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To Be Heavy, Without The Weight

Saturday, 06 October 2012 / Published in Articles, Kesava Krsna Dasa / 5,341 views

By Kesava Krsna Dasa

Some devotees are concerned that Iskcon’s overall preaching has gone ‘soft,’ thus compromising true standards. They say we must be more ‘Strong’, ‘heavy’ and ‘bold.’ Sentiments of “See how Srila Prabhupada flayed those mayavadis… and how he blasted that individual… and oh how he smashed that perception…” add excitement to the cause. Let us examine what it really takes to be ‘heavy.’

There is excitement in reading of Lord Chaitanya’s conversion of Sri Prakasananda Sarasvati and his many followers, His tactful defeat of Keshava Kashmiri, and His extremely patient transformation of the heart of Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, what to speak of the martial-like preaching exploits of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.

It would be prudent to note how most of the above was aimed at the deeply entrenched ‘Hindu-Vedantic’ mix of pancopasana and other diversions created by their own countrymen, and who are the real unscrupulous thought-leaders of innocent people. Srila Prabhupada came West and worldwide to encounter additional preaching challenges.

If we read Srila Prabhupada’s transcribed conversations, we shall notice how much of Srila Prabhupada’s heaviness or disdain was reserved again, for his fellow countrymen who advocated twisted versions of Vedic thought. He would partially agree with, disagree or dismiss certain philosophical trends pursued by major thought-leader philosophers as recorded in Dialectical Spiritualism.

Srila Prabhupada and his Guru Maharaja are pure Vasinavas. Just as the precepts of Bhagavata Sastra are self-evident, so the words and actions of person Bhagavatas are also self-evident. The way they preach is very different to the way we try to preach, having not yet attained true Bhagavata status. However, simply by hearing and repeating from higher authority we can preach what we know. Whether to enhance what we know with ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ or ‘bold’ backing should be determined by our spiritual qualifications, or lack of them.

It is really a misnomer to use terms such as ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ or ‘bold’ in the context of spiritual improvement and standards. Why? Because what we perceive as ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ or ‘bold’ in the words and activities of self-evident pure devotees is their natural disposition from another plane of existence. That disposition is augmented by force – the force of purity. That force can change hearts with either soft flower-like words or thunder-like velocity – both are the same for them.

For any of us to claim that it is advantageous to change hearts and minds with ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ or ‘bold’ words means that we have added relative values to a plane we are tying to reach. This does not match up to the natural ‘heaviness’ of self-evident truths spoken by pure souls. What is that natural ‘heaviness?’

“So tad-vijnanartham, if you want to understand spiritual knowledge, then you have to approach a guru. Guru. Guru means weighty, I mean to say, one who has got better knowledge. Heavy. Guru means heavy, heavy with knowledge. And what is that knowledge? “I have got so much knowledge.” No. Transcendental… Tad-vijnana. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet, samit-panih srotriyam brahma-nistham [MU 1.2.12].” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.4 — Bombay, November 4, 1974)

One qualification is given – a pure soul is naturally ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’ with Tad-vijnana in terms of what has been faithfully heard – srotriyam. We can all hear and repeat faithfully. That faith has added potency when spiritual qualifications are met. What are they? The excerpt from the above Srila Prabhupada lecture continues:

“That heaviness is brahma-nistham, how much one is attached to Brahman, Parabrahman, Bhagavan. That is guru’s qualification…”

What is that ‘brahma-nistham’ and why is it important here? Because, by trying to be ‘strong’ or ‘heavy’ without this spiritual qualification, means that we will rely on the modes of material nature to be our strength and heaviness. There is a big difference between natural heaviness and coerced heaviness. Srila Prabhupada continues:

“Therefore it is said, srotriyam. Srotriyam means “who has heard from the parampara system.” Srotriyam… And the result is brahma-nistham: “He is firmly fixed up in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Brahma-nistham. He has no other business. This is two qualifications…” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.4 — Bombay, November 4, 1974)

What does it mean to be “firmly fixed up…” with “He has no other business?” He is indirectly saying that any of us who struggle with anartha-nivritti which is a sub-nistha level, cannot be naturally heavy with tad-vijnanam. This is important because when devotees who are struggling with their anarthas are encouraged to be ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ and ‘bold,’ without being properly ‘fixed-up,’ then these same triple attributes will more than likely be influenced by the gunas.

Even if the – srotriyam – hearing requirement is met nicely, the lack of true steadiness will still infiltrate. For this reason, it is better, when preaching, to simply be as we are, and to always leave a good impression with whomever we meet. False aggression is suspected by intelligent people to be a show of insecurity. And if we add ‘hatred’ – even of mayavadi concepts – this will further inflame an unsteady temperament.

What does it mean to be ‘bold’ in preaching? Since this word is synonymous with the word courage, we can assume that ‘bold’ means not to put on an unreal ‘strong’ and ‘heavy’ show of preaching, but rather to adapt to unlimitedly varied challenges. “Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear King, the servants of Lord Viṣṇu are always very expert in logic and arguments.” (SB 6.2.1)

Currently when many governments and sports bodies enact laws discouraging hate speech and related abuse – many of which were not even thought of during Srila Prabhupada’s time – and when people are suspicious of ‘end-is-nigh’ stereotypes and hate mongers, we certainly need to refine our preaching. The only way people will subscribe to hatred is by force, fear, and intimidation – not love. Trying to be unqualified ‘heavy’ will be counterproductive. The modes will direct our heaviness at the sinners rather than at the sin itself. Not to mention the fact that one can desire a ‘heavy’ reputation behind the heaviness – it is exciting.

“We actually saw during the partition days in India that although Hindus and Muslims were living together peacefully, manipulation by politicians suddenly aroused feelings of hatred between them, and thus the Hindus and Muslims killed one another over politics.” (Purport to SB 6.2.5-6)

Fixed-up steady Vaisnavas are naturally happy and secure. This is what the innocent masses want to see and hear from. They want assuring alternatives to their problem-riddled lives, and because unscrupulous thought and religious leaders mislead them, they deserve our sympathy and love, not more ego censuring.

“People in general are not very advanced in knowledge by which to discriminate between religion and irreligion. The innocent, unenlightened citizen is like an ignorant animal sleeping in peace with its head on the lap of its master, faithfully believing in the master’s protection.” (SB 6.2.5-6)

Innocent and unenlightened citizens who want peace in their lives and have good intentions, require “sa-ghrnah—who has a soft heart for the good of all people (SB 6.2.5-6)” But the same devotees may charge that it is easy to be soft on people. The converse can be argued that it is easier to simply be blunt and heavy with people while preaching, because that way one will minimise the quality of debate and meaningful enquiry.

This is the case say, for some class of people who call themselves agnostics but are yet waiting to be convinced if genuine and assuring truths bear upon them. They subscribe to humanist well-being and are fed up of religious squabbling and hatred. Most of their frustration is aimed at Abrahamic religious traditions. There is surprisingly little exposure to Vaisnavism, or none at all, and they are usually influential people who will engage in intelligent debates. Can we imagine these types of people to be attracted to intellectually numbing ‘strong’ and ‘heavy’ “Give them the sauce” missives?

Before generalised judgement is passed on to many sincere devotees who are polite but bold, soft-hearted but strict upon themselves, loving to all but heavily fixed up, should do well to find out why they need to be ‘strong,’ ‘heavy’ and ‘bold’ when in fact these same triple qualities are self-evidently abundant in happy, steady, self-assured fixed up devotees.

“Therefore the devotee gradually realizing that, “Yes, I am offering this flower directly to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I am offering the food directly to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” He is eating. He is perceiving. He is taking the prasādam. He’s advancing. He’s chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. It is self-evident. Pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyam. This devotional service is directly appreciated. You haven’t got to take certificate from others.” (Bombay, October 9, 1973)

Such simplicity as this, when performed happily – su sukham – and when presented to the public as a happy, jolly smiling face, backed with substance and self-confidence, is far more effective than taking oneself too seriously, and expecting the whole of our devotee community to comply with one’s own ‘strict’ standards. Even Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, serious and ‘heavy’ as he was, was full of humour.

Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS.


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    bhakta piyush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Even Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, serious and ‘heavy’ as he was, was full of humour.”

    Reminds me of the time the author of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhav, H.H. Bhakti Vikas Swami Maharaj when he sent a mail (maybe 10years ago) to all his disciples with a list of hollywood movies he recommended them to watch. (which may have some abstract Krishna conscious theme or philosophical similarity)
    I was with one disciple when he received the mail, after scrutinizing the mail several times for the actual list, speculating on failed attachments, looking for followup mails we figured the meaning, with much amusement.

    From HHBVKS….etc.

    Below is a list of movies that my disciples can watch;

    Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
    H.H. BVKS

    Just came across this article below since we are mentioning Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur found on the official ISKCON site (An excerpt from SBV)
    In 1914, just a few weeks before passing away, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had expressed his mano-‘bhishta (heart’s desire) to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, instructing him to establish daiva-varnasrama, preach shuddha-bhakti, develop Sridham Mayapur, and publish Vaishnava writings in the following words:

    “Worldly people who are proud of their aristrocratic birth cannot attain actual aristocracy. Therefore they attack pure Vaisnavas, claiming that they have taken birth in low-class families because of their sins. Thus they commit offenses. The means to rectify this situation is to institute daiva-varnasrama-dharma. You have started to do that. Know it to be real service to Vaisnavas.

    Due to lack of shudha-bhakti-siddhanta prachar(preaching), all manner of womanish bad theories and instructions are being called devotion by pseudo-sampradayas such as sahajiya and ativadi. Always crush these anti-devotional conceptions by bhakti-siddhanta prachar and proper achar(personal conduct). Try to begin the parikrama of Sridham Navadvipa as soon as possible. Thereby everyone in the universe can receive Krishna-bhakti. Diligently endeavour to ensure that service to Sri Mayapur becomes permanently established and more resplendent each day. Genuine service to Mayapur is not nirjana-bhajan, but to establish a printing press and to propagate devotional books and Nama-hatta. Do not for your own sake undertake nirjana-bhajan and thus impede preaching and service to Sri Mayapur.

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    bhakta piyush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    …Continued from previous post…

    When I am no longer present, take care to serve your dear Sri Mayapur-dham. This is my special instruction to you. People who are like animals can never attain devotion; never accept their advice. But do not let them know this, either directly or indirectly.

    I had a special desire to propagate the importance of such books as Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sat-sandarbha, and Vedanta-darshan. Now you must assume that responsibility. Sri Mayapur will prosper if you inaugurate an educational institution there.

    Never try to amass knowledge or money for your own sense gratification; they should be acquired only for Krishna’s service. Never take bad association, either for money or any personal interest.”

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Interesting article. Even those who did not physically associate with Srila Prabhupad have the opportunity to hear many of his lectures that have been recorded. Nonetheless, it is not our intention to imitate Srila Prabhupad. We have also seen some who tried to speak like Srila Prabhupad artificially. It is not necessary to criticize such persons. Vaishnavas are rare souls to begin with, and if we are going to give honor to others, we should start with the vaishnavas, especially those propagating the glories of the Holy Names.
    What is interesting to note is that Srila Prabhupad often with humor would call his disciples rascals in mock preaching sessions. He was training us to find the narrow pathway of transcendental vision necessary to persevere in spiritual life. There are many challenges and temptations in life. And, it is the guru’s duty to provide guidance to his disciples. In the Bhagavad gita, Krishna listened patiently to Arjuna while he outlined the scene of warriors on the battlefield, until he became disheartened entirely and surrendered to Krishna as his Guru. Then Krishna essentially hinted that Arjuna’s weakness was not worthy of such a cultured soul as Arjuna. Krishna essentially let Arjuna know that his weakness was foolishness due to ignorance, and then Krishna enlightened him.
    One does not have to be loud and annoying to preach Krishna consciousness. We are more likely to turn people off by that mode. Remember, that Srila Prabhupad was also displaying for his disciples who were observing his preaching that the speculative and incorrect thinking that people were spewing out was anti-devotional, and should not be accepted as being in line with Krishna’s teaching.
    According to time, place, and circumstance, and according to one’s realizations, one can teach Krishna consciousness to others, always keeping faithful to our parampara.
    I am sure this article will be engender alot of interesting discussion. Pusta Krishna das

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    scooty.ram says:

    I am thinking if disciples had discussed this topic (soft preaching methods) while srila prabhupada was present . If so, those information can also be shared. i am sure some disciples might have felt srila prabhupada was too harsh with someone or Srila Prabhupada might have himself justified for his behavior. Those situations can be a guidance at this moment.

    But it is pretty evident that Srila Prabhupada followed the style of Srila Bhakti siddhanta Thankur to some extent. Infact during pre-independence time in india, there was high pressure to support the freedom fighting movement and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta thakur had denied such efforts in the most needed time. This is definitely unexpected and it was a golden opportunity to advertise one’s mission but the acharya did not yield to these methods.

    During flood in Andhra pradesh , ministers approached Srila Prabhupada for help. They were denied. These are cases where the need was immediate and highly critical. The decision the spiritual leaders took at those moments appear inhuman.Had they yielded to the AP government, iskcon must definitely have been on news paper headlines with a lot of appreciation. It surely appears to be a best means to preach. But it appears the acharyas did not compromise the philosophy even a bit.

    Hence if the current situation of the world is aiming towards humanitarian principles (being spiritual and not religious etc), i think this is probably the best time to express the core Gaudiya siddhantic opinions of what real altruism, humanitarian welfare is. Feeding the parrot inside the cage , not painting the cage. Saving the drowning man and not the dress of a drowning man.

    It very much needs a very advanced self realised soul to take such non conventional decisions. Even a small compromise of the core principles can bring a huge effect few decades down the line. Infact this what seems to have happened to ramakrishna mutts.

    “Māyā is very strong. In the name of philanthropy, altruism and communism, people are feeling compassion for suffering humanity throughout the world. Philanthropists and altruists do not realize that it is impossible to improve people’s material conditions. Material conditions are already established by the superior administration according to one’s karma. They cannot be changed. The only benefit we can render to suffering beings is to try to raise them to spiritual consciousness.”

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    servantoftheservant ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu
    Please accept my humble obeisances
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada

    Prabhu – I just finished reading the new book by Bhakti Vikasa Swami towards whose preaching your article is specifically directed.

    I suggest that you first read this book in full and then make your judgement regarding what Maharaja is saying and what he means regarding strong / bold preaching. He has evaluated both the positive and negative aspects of both methods of preaching in the book in quite a forthright manner.

    Your servant
    servant of the servant
    Sridhara-syama dasa

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Sridhar Syama Prabhu,

    I will like to read HH Bhakti Vikas Maharaja’s book, however, It would have been better if you had engaged on the merit of the article, especially since you had read his book.

    I specified a pure devotee’s self-evident nature of strength and heaviness – tad vijnana and brahma nistham. Self-evident Sastra is also naturally strongly worded and heavy. This brahma nistham can be likened to an immovable mountain – truly heavy. Such heaviness is different from the heaviness we associate with our personalities. The excitement of personalised heaviness and strength falls outside of the two above qualifications.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I agree with Sridhara-syama that Bhakti Vikas Swami’s book, “On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service”, is a very thoughtful book that covers this whole subject matter thoroughly, including a balanced approach that considers both “soft” and “hard” preaching have their pros and cons, and acknowledges that strong preaching requires care, discretion and tact. While the overall theme of the book is that devotees should preach without compromise, arguments are also made that we should try to introduce harinama sankirtana and prasadam and not turn off people by attacking their cherished notions too soon and crushing their interest, and that strong speaking should not come from a platform of false ego, and should be done by a devotee with actual understanding and proper motives, and tact is needed.

    I do not know that Kesava Krishna’s article was directed against that book, or against its author. At least, he did not say so.

    One thing is, we should speak strongly in favor of Krishna consciousness and against opposing elements, but we should be careful not to speak against other devotees and provoke quarrels unnecessarily.

    I have had experiences of trying to develop a particular field (for example, starting a club on a particular college campus), and then finding out that some potential hippie allies had been burned out by hearing some other devotees speaking strongly in “homophobic” ways that offended their liberal sensibilities. Their attachment to Krishna consciousness was not very deep, and was being tested by meeting devotees who were perhaps insensitive or immature.

    And I have probably burned out some politically conservative people who sensed that I am too soft on liberals.

    Krishna says that devotees who have firm faith in Krishna’s devotional service are to be considered saintly even if they do things that are immoral from a worldly perspective. Soon they will become righteous. So, we should not be too hard on such devotees if they preach a little too heavy, or fail to preach heavy enough. They may all have some role to play. All devotees should appreciate each other.

    It is nice to get people in general to have a favorable view of Krishna consciousness, but we also have to bring such favorable people gradually closer and closer into a real understanding of what pure devotional service is. Let’s not fight too much about tactics. Ultimately there is no substitute for purity and realized knowledge.

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    servantoftheservant ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The book I was referring to in my previous post (#5) is called “Speaking strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s service” and is available from and few other booksellers in US.

    Your servant
    Sridhara-syama dasa

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    These are good comments. In my opinion, it is important that we utilize the resources of Guru, Shastra, Sadhu, and even the voice from within, the Supersoul, when trying to sort these issues out. The deeper we go in Krishna consciousness, we appreciate that preaching means representation of the Parampara and Srila Prabhupad. We must not be egotistical and look for a “notch on our belts” as they say in the Westerns, but rather see the suffering soul within and help to give them the alternative path to materialism. It someone is ill, you give them the medicine. It is true, you might have to make someone unconscious by beating them senseless to get them to take the medicine, but that is an exception.
    I remember one preaching program in Geneva, Switzerland that Bhagavan das arranged amongst intelligensia. One man asked Srila Prabhupad, “why do you not eat meat?” Srila Prabhupad replied forcefully, “why don’t you eat your sister?” People were shocked and even Bhagavan das hung his head down not knowing what to do or say. The answer was very deep however, that cow in like mother. We would not consider eating mother or sister, and so the cow must not be eaten similarly. This was in a large public meeting. The effect was powerful. Who could understand it, and who could not understand it…that is dependent upon Krishna. Naturally, Srila Prabhupad’s preaching to the first disciples was more intimate and nurturing, but desa/kala/patra. TIme place circumstance.
    If one is heavy-handed and they are unable to win souls for Krishna or soft-apoken and not able to win souls for Krishna, it is noble to preach Krishna consciousness for the benefit it gives to us, but we still hope that our preaching will be fruitful. Pusta Krishna das

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    scooty.ram says:

    Thank you Akruranatha prabhu for your comments on “On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service” book and encouraging everyone to read it.To be honest , I was waiting for your review and I was sure you would have read it.

    Seeing your comments , I hope to get myself a copy and read it . Its so interesting to see how the author has addressed the whole issue through a book with lot of thoughtful into it. This way we dont get personal or on a confrontational mode.Books convey the idea but does not embarrass the readers. If all seniors of the movement like this book, it might as well become a good source of reference for next generation and leaders.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Many of us associate ‘old’ Iskcon with heaviness. Since our spiritual sadhana standards are extremely high by any material estimation, it required a lot of temple-commander’ing and party-leader enforcement of discipline to get asrama dwellers to comply. Much of the heaviness stemmed from there.

    There was a certain allure and virtue in heaviness. If a devotee named Rasa Bihari happened to be an enforcer type for instance, then he would be called Rasa-Be-Heavy. History revealed however, that this movable and weightless heaviness cannot compare with ‘tad-vijnana’ and ‘brahma-nistham’, the true standard bearers of natural heaviness. In fact, the ‘heaviness’ we are familiar with is not spiritual at all.

    To be natural is to be ourselves. By projecting our real selves while we preach, the strength of Sastra will come through by our transcendental via medium sincerity. Any additional personality or emotive enforcement on top of that is risky and easily detected by the public. And if ‘hatred’ is a part of that, we should be concerned.

    The encouragement of being ‘strong’ while preaching, or to ‘preach strongly,’ has to be handled by experienced ‘fixed-up’ devotees, not immature devotees. If Sastra is already strong and heavy, then what can we add, other than our trying-to-be-pure selves? The book by HH Bhakti Vikas Maharaja, I am sure, covers different aspects of preaching. But some doubts come to mind when I observe the strength of opposition to Iskcon vicissitude.

    For me, this is part of an undercurrent opposition to Iskcon change. We acknowledge our ‘pizza-pakora’ or lib/com differences on the surface. Yet I see an attempt to preserve the ‘old’ coming from younger devotees who did not know Iskcon as it used to be. The claim for traditional Iskcon values has spilled out into disagreement between disciples of the concerned gurus – and we know who they are.

    The espousal of ‘hatred’ towards mayavada (as expressed in another article) is indirectly linked to the worry in some quarters, of certain devotees preaching to, and encouraging ‘mayavadis’ to chant Hare Krishna and to engage them in Krishna’s service, with the aim of – dhairya – patient changes of hearts, which is seen as ‘soft.’

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    strong or soft preaching lets first remember that Srila Prabhupada wanted all ISKCON memebers to distribute his books, in SB purport 7.9.44 purport he writes: “Rather, every member of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is interested in going door to door to try to convince people about the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, the teachings of Lord Caitanya. That is the purpose of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. The members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must be fully convinced that without Kṛṣṇa one cannot be happy.”

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    servantoftheservant ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    There is a difference between ‘heavy’ and ‘strong’. If you and many others associate the ‘heavy’ with a certain kind of methodology that was used in the ISKCON of yore – that does not necessarily mean that that is what is recommended by the proponents of ‘straight-forward and strong preaching’. This kind of perspective relies much on what you think is being said, upon having heard the message second (or third) hand etc.

    I request you to take some time to read the book in question (without being predisposed), deliberate upon the points discussed therein, and then voice your concerns. The subject of who is qualified to do such straight-forward (& thus strong) preaching is also dealt with in much detail in the book – from sadhu, guru sastra vakya perspective, not anyone’s own opinion. This specific point has given much food for thought to this foolish g0-dasa.

    It is also your imagination that there is any scent of “not being natural” that is being suggested. To close this note Prabhu – there is never any recommendation of (trying) to be heavy in one’s preaching. It’s mostly about being simple and straight-forward in presentation of Krsna consciousness. Those who have the necessary qualifications will take it – realizing it to be the ‘real thing’. While, for those for whom we have to sugar coat the message – may appear to take it at first – but it remains to be seen how many of those will stay when, in due course of time, the full and unedited message of Krsna consciousness is presented to them.

    a most useless fallen servant,

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part One:

    Sridhar Syama Prabhu, or servant of the servant,

    You are correct. There is a difference between being ‘strong’ and ‘heavy.’ Problem is, if we are not naturally ‘heavy’ then our attempted ‘strong’ness will be influenced by the modes. I alluded to past forms of Iskcon heaviness, but past, present or future, if ever we do not have brahma-nistham which is natural heaviness, then the gunas will turn our ‘strong’ into ‘unnatural ‘heavy.’

    You wrote: “It is also your imagination that there is any scent of “not being natural” that is being suggested.”

    Here is what natural heaviness is, that you called “imagination.” In the main article, when speaking of the natural power of pure devotees, it is stated, “That force can change hearts with either soft flower-like words or thunder-like velocity – both are the same for them.”

    This is a description of natural heaviness. If a pure devotee speaks with flower-soft words, that is still heavy – heavy with tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham. Whether a guru treats some disciples with soft affection and others with strict apparent indifference, both are kind, and both are ‘heavy.’ This heaviness is not materially aggressive or tinged with the modes.

    If we are not immovable with brahma-nistham – actually fixed-up – then our heaviness is unnatural. Our attempts at enforced ‘strongness’ will backfire if not properly harnessed. Can you explain how this is imagination please? There is natural or transcendental ‘heavy’ and guna ‘heavy,’ is there is a gulf of difference. Our trying to be anartha ‘strong’ will manifest as undesirable ‘heavy.’

    Of course, the aim of the book will be simplicity and straightforwardness, however – as with any supplementary publication – it will not be the definitive, completely exhaustive version. Why? Because there is a whole wide world out there full of Vedic and Sastric nuances and subtleties that cannot be ignored. The main article hinged upon Srila Prabhupada and Sastra.

    It did not require Maharaja’s book for this article to be written. Material anarthas and the modes exist perpetually for as long as time does. And it pays to bid our time when preaching, especially with patience. One can be ‘strong’ while preaching to try and earn quick results, or to make devotees speedily. One can be ‘strong’ and put off all those who are not ready, and need soft ‘sugar-coated’ approaches. One can be ‘strong’ out of frustration.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Two:

    This is not imagination because I have witnessed the results of ‘strong’ preaching gone wrong, and many book distributors must have as well. We might meet someone out on book distribution who vents their fury on us for no apparent reason. Upon inquiring from that individual why he or she is so upset, a common answer is that they were ‘blown-out’ by previous inconsiderate devotee preachers. These hang-ups can sometimes manifest as threats of violence or actual violence committed upon unsuspecting devotees, thanks to the carelessness of ‘strong’ and ‘heavy’ upstarts.

    As I mentioned previously, I am sure the aim of the book is balanced, but Srila Prabhupada’s tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham are the real definitions of natural, transcendental heaviness. Any other type of heaviness exhibited or promoted outside of this, is tinged with the gunas. Can you again say where the “imagination” is please?

    Since many people do require ‘sugar-coated’ approaches, it also requires more – dhairya – patience. With experienced association and gradual purification these ‘sugar-coated’ souls can also come to bear the full effect of Sastric wisdom. This patience is more difficult and requires more skill and nurturing, which is something that eludes quick-results types.

    If this usually expert type of patient preaching can help mayavadi-tinged people engage in Krishna’s service and chant Krishna’s holy name in association of devotees with the aim of gradual ‘sugar-coated’ purification, then why should that be dismissed?

    All devotees are different, and their preaching strategies will differ. We will have problems among ourselves if any one side of the ‘strong’ or ‘soft’ divide seeks to impose their versions on to others, aided by divisive propaganda and general self-righteousness. Any one side will think their interpretation of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings are the best, or are right. But judging from our Iskcon social changes we have experienced, it does not appear that we have collectively agreed on a true formula yet.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Good discussion. Everyday we may get the opportunity to “preach” Krishna consciousness or encourage devotion and dependence upon God with others. It is not always in the context of a formal lecture in a temple or other program. My personal opinion is that preaching is not a mechanical exercise. Chanting of the Holy Names is also not a mechanical exercise when we perform it with sincerity of service intend for the Holy Names.
    None of us is perfect, but one vital requirement of preaching is that one remain “Parampara”, that is, one remains faithful to the teachings as given to us by Srila Prabhupad or his disciples in the line. It is a critical point. So, “heavy” or “light”, it is vital to avoid deviating from the teachings! I like Keshava Krishna’s comments in general. When we reflect upon it, the Golden Rule applies…treat others as you would want to be treated. We generally appreciate compassion, honesty, relief from illusion. A soul is a soul, and we have similar aspirations. I can say from experience that there are some preachers, if I had heard them first on hearing about Krishna, I would have walked away satisfied that this was not a path I would want to pursue. We have to be careful about being arrogant. That is not appreciated. This knowledge is not our property, but rather the property of our Gurudevas. We must feel it a great privilege to speak about Krishna, to take Krishna’s words from Bhagavad-gita, or words about Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam. Time place and circumstance. Srila Sukadeva Goswami was speaking to an assembly of sages. That is a different situation from what you may encounter in public presentations. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, Sri Krishna is within you, and your vaishnava colleagues are outside you. As I have mentioned in Dandavats previously, Srila Prabhupad on several occasions would ask me what I thought of his lecture, ie “was that alright…did the point get communicated?” This is His Divine Grace, so if even he will tread lightly in this area, we must also respect that. Once when a reporter asked why Srila Prabhupad had been told to teach KC in the west some 30-40 years before he came, and the reporter asked: “why did you take so long to come?” Srila Prabhupad replied: “I was preparing myself. It is not so easy a thing to preach Krishna consciousness”. What more can I add? Affectionately, Pusta Krishna das

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    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think this is over-complicating things. Srila Prabhupada taught us how to preach – present ourselves as devotees and tell people basic truths – we are not our bodies, we are spirit souls, and as spirit souls our happiness lies in reuniting with God, Krishna. If they are interested we can nurture that interest with addition of some sugar coating, if not we simply move on.

    I believe it would be against Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to give out “sugar pills” first and when people are hooked and dependent hit them with “Actually, we are Hare Krishnas!”

    Due to the nature of our philosophy anything we say with conviction would be considered “heavy” in this oversensitive, politically correct world. Even for us there’s no way to accept any spiritual truth without sustaining a hit to our materialistic egos. If our words do not disturb materialistic persons in any way then we are probably not preaching right.

    People should accept these sacrifices in exchange of knowledge about Krishna, not because they want another plate of food or something.

    Kesava Krsna Prabhu, do you have any examples of Prabupada sugar coating anything when preaching to mayavadi-tinged people? Afaik, as soon as he smelled even a tinge of mayavada he pounced on it like a hawk, with zero tolerance. If you say that everyone, including ourselves, is tinged with impersonalism than this is not what I mean. Most people have no clue and it’s not their conscious choice. They will hopefully give it up just like they are expected to give up meat eating.

    By mayavada-tinged people I mean those who give credence to “bhakti” as taught by the likes of Ramakrishna or Rajneesh and so think they know everything about Krishna, or believe in yata-mata-tata-pata principle. As you can see from the first post quoting instructions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura we must crush these misonceptions, not feed them sugar pills.

    It’s true that “heavy” preaching might conceal devotee’s personal shortcomings, but, on the other hand, sugar-coating might conceal desire to be liked and accepted, desire for association and subsequent rewards, all done under pretense of “it’s for Krishna”.

    Also, if devotees have different opinions it does not automatically mean all of them are equally correct, we must check if they follow the footsteps and spirit of our acharyas first. Deviations are not unheard of, you know…

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part One:

    Sitalatma Prabhu,

    For the record, I am not one of those who will disguise our identity, to apply some sugar pill, and then suddenly reveal as a Hare Krishna. When I do book distribution, I dress in Vaisnava clothing always. Because of this, I realise the high importance of leaving a good impression with people. I also do not agree that our Food For Life should be in disguise either.

    My main thrust throughout is for us to “Leave a Good Impression” always, and to simply be who we are when we preach. Let us allow the real ‘heavy’ message of Sastra to be conveyed, without us having to, artificially.

    Srila Prabhupada had many friends throughout his lifetime, and not all of them were Vaisnavas. He knew that to have friends meant to have support or help, in times of need or necessity. During the early days in New York he befriended Dr Mishra, the impersonalist. There is film coverage of Srila Prabhupada eating at his studio. He and Dr Mishra acknowledged their philosophical differences, but did not become enemies. Srila Prabhupada did not adopt any concocted ‘hate-vada’ derision.

    In those early days there is mention of Srila Prabhupada asking a Ramakrishna Swami about how the responses were from the American people to Eastern thought, as they had established themselves earlier there. We don’t have any record of Srila Prabhupada “flaying” these pancopasana enthusiasts.

    As mentioned in the main article, Srila Prabhupada reserved much of his disdain for his fellow countrymen, and he specifically blamed modern-day pancopasna proponets for destroying Vedic culture. On another level, if he required assistance or support, he was not averse to accepting help from mayavadis or impersonalists. Below is such an example when Iskcon was faced with a major court case:

    Prabhupāda: Saligram Sukla.

    Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: In America? Yes.

    Prabhupāda: He is a learned scholar and he is influential man in educational circles. There are many Indians you’ll find, they are…

    Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: So we can mobilise all the Indians, that’s the best process.

    Prabhupāda: Yes, Indian opinion. I have already given suggestion. The Indians should come forward. And from here also, similar if the member… Respectable Indian businessmen they should say that this Kṛṣṇa cult is very, very old, genuine and we are so enlightened that Swami Bhaktivedanta has taken this movement to the foreign countries. We are so proud, like that.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Two:

    Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. We want to do that.

    Prabhupāda: And that is a fact. Everyone is feeling proud. Take all signature of the gosvāmīs here, influential, that this is genuine. Prove there, that it is genuine movement.

    Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: And we have letters from Swami Premananda and all the (indistinct) from Bombay, and sent all these to Rāmeśvara.

    Prabhupāda: Yes, everyone should join. Now people are taking this cultural movement so seriously and if our Indian leaders sleep, that is not good.

    Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes, better that the Indians should combine and they should bring a case against these people.

    Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes.

    Prabhupāda: And then it will be alright. That this is, Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is genuine, and these people are trying to insult us. Bring a defamation case against these persons.(November 2, 1976, Vrindaban)

    Let us note that Srila Prabhupada knew that not all ‘Indians’ were on the same page philosophically and religiously, yet he appreciated help from Mr Sukla and Swami Premananda – he did not object. There were mayavadis among them. Yes, the circumstances were different then. The principle is, Srila Prabhupada acknowledged the benefits of having favourable people around, whatever their spiritual disposition. We might not realise it, but having good friends is also good preaching.

    When I indicated ‘sugar-coated,’ I qualified that with the need for Vaisnava association and nurturing, not as a disguise. In this respect, Srila Prabhupada had nothing to hide, and nor do we. But we can hide ourselves behind unreal ‘strong’ fronts that have the potential to turn people off. We can suddenly revert to ‘strong’ if we are unable to make headway in a debate. We can become sarcastically ‘strong’ if persons are not yet ready for a real dose of Krishna consciousness.

    Somehow, ‘careful’ preaching is seen as a sort of compromise. Then which is better, or more pleasing for Srila Prabhupada? Each time Srila Prabhupada met someone for the first time, lets say Graham Hill, a Formula One world champion, he would talk about car racing and similar things, and gradually introduced Krishna consciousness, often beginning with, “We are not this body…”

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Three:

    People like Dr Mishra and the Ramakrishna Swami would not require this introduction because their sankhya and acquired knowledge was more advanced than Mr Hill. Srila Prabhupada would also have realised that there was little chance of converting them, so make friends. This is different from intimate friendship.

    To “always leave a good impression” is not a case of pandering to the likes and dislikes of the public, but rather as a service to our Founder Acarya and future generations of devotees. There is more far-sightedness in this, as opposed to the ‘take it or leave it’ abruptness. To be movable and weightless ‘strong’ implies a passionate resolve.

    Objectively we can stand back to look at both the ‘strong’ and ‘soft’ methods of preaching, and from this distance the strengths and weaknesses do show. What then is required? Integrity of representing our parampara, and integrity of ourselves being who we are in service to the mission of Iskcon and our fellow Vaisnavas/is. Such integrity does not require us to be either ‘strong’ or ‘soft.’

    Srila Prabhupada and our previous acaryas were not ‘strong’ or ‘heavy,’ in the way we fantasize about. They were just their transcendental selves. Their ‘heaviness’ was from another plane, and has nothing to do with the heaviness of this world, just as so-called lust in rasa-lila has nothing to do with mundane lust.

    This understanding will help is realise that we do not need to be ‘strong’ or ‘soft.’ If we are sincere, the natural strength of Sastra will prevail.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    scooty.ram says:

    Real humility is in speaking the truth. To speak the truth in a pleasant way is an art.
    However the moment one tries to sugar coat the truth, it has already started to lose its potency/strength. The bitterness of the truth is the real medicine that works and if we attempt to hide it , we have made the medicine lose its capacity to heal.

    Main reasons for not speaking the truth are
    1. One is guilty of oneself not abiding the truth today or in future.
    2. One has not yet understood and accepted the truth.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Discussions of how best to preach or how to successfully distribute books are healthy, but I worry that there will be a quarrel when devotees start identifying themselves with different parties or camps (“pizza-pakora”, “lib-con”, “old-new”)

    I do recognize that in myself I sometimes am more wrapped up with my own thoughts and trying to “say it right” than with being sensitive and aware of the effect I am having on my audience. (Maybe that’s why I write long and convoluted Dandavats comments). We should remember that preaching is service: we are doing it for Krishna and not for our own sakes.

    Watching the U.S. Presidential debates I was thinking about how carefully these orators are trained by teams of professionals to make favorable impressions on television. It isn’t enough to just know all the facts or to be sincere: one has to avoid rubbing voters the wrong way, and one has to make a personal connection. Sometimes a debater loses points just by having the wrong expression on his face when his opponent is talking. The audience is sizing up the whole personality and taking cues from all kinds of observations.

    The same is true of witnesses in trial, and lawyers.

    There is nothing wrong with devotees discussing rhetoric and communication skills. True, these are “techniques” that could me misused by sophists and insincere manipulators, but they are also the skills used by good communicators and statesmen. To be a good salesman or spokesman is no crime, especially if one has something beneficial and wonderful to promote. And being a good salesman does require a sensitivity to what kind of impression or connection one is making with potential customers.

    I love the famous “he sadhava” verse of Prabhodananda Sarasvati. There is something sincere about a devotee-preacher’s humility, but something arch as well. We genuinely flatter people, because we are not competing with them and we really have their best interests at heart, but we are also secretly paternalistic: we know their best interest better than they do. We want to give them something nice, but to get it they have to do something they may not want to do, namely bow down to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, so we can be a bit tricky or manipulative for their own good.

    We have to be careful though. When in doubt it is best to just be humble and sincere. But a clever preacher who can be a master of surface appearances and tact is something wonderful to behold.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “As soon as you get some opportunity, preach. What is that preach? Preaching, Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised us, yare dekha tare kaha krsna-upadesa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]. This is preaching. ‘Whoever you meet, simply speak of the instruction of Krsna.’ So if you are advanced, if you know what is the instruction of Krsna by reading Bhagavad-gita, you can preach to others.

    “And if you have not read anything, suppose you do not know anything, then you can also preach. What is that? ‘Just become a devotee of Krsna, my dear sir.’ That’s all. This is also preaching. ‘Just surrender to Krsna.’ You go door to door. If you cannot do anything, simply say, ‘My dear sir, you are very good man. Oh, you are very intelligent man. Chant Hare Krsna.’

    “Sakalam eva vihaya durat. This preaching was taught by Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya kaku-satam krtva ca aham bravimi. This is the preaching process. Dante nidhaya trnakam. According to Vedic civilization, if one wants to become very humble and approach another person, then he has to take one straw in the mouth. Trna.

    “So the preaching process is to take a straw in the mouth, dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya, and falling down on your feet, dante nidhaya trnakam padayor, kaku-satam krtva ca aham bravimi. And flattering you: ‘Sir, you are so great man, you are so intelligent man.’ This is flattering. Although he is fool number one, we have to flatter like that. ‘Oh, there is no greater man like you. You are so intelligent, you are so rich, you are so beautiful.’ So all these things. Just like the beggars. Sometimes: ‘You become king.’ And one thinks, ‘Oh, he is blessing me. All right, you take one paisa.’ So this flattering is also required. So kaku-satam krtva caham bravimi.

    “So the man may ask that ‘Why you are so humble and flattering? What is your intention? Tell me.’ So he is now telling. He sadhavah, ‘Oh, you are great sadhu.’ He sadhavah, sakalam eva vihaya durat: ‘You have learned so many nice things. I know that. But kick them out, please.’ Sakalam eva. ‘Whatever you have nonsense learned, rascaldom you have learned, please kick them out. This is my request.’

    “Sakalam eva vihaya durat caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam. ‘Just hear what Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu says. This is my request.’ This is preaching. This is preaching. Flatter, fall down on his feet, and eulogize him as great sadhu, as great intelligent, great rich. Do so that he may little hear.”

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “And when he says, ‘What do you want?’ Now, (laughter) ‘I want this, sir. Whatever rascaldom you have learned, please forget. Because I know you are rascal number one. (laughter) You have got so many hodge-podge thing in your brain. So you kick them out please.’ Sakalam eva vihaya durat. ‘Kick them, throw away, long distance. Don’t look upon them.’ ‘Then what to do?’ Caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam. ‘Please hear what Caitanya-candra says.’

    “Sri-krsna-caitanya-daya karaha vicara, vicara karile citte pabe camatkara: [Cc. Adi 8.15] ‘Just try to understand the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and you will feel so sublime.’ Sri-krsna-caitanya-daya karaha vicara [Cc. Adi 8.15]. ‘Don’t take it blindly. If you are intelligent, just make a judgment, what Caitanya-candra is.’ Tell him.”

    But generally first it takes some time and patience to earn someone’s trust that you can tell him frankly that everything he is so proud of — his learning, his wealth, his manners, his family, his position, his patriotism and support of various noble causes — is all for naught if it is not dovetailed in Krishna consciousness.

    People are accustomed to meeting evangelists or jihadists from various religious organizations who are actually self-centered people, looking to conquer others and to justify their own false egos. In this Kali yuga, many such people are always giving religion a bad name, trying to use it in one way or another for personal aggrandizement or to justify conquest and imperialism or dominance of one group or party over another. It would be a shame if their first impression of Hare Krishna causes them to put it in the same category and thereby not get a chance to truly appreciate the wonder that is Srila Prabhupada’s books.

    But on the other hand, those who have come to read and appreciate Srila Prabhupada’s books, even a little — who have tried to surrender their lives, who have become initiated and engaged in regular chanting and service — they are all very special people, very rare, even if they are not fully endowed with complete realization or learning of the knowledge contained in the books. At least they have some enthusiasm, “These are great books”. To get people to appreciate how great these books are, even a little, is the para-upakar, the greatest welfare activity.

    And if someone is a little clumsy in his or her approach, and makes some bad impression, we should at least appreciate their effort and try to set a better example.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Another fact is that even if we are very expert in our dealings with others, very tactful and good at making a personal connection and very refined in our manners and very learned and pure in what we have to say and the manner in which we try to share it, unless someone is favored by Krishna they are not going to be able to take it.

    That is a hard lesson for us to learn, but as Srila Prabhupada said, when you are selling diamonds, there will not be many qualified customers.

    So… devotees should have a nice reputation for being learned and wise and morally virtuous and polite and skilled in social interaction and kind to all, but no matter how good we are and careful we are and generally respected we are, some people will still not be able to “get” Krishna consciousness, even if they are otherwise intelligent and self-controlled people.

    Still, we should work on our own presentation and we should avoid quarreling among ourselves about the way other sincere devotees are trying to present Krishna consciousness. We should never be envious about the popularity or success of other preachers: if they are convincing others to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and chant Hare Krishna, they are heroes.

    They may have different styles. We are a big society and we are going to have all different kinds of members with different skills and moods and approaches. That is fine. We can catch a more diverse crowd of potential devotees that way. It may be Krishna’s arrangement.

    But as for what the real teachings of Krishna consciousness are, I do not think we have any real or fundamental disagreements about that. We have Srila Prabhupada’s books. We all basically understand them the same way, or can discuss passages and quotations in a humble mood and come to the same understandings.

    The disagreements seem to be over tactics, over rhetorical and interpersonal skills, over how patient we should be with people and how tolerant we should be of their residual conditioning or failure to conform to difficult ideals or more external cultural demands. And the Krishna Consciousness Society is big enough to accommodate devotees with different opinions on such issues. It is not narrow and formulaic, but dynamic and full of imagination and individuality and variety.

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have continued to find the comments very interesting. Occasionally, I will listen to Christian preachers on TV and I have really appreciated some of their styles. I have never appreciated the heavy styles that sound like someone is just out of their divinity school. They are so predictable and the words that come out are so unpalatable to me. That said, I am quite certain that many, many Christians find that style appealing. I prefer the logical preaching that highlights our flaws and relate to how faith in God can rectify these human defects. For example, anger and fault-finding can become memories that become patterns of behavior. One preacher said: We are told by Christ to forgive others, even those who mean to hurt us (by the way, I was raised a Jew). The preacher went on to say that this means that if we fail to forgive our transgressors, then “we” have sinned. I thought that this was brilliant. It pushes us forward to be more forgiving and merciful. How nice! Now, this same sermon could have been delivered with fists thumping and loud voice. But, the preacher was methodical and humble. It was very appealing. Ultimately, “birds of a feather, flock together.” We will be attracted by those preachers who are inspiring to us. This will not necessarily be appealing to all. And, so if Krishna is kind to a seeker, He will provide the type of instruction that we need to proceed positively along. I do not think that we can expect one formula to be applicable to everyone and in all situations. Pusta Krishna das

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Many societies make a distinction between clergy and laity. Sometimes the clergy have to be celibate males, or even monastics. In some cults like that of the Roman goddess Vesta, female virgins had specialized priestly roles.

    Usually clerics are expected to attend some kind of seminary to get deeper knowledge of scriptures and religious traditions, and to perform personal duties of religious study and ritual and self-control rather than just some ordinary occupation in agriculture, trade or industry or government/military service. Often they are expected to have spiritual wisdom and insight that they pass along to the lay congregation, ministering to them in times of particular need (death or discord in the family and other crises). They do not try to convince everyone to become a priest or a monk, but they provide a spiritual center and direction for everyone, and the common people support the priestly class through donations and service.

    Certain Protestant Christian sects have sought to eradicate formal distinctions between priests and laity (Quakers come to mind), and the inherent corruption of high status or office, but generally some kind of religious hierarchy is found necessary and expedient.

    In the varnasrama system, brahmanas have certain duties and specialized knowledge about the science of the soul and, ideally, of parabrahman and bhakti yoga.

    In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna advises Arjuna that one should perform one’s own role or social function according to one’s occupation (caste) and walk of life, not hating inauspicious work or being attached to auspicious work. The wise should not disrupt the minds of the ignorant by inducing them to stop work, but should encourage them to work in devotional yoga, and set a personal example of how this is done. (Arjuna was to fight the battle as ordained by Krsna rather than make a show of renouncing it as inauspicious). A self-realized bhakti yogi can perform duties of ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, baby, wife, husband, student, mendicant, etc.

    Implicit in this conception is the idea that we do not have to give the same instructions to everyone. Yes, we should instruct them all to chant and to worship Krishna, but we should not expect them all to go to seminary and become priests and Vedic scholars.

    We have to interact with each person according to his or her capacity and quality. Not that we compromise the truth, but we should know to whom we speak and tailor what we say accordingly.

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And yet, there is something in the distinction between clergy and laity in our mainline Christian churches that does give me a sense that things are watered down.

    I was brought up in a non religious family of mixed Jewish and Christian backgrounds. I did not get much formal religious training, but I think I always had what I would call a philosophical temperament which eventually attracted me to Krishna consciousness.

    When I hear a sermon in a Catholic, Episcopalian or Lutheran church, too often it seems like the priest is just giving practical advice loosely tied to mysterious texts. In fact, the word “homily”, which is the lecture given at mass, has a specialized meaning as a particular kind of commentary, but has come to colloquially mean a practical, moralizing lecture, admonition, inspirational saying or platitude.

    Jesus often taught in parables, intended for serious disciples. Diving deeply into the meanings of these mysterious statements is left for Bible study groups or private study and discussion (if at all) in many Christian communities, leaving public sermons and discourse more practical, non-philosophical and, for my taste, superficial. They do not really make a point of explaining the science of God, at least to the public.

    Also, as a devotee, I have to confess that so much of what I consider essential to understanding the science of God, such as philosophical distinction between soul, body and mind, the process of ignorance (identifying oneself with matter and one’s self interest with material pleasure), karma (reactionary work), reincarnation, action on the spiritual platform (bhakti yoga), etc., is either unknown or not accepted by them, and not mentioned in their scriptures. When I attend a “class” in ISKCON I expect to hear a lecture explaining these things in proper philosophical perspective.

    Jewish tradition tends to leave deep religious study to specialists, and public services often concern themselves with ethical traditions and ethnic identity. In Florida my aunt attended a Reform synagogue in which one Rabbi openly did not believe in God!

    Muslim scriptures teach people how to live obediently and morally according to codes of conduct which are practical for laymen (one reason Islam is wrestling so uneasily with secularism and modernity), and many lay Buddhists are happy to get good karma by serving monks and leaving enlightenment to some future life.

    These are generalizations, of course …

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    Akruranatha ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    But I do have a sense that, when a religious teaching or doctrine becomes widely accepted in society as authoritative, the clergy has to find ways to engage the common people, who are “karma-sanginam” (see, B.G. 3.26).

    The kind of in-depth, philosophical discussion and intensity of becoming perfect in this life and going back to Godhead, being initiated into a sampradaya and molding one’s life to be engaged 24 hours in some prescribed duty directly for Krishna, following rules and regulations according to the Vaisnava pancaratrika system (regardless of external occupational duty), which we cherish in ISKCON, may eventually become the province of an inner circle of dedicated members.

    ISKCON may have to learn to encourage other, favorable people who are not willing to follow all the rules and regulations, but are willing to serve in other ways, by donations, political or moral support, friendship and good will.

    Kesava Krishna Prabhu alluded to this idea above in referring to Srila Prabhupada’s willingness to call on non-devotee scholars and the broader Hindu community to help ISKCON in dealing with challenges and crises (like “deprogramming”). We do not have to isolate ourselves by rejecting everyone who is not a fully-dedicated member. We have to find ways of letting people help Srila Prabhupada’s mission in accordance with their own level of commitment, realization, and detachment from material affairs (or lack thereof).

    Yet at the same time we need to make clear that we do have a precise philosophy with specific conclusions and interpretations of authoritative scriptures, which is not at all fuzzy or wishy-washy.

    In the 12th Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna declares that pure, spontaneous devotional service (with fixed mind and intelligence) is best, but because not everyone can do that they should try to do regulated practice, or work for Krishna by sympathizing with and supporting propagation of Krishna consciousness, or simply renounce fruits of karma, or meditate, or cultivate spiritual knowledge. (B.G. 12.8-12)

    Even impersonalist transcendentalists can eventually achieve Krishna, though progress on their path is very difficult, slow, painful and uncertain (B.G. 12.3-5) compared to the swift and joyful path of devotion (12.6-7). Yet they are not ordinary materialists: they have some insight about the futility of karma and bhogaisvarya.

    We understand these things and tailor our message to different audiences accordingly

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    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the above comments, so please forgive me if I don’t follow the conversation.

    By sugar-coating and hiding our identity I mostly meant some of our food distribution programs where we don’t use the word prasadam even amongst ourselves anymore, it’s all “food” now. One of the biggest such programs explicitly prohibits us to preach or conduct kirtans, in other cases, reportedly, we just don’t have the manpower, being too busy with “food” preparation and management.

    On the internet one can also find links to various bhakti-yoga clubs where visitors are not given any clues about their connection to Srila Prabhupada or Krishna, much less to ISKCON, but any devotee would spot this connection right away.

    I understand why they might be preaching this way and I think for them even dropping the word “Hare Krishnas” might be considered too heavy for their audience.

    Times change and definition of heaviness gradually shifts towards the lighter end of the spectrum. One English footballer, for example, was recently drugged to court for saying the word “black” in the middle of an unprintable tirade that otherwise wasn’t considered offensive.

    Should we embrace these changes or should we try to hold our ground and search for people who would not totally freak out if we say “Hare Krishna”? Personally I would choose the second option, but, perhaps, for the new generation of devotees it isn’t even a choice anymore.

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    People are ignorant of their own self-interest…na te vidu svartha gatim hi vishnu, and that is to understand Vishnu and one’s relationship with Vishnu. There is nothing to be afraid, ashamed, or concerned about. This is the apex of human life.
    In the 1970-80’s, some of the collecting techniques may have been perceived in a wrong way by the public. Although we may see it like that, Srila Prabhupad never saw it like that. Case in point. In 1976 while I was serving in the capacity of Srila Prabhupad’s Personal Secretary, Tripurari and Praghosa (US) came into Srila Prabhupad’s quarters to ask questions about book distribution while we were in Vrindaban. They asked if it was wrong to dress up as holiday characters like Paul Revere or Santa Claus to facilitate book distribution. Srila Prabhupad said, “Why not? Other groups do it.” Being my self some what concerned about the public opinion of our reputation for aggressive book distribution in the US in the airports, I asked Srila Prabhupad, “Some people are getting our books in the airports and when they find out it is Hare Krishna books, they throw them in the trash”. Srila Prabhupad immediately retorted, “Then they are demons!”
    So, think on it. This is the vision of a pure devotee of a living God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” No head trips necessary. I share this with you because without sharing it with you, you might never understand the mood and mentality of His Divine Grace. Bhakti yoga is meant to be performed for the satisfaction of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga (Radha-Krishna).
    It is not a question of sugar coating, but naturally we want to be ambassadors for Sri Guru and Sri Krishna. If we will surrender to Krishna, we shall see what will happen. Srila Prabhupad also once said (told to me by Praghosa US), that within each devotee there is a Genius, since Krishna is present within the heart of the devotee. Do not be too anxious. A devotee dies to live…this world is but a stepping stone to our eternal life with Krishna. Pusta Krishna das

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    In comment 11 by Keshava Krishna, the impression is given that the “heaviness” of ISKCON came from the early days of ISKCON. My experience during those days was different. The temples were really jolly places. In temples where I had responsibility for managing, we had many formal classes together. Morning aratik, japa time for 1 1/2 hours, Guru puja, Srimad Bhagavatam class, breakfast prasadam, then temple cleanup. Later in the morning, another class was held, often Sri Isopanishad. Mid-day aratik and lunch prasadam. Then, the afternoon involved book distribution or other outside preaching work (life membership, setting up programs, etc.). Evening aratik, evening prasadam, then Bhagavad Gita class, and evening informal reading of Krishna Book during warm-milk prasadam. The Chaitanya Charitamrita was just being printed around then. Scholarship and discussions were always encouraged. It was not heavy handed. Those were the best of days, really.
    I realize that some individuals went through some unfortunate experiences. I also was not always mellow, but I was not angry, ever.
    My experiences in other places like London, Paris was similar. They were not heavy places, but rather jolly places. This may not have been the experience for all, but it was the experience during the early to mid 1970s. There were some deviants. ISKCON was not alone amongst religious movements to have such unfortunate experiences. Most of us are aware of these things. Surely, there were many different “flavors” of Krishna consciousness around the world then, as there are now.
    At this time, I would recommend that anyone with bad memories re-read my comments in #26 above. It involves ‘forgiveness”. We have to let go of bad memories. Ultimately, one will be able to justify that it is ok to avoid Krishna, if memories of fault-finding predominate one’s memories. It does not mean we should not learn from our experience, but rather that our hearts need to be softened and receptive to Krishna’s mercy…Pusta Krishna das

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Pusta Krishna Prabhu,

    I speak of observations made after the departure of Srila Prabhupada mainly. Even so, the spirit of Krishna consciousness was the same as you described it in your day. We happened to be within Jayatirtha Dasa’s zone, which had the leading book distribution figures for quite a while, thanks to much raw energy and enthusiasm.

    We all served under various leaders (Some heavy) and as we ourselves took to leadership, we often emulated the ways of our seniors who were usually Prabhupada disciples. But those were the times and I do not begrudge anybody for whatever ‘heaviness’ existed. It was more a collective expectation that created a system we all adapted to.

    Most if not all of those same Prabhupada disciples – if they are still around – have considerably mellowed out. Getting older and wiser has something to do with this. When we see the often balanced and mature ways of presenting Krishna consciousness in our senior Prabhupada disciples, and who encourage the same for other devotees and disciples, it is very different from earlier times.

    Yet some devotees disapprove of this maturity as compromise and going soft. It seems to be contest between getting older and wiser, and the purists.

    The same joyful full temple sadhana programs were experienced. There comes a time when steady, mature devotees are able to practice the same sadhana in their own homes, and this is the prevailing ethic. Surely, Krishna’s mercy is not merely confined to tiny spaces we call ashramas, nor is the holy name only potent within the walls of a temple, or brahmacarya, sannyasa, ‘strong,’ grhastha, mellow, ‘soft,’ or any other human condition.

    My objection is aimed at limiting Krishna’s ability to bestow perfection from anywhere and any place, and at ideas that such mercy can only be gotten or given by being ‘strong.’ Krishna is much, much bigger than that.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu,

    What do you say to the argument that in the days of rapid expansion of our movement the preaching was done by, objectively speaking, young, immature neophytes without any personal weight. As I understand your article they should have never dared to be “heavy”, yet they were and it worked.

    As you mentioned mellowing out – we can’t expect young, fired up devotees to preach with the same mellow as sixty year old men just as we can’t expect all disciples of Srila Prabhupada to be as fired up as they were in their youth. Some are, but those are rather exceptions.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part One:

    Sitalatma Prabhu,

    I’m not quite sure if the “heavy,” as you described it, worked for all. Worked for who? People have different temperaments and accordingly, they can accept or reject things based on sensitivity or aggression, trustworthiness or suspicion, loudness or quietness or whatever.

    Some people can handle a dose of, “All these people around you… they are just cats and dogs… you are being exploited left, right and centre…” Others can handle, “Would you agree that there is one common father for all humanity, irregardless of religion, race or creed…”

    The one “heavy” does not suit all temperaments. Iskcon history has shown that more devotees have left Iskcon than stayed – so how can the “heavy” have worked, and for whom?

    Repeatedly I have said that neophyte heaviness is passion or raja-guna. Some raja-type people can be attracted by “heavy” doses of medicine. History has revealed that raja-motivated devotees do not last very long, or with good association they can rise to the mode of goodness.

    Again, let me repeat: What we think is ‘heavy’ in Srila Prabhupada’s preaching, is not ‘heavy.’ It is transcendental. It is WE who apply the term “heavy.” Srila Prabhupada has nothing to do with our perception of “heavy.” He is naturally ‘heavy’ by dint of tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham. Therefore, when we imitate Srila Prabhupada by thinking we can be “heavy” like him, it is simply raja-imitation.

    I qualified the mellowness with the word ‘wisdom.’ Srila Prabhupada sometimes used the word wisdom as a translation for vijnana – realised or experienced practical knowledge. When devotees have vijnana, and preach with it, this is far more effective that imitation “heavy.” We should not be mistaken to think that that mellowness of wise devotees is lacking the oomph of “heavy.”

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Two:

    Intellectuals, scholarly types, successful people, refined and cultured kinds and so on, are less likely to be attracted to “heavy.” So what you said had “worked” in recruiting certain types of devotees, might also have put off many others, who would have been attracted to ‘soft’ preaching for instance. When “heavy” is laden with passion, it naturally polarises people. This polarisation alone renders the argument that “heavy” worked, or works, as redundant.

    There was one famous example where Srila Prabhupada described a devotees’s peaching as “perfect.” That was little Sarasvati, the daughter of Syamasundara Prabhu. She must have been three, four or five years old. She said to someone that “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead…” He said this was “perfect.”

    Let us think about this. She was innocent. She had no conception of ‘heavy’ or ‘soft.’ She was just her pure little self. When she spoke, the natural pure ‘heavyiness’ of transcendental truth shone through. Compare this with anartha-laden preachers who are excited at the prospect of being ‘strong.’ Which would Srila Prabhupada approve?

    Let us look at Mother Isa who has been recgonised recently on Dandavats. She is very eldery, frail and weak. Her memory is not in order. She requires all-round assistance. Yet the holy name has not left her, which means that the Lord certainly has residence in her heart. It appears that she is simply singing the Hare Krishna mantra at times when patriotic songs are sung. Yet Mother Isa is being herself. She has no conception of ‘heavy’ or ‘soft.’ The natural ‘heaviness’ of the maha-mantra shines through.

    Someone with a raja-disposition will think, “What’s so impressive about this… she is just singing Hare Krishna… is she converting anybody?… I don’t think so…” A devotee with wise vijnana will think, “Just see the mercy of the Lord upon her… she is purifying all others around her by her chanting… all those other nurses and elders are making spiritual advancement simply by appreciating her chanting… and because she is popular there, that popularity will also aid in everyone’s Bhakti creeper…”

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Three:

    We can understand that youthful energy has to be used in exciting ways, and ‘heaviness’ may be a part of that. But as shown from the above examples, nothing can substitute for being who we are. When we are who we are, or when devotees be who they are, then whether they are deaf, blind, frail, very young and so on, the true ‘heavy’ power of transcendence will blossom.

    Whet really works for us all is tad-vijnanam. Youthful energy can be refined by associating with wise vijnana-laden devotees, who will also have some brahma-nistham weight behind them. Such association can help develop these same qualities.

    Rather than us be fixated on “heavy” or “soft” and which have there downsides as well, “let us all be,” and the sating goes, “Let us be.”

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    bhakta piyush ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is one word sadly missing from this article which is kindness. Sometimes you may have to be “heavy” to be kind. It is not black and white preaching either this or that. Each circumstance is different.

    One situation, preaching in Orlando yatra to a newcomer who had been exposed heavily to Mayavadi influence. We did not compromise we were extremely forthright in our preaching, dispelling all his “mayavadi gibberish” You could say we were very harsh from one perspective. Last year that same person came to Mayapur and got initiated he specifically thanked me for that particular day where we smashed his misconceptions. Our intentions were not to be superior or heavy but it was a no compromise mood, we wanted to help him but not allow his foolish philosophy.

    So just black and white may not work, other incidents required delicate handling. One young American boy, he was materially well situated he would come regularly to the temple at lunchtime when no-one else was around. Simply by kind words and generous prasadam with mild preaching he kept his interest, he eventually joined full time. I knew he was perplexed by some personal problem and sincerely explained to him in detail how we all exploit each other for sense enjoyment and that there is no real love and there is a need to take care of the person fully,which is actually original traditional caring culture I could see that he was touched by that.
    We had UCF students coming over they just liked the prasadam and kirtan and cooking classes and that was it, we would not inject too much philosophy, some devotees take a long time to get the message

    It appears to me *personally* that your article paints a black and white picture that we should only go soft but kindly consider what you already know, that preaching is dynamic. Time place and circumstance, and I am sure that you apply different techniques to different situations
    It is also my perhaps misguided opinion that your article is somewhat directed towards HH Bhakti Vikas Swami. My wife has personally witnessed him gently singing “Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krishna…” and gently caressing, as one would to a sick child, the head of elderly former Muslim mataji disciple who was gravely ill in hospital. Strong does not mean heartless.

    In any case the preacher decides on how to preach under direction of guru,sadhu, shastra It is a dynamic, intelligent process, each case different. We can accommodate both strong and soft, your view and others too.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    The problem of encouraging devotees to be ‘strong’ when preaching, it carries with it a sense of self-empowerment – we do not rely in Krishna’s strength, but our own. This is not pure devotional service, for it is mixed with self-effort. After all, it is Sri Bhakti-devi and Krishna who determine who is to be attracted to our preaching presentations – we are meant to be instruments for that purpose.

    We all know that service in Bhakti is absolute. With the proliferation of expertise and ability, we can mislead ourselves into thinking that we can control and determine results in something that is unlimited – Bhakti. This is what happens when raja ‘strong’ or ‘heavy’ interferes.

    Srila Prabhupada says this of those great souls who actually cause genuine transformation of the heart: “The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading to enlighten people about their real position, their original relationship with Kṛṣṇa. One requires Kṛṣṇa’s special power in order to be able to do this.” (CC Madhya 19.114 purport)

    “An empowered devotee sees and feels himself to be the lowest of men, for he knows that whatever he does is due to the inspiration given by the Lord in the heart.” (CC Madhya 19.135 purport)

    If we read Srila Prabhupada’s poems that he composed before setting foot ashore America, an utterly helpless mood prevailed in him, that he was invested with all wealth of empowerment. Is there any record of him praying, “I’m going to be ‘strong’ and ‘heavy’ for you Krishna…” Krishna was his strength. “Oh Lord, make them dance…” he implored.

    Self-empowerment does not fit in to this wealthy and powerful zero base because self effort cannot compete in strength and purity of purpose. Self-empowerment belongs more to the “unfortunate” feeling that Lord Chaitanya has about not having a taste for chanting Hare Krishna, in verse two of Sri Siksastakam, which represents anarthas-nivritti. This is where some self-empowerment and effort is useful.

    Even then, it has to be harnessed by experienced and wise vijnana devotees who can temper youthful and passionate exuberance with genuine dependence on the Lord.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Heavy” preaching of ISKCON earlier days worked because our society grew at tremendous speed and made “Hare Krishna” a household word in less than a decade. Yes, many of those attracted in the early days eventually drifted away and our society has experienced all kinds of problems but, personally, I won’t have ISKCON any other way. I think devotees did their best and, one way or another, have always been protected by Lord Chaitanya.

    I’m extremely grateful that devotees didn’t sit in their temples nurturing their anarthas but went on the streets and tried to preach, however imperfectly. This is what other people see, too, and for that many are ready to forgive our “heaviness” and all host of other transgressions. Nothing is perfect in this world, people know that.

    Raja-guna infused devotees might not last long, true, but books and knowledge they leave behind stays.

    It’s better to hear Hare Krishna form an imperfect devotee than not to hear it at all. The world can’t wait until all our preachers reach the level of realization necessary to convey words of Srila Prabhupada with proper “weight” attached to them. First things first – choose best available preachers and send them out, once we do that Lord Chaitanya will take care of the rest, proving skills, realization and intelligence.

    As for self-empowerment – I’m still skeptical about that one, too, but that discussion does not belong here. Apart from the aspect of it mentioned by Kesava Krsna Prabhu, we might also imagine ourselves being capable of managing preaching efforts and doing a better job than leaving it in the hands of the Lord. It’s nice if we try to improve preaching in our society but we should also give the same leeway to those who actually go out an preach – it’s nice that they try, too.

    Dispensing advice on how others should do their service is easy but if we get in that mood we should also remember that there are other people above us, looking at our efforts and ready to give us advice on how we should teach to preach, too. Circle of life.

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    gurudasa108 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Respected Keshava Krishna Prabhu,
    Your points in this article seems to be contradictory. At one time you say that we should not be heavy, strong and at other place you say that we should sincerely preach from the bonafide sastras. But sastras like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam etc. give very strong and heavy message. They are meant to completely uproot our deep material desires. That’s why they are like sastra-weapon. So shall we preach from the sastras following in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and other acaryas or should we preach like the mayavadis, very soft, smiling, using the words like peace, compassion, love and all these words are very shallow because they are defined not in connection with Krishna. We see that none of our previous acaryas preached very lightly. All of them were like lions and they smashed all the misconceptions from the hearts of the conditioned souls like us.
    And that is why we are here today practicing Krishna consciousness. And we should follow them or follow mayavadis. It is intersting to note that mayavadis never criticize anyone, because according to them everything is nice, ok. But Srila Prabhupada criticized everything which lacked surrender to Krishna and said that we are ok and you are not ok because we are following vedic sastras as it is and you are not. Ofcourse we welcome everyone to come and join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement on our terms and conditions. We want not only this earthly planet but the whole universe to merge in the sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
    And one more point came up that we should not hate anyone. That is correct as Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita “Advaishta sarva bhutanam”. We love all the living entities because Krishna loves them. But those living entities which are in the bodies of mayavadis like sai baba, Rama Krishna, Sri Sri ravi shankar, pramukh svami, etc (many are there), they are also part and parcel of Krishna but at the present moment they are the worst enemies of Krishna like Ravana, Kamsa, Hiranyakasipu, so as aspiring devotees of Krishna following in the footsteps of Hanuman we should hate these rascals and teach others that these people are rascals and defeat them. Because if we don’t call these people rascals and make friends with them then others including our own devotees can not differentiate between real and illusiory, sat and asat between Krishna and mayavad.

  42. 0
    gurudasa108 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ofcourse while on book distribution our approach may be different but in our lectures to devotees and non devotees we should make it very clear that we are followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who said “mayavadi Krishna aparadhi” and “mayavadi bhasya sunile haya sarvanas”. And if we do not clearly discriminate between Krishna Consciousness and mayavadi philosophy then gradually and surely, the poison of mayavad will menifest in many devotees lives.

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    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It is wonderful to hear these genuine bhaktas debate the art of practicing Krishna consciousness as it relates to presenting Krishna consciousness for others. It should always be remembered that one speaks about Krishna with others on the order of Lord Chaitanya. If one acts on His behalf, through one’s gurus (pleural…diksa and siksa), then it is successful from the beginning. Distribution is Gaura-Nitai’s style…eternally. Whenever opportunity presents itself before you, try to encourage others in their spiritual lives…and you will likewise receive deep encouragement.
    Srila Prabhupad always placed the service of preaching Krishna consciousness upon a pedestal. It is always possible to fall from that pedestal due to pride and offenses, but one should not be resolved that they have failed. One must get up again, and again, and again, because they are convinced that there is no other course of action. Determination can be diminished, but it can also be re-ignited. Anyone who has ever been moved by Krishna will know how futile material life and paltry material pursuit of pleasure really is. Even the Koran states that “all material pleasure is simply illusory.”
    We therefore must feel that re-inspiration is always possible. And, we hope that those “older” first generation devotees of ISKCON will be re-welcomed and re-engaged in service, sincerely!!! These individuals to the extent possible gave their youth to service of Srila Prabhupad, turning their backs on so much material prosperity to simply try to please the Lord. There are other websites that make it a point to find prior faults with those individuals, and their self-righteous criticism is to essentially kill the bhakti creeper that may be in need of nurturing more than ever. That kind of violence must not be accepted as Prabhupad’s mercy. It is envy of Prabhupad. Srila Prabhupad would sacrifice everything for the devotional prospects of his disciples. Do not try to sit upon the lap of Srila Prabhupad and act like a very important person, but rather remain at his lotus feet and feel the cooling rays of shelter that surrendered souls know. What comes around, goes around. If we want to be treated with mercy, then we must try to be merciful. Krishna is so great, not an ordinary Person. His mercy is extraordinary also. Strength comes from Him. Arjuna’s strength was restored by Krishna…he was not falsely strong independently. Very nice discussion. Pusta Krishna das

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    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Consider this quote from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati:

    “A chanter of Hari-kīrtana is necessarily the uncompromising enemy of worldliness and hypocrisy. It is his constant function to dispel all misconceptions by preaching the truth in its most unambiguous form, without any consideration of person, place, or time. The form to be adopted is that which is least likely to be misunderstood. It is his bounden duty to clearly and frankly oppose any person who tries to deceive and harm himself and others by misrepresenting the truth, whether due to malice or genuine misunderstanding. This will be possible if the chanter of kīrtana is always prepared to submit to being trodden upon by thoughtless people, if such discomfort will enable him to benefit his persecutors by chanting of the truth in the most unambiguous manner. If he is unwilling or afraid of considerations of self-respect or personal discomfort to chant kīrtana under all circumstances, he is unfit to be a preacher of the absolute truth. Humility implies perfect submission to the truth and no sympathy for untruth. Those who entertain any partiality for untruth are unfit to chant Hari-kīrtana. Any clinging to untruth is opposed to the principle of humility born of absolute submission to the truth.”

    Nearly every sentence can be bolded and highlighted and provides enormous amounts of food for thought.

    This is the attitude that has often been praised by Srila Prabhupada, too, notwithstanding seeking occasional help from mayavadis.

    I do not imply that any of the participants in this discussion are not following these instructions or not taking them to heart, btw.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part One:

    I very much admire the sincerity of all our preachers, and I offer my obeisances at their feet. This discussion evolves around traditional and progressive forms of preaching, and by extension, how Iskcon functions as a society. Because of my stance I am probably viewed as a liberal, but I think differently. To date, our two sides of the pakora/pizza, lib/con sections have somehow stayed faithful to the core teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

    We can start worrying, or wonder if someone has dropped something into our cups of herbal tea, if, Iskcon were to hold a Miss Iskcon beauty pageant, then a Mr Iskcon Universe contest, or to have a CBA (Central Buddhi Agency), or a SAME (Sadhana-Adherence and Moral-Enforcement) police task force – with love. In between these two potential extremes, an internal debate is ongoing.

    I liked Sitalatma’s Prabhu’s point about devotees “not nurturing their anarthas…” but going out to preach. Indirectly, this is saying, “not to be selfish, but to be selfless.” But Sitalatma Prabhu, I know you may not like what I say next.

    You mentioned that, ““Heavy” preaching of ISKCON earlier days worked because our society grew at tremendous speed and made “Hare Krishna” a household word in less than a decade.” I know you’re putting this in context, but which one? The natural ‘heaviness’ of Sastra, or the ‘heaviness’ of the times in devotee terms?

    Even if we accept that “heavy” was responsible for rapid Iskcon expansion, then from where does it come? Are we assuming that we ourselves, or the devotees of that era did the “heavy,” or was it something that descended from Goloka? Doesn’t the holy name descend from there? Isn’t the holy name our shelter, our everything? That is why it is relevant that notions of self-empowerment be discussed here.

    Self-empowerment is another way of saying, “I am the doer.” Every book distributor knows of a vital secondary mantra. That mantra is, “I am not the doer,” or “we” in plural. With this in mind, let us think about how every devotee joins Iskcon, not on the plea of ‘heaviness,’ but through some latent, internal calling from within. How many startling stories are there of how devotees first came to Krishna consciousness?

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Two:

    Every devotee has a special story to tell. Those stories usually involve ‘mystical’ piecing of events, time, placing, people, books and devotees. The Lord of the heart directs all of our wanderings, does He not? And for His devotees He arranges events beyond our power of comprehension. Could not the same be said for how Iskcon expanded so rapidly, under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada? What does ‘heavy’ have to do with this? We are not the doers… Are you still sceptical?

    There is much more at work in this spread, than the “heavy” you attributed. Therefore, the “heavy,” remains redundant. How can “heavy” compare with the infinity of the Lord’s power? Tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham are spiritual attributes that also enable the impossible to happen.

    I admire the urgency of your message to go out and preach. But there is something called PR (Public Relations) not for ourselves, but for Srila Prabhupada. This is responsibility. It might be better to hear from “imperfect” devotees than none at all, as you say, but when resources and experienced devotees are on hand to help train younger preachers, then why should we be lazy about it? There is ample service opportunity in this area for seniors to get involved. This can help keep Iskcon’s image alive, not ours.

    There is a tendency among some Mayavadi haters, that “Why should we care about whether people like us or not… let the people take it or leave it… if they don’t take it, then they are not sincere… if they don’t convert, then why bother…” Are the ramifications of this, with short-term result expectations better for our egos, or for Srila Prabhupada’s reputation? This is not merely “easy” advice, for if we have the will, we can set up training programs to this effect.

    Bhakta Piyush,

    There is a lot of synchronicity in your comments, and they concur with mine. The main article is based on Guru, Sadhu and Sastra. Srila Prabhupada gave the definitive rendition of what ‘heavy’ means, and I have consistently abided by that throughout my comments, which may appear repetitive at times. The “black and white” you observe could be this repeated stress.

    You wrote: “In any case the preacher decides on how to preach under direction of guru,sadhu, shastra…” There could be a problem with this.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Three:

    An inexperienced preachers’ ability to “decide” how to preach, without proper awareness of the importance of PR for Srila Prabhupada, can be a damaging influence. If he or she is taught to hate mayavadis, then we can imagine the immediate fallout with people of other Hindu trends. There has to be a balance between keeping friendly relations – which is good preaching – and alienating people and preventing them from engaging in Krishna’s service, because they feel hated.

    That is ‘black and white.’ It is more a selfish activity, because hate – dvesa – also means envy. Envy develops from one’s self, the ego. Selfish preaching is bad for Iskcon and Srila Prabhupada.

    Kindness naturally develops in one who has sufficient vijnana on the madhyama level of devotion. Where there are mature vijnana devotees, you will see more kindness. If you have hardly noticed any “kindness” then it is because most of the discussions have centred around ‘heavy’ and ‘strong’ with their implications.

    Gurudasa Prabhu,

    You wrote: “Your points in this article seems to be contradictory. At one time you say that we should not be heavy, strong and at other place you say that we should sincerely preach from the bonafide sastras.”

    My answer to this has already been answered in previous comments, where I said that it was unnecessary for us to be ‘strong’ or ‘heavy’ because Sastra is already ‘strong’ and ‘heavy.’ These two types of ‘strong’ and ‘heavy’ are different. I have repeatedly gone over this. If we be who we are, like little Sarasvati or Mother Isa, then the true power of Sastra will prevail through our transparent via medium sincerity. We are not the doers. Otherwise, I agree with you that Sastra is heavy for our benefit.

    I do not advocate us being all nice and cosy like an “everything is nice” mayavadi. Perhaps some devotees do. But there is being nice and cosy for the service of Srila Prabhupada where it matters. Iskcon needs friends. Srila Prabhupada wanted friends (including mayavadis) for Iskcon in times of need. I have said this before, that good friends mean good preaching. If we avoid this, then we are being irresponsible in service to Srila Prabhupada.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  48. 0
    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Four:

    The ‘smashing’ lion-like preaching of our previous acaryas was borne of tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham. If we imitate without this power, then we are doing it out of raja-guna. We either have it, or not. If not, we simply allow the natural strength of Sastra to flow through. Let us be. We are not the doers. Apologies for the repeats.

    Moving on to a more contentious part of your comment about hating mayavadis, requires us to know what is good for Iskcon and its reputation, and our personal feelings. When Vrndavana Candra Prabhu wrote his article about “hating” mayavada in order to “love” Krishna, I scoured the quotes he produced to see if I could find the word “hate” anywhere.

    I could not find the word “hate” anywhere, and neither do I recall Srila Prabhupada ever saying that he “hated” mayavada or mayavadis. I am willing to be corrected here. In spite of Srila Prabhupada’s strong lambasting of especially influential mayavadis, I don’t think he used the word ‘hate.’ Why should we doso? It is better that we deal with it.

    Hate or hatred is derived from the word – dvesa – which also means envy. As I stated in a comment there, no one can possibly love Krishna if one has indirect envy for Him. What is that indirect envy? Ever kind Krishna allows people to become mayavadis. It is their choice, and Krishna disposes. If we hate or are envious of Krishna’s allowance for people to become mayavadis, or to attain sayujya-mukti and so on, then that hate and envy towards Krishna will not allow us to love him.

    If we harbour that envy of Krishna’s allowance, it means we are imposing egotistical equations upon Krishna’s absolute nature. Mayavadis are already envious of Krishna and His opulences. So why should we be envious of Krishna allowing punishment or reward?

    When Srila Prabhupada was associating with the impersonalist Dr Mishra, is there any record of him ever saying to Dr Mishra, “Thank you for your hospitality, and oh, by the way, I hate your living sights you mayavada enemy of Krishna?” Srila Prabhupada was more far-sighted than that. They two were friends, but not intimately. Friends like that can help Iskcon in times of need.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  49. 0
    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Five:

    What would you say if a group of Sai Baba followers came forward voluntarily to help cut vegetables for an Iskcon festival program? And this has happened. How would you respond, or how would any ‘hate-vada’ enthusiast respond to their request to do service for Krishna? I would hate to think that such people were refused or turned away because ‘we’ hated them. Would that be good PR for Srila Prabhupada’s Iskcon?

    Instead of hatred, we should use “logic and argument” as the Sri Visnudutas said to the Yamadutas. Tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham rises above hatred and envy. If Srila Prabhupada never used this word, so it must be someone’s opinion on the matter. Is this opinion in accord with Guru, Sadhu and Sastra? Are you able to provide contextual quotes of Srila Prabhupada saying that he ‘hated’ mayavadis please?

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  50. 0
    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I just heard an anecdote from the early days of ISKCON when one devotee was arrested for distributing books. While the police were questioning him he recited verses from Damodarashtakam, with translations. They asked him questions, he recited some lines in a weird language in response, without giving a second thought to things like good impression or making friends or possibility of being locked up for good.

    This is the kind of attitude that I mean by heaviness of the early days. Come hell or high water – just tell them the truth about Krishna. By heaviness I do not mean calling people rascals to their faces or being intentionally provocative or rude.

    The punch line in that anecdote came with the policeman finally asking “What is the bimba fruit you talking about?” You know, with Krishna’s lips being compared to bimba fruit.

    I don’t think many devotees can pull it off in present times but back in those days it somehow worked.

    I don’t think you need to self-empower yourself to be “heavy”, you just repeat what you’ve been taught back in the temple, it will have a lot of power without you even realizing it or being ready to support your words with your own realizations. At least that’s what I’ve been taught – just go out and let your guru and Lord Chaitanya do the talking, do not overthink and do not try to “improve” their message.

    Maybe for a little balance – Srila Prabhupada was once invited to a radio show with a host openly critical of Indians coming to America to teach and of religions in general. The host started with appalling death rates in India compared to the West but Prabhupada interrupted him: “Death rate is the same everywhere – 100%”. The host then shifted to religions ignoring science and believing that the Earth was flat, Prabhupada interrupted him again: “It looks flat everywhere I go.”

    After the show was over Prabhupada told his disciples that he could get away with saying such things because he was an old man and they should be careful not to imitate blindly. Means that not everything he said we could repeat with the same result.

    Re. hating mayavadis – maybe it should be reposted in the comments to the relevant article. Uttama adhikari devotee doesn’t hate anyone, true, but when we preach we have to make distinctions, some things must be considered more acceptable than others and some must be vigorously opposed, otherwise preaching would be impossible. We can’t be sama-darshinah and preach at the same time

  51. 0
    Vrindavanchandra ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Srila Prabhupada declares that he is not sama-darsinah!

    Guest (5): …if each and every person has an individual identity of (indistinct) soul above the body consciousness and unless you treat him as equal, there is little…

    Prabhupada: No, nobody… You cannot say… Even though they are equal, you can see equal but they are not equal. They are not equal. There are three gunas, and in the Bhagavad-gita that is analyzed, that “These persons are in the sattva-guna, these persons are in the rajo-guna, these persons are in…”

    Guest (5): That is not personality of the atma, but the atma is everybody’s soul.

    Prabhupada: That’s all… First of all we have…

    Guest (5): If you have potency to rise and go higher and higher…

    Prabhupada: You are not on the atma stage; I am not in the atma stage. You are in the bodily stage.

    Guest (5): Both, body and soul, together…

    Prabhupada: Then if you are in the atma stage, then you have no argument with me. Panditah sama-darsinah [Bg. 5.18].

    Guest (5): But argument, you have admitted that…

    Prabhupada: No, there is no argument. That will stop. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54].

    Guest (5): It is on arguments get down…

    Prabhupada: No. If you are… Just see. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that:

    brahmane gavi hastini
    suni caiva sva-pake ca
    panditah sama-darsinah

    [Bg. 5.18]

    If you are in the spiritual platform, then you will see a learned brahmana, a dog, a candala, a elephant — they are in the same stage. So there is no argument because he sees a dog and the learned brahmana, the same position.

    Guest (3): That is the correct position.

    Prabhupada: That is correct position. But if you find that “Swamiji is not on the standard,” that means you are not in the posit…, sama-darsinah even.

    Guest (3): You mean if a person commits a murder, a sinner…

    Prabhupada: Yes, that is very high stage. That is very high stage, sama-darsinah.

    Guest (3): No, no. If a person commits a murder, you are seeing…

    Prabhupada: So why you see, you are seeing, “Commits murder?” Why don’t you see that it is Krsna is acting there? Why you say that “commits murder?”

    Guest (2): Krsna is getting the sin committed.

  52. 0
    Vrindavanchandra ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Prabhupada: Sama-darsinah means you have no distinction what is sin and what is…

    Guest (1): Sama-darsinah means to treat everyone as equal.

    Prabhupada: No, no, no. Sama darsinah means there is no distinction between sin and virtue. That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you see, “This is virtue, and this is sin,” it is not sama-darsinah.

    Guest (1): Virtue and sin become the same in sama-darsinah.

    Prabhupada: Yes. That is sama-darsinah.

    Guest (2): In other words, the sin does not remain sin any longer.

    Prabhupada: That is another thing. But he has no vision that “This is sin, and this is virtue.” That is sama-darsinah. As soon as you make distinction, you are not sama-darsinah.

    Guest (2): In another interpretation, in…

    Prabhupada: You may interpret in a different. Sama-darsi, this is plain word. Sama-darsi means there is no difference, that’s all.

    Guest (2): But sama-darsi equals sama-darsi. The sin and virtue are the same.

    Prabhupada: No, here… Yes, that is sama-darsinah because here it is said clearly, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmana [Bg. 5.18]. A brahmana, learned brahmana, and vinaya, very humble… That is the sign of goodness. Vidya-vinaya-sampanne gavi hastini sunica. Sunica means dog. Now he is seeing a dog and a learned brahmana-same. Now, dog is supposed to be sinful, and this learned brahmana is supposed to be virtuous. Therefore his vision, the virtuous and the sinful, the same. That is sama-darsi.

    Guest (1): I think that they have made a many mistakes in writing of the slokas.

    Prabhupada: That’s all right. Now you are finding mistake with Vyasa, so who can talk with you?

    Guest (2): No, but, but…

    Prabhupada: Please excuse me. Please go out. Please go out. Don’t trouble. You are finding faults with Vyasa.

    Guest (4): We only want you to be understood here.

    Prabhupada: (shouting) I am not sama-darsi! I don’t say I’m sama-darsi! I don’t say, sama-darsi. So you say sama-darsi. Sama-darsi.

    Guest (2): You should be sama-darsi.

    Prabhupada: But I am not in that stage. I say because you don’t surrender to Krsna, you are sinful. That is my darsana.

    Guest (4): So then you should be also seeing as sama-darsinah.

  53. 0
    Vrindavanchandra ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Prabhupada: No, why shall I? I am not in that position. I am not within that… I am simply repeating the words of Krsna.

    Guest (4): Then that… You came to… Even your… (?)

    Prabhupada: I am simply teaching the teachings of Krsna. That is my point. I may be sama-darsi, I may be not sama-darsi.

    Guest (4): Not be, but you teach that we should worship the sama-darsi.

    Prabhupada: Krsna says. I don’t say.

    Guest (4): Ah! You say, Krsna says that…

    Prabhupada: But that does not mean that one has become sama-darsinah. That is… That is his…

    Guest (4): Then he is not following the guru.

    Prabhupada: No. My position is simply repeating. That’s all. My position is.

    Guest (2): So we want understanding more than mere tape recorder.

    Prabhupada: Yes, you may be tape… But that is my position because I have been authorized in that way, that “Anyone who preaches this confidential subject matter, he is My dear.” So I have nothing to learn, what is sama-darsi. I have my position…

    Guest (4): No, blind following and open-eyed following, I say it is all right. We can read the book. We can read the verses, translation, Hindi translation. But that is not understanding.

    Prabhupada: Yes, that is not understanding, I understand. But I am understanding from my teacher, just like I told you, Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnu Svami, Lord Caitanya. There are so many stalwart teachers, practically whole Hindu community.

    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Discussion with Indians — January 18, 1971, Allahabad

  54. 0
    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part One:

    An assumption has arisen that those who advocate solid, but balanced preaching, and affording everyone a chance to engage in Kishna’s service, as I do, are now suddenly sama-darshis. Sitalatma Prabhu first proposed it, then Vrndavana Candra Prabhu seized the initiative to display the famous sama-darshi discussion with Srila Prabhupada.

    This introduction has no bearing here because none of us are sama-darshis. If the inference is that I am one, then how is it that I am capable of writing an article about heaviness? If the inference that all other devotees are sama-darshis because they happen to be more moderate and balanced, then how is it that they continue to preach all over the world? Because sama-darshis cannot preach…

    I know one thing, and that is that Srila Prabhupada did not and does not teach us how to be hate-mongers. This ‘hate’ business is simply a new trend. This trend seems to be coming not just from a traditional position, as I previously mentioned, but from an extreme version of traditional.

    Experienced devotees have witnessed how an offshoot of Iskcon can develop, based on the smallest biased sample of supposed philosophy masquerading as the totality of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

    Attempts are now being made to try to find a quote by Srila Prabhupada ever saying that he personally hated mayavadis. Some Sastric verses have been produced, and some wisdom quoted from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Have we analysed them to discern whether they are internal, and not outwardly aggressive forms of expression?

    If we were to gather and compile a treatise of ‘hate’ intended to bolster a certain trend, would that also qualify as the totality of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings? We all know the answer would be no. But not all will be convinced. Eventually, the trend develops as a platform for further disintegration in the future.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  55. 0
    Kesava Krsna dasa ( User Karma: -2 ) says:

    Part Two:

    Inherent in the balanced way of preaching is the austerity of speech. We cannot just say how we personally feel, dictated by weightless ‘heavy.’ We have a solemn responsibility to ensure that Iskcon is well represented. How can ‘hate-vada’ accomplish this without undue polemics?

    There is an allowance to be hateful of sayujya and related doctrines and the best way to channel that negative energy is to use “logic and argument.” Yes, there may be some heated exchanges, we do not dispute this, but the responsibility of ensuring integrity and attraction to Lord Chaitanya’s cause is more a priority. Hate can repulse, not attract.

    We need to pose some questions to those advocating hate:

    (1) If a group of followers of say, Sai Baba voluntarily came forward to help cut vegetables for an Iskcon festival day, how would you respond?
    (2) If a mayavadi tinged individual wants to join a public Iskcon kirtana, though he may be famous, then how would you respond?
    (3) The famous ‘sama-darshi’ discussion with Srila Prabhupada bore some apparent anger displayed by him. He is however, transcendental with tad-vijnanam and brahma-nistham. How would weightless and movable ‘heavy’ respond under similar circumstances: with anger, hatred, or with austere logic and argument?
    (4) Each time you encounter an influential mayavadi, how will you interact?
    (5) Each time you encounter a follower of influential mayavadis, how will you preach?
    (6) Is this analysis of genuine ‘heavy’ vs weightless and movable ‘heavy’ an imagination, as was said by Sridhara-Syama Prabhu?

    I worry that this recent ‘hate’ introduction becomes an all-consuming passion that can do damage for Iskcon. It can descend into absurdity. Krishna consciousness is infinitely broader than that.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  56. 0
    pustakrishna ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Regarding issues focused on in #49 about “hate” of mayavadins, Srila Prabhupad often used the example of a doctor…hate the disease, not the patient. We have often heard Srila Prabhupad use the example of Prahlada Maharaj. He was “Para dukha dukhi”. He was unhappy for the suffering of others. Compassion is a beautiful quality. The BIble relates its own rule of karma. Those who give mercy will be shown mercy. This is so important to take to heart. We must not allow the heart to become encased in callousness. One must remain true to their ideals and siddhanta, however. If one does not have the strength to interact with adverse forces without being swallowed up by them, then it is necessary to protect one’s bhakti-creeper most importantly. Srila Prabhupad gave a program for this. Everyone is Krishna’s part and parcel, and the external material energy is Krishna’s energy also. It is vital to perform preaching work as a matter of duty, with compassion, and not out of passion to prove one’s self as some how better. That is the wrong approach. Para-dukha-dukhi.

    Krishna consciousness movement is intended to solve the problems of life individually and on the larger level of society as well. But, it starts with the individual. This does not mean that we can control situations. Krishna is always the Supreme Controller. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna invites Arjuna to be an instrument for Him in the battle.

    I realize how difficult it is to present Krishna consciousness to others. That is one reason why it is so important to encourage and nourish other bhaktas in the surrendering process to Krishna. No one is more dear to Krishna! Then when presenting Krishna consciousness to others, it is done as a duty without attachment for the results, and as a service to Sri Guru Gauranga. At least, that is my understanding based upon my experience, and my interaction with Srila Prabhupada in the 1970s. Others comments and viewpoints and experiences are of course valid and valuable. With hope against hope, Pusta Krishna das

  57. 0
    Sitalatma Das ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    (1) If a group of followers of say, Sai Baba voluntarily came forward to help cut vegetables for an Iskcon festival day, how would you respond?

    That is a hypothetical situation. There are, however, real examples of our ISKCON devotees joining mayavadi led festivals, helping with mayavadi fundraising, and participating in their “kirtans”. Personally I think this is a far more pressing issue for our society and the direction it’s taking then what to do with mayavadis if they want to help us.

    (2) If a mayavadi tinged individual wants to join a public Iskcon kirtana, though he may be famous, then how would you respond?

    We can respond in a variety of ways but there’s no question that Srila Prabhupada would never ever allow any mayavadi “kirtaniya” anywhere near ISKCON microphones.

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