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TVP Discussion

Thursday, 28 August 2008 / Published in Discussion / 31,804 views

By Giriraj Swami

Yesterday I visited Dandavats. com to see the discussion about the design of the TVP, and I saw Tattvavit Prabhu’s letter, which included a sentence from a letter from me to him, which was featured by the editors of the Web site on the front page. And so I thought to clarify my position.

What I probably should have written was “I too have heard devotees express dissatisfaction with the present design, and I encourage the GBC or the team in charge to consider their views.” I wanted the team to elicit devotees’ responses, consider them, and in turn explain their considerations to the devotees–to encourage healthy exchange and perhaps also improve the temple’s design. Personally, I completely support Ambarisa Prabhu and his team’s effort–whatever the final design.

2 Responses to “TVP Discussion”

  1. Yes, this Dandavats website provides a nice forum for devotees to exchange views and take inspiration from each other.

    It can get a little rough and tumble at times, and I pity the poor editors who have to decide what comments are possibly too incendiary, but it is important to get a sense that momentous decisions are not being made without at least soliciting and considering the views and feelings of “ordinary” devotees.

    (I guess “ordinary devotee” is an oxymoron.)

    [And likewise, when sharing our views and feelings, we all need to remember how important it is to take into consideration the feelings and anxieties of those who are making momentous decisions on behalf of ISKCON]

    My Vyasa Puja offering this year consisted of some meditations on Prabhupada’s instruction that we will show our love for him by how we cooperate in serving him. Of course there are so many ways to show our love, so why did he single out “cooperation” as so important?

    To learn to live peacefully in the society of devotees, in spite of our variety of personalities and differences of opinions, may not be easy, but it is imperative. What other society would we want to live in? And how will we eventually learn to live among Krishna’s eternally-liberated associates?

    I have heard some people express fears that email blog forums can fan “flames” of disagreement, and they certainly can, but they also can and do strengthen community and understanding in a complex, growing and international society.

    International — Krishna consciousness cuts across all material boundaries of caste, creed and culture

    Society — Krishna is not static, impersonal or solitary, but surrounds Himself with countless varieties of loving devotees engaged in harmonious lila

    For — The essence of yajna is dedication to the satisfaction of the Beneficiary. As the rabbi said, “If I am only for myself, what am I?”

    Krishna — The all attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead (need I say more?)

    Consciousness — … is what separates living things from dull matter. Life force is Caitanya. When our consciousness is reposed in devotional service of Krishna, it demonstrates its full beauty and potential. Otherwise, it is covered by different degrees of dust and lust, and becomes increasingly dull, ugly and mundane.

    I think the discussion on the TVP is an example of how devotees can have different opinions but will resolve to come together and cooperate to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s orders.

  2. One thing about “cooperation”: Prabhupada has written that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur wanted the Gaudiya Math leaders to form a governing body and cooperate for preaching, and did not appoint an “acarya.” Prabhupada therefore made a point to establish and train a GBC in ISKCON.

    I do not know what it all means, but there seems to be something important about devotees being able to “cooperate” for preaching and not necessarily needing one top “devotee-in-charge” or “pope”.

    For one thing, if we really mean what we say about Krishna consciousness bringing peace and harmony and defeating the quarrelsomeness of the age of Kali (see, Prabhupada’s “Preface” to Srimad Bhagavatam: “We must know the present need of human society . . .”), then we ought to be able to show an example of how at least the devotees can work harmoniously together. If Kali yuga (in the form of unnecessary quarreling) is thriving even in the society of devotees, then what is the hope for the rest of the world?

    If we think about it, most of the things devotees quarrel about really boil down to different ideas about how better to spread the message of Lord Caitanya. We are like the children who, in arguing over who would better massage their father, actually began fighting, pulling his limbs violently and hurting him.

    Maybe some personal motivation or ambition for distinction, adoration and profit sometimes creeps in, but mostly we just sincerely differ on what will be more successful in pleasing Prabhupada. The Mayapur TVP may be a good case in point.

    What’s the solution? I don’t know, but I think devotees should try to better appreciate each others’ sincere service and try to recognize that there is plenty of service to go around. Like-minded devotees should work happily with each other in their own groups.

    From time to time we should reappraise what seems to be working (“we judge by the results”) and make adjustments accordingly, taking advantage of the generous advice of those who have achieved success.

    We have to listen to the senior devotees who teach about Vaisnava etiquette and how important it is to properly respect the Vaisnavas.

    I also thought Jayadvaita Swami’s Vyasa Puja offering this year about “personal integrity”, ethics and morals, was very important. We should treat *everybody* with fairness, respect and integrity, and then how much more carefully must we treat Krishna’s dear devotees?

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