version of democracy than the Representative democracy, it is noteworthy to mention that an ordinary person has a little or no access to the parliamentary decisions. The high officials who supposedly represent the citizens are sitting in big chairs behind many closed doors. Their cabinets have high security alarms and the so-called “representatives” are virtually inaccessible to the ordinary citizens. The man on the street has a tough time influencing the decisions of the parliament.

Although the deputies are supposed to represent the opinions of the people they have their own political agenda. Often politics and corruption go hand in hand. On the surface Parliamentary democracy may seem fairer than other forms of democracy but in practice it does not provide better results. This form of democracy is confusing to the general public. The ordinary citizens are deceived that they personally take part in the government via their representatives. In fact, the chosen few in the parliament are only looking after the citizen’s interests in theory. In this unfair form of democracy only a chosen few can truly represent themselves and those few are the deputies in the parliament. When the citizens realize that nobody is truly looking after them they do not know how to overcome this social imbalance. In general society reacts by publicizing against the culprits. After the decision for exposing the guilty deputies is taken, the ones who want to fight for their rights loose track of priorities. They start by looking into the lives of the alleged high personas, and end up just popularizing their mistakes. Thus the freedom fighters inspire society to follow the corruption of the ones in charge. When you deal with many people things becomes very complicated.

Some countries prefer another form of democracy called Presidential. In this form of democracy the president has the right to oversee the work of the government. His power is close to that of a king because he can interfere with all decisions made by the administration. The pitfall of this democracy is that the president is elected through one political party. He is supposed to be without bias and represents all political parties equally. In practice this is impossible because the president is always loyal to the party that promoted him. But a perfect ruler is not created in one or two days and he does not rule a country for one or two terms for limited number of years. A real well-wisher of all citizens is born as a king and trained since birth to follow dharma. Thus the pitfall of the Presidential democracy is that the imposed leader ends up being a mere panderer in the hands of certain powerful political parties or corporations. In some counties there is Semi-presidential democracy where the prime minister and the president have equal powers and are supposedly checking and correcting each others’ errors. The pitfall of this democracy is that the president and the prime-minister go into endless error fining. Instead of working constructively and solving real problems like tax, poverty line, employment and medical care they only add new meanings to political correctness.

Since all democracies in the above list have failed to properly represent all citizens, some political masterminds have made one last attempt to make democracy work using the power of law. Supposedly, in the face of law, the political parties, the president, the prime minister and the ordinary citizens are equal. The chains of law, ideally, stop all unfair and underhanded techniques and secure true representation of all citizens. But the pitfall of Liberal democracy does not make the democratic system more workable. In practice, it makes the drawbacks of the system legalized. And to cast the historical mistakes of modern classlessness as iron clad the last and supposedly perfect form of democracy is created, the Constitutional democracy. This democratic system is based on a constitution and it is a derivative of the Liberal democracy. The difference is that the constitution is supposed to be permanent while the law can be changed when, ideally, everybody agrees on that. The pitfall of the Constitutional democracy lies in the truth that the constitution is not a perfect document. It is written in a fixed time, which has its own trends, by a handful of people with limited experience. The constitution is a weak call to rewrite the laws of the Universe which only Manu, a true representative of Shri Krishna can inscribe and reinforce.

The devotees of Shri Krishna know that democracy cannot possibly represent spiritual equality. Devotees know the futility of voting for any listed political party because there is no representation for followers of Krishna consciousness. The truth is that if we wait for the world of samsara to represent us, we will never be heard or noticed. A devotee cannot be part of a world wherein the rule of selfishness dictates to the majority of representatives from whichever party they originate.

Today in the name of democracy gigantic corporations threaten to swallow even the little remaining freedoms of the ordinary citizens. People have been tricked in the name of democracy into voting away their autonomy. They have sacrificed their free time, the right to drink pure water, the need to breathe fresh air and to work at home producing their own God-given food. Big business assures the people that they do not have to do hard labor because all their needs will be taken care of. The corporations will bottle the water and sell it to the people in pretty containers. They will sell them air purifiers; they will open big supermarkets with all imaginable fruits and vegetables in every season, and they will vend them to the obedient citizens. The human beings do not need to do anything but surrender their freedom and in return they will receive plenty of money to spend it back into the system. Though such big corporations create a motherly image, they are true agents of Kali. They are the witches and the conditioned human beings are sleeping on their laps. Undetected, like beautiful Putanas, they enter our lives and lock us from our ability to think properly. They induce everyone to model their life after their unscrupulous principles. The big corporations console the sleeping souls with the promise that in the next election each citizen can vote for whoever he chooses.

But every civilian has but one time to vote every four or five years. And even then, many are watching how he exercises his vote. Family members who are politically oriented will also try to sway him into voting for their representative. The company he works for will also try to buy his vote. Around the time of the election campaign certain faces become famous for a short period of time. They are supposed to be the candidates of the ordinary citizen who has usually never met them in person. There is nothing personal about the aggressive way the candidates approach him from their posters, television, radio, and internet. They talk about themselves and how they are going to solve his problems but they do not care to personally know the voter. Because the candidates are also ordinary people it is impossible for them to know every single person who is going to vote for them on the elections. In the aftermath a person is not counted as an individual but as a vote.

Personalism is possible only in Krishna Consciousness. Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, knows every single soul in the universe regardless the size of his body, from an insect to a demigod. It does not matter what form of democracy, monarchy or patriarchy society adopts. If Shri Krishna is not put in the center, there will always be a failure in the establishment. The system’s principles would stay elusively in the realm of idealism. Democracy is theoretically a very good system but in practice its ideals have been unreachable. On the contrary, Vaishnava philosophy does not claim that everyone is born equal. Every single entity has different karma and has to suffer different consequences in life. Though advocates of democracy claim that vox populi can provide equality but sameness does not exist. A man and a woman have different bodies with different requirements. A person with godly inclinations is also not equal to a person with demonic propensities. People have to be treated according to their individual karma, their respective characters and their goals in life.

Real equality means to treat every single person according to his or her situation while at the same time providing him or her with equal possibility for self-realization. This is the goal of varnashrama system established by Shri Krishna. The Lord explains this in Bhagavad Gita (4.13) to Arjuna:

catur-varnyam maya srishtam guna-karma-vibhagashah
tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam

According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.

Varnashrama principle is “simple living and high thinking” because it relies on the resources of nature. Self-sufficiency, which is a normal consequence of agrarian living, is the key to freedom. Freedom is not possible if a single person is dependent on countless individuals; as it is the situation in the modern world. For example, we would be surprised to learn how many people handle the distribution of electricity before it reaches the consumer. How many individuals have been engaged in producing the devices which allocate the electricity, and how many devices are there that receive the electricity? How many people handle the bureaucratic side of electric distribution? How many people handle the electric invoices? Before someone receives a single kilowatt-hour of electricity, countless people have participated in its production. On the contrary, agrarian community makes the individual depended mainly on his family. In this way the family becomes the basic unit of society.

Today families are being destroyed by the artificial dependency on technology. Technology dooms human relations and destroys the feelings associated with human interaction. In modern society new psychological diseases are on the rise. We cannot disregard the fact that human beings are mainly emotional creatures. And despite the fact that in modern society all material needs may be met, the need for emotional security is not. The living entity does not have the facility to be close to many different individuals at the same time. For the living entity being close to only one person is natural. The original position of the living entity is to find his close relationship with the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. All other relationships are based on this fact. Reviving our lost relationship with Shri Krishna is the only way to solve emotional disorientation.

Democracy is just another form of confusion regarding our innate need to be close to another, to be close to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Democracy promises personalism although it can never reciprocate. It is a system which encourages lies and deceit on all levels. In the name of democracy we see all kinds of atrocities being conducted by the big powers of the day. The large and powerful establishments force others into becoming democratic in the name of consumerism which they control. But no market is unlimited when the resources are in the hand of the greedy. The need of the hour is that we, as devotees, should try to entrench ourselves in secure situations. We need to own land and construct temples and other buildings. We need to develop communities which will grow to enact the vision for self-sufficient society which gives freedom and equality to all individuals to love Shri Krishna. Only then the utopia of direct democracy (when everyone’s desires, opinions and rights are fully counted) can be accomplished.


The futility of democracy at work: American elected officials check sports scores, visit Facebook or play video card games while the Speaker of the House addresses the “dignitaries.”

Srila Prabhupada on democracy: “This democracy is a demon-crazy. It has no value. It is simply waste of time and effort and no feeling, demon-crazy. I do not know who introduced this… Everyone is taking part in politics. What is this nonsense? It is meant for the kshatriyas. They can fight and defend. The rascals, bhangis, chamars, and they are also in politics. Harijanas… Every one of them vote, and everyone has got the right to become king, minister.”

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1 ron conroy satyahit

Thank you for that info. Abhaya Mudra dd, I’ll refer the readers to Mukunda Goswami,s book,”MIRACLE on Second Avenue” pages 192 and 192 wherein Srila Prabhupada responds to a newspaper article which described events around people throwing stones at the prime minister Indira Ghandi in India. Srila Prabhupada was not opposed this action and explained why the government is responsible for the citizens happiness in general. He gave the example of King Yudhisthira who always felt the weight and pain of his subjects. Srila Prabhupada,” it was their duty to protect against all disturbances”. He is referring to government, whom Prabhupada said in SB,reap 1/6 the sinful or pious actions of all the citizens of the country.
My understanding at this point is that if animal slaughter is not mostly done away with by educating the masses on the vast amount of pitfalls and sinful reactions both personal and country wide, then Kali will continue marching forward which is daily evident. Education may be done by television, ie, a dedicated channel mean’t for uplifting all the citizens in all respects, which includes diet,health,and general well being. Since no one can avoid the reactions of sinful actions it behooves the devotee’s of the Lord, out of compassion to come together as a team with the needed money and television know how, to establish a 24 hour daily broadcast mean’t for helping the common man in all respects. When people hear what happens to their bodies by continued meat eating , many will naturally want to stop out of fear of disease. The more people that discontinue meat eating, the less demand, the less animal slaughter. Simple arithmetic. When Oprah heard on public television from Howard Lyman, about the pitfalls of meat eating, she immediately blurted out,”i’ll never eat another hamburger”, after which the Texas Meat Group, attempted to sue Oprah Winfrey $15,000 million for loss of sales and they lost. (see Howard Lyman lawsuit web site. )
Srila Prabhupada got us started, leaving us with unlimited service to help ourselves and do good to others.
For all sincere christians The Essene Gospel of Peace by His Disciple John ,(dead sea scroll), translated from aramaic, (by Dr Edward Sezekly), the language Lord Jesus Christ spoke in, one half way through describes the horrors of flesh eating, which sounds like cancer though he does not use that word.
satyahit das ACBS 1969

Comment posted by ron conroy satyahit on December 3rd, 2011
2 vishnujanadasa

Dear Satyahit prabhu,

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

Thank you for the informative comment left on Abhay Mudra mataji’s most wonderful article. These are very thought provoking writings, and I hope we can look forward to more articles by both of you.

One note: You mention that we should educate karmis about the pitfalls of meat-eating; Srila Prabhupada mentioned that we are not interested in vegetarianism per se, but “prasadism”. Can you please comment a bit on that point?

Thank you and I hope this meets you in good health and spirits.

Your servant,

Vishnujana Dasa

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 7th, 2011
3 Kulapavana

Thank you for this well researched and nicely written article. Great job!
As Satyahit Prabhu points out, the managerial authority - whether a king or democratically elected official, must be held accountable for the EFFECTS of their rule. It is as much a Vedic standard as common sense. We can argue which system of government is theoretically better, but ultimately all authorities must be judged by the result.
Prabhupada: “You can say, I can say my method is very nice. You can say your method is very nice, but we have to judge by the result.” Television Interview – July 4, 1971, Los Angeles
“It is also said, phalena paricīyate: one’s success or defeat in any activity is understood by its result.” SB 8.9.28, Purport
The popularity of the democratic system of government in out times stems from many centuries of practical experience - in other words, it produces better results, at least most of the time.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on December 8th, 2011
4 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Dear Satyahit Prabhu,

Obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you very much for your kind and insightful comment on my article.
Indeed meat eating is a great vise in modern society. Education about meat eating can best come from the Vaishnavas because we understand not only the gross but the subtle consequences of killing for food. One appropriate title of a movie or a propaganda slogan in this context would be “Why are the Hare Krishna Devotees not Eating Meat?”

…We can preach again Krishna Consciousness on the streets because times are very appropriate now. It is the hand of Providence personally assisting the devotees in their preaching mission. The demons have one plan but Shri Krishna has a different and perfect plan for the world’s future. As we speak, protesters have come out on the streets to fight in a peaceful ways the economical limitations leading to successive downstream of modern society. Some devotees are taking advantage and are singing Hare Krishna mahamantra amidst the protests. Here is one inspiring example coming from New York:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp2PZHEYtwA

and to address Vishnujana ji,

Thank you for your comment! Yes, Srila Prabhupada was concerned with preaching the eternal dharma of Krishna Consciousness. If preaching against meat eating comes in between the lines of propagating Krishna Consciousness, it should be kept subordinate to the sole mission of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Our main goal is to lead the conditioned jivas to Shri Krishna’s lotus feet.

Still, we have to understand the devastating consequences that the unlimited cow killing has inflicted on the world. A spiritual world without cows is impossible. And in this context we have to insist that Shri Krishna wants the mother cow and the father bull alive. A spiritual prosperity cannot blossom without the presence of the most beloved animals of Shri Krishna.

Your servant,
Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 10th, 2011
5 Puskaraksa das

Thank you for this long article, amusingly tinged in beginning with a touch of feminist propaganda:

“Of course, we may think that the opinions of women were never taken into account in ancient times even when democratic verdict was applied. But women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men.”

That still exists nowadays, all the more when men become hen-pecked husbands, due to their dependence on sex life, which is not really to be brought to the credit of any gender.

“The queen was equal to the king in making decisions. One such example is illustrated by the story of punishment applied to Ashvatthama, the son of Dronacharya. When Ashvatthama killed the five sleeping and helpless sons of Draupadi, he was captured by Shri Krishna and Arjuna. When the Lord and his friend were determined to kill Ashvatthama, Draupati was also consulted for a verdict. Her punishment was much milder and considerate of the mother of Ashvatthama. Consequently, Shri Krishna only disgraced Ashvatthama.”

Actually, I don’t think the queen was equal to the king in making decisions. She could certainly have some influence in the private sphere and give her opinion to her husband in some cases, but the king also had professional counselors and experts in different fields around him. Still he had the final say and made the final decisions.

As it is, in the example you provide, Draupadi is not so much consulted because she is a woman, meant to share equal rights with men, but because she is a devotee…

On the other hand, while showing some of the drawbacks and pitfalls of democracy, when imperfect people lead other imperfect people, we still have to remain humble and somewhat moderate in our criticism as, in most cases, we are also imperfect people, leading or being led by other imperfect people… So, unless one becomes a pure devotee, there will always be some flaws.

Yet, as Krishna mentions that He only is infallible, even a pure devotee such as Srila Prabhupada apologizes for any mistakes he may make, as in the introduction of his presentation of Srimad Bhagavatam, or may have made, as at the end of his life…

Besides, many good people are also present in society and not all are ill-minded selfish demons. So, it may not be all that dark and negative!

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 11th, 2011
6 Puskaraksa das

Srila Prabhupada stated that the best devotees will join later… Hence, once ISKCON and its members raise their level, people already in the mode of goodness will become attracted. This means, these devotees-to-be are presently part of society and are already concerned with doing good to others.

So, when you write “A devotee cannot be part of a world wherein the rule of selfishness dictates to the majority of representatives from whichever party they originate”, we still have to keep in mind that devotees such as Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, Srila Ramananda Raya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and even Srila Prabhupada, were part of society and played an eminent role, before renouncing all worldly involvement…

In other words, even though we have high aspirations, we have to set an example and showcase success stories in the way we implement our philosophy. We cannot just put everything and everyone else down (which may not be the best way to attract people either), for the sake of promoting ourselves and still not exemplify what we are saying.

Hence, as actions speak louder than words, I would rather consider our remaining humble and palatable in our dealings, while working hard to bring about the perfect society we envision, yet keeping in mind that this material world is only a temporary place we only pass through, our real business being really, to go to the spiritual world…

Hare Krishna

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 11th, 2011
7 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

My dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,

It is worth mentioning that the game of chess originated in ancient Bharata Varsha. It was called chaturanga and the game was played by Shri Krishna and Shri Balarama. The strongest figure in chaturanga (the senapati) has evolved into what is now called the queen. How exactly the Queen’s power, the shakti of the Griha-Lakshmi, is applied seems obvious only to other women. Most men, it would seem, have a hard time grasping how the feminine energy operates. This is fact, not feminism.

The greatest pitfall of democracy is that it allows everyone have an equal opinion. We are forced to treat the lower class person with the same respect as those who are worthy of being called knowledgeable. Had Shri Krishna not drawn a line that denoted the difference between those who partake of a demonic mentality and those who do not, then He would have never killed demons like Kamsa and Jarasandha. Such demons may be responsible towards their families and good towards others of their ilk, but that does not excuse them from their asuric proclivities. We have to understand what is demonic and what is not.

As far as this modern word “feminism” is concerned, I do not subscribe to it at all. Rather, as devotees of Krishna consciousness, gender is an issue that is far subservient to our eternal position as servants of the servants of Shri Guru and Gauranga. If we ourselves can properly learn from the example of Shrila Prabhupada how to draw that line, then we can attract the good people from society and they will join us here in the Hare Krishna movement. Thank you for the input.

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 13th, 2011
8 vishnujanadasa

The power of women referred to in this article is the power Savitri showed when her devotion to her husband brought him back from the grasp of Yamaraja. Yamaraja certainly has supreme authority over mortals, but Savitri’s chaste qualities were able to touch Yamaraja’s heart to the point that he allowed her husband to surpass the law of karma.

It is contested that Abhay Mudra Mataji should be humble and moderate in her criticism of modern democracy, but these are not her personal opinions. She is stating the opinions of the Acharyas, particularly Srila Prabhupada. And while Srila Prabhupada most definitely appreciated the freedoms given to him by America (so much so that he considered it his fatherland, having given him so many “fathers” in the form of disciples), he definitely considered modern democracy “Demon-cracy.” If this is not clear then we are not reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.

So there may be flaws in our opinions, but the Acharyas cannot make mistakes. Why? Because they simply repeat the message of Krishna, who, as stated above, is infallible. Krishna states in Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 7 text 15:

“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”

Prabhupada would some times be criticized for his heavy language, but he would always say, “I am not saying, Krishna is saying!”

In the purport to the above verse, Srila Prabhupada points out that because most people do not follow any of the purificatory processes of varnashrama in this age, “…99.9 percent of the population is narādhama [lowest of mankind].”

In fact, the founding fathers of America also saw the perils of democracy, because it enabled the masses to vote away the possessions of the minorities (such as the middle class, who actually employ most of the population). They liken democracy to “two wolves and a sheep voting what’s for dinner.” That is why America was founded as a republic.

This is why the Nazis called themselves the ” National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” The Nazis in power were able to exploit the ignorance of the masses to vote away the rights and property of the jews and other minorities.

Same thing with the Bolshevik Communists in Russia and later Eastern Europe: The masses voted away the property and rights of the middle class because the minorities in these countries were not protected as they would be in a republic.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 14th, 2011
9 vishnujanadasa

Puskaraksha’s comments state:

“Yet, as Krishna mentions that He only is infallible, even a pure devotee such as Srila Prabhupada apologizes for any mistakes he may make, as in the introduction of his presentation of Srimad Bhagavatam, or may have made, as at the end of his life…”

Prabhupada is a nitya-siddha devotee who “built a house in which the whole world can live.” Does Puskaraksha actually believe Srila Prabhupada made mistakes or offended others? A nitya-Siddha may apparently seem to make mistakes, but they are not conditioned by the modes of material nature. Even Lord Krishna exhibited the frailties of being a conditioned living entity in illusion. Does that mean Krishna must also apologize for being in maya? Srila Prabhupada’s apologies are a symptom of his transcendental humility.

“Srila Prabhupada stated that the best devotees will join later… Hence, once ISKCON and its members raise their level, people already in the mode of goodness will become attracted. This means these devotees-to-be are presently part of society and are already concerned with doing good to others.”

Most people in the world are in the mode of Ignorance and passion, as stated by Srila Prabhupada and seen by common experience. ISKCON raises people to the mode of goodness and beyond. These “devotees in the mode of goodness already in society” whom Puskaraksha speaks of may be well wishers of society, but until they start following the four regs and chanting 16 rounds, they are not doing much good to anyone.

You mentioned Rupa and Sanatana as devotees involved in mundane society, but once they met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they lamented and repented for their previous lives. Sanatana Gosvami even thought himself unfit to be touched by Mahaprabhu, and Haridasa Thakura felt unfit to enter the temple. This was due to their humble belief that they were contaminated and fallen due to their previous lives, so we can understand their verdict in regards to worldly society. Can you imagine what they would say if they appeared in today’s modern world?

Puskarakhsa says we have to set an example and showcase our success stories. Abhaya Mudra mataji is doing just that: She and her husband have a varnashrama project they have set up in Bulgaria, and both earn their living independently and brahminically (they are Vedic Jyotish astrologers). They are preaching the glories of the sankirtana movement and in my experience are extremely amiable people. Their actions speak loud and clear.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 14th, 2011
10 Unregistered

My dear Vishnujana das Prabhu,
Please accept the dandavats of this poor fool. Thank you for the divine nectar of devotional kindness in your choice of words about me. I am forever in your debt and beg the opportunity to serve you at some point. For now let me say that it is wonderful to hear your preaching, your ability to mix common sense, a solid worldview, knowledge of the world around us and present your vision through the lens of Shrila Prabhupaa’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is. When I see such perspicacious preaching imbued with very personal love and devotion for the Shri Shri Founder-Acharya, I am content that the torchlight has been handed down successfully. You are a worthy disciple of a worthy spiritual master.

Regarding the varnashram project, it is very basic and rustic at present, but we do have the farm house and the property and are working the land. The organic produce is like heaven here in the Rila Hills. We invite any devotees who are looking to establish themselves in one of the most gorgeous locations on earth to correspond with us,. Even now in the middle of winter we are able to bring in bushels of plums apples and other fruits growing especially citizens of the EU wild around the property.

I do hope that we will be able to continue corresponding a would appreciate hearing from you at my address
dhimanakrishna@gmail.com.

Please let me know how I may serve you and thereby please Shrila Prabhupada,
Your humble servant,
Patit “fallen”

Comment posted by Patita Pavana on December 15th, 2011
11 Puskaraksa das

Dear Abhaya Mudra dasi

You may know that Srila Prabhupada, when speaking of the conditioned nature of women, as described in sastras, would sometimes turn towards his lady disciples and tell them: “I hope you don’t mind; you are devotees”.

Hence, we have to remember that our eternal identity is “jivera svarupa haya, Krishnera nitya das”, we are eternal servants of Krishna. We are nor men, neither women. Nevertheless, we follow the rules prevailing for each gender, both for natural reasons and out of etiquette.

For instance, in Toronto June 18th, 1976, Mrs. Mukherjee, a student, asked about the position of women in our Movement. Prabhupada explained that there is no distinction between man and woman on the spiritual platform. “That is clearly said in the Bhagavad-Gita, Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah striyo sudras thata vaisyas. These classes are understood to be less-intelligent—–women, sudras, and vaisyas. But Krsna says, ‘No, even for them, it is open’. Because on the spiritual platform there is no such distinction, man, woman, black or white, big or small. No. Everyone is spirit soul. Pandita, one who is actually learned, he is sama-darsi. He does not make any distinction. But so far our material body is concerned, there must be some distinction for keeping the society in order.”

In the same line, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also states:

nāhaḿ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaḿ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramānanda-pūrnāmṛtābdher
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ

“‘I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.’ C.C. Madhya 13.80

So, we are not interested in promoting the gender we have incarnated in, in this lifetime, all the more that it may easily raise the suspicion of being biased (which makes it amusing, when one is intelligent and scholarly inclined, as it somewhat defeats the purpose, since one who is pandita, learned, has an equal vision of the spirit soul, on the spiritual platform).

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 21st, 2011
12 Puskaraksa das

Rather, we are interested in developing saintly qualities and becoming pure devotees, while encouraging others do the same…

I also noticed that you had a young supporter in the person of Vishnujana das brahmacari, who unfortunately misunderstood both the points I made and my intentions, which may explain why he tried to defeat everything I said, without trying to understand further…

As it is, I didn’t get into the criticism or the eulogy of democracy, but rather tried to highlight the fact that we have to be careful in not being too negative in our presentation, as it may create some hindrance in attracting people to Krishna consciousness.

Besides, knowing intellectually that Krishna is present in the temple in His Deity form, but not being able to see Him outside the temple, as well as not being able to see the good in others, are the symptoms of a kanistha adhikari.

In that regard, sastras state:

One should not remain a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, one who is situated on the lowest platform of devotional service and is interested only in worshiping the Deity in the temple. Such a devotee is described in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.47):

arcāyām eva haraye
pūjāḿ yaḥ śraddhayehate
na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu
sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ

“A person who is very faithfully engaged in the worship of the Deity in the temple, but who does not know how to behave toward devotees or people in general is called a prākṛta-bhakta, or kaniṣṭha-adhikāri.”

One therefore has to raise himself from the position of kaniṣṭha-adhikārī to the platform of madhyama-adhikārī. The madhyama-adhikārī is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.2.46) in this way:

īśvare tad-adhīneṣu
bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca
prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā
yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ

“The madhyama-adhikārī is a devotee who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the highest object of love, makes friends with the Lord’s devotees, is merciful to the ignorant and avoids those who are envious by nature.”

Nevertheless, Vishnujana das wrote: “Does Puskaraksha actually believe Srila Prabhupada made mistakes or offended others?” As it is, I wonder how Vishnujana das could conceive of such an offensive proposal and statement!

The problem of course, is that the less advanced one is, the less humble one is. To the contrary, thankfully, the more advanced one is, the more humble one is.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 21st, 2011
13 Puskaraksa das

Hence, one should get some stimulus to advance as it is only by being more humble than a blade of grass on the street, that one will be able to chant the Holy Name ceaselessly…

trinad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada Harih

‘One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give all respect to others, can only always chant the holy name of the Lord.’ (Siksastakam, 3)

However, Vishnujana das writes: These “devotees in the mode of goodness already in society” (whom Puskaraksha speaks of) may be well wishers of society, but until they start following the four regs and chanting 16 rounds, they are not doing much good to anyone.”

Young Vishnujana das brahmacari may be too inexperienced to know how many have come to Krishna consciousness and gone, after having chanted 16 rounds and followed the four regs for some time, all the way to becoming brahmanas, and even sannyasis or gurus for some of them…

One time, a sannyasi even left in the middle of a class he was giving… Srila Prabhupada commented: “if some leave, it is because not all are devotees…”.

Therefore, it is not because one is chanting 16 rounds and following the four regulative principles at some point, after so many life times of performance of sinful activities (up to this lifetime for many of us) that one should become overly proud and consider oneself superior to these 99.9% of the population which Vishnujana das enjoys quoting as fallen (i.e. according to his presentation, lower than he who chants 16 rounds and follows the four regs):

« Krishna states in Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 7 text 15:
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”
In the purport to the above verse, Srila Prabhupada points out that because most people do not follow any of the purificatory processes of varnashrama in this age, “…99.9 percent of the population is narādhama [lowest of mankind].”

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 21st, 2011
14 Puskaraksa das

However, Visnujana das forgets to put this quote in its context :

“It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the divine consciousness dormant in them. The ten processes of reformatory ceremonies, as enjoined in the Manu-smṛti. which is the guide to religious principles, are meant for reviving God consciousness in the system of varṇāśrama. However, no process is strictly followed now in any part of the world, and therefore 99.9 percent of the population is narādhama.

When the whole population becomes narādhama. naturally all their so-called education is made null and void by the all-powerful energy of physical nature. According to the standard of the Gītā, a learned man is he who sees on equal terms the learned brāhmaṇa. the dog. the cow, the elephant and the dog-eater. That is the vision of a true devotee. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, who is the incarnation of Godhead as divine master, delivered the typical narādhamas. the brothers Jagāi and Mādhāi, and showed how the mercy of a real devotee is bestowed upon the lowest of mankind. So the narādhama who is condemned by the Personality of Godhead can again revive his spiritual consciousness only by the mercy of a devotee.”

Hence, one should not cultivate this pride of considering oneself superior to almost everyone else, i.e. 99.9 percent of the population, on the basis of having chanted 16 rounds and followed the four regulative principles for a limited amount of time, which is obviously in contradiction with the “trinad api sunicena” verse and the mood of our acaryas…

To the contrary, Srila Prabhupada, here again, stresses the point that a true devotee is sama darshi, he sees the spirit soul in every living entity (which he knows to be by nature, sat cit ananda) and makes it his duty revive the divine consciousness dormant in the conditioned souls.

From this purport, we also see that the typical naradamas, as per Srila Prabhupada’s words, were Jagai and Madhai and that they became pure devotees of the Lord, by the grace of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, who is the adi Guru, the original spiritual master. So, that leaves great hope for the rest of the population, who is far from being as sinful as they were… Hence, from the madhyam adhikari stage, one is able to see the innocent souls and mercifully assist the pure devotee in rescuing them…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 21st, 2011
15 Puskaraksa das

Therefore, as mentioned in the above quoted purport, “It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the divine consciousness dormant in them. The ten processes of reformatory ceremonies, as enjoined in the Manu-smṛti. which is the guide to religious principles, are meant for reviving God consciousness in the system of varṇāśrama.”, it is essential that we establish varnasrama, so as to train a qualified class of saintly ksatriyas as well…

Studying further history, one may also come to understand that if republic is a legal structure, democracy is a way of functioning generally present within a republic or a parliamentary monarchy. In the cases mentioned by Vishnujana das brahmacary, even if Hitler came to power via a democratic vote, he soon turned his governance into a dictatorship. Similarly, Staline, whom Lenine had warned about in his testament, concentrated all powers in his hands and became another “bloody” dictator.

Besides, people have generally dismissed ruling monarchies due to too much power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, who became corrupted; hence, we first have to establish varnashrama and create a class of saintly ksatriyas who will prove to benefit society and its members, so that people may revive their faith in such a system.

So, at a time when people are struggling to free themselves from various dictatorships and oligarchies throughout the world and conquer some elementary freedom of speech, one can question, from a preaching angle of vision (which is my personal stand), if it is most appropriate to denigrate democracy, all the more in the general absence of trained saintly ksatriyas…

Therefore, we have to learn to prioritize our preaching and not immediately repel people on some issue which will fit in place later in time…

At last, Abhaya Mudra dasi and her husband will have noticed that I didn’t say “you” have to set an example, but “we” have to set an example, as the ISKCON Movement, so that people become convinced in our philosophy, which will prove to be more efficient than criticizing some fundamental principle which we have implemented ourselves to some extent in our own institutions and ways of functioning.

Hoping this finds you well and happily engaged in seva,

I remain
Yours in the service of Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga

Srila Prabhupada das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 21st, 2011
16 vishnujanadasa

Dear Patita Pavana Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Prabhu. We are not qualified to carry the torch you and your exalted God-brothers and sisters have so graciously and carefully carried all these years, but we will do our best to serve you and this mission as far as possible by Lord Krishna’s grace.

My only wish is that you bless me and allow me to serve you and all the other exalted souls engaged in Srila Prabhupada’s mission of delivering the fallen conditioned souls of this troubled world.

I’m also grateful that the devotees at dandavats.com have made such a wonderful platform such as this, where devotees from all over the world can contact and serve each other and discuss the important and relevant issues facing ISKCON today, in order to more effectively propagate Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtana movement.

That being said, thank you also for giving us a glimpse into life of the heavenly Rila Hills, and for your warm invitation to devotees to join your “rustic” and idyllic lifestyle.

I pray we may continue our correspondence.

Your fallen and aspiring servant,

Vishnujana Dasa Brahmacari

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 22nd, 2011
17 vishnujanadasa

Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your thorough response Prabhu. I can see you took much care in your response.

To address some of your points:

You imply that H.G. Abhay Mudra Mataji is promoting the gender she has incarnated in, but according to her original article, she states:

“Of course, we may think that the opinions of women were never taken into account in ancient times even when democratic verdict was applied. But women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men. Kings were only considered true kshatriyas when they offered equal justice to all citizens.”

So we can see that her intention is not to create a “puffed-up” view of womanhood, but to show that the Vedic culture is just and fair-more so than the blinkered modern-day person would think.

Also, she mentions at the closing of one of her comments, that, “Rather, as devotees of Krishna consciousness, gender is an issue that is far subservient to our eternal position as servants of the servants of Shri Guru and Gauranga.”

And so this point needs no further elaboration.

You also mention that you,

“..didn’t get into the criticism or the eulogy of democracy, but rather tried to highlight the fact that we have to be careful in not being too negative in our presentation, as it may create some hindrance in attracting people to Krishna consciousness.”

This is what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said about being critical:

“If to carry out the command of the Vaishnava Guru i have to be arrogant or brutish, or suffer eternal perdition, i am prepared to welcome such eternal damnation and even sign a contract to that effect. I will not listen to the words of malicious persons in lieu of the command of Sri Gurudeva. I will dissipate with indomitable courage and conviction the currents of thought of the rest if the world, relying on the strength derived from the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. I confess to this arrogance.”

- Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarswati Thakura

Again, he says above: “I will dissipate with indomitable courage and conviction the currents of thought of the rest if the world, relying on the strength derived from the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. I confess to this arrogance.”

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 22nd, 2011
18 vishnujanadasa

In connection with what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur says above about strong preaching and criticism, and in order to address your (Puskaraksa’s) comments about what constitutes a kanistha-adhikārī and a madhyama-adhikārī, Srila Prabhupada says:

“The more you fight with these rascals, the more you advance in Krsna consciousness. You are a fighting soldier. Krsna very much appreciates (morning walk May 12, 1975).”

A madhyama-adhikārī is one who boldly preaches, rather than one who lets the karmis go to hell by being “nice” to them.

In Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 13.8-12 purport Srila Prabhupada says

“Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others, but from the point of view of a man in perfect knowledge — who knows that he is not this body — anything, honor or dishonor, pertaining to this body is useless.”

The advanced devotee is not interested in worldly honor or respect, but rather, he seeks the satisfaction of Guru and Krishna.

We can see by the above quotes that Srila Prabhupada is following in the footsteps of the previous Acharyas in strongly criticizing and fighting for Krishna. Is Puskaraksa dasa proposing a better strategy than theirs?

Ramanuja Acharya also refused to compromise the message of Godhead:

This same attitude we see with Ramanujacarya and the other great acaryas. Srila Ramanuja was threatened by the then government in Tamil Nadu to propagate a different view of sastra or else face imprisonment. At that time, Sri Ramanuja was ordered by his spiritual master to leave the scene immediately and so he left for Karnataka. Impersonating as Ramanujacarya, his secretary and disciple Kuresa faced the government and again refused to propagate a different view of sastra. He was then imprisoned and his eyes removed. Still he didn’t propagate any view contrary to Ramanujacarya’s teachings. And Ramanuja’s spiritual master was also tortured for refusing to propagate a different understanding of sastra, but he didn’t budge. In fact he died because of the torture.

~From an article entitled “Vedic Academics”, by H.G. Vidvan Gauranga dasa Adhikari (Article can be found at: http://www.oneiskcon.com/issue.....cs-part-1/)

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 22nd, 2011
19 vishnujanadasa

You (Puskaraksa dasa) have made a wonderful point by quoting Srila Prabhupada’s purport, “It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the divine consciousness dormant in them….”

However, although everyone is a pure spirit-soul, to say one should see devotees as well as people breaking the four regs (i.e. eating beef and hunting for women) and not chanting as the same, is almost the equivalent of Mayavadis saying that all is one. The fact is that Krishna Himself points out that these people are Naradhamas, or the lowest among men. He Himself gives them that designation.

So yes, some people may come to Krishna Consciousness and then go, but as long as they are practicing Krishna Consciousness sincerely, they should be considered most exalted and the top-most human beings. There is certainly a distinction, just as you have pointed out the distinctions between a Kanishta and Madhyama Adikari devotee.

A learned person may see the spiritual equality between an elephant, a brahmana, and a dog, but no one is going to go to the dog or elephant for initiation. He is going to approach the brahmana to solve the problems of life.

Democracy is certainly an aspect of a Republic, or Parliamentary Monarchy, but it is limited to certain constitutional rights, just as Vedic kings had to follow the laws of dharma. In ancient Athens and the early USA, a certain criteria was also set for who could vote. A democracy theoretically could be used by the rich and powerful to vote away its constitution, which is what the Nazis and Communists did. Using that power, they were able to arrest anyone without trial (Communists were funded by wealthy Financiers).

Certainly, as you mentioned, we must set an example as a society in general. Srila Prabhupada said we must establish a class of brahmanas and then saintly ksatriyas will follow. I was pointing out that Patita Pavana Prabhu and Abhay Mudra Mataji were setting such an example.

Another good point you mentioned is that the modern political system allows us the freedom to preach. Srila Prabhupada also pointed this out, and appreciated it. However, he still didn’t hesitate to criticize the modern day system. Her Grace Abhay Mudra dasi Mataji is simply pointing out the flaws within the different forms of Democracy, so that devotees may take serious Srila Praphupada’s intention to establish Varnashrama, as per the desire of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 22nd, 2011
20 vishnujanadasa

In a time when even first world countries are deteriorating economically, politically, culturally, and socially, real teachers and role-models are needed. There is a great need for ISKCON as a society to make Srila Prabhupada’s Varnashrama system a top priority.

Thank you for the thought-provoking katha. Please forgive this poor soul for any misunderstandings or offenses.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Yours in the service of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga,

Vishnujana dasa

Note: Although we have to some extent implemented democratic principles within ISKCON, it is more of a democratic committee (like a Republic) rather than the democracy of the current American government.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 22nd, 2011
21 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Dear Puskaraksa das Prabhu,

Obeisances! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

May I request you to please make yourself more clearly understood in your comments? It is clear that you seek to contradict some points in the article. But all I can hear is that you speak the same shastra that in your opinion is being contradicted. Apparently, this is what happens when a devotee wants to preach but has not found his audience.

Devotees should preach and be trained to preach even if they have to do it to the four walls. I am happy that you have come and commented on the article. You have certainly displayed your knowledge of shastra. I understand that you have to find some contradiction because otherwise there would not be a reason to explain shastra. You would simply have said, for example, “I like the article.” And maybe few other words…and that will be it. But you have created a contradiction in order to preach. This is most astonishing.

But then you feel you are misunderstood and subtly start going into subtly painting dark colours upon your fellow devotee author’s character. This shows that you cannot brook opposition. But the whole exercise that you initiated aims at exactly that. We are all learning to be preachers by talking to each other, by discussing the philosophy. Then when you thought you are misunderstood, you play the seniority card. You quickly ascertain that my platform of devotion is that of a kanishta adhikari and even Shriman Vishnujana das Prabhu you have bluntly named a “young devotee.” Such is the nature of democracy, we are assigned our status by the votes of those who have elected themselves to vote!

Of course, I do not claim to be an elevated devotee. The article was simply a look at the flaws in modern politics in relation to Krishna consciousness and not at the level of devotional service. My statements on democracy have been assiduously supported in the well-researched article here on Dandavats entitled “What Does Too Much Democracy Look Like?” by Shriman Sita-Rama das Prabhu. Discussions regarding devotional elevation can be set aside for another article that deals with the topic. Introducing it when there is no platform for it amounts to an undue assault on character and should not be a part of the discussion.

cont–>

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 22nd, 2011
22 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Nonetheless, I am an individual and not a mayavadi. The Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy is summed up as Achintya Bheda Abheda Tattva. This point is easily missed by the western mind because it requires seeing one thing from two different angels at the same time. How can we, as devotees, understand democracy as a product of demoniac mentality and at the same time preach to the people fallen in maya? Achintya Bheda Abheda Tattva shows us how. As devotee preachers we are merciful to the people in general but neither are we stupid.

One who is highjacked by demonic society may be innocent although he demonstrates symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. He will be loyal to his capturer until he is completely released from the situation. People in modern society may be innocent but as long as they are under the spell of maya they will behave as demons. They will be loyal to their capturers because they have ascertained that it is safer.

Never mistake that it is not dangerous to approach the so-called innocent people. They guard their lives by being loyal to their capturer. Everyone of them is a potential killer, terrorist, etc. This is not their choice but the machine of society has overpowered them. This does not mean that we are not compassionate towards them and we do try to rescue them. But we have to know where the danger lies. We have to know that when we go out of our way to try to help them, we are entering into their social machine. If we are not completely Krishna Conscious we can be devoured by it and become mayavadis again. We may begin believing in values that once we rejected.

You said that we should not be too negative and that we cannot attract many people to the philosophy of Krishna consciousness in this way. But a true devotee should not be concerned with a big following which naturally leads to compromise. A devotee is rare. Even when coming from a demonic background, as is the case with most devotees in todays’ s ISKCON, he or she is prepared to hear the dark secrets about this world. This place is called mrityuloka, You must be aware that there is nothing exciting about a temporary world of inevitable death.

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 22nd, 2011
23 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

In your response you wrote about humility. Humility does not mean stupidity. We bend our heads to Shri Krishna and His servants but we should never bend our heads when it comes to the battles with illusion. How would we defeat mayavada if we are ready to show humidly to the mayavadis? If we follow this misunderstood course of humility we are doomed and deserve to be called plain stupid.

You have mentioned that many advanced devotees have left the movement even after chanting 16 rounds. So a person should not become proud. Yes, every one of us can leave Krishna consciousness at any moment. We have to chant not only 16 round but chant all the time, even when we sleep. If we constantly think of Shri Krishna then where is pride? We do not think we are better than 99.9% of the population as you mentioned. We are different from them because we have the Holy Name. This is not pride this is intelligence. Intelligence comes from Shri Krishna.

Your servant,
Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 22nd, 2011
24 Sita Rama 108

Puskaraksa Prabhu
In comment # 5 you wrote,”As it is, in the example you provide, Draupadi is not so much consulted because she is a woman, meant to share equal rights with men, but because she is a devotee…” Can you substantiate this with scriptural evidence?
Based on what I have read I reach a different conclusion. S.B. 1:7:49:
” Süta Gosvämé said: O brähmaëas, King Yudhiñöhira fully supported the statements of the Queen, which were in accordance with the principles of religion and were justified, glorious, full of mercy and equity, and without duplicity.”
In the Purport Srila Prabhupada explains the Queens statements in relation to each, individual,quality described above. Then S.B. 1:7:50:
“Nakula and Sahadeva [the younger brothers of the King] and also Sätyaki, Arjuna, the Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Kåñëa, son of Devaké, and the ladies and others all unanimously agreed with the King.”
So it appears to me the statement was accepted based on the objective facts. It was not because the Queen was a devotee or a woman or even the mother of the victims it was accepted because what she said had the four above qualities which can be summarized as- she was totally right!
Of course her ability to make a justified, glorious, merciful, and non duplicitous judgement regarding the person who massacred her sons was possible because she is an exalted devotee.
In terms of women in Vedic Society I think influence would be a more accurate description than power. We see in this case the King, who has the final say, agreed with the Queen. However it is interesting that all those present including, “the ladies and others “, saw it fit to agree with the King.
At the risk of sounding insecure, I want to explain to the readers that I had planned an article on too much democracy before I read this one. This article encouraged me post it now instead of putting it off. But I am not trying to compete with Mother Abhay Mudra. We have kind of been on the same page regarding certain topics in the past also.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on December 23rd, 2011
25 Puskaraksa das

Dear Sita Rama Prabhu

You must have misread the line you are quoting from me… I just mentioned (in the context of mother Abhaya Mudra dasi’s introduction related to the position of women in Vedic society) that Draupadi was not so much “consulted”, because she was a woman meant to share equal rights with men, but because she was a devotee.

Of course, the point Draupadi made was valid, which is why it was retained. In this way, we can also note, as you do, that her point of view accepted, not for the sake of pleasing her only (either as a woman or even as a devotee), but because her statements were in accordance with the principles of religion, and displayed the qualities you reported.

As it is, Draupadi was an exalted devotee. Besides, while she didn’t take an ordinary birth, as she was born from a yajna, she is also, according to the Garuda Purana, the incarnation of Bharati Devi, the consort of Lord Vayu. On the othe other hand, according to Narada and Vayu Puranas, she is the composite manifestation of Godesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (wife of Vayu), Saci (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Nasatya and Dasra, the Ashvins) and Parvati (wife of Shiva) and hence married their earthly counterparts in the form of the five Pandavas. Hence, she was no ordinary human being, as weren’t the Pandavas.

I have also noted that we both agreed on the fact that the King was meant to have the final say, which is legitimate for one holding such a position.

Hoping this finds you well, I wish you all the best.
Hare Krishna

Yours in the service of Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 26th, 2011
26 Puskaraksa das

Dear Vishnujana Prabhu

Please accept my humble obeissances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

At the outset, I would like to thank you for your words of humility. Educated devotees do know how to relate with each other, while taking into account etiquette. This is a good sign and is to be accepted as favorable for spiritual advancement. To the contrary, delusion, anger, false pride can lead to committing offenses, which are to be considered as unfavorable as they are detrimental to one’s spiritual life.

However, you wrote: “We can see by the above quotes that Srila Prabhupada is following in the footsteps of the previous Acharyas in strongly criticizing and fighting for Krishna. Is Puskaraksa dasa proposing a better strategy than theirs?”

As you ought to have guessed, I do not pretend to have a better idea than our previous acaryas on how to preach, which would be pretty offensive, as suggesting so, is!

It is just that I may have a different vision and understanding than you, at this stage. This may be due to some differences in our personal experience (present and past lives) and our level of spiritual advancement, as well as in our initial conditioning and the spiritual training we have received and keep receiving. In that regard, please kindly acknowledge that I do not ascertain that the senior person in age is necessarily more spiritually advanced than the junior, even though some etiquette may be respected, based on gender, age, varna, ashram, etc.

Nevertheless, being an intelligent person in a young man’s body, please do keep in mind that for those who cultivate humility, youth means “hope” as there is an immense scope for spiritual progress. To the contrary, for those who unfortunately pretend, all the more from a young age (without much experience), that they know it all, there are lesser chances to learn and progress if not, most likely, more risks to regress due to some offenses they will be prompted to commit, while being misled by their false ego! In that respect, it is notable that a kanistha adhikari can neither recognize innocent people, nor relate adequately with devotees, according to their different positions.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 26th, 2011
27 Puskaraksa das

Hence, I personally keep in mind that Srila Prabhupada stated: “Good preaching is service; bad preaching is disservice”. Therefore, I do believe that expertise in preaching takes into consideration factors such as time, place and circumstances, as Srila Prabhupada would put it, which also involves the type of audience (or the person) one is addressing…

Thereby, one should not necessarily blindly say the same thing to anyone and everyone, anytime anywhere, no matter the circumstances. Neither should one brag that he is imitating pure devotees having directly come down from the spiritual world, while still being on the conditioned platform, where one fails to detect what is the most beneficial thing to say for the welfare of one’s audience…

Of course, pure preaching can be achieved only, as a result of complete surrender, by the mercy of Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga, who will inspire us from within and without, as saksad Hari the external manifestation of the Supersoul and as Paramatma, to say the right thing which is conducive for the spiritual elevation and progress of the audience/person we address…

Krishna shakti vina nahe tare pravartan “Unless empowered by Kṛṣṇa, one cannot propagate the sańkīrtana movement”. Therefore, one should become very humble and sincere, so as to become empowered in such a way, so as to be able to render some valuable service for the pleasure of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

At last, Abhaya Mudra Mataji had stated that “women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men”. which is of course not a desirable position for any man to be in, i.e. to have his opinions under the control of a woman. What to speak of a king! As it is, if a king, who is supposed to rule over a kingdom and therefore over the lives of so many men and women, was overruled by a woman or women at large, how could he fulfill his task and be worthy of his position?

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 26th, 2011
28 Puskaraksa das

Since you are presently in the position of a young brahmacari, if I may, I would humbly suggest that you do not get involved in this type of discussion over the position of women, as on one hand it doesn’t suit your ashram and as, on the other hand, you may obviously lack the necessary experience… Of course, this is being said in the context of your being willing to remain a brahmacari.

To the contrary, if you wished to be involved with women, then it would be more appropriate for you to change your dress color so that you may prepare to enter the next ashram, which would grant you a little extra freedom to discuss with women and about women.

On the positive side, amongst other aspects, the grihastha ashram would enable you to deepen your understanding and practice of yukta vairagya. But it may be premature to discuss these topics any further for the time being.

On my side, I would like to end here my menial contribution to the promotion of tattva on this post and would like to wish you and mother Abhaya Mudra dasi (as well as her husband), despite whatever flaws there might have been in one’s expression, all success in your spiritual life.

Das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 26th, 2011
29 vishnujanadasa

Dear Puskaraksha dasa Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your kind and inspiring words prabhu.

I mentioned that, “We can see by the above quotes that Srila Prabhupada is following in the footsteps of the previous Acharyas in strongly criticizing and fighting for Krishna. Is Puskaraksa dasa proposing a better strategy than theirs?”

I’m sorry if you feel I suggested that you thought you knew a better preaching strategy than your Spiritual Master, but I simply asked whether or not this was the case, and Srila Prabhupada said that if one states his thoughts in the form of a question, then it is not to be taken as an offense, so please do not be put off by my question. As a young man especially, I seek truth, and as Chanakya Pandita has stated in his Niti Shastra, “He who gives up shyness in monetary dealings, in acquiring knowledge, in eating and in business, becomes happy.” Also, Srila Prabhupada states that one may not speak disagreeable words due to social etiquette, but the truth should not be privy to such sanctions. Therefore, it is my duty to inquire about and preach the truth.

As you mentioned, everyone has different points of view due to different experiences in life. Atmavan Manyate Jagat: Everyone sees life according to their own particular vision and conditioning. We mere mortals come out of our mother’s wombs crying and screaming in ignorance. We can never know the truth on our own. This is why we must accept the verdict of the previous authorities in the disciplic succession.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 27th, 2011
30 vishnujanadasa

Often devotees are criticized because of following their spiritual predecessor’s instructions. They are accused of trying to imitate the great devotees. My guru Maharaja His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami Maharaja narrated a nice story in this connection. In Bengal, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura would tell the Bengalis who were attached to eating fish that they should stop because Chaitanya Mahaprabhu didn’t eat fish and they would say, “That is Mahaprabhu, we are not Mahaprabhu, he is God.” Then, when these same devotees would be rolling around on the ground crying and fainting in imitation ecstasy, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati would tell them that devotees do not make such a pretentious show of devotion, in which they replied, “Well Mahaprabhu did it!” So we should also not be like that. We should simply follow the instructions of the spiritual masters and not try to change things in the name of “Time, place, and circumstances.” Alas, how much has been gotten away with in the name of “time, place, and circumstance.”

Srila Prabhupada tells us, “”Don’t bother whether you’ll be spiritually advanced or not, but take the word of the spiritual master and carry it. Then everything is guaranteed.”

~Srila Prabhuapda (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.105 — New
York, July 11, 1976)

Tact should certainly be used in preaching. Her Grace Abhay Mudra Mataji’s audience is the devotees on dandavats.com, and so she knows who she is preaching to. Besides, we’d be surprised at what the karmis are able to accept and agree with. We, as devotees, do not give them enough credit, and so we hold back from them the truth they so desperately need to hear.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 27th, 2011
31 vishnujanadasa

In respects to preaching or not preaching about what a woman’s position is and is not, I must say that abstaining from such debates is neither practical nor the standard set by Srila Prabhupada, his Sannyasi and brahmacari disciples, nor that of the previous Acharyas.
Some brahmacaris once asked Srila Prabhupada if they could remove all the women from the temple because they were disturbing the brahmacari’s minds, and so Srila Prabhupada told the brahmacaris to go move to the jungles and mountains, because in modern day society, it is impossible to avoid seeing women in the streets. Because my service and that of those around me involves preaching and distributing books, it is inevitable that we sometimes see women. We even must talk with them sometimes believe it or not! Of course we don’t go out of our way to do so, but it is inevitable. This I’m sure you can sympathize with.

In Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 18.48, the Lord states:

“Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kuntī, even if such work is full of fault.”

Srila Prabhupada states in his purport:

In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. …Despite these flaws, one should continue to carry out his prescribed duties, for they are born out of his own nature.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 27th, 2011
32 vishnujanadasa

Puroprt continued…

A very nice example is given herein. Although fire is pure, still there is smoke. Yet smoke does not make the fire impure. Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements…One may then conclude that in the material world no one can be completely free from the contamination of material nature. This example of fire and smoke is very appropriate in this connection. When in wintertime one takes a stone from the fire, sometimes smoke disturbs the eyes and other parts of the body, but still one must make use of the fire despite disturbing conditions. Similarly, one should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements. Rather, one should be determined to serve the Supreme Lord by his occupational duty in Krishna consciousness. That is the perfectional point. When a particular type of occupation is performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, all the defects in that particular occupation are purified. When the results of work are purified, when connected with devotional service, one becomes perfect in seeing the self within, and that is self-realization.

Finally, you mention that it is not good for a man to have his opinions under the control of a woman. Chanakya Pandita says good advice should be taken even from a small child, what to speak of one’s caste wife. Indeed, as Sita Ram prabhu points out, in the Bhagavatam (1:7:49:) Draupadi’s words were declared to be in accordance with the principles of religion and were justified, glorious, full of mercy and equity, and without duplicity. It should be pointed out that her words were not glorious on account of her exalted birth (being born out of the yagnic fire), but due to the fact that they were in accordance with religious principles, or dharma. Indeed, a sudra, Srila Prabhupada points out, may judge one or give respect and honor to another because of age or birth considerations, but a brahmana gives honor and respect according to the quality of one’s words-whether they are truthful, full of knowledge and realization. Mother Abhay Mudra’s point is that Vedic men were not so blind-sided or chauvinistic as to not listen to the good advice the women in their lives might impart to them. Indeed, it was my own mother who, through her struggles, imbibed in me from the beginning a trust and devotion to God.

I hope this reaches you well and in the best of health.

Your humble servant,

Vishnujana Dasa

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 27th, 2011
33 Puskaraksa das

Dear Vishnujana Prabhu

We could go on back and forth indefinitely like that, especially as I can see that you are in a self justificatory mood, for yourself in the first place and occasionally on behalf of others.

Change takes place when one is ready to make a step forward and open up to others’ points. Of course, at a conditioned stage, one may be subject to one’s false ego and thereby have restricted freedom to do so.

A few examples of twisting others’ words, which hinder progress:
- “are you stupid ?” : don’t take it as an offense, as it is just a question! (just kidding)
- There is a difference in saying “women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men” and stating that men can (and even should) accept a good advice coming from a woman (or anyone else in such case) !

Besides, we are meant to follow in the footsteps of our previous acaryas, and not try to imitate fakely, while being at a conditioned stage. Simple honesty!

Our acaryas preached according to time, place and circumstances. Too bad for us (and for others) if we can’t do so and are not expert preachers and hence just create a disturbance.

At last, everyone can conceive of what he or she is supposed to do… Of course, this can be enriched by the position of sastras and of our spiritual teachers, as far as we can understand and follow, and according to the spiritual level of advancement and understanding of these teachers.

Nevertheless, there is a difference in between approaching a woman to sell her a book (which we have all done as sankirtan devotees) and choosing to discuss at length the position of women, as a brahmacary!

But it is all up to you…

In conclusion, if one thinks, he or she has attained perfection, please do not change anything. To the contrary, if one thinks, he or she can still learn and make progress, be open to change and be ready to go beyong your present conditioned approach.

Hoping this finds you well, ready to learn and progress, in the hypothesis that you haven’t attained perfection yet…

Best,

Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 28th, 2011
34 Sita Rama 108

Puskaraska Prabhu said:
” What to speak of a king! As it is, if a king, who is supposed to rule over a kingdom and therefore over the lives of so many men and women, was overruled by a woman or women at large, how could he fulfill his task and be worthy of his position?”
A king must be both powerful and wise. He will not be overruled by the folly of beautiful woman or the general population. But he will rule according to good advice received from any source. Of course he has the power to determine what is good or bad advice. Although there are exceptions. We all know the story of the Queen forbidding the King to enter the palace when a war was taking place.
Basically framing things in the way we have been is fertile grounds for fallacious arguments against the person instead of against their actions. It is true that men are highly susceptible to unwisely following the dictates of women because they are attached to them for sex pleasure.From Lord Brahma down, men are controlled by women simply by her batting her eyelashes. But this does not justify taking cheap shots at a man who defers to prudent advice from a woman. There are numerous examples of elevated men becoming more elevated by accepting good advise from women . We have to determine whether a man who is influenced by a woman is either henpecked or wise based on the circumstances not on cliches.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on December 28th, 2011
35 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,

After saying that you would be leaving us and this discussion now we have you back again. Welcome.

In this thread you have mostly avoided addressing me, even though I am the author of this article. You have even stated that I propagating feminism only to now return and declare that you do not discuss women issues. Feminism is a bodily issue that has nothing to do with Krishna consciousness. But in the same sort of way you are seeing Shriman Vishnujana das Brahmachary Prabhu on a gross physical platform as brahmachary who is younger (and thereby supposedly inferior) to you. Which side of your face will you speak out of next? And what gives you the right to advise him to marry? Unless you have a daughter with a large dowry you should avoid giving free advice in a public forum because such affairs are between the disciple and his spiritual master.

From your responses it appears as though you are afraid of women. No intelligent man is afraid of women because he knows how to engage their intelligence in his welfare. Using the intelligence of women in ISKCON will only contribute to the preaching mission as practically was demonstrated by the Founder Acharya. And–lets face it–there are very few brahmacharis and sannyasis in comparison with the mass of the population of the world. If we want to see the promised spiritual revolution then should we deny the intelligence of the half of the population of the world?

Women are born exactly in the same way as men–from their mothers. They require the same parental love and affection. Women give birth to sons and care for them while they are tiny little things. Helpless babies grow to be men through the love and nourishment of their mothers. If someone wants to live without the association of women in Kali Yuga then he should go to the woods. He may then preach to the wild animals his concept of the message of spiritual realization. But a true devotee understands the message of Manu: “A mother is worth 1,000 fathers.”

cont ->

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 28th, 2011
36 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

As preachers in the great Gaudiya sampradaya, as representatives of the Supreme Absolute Truth, we devotees need to grow up and face the reality if we are going to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. The reality is that you really can have devotee association while married to a devotee woman. The reality is that a devotee woman does not want to distract her husband from his spiritual position. The wife of a devotee’s primary duty it to protect the Krishna consciousness of her husband pure and simple.

Women preachers in the ISKCON family are also dedicated to spreading the mission of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through the books of His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada. They can be teachers although it is not recommended or allowed for women to take sannyasa. The main reason they cannot take sannyasa is because there are many men out there who are not spiritually advanced and the only way they look at a woman is on bodily platform. They require protection from such men.

If feminine association causes you some undue trepidation and you do not wish to have anything to do with them, then why are you participating in this discussion (and raising imaginary issues that have nothing to do with the article)? One last point is that unless you are able to face your fears and understand the opposite gender you will have to struggle with your own phantoms for an indefinite period of time. There are all too many examples even now in the short history of Krishna consciousness. Lessons should be learned from these incidents so that they are not repeated.

And thanks for wishing my husband and me everything good.

Warmest regards,
Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on December 28th, 2011
37 Puskaraksa das

Mataji

I had not answered your previous post directly, because you became offensive and attacked me on a personal level, even though you don’t know me, which you kept doing in this last post. Besides, you are twisting my words in an intellectually dishonest way, and replacing them by various meanings and intentions which are not mine!

So when a discussion which is meant to remain philosophical is brought down to such a nasty level, why feed the destructing fire of offenses, which is detrimental to you and hinders your spiritual life…?

Hence, it is for your welfare that I try to maintain the discussion on a strictly philosophical level. As it is, a basis in a polite and respectful discussion is to speak for oneself, not in the name of others… I am not calling you names, neither am I discussing your personality or your motivations, as I do not know you personally on one hand, and as it would also be out of place to do it publicly. In that regard, franckly speaking, I am quite surprised that you may both allow yourself and be allowed by your husband or by the dandavats moderator to transgress vaishnava etiquette in such a way… (I guess there may not be any senior devotee, man or woman, around you to come you down and bring you back to the path of bhakti…). This is unfortunate, but I guess we all have to learn, be it, at times, at the expense of others…

However, just to give you a glimpse into my life, since you feel qualified and in a position (as a junior devotee, in a woman’s body) to discuss it along with my personality and motivations publicly, my first wife went back to Godhead… She became sich with cancer and left on papamocanii ekadasi, in the year 1992, at the bodily age of 36, after having been for a year and a half in wheel chair…

She had become a pure devotee and our Guru Maharaja, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, publicly declared his guruship to have become successful, because one of his disciples had gone back to Godhead!

Krishna personally appeared to her twice during the daytime, in her waking stage, and she cried all the tears of her body, when He left… She had a vision of the spiritual world - Srimati Radharani and the gopis, while bathing in the water of mercy - which our Gurudeva commented as “she saw where she was going” and confided that she was always hearing the maha-mantra, even at night when she was sleeping, which Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja described as “samadhi”…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 29th, 2011
38 vishnujanadasa

Dear Puskaraksa,

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

Thank you for your timely response Prabhu. You made several good points, particularly the one about not being attached to our positions and stances.

I’m sorry if you feel that I am being self-justicatory [sic], but I’m just trying to make clear my philosophical position, which doesn’t seem to be getting through. This is important because you are, in effect, saying that everyone in the renounced order of life (brahmacaris at least) are not supposed to preach about the position of women. Two questions arise regarding that:

1) Can you cite where Srila Prabhupada or any other Acharya in our line says renunciates are not to preach about the position of women in society?
I can see how a brahmacari os sanyasi should not be solicited for advice by Grihasta couples regarding their personal relationship issues, but to say they should never teach others about the roles of women in society seems like a mental speculation if I may be so bold as to say. Which brings me to my next question.

2) You talk about time, place, and circumstance and also that brahmacaris must not preach about the position of women in society. On sankirtana we are inevitably asked by people, “what is your view on women according to your religion?” I would like to know how you would expect a brahmacari to answer such a question? Would you have us say “No comment”?

Since I am still a conditioned soul, I will be awaiting enlightenment from you in regards to these points.

Hare Krishna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Your loving servant,

Vishnujana dasa

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on December 29th, 2011
39 Unregistered

Hmmm,maybe we should rephrase this article with its comments “pitfalls of discussions between devotees
?”

Comment posted by veda on December 29th, 2011
40 Sita Rama 108

What we have here is a failure to communicate! On behalf of Puskaraksa Prabhu, Mother Abhay Mudra, Vishnujana Prabhu, and myself, I call a time out.
One simply way to bring this from a negative and competitive debate to a collaborative dialogue is to use ” I statements” instead of “You statements” In other words instead of saying to each other “You offended me” we say “I am offended by this- because” If we then try to understand each other we can develop a respectful dialogue where our differing perspectives add to each other instead of striking against each other.
We also need to remember that developing a dialogue is in all our best interests as well as in the best interests of preaching Krishna consciousness. I feel I need people to disagree with my points in order for me to refine my positions. What to speak of the fact that a link to my articles does not appear in that little side box when people stop commenting. This forum is a means for us all to voice our understanding and gain from others who see things differently. We all want to have a rapport with as many other devotees as possible. So if any of us stop debating with each other that is a great loss all around. We can overcome this.
Your servant,
Sita Rama das.

Comment posted by Sita Rama 108 on December 30th, 2011
41 Puskaraksa das

Dear Vishnujana Prabhu

Please accept my obeissances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga.

You are stating that I would be “saying that everyone in the renounced order of life (brahmacaris at least) are not supposed to preach about the position of women.”

First of all, I would not use the terminology of “renounced order of life” for the brahmacari ashram, as this designates the last ashram, namely the sannyasa ashram, and not the first ashram, the brahmacari ashram, which most often precedes the grihastha ashram.

Secondly, I didn’t say one should not “preach”. I used a different word, i.e. “discussion” and “discuss”.

Therefore, to answer your second question, when we are in a position to preach on sankirtan and answer questions on any topic, be it about the position of women in our Movement, as a brahmacari, I would suggest that we may answer: “you know, I am single myself, so I am not in the best position to discuss about this topic” which may be sufficient, and if people wish to go further, we may say something like “we are actually all spirit souls; we are not this body. So on the spiritual platform, everyone is to be seen equally as a child (and/or servant) of God”. Again, if there is need for more, we state that “our philosophy is acynthia bheda abheda tattva – unity in diversity. So, as men and women we are different and complementary, meant for instance to play the part of mother and father for a child; on the other hand, we are one as spirit souls, and may be in this lifetime in one type of body as men and women and possibly, vice versa, in the next life”… etc.

So, in this way, one may move from one subject to another, introducing different aspects of our philosophy, without necessary lingering on the subject matter of women and the condition of women, which is neither recommended for a brahmacary, nor should become one of his “major field of expertise” or so called favorite subject of discussion.

As it is, we know what many women have in mind as well as many men attached to women, at their conditioned position, in this stage of so called development of our western societies (or decay, as Srila Prabhupada would put it, as per the development of a dead body) in this kali yuga.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 30th, 2011
42 Puskaraksa das

Coming back to your first point, you write: “Can you cite where Srila Prabhupada or any other Acharya in our line says renunciates are not to preach about the position of women in society?
I can see how a brahmacari os sanyasi should not be solicited for advice by Grihasta couples regarding their personal relationship issues, but to say they should never teach others about the roles of women in society seems like a mental speculation if I may be so bold as to say.”

While I had only stated: “Since you are presently in the position of a young brahmacari, if I may, I would humbly suggest that you do not get involved in this type of discussion over the position of women, as on one hand it doesn’t suit your ashram and as, on the other hand, you may obviously lack the necessary experience… Of course, this is being said in the context of your being willing to remain a brahmacari.”

And later added in answer to your objection as per when one is on sankirtan (which is a different situation from choosing to discuss at length on Dandavats): “Nevertheless, there is a difference in between approaching a woman to sell her a book (which we have all done as sankirtan devotees) and choosing to discuss at length the position of women, as a brahmacari.”

First remark, concerning the general tone of a discussion amongst devotees (or aspiring devotees), one should not accuse the other one of “mental speculation”, which is, or may be offensive, all the more taking into consideration one’s respective position. Rather, since truth is multifaceted, one could say something like “I do not see” or “I fail to understand your point; could you please elaborate and possibly quote”, etc. As it is, there is always a palatable and respectful way of presenting things, as there are unpalatable and disrespectful ways of expressing oneself!

No grudge though, as I can see you are on the path, with a great potential yourself and already a good amount of knowledge for your age. Congratulations for that!

Of course, let’s keep in mind the difference in between jnana and vijnana, i.e. theoretical and realized knowledge, where lessons learned throughout one’s life, along with our degree of surrender, play a big part, not to speak of course of the unalloyed mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

Hence, to quench your thirst I will give you a token here below of where my so-called “mental speculation” originates from:

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 30th, 2011
43 Puskaraksa das

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.12.7

varjayet pramadā-gāthām
agṛhastho bṛhad-vrataḥ
indriyāṇi pramāthīni
haranty api yater manaḥ

SYNONYMS
varjayet — must give up; pramadā-gāthām — talking with women; agṛhasthaḥ — a person who has not accepted the gṛhastha-āśrama (a brahmacārī or sannyāsī); bṛhat-vrataḥ — invariably observing the vow of celibacy; indriyāṇi — the senses; pramāthīni — almost always unconquerable; haranti — take away; api — even; yateḥ — of the sannyāsī; manaḥ — the mind.

TRANSLATION
A brahmacārī, or one who has not accepted the gṛhastha-āśrama [family life], must rigidly avoid talking with women or about women, for the senses are so powerful that they may agitate even the mind of a sannyāsī, a member of the renounced order of life.

PURPORT
Brahmacarya essentially means the vow not to marry but to observe strict celibacy (brihad-vrata). A brahmacārī or sannyāsī should avoid talking with women or reading literature concerning talks between man and woman. The injunction restricting association with women is the basic principle of spiritual life. Associating or talking with women is never advised in any of the Vedic literatures. The entire Vedic system teaches one to avoid sex life so that one may gradually progress from brahmacarya to gṛhastha, from gṛhastha to vānaprastha, and from vānaprastha to sannyāsa and thus give up material enjoyment, which is the original cause of bondage to this material world. The word bṛhad-vrata refers to one who has decided not to marry, or in other words, not to indulge in sex life throughout his entire life

Further, it is explained, in S.B. 7.12.9 :

Woman is compared to fire, and man is compared to a butter pot. Therefore a man should avoid associating even with his own daughter in a secluded place. Similarly, he should also avoid association with other women. One should associate with women only for important business and not otherwise.

PURPORT
If a butter pot and fire are kept together, the butter within the pot will certainly melt. Woman is compared to fire, and man is compared to a butter pot. However advanced one may be in restraining the senses, it is almost impossible for a man to keep himself controlled in the presence of a woman, even if she is his own daughter, mother or sister. Indeed, his mind is agitated even if one is in the renounced order of life. …/…

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 30th, 2011
44 Puskaraksa das

Therefore, Vedic civilization carefully restricts mingling between men and women. If one cannot understand the basic principle of restraining association between man and woman, he is to be considered an animal. That is the purport of this verse.

Again Srimad Bhagavatam 7.12.10 and Srila Prabhupada enlighten us further:

As long as a living entity is not completely self-realized — as long as he is not independent of the misconception of identifying with his body, which is nothing but a reflection of the original body and senses — he cannot be relieved of the conception of duality, which is epitomized by the duality between man and woman. Thus there is every chance that he will fall down because his intelligence is bewildered.

PURPORT

Here is another important warning that a man must save himself from attraction to woman. Until one is self-realized, fully independent of the illusory conception of the material body, the duality of man and woman must undoubtedly continue, but when one is actually self-realized this distinction ceases.

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śvapāke ca
paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Bg. 5.18) On the spiritual platform, the learned person not only gives up the duality of man and woman, but also gives up the duality of man and animal. This is the test of self-realization. One must realize perfectly that the living being is spirit soul but is tasting various types of material bodies. One may theoretically understand this, but when one has practical realization, then he actually becomes a paṇḍita, one who knows. Until that time, the duality continues, and the conception of man and woman also continues. In this stage, one should be extremely careful about mixing with women. No one should think himself perfect and forget the śāstric instruction that one should be very careful about associating even with his daughter, mother or sister, not to speak of other women.

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 30th, 2011
45 Puskaraksa das

At last, Srila Prabhupada states in his purport to S.B 7.12.8

There are seven kinds of mothers:

ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

These mothers are the original mother, the wife of the teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brāhmana, the king’s wife, the cow, the nurse and the earth. Unnecessary association with women, even with one’s mother, sister or daughter, is strictly prohibited. This is human civilization. A civilization that allows men to mix unrestrictedly with women is an animal civilization. In Kali-yuga, people are extremely liberal, but mixing with women and talking with them as equals actually constitutes an uncivilized way of life.

If I may, I will end here by quoting Srila Prabhupada’s glorious disciple, Yamuna devi dasi:

“Srila Prabhupada lovingly encouraged and engaged us (women) in the service of the sankirtana movement, and he consistently revealed himself to be panditah sama-darsinah - equal to all.

In both men and women, Srila Prabhupada observed our propensities and expertly dovetailed them in his preaching mission.

It would take much longer than the limited time I have here to give you a glimpse into the numerous exchanges that illustrate Srila Prabhupada’s demeanour and mood. However, one such exchange is what I call the Canakya Pandita episodes. I was present on four occasions when Srila Prabhupada repeated the Canakya adage: ‘Never trust a woman or a politician.’ On each occasion Srila Prabhupada looked me in the eye to see my response. On the last occasion, in Bombay in 1973, he quoted the saying, heartily laughing in front of a small group of men. Then he said: ‘What do you think, Yamuna?’ Immediately I retorted: ‘Of course it is true, Srila Prabhupada,’ whereupon he became grave, looked at me with great feeling, and said, ‘But you are not a woman, you are a Vaisnava.’

Hoping this finds you all well,
I remain
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada

Das dasanudasa
Puskaraksa das

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on December 30th, 2011
46 Unregistered

Thanks for the Time Out Sita Ram das Prabhuji, (And for the wry comment “pitfalls of devotees’ discussions”, Veda Prabhu).

Let us therefore return to the subject matter at hand, the excellent article by Smt Abhaya Mudra Dasi, “Pitfalls of Democracy”. A client of ours who was once a minister in the government of a dictator and then became his country’s elected President, gave me an unforgettable quote by Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms of government we have tried.” Of course the very best quote came from Shrila Prabhupada when Nixon “defeated” McGovern: “If all the little dogs vote, who will they vote for? That is how you have elected big dogs.”

America, which is not even a democracy but a Republic, wishes to benefit the world with a forced totalitarianism democracy. It is a formula for a “better life” through the voting power of bombs and artillery. America opposes all totalitarian regimes except for countries that are ruled by Monarchs and who provide oil to America. Look how many millions have died unnecessarily in America’s “democratization” of victim countries, Libya and Iraq. When Shrila Prahupada first arrived in America, this was his original message. that animals have claws, cave men had rocks, and modern democracies have the atom bomb. But there is no difference in consciousness, and Krishna consciousness is required.

The following article appeared on the PAMHO forum today, posted by one Shriman Shyamkund das Prabhu:

From: Throw Them All Out (by Peter Schweizer - University of Stanford Hoover Institute)

“Peter Schweizer documents that Hedge Fund Directors are able to
beat the Stock Market 5% of the time. These are professional managers of
large portfolios. It is expected that professional managers would be able to
beat the market. However, according to Peter Schweizer’s new book, US
Congressman beat the market 8% of the time through insider trading. These are
the people that are governing the US and passing laws that regulate others.
Cheaters running the US government. Additionally, a few months ago, the US
Government’s debt for just Student Loans exceeds ALL, not a few, but ALL
credit card debt in the US. Hence, the problem is with the government leaders.
More can be said about the role of the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae, Freddie
Mac, and other quasi governmental agencies.”

Comment posted by Patita Pavana on December 31st, 2011
47 vishnujanadasa

Dearest devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you Patita Pavan Prabhu for getting the conversation back on track. Allow me to echo you in giving thanks to Sita Ram and Veda Prabhus for their comments also. And to Mother Abhay Mudra for the insightful and thought provoking article. I offer my humble obeisances to all the devotees on this post, as this is a nice exercise in siddhanta and rhetoric, meant to be done in a sportive fashion.

Thanks are due Paskaraksa Prabhu for the inspiring story you shared about your late wife. May she bless us with pure devotion to the Lord. All glories to your Guru Maharaja His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja as well. I have read many of his “Sri Krishna Kathamrita” magazines and still receive “Gopal Jiu” newsletters. Thank you also for your concern and care in regards to siddhanta and the protection of our devotional creeper.

To honor Patita Pavan’s sagacious recommendation to return to the original topic at hand, I will briefly comment on Puskaraksa’s previous post, and if he or anyone else would like to continue the discussion, I will leave my e-mail at the end so that he may personally contact me.

1: To address your first point about not using the term renounced order for brahmacari life, Srila Prabhupada used that term “renounced order” when discussing brahmacarya. This reference can be found in his commentary on Chaitanya Caritamrita, Summary of Antya 2:

“Junior Haridasa…committed an offense by talking intimately with a woman although he was in the renounced order.”

Ref: http://caitanyacaritamrta.com/antya/2/summary/en1

Brahmacaris, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis are all considered to be in the renounced order of life.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 1st, 2012
48 vishnujanadasa

2: Your response for inquiries on sankirtana about women is very nice, but often people want specifics, such as our position on women’s rights, social roles, women’s liberation, abortion, marriage, and people even ask what our position is about sex life or homosexuals, etc. These questions cannot be answered so ambiguously.

3: You mention that I may not have experience with women so I may not be qualified to talk about the topic, but I am simply going on shastra, not empiric experience. A wise man learns by hearing rather than experiencing or seeing. This is how Srila Prabhupada said he was qualified to speak on scientific topics, although not a Ph. D (he was a chemist but these were his words). Besides, in the spirit of shastra and common sense, I am not inclined to favor free mixing of the sexes, and so our position is closer than meets the eye you could say. There are even strict regulations for householders, as I’m sure you know, about associating with women.

4: Finally, you mention that the general tone of discussions amongst devotees should be congenial. Who could disagree with this comment, as one should always offer all respects to others and not expect any in return. You mentioned claiming a devotee’s statement as mental speculation may be offensive. While this can be an offense if done in a baseless and fault-finding manner, in this case it was rather a petition for evidence by Guru, sadhu, and shastra. Your responses by Srila Prabhupada were certainly helpful and insightful. However, they did not address the more specific question regarding preaching about the position of women. Srila Prabhupada simply points out in the quotes you cited that a person in the renounced order of life is not meant to have intimate dealings with women, but specifically adds that “One should associate with women only for important business and not otherwise.” This is because he knew that while preaching in the West one would inevitably have to deal with women, or teach others how civilized cultures dealt with women in a Krishna Conscious fashion, which falls under the “important business” category. Otherwise, we could never even hear the teachings of Lord Kapiladeva to Mother Devahuti, or the teachings of Queen Kunti.

I have keep the post short in order to focus on the original topic. My e-mail here, if one would like to continue the discussion, is VishnujanaDasa@gmail.com

I hope this meets you all well and pray for your blessings

Your aspiring servant,

~Vjd

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 1st, 2012
49 vishnujanadasa

The problem indeed is the leadership, and they are elected in Kali-yuga by purchasing the votes of naive shudras.

America has even passed from a Republic to a de facto dictatorship this weekend, with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the president, giving him unlimited power to arrest and detain U.S. citizens or anyone in the world for that matter, indefinitely without trial. This is not an exaggeration. Here is the actual bill from the president’s website:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-.....nt-hr-1540

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....HaJrnlqCgo

Not even North Korea or the Nazis had such laws penned to paper, although they did such things anyway.

Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, as the expression goes. Like Rome, America has gone from a Republic to an outright empire. Perhaps a new article should be written entitled, “The Pitfalls of Empiric Dictatorship”.

This is the problem with democracy, as pointed out by Srila Prabhupada and Patita Pavana Prabhu; namely, little dogs will vote for big dogs, and the big dogs will manipulate and exploit the little dogs. Humans have the ability to prey on their own species.

Even Obama, the first African-American president, was the first sitting president to invade Africa. This proves Srila Prabhupada’s statement that nationalism is just another form of cheating. In fact, the first European “Nation States” were founded by the kings of France and England for the explicit purpose of increasing their royal powers. These countries contain large cultural, linguistic, and even ethnic differences from one province to the other.

In the Vedic age, the only difference people saw was between varnas and ashramas, with the king being the center of all activity, be he even Muslim. The king was seen as the representative of God.

Now a days people’s sentiments and heart strings are pulled by politicians who send them off to war or rob them through their positions of power. As pointed out by Patita Pavana Prabhu, congress has passed a law making it legal for them to engage in insider trading, while the average citizen will go to jail for years if caught doing such a thing-even Martha Stewart cannot get away with insider trading. Hence politicians spend millions to get into office, and leave much much wealthier than before they entered.

An injection of Harinam-sankirtana, book distribution, and prasadam will cure this political body.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 1st, 2012
50 Kesava Krsna dasa

In spite of democracy not being an ideal system for all who differ on policy making and reaching 100% consensus on every issue, we should be grateful that democracy has allowed us to practice Krishna consciousness.

Furthermore, we can use this democracy to help spread Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada was not averse to utilising democracy in Krishna’s service.

Haṁsadūta: So we have to run some of our devotees for office.

Prabhupāda: No, if you can make the people Kṛṣṇa conscious, then everything will be automatically…, because the democracy is there. So if they vote for a Kṛṣṇa conscious person to become president and prime minister, then everything will be saved. So that means you have to create voters, Kṛṣṇa conscious. Then everything will be right. That should be one of your aims, the Kṛṣṇa conscious movement. The government still is under the control of the public. That’s a fact. If the public becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious, naturally the government will be Kṛṣṇa conscious. But that is up to the public… (SB 6.1.6 Bombay, November 6, 1970)

We all know it is Kali-yuga, and we can fuss all we want about democracy, but better that we take advantage while the going is good, so to speak.

Just imagine if democracy takes hold where the ‘Spring Revolutions’ are happening in the Middle East? This can enable Krishna consciousness to be given a chance, where it was never possible before.

So-called Democracy is faulty just like any other man-made contrived system, but Srila Prabhupada used the benefits of American democracy to kick-start his fledgling Iskcon. Why can’t the same thing happen elsewhere, like in Mecca, Damascus or Pyongyang? We’ll be thankful to democracy if the ‘unthinkable’ happens.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on January 1st, 2012
51 vishnujanadasa

Excellent point Kesava Krishna Prabhu,

Democracy should be used in Krishna’s service, and clearly, as you pointed out, Srila Prabhupada encouraged it and used it himself and gave credit to America for providing him that freedom. And it would be absolutely great if these Spring revolutions gave us the opportunity to spread Krishna Consciousness.

Unfortunately, these revolutions haven’t really created freedom for anybody really. Libya is completely destroyed and a genocide by Arabs against Black Libyans (who generally supported Gaddafi) is under way, already killing over 40,000 black Libyans. The country had the highest standard of living in Africa. Now it’s in rubbles, and Al-Qaeda is admittedly in control over there. “Under Gaddafi,” the people lament, “we had something. Now we have nothing” they say.

Egypt is another example of freedom in the name of democracy, but the situation there now is that the military has taken power and they refuse to allow free elections, severely beating protesters, including women (there is a graphic video depicting this on different news sites around the web. It was a big story last week).

It is also admitted that the C.I.A was behind these “Spring Revolutions” and is also planning, or trying to plan such maneuvers in China, Iran, and Syria. Syrian protesters are openly working with British MI6 (The British Secret service for those who don’t know), and the Egyptian government just raided a multitude of offices of “Non-profit Organizations” working within its borders, whom it believes are C.I.A fronts.

In essence we should try to use whatever freedoms and liberties we can in spreading Lord Krishna’s sankirtana movement, but the above examples of Spring Revolutions are just another round of examples showing how big, powerful governments are exploiting the well-meaning but misinformed masses-both at home to support their empiric ventures, and even abroad, gaining support from the people of the countries where their international interests lay.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 2nd, 2012
52 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu,

Thank you for your comment. It is very true that democracy can be utilized in spreading Krishna Consciousness. This is the bright and positive side of it although; it can never be compared to the efficiency of varnashrama system.

Democracy gives opportunities for preaching not only because it makes everyone “equal” but because it provides an essential dissatisfaction level. Today, we can see where democracy has led the world. People are unhappy with their lives. The more people realize they are unhappy the more effective our preaching can be.

One big pitfall of Democracy is facilitating the chase after instant gratification. Just as in the democratic society everyone can become a leader without training, people in general think that they can enjoy without much labor. Today, due to technology, everyone lives like a royalty with hundreds of servants. The consequences of such exploitation of nature paints dark picture for the future.

The frivolous attitude is not limited to the individual. The economy is supported by the bank system. The “vaishyas” of today think that they can manufacture money out of thin air and do this magic over and over again. They make us all believe that money have value that holds and controls our lives. Encouraged by the example of their leaders many people think that they can do the same. The little dog wants to be equal to the big dog. He thinks that work is not required for the magical money production. Some of the activities which the big and small dogs agree on are drug dealing, money laundering and human trafficking.

“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” SB 1.1.10

If devotees are eager to effectively preach to people of this age they have to overcome the all encompassing feeling of laziness. And we need to be current with political events and follow the example of Shrila Prabhupada. He knew how to dis-sect the present day news from Krishna Conscious perspective.

Your servant,
Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on January 2nd, 2012
53 Akruranatha

The essential idea of an “occupy”-type movement is that the wrong people are in charge, and that by taking over some strategic territory with the warm bodies of different people, some change in the system can be effected. It may have origins in anarcho-syndicalist sit-down strikes or slow-down strikes (later taken up by more mainstream trade unions), which more effectively shut down factory operations than merely picketing outside.

Gandhi used it, and Rosa Parks would not give up her bus seat. It became popular in the 1960s in the U.S. to use “sit-ins”, first at segregated lunch counters and later in university offices and to block weapons or troop transportation (or in environmental action to block deforestation or mining operations) by putting “bodies on the line” by occupying strategic physical space.

As practitioners of “Isavasyam” ideology, we should recognize that the best “occupation” is to have our minds and senses “occupied” in devotional service. Krishna is the owner and controller of every particle of creation, and we should invite Him always to occupy His creation and make His residence in our hearts, words, actions, thoughts, as well as in the palaces, parliaments, offices, factories, theatres and homes.

If He takes up residence in people’s hearts, automatically they will become very pure and peaceful, and truth, beauty, justice, love and harmony will prevail.

Last night at Berkeley temple Vaisesika recounted how our chanting party of about 40 devotees at San Francisco’s Union Square on the day after Christmas was very attractive to all the people who had gathered there for stressful shoppers. Some “Occupy San Francisco” protesters had a sign that said “Consume Less, Sing and Dance More”, and they joined the kirtan, pointing to their sign.

So our movement is an “occupy” movement of inviting the Holy Names to occupy our mouths and dancing bodies, and the thoughts and actions and words of all people, wherever they are. We should recognize that the rightful owner and occupant is Krishna, and we the people are only His caretakers, trustees and menial servants.

Unless we can create a better class of people, it is not going to matter who occupies the halls of power and money. Materialistic people will always be corrupted and exploit those with less power given the opportunity. But high-class leaders selflessly work for the well being of the entire population, as their duty of service to Krishna.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on January 2nd, 2012
54 Unregistered

For Krishna Keshava:

Your argument, though appearing logical in its assessment of the advantages of American democracy does not pertain to the present situation there. In the past nearly half century since Shrila Prabhupada landed in Boston, the country has seen radical changes towards a oligarchical, conspiratorial, global dictatorship run by a mega-corporation that owns the government. This is not mere hot-winded paranoic rhetoric but hard fact. The quality of the voting public in America has been depleted and diluted due to the country illegally allowing immigrants in simply for utilizing their votes, and forcing their votes by offering incentives that will appeal to them, like welfare and free medical care which are denied to natural citizens. Rigged voting machines are another problem. Further the “informed public” has been purposely dumbed down by a controlled media.

Shrila Prabhupada’s programme called for bending the then-”democracy” of the 70’s to our favor by preaching and teaching. His Divine Grace proved that the sankirtan yagna can indeed chase away the dark clouds of Kali Yuga. However, because we have not pursued this goal with the zeal we should have–and I am more guilty than anyone–therefore the forces of darkness are caving upon a once-almost-great nation. Shrila Prabhupada once remarked that the demi-gods would not come to this world to use the toilet. In the same way, many Americans are leaving that country and would not return there for the same purpose. Websites like happierabroad.com appeal to ex-pats who have found their valhalla, temporary as any situation is here in matrya-loka, away from America. It has gone too far downhill and only a full focus on the Holy Names, public chanting of the mahamantra, can save the country so that an educated public can make rational choices in elections.

I would say that the hope of the world lies today as it always has in India. That great country has made a wonderful showing in its defense from the very top of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Therefore, for any change, the results do not rest upon this or that form of government but how much Krishna consciousness is pushed onward aggressively in those places.

To me one of the great unsung heroes of the sankirtan movement is Brahmananda Prabhu of Vrindavana. He organized the first saffron army and made sure the emphasis was on chanting and distribution of literature. Those in Vrindavana may inquire of his opinion regarding sankirtan efficacy

Comment posted by Patita Pavana on January 2nd, 2012
55 Kesava Krsna dasa

Abhaya Mudra Mataji,

In the first paragraph you indicated that nothing can compare with the “efficacy of Varnasrama-dharma.” Understanding this, we’ll realise that we are far from implementing VAD within Iskcon –except some attempts in rural farm communities – let alone in mainstream society. Until then, what political dispensation is most suitable for spreading Krishna consciousness, and ultimately, VAD?

So far it appears that democracy, with all of its downside has helped us to date. Krishna consciousness was there behind the Soviet Iron Curtain, but very much repressed. Soon after the Wall, and the Soviet system collapsed, then the immediate rush for spirituality was encouraged by the ‘relative’ freedoms afforded by democracy – with all of its Equality and other artificial negatives.

Take the Two Koreas - North and South. We have a presence in the South. What can we say for the repressed North? In terms of NOI we could say that the South, and post Iron Curtain relative freedoms, were more Favourable for Krishna consciousness.

Still, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said to our ‘Abhay Charan’ at their early meeting, that Krishna consciousness is so urgent as to not wait for any political expedience. In spite of this, we have generally been helped by democracy.

I agree with you otherwise, that along with democracy comes excessive feminism, choice of abortion, and other liberal ‘Pitfalls,’ as your nice article describes. Is there such a thing as making the best use of a bad bargain? I guess this is the viewpoint – to use whatever is favourable for us.

This is also a relative subject matter, and it would be naïve of me to ever comment in Absolute terms here. I can be wrong or out of touch, but this it has implications for devotees who do live or practice in repressed or ‘free’ societies. Because of the fluidity of world events, it is hard to make precise, definite pronouncements.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on January 2nd, 2012
56 Kesava Krsna dasa

Part One

Visnujana Prabhu,

I see you’re ‘up-to-the-minute’ informed on events. Like Abhaya Mudra Mataji, you have also highlighted the ‘Pitfalls’ of democracy, which I agree with. In your case, you are less optimistic for prospects of democracy possibly helping the spread of Krishna consciousness, especially in the Middle-East.

It is through so-called democracy that Western hegemony has spread. With their NGO’s funded by ‘Zionist’ interests, and infiltrating otherwise conservative or dictatorial regimes, there is no stopping this momentum. The Americans are continuing where the British left off with their failing empire. Democrat or Republican orders have ensured this, backed with corporate wealth and influence. Of course, this is subject to ‘conspiratorial’ opinions.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt seem unlikely to usher in democracy as we in the West know it. There is doubt whether they will honour existing Peace Treaties with Israel. But this ‘Zionist’ force will not give up, which may beg the question, “Is there any real freedom behind this power?”

Again, with all the downside showing up, devotees have still benefitted from relative freedoms afforded by so-called democracy in a Favourable way. Our recent court case victory in Tomsk is evidence of this. This same space for freedom of expression is also evident in an antithesis of ‘Zionist’ momentum, and that is Senator Ron Paul, whom the media and corporates fear.

This libertine potential US president could, become isolationist, and buck the trend quite drastically. But, as the whole world was enamoured by President Obama’s rousing and memorable inaugural speech promoting Change, he now can hardly bypass republican opposition in the Senate and Congress. Ron Paul will meet the same opposition, if elected. The point is, that people power can vote for an unlikely fellow.

The section of Srila Prabhupada’s urging of the devotees to similarly influence the same people power, as inserted in my previous comment, is another example of Favourably using democracy to further Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada knew of the Pitfalls of democracy, but he didn’t make this an Unfavourable dismissal for spiritual practicalities.

Ys Kesava Krsna Das

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on January 2nd, 2012
57 Kesava Krsna dasa

Part Two

It so happens that being either a democrat or leftie, or a republican or rightie, means being party to a package outlined by policies espoused. For instance, one might want to be a decent peace loving left of centre individual. The problem is, this is usually tied in with the package of allowing abortion and so on.

There is no disputing these Pitfalls, but we can ride on the back of the little freedoms allowed – Favourably. But again, don’t take this as anywhere near absolute from myself. My opinion in a fluid, endlessly mutable dynamic, remains just that.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on January 2nd, 2012
58 Unregistered

My dear Keshava Krishna das Prabhu,
Sorry, but I can’t buy the argument that “OK so democracy is not perfect, but look at North Korea.” Sure, the argument has merit, but it smacks of relativism, pointing out situations that are relatively better than others. It reminds me of the 60’s and whenever we’d open our mouths about the Viet Nam War or other aspects of American democracy, the patriots would get in our faces with, “If you don’t like America, go live in Russia your Communist” Just because there is a situation that is worse than the one we have doesn’t mean we should become complacent.

As an example of this dogocracy from 1981: A Golden Retriever named Bosco was elected Mayor of Sunol, California. Shortly thereafter, the entire town burned down. People do not realize that the destiny of the leader for better or worse affects the entire situation under him. Shrila Prabhupada mentioned many times that people have become dog like. One radio host asked His Divine Grace around 1970, “What if we don’t want to take part in your movement.” Prabhupada’s answer was to the point, “Then you can be cat or dog.” The response of the host was to go to a commercial break and hustle Prabhupada off the show. On the street Prabhupada said with a broad grin (to Mukunda), “So, what did you think of my answer?” He told many people, “You are having your sex life in a big bed and the dog is mating in the street. What is the difference between you?” He said that the dog is moving on four legs and the man is moving on four wheels, but the propensity is the same.

Yesterday a photographer enticed several thousand people to undress for a photo shoot as reported on BBC. It turns out that he goes all over the world, New York, Chile, German, Israel, Australia, and for his “art” thousands of people turn up, disrobe and lie down like fish in a net waiting for their karma to overtake them. So practically there is no difference between the dogs and these so called “voters”. Prabhupada called then dwi-pada pasus, “two-legged dogs.” When His Divine Grace visited the Morning Star Ranch, a hippie commune in California, many people moved here and there undressed. Prabhupada said that they would become trees in their next lives. That was when he told for the first time the story of Manigriva and Nalakuvera who offended Narada Muni by appearing shamelessly unclothed.

As long as dogs are in charge whether this sort of dog or that sort, this dogocracy will prevail. Only sankirtan can save us.

Comment posted by Patita Pavana on January 3rd, 2012
59 vishnujanadasa

Krishna Keshava Prabhu:

Your remark about “riding the back of the little freedoms we presently have” is right on point. Democracy does have the most potential for helping us spread Krishna Consciousness, and at the same time, as Mother Abhay’s article points out, we can also have the ideal of varnashrama there always for the world to see. Her article highlights why we in ISKCON should seriously try to implement varnashrama within our own devotee society, because Srila Prabhupada wanted us to be the example to the rest of the world, so Mataji’s article is an encouragement for us to head in that direction. In fact, many people in the West, particularly the US, are already moving in the direction of self-sufficiency (such as “The Maker Movement”, an association of people learning how to build things themselves, as well as how to produce one’s own fresh food).

My posts were meant to back up the fact that these democracies are not stable. As you pointed out, world events are always ebbing and flowing, so modern political systems are not dependable, and as Patita Pavana Prabhu has pointed out, we live in a much different America now a days, with record numbers of people either leaving the country or purchasing fire arms, surveys pointing out that when asked, the reasons these people give is fear of economic collapse and criminal government, so this is actually currently going on. This lack of stability also causes people anxiety and stress because it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain a job or securuty-no one knows their role in society. Varnashrama frees people’s time so that they can engage in more important activities, namely Krishna Consciousness.

Iran, back when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet and earlier had a high standard of living, was very westernized, and relatively democratic and liberal compared to its neighbors. Srila Prabhupada himself visited Iran and remarked that it was heaven on earth (as retold in His Grace Hari Sauri Prabhu’s “A Transcendental Diary, Vol. IV). Now a days, under the strict fundamentalist Islamic ruler ship there (orchestrated by the CIA), it is not possible to openly preach, and an Iranian devotee friend of mine tells me of how they are even closing down yoga studios now.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 3rd, 2012
60 vishnujanadasa

The example of the former Soviet Bloc countries is also a good one. When the borders were opened, tons of books flooded into the country. On the other hand, during Soviet times the devotees were really fired up and determined to preach like anything. Although Russia’s book distribution numbers had declined in the recent past, we can see that a huge up-soar is taking place (especially the last couple of months, partly due, it seems, to the potential ban of the Gita), and devotees in Russia are opening centers and ashramas all over the C.I.S. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out, nothing can stop the sankirtana movement (we can only temporarily halt it from within by un-cooperativeness amongst each other he said).
In this world we can never really tell what the out-come of a particular action will be (except for the chanting of the holy names, but that might not be classified as activity of this world) so it is hard to say what electing Ron Paul or someone else would do. He may halt intervention in other countries, but simultaneously guarantee freedoms here in the States. These freedoms (such as free speech, freedom from warrantless search and seizure, the right to bear arms, etc) are something many Americans are genuinely fearful and concerned about losing. Indeed, many of these have already been violated.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 3rd, 2012
61 vishnujanadasa

Ultimately however, people are followed by their own actions, and so unless we engage them in Krishna Conscious activity, as Akruranatha Prabhu pointed out, we cannot really save them from their fortunes (or misfortunes). He gave a wonderful example of how grassroots preaching, such as harinama sankirtana, and book distribution (as exemplified by his Grace Vaisesika Prabhu in Silicon Valley, a book distribution/harinama acharya), can have such a wonderful effect on people’s hearts. From my personal experience traveling in North America and performing book distribution and Harinama with other devotees for the last couple of years, all classes of people in America are favorable and ready to hear what the devotees have to tell them. Not too long ago, while on Harinama here in Kansas City, a group of young persons gave a donation to our party and told us we were one of their favorite parts of Kansas City! Americans are generally very nice and hard-working people, and if Lord Chaitanya’s message simply reached their ears, these people could really take it up. After all, as Akruranath pointed out, the “Occupiers” joined the harinama with their sign that said “Consume less, sing and dance more!” He said, “we have to create a better class of people”, and such people can showcase a better form of living-varnashrama dharma. Indeed, as followers of “Isavasyam” ideology, we have to help people occupy their hearts and minds with Krishna Consciousness.

Patita Pavan Prabhu’s analysis is acute and very nicely put. If anyone wants a good synopsis of current affairs in the world, they should refer to his previous post. His comment about full focus on the Holy Names and Sankirtana seems to be the consensus here. India does seem to be the great beacon of hope right now.

I am not against democracy per se, since anything used is Krishna’s service becomes spiritual itself, but I am just pointing out, as you said, the complex and constantly changing flow of things in this world. The outcome is hard to always tell. The Eastern European countries that opened up after the soviet collapse allowed much greater preaching-people were literally lined up to purchase Srila Prabhupada’s books. In the Middle East however, these revolutions are leading towards tighter control by Islamic fundamentalists. But as the saying goes, no one can tell what the Lord’s plan is.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 3rd, 2012
62 vishnujanadasa

Note: I recommended Patita Pavan Prabhu’s previous post as a good reference about current affairs, but I would humbly suggest that both this one and his one before it as good references.

Comment posted by vishnujanadasa on January 3rd, 2012
63 Kesava Krsna dasa

Patita Pavana Prabhu,

I did warn that I am not one to give absolutes on relative subject matters such as democracy, and I agree with the need to cut through relativism with absolute clarity. A thought came while reading your latest comment though.

Suppose a sankirtana leader or even a GBC member strategizes for preaching purposes, and were to adopt a non-relativist outlook – as you seem to advocate - and simply encourage a group of devotees to stealthily cross the de-militarised zone separating North and South Korea… wouldn’t this possibly trigger a regional war? Certainly, those devotees would be the target of eager artillery and cannon fire. This would be a foolhardy exercise.

One could argue that Lord Chaitanya requested Sri Nityananda and Srila Haridasa Thakur to go and approach known danger men in a suspect part of Town. There was apprehension, but they went. This is an example of acting beyond relativism. On other occasions, the same Lord would urge of the need to invoke Sri Sudarshana Chakra at rough border posts guarded by hostile Muslim occupiers.

The question would be, in light of your ‘beyond’ relativism approach, aren’t devotees allowed to discriminate on a relative level? Which place is unsafe or dangerous, and which is favourable…? We all know that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that seeing good or bad is illusory, then isn’t there the application of common sense as well?

How many of us are on the level of Sri Nityananda Rama and Srila Haridasa Thakur? Would they cross the Korean de-militarized zone for arguments sake, surcharged as it is with decades old hatred and suspicion? Perhaps in the feature of Balarama, yes.

Srila Prabhupada quoted Chanakya Pandita sometimes in the matter of behaving according to the mentalities of different people… “If dealing with a clever cheat, then act accordingly…” Surely there must be scope to assess, analyse, strategise and act according to different situations for devotees – favourably. Is the NOI injunction to accept what is favourable for devotional service, too dualistic or relative?

Ts Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on January 3rd, 2012
64 Praghosa

Pusta Krishna prabhu can confirm but my recollection is that when war broke out in 1971(?) in what is now Bangladesh, Srila Prabhupada had a message sent to the devotees preaching there at the time, Pusta Krishna prabhu and Brahmananda prabhu to leave and return to Mayapur until things settled down.

Ys Praghosa dasa

Comment posted by Praghosa on January 3rd, 2012
65 Puskaraksa das

Having been in charge of Communication for France for about 10 years (and Orissa, while I was living there), I would like to kindly remind everyone that dandavats and the posts left by various contributors are public. Hence, we are not just having a private conversation amongst devotees or adressing devotees only, as I could read earlier. Therefore, it does matter whether the opinions expressed are fundamentalist or very radical on one hand, or more nuanced, equiposed and open-minded on the other hand.

In this way, we have to keep in mind that non ISKCON members may read or even study our articles and posts (as per for instance the anti-cult organizations, not to speak of journalists, theologians, sociologists, etc). To give you an example, even before the age of internet where news spread like fire around the planet, Bhagavan das gave a class in the early eighties, in a castle near Paris where our Movement was located at the time; in that class, he depicted that the “karmis” were zeros and that without putting the “one” of Krishna before, all these “zeros” had no value. This image, though appealing and flattering to a number of devotees, was taken as an offense by the public at large, when quoted by the anti-cult movements, who had access to the taped classes of Bhagavan das!

Hence, as the good preachers that we wish to become and/or ought to be, we have to try and measure the impact that our words and stands may have, not only amongst like-minded devotees, but also amongst the assembly of devotees at large, considering that some, if not many, may not share our views, and the general public at large, as well as potential prosecutors (like in the example of what happened in Tomsk) who may be shocked by some of the opinions expressed by some ISKCON members…

If dandavats.com was a private forum, restricted to members only, it may be slightly different, but it is not the case. Therefore, in my humble opinion, we have to keep in mind that whatever we write on dandavats may be read by one and all (if not censured ahead by moderators).

However, as freedom of speech (as well as of religious practice) is one of the attributes (and privileges) of our republics and constitutional monarchies, functioning mostly through indirect democratic processes, it would be a paradox to repress freedom of speech amongst devotees within ISKCON. Therefore, everyone of us has to be (or become) mature and responsible in his communication.

Thank you
Hare Krishna

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on January 4th, 2012
66 Kulapavana

Dear Patita Pavana Prabhu, it is interesting that you use the example of Bosco, a dog elected as Mayor of Sunol, California, to ‘prove’ that democracy does not work. In 1989, in the wake of Tianamen Square massacre, Chinese Communist newspaper, the Peoples Daily, did exactly the same, proclaiming Bosco’s election as a proof that democratic elections don’t work.
Actually, electing Bosco was a proof that democracy does work. Bosco, a very popular local pooch, was elected to the strictly ceremonial post of Mayor by the residents of this small community to show that the other candidates were less popular and did not represent the friendly and laid back spirit of their community. To suggest that somehow electing a dog Mayor caused the fire which devastated that community 6 years later, is more of a fantasy than anything based in fact or scriptural injunction. There were many mayors convicted of serious crimes in US courts whose towns did not burn down as a punishment to voters for electing an unfit person.
As I said earlier in this discussion, we can argue which system of government is theoretically better, but ultimately all authorities must be judged by the result. “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose fascination with Bhagavad Gita is a stuff of legends. Unless devotees can show by example that they have the solution, the world will keep on largely ignoring them. Example is better than precept - that was one of Srila Prabhupada’s favorite sayings.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on January 4th, 2012
67 Abhaya Mudra Dasi

Endeavor executed with intelligence in Krishna consciousness is called utsaha, or enthusiasm. The execution of devotional service is not a matter of idle meditation but practical action in the foreground of spiritual life. These activities must be executed with patience. Indeed, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement was started single-handedly, and in the beginning there was no response… Unless the karmis and jnanis become interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they will simply continue to waste their life in fruitless activities. Devotional service, however, not only puts an end to all nonsensical mundane activities, but also engages one in meaningful devotional activities. Those interested in Krishna consciousness should not be eager to accept rules and regulations for economic advancement, yet they should very faithfully accept scriptural rules and regulations for the advancement of Krishna consciousness.

One should also avoid association with Mayavadis, who simply blaspheme Vaishnavas (devotees). Bhukti-kamis, who are interested in material happiness, mukti-kamis, who desire liberation by merging in the existence of the formless Absolute (Brahman), and siddhi-kamis, who desire the perfection of mystic yoga practice, are classified as atyaharis. To associate with such persons is not at all desirable. According to Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “Characteristically, a Vaiṣṇava is one who gives up the association of worldly people, or nondevotees.” Neglect of the regulative principles will destroy devotional service.

For a devote it is not necessary to over-endeavor and accept the rules of materialistic society even for the sake of preaching. We should behave in such a way that the population of the world would be eager to come and join our establishment.

Comment posted by Abhaya Mudra Dasi on January 5th, 2012
68 Unregistered

My dear Keshava Krishna das Prabhu,
Although this discussion revolves around democracy, the thrust of the article was meant to elevate the topic to a broader platform of enlightened governance based upon the Vedic model. Apart from the convenience of spreading Krishna consciousness under the form of democracy that Shrila Prabhupada praised in the 60’s and 70’s, the second reason the World Acharya (sometimes!) spoke well of it is that if the citizens can be educated then they could be encouraged to vote for a system that more closely reflects the Vedic model. For such a situation to arise, an army of fearless and uncompromising brahmanas with book bags is required (that would be us). In this way, Shrila Prabhupada predicted, the people could vote in those who would lead and protect their genuine interests. What we have seen in America in the past decade is that the powers that be have successfully enticed the people to vote away everything their form of government is meant to protect. Therefore, since that is possible, then a Vedic system can also be voted in, but this requires yagna performed with great force, sankirtan and the Holy Names. There really is no other way.

If we are to elevate our perspective and hence this topic, then we owe it to ourselves to examine the system of a powerful king as the autocratic overlord who rules by the strength of dharma though he bows to the brahmana preceptors. Although Krishna consciousness has indeed spread under democracy in America and later in Russia and other places, these models do not compare to the system of India’s kings that protected dharma for the most part right up into 4,000 years of Kali Yuga. Only in the past 1,000 years has this system fallen apart assisted in no small way by waves of mlecchas in different dresses and religions who invaded the Holy Lands of Bharatvarsha. I do not thin that it is naive to hope that the system of the Vedic king can be reinstituted.

As far as your example of North Korea is concerned, let us look at South Korea which is a very democratic place to be sure, but a country in which we devotees hardly have a significant presence. Christianity, Buddhism and other religions have spread across nations only due to royal patronage. Although those who do not know the past are destined to repeat it, others who understand the advantages of historical lessons can once again implement those aspects of world heritage that are laudable and good for mankind as a whole.

Comment posted by Patita Pavana on January 5th, 2012
69 Unregistered

The truth (satya) is propagated in a twofold way viz. positively or by the method of direct support and negatively by the method of opposition. The truth cannot be made sufficiently known by the positive method alone. Propaganda by the method of opposition more than the presentation of the positive aspect brings about more brilliantly in this world the appearance and glorification of the truth. The positve method by itself is not the most effective mode of propaganda in a controversial Age like the present. The negative method which seeks to differentiate the Truth from non Truth in all its forms, is even better calculated to convey the directly inconceivable significance of the Absolute. It is a necessity which cannot be conscientiously avoided by the dedicated preacher of the Truth if he wants to be loyal servant of Godhead. The method is sure to create an atmosphere of controversy in which it is quite easy to lose one’s balance of judgement. But the ways of the deluding energy are so intricate that unless their mischevious nature is fully exposed it is not possible for the soul in the conditioned state to avoid the snares spread by the enchantress for encompassing the ruin of her only too willing victims. It is a duty which shall be sacred to all who have been enabled to obtain even a distant glimpse of the Abolute.” 

~ Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

Ysvt.

Comment posted by nrsingha8 on January 5th, 2012

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