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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!


Thursday, 24 May 2007 / Published in Articles, Danavir Goswami / 14,489 views

By Danavir Goswami

In my previous paper entitled Yoga Mart I explain fifteen reasons why I am of the opinion that the recent upsurge in gymnastic and meditational yoga-related courses being offered within ISKCON, for the most part, compromises the mission of the organization. The eighth item was: “Such courses facilitate inappropriate intermingling of males and females.” Inappropriate intermingling will be the subject of this paper. All the photographs pictured in this paper are taken from promotional material by one of the hatha-yoga-related courses being offered at ISKCON temples today. Since many of those persons pictured in the photographs are devotees, such courses seem counterproductive to the instructions of the founder-acarya of the movement.

He was well trained as a brāhmaṇa, but one day while he was coming home with the ingredients of worshiping the Deity, he saw one śūdra embracing another śūdra girl, embracing, kissing, because they have no shame. No brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya will do that. It is not etiquette. But because a śūdra, now it is everywhere we can see, embracing, kissing, open to everyone. So young man, seeing this, how he can restrain, check his lusty desire? It is not possible. Kali-yuga is so fallen. If a young man sees another young man he’s enjoying with another young girl, then naturally his lusty desires increases. So these things are forbidden therefore. Still in some places it is forbidden that you cannot… India this is strictly forbidden. There is no such thing in the public street a young man can embrace or kiss. No. That is not possible. Then it will be criminal. Neither a young boy can dare to speak with another young girl on the street. Still it is criminal. She’ll begin immediately protest that is incivility.
So the whole civilization is how to restrict this sex desire. Because… Why restriction? Because the sex desire, sex life, will keep him within this material world in different bodies, either as human being or as animal or as bird or as insect—so long there will be this sex desire. To become free, to become liberated means to become liberated from sex desire. That’s all. This is the basic principle. Not that this tantra-yoga, how to increase sex desires. This is not civilization. (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.26 — Honolulu, May 26, 1976)

Not that you can do whatever nonsense you like and you have become a yogi. This bluff is going on. The yoga system—first yoga indriya-saṁyamaḥ, to control the senses. And now it is going on, transcendental meditation, Maharishi that “After practicing yoga you will increase your sex power.” This is going on. And that is accepted as yoga, and they are paying for it, thousands, yes. This is going on. Yoga-indriya… Just the opposite. People want sense gratification. If somebody encourages, “Yes, you take this mantra and you’ll be very powerful sex enjoyer,” so people will pay for that: “Yes, give me that.” This rascaldom is going on. You see? So what we can do? We can simply explain, but people want to be cheated. That is the thing. Satya bole to mare lata(?) There is a Hindi proverb that “If somebody speaks the truth, it is received in loggerhead, and if he speaks lies, all bluffing, then it is relieved and payment is there.” (Lecture by Srila Prabhupada: Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.19 — Honolulu, May 19, 1976)

Also, one may become a cheap Vaiṣṇava by trying to chant in a secluded place for material adoration, or one may desire mundane reputation by making compromises with nondevotees concerning one’s philosophy or spiritual life, or one may become a supporter of a hereditary caste system. All these are pitfalls of personal sense gratification. Just to cheat some innocent people, one makes a show of advanced spiritual life and becomes known as a sādhu, mahātmā or religious person. (Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya 19.160 Purport)

Upon viewing these photographs, I was reminded of a few lines from a Caribbean song of the past called Zombie Jamboree:

Back to back
Belly to belly
Well I don’t give a damn
Cause it doesn’t matter relly

Back to back
Belly to belly
At the zombie jamboree.

Bylaws and Centralization - the Facts
A relaxing walk across the country

72 Responses to “ZOMBIE JAMBOREE”

  1. Braja Sevaki says :

    Well, that’s broken my silence :) Hilarious! Thank you Maharaja — a true summary of the nonsense that gets passed of as Vedic, yoga, spiritual, educational, or whatever. I truly had a good time reading this. As a practitioner of hatha yoga in the Iyengar tradition — without doubt the closest thing to genuine “Vaisnava yoga” — I am happy to see things exposed for what they truly are. And a good laugh is always welcome :)

  2. Ajita Krishna Dasa says :

    Thanks for revealing these shocking news! OMG! This is advertised in ISKCON temples! It’s terrible! Maya is so strong!

  3. anandadasi says :

    Dear Maharaj,
    Pls accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    As far as the physical closeness even among committed couples chanting together in a public setting, I understand the objection I have not seen any Vaisnava Shastra recommend this. However, I want to share another view, coming from a person who has grown up alongside the Kundalini Yoga community as taught by Yogi Bhajan (these pictures, I assume are from Atma Yoga promotional material, and this particular practice photographed is, as far as a I know, a synthesis of the meditations YB gave for Kundalini Yoga retreats for couples, just with traditional Vaisnava mantras and a little more contact acrobatics added.)

    I can say with confidence that Yogi Bhajan gave these techniques for two reasons 1)to take people from where they were (in passion and ignorance and too attached to sex desire) – through the chanting of the holy names with a partner, keep them enthused to elevate their consciousness and the quality of their relationships to the spiritual platform, through chanting and the power of a committed couple bond and 2) (which was I believe, his primary goal) to train people how to attract high souls, to have spiritually advanced children. He focused on the grhasta ashram and especially the children. I know it is a different line, but just knowing so many of these wonderful children (cousins, cousin nephews etc.) I can say I am impressed with the results.

    Also, sometimes, perhaps often, practitioners of various schools of Yoga Asana, Pranayama and Meditation come to a place in their lives where their heart cries out for more intimate knowledge of Krishna, and come to become strict followers of Srila Prabhupada also. So then there is the point that devotees who represent our Vaisnava line with integrity and purity, have to power to bring seekers closer to Krishna.

    I have never taken Atma Yoga’s course but spent a lot of time speaking with the founder when it was just being born and so I am basing this analysis of the roots of the practice that is shockingly pictured on those conversations . Maybe other people can say if Atma Yoga is focusing in this sattvic way or not, (increasing spiritual intimacy among committed couples to reduce sex desire, spiritualize the relationship, prepare for Garbhadana Samskara etc., increase the committment level between couples etc) That I don’t know, but maybe someone else can say.

    But I do know that whatever the form of practice, there is clearly a need for some kind of focus and assistance in these areas, in a way that is carefully conceived and in a way that is pleasing to Srila Prabhupada, the Vaisnavas and our lineage. Many grhasta devotees are still in need of clear, step by step, transformation and guidance in these area and that is why I am writing this letter. I am not trying to defend one approach or other, just to highlight the need that is there in our movement, that leads to some reasons why this becomes so attractive to some devotees. Hare Krishna.

    In attempted service and with respect,
    Ananda dd

  4. Akruranatha says :

    I have to admit it is very surprising to see these pictures. It is surprising that ISKCON preaching programs are encouraging such mixing of the sexes in the name of “yoga”, and also that brochures advertising ISKCON “yoga” programs have such pictures.

    I do not want to discourage any legitimate preaching project that is showing practical success, and I am not interested in judging anyone. Still, I cannot imagine why any “yoga” class, let alone one offered under ISKCON auspices, should involve this kind of public mixing and touching of men and women in the name of yoga exercises. In ISKCON shouldn’t we be in the forefront of explaining what yoga is really about (i.e., fixing the mind on Krishna without deviation)?

    Can the organizers explain? I promise I will be open minded. It just seems, well….wierd.

    [One time I was visiting Alachua and my wife and her friend went to a hatha yoga class taught by a devotee lady, and I tagged along. (I am in lousy physical shape and I must have looked ridiculous trying to perform even the simple asanas, more like a beached whale than a yogi). Anyway, I was impressed by the lady teacher. She said she was uncomfortable with a man in the class because normally she only teaches to women, but she made an exception for us for that one day. Of course there was no touching.]

    Maybe if ISKCON is venturing into giving yoga classes as a preaching strategy, part of the strategy could be to introduce some awareness of the importance of keeping butter away from fire. Maybe there should not be co-ed classes, but only separate ladies’ classes and men’s classes. Such “yoga” would be more authentic (Krishna’s description in the 6th Chapter of the Gita requires going to a secluded place and being completely celibate).

    I remember a year or two ago seeing in the grocery store check-out line an issue of “Yoga Journal” magazine dedicated to celibacy. [In retrospect I wish I had bought a copy] Male yogis should learn brahmacarya. Serious yoga students in the west probably recognize that, don’t they? Wouldn’t we want to “brand” our classes as the serious, authentic classes?

    I mean, this is not my field, I do not have any experience with the popular yoga movement in the U.S. or how to take advantage of the trend for preaching Krishna consciousness, but I would think if ISKCON offers “yoga” classes as a strategy, they would be more authentic and serious than the run-of-the mill, trendy classes.

    Just some thoughts. I am eager to hear the “yoga” teachers’ perpective.

  5. anandadasi says :

    Dear Akruranath Prabhu,
    Dandavats :), there is some really beautiful, successful preaching in the Yoga community happening just the way you propose here in NYC. It is inspiring and enthusing to hear the global devotee community thinking this all through in such a beautiful way.
    your servant,
    Ananda dd

  6. Dhamesvara Gaura das says :

    Here Krsna!
    Celibacy is total abstinence from sexual interaction. In the Sastras celibacy has been defined in eight degrees of strictness-avoidance of:
    1.kriya-nivrtti – conjugal relations;
    2.adhvavasaya – desire;
    3.sankalpa – thinking about one’s object of desire
    4.guhyabhasana – talking in private
    5.kirtana – praising his/her qualities to others
    6.keli – playing
    7.sparsana – touching
    8.darsana – looking at
    As I’m personally very fond of some of yoga practices, which helps in bhakti process, such as head-stend, shoulder-stand ( concentration and whole well being), mula- uddiyana-bandhas (celibacy)
    and some pranayamas ( concentration), tratakas (concentration) and so on, yoga have to be apply in proper way, means traditional, conservative way.
    Same like Srila Prabhupada teach us Bhagavad Gita AS IT IS, yoga have to be practised AS IT IS,
    with separation of sexes. There should be no problem in organizing separate lessons for man and women.
    Or we can practise “yoga” as it’s show above – western way.
    Just don’t be suprized if it backfire on you one day.

    your humble servant
    Dhamesvara Gaura das

  7. Suresh das says :

    Perhaps the photos are from a couples class, and as a result this whole presentation is unnecessarily being blown out of proportion. Compromises can be made, when yoga classes are taught on temple grounds. Men and women can be separated, so that there are male only, and female only classes taught. Most forms of Hatha-yoga don’t include or need touching between participants, so partner yoga could easily be eliminated from classes taught on temple grounds. Most people, especially women, probably feel very uncomfortable being touched by strangers anyway; especially hot, stinky, sweaty men. Doing away with the partner yoga, on temple grounds, would probably not meet with too many objections.

  8. Dhira Nitai das says :

    These photos are from special program for MARRIED devotee couples. There was NO unproper mixing or touching at that single course from which the photos were taken, as I personaly know most of the devotees on the pictures. It would be very bold to accuse these devotees of not knowing or braking the Vaishnava etiquette or siddhanta.
    I myself teach Atma-yoga programs and I am not doing any partner programs or anything similar.

    It is not a common Atma-yoga program and it was done as far as I know only couple of times by Atmananda Prabhu. So the statement by HH Danavir Goswami Maharaj: “All the photographs pictured in this paper are taken from promotional material by one of the hatha-yoga-related courses being offered at ISKCON temples today.”, needs further explanation and qouting from Maharaja where and when such courses were being offered and if they are offered at ISKCON temples today at all?! As far as I know, it was the case in past with only a few such courses for married grhastha couples and not on regular basis.

    So the theme here is not the unproper intermingling of sexes (as one could falsely conclude seeing the pictures and reading the article and the comments) – which is totaly out of question and should not be allowed as we all know – but if special programs for grhastha couples (with the aim to create more balance and stronger bond between couples) should be advertised and conducted in a group or should be banned to the privacy of four walls?
    Are we going to introduce Vedic model of social life by proclamations and banning without social structure, traditional culture or community support which was injoyed in traditional Vedic society? Or do we need special programs addressing special issues of modern society and marriages which are widely present even in our devotee communities?

    Before we overreact over pictures and article presented here, we should look more closely to this particular case or ask Atmananda Prabhu for his comment. Like this, I am afraid that the whole thing has been taken (probably even with best intentions!) totaly out of context and any further negative comments, before the whole thing is clearly presented, are in my humble opinion out of place.

    Sometimes what we see is not what and how it realy was and we should be very careful in this Kali-yuga times not to take visual things (pictures, film material) for granted and make our opinions and views based only on visual information or comments that go along.

  9. ekendra das says :

    Why doesn’t everyone involved with this issue try to come to a consensus by reading all of the available information regarding Srila Prabhupada’s opinion towards using Hatha-yoga as a preaching device and then decide what they want to do about it? Isn’t that the way Vaisnavas operate? Shouldn’t we be contented with the direction he has provided regarding this subject? I’m far more interested in hearing those points than anyone’s justification of what is obviously and clearly not in line with our Gaudiya tradition.

  10. Suresh das says :

    Srila Prabhupada states in his purport of Bhagavad-gita 6.47: the culmination of all yoga systems ends in bhakti-yoga. He states yoga actual means bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga is a stage of self realization – the Brahma-bhuta stage.

    Srila Prabhupada makes an interesting point in his purport regarding the progression through the yoga system. Yoga begins in karma-yoga (giving up the fruits of one’s labor in service to the Lord). The next stage is jnana-yoga, where one adds transcendental knowledge and renunciation. The next stage is ashtanga-yoga, which adds yoga asanas, pranayama breathing for the purpose of meditating on the Supersoul. When our minds are concentrated on the Supersoul, then we are considered ashtanga-yogis. When ashtanga-yoga is complete a person comes to the point of bhakti-yoga.

    When I speak to other yoga practitioners, I try to help them understand that when they complete and graduate from the yoga system, they will realize bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga is a stage of yoga or self-realization, and not a separate religion, organization, or yoga society. Bhakti-yoga realization is open to all yoga practitioners. Lord Krishna is the Lord of everyone and not just us.

    We can not think that our society or style of practice is somehow divorced from the gradual progression of the yoga system. Srila Prabhupada states that persons who are very much caught up in the bodily concept of life practice hatha-yoga.

    There are millions of people practicing hatha-yoga, all over the earth now. There are many devotees within our own society who are practicing hatha-yoga, and find it helpful for increasing good health, peace of mind, and spirituality.

    Why not, with a level head, find ways to encourage people, in a positive way to add bhakti to their hatha-yoga, so that they may eventually graduate from hatha-yoga, and at last come to bhakti?

    I have been practicing ashtanga style asanas for the last 13 years. I am a regular practitioner. I find for my particular type of temperment and mind I must practice this style of yoga, in addition to my temple service, and service to Srila Prabhupada.

    What I have discovered in my practice is a method where asanas, breathing, and chanting of the Holy Name (silently on my breath), all work in unison together. I have been practicing this form of chanting for a long time now. Why not encourage people to chant the Holy Name in this way, when they practice yoga, so they may make gradual spiritual progress and eventually come to the Lord’s service?

  11. anandadasi says :

    I think there are 2 main areas of discussion so far:
    1) Traditional Hatha Yoga as part of a bonafide spiritual path progressively described in the Gita. Also included in this is the practice and teaching of it for mind/body health as well as Bridge Preaching and the need to keep it fully within the boundaries of Srila Prabhupadas guidance. Many people mentioned that this is being done.

    2) The kind of Yoga that was written about in the source article, which has been clarified that it is for married couples. The subpoints here that were mentioned include 1) the need for some more workshops needed for married couples within ISKCON to strengthen the grhasta ashram, purify the interaction between butter and fire in marriage and prepare people for married relationships that come more to the spiritual platform, as well as to get devotee couples chanting together more, for obvious reasons like to prepare for Garbhadhana Samskara.. (in that area, I think more japa retreats will help, and I believe that is a totally uncontroversial option (??))
    Ananda dd

  12. gaura-nitai says :

    > These photos are from special program for MARRIED devotee couples.
    Sorry, but when I see those photos I can see devotees who are not married to each other and are not planning to married to each other.

    > but if special programs for grhastha couples (with the aim to create more balance and stronger bond between couples) should be advertised and conducted in a group or should be banned to the privacy of four walls?

    Srila Prabhupada doesn’t want to create stronger bond between ‘couples’, who are not thinking about marriage and are not married together.

  13. Dhira Nitai das says :

    “Why not, with a level head, find ways to encourage people, in a positive way to add bhakti to their hatha-yoga, so that they may eventually graduate from hatha-yoga, and at last come to bhakti?”

    Thank you Suresh Prabhu for this posting, it is exactly what Atma-yoga is designed for. It is not some gymnastic, but powerful yoga psychology, preparing people for bhakti.

    Srila Prabhupada nicely states in the purport tp SB 3.28.1: “Astanga-yoga is therefore part of Vaisnava practice because its ultimate goal is realization of Visnu.”

    Of course, it is not possible to practice astanga-yoga in full in this age, but some practices are very helpful in bringing people to bhakti. Even devotees arrive great benefit by practicing this system as preparation before chanting the Holy Names.
    So this experience is real for me and it works!

  14. anandadasi says :

    Maybe I am getting too into this discussion, but it is something dear to my heart, so I am meditating on this as I prepare lunch, change the diapers, and prepare for my Yoga class tonight etc.

    A Prabhupada disciple taught me Ashtanga Yoga in the early 90’s before I came to ISKCON and also I have been bridge preaching using classical Yoga methods and KC philosophy and intention since 2000 with very, very good results, sometimes producing strict devotees and for others increasing their connection to God and appreciation of the devotees. I also know a lot of Prabhupada dsiciples have been bridge preaching using Ashtanga/Raja/Hatha Yoga a lot longer than that, especially in the LA area, most notably mother Krodhasamani. And Tamala Krishna Swamis disciples have been bridge preaching using Yoga in China for decades.

    Srila Prabhupada himself authorised one of his disciples to teach Hatha Yoga to the Shah of Iran’s daughter. The difference now is the mainstream acceptance of Yoga Asana Practice in the west, as well as the building spiritual and somewhat devotional community around it. When handled properly this adds acceptance and authority to our movement as is, within quite a mainstream community. Also, it is only natural for Devotees in good standing to be properly trained to help sincere souls travel across the bridge from Ashtanga Yoga to Bhakti Yoga, as Suresh prabhu mentioned, and it is even in the Gita this is actually a natural progression. I did it in 96, and no one owns that bridge by the way…and it is real. There is no wonder why so many devotees are called into this work now.

    I guess the biggest concerns are that Yoga Asana teaching, curriculum design and practice by devotees should absolutely and unequivicably be something that increases our service and attachment to pleasing Srila PRabhupada, following the methods and standards he set out for us (coming in the line of disciplic succession). If this so, then how can anyone object?
    om shanti?

  15. Suresh das says :

    Vanity Fair magazine’s new June 2007 issue is out. Inside are 20 pages of the greatest yoga masters (those in the opinion of the public and the world yoga community) who have made the greatest contribution and impact on modern, 21st century yoga. According to the article 10,000,000 people are practicing hatha-yoga now, just in the USA alone.

    Unfortunately, neither Srila Prabhupada, nor any of his disciples is pictured, as one of the most influential yoga practitioners of modern times, although factually Srila Prabhupada is the greatest exponent of real yoga. Yoga is ultimately meant to please, attract, and reconnect with Lord Visnu. This is factual yoga.

    Because yoga is basically viewed as a physical exercise form, at least in the lower stages, most yoga practitioners are not going to accept preachers, as bonified authorities on yoga, who are out-of-shape, not physically fit themselves, and who are not also accomplished in hatha-yoga practice. Yoga practitioners will also scoff at super-negative preachers, who try to teach Bhakti-yoga as the only way, the only true method of self realization for this age, etc. Even if it is true, other methods of preaching must be adopted, so that we are not viewed as closed-minded fanatics, divorced from the yoga system. No one is going to accept messages which are not steeped in love, kindness, and compassion. We already have a super-negative reputation, which many people harbour about our movement. They are missing the true purpose of yoga, because we get in the way of our own messages.

    We need to alter our preaching methods to help yoga practitioners understand what Bhakti-yoga is, and how hatha-yoga is contained in the yoga process, leading eventually to the Bhakti-yoga stage. Many people, who practice yoga, at least in the beginning, see it as an exercise form. There is extreme confusion about what yoga truly is, and what its ultimate purpose is. Progress is very slow, and many people become sidetracked by the fringe benefits of yoga, such as a more beautiful and fit body, improved sex life, peace of mind, material happiness, etc. There is very little education going on, within the yoga community, by the Krishna Consciousness Movement, to teach true Vedic principles, or to present the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ultimate goal. As usual, the Mayavadi and atheistic philosophies win again, because the Vaishnavas are not present in the yoga scene as any kind of viable force.

  16. Divyambara Dasi says :

    Re. Srila Prabhupada’s opinion on using hatha-yoga for preaching.
    I’ve heard personally from Dhananjaya Prabhu (MVT, Vrindavan) about Srila Prabhupada’s guidelines for managing the Krishna-Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan, India. One suggestion Srila Prabhupada had was that because people in Dehli are interested in health, then at the KB Guesthouse there could be a yoga room where visitors could take classes on hatha-yoga, and devotees could take the visitors to see the Deities, eat prasada, etc.–in this way introduce people to Krishna Consciousness.

    A very important point about men and women being separate during hatha-yoga classes.

    In general, I feel that many devotees have health issues because of lack of exercise and proper eating habits. Hatha-yoga is a very sattvic tool for keeping the body & mind fit for service.

  17. anandadasi says :

    Woohoo! More Yoga teachers who have a real attraction to Lord Krishna is a very very good thing! (sounds like a call to action…). As a side point about the Vanity Fair article (thanks for the heads up!), there aren’t any ISKCON devotees on the list, I wish there were, but there ARE people who like to serve Krishna through parampara and are attracted to deepening that relationship who are assisting and studying with many of the teachers pictured on that list (which is natural right?). And many of the students of these teachers listed in the Vanity Fair article are making verifiable/quantifiable advancement too, with and without our help. It is not all bogus body stuff. Through chanting and study of sastra and the communities they are forming as well as devotees being involved (in particular several vaisnava scholars who write books and teach to the Yoga Community) big things ARE happening, though there is so much room for so much more growth. Sureshs last post had a real supportive element, a call to action, this is in the same mood…Lets support each other to be sincere and inspire others, those who like Yoga asana and want to share about Krishna from a heartfelt but patient and respectful place, pls pls join us, ok?Jaya Shree Krishna. I think I have to stop posting now. But I hope more people share and I will read them. Hari OMMMM tat sat, your servant, Ananda dd

  18. krishna-kirti says :

    When radio and television started out, the promoters said that it would be a great boon to education. No one believes that anymore–and all the nonsense currently broadcasted on radio and television is here to stay. Hatha Yoga is the new “radio”, or “television,” of ISKCON. It is attractive, full of promise, and yet another “experiment with the truth.” If the experiment is taken to its logical endpoint and fails, will its promoters and the leaders who assented to it (even if silently) ever be able to separate its speculative water from the milk Srila Prabhupada initially gave us?

  19. kirtan says :

    I am completely in favor of using hatha-yoga as an introduction to the yoga system which peaks in bhakti-yoga, inside iskcon temples.
    4 years ago at age 31, I twisted my back and was completely bed-ridden for 2 days and in severe pain for a couple of weeks. In such a situation it was certainly very difficult to do any service to Krishna. This situation has since not recurred due to practice of some hatha-yoga.
    Devotees who are healthy and fit are best able to do service.

  20. Suresh das says :

    To add Bhakti to Hatha-yoga – that is not such an easy thing. Most yoga practitioners are disinterested in or completely ignorant of the science of Bhakti-yoga. It is probably too soon for many of us. We will have to struggle through the purificatory processes for a very long time, before there is even a tiny interest in real self-realization. It is probably much harder to learn the science of self-realization, when you already think you know everything. I give people Srila Prabhupada’s books, and I invite them to the temple. I am always looking for ways to introduce people to Vedic philosophy and ideas.

  21. Dhira Nitai das says :

    Dear Suresh Prabhu, don’t underestimate the association of Vaishnavas, prasadam and chanting of mantras and Holy Names, especialy Gauranga, which we chant in Atma-yoga programs along with Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya and Siksastaka prayers. This program is designed for the most fallen! And that is why I am myself getting great benefit teaching it. I wasn’t able to learn all Siksastaka by heart until I visited Atma-yoga teacher training. The program includes most powerful bhakti elements but introducing them in the way that is “digestable” and “palatable” for the most of the people. But even then some of them object that our program is “too spiritual” (chuckles). So we want to give association and reach the people which we usualy wouldn’t be able to reach so easily. That is the core thing: just to be around the people as devotees as they practice some nice yoga, hear bonafide yoga philosophy, chant mantras, offer prema-dhvani (!) and take prasadam. The rest is on Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krisna.

  22. Divya-prabandha das says :

    Hare Krsna! In my center in Croatia we are doing regular harinams and house programs and some of the so called yogis join us in singing but generally it is very difficult for them to accept philosophy and to follow principles. They think they know everything. Another thing is that when introduced in Croatia atma-yoga created lot’s of disturbance among devotees in the yatra and many people as myself don’t agree with using it as it was advertised in local ISKCON center – “future of preaching” etc. Maybe it can be used independently outside, without ISKCON patronage but its efficacy has yet to be seen.

  23. Akruranatha says :

    Books are the basis.

    In book distribution we often find that (some portion) of those who are doing yoga or interested in yoga are good customers. Sometimes I tell people they “look spiritual” and they say they do yoga. (Often they do have that “yoga look” about them) Then I ask if they are vegetarian and often they are. By that time they almost always are ready to take a book and give a donation.

    I tell people that the Bhagavad Gita contains the teachings of Lord Krishna on yoga. I tell them Krishna is widely known as Yogesvara, the master of yogis, and this Bhagavad Gita is therefore one of the important classic works on the real meaning and goal of yoga.

    Some of them respond that they know, they have been meaning to read the Gita, and they readily give donations.

    Of course, there are some “yoga people” we meet who already have preconceived notions about ISKCON or Hare Krishna, who have their own view of Bhagavad Gita and who do not want Srila Prabhupada’s books. Or some are very superficially interested in health and beauty and not in philosophy or books.

    As Vaisesika dasa tells us, we allow such “green fruit” to stay on the tree (i.e., we can move on quickly to the next person hoping to find a “ripe fruit” who may be interested in taking a book).

    But mostly I find the people who say they are interested in yoga are good candidates for taking a book. If not a Gita, they may take Krishna book (they have heard of Krishna and are interested in reading the authentic stories of what Krishna did on earth), or a small book like POY or Bhakti.

    Devotees that have things in common will naturally gravitate together. Devotees who are interested in hatha yoga will find that some of their yoga friends will be interested in learning more deeply about the philosophy of yoga and the vast sphere of Vedic knowledge from Srila Prabhupada’s books.

    Eventually with the right guidance and association many of those friends will be swept into the whirlpool of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement.

    Not only yoga. We have in the Bay Area a Brazilian capoeira master who teaches all his students to chant Hare Krishna as part of their workouts!

    Wherever you go, whomever you meet, simply talk to them about the instructions of Krishna (i.e., Srila Prabhupada’s books), and encourage them to do the same. Very quickly many people will become liberated devotees.

  24. Divya-prabandha das says :

    Well, maybe here on Balkan peninsula we can teach people “Uzicko kolo” traditional Serbian dance and add some powerful elements of bhakti-yoga and make them chant once Govardhan (which is close to “dobar dan” in Serbo-Croatian “good day”) :)

  25. Suresh das says :

    There is no substitute for teaching others by one’s own personal example. I rarely speak to anyone in my yoga school, or mention Krishna Consciousness, except to give away Srila Prabhupada’s books. Most of the practitioners in my school know my wife and I are members of the Hare Krishna Movement. Few are impressed by this alone. What everyone is waiting for is to see someone actually become enlightened by practicing Bhakti-yoga. I don’t allow anyone to get away with blasphemy of the Lord, abject ignorance, misrepresentation or misinterpretation of Vedic philosophy, but I do this very carefully. No one is going to respect me or listen to me, because I am only a beginner in Ashtanga-yoga. I am not a certified teacher, or even an advanced student, so most people just blow off whatever I have to say. I am glad in a way, because I am allowed to focus on my inner chanting. I am not responsible for anyone but my self.

    Most of the students and teachers know me by my breath. When I am able to connect the deep Ujjai breathing, yoga movements and chanting of the Holy Name into one simultaneous effort, it has tremendous power, and sound. The method I use is to inhale half of the mantra, and exhale the other half. I use my loud breathing as a type of counter. I have trained my mind to listen to the sound of the breath. I inhale and exhale the mantra silently. This type of meditation goes on for some time, between one-two hours for each yoga class. Depending on how well rested I am before coming to class, how much stress I have dealt with that day, how good my general health is, and how distracted I am by external things, etc., will affect how well and for how long I am able to practice mantra meditation.

    It is important though not to become winded or exhausted, because of your chanting efforts. Hatha-yoga is about movement and breath. Your breathing can not be sacrificed, and must be done correctly. I am simultaneously coordinating movement, breath, and chanting into one continuous and combined effort. What is interesting about it is that it is so complicated, that it seems to be very effective in bringing my mind under control, at least for a time. If I find myself getting tired, I slow down my chanting, or stop it altogether and take a break for a while. Sometimes I might only chant an eighth of the mantra with each inhale, and each exhale. If I feel very concentrated and my breath deepens and becomes longer, I am sometimes able to chant the entire mantra, in a very relaxed way, with each inhale and each exhale. The main point is to really concentrate on listening to the sound of the mantra, not rush your chanting, allow yourself to relax and deepen your breath naturally, and not become distracted by anything external. One must become convinced that there is nothing outside us to enjoy or see. All happiness and joy comes from your inner meditation.

    Sometimes students and even teachers are curious to know what is going on. Most of the teachers, although they might never chant the Holy Names themselves, always encourage me to continue my deep Ujjai breathing. They don’t know I am chanting and can’t hear anything but the breathing. They sense something very deep and profound is going on, and they don’t want me to stop.

    The Bhagavad-gita advices “from wherever the mind wanders, bring it back again, and focus it on one point.” I have to do this again, and again, because I often get distracted. I must bring myself back again, and again, to listening to my inner chanting. It is difficult for me, because I am basically alone in my meditation. From the Hatha-yoga side, no one is encouraging me to chant Hare Krishna internally (or at all); and from the devotee side, they is no one encouraging me to practice Hatha-yoga, so I often feel alone in my efforts.

  26. Dhira Nitai das says :

    We are very happy to have approval and support for Atma-yoga program from our GBC HH Bir Krishna das Goswami Maharaj from the very beginning of Atma-yoga programs in Croatia and this is since last June. We are regularly sending reports to him about our progress. In 6 months of active preaching through Atma-yoga we have made 3 new community devotees through this programs and encouraged many new and old devotees to take the KC practice seriously, although it is mostly one man show without using ISKCON facilities on regular basis and when, then it is bringing certain profit to ISKCON. It is just one of many projects I am doing for Srila Prabhupada and my Guru Maharaja and I hope to be able to dedicate more time to it which will naturaly bring more results.

    Your servant
    Dhira Nitai das

  27. Nirguna das says :

    Dear Danavir Maharaj,
    Please accept my respectful obeisances. Jaya Sril;a Prabhupada and His mission to deliver the world!
    I read your article with great disppointment, for you misrepresented Atma Yoga totally. That’s where you got the pictures from. You made a mockery of the whole thing. You put on a big show, but it’s all misrepresentation. However, the whole program, designed by Atmananda Prabhu under the direct instruction and guidance of His Holiness Bhaktitirtha Swami, was created for the sole purpose of bringing the participants closer to Krsna. Furthemore, all 15 of your points of objection do not apply to Atma Yoga, maybe other yoga systems, but not to Atma Yoga, because Atma Yoga presents full Krsna Consciousness, though packaged in the popular yoga genre. There are many ways to preach. Phalena pariciyate. Judge by the results.
    I offer to humbly suggest to please not waste your valuable time in criticizing the effective preaching tactics of others, and if you do so, better research and representation would be more in order. Are you not so busily absorbed in your own preaching that you have time to cut down the sincere and well thought out preaching tactics of Srila Prabhupad’s sincere followers and preachers, especially by misrepresentation? You are so erudite and practiced at your Bhakta Programs, and are showing us how to preach in that way, and many others are showing other ways of bringing souls to Krsna. Please consider this, and I guarantee yourself greater success and satisfaction in your preaching endeavors.
    Thank you.
    Your servant,
    Nirguna das

  28. anandadasi says :

    I just couldnt let this comment hang any more.

    This is a response to post #15 which instills fear of watering down Srila Prabhupadas mercy , or worse and questions the GBC for not stopping the growing community of Vaisnavas from being involved with Yoga.

    With respects, 1st of all I don’t think it is an accurate analogy, or comparison. Mechanical television and the associated technology are not a Vedic process designed for the gradual upliftment of humanity and they are not mentioned in the Gita. Ashtanga Yoga is mentioned by specifically and many times by Lord Krishna in the Gita.

    But if we were to accept the analogy enough for a (short) discussion then we could easily say television is a neutral medium, that in the hands of the lowest common denominator, a sales driven lower passions driven society then, it is clear that TV has in fact increased the enjoying spirit and widened the range of sinful life significantly on this planet.

    Of course, as TV or the internet, or any technology, it is up to the individual how we use it. Devotees watch Vaisnava classes, conference on important topics, blog about Krishna consciousness, create Vaisnava cartoons etc. Prabhupada is also on DVD and devotees are able to show new people videos of our founder Acarya through this technology. And this positive use of technology also has a very strong and wide ranging influence.

    Also, many of us either by parenting or in the ashram or through Yoga practice learned to control our senses and focus on what lifts us up, and so many of choose to use media in the service of our service…same with Yoga.. which (Yoga) is in itself designed to prepare people to discern in this way and to make better choices in this increasingly intense society.

    your servant,
    Ananda dd

  29. isvaradas says :

    Yoga practise is essentially meant to bring one to the mode of goodness, so the finer elements of the body is able to take up spiritual life. Constant meditation on the Supreme Lord is difficult if the mind is unsteady or its always disturbed. Thus, in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna in His instructions to Uddhava, mentioned pranayama to be daily performed by a spiritual practioner. Such a practise frees the body from disease, and thus one is able to contemplate on the absolute truth.
    Yoga practise itself has to be authentic, following the Vedic tradition. There is one yoga teacher in India now, who has become quite famous. His name is Swami Ramadeo. His practise is quite authentic, and through his recommendations, one can infact eliminate several diseases of the body, both gross and subtle, and thus the mind is calmed. Unless the mind is calmed, where is the possibility of practising Krishna consciousness.
    I personally don’t mind if some sections of ISKCON use yoga teaching as a tool for preaching, or for developing environment for people in taking up Krishna consciousness, however, the practise must be authentic. Not what was in the pictures above. Swami Ramdeo has several videos which I think the devotees who are in the line of yoga preaching can take a clue from.

    your servant,

    Isvara dasa

  30. ekendra das says :

    Devotee: Can haṭha-yoga hinder or help Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or is it…?

    Prabhupāda: Hinder. Yes. Because it is useless, simply wasting time. You cannot perform haṭha-yoga in this age. You do not follow the rules and regulations. You are simply bluffed. Do you know what is the rules and regulations of haṭha-yoga factually?

    Devotee: Not actually.

    Prabhupāda: Yes. You have to select a secluded place. Haṭha-yoga is not practiced in assembly of so many men. Just you go to a haṭha-yoga class. There are hundreds of members practicing, and he is collecting money, five dollars per seat. And you are thinking, “I am practicing.” That is useless waste of time and money. Haṭha-yoga is not practiced in that way. You have to practice in a secluded place, alone. Do you do that?

    Devotee: Yes. Not… No. I guess I don’t.

    Prabhupāda: It is very difficult in this age. Then you have to restrain yourself in so many things. Complete free from sex life. You have to eat under certain direction, you have to… So many things there are. These rules are not followed. Simply they have got some bodily gymnastic sitting posture. They are thinking, “I am practicing.” No. That is one of the items. So all the items cannot be observed in this age. Therefore it is wasting. [Break] “…yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” This is the goal of yoga practice. So that is possible very easily by this movement, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not by any other process. And the ultimate goal is here. One should be always abiding with God, worshiping Him, transcendental loving service, and intimately united with Him, intimately. This intimate unity means that five kinds of relationship. That is the perfection of yoga. When Kṛṣṇa has advised yoga practice, sāṅkhya-yoga… You have Bhagavad-gītā? There is sāṅkhya-yoga. You’ll find in the forty-seventh verse. This is the version.

    Devotee: There’s no value in keeping the body fit through exercise?

    Prabhupāda: Yes, you can become very healthy. But does it mean that health is the perfection of life? Do you mean to say healthy life will not die, will not change his body? So health is required, but health is not the ultimate goal of life. Ultimate goal of life is here.

  31. Nityananda priya says :

    A lot of comments have been sent referring to Danavir Goswami’s article on Atma-Yoga. I know the place and the persons of the pictures (they are almost all initiated devotees) and I saw the flyer before the course took place. I rejected it, as it invites people to Kundalini and tantric yoga as worldly yoga schools. If people think, those tantric courses are able to fix the relationship between couples, I have to tell you that one of the couples divorced later and the woman hardly could go on living. The temple is not a place for this kind of yoga. Only this is what Danavir Goswami wanted to tell us.

    Nityananda-priya d.d.

  32. Praghosa Das ACBSP says :

    Each of us is personally responsible for our health. This is not the domain of specialists as is the fashion in our Western Society. Most modern doctors are in fact quacks. They know little to nothing about genuine nutrition. They rarely venture into explaining the need for comprehensive hydration of every cell in the body. They basically commit sin after sin of ‘omission’ since they express little to nothing about the body’s need for healthy fats and good salt and thus leave that information out of their ‘quackery’ when they ‘counsel’ their so-called patients. The list of their transgressions is legendary.

    Likewise ‘ the understanding of the body’s lymphatic system and the need to ‘move it’ with gentle excercise ‘ is rarely given any emphasis whatsoever by the official “doctors”.

    Any form of physical yoga is merely a healthy and gentle method of moving our blood and lymph throughout our body. This is vital for optimum health. Anyone can go online and discover this ‘ for yourself. Our lymphatic system is entirely dependent upon physical movement in order to move this protective fluid throughout the body. There is no ‘heart’ beating away and moving our lymphatic fluid throughout our frame. If we stop exercise ‘ our lymph stagnates and this is not good. Take it from the ‘voice of experience’. Yoga, walking and swimming just happen to be some of the best ways to accomplish this.

    If Yoga were being promoted as part of the spiritual ‘process’ leading to pure Krsna Consciousness anywhere, by anyone representing His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada ‘ they would be laughable. A one hour reading of The Perfection of Yoga establishes the falsity contained within any such claim. However ‘ maintaining health ‘ in order to help us sustain our service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Gauranga’s Sri Krsna Samkirtan ‘ is a valuable goal. It was clearly Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful example to us while here. He was careful what he honored as prasadam and the time of day he would eat. He consistently walked each morning whenever possible. He always consumed a good deal of water. He did the simple and possible to ensure his health as far as possible.

    Yoga is not going to yield self realization any more than swimming, dancing, jogging, dieting, sword fighting, weightlifting or tiddly winks! However ‘ after we discover that we are not this body and we likewise don’t own this body as well but have received it on loan from the Lord and we should use it wisely in His service, then doing the ‘needful’ to keep it all in good working order only makes good sense.

    Srila Prabhupada said in Hawaii that ‘we should pray to Krsna for Long Life so we can finish our business here by becoming fully Krsna Conscious and go back to home – back to Godhead’.

    In otherwords we should do what is needed to keep ourselves fit and ready as soldiers in the Samkirtan Corps of Lord Gauranga. In the military ‘ if a man contracts a venerable disease while off duty ‘ he can be charged with ‘abuse of government property’ and face penalties! We should consider our body like that.

    There is no need to even discuss ‘Coed Yoga’ in Srila Prabhupada’s ashram unless it is for married couples. Even then ‘ how many married couples want that? Adults know what is to be done and what is not to be done in these matters. If there are anomalies in that regard they’re easy to adjust. But yoga is for physical health. Physical health that is assisted by an essentially non-violent approach to the body’s mechanisms is definitely wanted.

    Anyone who protests such simple methods of assisting our health in the service of Lord Chaitanya’s Samkirtan Corps just needs to consider that the opposite of healthy is diseased, and a diseased army ‘ never wins the war! They are in fact defeated ‘ before they even set foot on the battlefield.

    And if ‘ in their quest to learn physical yoga ‘ people are also brought into contact with healthy enthusiastic devotees of the Lord ‘ who use their ‘healthy’ condition to share the Highest Form of Yoga ‘ devotion to Lord Krsna by introducing them to the easy access to full spiritual health through the Lord’s Holy Names and His prasadam ‘ all supported by the foundation of Srila Prabhupada’s books ‘ then by all means they should be encouraged to do so.

    As Srila Prabhupada states in The Perfection of Yoga, the essence of real Yoga is simple and has nothing to do with the body itself:

    It is the duty of everyone to become Krsna conscious and to serve the cause of Krsna. When one actually realizes this he becomes a mahatma, or a great soul. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that after many births, when one comes to the platform of real knowledge, he “surrenders unto Me.” Why is this? Vasudevah sarvam iti. The wise man realizes that “Vasudeva [Krsna] is everything.” However, Krsna says that such a great soul is rarely found. Why is this? If an intelligent person comes to understand that the ultimate goal of life is to surrender unto Krsna, why should he hesitate? Why not surrender immediately? What is the point in waiting for so many births? When one comes to that point of surrender, he becomes a real sannyasi. Krsna never forces anyone to surrender unto Him. Surrender is a result of love, transcendental love. Where there is force and where there is no freedom, there can be no love. When a mother loves a child, she is not forced to do so, nor does she do so out of expectation of some salary or remuneration.

    Adults who can read ‘ can easily distinguish physical yoga from devotional service to Lord Krsna. The Perfection of Yoga is perfectly capable of clarifying the difference for anyone. Healthy for Krsna is a good thing. But it is not obligatory in order to become Krsna’s devotee. But ‘ as Srila Prabhupada says in the 1st Canto of SB ‘Material well being follows spiritual well being’. When we see our life and body as gifted to us by Krsna ‘ we will be naturally inclined to do the needful to maximize that.

    All Glories to the Sri Krsna Samkirtan Corps!

    Stay Healthy for Srila Prabhupada. If one hour of yoga each day can help you do that ‘ GO FOR IT! Then ‘ hit the streets and engage in the most blissful yoga ever bequeathed the human society ‘ Hari Nama samkirtan and the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s purports ‘ dictated to him by the Supreme Yoga Master Himself ‘ Lord Sri Krsna!

    Respectfully Praghosa Das ‘ NYC

  33. krishna-kirti says :

    – Srila Prabhupada strongly discouraged the practice of hatha yoga.
    – Those promoting Atma Yoga plainly say it is not just for health but for making spiritual progress.
    – Many of the people in the posted pictures have been identified as initiated devotees.
    – Some of ISKCON’s leaders endorse Atma Yoga.

    These are some of the reasons that cause some of us to believe that in the name of innovative preaching Atma Yoga is diluting Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and movement. Those who advocate Atma Yoga, however, say these reasons are not good enough to abandon it. Not good enough for you? Then aside from finding out at the end that it did in fact ruin the lives of many devotees, and then throwing up your hands saying “It didn’t work,” what could possibly convince you that Atma Yoga is something you shouldn’t do before you press ahead with it?

  34. Akruranatha says :

    If a devotee earns his living teaching Serbian folk dances, by all means he should get his students to chant “Hare Krishna,” or “Govardhan” as the case may be. :-)

    If a devotee can earn a living as a teacher of asthanga yoga, it would seem that he or she could be in a good position to intruduce at least some aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to some of the students.

    (It seems like a nice, sattvik occupation, and who in society is better equipped to teach hatha yoga than those who really know that the goal of all yoga practice is bhakti and sankirtan yajna?)

    Some of the many people who are curious nowadays about yoga and other aspects of Vedic culture are natural candidates for reading Srila Prabhupada’s books like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam in the company of faithful devotees. We get such “yoga people” coming to ISKCON temple programs quite often.

    It appears that there already has been some practical success with people who contacted devotees through hatha yoga and then became devotees.

    (I heard that Krodhasyamani led a group of students on a tour to some holy places in India. We know that Srila Prabhupada approved Parivrajakacarya’s “under cover” yoga teaching in Iran)

    I am glad to hear about success of such programs around the world in introducing new people to Krishna consciousness and ISKCON.

    I would not invest a lot of a temple’s resources in facilitating that kind of preaching program. It seems too “indirect.” Danavir Maharaja’s straightforward type of preaching will probably always be our mainstay. But if devotees are inspired and capable of doing it nicely, shouldn’t we at least try not to discourage them?

    The point is well taken, though, that it should be done nicely. ISKCON devotees who are also teaching hatha yoga should not mislead their students. Rather, they should introduce (according to their own realization of how to do it) the authentic teachings of Srila Prabhupada’s books. I am sure that is their intention.

    Meanwhile, ISKCON can and should continue to “brand” itself as a more authentic interpreter of Vedic instructions than the various “bogus yogis” who do not provide a real explanation of the goal of life (Krishna prema) or the actual, practical means to attain it. [But we can learn how to do this tactfully too, without unnecessarily burning bridges and turning off potential friends.]

    So. . . the devotees who are engaged in teaching yoga as a preaching strategy should be careful to have a deep understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. They should be careful not to introduce bogus innovations or promote misconceptions that distort the teachings of Lord Krishna.

    [On the other hand, every occupation is covered by some fault. If we sell cars or cabbages or candles, aren’t we at least in some sense promoting the misconception that these things will make our customers happy? Not every devotee can be engaged as a full-time preacher. I think I’d rather teach yoga than be a lawyer. At least I’d be more healthy, and probably more peaceful.]

    Devotee yoga teachers may be tactful about how they bring up the subject of Krishna bhakti and its relation to real yoga practice and to modern, so-called yoga practice. I am sure that Krishna will give them the intelligence how to do it, and it will be valuable and worthwhile preaching.

  35. Tamoharadasa says :

    A particularlry good presentation, Praghosa Prabhu. Similarly, Gour Govinda Swami Maharajah once told us that this hatha yoga business is very good for the health, and should not be laughed at. If the atma yoga program brings people closer to Krsna, then this is acceptable. Perhaps judge by the results?

  36. Suresh das says :

    Where in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, or books, is the selling of paintings, to support temples, specifically mentioned as an authorized form of Bhakti-yoga? No one will argue that selling paintings has not been very beneficial in paying for many temples’ needs over the years even though there is probably no mention anywhere in the Vedas that such selling is Bhakti-yoga. Why the double standard then towards Hatha-yoga?

    There are many people who are attracted to self-realization, and who wish to learn traditional meditation and yoga in the style which has been passed down for thousands of years. They will read Bhagavad-gita and wish to practice self-realization in the same way as is being taught by Lord Krishna Himself. Some may argue that our ISKCON program is the only truly authorized method of self-realization for this age. However, persons who are interested in silent meditation and Hatha-yoga asanas will find no sanctuary within the walls of our temples.

    Devotees will argue that washing pots and floors, cutting vegetables, selling books, paintings etc., is the real yoga, and that yoga asanas are false yoga. This will be a hard sale. Millions of people are practicing traditional Hatha-yoga all over the world. The Hatha-yoga movement is growing larger and larger each day. But few people are joining the Krishna Consciousness Movement because they may feel we are so closed-minded, and inflexible, that no one can see any way that the teaching of Hatha-yoga can some how be dovetailed along side our teachings of Bhakti-yoga, in the same way the selling of paintings and other paraphernalia has been allowed as an authorized activity.

    David Swenson and John Friend were both former ISKCON devotees. They were frustrated with ISKCON’s inflexible attitude towards Hatha-yoga, and left our society to join another, more traditional Ashtanga yoga society. David Swenson and John Friend are two of the biggest names in the Ashtanga yoga community today. They have taught tens of thousands of students, published top-selling videos and books, and have both become millionaires now from their practice, teaching and influence. Too bad no one could cultivate them, support them, or encourage them to stay within the association of devotees, and potentially support our movement.

    I am sighting David Swenson as an example, because when he relates his past history, as an ISKCON devotee, he stated how frustrated he felt to be put into kitchen detail, and out on book distribution. He felt frustrated by how his engagements seemed to have little to do with what he believed yoga to be, or what he read in our books. There seemed to be inconsistencies between what appears in our books, what are teachings are, and what actually has taken place in our society.

    There is the danger as well for Atma-yoga. If they are discouraged, hassled, and harassed enough by the devotees, they may finally give up and leave in frustration. They might find other yoga societies, Hindu temples, or businesses who might be glad to take them in, provide emotional and financial support, and who in the end will benefit by their efforts, instead of ISKCON.

    This seems to happen frequently. I have seen, time and again, devotees tossed out of our movement, neglected and unsupported, but still somehow expected to continue to support the society with donations. This is unrealistic, and short-sighted thinking on our part.

  37. Dhira Nitai das says :

    This is how Atma-yoga advertise itself:

    ATMA YOGA philosophy

    It used to be that there were just a few seekers, a few people that were attracted to the spiritual and mystical path. But lately, it seems that everyone has become a seeker, a seeker for the ultimate spiritual experience. Most people already believe that we are more than a body and mind, and that we each have a soul. Most people also believe that there is benefit to a consistent yoga or meditation practice. But as more and more people delve into their spiritual paths, practice meditation, and sign up for yoga classes, it seems that there are more people who are disappointed with the results. Most yoga classes will be beneficial for the body and mind but does little for the soul that is still craving for the ultimate experience. It is for these mature souls that ATMA YOGA was created.

    Atma Yoga provides a set of principles and practices for a holistic total yoga lifestyle for the modern yogi and urban mystic. Many other yoga systems were designed to be practiced in solitude, in isolation, or as an exclusive engagement in order to obtain the complete benefits. Yoga practices based on these systems may be able to offer partial benefits, such as increased health and physical well being, but in a modern urban context these systems cannot deliver the profound benefits that are the true goal of Yoga practice.

    Different yoga practices are prescribed in the Vedic texts for different eras. Over 5000 years ago, in 3102 B.C., Vedic sages predicted the appearance of an industrialized ìAge of Ironî (Kali Yuga), and recommended the practice of bhakti yoga for the people who would live in this cultural environment.

    Atma Yoga addresses the need to harmonize mystic and bhakti yoga, which have become separated in the modern age. Atma Yoga raises the understanding of Yoga above the valuable but incomplete conception of Hatha Yoga alone.

  38. Kesava Krsna dasa says :

    Dear prabhus,

    Is there not something called ‘Utility is the principle?’

    Great broadminded mahatmas like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura defied the accepted mode of preaching at the time by riding into the sacred Radha Kund area in a polished flashy, fancy automated mechanism with four wheels – a car!

    Much to the consternation of the trditionalists, this revolutionary utilazation set a new standard in applied ‘yukta vairagya.’ And his dear disciple Srila Prabhupada did the same. Such are the actions of broadmindedness.

    If we are going to blind ourselves to the near-ripen millions of souls who are interested in yoga – such a juicy bait of an untapped market – by alluding to tradition and stonewalling attitudes, our utilization will only succeed in barren stillness.

    And when the likes of the Swami Narayanas, The art of Living and other well organized groupings attract those huge numbers into their fold, the inevitable rumblings of “We should be doing that. .. just see how well organized they are.” will rear its ugly head yet again, to which we will scamper about for new ideas.

    We only have ourselves to blame if our original ideas and concepts are taken aboard to other concerns, who then prosper with them.

    History has shown that even the most virulent and progressive revolutionaries become the most conservative autocrats after assuming power. If in the name of conservatism we wish to debunk potentially workable ideas, then we are not continuing the revolutionary zest which Srila Prabhupada started.

    At least we can appreciate innovation when we see it. Of course the advertising could do with some preening in accord with integrity. Srila Prabhupada said that Iskcon is to be maintained by ‘intelligence and organization.’ Then if we are worried about depleting numbers, won’t our God-given intelligence be utilized to be innovative without comprimising what we all stand for?

    Lets give it a try. Utility is the principle.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  39. krishna-kirti says :

    No one here is against innovation. Innovation is essential for successful preaching. Yet not every innovation that comes along is necessarily good. How do those who want Atma Yoga know that their innovation is genuinely good and not a trick of maya? Srila Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada innovated, but they were also pure devotees, who were liberated from the influence of maya. We on the other hand are not. We need extra checks on our own next big idea to preach, which for all we know could be a disguise for our next big idea for sense gratification. The flip side of “preaching is the essence” is “preaching is the excuse”.

    The extra check on our big ideas are the instructions of the acharyas. Srila Prabhupada discouraged hatha yoga among his disciples, and he criticized its modern practice in general. We have the words of a pure devotee to back up the assertion that no good devotee should get others to play footsie in the name of yoga and call it innovative preaching. Those who want Atma Yoga do not have the benefit of a liberated devotee’s words to help them distinguish their ideas from a desire for sense gratification. Prabhupada would be against it.

  40. anandadasi says :

    Hari bol Prabhus, I think point number 37 is really good in many ways.

    But I think there is a need to separate classical raja/ashtanga yoga from Kundalini/tantra (re atma couples Yoga), which is clearly a really different practice than what Srila Prabhupada gave us.
    These are separate practices raja/ashtanga and kundalini/tantra.

    I was trained in ashtanga yoga by Parivrajacacharya prabhu in the early 90’s and since then have been trained in very classical and quite devotional and regulated hatha/raja/ashtanga since by a master of the process with the focus on calming the mind and senses,classical yogic principles according the the sastra, atma nivedanam and the Lord on the heart. I was initiated in our ISKCON sampradaya in march 1997 and have had yoga students of mine also intitiated and are in good standing.

    I agree, we don’t know for sure what Prabhupada would say about the growing trend of Yogis coming to KC. And time , place and circumstance do change. We know Prabhupada wanted us to preach boldly where there was the most impact without compromising any principles. This is being done with Yoga preaching, by many, without compromising our principles (but being patient with others place on the path and helping them along). I am a certified elementary school teacher also, I consider this being an elementary school teacher in spiritual life… no big deal if you are 4th grade, thats ok, you know… And for many of us, it is as Akruranath Prabhu says, this is part of our work as grhastas, that is attempting to be in the mode of goodness.
    your servant,
    Ananda dd

  41. Kesava Krsna dasa says :

    Dear prabhus,

    Of course any innovative move is going to require the checks and balances as per Srila Prabhupada’s standards. Presumably the local GBC and relevant authorities will see to this. With these strictures in place, why would anyone not at least try?

    The temptation for sense gratification can come in any form one wishes, even while worshipping the Divine couple on the altar, or in ambitiousness or whatever. This need not be a hindrance. If this is a reason for not wanting to try innovative ideas, we may as well not try anything, anywhere. It is a poor excuse against it.

    If, as appears to be the case, there is some measure of success arising out of these programs ie; making serious devotees, then clearly a potential exists for being a conduit for people with wayward ideas about yoga. Would Srila Prabhupada debunk the whole scheme if he saw devotees were being made?

    When Srila Prabhupada was around, yoga in of itself was not as highly widespread, acceptable and popular as it is nowadays. With such a large number of people actually practicing yoga worldwide, it is the solemn duty of the devotees to redirect their proclivity towards Bhakti-yaga. But if some facilities exist in the form of outlets which we already have, so much the better.

    If after trying these outreaches they do not consistently produce the desired results, then the facilities can become preaching centres only.

    Let us give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  42. sita-pati says :

    Nice points Krishna-kirti prabhu.

    This is the process of innovation. People do different things. *Someone* always criticizes, no matter what, and then later it becomes obvious what the valid innovation was, and what the deviation was. Innovation flies, deviation dies. You are playing your part in this by being the voice of conservatism that discourages deviation and demands that valid innovation display its internal conviction. You, and others, make sure that people don’t do this to receive praise and adulation in the society, and that’s good.

    My concurrence with the concerned set is this: Hatha yoga should be something “done by Hare Krishnas”, not done by *the* Hare Krishnas. In other words, it should be set up as a separate brand and marketed and managed separately from ISKCON, by Krishna conscious individuals. This should not be a transformation or replacement for the standard ISKCON programs. Open a yoga school (actually to be truly effective as more than simply a living for a teacher it needs to be more than simply a “yoga school”), do your thing and live or die based on your purity. Then if you live, send reinforcements to brahminical ISKCON centers. No-one will criticize you for working in a nuclear laboratory, so why would someone criticize you for being a “yoga teacher”, especially when you send sattvic committed people to reinforce our flagging facilities? Just don’t try to transform ISKCON into something else – go “outside” and penetrate deeper into human society. Demonstrate the fruits of Krishna Consciousness in your personal life. Make your living and dovetail your activity. This obviously requires some people to simultaneously manifest the brahminical ISKCON centers – that’s what we’re relying on H.H. Danavir Maharaja and other “old school purists” to do.

    For those who want to try this, if you want to avoid being criticized, just don’t do it in the temple. Leave the temple as it is, and *just add this*. You take the risk. If this is a deviation then you will deviate, not deviate the temple. Assume the risk and do the hard work, if you really believe in it, and don’t disturb the devotees while you do it.

    I’m not going to stop what I do, and I’m not going to demand that others do what I do. My only request is this: Please give us some more functional environments to send people to.

    I “joined” through the Loft in Auckland and went on to open Gaura Yoga in Wellington with my wife in 1998, and a significant number of the present ISKCON temple staff in Australia came through these centers. I don’t know, when does it stop being a “new innovation” and prove itself as a working model? (Not that I need to be convinced personally – just curious).

  43. Suresh das says :

    If teaching yoga asanas is too objectionable for ISKCON to be involved with, there are so many other ways ISKCON could participate in spreading Krishna Consciouness to the exploding yoga movement.

    For instance, the largest yoga school in Laguna Beach, California, which is in fact a chain of schools, is only one mile from the nearest ISKCON center. Why not do a chanting program at the school, and distribute some prasadam? I have taken it upon myself to distribute free BBT books to the students. I regularly give out invitations to the Sunday Feast. In the last 13 years I have been practicing at the school, I have never seen any devotees from the local ISKCON center do programs at the school, or give a class on self-realization, or put up a flyer advertising the Sunday Feast, or take the trouble to invite anyone to our centers. Even when the annual Laguna Beach Rathyatra Festival comes around, there is no advertisement or promotion at the school, even though hundreds of receptive students regularly practice there. I checked with the local temple. The only advertisement which was done this year, was to put up flyers at other ISKCON centers in the area.

    ISKCON preachers could come and teach “Introduction to the Upanishads (Sri Isopanishad)” or introductory Bhagavad-gita classes. Many people who have been practicing yoga for some time, are now genuinely inquistive to understand higher spiritual knowledge, but it seems there is no one qualified from the yoga community at this time to teach pure spiritual knowledge or ideas.

    This is where we could come in, without compromising our principles or mission.

  44. krishna-kirti says :

    No traditionalist or conservative devotee I know of has ever criticized Loft preaching. Instead, from my fellow traditionalists I’ve only heard praise about it over the years. As far as I know, the idea is simple: invite people to a cultural setting that is familiar to them, but give them prasadam, sadhu-sanga, and books.

    Atma Yoga on the other hand is promoted as a method of self-realization–something no one ever did for the Loft program. If Atma Yoga is to be classified as a method of self realization, then it comes in the “bogus” category.

    Although some devotees say they practice hatha yoga, but under the name of Atma Yoga and distance themselves from some of its more sordid practices, hatha-yoga was still something Srila Prabhupada discouraged. The problem with ISKCON’s hatha-yoga movement is that this fact seems to have dropped out of their calculations. Hatha-yoga was also “exploding” when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet. (It was around for him to criticize, wasn’t it?) Except for Srila Prabhupada being no longer personally present to restrain those who want it, what has significantly changed about the time, place, and circumstances since then that today makes it a “no brainer”?

  45. Suresh das says :

    I am not suggesting doing this type of preaching for free. The laxmi is really quite lucrative. Take for example Krishna Das (associated with the Vedanta Society), who has recorded many famous bhajans to Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, but who also has some nice Hare Krishna melodies as well. Krishna Das came to our yoga school a few years back. He performed bhajans in front of an audience of about 100 yoga students for two hours. He played by himself, on his harmonium, without any other musical accompaniment.

    All the students chanted along with him, at least on the Hare Krishna part of his program, because virtually everyone knows how to chant the Hare Krishna mantra, or can learn it very easily. It was unfortunately one of the saddest, most lifeless kirtans I have ever participated in. Krishna Das did not perform for free. He charged $4000 for two hours of chanting and playing harmonium.

    Last weekend at another local yoga school, a local psychic gave a class on Bhagavad-gita. She charged $200 per person. Twenty yoga students attended. Not bad – $4000 for two hours of teaching what devotees in our temples have been giving away for free for years.

    The presentation just needs to be packaged and marketed professionally. Virtually no one can hold a candle to ISKCON devotees when it comes to presenting Vedic Culture, and the Vaishnava understanding of the Vedic literatures.

  46. Akruranatha says :

    At some point we need to make the “hard sale” that Suresh refers to (#34), and explain to people how washing Lord Krishna’s pots and going on book distribution is actually yoga. I am sure many people can get it (and many are obviously getting it because they are joining and serving in ISKCON all the time).

    Kitchen detail in an ISKCON temple is part of Deity worship. It is actually most exalted devotional service. Of course, one must follow the other rules and regulations of bhakti yoga, such as rising early, bathing, wearing tilak, chanting sixteen rounds, following the four regs, attending Bhagavatam class, worshiping Tulasi devi, etc. There are so many “dos” and “do nots” before we can become truly qualified to work in Lord Krishna’s kitchen or touch His pots and other paraphernalia (but ISKCON is so merciful, we let practically anyone wash the pots!)

    I do not know anything about David Swensen or John Friend, except what Suresh writes about them here. I hope that as their yoga practice matures, they will someday get a chance to meet the Personality of Godhead face to face. Then, with a little more advancement, they can develop a more intimate relationship in servitorship, friendship, parenthood or conjugal love. At that point, they might appreciate washing His pots in an ISKCON temple as the highest yoga.

    [I pray that I may someday come to more fully appreciate it, too.]

    Swensen and Friend reportedly cannot see the consistency between ISKCON practice and the yoga described in Srila Prabhupada’s books. I wonder though, do they still regularly read Srila Prabhupada’s books? That “hearing” from an authorized source (personality of devotee) about Lord Krishna and His instructions is the best yoga. It uproots all the unwanted things from our hearts, which every yogi should know is essential to any yoga practice.

    We should have positive discussions amongst ourselves and with others about how ISKCON practice is consistent with the bhakti yoga process described in Prabhupada’s books. I am sure many yogis can see it if they sincerely try. (And I am sure we can improve our own practice, too. Speaking for myself, there is a lot of room for improvement in bringing my practice in line with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.)

    Ridiculing yoga practitioners should be reserved, if at all, for the very first-class devotees who are constantly engaged in devotional service. Danavir Maharaja can get away with it perhaps, but I would be a hypocrite if I looked down on anyone for doing healthy yoga practices (it has to beat eating cheese puffs and watching movies on TV).

    Lord Caitanya revealed that the treasure of prema bhakti cannot be approached through philosophical speculation, or sacrifices performed by fruitive workers, or the practice of mystic yoga, but may very easily be obtained through devotional service, by chanting Hare Krishna.

    Mystic yoga was the method generally practiced in satya yuga, when people’s physical and mental constitutions were very different from ours (they could live 100,000 years!) In treta yuga people performed elaborate sacrifices, in dvapara yuga they performed exquisite Deity worship, but today in kali yuga those who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship Lord Caitanya through congregational chanting of Hare Krishna. (Kalau tad dhari kirtanam)

    Of course all of us here know these things. None of us really thinks that there is any need for ISKCON devotees to “harmonize mystic and bhakti yoga” (do we?)

    But for those who are attracted to mystic yoga and want to learn more about the Vedic conclusion, they do have a need to “harmonize” their practices with bhakti yoga. Then they will see (as Suresh Prabhu sees when he couples his breathing exercises with mental chanting of the maha mantra) that their yoga is really having a powerful effect. The real yoga is actually coming into direct contact with Krishna through His holy names, received in the disciplic succession through Srila Prabhupada. We hope they eventually may graduate to full-on bhakti yoga.

    [And I hope I will too. A real Vaisnava is no ordinary thing.]

    So, it is a good thing if devotee “yoga teachers” are bringing that to their students.

    And as Praghosa Prabhu and others point out, the practice of various asanas and breathing techniques are at least healthy for the body and can keep it fit for devotional service. Although Srila Prabhupada did not teach us many asanas (the one I always think of is, “Sit properly!,” on the japa tape), he did not forbid us from keeping our bodies healthy by doing simple yoga exercises, either, as far as I know.

    Srila Prabhupada gave us the example that he took walks every day and got massages for his health. He did not neglect his health and did not want us to neglect ours. Not that a healthy body is an end in itself, but we understand that we may need a healthy body to do our service nicely, as Praghosa already said so well.

    In the “On Chanting” recording, Srila Prabhupada says that by chanting Hare Krishna “your health will improve” and “everything will be alright”. It is a fact. Many of the things we are supposed to do as ISKCON devotees – rising early, taking cold showers, getting sufficient (but not too much) rest, eating healthy vegetarian prasadam (but not too much), living a very regulated life, and abstaining from illicit sex and all forms of intoxication – will make us very healthy, too. These things are all consistent with a true “yoga lifestyle.” (Do devotees anywhere still preach about the “yoga diet”, as they used to?)

    I hope that the ISKCON devotees who are teaching yoga are very well-versed in Srila Prabhupada’s instructions about yoga, and how his instructions are really the most authentic and authorized. Many modern so-called yogis are confused about the real distinction between the jiva and paramatma, between brahman and parabrahman.

    Even ancient sages were confused about these things, because devotional service is confidential and generally available only to a select few. In Suhotra Prabhu’s “Six Systems of Vedic Philosphies” he describes how the “Yoga darshan” of sage Patanjali is intimately linked to the atheistic Sankhya system espoused by the pseudo-Kapila (not the famous Kapila who is described in the Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita, who is the son of Devahuti and who actually teaches pure devotional service).

    Vedanta-sutra 2.1.3 states, etena yoga-prayuktah (“as Sankhya was refuted, so also is Yoga”). According to Suhotra, although Patanjali’s yoga smrti admits the existence of God in several sutras, they are not essential to the system as a whole, which is mostly based on principles imported from atheistic Sankhya philosopy.

    The real Vedanta darshan offered in Sriman Bhagavatam and the glorious Bhaktivedanta purports is still obscure to many people. That is the real Sankhya and Yoga taught by the greatest authorities, the Personality of Godhead Vasudeva and His pure devotees like Narada Muni. One of ISKCON’s goals is to clarify all these things. I am sure our ISKCON yoga teachers are up to the task.

  47. asprng_vaishnav says :

    Hare Krsna
    I entirely agree with comment#40 by Sitapati Prabhu.
    Devotees can risk their funds and resources to start these “Yoga centers”. Do not ask iskcon to commit funds and resources for these centers. Barring few exceptions, iskcon temples can not support cow-protection programs due to lack of funds and resources which are authorized by Srila Prabhupad and previous Acharyas. “Hatha-Yoga centers” are not even approved by SP.
    Also, do not ask iskcon to send existing devotees to Hatha-Yoga classes. You can target general population and send them to iskcon temples, not the other way round.
    Hari Bol

  48. omdas says :

    Hare Krishna,

    Coming from Hatha Yoga background I am very surprised to see some comments made by some devotees here. I also saw some quotes taken from Shrila Prabhupada’s conversations and quotations from different places. Any ways I will like to make few comments pointing different issues one by one.

    Firstly when we take some quotes from Prabhupada which I personally believe is very wrong to do every time without comparing the situation and just copy from some where and paste it in the context here as we have to understand that why did Prabhupada made that comment, to whom & what were the circumstances. This idea came to my mind as I was asking question regarding this debate was will I ever criticize Yoga (any kind of yoga) which has been recommended by Krishna, many saints including Vyasadeva and Patanjali Muni and many acharyas as well, then the answer that came from me was yes I will criticize some one doing yoga if he is not doing it with right understanding or if I know that what he is doing is not going to bring him any near to God. We all know from many examples that Prabhupada gave different advices to different people in different situation! This is just dependent on time, place and circumstance. For examples he said that he does not mind devotees eating meat if they are preaching(sorry I do not have reference from where did he said that but I have read some letter and there is some thing of this sort said by Prabhupada saying himself), so shall we understand that he was saying some thing different? No just he was emphasising how important it is to preach and which is very great in its nature. The main goal of Shrila Prabhupada was to bring every one to the level of pure love to Krishna.

    Second question is, is Hatha Yoga really bad for Bhakti? Then we can check in scriptures and some of the most authorative scriptures like Bhagwat Gita and Shrimad Bhagwatam do not say any thing like that, in fact it has been prescribed as a style of Yoga and how one can liberate itself from this body. No doubt in this age of Kali it is very difficult (not impossible) to liberate self from Maya. Again we do use many western and some times even tamasik medicines to keep our self healthy then why not use this sattvic style of keeping our self healthy? Now yes comparing to Bhakti I will agree that Hatha is not superior by to use Hatha Yoga as helping hand is not wrong (I believe it this way; you may not).

    Thirdly there have been instances where Prabhupada asked some disciples to use Hatha Yoga as a preaching tool then why not take this whole Hatha Yoga in that sense and appreciate those people who have talent to attract people in there way? And they are at least doing some thing.

    Fourthly talking about presentation then yes what we do have to be authentic and not breaking any rules and regulation. Hence let it be Hatha Yoga or Karma Yoga it has to be done under principles and according to the standards. We have seen people breaking rules and regulations even in the name of Bhakti and trying to abuse and manipulate others even in the name of pure Bhakti so if only one type of presentation of our society is perfect then why do such instances happen? It is only human contaminated mind who wants to make sense enjoyment and it can try to do this from any thing and any where.

    Fifthly why is no one objecting or questioning those authorities (local temple authorities) to let these kinds of Yoga sessions (as shown in the photos above) happen in there temple. If it was done outside then it is duty of those devotees to fall in such trap. We have to also see when these types of classes were taken and are they done any more of this type by Atma Yoga or any such? If not then we have to just take lesson from this, note the concerned authorities to keep an eye for not letting this happen again and get beyond it, at last all us can make mistakes.

    At last I will like to thank all those Yoga teachers who are genuinely trying to present ISKCON in any ways they can. At least they are doing some kind of preaching then nothing.

  49. Krishna Dharma says :

    re comment 43

    I think we should be cautious about charging for our programmes. As I understand it, this is always forbidden. Among other such statements, Srila Prabhupada writes:

    Professional reciters may ask money to extinguish the blazing fire within their bellies, but they cannot make any spiritual improvement or become perfect. It is therefore strictly forbidden to recite Srimad-Bhagavatam as a profession to earn a livelihood. Only one who is completely surrendered at the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, depending fully on Him for personal maintenance or even for maintenance of his family, can attain perfection by recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is full of narrations of the pastimes of the Lord and His devotees. The process can be summarized as follows: the audience must be faithfully receptive to the Bhagavata message, and the reciter should completely depend on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavata recitation must not be a business. If done in the right way, not only does the reciter achieve perfect satisfaction, but the Lord also is very satisfied with the reciter and the audience, and thus both are liberated from material bondage simply by the process of hearing. SB 4.12.49-50

    We cannot charge, but of course dakshine is another thing. All donations gratefully received. :)

  50. sita-pati das says :

    Sita-pati dasHi, my name is Sita-pati das. I’m your cousin/brother/nephew from Down Under.

    If you don’t already know me or know of me, you can find out about me from my blogs: and

    My humble obeisances to all the devotee readers of, and shout outs to all my peeps back in NZ, and in Lima, Peru! :-)

    The great thing about Krishna Consciousness is that it’s personal. It cuts through all the confusion and the misunderstandings that so easily arise from an impersonal approach and understanding. While we’re discussing hatha yoga and Krishna Consciousness I think we should keep it personal.

    If you think that Atmananda das is driving an inappropriate transformation of ISKCON identity and mission with his program (, then the best thing is to address him and speak to that. Atmananda prabhu is a disciple of His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami and is a straight-up, sincere guy wanting to make a contribution. He’s open to receiving feedback and lifting his game by taking advantage of the wisdom of others. I know, because I spoke with him about this and he told me that personally.

    If, on the other hand, your take is that “Hatha Yoga is always bad”, then to be coherent you really need to address the work of H.H. Devamrita Swami over the past 15 years. The best place to start is with this article:

    The Loft Preaching Paradigm

    and these centers:

    The Loft, Auckland Gaura Yoga, Wellington Atma Yoga, Brisbane Urban Yoga, Melbourne

    bearing in mind that a significant number of the ISKCON personnel in Australia and New Zealand, and key players in other yatras (shout out to Sastra Krt! :-) ) have come from these centers over the past ten years.

    Either way, we should be clear about what and who we are talking about, rather than allowing an impersonal approach to mix and obscure the issues. This is obviously a hot topic right now, and I think it’s important that we speak about it with clarity.

    I’m happy to take part in a moderated discussion on Dandavats with any persons, such as H.H. Danavir Goswami, H.G. Krishna-kirti prabhu, and H.G. Atmananda prabhu, interested and involved in these issues. The need for innovation and the need to protect against deviation are both valid and necessary tendencies in a dynamic society. The way that the tension between these two is balanced is through dialog. We’re devotees. Let’s keep it personal.

    your servant in Brisbane, Sita-pati das

  51. Kesava Krsna dasa says :

    Dear prabhus,

    Our main consideration here is to fan whatever spark of Krsna consciousness there may be – subject to Iskcon acceptability. It is the easiest thing in the world to pooh-pooh something which confronts our sensitivities. Devotees can be quite harsh to their own kind, not just in matters untried or innovative. I am not merely referring to the yoga discussion.

    Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta being acaryas did not innovate in vain. If an acarya is one who sets an example for all of us, are we barred from doing likewise because we are fallen? There seems to be a mode of thinking telling us that because Srila Prabhupada is no longer around we cannot or should not try different ways of attracting souls back to Krsna. Who says Srila Prabhupada is not around? Can anyone prove he is not around?

    Thinking this way creates an attitude laden with suspicion that nobody else, not even his followers can innovate without full trust. If devottes do not have the confidence or trust in others to preach Krsna consciousness in their field of expertise, it symptomizes a deep seated problem.

    This so-called disparity between the conservatives and innovators or progressives is not neccessarily a bad thing, but the vehemence in which a disapproval is made, and to not comprimise because of what Srila Prabhupada said according to time, place and circumstance cannot be set in stone.

    With proper guidiance and nurturing we should stoke the fires of Bhakti-yoga and plead less on Srila Prabhupada’s absence, which is a faithless doctrine. Those who wish to undermine genuine attempts to make devotees based on this idea exhibit their mistrust in fellow devotees’ abilities by underestimating the power of Srila Prabhupada’s continued presence.

    In his presence are many competent devotees who with the benefit of hindsight and forward thinking ideas are endeavoring to make new devotees. If on the plea of being a sceptical conservative we think otherwise, then our beliefs will produce stagnation, which happens to be the opposite of innovation.

    This lack of trust is stifling. Only the power of the holy names can overcome this.

    Hare Krsna. Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  52. Suresh das says :

    If charging for a program at a yoga school is objectionable, then give all the money collected away in charity. That would be even more appreciated. One year I did a Christmas Bazaar at one of the local yoga studios. All the goods I sold and all the money I collected went to an ISKCON charity in India which gives blankets and clothing away to the poor. Everyone would appreciate devotees coming, singing, lecturing and giving away the money collected in charity – great idea.

    To comment on #44, David Swenson was a devotee in the Dallas temple for 5 years. He was a book distributor and did many other services. You can read his interview in Yoga Journal online if you Google it. What he stated was he felt used and overworked. He couldn’t feel the joy of Bhakti-yoga found in our books, so he left ISKCON. He certainly wasn’t a brand new Bhakta – he was around for a while, and did a lot of service.

    I made a mistake. John Friend was not the other yoga teacher, who was a former ISKCON devotee. It was Richard Freeman. Richard Freeman was an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a sannyasi – Parivrajakacarya. I don’t know what happened to him, or how he feels about ISKCON now – he isn’t saying. His interview with Yoga Journal may be Googled as well.

    I was a pot washer too. I washed pots every day for the first 9 months I was living in the temple. Maybe it is an exalted service, and that sounds great in theory. But it gets old after a while. Anyone can feel overworked and feel exploited too. It has happened before, and I am not reporting anything new. For me, I now have a lifetime aversion to washing pots. It would help if more of the leadership washed pots as well and set the example that it is really an exalted service. Then more devotees might believe it.

  53. Akruranatha says :

    I always remember how in Berkeley temple after some late program (maybe it was Janmasthami), when everyone was exhausted, His Holiness Hanumat Presaka Swami went into the kitchen (which was still a mess) and started washing all the pots with great vigor and enthusiasm.

    We tried to stop him, saying “Maharaja, you are a sannyasi. Let us wash the pots.” But he said in his humble way something to the effect that he needed the exercise after taking prasadam at night.

    Undoubtedly, Maharaja saw how it was yoga (and good exercise, too).

    In the beginning of mystic yoga practice work is said to be the means, and upon attaining the yogaruddha stage, cessation of material activities is said to be the means. (I am not sure I ever understood that verse — what kind of “work” do the mystic yogis do? Don’t they also wash pots and do menial service for their gurus?)

    But if we become fortunate we can see washing pots in ISKCON as not only the means but the end in itself. When Lord Caitanya cleaned the Gundica temple He was shedding profuse tears of love.

    We do see that one thing Richard Freeman (Parivrajakacarya dasa) has been up to is training Ananda Dasi in asthanga yoga in the early ’90s, and then later (one presumes) she became a follower of Srila Prabhupada. Perhaps he is still carrying Srila Prabhupada’s influence in his own way.

    I really did not mean to slight Mr. Swensen, either. For all I know they are still getting newer and newer realizations from Prabhupada’s books every day. I would not be surprised if they got back involved in ISKCON in some capacity (as I said, I never even heard of Friend and Swensen until Suresh mentioned them)

    Suresh Prabhu, if the leaders we worked for in ISKCON had some ulterior motives and did not really care about us, we may have felt exploited. It might help if we try to see how we are really serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission and for that purpose we respect the chain of authority, as any organization demands.

    (Its not only in ISKCON that people find their boss is a jerk. For the most part, I have been blessed with leaders and friends in ISKCON who have many transcendental great qualities. And in mundane life, I have had some good bosses and some really bad ones, too.)

    At any rate, Krishna is in our heart and is aware of our mentality and sincerity. He knows all the sacrifices we make and austerities we accept to come to Him, and He always appreciates them and never forgets.

    If we feel exploited in one ISKCON environment, maybe we can find another ISKCON community where we have deeper friendship and sympathy with the leaders and other devotees (but wherever we go we take our own karma with us). Whatever we do, we should never give up on the process, the maha mantra and Srila Prabhupada’s books and the society of wonderful devotees Prabhupada has given us.

    I agree we can work on communicating together more respectfully and positively. I know Danavir Maharaja’s intention was to use sarcasm to stop what he perceives as a contemptable deviation. (He has certainly succeeded in getting lots of attention, at least).

    I agree with Kesava Krishna and others who call for more trust in the way other devotees are being inspired to come up with innovative programs. We also need a check against deviations, but I like to think we can almost always address these things in a respectful and unifying way. Otherwise we may create walls and camps and even schisms that could easily have been avoided.

    There are lots of good devotees out there, and ISKCON is getting bigger and more far flung, which is not a bad thing, as long as the core stays solid. There will be lots of scope for individual initiative and innovative preaching.

    I mean, we do have Srila Prabhupada’s books, tapes, videos. If we inculcate the mood of studying Srila Prabhupada’s books intently and discussing them from all angles, we do not have to be afraid so much that devotees will split apart and leave and deviate. The success of preaching can be tested by how serious people are becoming in hearing from Srila Prabhupada’s books. We judge by the results.

    In ISKCON of Silicon Valley (ISV), or new motto is that devotional service should be “Individual, Spontaneous and Voluntary” (ISV). If someone is inspired to preach or serve in a certain way, he or she should be given some encouragement to make it successful. If it succeeds that’s great, and if not it didn’t hurt to try.

  54. Suresh das says :

    There are eight limbs in Ashtanga yoga. The first two limbs are the Yamas and Niyamas. Yamas and Niyamas are similar to Bhakti-yoga practice in that one accepts things which are favorable and avoids things which are unfavorble (strict rules & regulations). The next limb is Asanas – the actual physical practice. Then comes Pranayama – breath control. These first four limbs could then be referred to as “in the beginning work is said to be the means”.

    The last four limbs involves higher and higher forms of meditation on the Super Soul (cessation of work as being the means). Of course Patanjali doesn’t just come out and tell the aspiring practitioner that he is ultimately going to be meditating on the Super Soul, or that this is the goal. For this reason, according to Srimad Bhagavatam, Patanjali is counted as one of the atheists (even though he is a disciple of Srila Vyasadev) because his system is not direct devotional service of the Lord (theism is Bhakti-yoga, and all other processes are atheism). Many people can not practice direct devotional service, so yoga helps them gradually become purified, with the chance of becoming future candidates for accepting devotional service.

    By gradual progression a person reawakens his voluntary relationship of service to the Super Soul. When yoga is perfected Bhakti-yoga begins. This philosophy is confirmed in the sixth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, both by the statements of Lord Krishna, and in Srila Prabhupada’s purports as well.

    This process of progressing through the eight limbs is very complex. It is not something simplistic or easy, and takes many years or lifetimes to complete.

    Even if ISKCON devotees never come to the yoga studios to preach, and distribute Krishna Consciousness, yoga people will make gradual progress anyway, because the yoga process is purifying.

  55. anandadasi says :

    Two students of Atmananda asked for people to address Atmananda personally when discussing the Atma couples yoga question. I didn’t make it personal because Kundalini/white tantric Yoga was not invented by Atma it was simply adjusted for the devotee community by Atma Prabhu. While he did say it was a totally new technology in his early literature, he studied under Yogi Bhajans senior students and learned from them. This may have been to make it more palatable to the devotee community, in hope the benefit could be given without weakening the link to Srila Prabhupada, this is something we talked about many years back in LA before the teachers training for devotees really started. He wanted to make it a form that was unquestionably Vaisnava.

    Also, I believe lengthy discussions have already happened between him and many of our leaders.

    And of course, he is welcome like all of us, to post.

    As far as my possibly being made a devotee by Richard Freeman, he did not bring me to KC. I am sorry if I implied that. I can say I was struck that there was something special about him and curious what that was, and in addition that, I guess the relevant point is that my attraction to Yoga was indicative of a serious spiritual calling that eventually led me to be introduced to active devotees and to be brought to the temple, and to take to the practices very quickly because I had already been practicing similar things for some time. It sure seems there are lots of other people out there who might be walking a similar road right around now and I think that is the main point.

    As far as the comment about Ananda (me) being a follower of our line ‘presumably’, I can only say I took to KC in the very strict old school traditional, braminical way for some time, living and serving in the temple for 4 years, totally surrendering so to speak, and graduating from Bhakti Sastri before leaving under GBC guidance to do innovative preaching, to study and eventually marry etc. These days I am not so old school or surrendered according to the old definition and I don’t know exactly what that makes me. I know our family in many ways is very strict and traditional (mostly because my husband is very strict and traditional in a good way), but that some of old structures don’t fit me personally, and to be honest I feel too tired and worn out in that way to try to keep squeeze myself or my students into them artificially anymore. It has become a kind of allergy. That might be indicative of my lack of advancement, I don’t know. But I do know that the more contemplative wing that is growing in ISKCON (japa retreats, solid study of our basic sastras, yoga asana practice, focused morning programs that are more meditative) capture my heart, give me hope and help me find my growing edge. These events are places that I feel comfortable bringing outside people to, whereas, there are other events that we are used to as the norm now that seem too far from western peoples comfort zone, or too mechanical for me to feel comfortable sharing with most outside yogis, co workers etc. And I have heard similar things from other practicing devotees, some of them are very senior devotees.
    Pls feel free to write me directly if you feel I have made some offense so I can rectify,

  56. asprng_vaishnav says :

    Hare Krsna
    I went to New York Rathyatra today. I asked Maharaj who was answering questiions(forgot to ask Maharaj’s name): “Can HathaYoga enable a person to realize God?”.
    Maharaj mentioned “HathaYoga is a one of AshtangaYoga which are recommended in BhagvadGita for self realization, but on its own HathaYoga can not do anything for self realization.”
    Does AtmaYoga consist of all AshtangaYoga? I checked the website and it does not mention specific details.
    Here is a sentence from AtmaYoga website:
    “Most yoga classes will be beneficial for the body and mind but does little for the soul that is still craving for the ultimate experience. It is for these mature souls that ATMA YOGA was created. ”
    So, they are indirectly saying that AtmaYoga gives benefits for the soul.
    Now ISKCON originated from Gaudiya Vaishnav Matha and that is Lord Chaitanya’s movement.
    Consider this:
    harer nama harer nama
    harer namaiva kevalam
    kalau nasty eva nasty eva
    nasty eva gatir anyatha

    Now if ISKCON sponsors/approves AtmaYoga, will we not go against Lord Chaitanya’s instruction for spiritual realization? Will we not create a parallel cult within ISKCON?

    Also AtmaYoga or HathaYoga will make sincere iskcon devotess is a speculation at this time.
    A friend gave me a RamdevBaba dvd on Pranaayam/Yoga some months back. I watch that dvd to learn/review Pranaayam techniques. While demonstrating, Ramdev Baba talks about merging into Brahman etc, so he clearly is a Mayavadi. I just ignore his philosophy and focus on learning Praanayam techniques.
    I understand that iskcon devotees/preachers are upset that Mayavadis, Buddhists, SwamiNarayans etc are aquiring new followers thru Yoga classes and they feel that iskcon should do the same. How many percentage of those so-called followers are following underlying philosophies is a moot question.
    Most HathaYoga practitioners i had known, do HathaYoga/Praanayam for health reasons.
    Out of 100 HathaYoga students, if we get one devotee, then IMHO is not a good reutrn on investment for iskcon.
    Again devotees can try running “HathaYoga centers” on their own outside of iskcon premises and make sincere iskcon devotees.
    Hari Bol

  57. Suresh das says :

    People who are unfamiliar with Asthanga-yoga often can not conceive of it being work or even exercise. They imagine we are sitting down in a lotus position and meditating. I took a friend once to one of our classes. I think he lasted 3 minutes (another one bit the dust). I have seen weight lifters and all kinds of aerobic-type practitioners come and go. Ashtanga is extreme yoga. Like I said before, I am a beginner. Perhaps because I am older (most of the other students are 10-20 years younger than me, or I think I know more than everyone else (coming from a Krishna Consciousness background), or because I am a man (I don’t listen very well), or perhaps because I way over analyze everything to death, progress for me is really slow. I am still, after 13 years of practice, in the beginning level. Whenever we come out of class, we are all sopping wet head-to-foot, the windows are all steamed up from our combined body head, and the floor looks like a swimming pool – that’s Ashtanga yoga.

  58. anandadasi says :

    3 points, with respect:

    1 IN 1000 IS A GREAT RETURN:

    I think that if every maturing ISKCON Devotee strained their brain to find a way to very personally, cleanly, sincerely and with love- connect even just ONE person a year who is receptive- to real KC, the world would change faster towards the Golden Age Lord Caitanya talked about and we would be pleasing Srila Prabhupada. For innovators that take a few steps 1) looking at the world and seeing who is becoming ready for KC 2) introspecting to see who you can connect to and have an exchange of genuine care and trust with out there 3) making a plan on how to help them touch their soul and cultivate Bhakti for Lord Krishna.

    If that means teaching a 1000 students Yogasana, pranayama, meditation and chanting or the Basic Gita or Vegetarian Cooking or whatever as an honest Vaisnava then that seems to me that is great success,especially if people are truly touched. Even bringing one soul to the Lords lotus feet is a huge offering.

    More Japa Retreats, loving relationships trainings, parenting skills classes and sweet loving and safe preschools, curriculum for Vaisnavas to help aspiring Vaisnavas handle the challenges of the material world, with grace, goodness and Krishna Consciousness, for real. This is something very attractive and draws ripe souls on its own. It does not water down the milk Prabhupada gave us, it churns the milk. Lets take the cream and then make some ghee.

    Whether conservative or liberal in approach there are people we are uniquely able to reach, I would like to just see one of the main points being made here in this whole
    discussion is that is important for us to reach out and help grow devotees somehow or other.

    3. With respect, but to be accurate, Classical Ashtanga (Ashta-8 anga-limbed) Yoga is not what is popularly taught as Ashtanga Yoga, modern Ashtanga Yoga comes from Pattabhis Jois in the line of Krishnamacharya who mixed western physical fitness training and Ashtanga Yoga practice and in the early years (as far as I have been told by Gary Kraftsow, who was his direct student) adjusted it to teach young Brahman Boys. Apparently, real Ashtanga Yoga is taught in phases according to age and temperament and in youth the focus is asana and discipline, later the focus moves towards Pranayama and later in life towards much more Meditation. Hare Krishna. Jaya Shree Radhe!

  59. Kesava Krsna dasa says :

    Dear prabhus,

    I have just read on BBC world news that patients with chronic lower back pain are to be referred to certain yoga teachers for treatment. The ultra conservative medical authorities have noticed some merit in yoga.

    Now, these patients will not always be the average vegetarian, pot smoking hippyísh types, but people who are seeking ways to relieve their suffering. Guess what! Could this increase in yoga practice signify a potential to turn to Bhakt-yoga if our publications and other preaching tools avail them.

    Perhaps the Lord is telling us something.

    Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

  60. bhakta piyush says :

    It is very clear that ISKCON has a certain standard of practice, worship and guidelines. If one wishes to practice yoga on a personal level just as one may wish to take up a sport or study astrology then that is an *individual* choice (according to the consciousness at a particular time – and hopefully after consulting ones superiors) however these “alternatives” cannot be officially introduced as an “additional” program to the already established process. It may be the occasional visitor, just like the many ideas or inputs that come and go, but never the host.

  61. asprng_vaishnav says :

    Hare Krsna
    Regarding AshtangYoga:
    I referred to a Yoga book in Marathi(an Indian Language). This book follows Maharshi Patanjali’s Yogasutra. Here is what that book says:
    AshtangaYoga consists of
    1. Yama – Rules of behavior in society.
    2. Niyam – Austerity measures for self development.
    3. Asana – HathaYoga
    4. Praanayam – controlled breathing.
    5. Pratyahar – controlling senses.
    6. Dharana – concetration of mind for a short period of time.
    7. Dhyan – consistently performing Dharana
    8. Samadhi – Trance

    Now, Is it possible to teach all of above in 1 or 2 hours class, few times a week? HathaYoga classes claiming to teach AshtangaYoga, are they teaching all of above? If they are just teaching only some of those above, are they not cheating people?
    your servant
    Hari Bol

  62. Suresh das p says :

    Serious Ashtanga practitioners are practicing every day, twice each day, for many hours each day. Just like someone who only comes to the Sunday feast once each week is not going to make as much progress as someone who practices Krishna Consciousness strictly every day, and follows the complete program, you can’t give a vague example of practicing Ashtanga once a week for 1-2 hours, as the complete picture of all Ashtanga practitioners. There are many different degrees of practitioners. You can’t just lump them all into one example and say this is how things are.

    The idea that the women and men who a practicing Ashtanga-yoga can all be compared to Ajamil and the prostitute is naive and a misconception which comes from viewing things from the outside, with little actual information about how things really are.

    I find the Ashtanga practitioners whom I associate with to be very serious about yoga and advancing in spiritual life. Unfortunately they are missing Bhakti-yoga. There are very few devotees coming to explain deep philosophical ideas, from the Vaishnava prospective.

    This is what is needed.

  63. Akruranatha says :

    Dear Ananda dasi,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. Please forgive any unintentional offenses.

    When I said, “later (one presumes) she became a follower of Srila Prabhupada”, I did not mean that we might question whether you are really a follower of Srila Prabhupada. The fact that you are Srila Prabhupada’s sincere follower is obvious.

    I shocks me that I might have been misinterpreted as saying something so disrespectful to you. I have to be more careful of how my words can be interpreted. I have a tendency to be a little reckless. (I am overly talkative) Please forgive me if my words unintentionally caused you anxiety.

    What I didn’t know was whether your devotion to Srila Prabhupada came before or after your contact with Richard Freeman (Parivrajakacarya). I was “presuming” it came afterwards, and I was further presuming (being charitable to Richard Freeman) that he might have still carried some influence from Srila Prabhupada even after he left ISKCON.

    Thank you for clearing up that he (Parivrajakacarya/Freeman) did not make you a devotee, but still he gave you some inspiration on a path that eventually led you to becoming a serious Vaisnava. (Actually I do not think I ever met Parivrajakacarya, BTW).

    Honestly, I was feeling so joyful and grateful that devotees such as yourself keep coming to ISKCON, and my sentiment was that even Srila Prabhupada’s “blooped” disciples like Parivrajakacarya who are teaching Yoga may still be carrying some saffron dust from Srila Prabhupada, as evidenced by the fact that a former student of his has somehow eventually become a serious devotee.

    If even blooped devotee yoga teachers can have some positive influence, imagine what influence faithful devotee yoga teachers like yourself might have! That was my poorly expressed sentiment.

    As for your discussion of “old school” structures that make you uncomfortable, I can relate to what you are saying. You should not feel ashamed or defensive about it. As you say, many very senior devotees have expressed similar things. It sounds like a good topic for much serious discussion.

    And maybe it relates to feelings of “exploitation” discussed by Suresh. Our old method of all moving into ashrams and living communally under the political rule of temple authorities might create an artificial dependency that is not really in accord with some people’s natures.

    And maybe some of our modes of communication and social and emotional interraction have also been affected by these “old school” structures in various positive and negative ways. There is probably a lot more that could be said about these topics.

    (I would hope the discussion would not take the form of indignant accusations and insults by “pro” and “con” sides of some perceived debate, but more of a friendly, collegial, thoughtful and respectful istaghosti among faithful devotees)

    Also, thanks to Suresh, for your illuminating discussion re BG 6.3 and Patanjali. You answered my question very well.

    Even though I know next to nothing about asthanga yoga or Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, I hope that the real authorities on these subjects can explain how they relate to Bhagavad Gita As It Is, and to Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta and Nectar of Devotion. So I am glad that there are devotees who are studying these things and also that there are devotees out there interacting in the wide world of people studying and practicing this kind of yoga.

    I trust that Krishna will guide these sincere devotees in how to increase the glorification of Srila Prabhupada’s books in this way. Devotees will have a positive influence in whatever spheres they move in.

  64. Pandu das says :

    Regarding Ashtanga Yoga and Ananda’s comment #56, part 3…

    Thanks, Ananda, for that info on the background of Ashtanga Yoga. I’m capitalizing it because it seems like some kind of trademark or something. I also came to practice bhakti yoga through beginning with hatha. It was a gym class in college. I remember going to one of the student libraries and finding a huge yoga section. I signed out _The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga_ by Swami Vishnudevananda, and upon seeing the extreme postures I knew there must be some important philosophy or they wouldn’t be doing this. Althoughthe philosophy in there was very impersonal, it was intriguing enough to get me started on a path that lead me a few years later to buying Bhagavad-gita As It Is in the used section of a new age bookstore, and also to one yoga class where they did this “Ashtanga Yoga.”

    By that time I thought I knew quite a lot about yoga ( easy to imagine Krishna laugh when I say that), and I understood “astanga yoga” only as the eight part system of yoga: yama, niyama, asana…samadhi. This Ashtanga Yoga class I visited was like some kind of aroebic workout that someone just made up to sell to Americans. I thought they should use a name that does not already indicate a genuine yoga system. Ironically, I bought Bhagavad-gita As It Is because I wanted to learn Sanskrit so I could get the yoga from before it was packaged for Americans. Of course I eventually found out that what I really wanted was yoga packaged As It Is, and that I could get started without having to learn all that Sanskrit first, thanks to Srila Prabhupada.

    I’ve only been to a few hatha yoga classes, but as I understand it, they’re basically about asana and pranayama. Maybe some teach yama and niyama, but to me these are extremely important. Yama: nonharming, nonstealing, greedlessness,, truthfulness, and what I understood as ‘conservation of energy’ (bramacarya).

    In regard to nonharming, I recall Srila Prabhupada saying something to the effect of ‘we should to chant Hare Krishna all the time, as we are killing all the time, when we walk, breathe, etc.’ Nonstealing… Krishna talks about that in Bhagavad-gita in regard to offering food for sacrifice. Et cetera. Anyone can see the value of greedlessness, truthfulness, and bramacarya in bhakti yoga.

    Similarly with niyama (I learned them as five from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras): Purity, contentment, austerity, self-study or study of scriptures, and self-surrender. Again, anyone can see the value of these principles in the practice of bhakti yoga. Unfortunately I don’t think these yama and niyama are taught much in yoga classes today. For me, they were the foundation of my yoga practice., which was to do my best with them to enable me to progress in the later steps. Skipping yama and niyama would make the yoga an empty show.

    Hare Krishna.

  65. anandadasi says :

    Re: Cheaters if not teaching all 8 limbs?

    Different people come to yoga for different things and Yoga practice has many different boons to offer (prabhupada said it was in t he category of fruitive activities), on the physical, mental and spiritual level, then on the soul level comes Bhakti Yoga. Familiarisation with the Yoga practice in most modern forms (even) tend to really breed respect for the Vedic Culture and familiarity with some of its spiritual practices. It does this in a notable percentage of Yoga practitioners, as we can see by the increase in OM chanting, and deity T-shirts and greetings of Namaste and the popularity of Krishna das and other kirtan leaders etc.

    The Vedic literatures are divided to help different kinds of people elevate. Even in Western form, something is happening here.

    Srila Prabhupada said this Krishna Consciousness was the post graduate study of spiritual life. It seems to me that going to preschool, then elementary school, high school and then college actually helps people for post graduate training.

    For instance, my yogasana teacher is mentioned in that Vanity Fair article Suresh brought up earlier in the discussion. He is a real yogi, whose life reflects his long study and he is teaching all eight limbs, he has taught many of the now famous teachers or their teachers who were listed int hat article. Under his guidance we also study the Yoga Sutras and Gita (who happens to be an initiated Prabhupada disciple) in our trainings. This has been going on for some years.

    Here in New York (where many of the Vanity Fair teachers mentioned have centers) there is a good number of students who are studying these earlier mentioned books, as well as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in depth and taking the instructions seriously, also several of the prominent teachers of these books at the studios are devotees.

    In my particular school, there is a picture of Prabhupada in the studio beside other well known Yogis and there is an alter with Radha Krishna and also one with Lord Shiva.
    Painted on the wall as a focus of meditation is a picture of Hanuman and Ram embracing. The teacher always plays the Maha Mantra in class (because it is recommended by sastra) and in every class he says to make every movement an offering to the lord, take to a vegetarian diet, cultivate gentleness and honesty, study the Gita daily etc. He has been teaching here in the City since the early 70’s I believe and practicing longer than that.

    Hare Krishna

  66. Suresh das says :

    Tamala Krsna: He’s been there now, Parivrajakacarya Swami, he’s been there for, I think, two or three years now. He’s worked pretty faithfully there. He tricks them. In the guise of teaching a little hatha-yoga, then he teaches bhakti.

    Prabhupada: That is preaching.

  67. Suresh das says :

    I understand Parivrajakacarya Swami is teaching a course combining both hatha and bhakti yoga to attract the people. This is a very good idea. Somehow or other inject the bhakti yoga. That will save them from the degradations of sense gratification.

    I hope this meets you in good health.

    Your ever well wisher,
    A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

  68. sarvo says :

    Does anyone else remember the incredibly effective blissful yoga of Hari Nama Sankirtana? As inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu over five hundred years ago, we would go out in groups from all temples and chant in public. As a result many people became attracted to Krishna Consciousness. Is there any chance we could do that again?

  69. Praghosa says :

    I read this today. It is SP’s secretary, Jagadish, writing a report to HH GKG. It is in Folio:

    “Regarding teaching other kinds of yoga. so that we may advertise an 8 or 9 day course for tourists, Prabhupada liked the idea. He said, “That will be very attractive. Other types of yoga are mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita. We can adopt that. Three or four men I can teach how to do it. Then you’ll be able to attract them. I can teach how to sit down, posture, asana, pranayama, without any difficulty. The yoga system as mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita we can take up , that will be bhakti-yoga, Use one. or two of the big rooms in the Gurukula building. I can teach the teachers how to practice.” You, Sarvabhavana, Dhananjaya and Mahavira were mentioned by Prabhupada as prospective teachers.”

    I just found it and thought it might stirr up some thoughts–SP was innovative!

    Your servant,
    Praghosa dasa

  70. Dhira Nitai das says :

    Hari Hari!

    It would be even more interesting to know why this particular instruction was not followed? Prabhupada even named prospective teachers?!

    Now we are trying to establish preaching program through Atma-yoga even without official ISKCON support and outside of ISKCON facilities. Especially in Croatia it will not cost ISKCON a cent.
    But bring laksmi and followers.
    Although it is not what we as Mahaprabhu’s followers are actually aspiring for, isn’t it?

    Your servant
    Dhira Nitai das

  71. Suresh das says :

    There appears to be some contradictions in this article against teaching hatha-yoga in ISKCON. In the beginning Maharaj states that teaching hatha-yoga is against the Krishna Consciousness mission. At the same time, three different letters have been produced, in which Srila Prabhupada explains how to present Krishna Consciousness through the teaching of hatha-yoga, and that he regards the mixing of bhakti-yoga with hatha-yoga to be preaching.

    I have argued for a long time now, through several articles which have been brought up at Dandavats against teaching hatha-yoga in ISKCON, that it is possible to chant the Hare Krishna mantra, and practice hatha-yoga at the same time. I have been personally doing it for many years now. I have been feeling and experiencing the benefits of chanting Hare Krishna silently on my breath, and have always wondered if this method could be taught to other students, so that they don’t waste their time only practicing dry physical asanas with little spiritual benefit. I am grateful now too, to find that my practice is being encouraged by the Sampradaya Acarya as well.

    We all know the Sastras state that hatha-yoga is not practical for the modern age. Srila Prabhupada many times discouraged the practice of hatha-yoga, stating that no one is practicing real yoga in this age, according to the instructions of Bhagavad-gita. He stated that the practice of hatha-yoga is meant for less intelligent persons, who are too much absorbed in the bodily concept of life.

    I propose that our job, as devotional preachers and missionaries, is to not actually participate in teaching yoga asanas or breathing techniques in ISKCON, but to plant the seed of bhakti, by teaching receptive yoga practitioners how to chant the Hare Krishna mantra, and add this chanting to their practice of hatha-yoga. Most yoga students are only practicing for exercise or to improve their bodies and health. I have noticed though, after many years of practice, that gradually people become more purified, and begin to inquire into the philosophy of self-realization.

    Devotees are already spreading Krishna Consciousness in the hatha-yoga community by providing our philosophical literature, by distribution of prasadam, and by chanting bhajans. We could go a step further and teach people the importance and benefits of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, and then show them how to add this chanting to their practice of their yoga.

    After all, the mind has to think of something. How boring yoga would be if all it was about was listening to the sound of one’s breath, as yoga is commonly taught. For me, hatha-yoga is always a full-blown, totally silent kirtan, every time I practice.

  72. Suresh das says :

    I made a mistake in stating that hatha-yoga practice for me is a “full-blown kirtan every time I practice.” This is an extreme exaggeration on my part. To experience such success would mean that I would be a much purer devotee than my actual reality. Most of the time chanting Hare Krishna is a great struggle for me. Once in a very great while there is a breakthrough. I have often wondered how I might find the secret of why I so rarely experience breakthroughs and illumination in my chanting.

    I would probably have to completely change my life. To practice true yoga I would need to live in a solitary or holy place away from society. I would probably do much better if I practiced only in the association of devotees, especially brahmacaris and sannyasis, but I can’t do that at this time.

    I have been practicing my silent chanting in hatha-yoga for a number of years now, almost on a daily basis. I practice my chanting in heat and cold, when I am feeling happy (rarely), and when I am distressed, and in sickness and health. I am learning to tolerate all kinds of discomforts, without sacrificing the chanting.

    When there is illumination, it comes to me for unexplainable reasons. I seem to have little control over the experience or its duration. I usually feel resigned to the experience though, because I know soon enough I will be back in the dumps struggling again.

    To me chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is the greatest of all adventures.