Too Proud To Hear

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By Kesava Krsna Dasa

So, we think we know it all, do we? We may have earned our Iskcon degrees, or may be senior devotees, and therefore do not have to hear from ‘less qualified’ or junior devotees when they give class. Will senior devotees want to hear from a ‘proud’ younger devotee, and will ’learned’ younger devotees want to hear from a senior ‘un-degreed’ devotee full of practical experience?

These thoughts will arise if the possibility of vaisnava etiquette is breached, or simple pride causes over-discriminatory judgement of other devotees. A hard heart borne of pride will likely ruffle some feathers, even if the exterior behaviour appears soft and gentle. Hard interiors and soft exteriors are a volatile mix, which at some stage or other, will produce contemptible conduct unworthy of truly learned devotees.

To become knowledgeable just for the sake of being learned, will look poor if such raw jnana is not balanced by practical experience – vijnana. In Krishna consciousness, it is not what we know, but what we understand, and how we apply such understanding to our daily lives. “Taking a straw between my teeth and falling at your feet a hundred times, I humbly submit, “O great personality, please give up all mundane knowledge that you have learned and just submit yourself at the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ (Prabhodhananda Sarasvati – Chaitanya Candamrta).

One may protest that learning in Krishna consciousness cannot be mundane in any way. True. But if our learning makes us proud and brittle, and prejudiced against ‘lesser’ devotees, then our learning becomes mundane because it causes us to act in mundane ways.

It often happens on festival days that organisers put themselves in a quandary when choosing a speaker for class. Except for special guests and spiritual masters, the choice of selecting a younger ‘learned’ devotee, or an older experienced devotee, can cause some offence one way or another. Can the youthful, “We’ll take over the whole world right now”, compete with a levelheaded sober analysis of experience?

In general, vaisnava etiquette dictates that seniority – in good standing of course – be given first consideration, then the next most senior, and so on. If during class a schooled junior devotee thinks, “O how predictable”…“How basic is this”…“This devotee has not been through the rigors of systematic educational methodology as I have”, then such arrogance will block the flow of mercy from the senior devotee giving class.

If on the other hand a younger ‘learned’ devotee does speak in front of many senior devotees, and thinks they have come to learn from him, the interior will get harder, and the chances of becoming a senior devotee himself, are slim. It would help to think that, “these senior devotees are sitting here to encourage me in my preaching efforts”.

When Krishna conscious philosophy is discussed, there will often be repeated familiar quotes, some rudimentary knowledge, and some predictable stories to tell. Only a proud hearer will take these as boring and unimaginative forays into understanding the Absolute. In the Srimad Bhagavatam for instance, many discussions take place between highly elevated souls, who also speak in familiar and rudimentary ways to each other, in spite of knowing the philosophy thoroughly. Have we ever read a quote from one of these learned souls complaining that, “I think I know that already, prabhu? Move on”.

To hear nicely is to admire what is being said from all angles of vision. There are as many perspectives on Krishna consciousness as there are individual devotees. So there is always a different context in which certain familiar points are highlighted, meaning there is something new to learn. A proud judgemental hearer cannot learn from a humble speaker. And humble is he, who is actually very learned.

There is also the matter of many senior devotees not being engaged according to experience and learning. For example, many devotee communities wait for weeks, sometimes months before a spiritual master comes to give instruction and encouragement. In his absence, a big void is created because there is no ongoing practical learning. The gurus cannot be everywhere at the same time, so this would be an ideal engagement for senior devotees to pass on their experience through seminars and other learning experiences. The junior devotees should invite the seniors to be engaged this way. Why waste all this experience?

When sincere devotees share their realizations during Krishna katha, they help to increase, not decrease the faith of others in their spiritual master, and the process of Bhakti. The sunlight of non-envious talk adds sparkle to the ornaments of the excellent qualities possessed by devotees. Just as good qualities are ornaments of devotees, pure knowledge is the ornament of everything, and humility is the key to becoming learned.

“O my Lord, I do not have any love for You, nor am I qualified for discharging devotional service by chanting and hearing. Nor do I possess the mystic power of a vaisnava, knowledge, or pious activities. Nor do I belong to a very high caste family. On the whole, I do not possess anything. Still, O beloved of the gopis, because you bestow Your mercy on the most fallen, I have an unbreakable hope that is constantly in my heart. That hope is always giving me pain” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.3.35).

If while hearing a class we let our prejudices play up in the mind, wondering whether this devotee is qualified or not, our remembrances of Krishna are curtailed. If the Lord only accepts the essence of our devotional activities, how can we please the Lord if our thoughts are clogged up by prejudices? “If even for a moment remembrance of Vasudeva is missed, that is the greatest loss, that is the greatest illusion, and that is the greatest anomaly” (Visnu Purana). If we are not good hearers, we will not be very good at other devotional activities either.

There are different ways to be miserable while hearing Krishna katha: bodily discomfort, envy, and forgetting Krishna. It would not be the fault of the speaker if an envious person leaves the class and complains about it. It is also important that any discussion or class should end positively. The hearers should come away feeling enlightened, blissful, and satisfied. That is the test of any Krishna conscious event.

“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me” (BG 10.9).

We all should have some pure ambition in spiritual life, which now may not be a source of pain as the gopis experienced, but since hearing is the most fundamental of our activities in Bhakti, our non-envious hearing can catapult us to a state of happiness we do not want to lose. If it hurts to be bereft of the pleasure derived from serving through hearing, we are doing very well indeed.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

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1 Akruranatha

It is so wonderful that we can attain perfection simply by hearing the glories of Lord Krishna described, as Maharaja Parikshit did.

We should look forward to Bhagavatam class and Gita class as highlights of our day.

The speakers should be qualified, not by “seniority” or necessarily the ability to recite many verses (although reciting and explaining verses is very nice), but by the ability to explain exactly what is heard about Krishna in disciplic succession without adding or subtracting anything, in a way that can be made relevant and captivating for the audience.

And the audience should also be qualified to have a taste for listening to these descriptions about Krishna and His teachings with rapt attention. Such a taste is a rare commodity, which is obtained only by the mercy of Vaisnavas and Lord Caitanya.

Every year I help facilitate the “Questions & Answers” booths at the L.A. and San Francisco Ratha Yatras. The Los Angeles ones have been very successful but in recent years the San Francisco ones have sometimes failed to really float off the ground, if you know what I mean.

Partially I think the problem in S.F. has been bad weather, the wrong location, and similar considerations, but the main problem I think has been the lack of the proper mood of goodwill between the speakers and hearers to make the “Question & Answer” session a successful “sacrifice”.

In L.A., Ratha Yatra is so magnificent that it seems the entire festival site is levitating, and this boosts the Q&A too.

Even though it is a sincere discussion, a good Bhagavatam class is like a kind of performance. When everything clicks, the Lord is pleased and everyone in the vicinity is palpably blessed.

Think of the sages at Naimisaranya headed by Saunaka Rsi, and how they heard the recitation by Suta Goswami. They were there to perform a thousand-year sacrifice to counteract the effects of Kali yuga, and the questions and answers were the most important part of the sacrifice (the fire yajna did not go so well).

It is really the influence of Kali yuga that makes devotees quarrel and feel superior to each other and judge each other and feel righteously indignant that they are being wrongly judged. In this way, the spirit of cooperation and goodwill required for successful Hari-katha may become thwarted, if we let Mr. Kali into the assembly.

We can keep him out, though, by observing the four regs, by not hoarding wealth, and by always hearing and chanting.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 9th, 2009
2 pustakrishna

Kesava Krishna Prabhu is very insightful. Your realizations, unfortunately, are founded on bitter experience. We do not come to Krishna consciousness to be engaged in mundane relationships, but rather to enter in the forest of Naimisharanya, to hear again and again the satisfying wonders of Srimad Bhagavatam, and of course all of the literatures that Srila Prabhupad gave us. In the Bhagavad Gita, after 18:66, our Lord tells us that there is no one more dear to Krishna than one who teaches the bhaktas the science and art of surrender to Him. There really is no satisfaction in gossip. The most intelligent and fortunate devotees are engaged in the discussion of ideas and ideals.
The gopis curse the creator for making eyelids, which temporarily block their vision of Krishna. The nostrils are like bellows when not engaged in smelling the aroma of Krishna. The ears, the sense of touch, eyes, tongue, nose, and even genital (for having KC children) can be used in the service of Krishna. Krishna consciousness is Hrishikesha Hrishikena Sevanam Bhaktir ucyate (when the purified senses are employed in the service of pleasing Krishna). It is a natural process keeping Krishna at the center at all times. Self-centric life becomes ever more painful when the soul is awakened to Krishna consciousness. Die to live!
When studying the Chaitanya Charitamrita recently, I am amazed at the genuine humility and self-abnegation of Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj. Our examples are always there for us. Srila Prabhupad ensured that we can always have the best association even when there may not be great enthusiasm around us. We can open his books and read. We have the Holy Names to chant and remember, and if Krishna will be kind upon us, we will have excellent association as well. Hare Krishna. Your hankering is increasing my hankering for Krishna consciousness, and to me, that is the best association. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 10th, 2009
3 Akruranatha

Dear Pusta Krishna Prabhu:

Dandavats.

You write: “Your realizations, unfortunately, are founded on bitter experience. We do not come to Krishna consciousness to be engaged in mundane relationships. . .”

Was this comment directed at me? I honestly could not tell, and if it was I could not understand what you were saying to me.

I am sure that if you are finding some faults in me that they are really there (you do not have to look far), and I am eager to hear about my faults and be corrected. Therefore, if you really are directly addressing me, whether you want to do it publicly or if you prefer to do it privately (I am sure we will see each other at the temple today for Gaura Purnima), please elaborate for my benefit.

Maybe I am just being paranoid and you were not actually addressing me at all. Communicating in email or on blog threads sometimes presents its challenges, and sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake.

At any rate, please know for certain that I am happy to be corrected by you and would like to submit myself to your chastisement. [If I learned anything from Kesava Krishna Prabhu’s article it should be this.] There is not an ounce of sarcasm or passive aggression in my saying so.

I just request that you chastise me in more detail because I really cannot understand your criticism or even if you are actually criticizing me at all.

Your junior godbrother and friendly servant, Akruranatha dasa

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 10th, 2009
4 Akruranatha

Anyway, I am thinking I probably was being paranoid and Pusta Krishna was only saying that I (or Kesava Krishna Prabhu) had unfortunately had some bitter experiences that led to some good realizations.

I really look forward to talking to Pusta Krishna face to face and make sure to touch his feet and get his blessings and make sure I have not done or said anything to displease him.

He only lives about 15 minutes drive from me, and he has always been a source of inspiration and good advice to me.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 12th, 2009
5 pustakrishna

Paranoid is the answer. What I want to express may be expressed in two mental images I want to paint with words. First, we wake up at 4 am, go to Mangala Arotik, followed by one and a half hours of Japa time, then opening of the altar, Guru Puja, and Srimad Bhagavatam class. After a nice morning prasadam and cleaning up, some chores then Sri Isopanishad Class. Then noon offering and lunch prasadam. After that, sankirtan and book distribution. Late afternoon, return and have reading of Krishna Book or Nectar of Devotion. Evening arotik, Bhagavad Gita class, some nice hot milk with crushed bananas, clean up and take rest…only to do it all over the next day. This example comes from my own recollections of our early temple days in the 1970s where I was…Houston, S. Africa.
We didnot use expressions like “money is the honey”. The nectar was in watering the thirsting bhakti-creeper.

Another picture, perhaps more contemporary in some places. The temple is more or less empty, people are milling around in droves, talking about things, people, reminiscing, and all the while, underneath it all there is an uneasiness. An uneasiness that I might be wasting my time, ie connections have become mundane. Sravanam kirtanam smaranam…things which are the hook that brought us into Krishna consciousness in the first place, are too often replaced by mundane social life amongst aspiring bhaktas? Have we lost taste, committed too many offenses, to be attracted more to sharing gossip than shastra? This is what I am alluding to.

Actually, to hear from young or newer devotees that which we may have bee instrumental to teach them is a great source of satisfaction that we have done something right and worthwhile. I can remember how wonderful and fulfilling an active ashram program balanced between sravanam-kirtanam and spreading Krishna consciousness to the public can be. I know that some programs still exist like this. But, the fact is that many western bhaktas in the early days of Krishna consciousness were brought up in nurturing environments, if fortunate. There are many styles of devotional service, and factually, all are beyond criticism. The last two short paragraphs of Krishna Kesava’s letter sum up what I am trying to express. Eagerness to hear makes it all worthwhile, otherwise, srama eva hi kevalam. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 13th, 2009
6 Akruranatha

Well, I am greatly relieved to learn I didn’t say or do anything to make you angry with me, Pusta Krishna Prabhu!

The pictures you describe are very vivid. The first picture sounds like an ideal use of this rare human form of life. “Practical samadhi.”

I remember my early years in trying to practice KC like that too. I am sure I was in more maya than I actually remember, though, if I really think about it. Of course, I did not join until 1976, when we already did frequently hear the phrase “money is the honey.”

Because I am a neophyte, I suppose it is natural that my attraction to krishna katha sometimes waxes and wanes. Because I am a married man with worries about business and financial responsibilities I suppose it is natural that I am not keeping up a schedule of full time direct service as I was in brahmacari days.

Yet we know that there is no loss or diminution in devotional service, and therefore I think all those devotees who used to be at mangal arati every day and sundar arati every night and full-time service in between are now as advanced in Krishna consciousness as they ever were, although some may be a little rusty from lack of practice. When they take it up again with determination they will all start from where they left off.

(Let’s hope we can all take up such active service again in retired life and start to follow again a schedule such as the one you describe in the first picture!)

It seems to be a positive development, though, in a sense, that nowadays we have so many devotees from all walks of life. It is nice to see devotees who are not economically dependent on the temple, and who are more integrated into the rest of society. There was perhaps something a little cult-like or economically unsustainable about those halcyon days of full-time temple service. People used to always shout at us “Get a job!”, and we used to fear that if we associated with nondevotees at work (or our parents) we might lose all faith in Krishna consciousness.

I cannot speak for the rest of North America because I do not circulate that much, but ISKCON San Jose is overbrimming with bliss even though only 2 or 3 devotees live at the temple and everyone else has jobs. It is great to see young couples with their kids and responsible jobs and mortgages who are nevertheless going out on weekend book distribution and big harinams in Palo Alto, and who at least sometimes come for mangal arati, but also have regular puja of home deities.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 14th, 2009
7 Akruranatha

“Srimad-Bahagavatam is recognized Vedic wisdom, and the system of receiving Vedic knowledge is called avaroha-pantha, or the process of receiving transcendental knowledge through bona fide disciplic succession. For advancement of material knowledge there is a need for personal ability and researching aptitude, but in the case of spiritual knowledge, all progress depends more or less on the mercy of the spiritual master. The spiritual master must be satisfied with the disciple; only then is knowledge automatically manifest before the student of spiritual science. The process should not, however, be misunderstood to be something like magical feats whereby the spiritual master acts like a magician and injects spiritual knowledge into his disciple, as if surcharging him with an electrical current. The bona fide spiritual master reasonably explains everything to the disciple on the authorities of Vedic wisdom. The disciple can receive such teachings not exactly intellectually, but by submissive inquiries and a service attitude. The idea is that both the spiritual master and the disciple must be bona fide. . . .”

[S.B. 2.1.10 Purport]

One question I would like to put before the assembled Vaisnavas is, what does Srila Prabhupada mean by “not exactly intellectually”? The phrase implies there is something “as if” intellectual about the process, though not quite.

Another relevant question is, might not our guru speak to us through the mouths of our godbrothers or even (as I believe happened to me) through a cashier at a used book store in San Francisco?

If I may venture to begin answering my own questions:

(1) Real spiritual understanding comes from beyond the sensual, mental and intellectual platform. Thus, while we must engage our bodies, minds, and our intellects through service and relevant inquiry, true spiritual submission in the heart is the ultimate key to success.

(2) If we really accept the principle that the guru is the external manifestation of Supersoul, there should be no harm in hearing submissively from a junior godbrother, a god-neice or nephew, or even a bus driver, bird or bumblebee, as long as what we are hearing is actually Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Last night I offered to massage the feet of a sannyasi godbrother and he told me it would be a transgression of etiquette to allow a gobrother to render such service. I think he is just cheating me with sophistry, because if he could use a massage, what is the harm?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 15th, 2009
8 Akruranatha

Where I was driving at in my initial post in this thread (though I suppose I did not drive far enough, or I would have made myself more clear) is that there is a kind of “ritual submission” involved in devotional service.

It is not so customary in modern western culture to put someone on the seat of honor, wash and dry his feet (Jesus reportedly dried the feet of his own disciples with his hair, but that can hardly be considered modern, or even western), make sure he is in every way satisfied, and then satisfy him even more by asking relevant questions that draw out of him an opportunity to blissfully explain Krishna and His pure devotional service to a proper audience.

This process of receiving Srimad-Bhagavatam is truly a very important communication or transmission of information, but it is something more than that. It is a kind of ritual sacrifice in which everyone has to play his or her role correctly to properly glorify and please Lord Krishna. It is like a kind of drama, in which the dialogue is certainly crucial, but also the actions of the players, the costumes, set decorations, even the seating arrangements in the theater.

Every part of the drama is important, but it is all useless without the true transmission of the mood of spiritual submission. The speaker should be qualified by having mastered that mood (brahma nistham–fixed in spiritual realization), and being able to describe the import of all Vedic scriptures (stotriam), of which the crowning achievement is Krishna consciousness (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo).

If we misunderstand or get too caught up in the ritual aspects of submission, there is a danger we might miss the point of real submission to Krishna.

Perhaps because it is so foreign for us westerners to bow down and truly surrender to another person, there is a lot of fussing about who we should bow down to and when and how we can get others to bow down to us, etc. And why just the westerners? All over the world there is some confusion as to whom we should really bow down.

And yet when the “performance” is done correctly with the right speaker and audience, it is very, very powerful.

But this is not the only way to study or receive Srimad Bhagavatam. We can also have istha ghostis like we are doing now where everyone contributes some insights or questions and it can be a sincere discussion among friends with a proper mood of submission to Guru and Krishna.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 15th, 2009
9 Akruranatha

“All the world’s a stage.”

If we really live in understanding of “prakrte kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah…” we realize that we are truly not our bodies, and that what our bodies, minds, and intellects are doing is actually conducted by nature, under the ultimate direction of Krishna.

The key to successful performance is to come under the “direct” direction of Krishna via His internal energy (by deep, complete surrender), rather than to remain imperfectly directed by Maha Maya.

Either way, we have to keep “acting”. No one can refrain from doing something even for a minute. But if we learn to act in Krishna consciousness, we can be in the world and not of it, in the sense of not disturbing any of the natural order of things and becoming completely free of the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion. In such a state we need never fear anything, because Krishna protects His surrendered devotees.

I am speaking beyond my actual realization here. I hope I am not being too obscure.

At this year’s Mayapur festival (which we were able to watch via internet, a sort of gross-technology imitation of the siddhi that enabled Sanjaya to know everything that transpired between Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield a great distance removed), several of the Bhagavatam classes alluded to a story from Caitanya Caritamrta about how Mukunda dasa accepted his son Raghunandana as his father, because he had awakened Mukunda’s devotion to Krishna. Lord Caitanya approved this, saying that one who awakens devotion to Krishna is the spiritual master.

The point is that we need not be too concerned about who plays the “role” of junior or senior externally. The real senior is whoever can awaken the mood of submission and surrender to Krishna. And if we look around us we see that ISKCON is full of experienced Vaisnavas who can do that.

On the other hand, to make things run smoothly and to make the unfolding drama of “How Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan Movement Saves the World” a complete success, it is important that we each play our roles properly and not jostle for any position of false seniority.

The world is a stage, or a kirtan in which it is important not to hit a sour note.

“Amanina manadena” means, if nothing else, that we should be happy accepting a junior position so as not to disturb our constant chanting. Gradually those who are truly chanting constantly will naturally become accepted as righly considered most senior.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 15th, 2009
10 Akruranatha

The image Kesava Krishna Prabhu conjures of great personalities in the Bhagavatam telling each other, “I already know that,” is a funny one that really hits a bullseye.

Sometimes devotees tell me they have no taste for Bhagavatam class, that they find it boring because nothing new is said and the speakers are not sufficiently realized to make it relishable.

I can sympathize if the speaker is going off on speculations and giving less-than- enlightened interpretations of current events or temple politics (I hope there are few such classes). But if the speaker is really repeating the words of Krishna and His pure devotees, the problem probably lies in our own lack of taste as the audience.

To hear the instructions of Krishna again and again should produce ever fresh excitement and enthusiasm.

It is not exactly an intellectual process where we are trying to simply gather more information. The information is already there (Bhagavad Gita is only 700 verses which we can easily memorize), but we really have to assimilate the messages and take them fully into our being through submissive reception.

When Krishna returned to Sandipani Muni from the dead as his guru dakshin (Sandipani Muni and his wife thought that from such an exceptional student they should request something extraordinary), Sandipani muni gave Krishna the blessing that whatever He spoke would remain fresh and interesting. It does not become stale and hackneyed.

We can recite Bhagavad Gita overe and over again constantly and never become bored with it. It always engages our intelligence, brings us fresh realizations, reminds us of other verses and instructions which we are eager to hear and speak about.

Now that I mention it, even the holy names of Krishna can be repeated over and over again, although they appear to be “just names.”

So it is not exactly an intellectual process like that of mundane education or jnana yogis. It is more like appreciating some beautiful music and singing in a choir. Even if we already know the words or the tune, it still provides a thrilling experience.

It is not so much about learning what the truth is, but about being able to imbibe the lessons and incorporate them in every fibre of our beings. Then we will find repeating and hearing these same messages over and over again to be very relishable.

And of course they are unfathomably deep. We cannot come to the end of them. We pray to obtain such a taste.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 15th, 2009
11 Akruranatha

“When Krishna returned to Sandipani Muni from the dead ”

Ooops. Of course what I meant to say was that Krishna returned the *son* of Sandipani Muni from the dead.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 15th, 2009
12 pustakrishna

Akruranath Prabhu brings up the question on page 7 of “not exactly intellectually”. In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna describes
tesam evanukampartham, aham ajnana jam tamah…Krishna, by His causeless mercy, gives special attention to the bhaktas. From within, He personally destroys ignorance. We know that many people hear the Holy Name, or hear from a Mahabhagavat like Srila Prabhupad, but the effect is not the same for everyone. Even if one intellectually understands (logically), the genuine effect of enlightenment (jnana dipena bhasvatha), is more profoundly illuminating. So hearing IS devotional service of the highest order, but it should be done with submission, serving mood, and ideally with some yearning for the Lord. That would be my interpretation of what Srila Prabhupad said.

Second, we both have experience of the sweet community that ISKCON San Jose is. We must pray that the lovely mood will continue on and on. Vaishesika Prabhu’s enthusiasm and affectionate nature has much to do with their happiness in Krishna consciousness. He has taken responsibility for the spiritual progress of others. This is the same mood that ideally would be manifest between so-called more seasoned bhaktas and newer bhaktas. Again, it should be a great source of joy to hear newer bhaktas presenting their understanding and displaying enthusiasm for preaching Krishna consciousness.

bhidyante hridaya granti, the mayic knot of the heart is cut simply by hearing about Krishna. What better benediction can we hope for? Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 16th, 2009
13 KKDasa

Here is another way of looking beyond intellectual appreciation of true knowledge.

The famous verse from (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.38) Yasya deve para bhaktir….is translated as “Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” The interesting word here is, ‘automatically.’ The word – prakasante – means, are revealed, or revelation. Why does Srila Prabhupada put the word - automatically when it appears there is no need to do so? Because it is a product of vijnana. Srila Prabhupada has been blessed with true understanding, which come of it’s own accord. This can be substantiated by looking at the purport to (BG.9.2). This important verse highlights the workings of automatic revelation.

Pratyaksa – means, by direct experience, and avagamam – means understood. Srila Prabhupada describes the previous life of Sri Narada Muni. He quotes Vedanta Sutra – 3.2.26 – prakasas ca karmany abhyasat – with the formal “Devotional service is so potent that simply by engaging in the activities of devotional service one becomes enlightened without a doubt.” He then explains how the disqualification as a young child was overcome by the mother’s service to the great sages, and the eating of very potent prasadam, enabled the boy to become enlightened.

Srila Prabhupada now writes his vijnana on the same Vedanta Sutra verse, “Therefore, as described in the Vedanta Sutra, prakasas ca karmany abhyasat: if one is simply engaged in the acts of devotional service, everything is revealed to him automatically, and he can understand.” The consistent use of the word automatically means mystical revelation. Of course, pratyaksa is not a valid means of acquiring knowledge, but it is synonymous with what Srila Jiva Goswami calls – vaidusya pratyaksa – which means transcendental revelation, and is infallible.

As we advance in spiritual life, little glimpses of Absolute Truth are revealed to us. Krishna enables us to understand Him by lessening the mystery, by allowing us to “enter into the mystery of My understanding” (BG.11.54)

If Srila Gaura Kisora was illiterate, how was he able to explain this knowledge even to intellectuals? He was blessed with the same understanding - dadami buddhi yogam tam…which comes from above normal spiritual intelligence.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by KKDasa on March 16th, 2009
14 pustakrishna

sarvasya ca aham hridi sannivistho, mattah smritir jnanam apohanam ca….
We are essentially getting everything from Sri Krishna. And, as we surrender unto Him, He reciprocates accordingly, not mechanically, because He knows our complete history past and present. And, He is svarat, fully independent Supreme Controller.
The Brahma Samhita describes that when the eyes are smeared with transcendental love for Sri Krishna, then one may be blessed with the revelation of Sri Shyamasundara. ” Jnana sunya bhakti” of Sri Vrindaban Dham is the worshipable ideal of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. One vaishnava with whom I am acquainted says that such standard of bhakti expects no gain for oneself. There is no business deal with Krishna that if I give you this, you must give me that. Krishna is an autocrat…Mahaprabhu says that even if You make me broken-hearted by not appearing before Me, by handling Me roughly by Your embrace, You are still My worshipable Lord, unconditionally. Service, Love, in separation.
Thus, knowledge can breed calculative bhakti…I am worshipping you BECAUSE You are God. Destination…Vaikuntha, not Goloka Vrindaban.
These are very interesting and important discussions. Srila Prabhupad would never ask us to “leap” over Sri Gurudeva. We are dependent on Sri Gurudeva, we are dependent upon their intimate connection with those in our line, like Srila Rupa Goswami (Rupa Manjari), as our aspiration is to be the servant of the servant, far removed yet connected to the sphere of Srimati Radharani, Sri Hladini Shakti in Person. Just consider the austerity that Srila Prabhupad undertook to leave Vrindaban to serve his Gurudeva, to teach mlecchas like us about Krishna…how much he undertook to serve his Gurudeva.
It speaks for itself how important is service to vaishnavas.

Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 17th, 2009
15 Akruranatha

Thanks Pusta Krishna and Kesava Krishna for responding to the question about “not exactly intellectually.”

Clearly, obtaining the blessed state of complete enlightenment and freedom from doubt involves obtaining the mercy of Krishna and is not accomplished solely by one’s own endeavor (although the sincere endeavor must be there).

atma-vasyair vidheyatma prasadam adhigacchati (”By controlling the senses and practicing the regulative principles of freedom one can obtain the mercy of the Lord.”) B.G. 2.64

I have heard — but cannot confirm — that Srila Prabhupada told Guru Krpa that “yasya deve para bhaktir . . .” was the most important of all verses.

I am looking for where Narada Muni quotes the Vedanta aphorism “prakasas ca karmany abhyasat” in Chapter 5 of First Canto but have not yet found it. I did find this:

“Whatever work is done in this life for satisfaction of the mission of the Lord is called bhakti yoga, and what is called knowledge becomes a concomitant factor.” (S.B. 1.5.35)

This topic raises a criticism that scientists, positivisits, materialists often level at religion: If your arguments require a mood of submission and faith before they can be appreciated, they are not really philosophical arguments. Philosophy should be able to convince the unwilling, the skeptics, the hard-nosed Missouri types who say “show me”.

I am sorry to change the subject a bit (please forgive me my mind just seems to work that way), but I would love to hear the devotees refute this objection. [We will not be able to convert the world to Krishna consciousness without having strong answers to this one.]

KK writes: “Of course, pratyaksa is not a valid means of acquiring knowledge, but it is synonymous with what Srila Jiva Goswami calls – vaidusya pratyaksa – which means transcendental revelation, and is infallible.”

This needs to be unpacked a little. Can you speak more on this Prabhu? When discussing our Vedantic epistemology, we say “pratyaksa” (direct sense perception) is inferior evidence compared with logical analysis, and that Vedic sabda is the highest evidence (praman). On the other hand, that which is directly percieved with pure transcendental senses (the kind of pratyaksa Krishna refers to in B.G. 9.2.) is certainly infallible.

Our acceptance of sabda should not be confused with the militant, ignorant faith of fundamentalists. It is an enlightened position to be explained with care to philosophers and scientists.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 17th, 2009
16 KKDasa

Akruranatha Prabhu,

Actually this pratyaksha as mentioned in BG 9.2 is alluding to direct experience. I mentioned that ordinarily, pratyaksha in of itself is not a reliable source of knowledge for us, so long as we are prone to the 4 defects, like imperfect senses, and so on.

In fact, the 6th chapter verse which has, “buddhi grahyam atindriyam vetti” (BG 6.21), and is translated as; buddhi – by intelligence; grahyam – accessible; atindriyam – transcendental; vetti – one knows; is, according to Srila Jiva Goswami (Tattva Sandarbha-section 9), an example of vaidusya-pratyaksha, or flawless knowledge experienced from beyond the senses.

Of course, such knowledge still has to be reckoned with on the bodily platform once it appears from the heart, but only purified senses and intelligence can comprehend and appreciate such infallible knowledge. So these two examples from BG are cases of vaidusya-pratyaksha.

In relation to the problem you raised about presenting Vedic epistemology to the materially learned fraternity, this will still be problematic so long as science cannot go beyond the 5 senses, let alone the mind. Examples of Mozart’s inspiration to visualise entire symphonies in mind before commiting them to paper, will remain an interesting, but not substantial swathe of evidence to prove extra-dimensional existences.

The challenge is, I think, is to write solely on our own experiences, and how we react to the environment etc, rather than try to present on a mechanistic/physical level. For instance, we could highlight the fact that scientists still like to keep pictures of loved ones in their offices, and they cry when loved ones die, which is in total disagreement with the atheist creed they preach. Krishna says that if we think the soul is born and always dies, there is no reason to lament. An exposure of this hypocrisy should help matters.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by KKDasa on March 18th, 2009
17 Akruranatha

Yes, KK Prabhu, we somehow need to convince the intellectual atheists that such a thing as infallible, perfect knowledge exists, and that there are truly enlightened beings who can see everything correctly (without the four defects).

And yet in doing so we have to distinguish ourselves from those who, while groping in the dark, militantly attach themselves to one or another source of supposedly perfect, revealed knowledge, and quarrel and fight wars with each other.

In this Kaliyuga environment of everyone quarreling and pretending to know God, the skeptical scientists who claim to believe in no authority but their own objective senses come accross as more enlightened.

The actual factors of knowledge are given by Krishna in B.G. 13.8-12. The first two are humility and pridelessness. Approaching a bona fide spiritual master is also listed, as is perception of the evil of birth, death, disease and old age.

The mundane scientists are mere craftsmen who mistake ability to manipulate matter through iron-age technology as evidence of their understanding. But there is so much more to undertand that the workings of the phenomenal world. Real knowledge is meant for liberating us from entanglement, insecurity, addiction and ignorance of our spiritual identity and of the Absolute Truth. As the Christians say, “The truth shall set you free.” Real knowledge makes you peaceful and happy and free from doubt.

While it is true that offenseless hearing of Bhagavatam involves a proper submissive attitude, it is also true that we go out to give association to those who are not yet devoted and try to give them a chance to appreciate the Bhagavatam class.

Most of our arguments do appeal to thoughtful, innocent people, even if they have not yet come to the point of surrender and constant devotion to Krishna. But to get the real perfection requires us, after usually many years or lifetimes of constantly absorbing our intellects in these descriptions by the acaryas, to become free from all misgivings and fully surrender to Vasudeva knowing Him as the cause of all causes and all that is.

But just as Krishna gives the understanding to those who are constantly devoted and worship Him with love of how they can come to Him, he also gives to those who are determined *not* to surrender to him the intellegence whereby they can completely forget him.

Where else would they get the ingenious ability to see this world, so full of purpose and personality …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 19th, 2009
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From where else but Krishna could the atheistic scientists get the ability to see the world, which is evidently so full of purpose and personality, as a mere product of impersonal forces acting without intelligence? It is only Krishna who could enchant them into conceiving the “exploding chunk” explanation of the origins of the world we see around us.

Impersonalism is so prominent in the modern culture that surrounds us.

Sri Isopanisad warns us (Mantra Nine) that those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge are worse than those merely engaged in ignorant sense enjoyment, and that (Mantra Twelve) those who worship the impersonal Absolute ae more condemned than those who worship the personal but not seupreme demigods.

Srila Prabhupada in his purport to Mantra Nine clearlyu identifies the cultivators of so-called knowlege with atheistic scientists. No matter how well we explain Krishna consciousness, a determined atheistic philosopher may be empowered by Krishna to reject our explanations.

But a common, innocent man should be able to get some attraction and faith by coming in contact with Prabhupada’s books and the arguments of the devotees, to the point of becoming a regular member of the congregation, a determined disciple following the principles and clearing all anarthas, becoming firnly fixed with a strong taste for devotional service, up to the point of attachment, real spiritual emotions and the full blossoming of complete, abject love of Krishna like that of the Vrajavasis.

Being too proud to hear is a great stumbling block inhibiting this progressive path of bhakti, of which what is called real spiritual knowledge is simply a “concomitant factor.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 19th, 2009
19 pustakrishna

In regard to the last few discussions, I want to paint a picture for you. As we passed our days with Srila Prabhupad, we often heard him use the terms “fools and rascals”, mudhas, and the like. These terms were applied to philosophers, politicians, scientists, who His Divine Grace repeatedly said were misleading the innocent masses. Sri Krishna states that 4 classes of duskritinas, impious people, do not surrender to Krishna. So we also understand how rare it is to become associated with devotees. Our preaching, therefore, to the so-called intelligensia, is not necessarily intended to convince such impious mental speculators and atheists, but rather to offer an alternative for the innocent and pious individuals. That is one point. Paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya ca duskritam.
Next, the issue of experiential knowledge, vijnana, enlightenment…Krishna from within permits what will come to us. He gave Arjuna the eyes with which to see Him. The sloka from Srimad Bhagavatam regarding bhakti, and that knowledge is ‘concommitant”, implies that knowledge does not have to be separately endeavoured for. In the very process of hearing about Krishna, we realize that devotional service is taking place in the very process of hearing. No mental speculation is needed nor desirable. We must have faith in this process…otherwise why Srila Prabhupad every morning delivered Srimad Bhagavatam class. tesam satata yuktanam…dadami buddhi yogam tam. Sri Krishna Himself gives buddhi yoga to them. For this reason, we have to accept the process of bhakti yoga, parampara. If one wants to represent Srila Prabhupad, you must not mix this up with concoction. In my conversations with Srila Prabhupad in New Vrindaban in 1976, Srila Prabhupad said that those who take a little of what is said in the Bhagavad Gita, but do not accept the conclusion of Saranagati to Krishna…Srila Prabhupad said that ‘those people are the most dangerous’. They are cheating their followers, and taking their money. Sabda Brahman will reveal Himself as He likes and to whom He likes. For the bhakta, it is always a case of “hope against hope”. How impudent for we, the finite, to approach and want to know the Infinite! Yet, it is possible if He reveals Himself to the finite. We have heard this from great souls. The gopis are crazy when Krishna is away, because their transcendental love for Krishna is ‘always on’. Their mood of loving service is our ideal. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 20th, 2009
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Yes, Pusta Krishna Prabhu, this is our ideal. jnana karmady anavrtam. No fruitive work is required. No cultivation of knowledge is required. By rendering of devotional service to Krishna, automatically one immediately acquires knowledge, detachment and all the other high grade qualities like sacrifice, charity, austerity, knowledge, mystic powers and all other corrolary factors. [See, S.B. 1.2.7, verse and purport]

Srila Prabhupada often stressed that real “faith” means full conviction that simply by practicing devotional service to Sri Krishna one can achieve all perfection. One does not have to separately cultivate knowledge or detachment. [See, Purport to B.G. 9.3]

Just as a hungry man, while eating, experiences pleasure, nourishment and relief from his hunger at every bite, similarly those engaged in devotional service immediately experience bliss, realization and detachment from material engagements, respectively. (”bhaktiparesanubhavair viraktir anyatra caisa trika eka kalah…”) [S.B. 11th Canto, Yogendras Instruct Maharaja Nimi]

(Srila Prabhupada often paraphrased this important verse by saying you do not have to tell a hungry man that he is being satisfied when he is eating, and similarly by chanting Hare Krishna you experience satisfaction.)

However, even in the Bhagavatam (and in Bhagavad Gita, which is also Bhagavatam, spoken by Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself), there are so many descriptions of sanhkya, mystic yoga, karma yoga, etc. This was the subject of a brillian class by H.H. Bhanu Swami at the beginning of this year’s Mayapur festival. The video and transcription are posted here on Dandavats, and I think I am going to rehear it.

The question may be raised, why does Krishna not immediately get to “sarva dharmnan parityajya”? Why does Lord Kapiladeva explain the creation of the material elements, the calculation of time, and so forth? Parikshit Maharaja had only seven days, so why does Sukadeva Goswami start with a description of meditation on the universal form?

While pure devotional service is the highest and best path, the preachers should become familiar with all the other paths and understand them in proper perspective in their connection to pure devotional service.

There are different types of people who try to approach spiritual perfection in different authorized ways (authorized by the Vedas, by Srila Vyasadeva). Narada Muni chastises his disciple Vyasa for not giving pure bhakti, but then …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 20th, 2009
21 Akruranatha

But after being instructed by his guru, Sri Narada, Vyasa composed the beautiful Bhagavatam in which he not only explains the pinnacle of love of the gopis in separation, but also explains all other branches of Vedic wisdom in proper perspective, the bhakti perspective.

It is a complete Maha Purana, replete with descriptions of creation of the universe, different lila avataras, different manvantaras, the lineages of saintly kings, etc., all in connection to Sri Krishna. It is the perfect setting for the elaboration of the pastimes of Lord Krishna and the pure devotional service of the Vrajavasis.

And the path of pure devotional service is usually a gradual process. One can surrender overnight, but generally one serves and hears and associates with patience and determination for a long time before all doubts and misgivings are actually washed away and firm commitment and resolution to do nothing else but serve Krishna arises.

As we go through this gradual process, most of us are going to be more or less contaminated with sense gratification (fruitive work), mental speculation (philosophical searching for truth), mystic yoga even (maybe exploiting some powers that come from sense control, although the bhakti path is so nice that one does not get powers until one is devoted enough not to be distracted by them).

It is important that we learn about these things properly from Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam systematically and not jump to the Tenth Canto, and we should also encourage others according to their capacity to approach bhakti in this way, understanding that one who has pure bhakti is not without all the other high-grade qualities achieved through good moral behavior, sacrifice, charity, austerity, Vedic study, etc. (”…yogi param sthanam upaiti cadyam” B.G. 8.28)

When I tell Americans I have been chanting for 33 years but I am still a beginner, they often laugh. For one thing, if they do not appreciate the concept of transmigration, they expect to see results in this lifetime. Also, they are accustomed to the easy credit, instant gratification culture. “Lose 60 lbs in 2 weeks!” They expect bhakti to be something cheap like that.

The sad fact is, if I were really doing it right, I wouldn’t still be a beginner. But doing it right is not easy. It’s rare, it produces the most sublime transformation of education and character. It enables a 5-yr-old boy like Dhruva or Prahlada to offer perfect prayers full of wisdom.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 20th, 2009
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It is in this connection that Srila Prabhupada ordered us to establish varnasrama dharma, that 50% of his mission was incomplete.

We might well ask, “Varnasrama dharma? Pure devotees are beyond all designations. ‘Gopi bhartur pada kamalayor dasa dasa anudasa.’ Isn’t our business is to give the highest thing, pure devotional service, which stands above ordinary morality?”

And yet, pure devotional service is so great that it extends throughout the whole creation. All human endeavors, be they political, artistic, philosophical, sensual, are ultimately meant for achieving pure bhakti.

Good social organization is meant for pleasing Krishna. Proper moral conduct is meant for pleasing Krishna. Talented, productive work is meant for Krishna. Philosophical speculation is for pleasing Krishna. Music, literature, economics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, history…every college department really achieves its perfection by being perfectly dovetailed in Krishna consciousness.

“avicyuto’ rthah kavibhir nirupito yad-uttamasloka-gunanuvarnanam” (S.B. 1.5.22) “The infallible purpose of advancement of knowledge culminates in the transcendental descriptions of the Lord, who is defined in choice poetry.”

One way to look at it is, “Pure devotees have nothing to do with the separate endeavor of advancing knowledge, austerity, vedic study, mystic yoga, sacrifice, chanting of hymns, giving charity and so on. By pleasing Krishna they automatically surpass all these things.”

But another perspective is that pure devotee preachers, knowing the desire of Lord Caitanya to give Krishna prema to everyone, seek to put all these separate branches of human endeavor in their rightful place by incorporating them properly into devotional service.

Krishna created the varnasrama system. It is not independent of bhakti. It only appears so to those fools who forget Krishna and take the rules of social interaction as all in all. Similarly, He created the intelligence of the scientist, and He gave the atheist the “knowledge” (i.e., the seemingly learned ignorance) by which he can deny Krishna.

It is undoubtedly true that we cannot save everyone and we should not waste our time (and commit the 9th offense) preaching to those whose envy is so great that we will only cause them to commit more offenses.

But we hope to transform civilization by capturing at least some leaders. We cannot write off the entire intellectual class. Some are innocent …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 20th, 2009
23 Akruranatha

I dare say that Lord Caitanya has deputed some innocent souls to become social, political, intellectual leaders right now, who are standing ready to take up with enthusiasm the cause of the Sankirtan mission for the transformation of the world.

“Men who are ignorant cannot appreciate activities in Krishna consciousness, and therefore Lord Krishna advises us not to disturb them and simply waste valuable time. But the devotees of the Lord are more kind than the Lord because they understand the purpose of the Lord. Consequently they undertake all kinds of risks, even to the point of approaching ignorant men to try to engage them in the acts of Krishna consciousness, which are absolutely necessary for the human being.” [B.G. 3.29, Purport]

I am so fortunate that Srila Prabhupada and his disciples took such risks for the benefit of people like me. Even though I was a grossly materialistic, atheistic and ignorant 15-year-old physics student at University of Miami, being drawn into abominable hippie life of drugs and sex and animal morality, I have been given at least a start in trying to learn to chant Krishna’s names properly.

But I do recognize that clearing away the anarthas of countless lifetimes is an impossibly long and arduous process that would be impossible without the mercy of the Lord. I pray that I may have the determination of the sparrow who resolved to peck out all the water of the great ocean with her timy beak.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 20th, 2009
24 Akruranatha

At the Bhagavan Life Level One Japa Retreat in Joshua Tree, California a couple months ago, I was prompted to ask a question. I forget what prompted me, but I think Giriraja Maharaja had mentioned chanting with complete abandon like a surrendered soul, and also mentioned building our life around chanting in spite of obligations to family, career and the rest.

I reminisced about how in the ’70s we used to tell people not to bother about their families and careers: “Leave your parents, quit your job, drop out of school and come live in the temple.”

I asked, “If pure chanting is really done in complete abandon, why should we worry about education, family, career? Why not just be like niskincana bhaktas wandering on the banks of the Ganges in Nadia chanting Hare Krishna with tears pouring out of our eyes, without the slightest thought of food, shelter or material comfort?”

Purusa-Sukta Prabhu, who organized the retreat along with his wife Divyambara, began to answer, “That’s why we have started Bhagavat Life…”, by which I understood him to mean that the ’70s-style preaching, though philosophically correct, was impractical, unsustainable, because most of us were not really advanced enough to live like that for the rest of our lives, nor was our target public able to relate to or follow such advice.

Then Giriraja Maharaja spoke up and said, with a wry smile, “That’s Level Ten.”

Everyone cracked up because it was so funny and so correct. So far (I think) Bhagavat Life has only had Level One and Level Two retreats. They may have had one Level Three, or planned one at least. So the idea that in Level Ten we would just be chanting in ecstasy like Haridasa Thakur or the Six Goswamis was very enjoyable and humorous to us.

Our mission is to bring a few people to Level Ten (Prabhupada often said he would be happy to make one pure devotee), but it is also to sweep up the whole world into at least some appreciation of Level One. Srila Prabhupada from day one always had the audacity (to borrow a word from Pres Obama and Rev Wright) to talk about convincing the entire world.

Establish varnasrama dharma throughout the world? Who could imagine it? The Kennedys used to say “Politics is the art of the possible.” But Prabhupada understood that with Krishna the impossible is also possible.

Nama Prabhu is supremely powerful. He can and will purify EVERYTHING, even the intellectual Dr. Frogs, eventually.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 21st, 2009
25 pustakrishna

One point I take exception with. My friend Akruranath das says that one should not jump to the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam (p. 21) without first studying the first 9 cantos. That is the sequence but if one hears about the Lila of Krishna from a bonafide Vaishnava-Acharya, then the tenth canto can be heard out of sequence. In fact, Srila Prabhupad gave us the Krishna Book before he translated the 2nd-9th cantos. His rationale may have been that he considered his health poor and he might not live to complete his translations, but in fact the Lila of Krishna can be heard from Srila Prabhupad without confusion when there is a measure of faith.
In practice, one views the Diety from the Lotus Feet first then gradually up to the smiling face of the Lord. Similarly, the first canto of the Srimad Bhagaavatam is likened to the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, and the tenth canto the smiling face of the Lord. Still, angani yasya sakalendriya vritti manti, there is no difference between any part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s Form or Senses.
Both conceptions are correct. But, Sri Krishna is inconceivable and wonderful. And, we must acknowledge that Srila Prabhupad introduced us to the glorious pastimes of Krishna in Vrindaban and Mathura, and Dwarka, early on. Similarly, he gave us the Chaitanya Charitamrita before completeing the Srimad Bhagavatam. Heard from the proper authority with faith and submission, anything and everything can be digested and faith increased. Humbly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 22nd, 2009
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I agree Pusta Krishna Prabhu, that we should never minimize the power of Krishna Book to make devotees. This is my favorite book to distribute and I find that for most people I meet it is more accessible than Bhagavad Gita.

When Srila Prabhupada talked about not jumping to Tenth Canto, I agree he was talking about sahajiyas and professional reciters who give people the wrong idea about the meaning of Krishna Lila. They attract people to the stories, which they can tell in a way that common people enjoy, but they cannot convey who Krishna really is, and He comes across in a mundane way. In this way they actually spoil the real message.

I remember Adiyajna and I went up to a Benadictine monastery once in New Westminster, British Columbia, and the monks who met us had some reference book on world religions which described Krishna as an “erotic ‘God for all seasons’.” Naturaly, Father Placidus had a hard time understanding why we thought Krishna was the same God that he worshipped. But the people who wrote the reference books had gotten this wrong idea from the uninitiated who present Krishna Lila in a mundane way, as lovable, bawdy mythologocal tales.

Because Srila Prabhupada is an empowered acarya, he can explain Krishna’s lila in a way that makes people truly understand. His descriptions in Krishna book are mixed in with enough explanations of Krishna’s actual position as the Absolute Truth, of what is the material body and what is the transcendental spirit soul, and how conditioned souls are suffering in samsara, and how liberated souls engage in His pure devotional service, that people get it.

Maybe it is also that it is so infused with Srila Prabhupada’s own realizations of the emotional exchanges between Krishna and His different devotees that these exchanges really “come alive” for the reader and give a glimpse into the life of bhakti. [That is actually a “line” that I often use when distributing Krishna book. I show a picture of Prabhupada and say that only a great devotee like him can convey the actual feelings in an authentic way so that they come alive.]

This is Srila Prabhupada’s great mystic power, which no one can duplicate. Reading his books makes people devotees of Krishna. It is a tested, objective fact. Let the scientists contemplate that one a bit. How is it that people are becoming sincere devotees and even unregulated debauchees are embracing the four regulative principles upon reading these books?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 22nd, 2009
27 Akruranatha

This question of jumping to the Tenth Canto is related to the issue raised in Kesava Krishna’s article of devotees saying, “I have heard that already and thus it bores me. Now let me hear something higher.”

Pusta Krishna’s example that all of Krishna’s limbs can fulfil all the functions of His different senses is quite appropriate. This proves that one who thinks, “I am tired of meditating on Krishna’s lotus feet. Let me progress to His smiling face,” does not understand that Krishna’s lotus feet are fully capable of acting as His smiling face.

We should never tire of reading any of Prabhupada’s books, and he gave us so many books. We need to carefully study and relish all of them.

In the introduction to Sivarama Swami’s “Na Paraye’ Ham, I am Unable to Repay You,” the second volume of his excellent trilogy, Maharaja discusses in depth the question of when a devotee may hear about rasa lila, and his answer is much like Pusta Krishna Prabhu’s: he does not discourage such hearing, if done carefully.

Sivarama Maharaja quotes extensively from and analyzes a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Vrndavana in 1974, a small part of which says:

“One has to understand Krishna by studying nine cantos. If he tries to understand Krishna from the Tenth Canto (only), (he will think) ‘Krishna is like us, a young boy, and He’s after so many young girls. So let us imitate.’ No. That is not understanding Krishna!

“Krishna must be understood, and then if you follow in the footsteps of the acaryas, you’ll be able to understand what are the loving affairs between Krishna and Radharani. Don’t try to understand all of a sudden, like ordinary boy and girl making their loving affairs. Then you’ll fall down.

“So this is my request. You have come to Vrndavana; try to understand what is Vrndavana-dhama, what is Radha-Krishna, but very cautiously, very carefully. Then Krishna will be pleased.”

Another part of the same lecture quotes Narottama dasa Thakur’s bhajan in which he says that only those who have come to detest material sense gratification can understand Vrndavana.

Maharaja’s analysis is balanced. He rejects as “too liberal” the idea that “faith in the spiritual nature of Sri Krishna’s rasa-lila pastimes is the only qualification to hear them”, but he also rejects the idea that only liberated paramahamsas may ever hear Rasa Lila (although he acknowledges that Srila Prabhupada has sometimes said so). He concludes: . . .

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 23rd, 2009
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Sivarama Maharaja concludes in his Introduction to “Na Paraye ‘Ham” that Srila Prabhupada’s definition of the “careful” candidate for hearing Radha-Krishna katha can be summarized as follows:

“he is (at least) a strict sadhaka who knows the science of Krishna, has faith in the divinity of Krishna’s pastimes, is desirous of total purification, and never imitates Krishna’s loving exchanges — ‘even in his mind.’ Being fixed in purpose, such an aspirant will be benefitted by hearing radha-krishna-lila.”

But Maharaja also acknowledges that Srila Prabhupada encouraged profuse distribution of Krishna book and Caitanya Caritamrta to the general public and, in a lecture in Mayapur following a performance of Radha-Krishna lila by Manipuri dancers, asked the devotees to introduce these lilas all of the world so that the people in general may learn that the happiness they are seeking is with Krishna.

Generally it is said that one should not progress beyond the First and Second Cantos (which are compared to the Lord’s lotus feet) until one has become free from sex desire, but as Sivarama Maharaja points out, it is also stated [in S.B. 10.33.39] that by hearing about and describing the rasa dance, persons attain the perfectional stage of devotional service and simultaneously lose all their material, lusty desires. [Which means, they must still have some lusty material desires to lose, even though they are hearing about and describing rasa lila.]

We just have to be careful, as Pusta Krishna says, to hear from authorized sources and to describe in terms of those authorized descriptions.

And at any rate, we all know we should not neglect to carefully study *all* of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and we should not neglect the philosophical descriptions of how the Lord creates, maintains and destroys the material world or how the conditioned living entities are bound by the modes of material nature.

After all, this is our real predicament at this stage of our progressive spiritual life (most of us). We are still embodied. We are still struggling with needs of the body. We are still strongly enamored by what we perceive with our material senses.

Considering the arguments of the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-Gita will help us make steady progress, and will never become tasteless for us. Krishna and Vyasadeva included these important descriptions for us.

If Srila Prabhupada never tired of speaking it, we should never tire hearing of it.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 23rd, 2009
29 Akruranatha

We have actually met devotees who told us the Bhagavad-Gita no longer interests them (”too basic”), and now they are interested in only hearing “higher things.”

If the words spoken by Krishna are not interesting to them, it is doubtful that they are actually qualified to hear about gopi-bhava. Srila Prabhupada strongly nipped the “gopi bhava” group in L.A. in the 1970s for just such a misconception.

We should not be concerned that hearing from Srila Prabhupada (or his supposedly “basic” instructions) will not lead us to the highest destination. Everything Srila Prabhupada says is saturated with the saffron from Krishna’s lotus feet.

Caertain devotees have stated that Srila Prabhupada only gave “ABC’s” and now they are ready to go elsewhere to learn about advanced topics. This is a wrong mentality, for many reasons.

It is true that Srila Prabhupada did not translate all of the books by the Six Goswamis, but wrote that they should be studied. It is nice to know that Gopiparanadhana and the BBT are continuing the process of publishing wonderful books, such as the three-volume “Brhad-Bhagavatamrta” with Sanatana Goswami’s own “Dig-darshani” commentary.

And yet what Srila Prabhupada has given us in his own books and recorded lectures, darshans, morning walks, is enough for many lifetimes. They contain everything from numerous authoritative references to the Upanisads and Vedanta Sutra proving the Gaudiya Vaisnava conclusions, to the rarefied teachings of Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami and Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami.

Srila Prabhupada’s writings are like a bottomless ocean. You can keep going deeper and deeper and never reach an end to them. They are more than just words on a page. Srila Prabhupada has full potency to reveal newer and newer, more complete meanings.

Sometimes when devotees asked inane questions like, “Why is Krishna blue?”, Srila Prabhupada would respond that they should learn to ask Krishna directly. Srila Prabhupada’s books do nothing less than give us everything we need to ask Krishna Himself, and Srila Prabhupada actively intervenes on behalf of those who try to understand Krishna through studying his books. Such is his great potency.

For the sincere student of Srila Prabhupada, nothing will remain lacking or hidden. But for those like me who are still struggling to be good “Level One” chanters, the most relevant instructions are to keep hearing with wonder how I am not the body, etc.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 24th, 2009
30 KKDasa

An important reason why the first nine cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam are required reading, is to convince the reader of the many attributes of Lord Krishna, before appreciating His intimate nature. Just as Krishna spoke of His unlimited opulences to Arjuna, this should help an unbiased reader come to the level of; “One who is factually convinced of this opulence and mystic power of Mine engages in unalloyed devotional service; of this there is no doubt.” (BG 10.7) This ‘unalloyed’ devotion should be akin to having the required understanding to properly admire the ‘smiling face’ of the Lord.

The hearing of Sabda-Brahman is not confined to the sounds we hear daily. Think of our devotee brothers and sisters who are deaf. Being unable to hear any sounds, and by consequence, unable to speak properly, then how do they chant and hear the Maha-mantra? How were they attracted to becoming devotees? Yet they ‘heard’ through the disclipic succession. But their ‘hearing’ works above the sounds we take for granted. So what did they hear? And what are they hearing now as they chant, bearing in mind that their pronunciation of the Hare Krishna mantra bears no resemblance to proper pronunciation?

The remarkable fact is that Sabda-Brahman manifests as ink and paper in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and has the power to transform their hearts. With clean hearts what sounds do they hear when chanting? They cannot hear anything, but can hear their conceptualisation and remembrances of the Maha-mantra. When they communicate or preach via sign language, the same Sabda-Brahman affects the hearts through visual stimuli. So clearly, here is another facet of hearing operating differently from normal sound vibration.

This indicates that the process of hearing, and the power of Sabda-Brahman, reaches out in ways beyond normality. This is just one amazing opulence of the Lord, hearing of which should convince us to relish the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by KKDasa on March 24th, 2009
31 Akruranatha

I hate to change the subject again, but you have raised an interesting subject Kesava Krishna Prabhu which has inspired a flight of speculation on my part.

I have a stepson who is severely hearing impaired, but he has learned to speak quite normally and get along quite well.

But I am interested in those who cannot hear a single sound from birth. What goes through their minds when they read or think in words, or chant japa silently to themselves?

When I read, or as I am writing this, the sound of the words is forming in my mind. I think in words (mostly) and hear the sounds of the words in a kind of internal dialogue.

The mind is the seat of all the senses. We can hear, taste, touch, see and smell within our minds.

When we silently remember mantras or slokas, the actual words form in the mind. We mentally “hear” the sounds of vowels and consonants.

I have a kind of internal soundtrack going most of the time. I hate to admit, but I often hear pop music or even advertising jingles going through my mind.

If my sadhana is strong, most of those material “sounds” are replaced by thoughts of kirtan. This is how advanced devotees remain chanting 24 hours, even while sleeping.

Sometimes we say that sound and hearing is related to the subtle element of ether and thus is closer to the mind than, say, smelling and fragrance, which are related to the grossest element, earth.

Therefore, remembering sound vibration helps us fix the mind very easily. The ear is closest to the mind of the other senses.

[And breathing is another unique function, but that’s another story]

Previously, people could focus the mind so well by reciting mantras that they could start fires, throw mystical weapons, and make other events occur within the material world.

But what do those who are completely deaf, who have never heard the sound of, say, the maha mantra with their gross material ear, hear in their mind when they think of the maha mantra?

Helen Keller had heard and recognized the word “water” before she lost all sight and hearing from scarlet fever as a baby. That helped her eventually learn to communicate.

What of those who have no memories of hearing any sounds with their gross ear? Can they mentally distinguish between the sound of “o” and the sound of “ee”?

Is such facility left over from prior lifetimes? Can they associate such mental sounds properly with the words they learn to recognize and convey in sign language?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on March 25th, 2009
32 pustakrishna

Akruranath Prabhu brings up two interesting points above. First, he raised the question of deafness and Krishna consciousness. Since we place so much emphasis on chanting, hearing…what of the deaf individual? Interestingly, there is a middle-aged woman who is completely deaf in Santa Cruz, California who has taken whole-heartedly to serving Sri Sri Guru Gauranga. She appears to never be frustrated, always has a smile of contentment, and renders service to the devotees. Just as Krishna gave Arjuna the eyes to see Him as He is, so too, Krishna will not abandon one with hearing impairment. It appears to be a matter of the heart, indeed.
Secondly, regarding the Japa retreat and fantasizing about wandering about like a babaji simply chanting all the while. There is an interesting bit of history that took place during the Mayapur festivities in about 1974 -5. There was one American bhakta who wanted to become a babaji and live in a make-shift hut in the fields of Mayapur. Srila Prabhupad directly instructed the disciple not to do this. Nonetheless, the next day that person went out into the field perhaps 100 yards away from that first building, built a small shelter, and apparently chanted. But, it did not last even one day. He was gone and never to be seen again.
Those who have travelled to the Holy Places especially of Vrindaban often see presumed babajis walking about or living in small huts beside the Yamuna River. I recall many years ago that there were some such huts near Kesi-Ghat. We are not so familiar with the babajis. One Godbrother of Srila Prabhupad, Dr. Kapoor, who retired to Vrindaban and often accompanied Srila Prabhupad on morning walks in Vrindaban, apparently wrote one book about such types of devotees. Of course, we know that there is alot of sahaja-ism in Vrindaban, and I do not mention this to say that all or even most babajis are sahajiyas, but we must always protect against cheapening bhakti. And, never envy other vaishnavas.
We chant the Holy Name ideally for the pleasure of Sri Krishna, for giving service to Krishna. We are not salvationists, nor mystics, nor self-centered. Bhukti mukti siddhi kami…and we yearn for that pure Shuddha Nama, and think “when oh when will that day come…”Kabe habe bolo se din amar” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur).
These are all very good discussions, for one and all. Hare Krishna….Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on March 30th, 2009
33 caitanya caritamrta

Please accept my humble obeisances, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

After relishing the dialogue between these veteran devotee’s the conclusion of sadhana-bhakti is reinforced in my mind. So much goes into our ears, to the mind and ultimately to our hearts. Now experiencing the benefits of written “sravanam” symptoms of ecstacy are trickling in. With this much knowledge being exchanged I am a bit over-whelmed, yet just having good association, even via “technology’ signifies there is hope.

The good fortune to even touch Srila Prabhupada’s books brings so much happiness…just to turn the pages renews my faith every day, what to speak of the possibilities of Spiritual awareness.

With dialogues such as these one should be very careful, for the waves of Krsna Katha may drown us.

Comment posted by caitanya caritamrta on April 1st, 2009
34 Akruranatha

Regarding the question of sounds heard “mentally” (such as silent japa or the mundane soundtrack in my bewidered head), it should be understood that the mind is the seat of all the senses and there exist subtle forms of all the sense objects.

For example, S.B. 2.2.29: “The devotee thus surpasses the subtle objects of different senses like aroma by smelling, the palate by tasting, vision by seeing forms, touch by contacting, the vibrations of the ear by etherial identification, and the sense organs my material activities.”

Purport: “Beyond the sky there are subtle coverings, resembling the elementary coverings of the universes. The gross coverings are a development of partial ingredients of the subtle causes. So the yogi or devotee, along with liquidation of the gross elements, relinquishes the subtle causes like aroma by smelling. The pure spiritual spark, the living entity, thus becomes completely cleansed of all material contamination to become eligible for entrance into the kingdom of God.”

There are many such statements about subtle senses and subtle sense objects in Srila Prabhupada’s books. I am reminded of the verse in the Third Chapter of the Gita where Krishna explains that the senses are superior to dull matter and the mind is superior to the senses.

I wish I had more realization about this subject. I can say this:

It is obvious we are able to conjure sensual experiences in our mind that are nearly as strong as if our senses actually contacted such objects. In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the king of the acting troupe performs a narration about the Trojan War, and Polonious is amazed at how the actor develops tears in his eyes and changes his color. Good actors can utilize “sense memory” to experience sharp emotions and cry, become angry, become elated, etc., and watching their performances moves us to feel some sympathetic emotions.

Without the ability to sympathize and imagine what it would be like to feel things in gross physical circumstances different from our own, it is hard to imagine how art or communication itself could be possible. Intelligent and sensitive people are better communicators because they have greater sympathetic abilities.

Thus, in dreams or in astral projection, we may experience things, learn things, do things, have whole conversations even, while our own gross sense organs are in a dormant state.

To live in pure spirit, we must be cleansed of these subtle material coverings, too.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 3rd, 2009
35 KKDasa

It should be of interest to us that in fact all of the senses and the mind have their seat in the heart. When we often read the term ‘hrdaya’ or heart, and it refers to the holding place of the soul proper, which experiences all external stimuli derived through the senses and mind. In other words, next time we read or hear of reference to the heart in the devotional sense, it means the seat of the senses and the subtle body.

When the heart of a fortunate person has been ‘touched’, or ‘inspired’, or ‘elated’ by a spiritual source either through hearing or reading, or by receiving a merciful glance of a pure devotee, or by being recipients of powerful well meaning prayers and good wishes from loved ones and vaisnavas, these all somehow affect the heart even unknowingly.

So Pusta Krishna Prabhu mentioned the heart, then Akruranatha prabhu elaborated more on this topic. And it is nice to hear that ‘Chaitanya Charitamrta’ has been inspired by this discussion, I dare say, through the heart.

If a deaf person hears through the heart irregardless of hearing ability, then we must also think how the audible chanting of the holy names affects the hearts of microbes, plants and other creatures though they know nothing at all about what they are hearing, and who are ‘unconsciousness’ as far as spirituality goes. Then an ’unconscious’ person in coma can be injected with Sabda brahman.

In fact there is no limitation whatsoever to how the sounds of the holy names permeate everything. We simply have to chant with sincerity for enhanced effects, for within the hearts of all living beings exists a soul made of the same spiritual substance as the pure holy names, and will revive on proper contact. “Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens.” (CC Madhya 22.107)

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by KKDasa on April 4th, 2009
36 pustakrishna

Akruranath Prabhu seems to be exploring the Sankhya approach in this last writing. Remember that the material senses are part of the gross, and the mind part of the subtle material covering. Krishna is of course the Purifying Principle, Pavitram Paramam Bhavam. Our efforts to purify the self by dissection of the elements of Sankhya philosophy, as sometimes offered in Srila Prabhupad’s lectures, generally helps one to understand, neti…neti. I am not this, I am not this. Arriving finally at the conclusion that I am spirit soul.
The beauty of the bhakti principle is this (CAPITAL LETTERS FOR EMPHASIS IF I MAY BE SO BOLD): EVERYTHING IS KRISHNA’S PROPERTY, EVERYTHING IS FOR KRISHNA’S PLEASURE. Hence, the engagement of the senses in Krishna’s service is the superior path, even though Arjuna asks this question to Krishna to clarify, that contemplation and activity with devotion both lead to the same conclusion, while activity in devotion is superior. The path which Srila Prabhupad has given to us, the immortal path of Bhakti-yoga, is so sweet, so sublime, and truly simple. Bhukti mukti siddhi….these pursuits need to be given up, and the path of Bhakti-yoga embraced. Krishna may embrace us, chastize us, anything that Krishna does is perfect. We simply need to have deepening faith that Krishna is there for us. Srila Prabhupad, early in our relationship, once said to me: “Trust Krishna, He will never let you down. No need to be worried about trying to bust out, or pierce through the coverings of the universe. These will be easily traversed with love for Krishna, really. And, if one can pierce through the coverings of the universe to glimpse Brahman, not first having taken shelter of Krishna’s Lotus Feet, then they return to the Mahatattva…aruhya kricchena param padam patanty adah.
The superexcellence of bhakti beckons us to open our hearts to Krishna in the sound of His Holy Names, in the beauty of His lila, in the extraordinary beauty of His form, and in the contemplation of His transcendental qualities. This is the gist: the so-called “material coverings” become spiritualized in connection with Krishna’s loving service. The philosophy must bring us to the threshold of awakening desire to have a loving service relationship with Krishna, with Krishna’s servitors, forever, even birth after birth
…Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 5th, 2009
37 Akruranatha

I cannot seem to give up the attempt to understand the universe and all the situations I find myself in through philosophical analysis. I am not a pure devotee, but I am fortunate that in Bhagavad-Gita and in Srimad Bhagavatam there are so many authorized descriptions and explanations that satisfy my curiosity in perfect “Bhaktivedanta” perspective.

I think I have mentioned on Dandavats before, as a child I was frustrated by my mother’s explanation that space was unlimitedly vast. I kept asking, “Okay, but what’s outside of that?” And she kept saying, “More empty space.” It did not satify me and actually reduced me to tears. For me, space had to have an inside and an outside. By the grace of Srila Prabhupada’s books I learned that beyond the shell of the universe is the spiritual sky or viraja which is pure consciousness, internal energy. This was a satisfying explanation.

So much of Bhagavad-Gita is directed to making the point that Pusta Krishna Prabhu makes above. The sankhyis and mystic yogis and karma yogis do not achive perfection unless they become pure bhaktas. As Srila Prabhuada states: “A Krishna conscious person easily achieves the result of yoga practice without separate endeavor, but a yoga practitioner cannot achieve success without becoming Krishna conscious.” [B.G. 6.36 Purport]

For me this conception of “The Perfection of Yoga” has a double aspect. On the one hand, it shows that the various yogis and philosophers and religionists and humanitarians, whether they know it or not, are on a lower rung of a ladder that progresses toward pure devotional service to Krishna.

But on the other hand, the one I am more prone sometimes to forget, being a Vaisnava devotee is no ordinary thing. To do it right, to really accept Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in complete sincerity and practice without deviation or distraction, really means to surpass the ascetics, meditators, philosophers, and heroes of all kinds.

One who does that has the power to transform all the philosophies and activities of the world from material to spiritual. As Srila Prabhupada wrote to my wife in 1973:

“Now you execute this Krishna Consciousness very expertly and diligently. We have to establish this movement as the real alternative to the suffering and anxiety that pervades the whole human population. The scientists and politicians and other leaders are dragging everyone down to hell. Please study my books very carefully.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 6th, 2009
38 pustakrishna

Tushyanti ca ramanti ca. We do not like this discussion to end, and that is our great fortune. Krishna and the bhaktas take pleasure in such discussions. Of course, we must contemplate how great is the universe, and so how much greater is the Creator. Janmadyasya yatah. Then, we must contemplate how infinitesimal we are. The natural position is to be dependent upon Sri Krishna. That is greatness for the Vaishnava. Look how we also recognize the greatness of other surrendered souls. And, beyond the point of surrendering to the Supreme Lord, there are the humble attempts at service that we all are trying to offer. Krishna has many names, one of which is Mukunda…the giver of liberation. He takes pleasure in saving His devotees. We do not want to try to take that pleasure away from Him by trying to save ourselves. Furthermore, we know that Krishna is always drawing us closer to Him. If He will not accept us, then we have no hope. So, we believe that He must accept us.
We have been given only a small taste of the eternal lila of Krishna in Vrindaban, in Mathura, in Dwaraka. Srila Rupa Goswami says that we are sampling only a drop of an unlimited ocean of bhakti-rasa. It is wonderful to contemplate. As unqualified as we may be, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has come to engage us in His service by service of the Holy Names. For we householders, Dandavats.com is one way to draw us back to Krishna again and again. Today I performed 3 orthopedic surgical procedures (removal of a tumor from the leg, a rotator cuff reconstruction in the shoulder, and a total hip replacement). Although physically fatigued (I am 59 years old now!) I take so much joy in having the opportunity to read what others have to say about devotional service, and to write something from my heart. It is an understatement to say that these opportunities give spiritual vigor to us.
Today I spoke with two doctors about spirituality and spiritual identity. It is no small thing to have faith in the instructions of Srila Prabhupad’s instructions. We are so fortunate! The association with devotees, including through the agency of Dandavats.com, helps us to keep strong, determined, and also open to the wonder that is Krishna consciousness. This blog “Too Proud to Hear” started off questioning whether the enthusiasm may be dwindling in so-called older bhaktas, and I would answer that the enthusiasm is increasing…thanks to efforts like yours. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 7th, 2009
39 Akruranatha

An interesting thing about Vedic “Philosophy of Nature” (as physical sciences were called in 17th and 18th century Europe) is that it explains the elements of nature in terms of their connection to the senses, mind, intelligence, soul and God.

One of the “breakthroughs” of the 17th century philosophers like Galileo and Descartes is that they turned away from the Aristotelian scholastics’ approach to understanding things based on their surface appearance to our senses (opium’s “dormative virtue” was no longer important in terms of describing what opium really was), and tried to discover underlying uniform properties that could be measured in terms of mass, size, shape, motion, that would explain the phenomena we percieve. [They also rejected the “occult properties” approach of alchemists and astrologers, though some of them, notably Johannes Keppler, were astrologers.]

Moreso than the Aristotelians, the Vedic sankhya philosophy describes each of the gross elements in relation to a particular sense and sense object. Thus ether (space) is causally related to sound and hearing, fire to light/form and seeing, air to texture and touching, water to flavor and tasting, and earth to odor and smelling.

These gross elements, senses and sense objects develop or “unpack”, from more subtle to progressively more gross, by an interaction of the false ego with the mode of ignorance. The false ego interacts with the mode of passion to create intelligence, and with the mode of goodness to create mind.

There are also subtle senses and sense objects. All these elements are assembled together to form the gross and subtle bodies which entrap the conditioned soul.

Scientists are too much in the “game” of determining “right” from “wrong” answers to appreciate, but anthropologists and the better intellectual historians are detached enough to comparatively examine these different approaches in terms of what they do for those who accept and follow them.

The modern science approach virtually ignores our psychological and moral condition (to the point that behaviorist psychologists carry on as if there was no psyche). There are historical and epistemological reasons for this, but the result is a science which, though capable of producing bigger bombs and better mousetraps, has little or nothing to say about the human condition.

Vedic science looks within. It is concerned with our identity as conscious beings and the revival of unclouded consciousness…

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 7th, 2009
40 Akruranatha

From the “Bhaktivedanta” point of view, to really know a thing involves knowing its relationship to the soul and to God, knowing its purpose in the grand scheme of things, and knowing how it is to properly be employed.

From the point of view of modern intellectual historians, this attitude has enough in common with Aristotilian and occult philosophy as to appear medieval. Another way to look at it, though, is that there is something peculiar about the direction taken by modern science, which no longer concerns itself with (and has nothing to say about) these obviously important subjects. Science became divorced from Theology and Philosophy via an unusual, accidental historical route, rather than as an inevitable result of “progress” of human knowledge.

Accepting this view, we do not have to compete with scientists on their own turf. We can appreciate the knowledge by which they have given us electric lights, microwave ovens and jet airplanes. It is certainly a kind of knowledge, and most of these things can be used in devotional service, just as Maya Danava used his demonic know-how to assist the Pandavas. Yukta vairagya means, airplanes and microphones can be employed in bhakti.

But we should try to get them to appreciate that the Vedic or Vaisnava description of nature as set forth in Srimad Bhagavatam is also an important branch of knowledge, and it speaks to important aspects of the human condition about which the physical sciences have little if anything to say. (We might even note, these are the all-important issues of why we are born with a particular type of material body, why our body must endure old age, disease, pain and death, and how we can escape these things).

We should encouage them to think of Lord Kapiladeva’s philosophy of nature, not so much as a rival of their own, but as a complimentary branch of knowledge with a different methodology and a different aim. We may “agree to disagree” on some conclusions (such as the position of planets or the history of the human race) — which naturally arise from our life-centered, teleological or purpose-driven view of the universe as opposed to their empirical and positivistic approach — while at the same time embracing the idea that a Chemist or Physicist may be a devotee, and vice-versa.

Now, if we accept what I have said above, how does that impact our view of science preaching, of the Vedic Planetarium and similar projects?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 7th, 2009
41 caitanya caritamrta

Esteemed Akrurnath Prabu,

Pamho, AgtSP!

You are a Maha-Bhakti-Philosopher incarnate. Am still amazed at your mental agility, as demonstrated in your very concise dialogues.

Agree in a “complete as possible” conveyance in the academic presentation of all scientific faucets of knowledge. The Bhaktivedanta Institute has been covering some of this, as far as my limited understanding goes and I believe the Vedic Planetarium it is still being finalized.

The aspects of scientific applications both empirical and Vedic have always been intriguing. In the last epistle you have covered a lot of ground, in fact we may need to dedicate another article towards this.

Based on your ascertaining skills and precise penmanship, you may want to expand your field of expertise in some of these projects you’ve been speaking of, your competency is needed!

All glories to your service,
your servant in training, ccd.

Comment posted by caitanya caritamrta on April 9th, 2009
42 Akruranatha

Thanks Caitanya Caritamrta, for encouraging me. I have often regretted having gone to law school instead of having continued in graduate school in, say, Philosophy or Indian studies or a related discipline. On the other hand, I have never been all that strong a devotee and maybe the bad association in such a “slaughterhouse” would have harmed me, or maybe I would become puffed up as professional academics sometimes do.

I cherish the goal of someday being able to study Srila Prabhupada’s books closely with other devotees in one of the many institutions being established for that purpose, such as Mayapur Academy or Bhaktivedanta college, and maybe assist in some small way with BI or academic preaching.

The actual process of knowledge is described in Bhagavad-Gita 13.8-12 and Srila Prabhupada’s Purport to those verses, (see also, purport to Mantra 10 of Sri Isopanishad, which refers to B.G. 13 8-12). It begins with humility and pridelessness, which makes me despair of ever becoming a truly learned devotee.

Fortunately we have many intellectual devotees like Hrdayananda Maharaja, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Garuda (senior) and so many others who have academic credentials and talents (or just extraordinary talent). (Sadaputa Prabhu’s departure was a great loss.) Many younger devotees will join this important branch of preaching. BI has a very important mission. I cannot wait to see the Vedic Planetarium.

The sound vibration Srila Prabhupada started from a park bench is quite revolutionary and will change the world much more dramatically than we even imagine. I keep hoping (expecting) that the world’s intelligensia will soon discover Srila Prabhupada’s books in a big way, but I also worry: Is ISKCON ready for the growing pains, challenges and “prime time” scrutiny it will then face?

I understand devotees have diverging views on the best ways to carry out academic preaching. These are important things to talk about, in a friendly way. We do not all have to agree and should be able to appreciate each other’s different ideas. This is one key issue I see the need for constant “isthaghosti” about, so that Krishna can show us the way (or ways). Srila Prabhupada left a lot of this up to us and future generations…

You are right. Maybe I should write a separate article one of these days (I have posted almost 900 comments but never wrote my own article). I am afraid I have a way of often veering off in different directions.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 10th, 2009
43 Akruranatha

Thanks again to Pusta Krishna Prabhu for all the beautiful realizations you have been sharing in this thread and elsewhere. And thank you for reminding us once again what a blessing it is to have Dandavats.

I know a lot of old-timer householders who are inspired by joining in cyber-discussions. The thing i love about Dandavats is that the editorial policy, though sometimes frustrating devotees by not publishing their posts, actually tends to keep the environment relatively positive and free from the rancor that is common on blog sites.

I would like to think that it is because devotees don’t flame each other that dandavats remains such a positive environment, but the sad fact is that there are other devotee websites where lots of misunderstandings and flamings and cursings and countercursings go on. Dear Lord Krishna please protect me from having to read some of the things that get said on those other websites!

I tell everyone I know how much benefit I find from logging in and joining the discussions here. Many of my friends have given up on devotee websites, thinking them to be only breeding grounds for devotee arguments.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 10th, 2009
44 Akruranatha

The “too proud to hear” phenomenon seems to be characteristic of Kali yuga. Real knowledge descends when we are humble enough to hear from the proper source, but in Kali yuga the cheating propensity and the competition to establish one’s own ideas as better than all others has crippled and stunted the world’s ability to hear Bhagavad-Gita “As It Is”. Few people become true disciples anymore, and neophyte disciples often quarrel about the supremacy of their own gurus. This has been going on for a long time.

The philosopher and mathematician Alfred N. Whitehead famously said that the European philosophical tradition consists of “a series of footnotes to Plato.” Plato utilized a literary form of dialogue that differs from the Upanishadic format in notable ways.

Vyasa composed the Vedanta sutra as a collection of dense aphorisms that need to be unpacked by expert commentary, but most Vedantic writing, the Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita, consist of dialogues in which the expert guru imparts wisdom to the qualified disciple by explaining essential truth in response to relevant questions. The very word “upanishad” literally means to sit up close, indicating that now some confidential knowledge touching the subject of Absolute Truth will be imparted.

The best questions are often posed by a disciple in crisis, and the Bhagavad-Gita is presented in the glorious setting of the Mahabharata, right before the battle, when the crisis confronting Arjuna regarding his duty to oppose his respected elders and family members in devastating combat is both majestic in scope and emblematic of the human condition generally.

Arjuna taught us by his example how to hear with all humility, and his guru was none other than Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the personal feature of Absolute Truth, the God of All Gods and Lord of the Universe who is the real object of worship of monotheists everywhere.

In the Platonic dialogues, Socrates mostly goes around defeating various representative members of contemporary Athenian society by asking them choice questions which expose the contradictions inherent in their unexamined assumptions. This refutation or “elenchus” is the hallmark of most of the dialogues. It is Socrates’ patented style of forcing his interlocutors to confront the inferiority of their own convictions.

Athens is a place where many foreign Sophists demonstrate their debating prowess and thus attracted students, but Plato took pains to portray …

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 10th, 2009
45 Akruranatha

Plato portrayed Socrates as distinct from those Sophists and as a great lover of truth.

The Athenian assembly of course convicted Socrates of heresy, of corrupting the youth, and he was regarded as a kind of Sophist (one who, with clever words, can make a weaker argument appear stronger, i.e. a “word juggler”) For example Aristophanes satirizes Socrates in “The Clouds” as a kind of unscrupulous degenerate cheater who uses clever logic to promote nonsense.

But in his Apology, Plato depicts Socrates defending himself against the charges of heresy by taking a humble position and thus distinguishing Philosophy from Sophistry. Socrates said the Oracle told him he was wise, but he felt that he knew nothing. He therefore went about examining others to try to understand how the Oracle could consider him to be wise, and he found that others thought they knew things which, upon closer examination, proved false.

Of course, even in Plato’s dialogues, Socrates does put forward various conclusions. Plato clearly believes in the existence of real wisdom and a positive, spiritual world of which the material world is but a distorted reflection. [Plato opposed the “mayavadis” of ancient Athens like Parmenides and his disciple Zeno who saw truth as simply undifferentiated and without variety].

It is actually remarkable how many of Socrates’ conclusions appear in line with Vaisnava Vedanta, and comparison of Socrates’ beliefs with the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita could be a fertile endeavor. [Socrates apparently believed in reincarnation and karma and the need to escape samsara, and that the soul originally was full of innate knowledge.]

But the form of the Platonic/Socratic dialogue differs from the Upanishadic dialogue in that the hero or guru is not (for the most part) revealing the truth to a humble, qualified disciple, but is confronting and “defeating” the ideas of usually self-assured challengers. Socrates is like a debating champion ready to show up all contenders in open competition.

Unfortunately this literary form has impressed on the European mind the idea that real philosophy is marked by an ability to confront and defeat opposing viewpoints. The popular dialectical model conceives of knowledge progressing through thesis, antithesis and synthesis, i.e. the ascending or “avaroha” path. The ideal of the benevolent, trustworthy guru who imparts confidential vijnana into the heart of only a disciple qualified by submission is missing.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 10th, 2009
46 pustakrishna

A little humour:

Chaitanya Charitamrita das described my good friend Akruranath Prabhu’s dialogues as
“concise”….and so…..my good friend Akruranath Prabhu countered with another 4 page bit of writing. Once, I brought up the idea of trying to be succinct to our Godbrother, and he replied that this was not in his nature. But, I do think that it is easier to read shorter bits in Dandavats so that one can digest that thought fully.

Nonetheless, we are blessed to have each other to stimulate discussion, on and on and on.
Sometimes, we may feel our Krishna “batteries” running low, and we can get charged up by our associates with their charged Krishna battery. Other times they may feel that their charge is running low, and we may be able to charge them up.

In this way, we carry on. We think that our fortune is so great having contact with Srila Prabhupad and his followers. We are simply amazed by the love of the associates of Sri Krishna in Vrindaban. Sri Krishna Himself is amazed by their love for Him. He sent Uddhava, His dear friend, to witness the extraordinary love of the Gopis for Him. After witnessing their self-less absorption in Krishna smarana, then Uddhava prayed to become a blade of grass in Vrindaban, so that he might be blessed by the dust of their lotus feet as they wandered about Vrindaban. May the prayer of Uddhava rest upon our heads always, keeping us from sahajayism, and inspiring proper remembrance of Krishna. May our prayer be for Krishna to engage us in His service eternally, in any way or form that He would like so that it may be pleasing to him.

The eternal present is our field. We really want nothing of this world, and we pray that Sri Gurudeva will give us shelter and guidance at every moment. Help us to feel empty and unhappy when we are neglectful of Krishna. Help us to be grateful and joyful when we are blessed with sravanam kirtanam smaranam of Sri Krishna.

Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 10th, 2009
47 Akruranatha

Well, Pusta Krishna, I am sorry my writings are not clear or concise enough. I am probably trying to say too many things at once. I am also inspired to talk about things that not everyone may be inspired to listen to. But I am glad to know that, in spite of the shortcomings in my presentation, you are finding some inspiration there.

I am not sure I clearly expressed what I was trying to say, but it often occurs that one of the things I am most interested in discussing on Dandavats is the modes of our discussions themselves.

This “meta-discussion” about different forms of communication or the art of devotee conversations is an interesting topic and seems to be one raised by Kesava Krishna in his article. It is one that Karnamrta Prabhu had written extensively about on Dandavats(Where has he gone? I am missing his “emotional intelligence” and clear communication skills). It is vital to the ways devotees relate to one another in friendship and serve in cooperation.

The topic of etiquette in communication is all the more important on the internet, where nondevotees and devotees alike sometimes indulge in blasting each other. Why is so much of the real estate in cyberspace employed in the raising of mad elephants? It seems to somehow provide ideal conditions for these creatures to flourish, grow and multiply.

But what I was trying to do with the whole “Platonic” versus “Upanishadic” dialogue topic was to circle back to my questions about what “not exactly intellectually” means, my doubt about whether any philosophy that requires submission and faith can be strictly said to be “philosophical” or “scientific” the way those terms are used in modern academia, and my approach to Vedic versus Scientific paradigm.

Contrasting these two styles of aroha versus avaroha (”ascending” versus “descending”)dialogues as two different well-known (and Classical) literary forms seems to be a fruitful subject for discussion, at least to me. But it might not be one of general interest to devotees. I would be interested to hear whether Pusta Krishna, Kesava Krishna, Caitanya Caritamrta or others have any reaction to the substance of that topic.

One thing that is of general interest, though, is the question of how we can learn to better engage each in friendly talks about Krishna consciousness. I have to learn to keep it relevant to what others want to discuss, but I don’t know what to do with my inspiration to say these things to someone.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2009
48 Akruranatha

Anyone who has taken an undergraduate class in Philosophy has run across the geeky student who likes to talk in class, who raises his hand and everyone groans, because they know he is about to launch into a five-minute soliloquy about some marginal aspect of the reading assignment that will bore everyone including the professor. I do not want to be that guy.

One great thing about the blog format, though, is that it is written. People can just skim over comments they are not particularly interested in, or go back and reread and carefully dissect and analyse those that interest them.

[Often on rereading someone’s comment I find that I did not read it carefully enough the first time, and mistook or even reversed its meaning.]

For me, this written format gives me a chance to try to put into words things I might not ordinarily be able to work into a conversation. I have these ideas I feel I ought to express, and getting them written down is satisfying, like keeping a journal, except that submitting them for consideration and discussion of other devotees adds something. I hope to find some minds out there who are interested in talking about the same things, and often I do.

Sometimes on book distribution I get stuck listening to someone talk, and I am eager to get to the next person so I can do what I am supposed to be doing, i.e. profusely distributing books. I have to find a polite way to extricate myself, but the persons I am talking to can sometimes sense my lack of interest and they take it as a kind of disrespect (which I guess it is).

I have been called on it before, especially by homeless people who are often sensitive about not being respected or listened to, because they so seldom are. [And when you work the same street corner frequently, you want to be in the good graces of the people who actually live on that street–bringing prasadam for them is indispensible in my experience]

Mahatma Prabhu uses this feeling of being disrespected when someone is not listening as an example of why inattentive chanting is offensive to Krishna. As persons, we feel offended when someone is not attentive to us, and the Holy Name is a person.

But we cannot expect people to be attentive to us when we are saying something that does not interest them. Amanina manadena means not to expect that. Unlike the Holy Name, we are not the Supreme Person. And yet, it is nice to find someone who really “gets” us and responds to our ideas.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2009
49 Akruranatha

I guess the other side of “amanina manadena” is that we have to learn to properly respect everyone. Obviously, this does not mean I have to waste my time on book distribution listening to some insane homeless person go on talking endlessly, but I should hopefully be able to find a way to respectfully cut off the conversation and leave them with a good impression, possibly making some connection which satisfies them (the prasadam comes in really handy).

Of course, there are some people who just have to be avoided altogether. But sometimes you never know until you approach someone and start talking to them.

“Atmaupamyena sarvatra samam pasyati yo ‘rjuna sukham va yadi va duhkam sa yogi paramo matah.” (”He is a pefect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, both in their happiness and distress, O Arjuna!” ) B.G. 6. 32

How to really be the best friend of all living entities is not easy. First, we have to become perfect yogis (but Srila Prabhupada has engaged us in preaching even in our “unripe” condition), and then we have to try to distribute Krishna consciousness to others in accordance with their specific capacity to receive it.

Because we are all persons, this involves being sensitive to the happiness and distress of others in their conditioned state, of understanding the movements of their minds and senses, all the while understanding that they are really by constitutional nature eternal servants of Krishna, who cannot experience the true unlimited happiness for which we are always anxious unless they can be turned to devotional service in Krishna consciousness.

And for those of us who are on the path of Krishna consciousness also, we should be *especially* respectful to each other and sensitive to the happiness and distress of other devotees, and try to understand the movements of their minds and senses also. They are the only ones we can really be friends with, so their association and good wishes are extremely precious and essential to us.

But here I have gone again and subjected my fellow devotees to multiple long pages of comments. I sincerely hope that those who are pleased to read and discuss them will forgive my faulty composition, and those who have no interest will just skip over them and not feel inconvenienced or disturbed.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 13th, 2009
50 pustakrishna

Regarding the issue of “how” we communicate in writing on Dandavats, I think that anything is fair. Of course, we come to this website to remember Krishna, hear something about Krishna, and write something, if so inspired, about Krishna and related topics. There are no hard and fast rules. However, because I DO value what Akruranath das writes, I am hoping that is could be more succinct. Our (my!!!) attention span is limited by age, passion, stupidity and so on. Nonetheless, I value what I can gleen from another bhakta’s mind and heart. If it is shortened like a “sound bit”, it can make a greater impression on another in my opinion.
When, for example, one has the opportunity to give a talk in the temple, I think it is better to try to make one or a few points. It is more likely to leave a lasting impression. No disrespect is intended. I am more likely to read a one page piece than a more lengthy piece. And, I do want to hear that one page piece, read it, and be inspired by it. Alas, there is no rule on Dandavats.com where all comments are hoped to bring some information, and feeling, out into this online Satsang…and that is what, I think, it can be. I do not intend to be mean, but constructive, I hope.
When I first met Srila Prabhupad in Bombay in March, 1971, I remember that I said that the devotees are all very nice. He replied, that to be a devotee, they must be nice. We must not let pride enter into this, as we are all conduits of the divine through the Parampara. I think it is fine to bring up realizations of things taking place in the world, as well as Upanishadic philosophical quotes and realizations. In the end, Srila Prabhupad often used this example in speaking of the love for one’s Gurudeva: “England with all her faults, still I love thee.” The meaning is that we may be able to perceive flaws (real or not) in one’s Gurudeva, but the principle of love for one’s Gurudeva takes precedence. Since we place Guru and Vaishnava together, when we think of our Gurubhais, then I must say:
Akruranath Prabhu, one page or four page writings, still I love thee! Hare Krishna.
Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 14th, 2009
51 Praghosa

On the subject of being succinct and when speaking focusing on making one or two key points as opposed to a scattergun approach, I am reminded of the story about a speaker who was known for his long classes. On one occasion when he was giving class one devotee in the assembly got up and left during the middle of his class and returned again just before the end. Afterwards the speaker asked the devotee who had left, where had he gone? “I went to get a haircut,” the devotee replied. “Well,” said the curious speaker, “why didn’t you do that before the class started?” “Because,” the devotee said; “I didn’t need one then.”!

Many months ago dandavats did introduce a word/character limitation on comments made, in a gentle attempt to encourage contributors to be a tad more concise with their entries……

Ys Praghosa dasa

Comment posted by Praghosa on April 14th, 2009
52 KKDasa

Dear Prabhus,

I have just returned from a 4 day Ratha-yatra festival in Durban. I purposely left behind my laptop, internet connections – everything. Tonight I am pleasantly surprised to see this valuable discussion continuing.

Akruranatha Prabhu queried whether his ‘diversions’ or historical references attract or deter certain readers of Dandavats. Besides having the required attention span, an interest in matters dialectical and Greek or a penchant for scholarly affairs would help to read or not. So long as references are related, it should make for interesting reading. Then, being an intellectual, as Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu says sometimes, can mean being interested in many things at the same time; even trivial things like the intestinal contents of a giant squid.

When many things are interesting it is tempting to bring them into focus through Krishna conscious discussion, but the topics will appeal to certain audiences, not everyone. In fact on this site – and I am sure many will agree – I find that the more heady and cerebral articles seem to attract less readers than for topical ones, for understandable reasons. This is the beauty of a rich and varied thought system rooted in the Vedic tradition, which can be streamlined through Bhakti-yoga. Wasn’t Bhagavad-Gita a synthesis of all major philosophies?

It is heartening to see how very senior vaisnavas like Pusta Krishna Prabhu actually relish these exchanges in spite of fixing bones. It shows how a clean heart works. Hearing nicely or discussing about Krishna, and deriving some taste is for the swan-like ability to extract milk from water. A clean heart extracts the devotional intents of this endeavour amid the variations of thoughts and perspectives.

The shortening of comment space is useful because it helps to refine what we want to say. If what can be written in 8 paragraphs can be written in one paragraph, it will teach us to hone the writing skills for maximum impact.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment posted by KKDasa on April 14th, 2009
53 Unregistered

Most important thing is that we must do our sadhana strictly, waking up on time, chanting etc, and then detatachment will follow and by the mercy of Guru one day love will come.

Krishna is a person, if he sees too much force and hesitation in performing His devotion, reciprocation mild.

And if we do it lovingly, all the imports of the scriputures will be revealed. We will get qualified persons to hear from and if we hear submissively, everything will be ok.

Unnecessay debates are really very time consuming, better catch up on that japa

Hare Krishna!
Happy chanting, (not chatting)

Gangamata Goswamini dd

Comment posted by Gangamatagoswaminid on April 16th, 2009
54 Akruranatha

I am having some technical difficulties these days and for those who email me I expect my email address will be changing shortly (I am switching from Earthlink to Verizon).

Anyway, I just wanted to say to Pusta Krishna Prabhu and to all the other Dandavateers out there, “I love thee, too.”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 16th, 2009
55 Akruranatha

It is no accident that “vaco-vegam”, the urge to speak, is mentioned first among the six urges in the first verse of Upadesamrta.

“sovonmukhe hi jihvadau” from Nectar of Devotion means that purification of material senses begins with engaging the tongue (in chanting and tasting prasadam).

Our mind follows what we say and hear. It gets involved in preparing to say things and considering what others have said, making it harder to remember Krishna. In our Bhagavat Life japa retreat we did one day where we chanted 64 rounds and did not speak until evening, which was marvelous.

I recently saw a documentary about a Christian monastery in, I believe, France, called Grand Chartreuse. It is a German film by Philip Groning called “Die Grosse Stille”, distributed in English as “Into Great Silence”. This is one of those monasteries where the monks observe silence except for prayers and hymns (although there was one scene where some monks were laughing and conversing while frolicking in the snow).

It was an interesting film, in that it employed no voiceover narration, virtually no dialogue of any kind, no “plot” or conflict to be resolved. There was only lush, voluptuous photography capturing the beauty of this austere life in an Alpine monastery, and the sounds of the bells, of the shuffling of feet on floors, or of the monks working in simple tasks like making clothes, cooking, chopping firewood, “buzzing up” their heads, and of course, chanting and praying. One can easily see how taking a mauna vrata can quiet the mind and aid in contemplation and meditation on God, whether the Catholic Holy Trinity or Sri Krishna.

Of course it is one of the first things that a new sadhaka in an ISKCON temple learns, that we are to avoid “prajalpa” and “gramya katha”. Yogis do not sit around wasting time in idle chatter or “unnecessary debates.”

And yet, when it comes to having friendly talks with devotees about Krishna and the process of Krishna consciousness, about our service, or even about our lives and concerns in Krishna consciousness (”tusyanti ca ramanti ca”, “guhyam akhyati prcchati”), it does not always follow the formal question/answer of a Bhagavatam class or Upanishad.

Being able to have such friendly talks is important, IMHO.

It’s also important to be able to avoid “nonsense” sound vibrations if possible. But most of us are not monks and we have to learn to deal with all people nicely (as on book distribution).

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2009
56 Akruranatha

Watching the Catholic monks reminded me of a song I heard when I was a child in the ’60s, sung by a French “singing nun” (it might have even been a movie or something about a nun who went around with her guitar). Her hit song was about St. Dominick, and the only words I remember are:

“Domenica-nica-nica sont allez tout simplement …. il ne parle que de bon Dieux.”

I don’t know much French, but I can tell it means that he went around alone (or without any property) and did not speak, except about the Good Lord.

“Sometimes in Autumn the falls come down from the top of the hill to supply clean water, and sometimes they stop. Similarly sometimes great saintly persons distribute clear knowledge, and sometimes they are silent.”

– From Krishna Book, Chapter 20, “Description of Autumn”.

We are so fortunate that Srila Prabhupada was like the Niagara Falls of great saintly persons, although he was perfectly able to be silent when the occasion arose, as a perfect controller of the senses.

That reminds me of a brilliant class H.H. Jayadvaita Swami gave last year in San Jose on B.G. 2.58, about being able to withdraw the senses as a tortoise withdraws its limbs. Maharaja said that before he met Prabhupada and read his commentary, he was bewildered by other commentaries which suggested the senses were always supposed to be withdrawn. Maharaja compared this to a “neurotic tortoise” who was so disturbed and frightened that he would never come out of his shell.

That image of a “neurotic tortoise” will stick with me forever as a simile for Mayavadis who do not know how the senses are actually to be employed.

Another great quote from “Description of Autumn” concerns how thunder causes the frogs to begin to croak, which are likened to students arising from sleep to begin their studies under the instruction of their spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Everyone is sleeping in the darkness of Kali-yuga, but when there is a great acarya, by his calling only, everyone takes to the study of the Vedas to acquire actual knowledge.”

Jaya Prabhupada!

One of my all-time favorite Bhaktivedanta Purports is S.B. 1.2.5, where Prabhupada describes how “birds, beasts and men” are perpetually busy with questions and answers. “We cannot live for a moment without being questioned or without giving answers.” But by learning Srimad-Bhagavatam we can make an all-around solution to all social, political and religious problems.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2009
57 Akruranatha

“Philosophy and science should be engaged to establish the glory of the Lord. Advanced people are eager to understand the Absolute Truth through the medium of science, and therefore a great scientist should endeavor to prove the existence of the Lord on a scientific basis. Similarly, philosophical speculations should be utilized to establish the Supreme truth as sentient and all-powerful. Similarly, all other branches of knowledge should always be engaged in the service of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-Gita also the same is affirmed. All “knowledge” not engaged in the service of the Lord is but nescience. Real utilization of advanced knowledge is to establish the the glories of the Lord, and that is the real import. Scientific knowledge engaged in the service of the Lord and all similar activities are all factually hari-kirtan, or glorification of the Lord.”

(S.B. 1.5.22, Purport)

On the one hand, devotees should rigidly give up philosophical speculation and cultivation of mundane knowledge and embrace the pure bhakti path. Ideally, we could all remain as brahmacaris or sannyasis chanting and serving in the temple constantly. Even more ideally perhaps, if we were fully prepared we could just meet with death “as lighning and illumination occur simultaneously”. (see, S.B. 1.6.27)

But as Pusta Krishna Prabhu pointed out earlier, Srila Prabhupada rarely (if ever) approved of his disciples becoming bhajananandis. He engaged us in preaching, and he allowed us to be honest householders if that was our propensity. Neither were we (most of us) qualified to do niskincana bhajan, nor was it even what Srila Prabhupada desired of us. He made clear that he wanted us to use our talents and opportunities to push on this ISKCON mission as far as possible for the benefit of the world, doubling book distribution, etc. It might be different in isolated cases, but generally that was what he considered good for us and good for those around us.

Of course everyone should be strict in their sadhana and chant 16 good rounds, preferrably before breakfast (and before turning on the computer). We have to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before assisting the child next to us.

But for those of us who have some contact with the material energy, by learning how to nudge it toward glorification of Krishna is also worthwhile. It is a grand effort requiring the work of many talented devotees, perhaps for many generations, but it should not be seen as “material”.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 17th, 2009
58 Akruranatha

In my own experience, I was not able to remain in the monastic lifestyle as a brahmacari living in the ashram. My senses were pushing and I wanted to go to college (I have moved into the temple when I was 17, after already having done about 1.5 years of college credit).

In those days (1979), moving out of the temple was seen as “blooping”, and least by most of the devotees around me. It was as if being a devotee more or less required living in the temple, even for householders, but I was single and 20 years old.

I saw it as “blooping” too, and it was a harrowing experience. By moving out of the temple I was effectively giving up the association of devotees, because if I met a devotee and he told me to move into the temple I would feel compelled to do so. And that’s what a devotee was likely to tell me to do in those days.

So… my psyche was sharply divided. I fervently prayed that I would be able to come back to Krishna consciousness later.

And even though I tried to stay close to devotees — living near the Miami temple at first, then putting my college on hold while moving into the Miami Beach hotel/temple (Bir Krishna Maharaja mercifully encouraged me to go to college while living in the temple, but at least for one semester I took the opportunity to sell books in Miami International Airport with Panca Gauda, Vijaya and others), and later renting a room with Trivikrama Maharaja near the University of Maryland — my association with nondevotees and my giving up on japa and some of the four regs really did cover me over and weaken my faith.

But somehow I was able to regain my faith by Krishna’s grace. To me it was a demonstration of the principle Krishna explains to Arjuna that an unsuccessful yogi is not the loser but takes it up again from where he left off.

Of course, the monastic style of life is important. Everyone should embrace it in childhood and youth, and return to it in old age, and if someone can follow it all one’s life, all the better, if that is the calling and path Krishna has chalked out for him.

Householders also have important service to do, but there is so much energy distracted from simply hearing and chanting and remembering, and it is often the case that advancement in yoga — even in bhakti yoga — may be slower during that time.

But I think it important that our ISKCON society of devotees now shows that we can be devotees in any condition, and we remain friendly and nonjudgmental ….

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 18th, 2009
59 Akruranatha

… friendly and nonjudgmental towards those who spend more time engrossed with the material energy, paying bills, raising kids, interacting with business associates or professional colleagues.

At least, those who have taken up the monastic path should never envy those who haven’t, or they probably will not be able to remain committed to their vows of austerity.

Besides, the public will be turned off if they feel we are judging them and looking down on them. I have not heard yet much about what went on in last weekend’s conference in D.C. on diversity in preaching, but I did read that Caru Prabhu said something to the effect that, we have to give up the attitude that “We are the saints.”

Nobody likes a “saint” who goes around feeling superior and condemning everyone. The real saints are self-satisfied and their non-envious attitude causes others to want to follow their example. We have to strive to set an example of such perfection in our lives and preaching, but it is not easy, especially if we are still feeling some “pushing” and difficulty following the vows of an initiated devotee.

This is one reaction to Kesava Krishna’s warning that “simple pride” may cause us to be overcritical and judgmental of other devotees. That pride may arise from striving for control of the senses and may lead to faultfinding of others is a well-known phenomenon for those of us who have been in ISKCON awhile. And we all know the expression “pride cometh before a fall.”

But getting back to my autobiography and personal experiences, I have to say that it helps me to describe the world as I see it in friendly talks among devotees.

Surely it may have been better if I could have stayed as a simple devotee living in an ashram and serving steadily, without going out “in the world” and being exposed to worldly people and philosophies.

Any yet I feel somehow that by remaining a devotee in spite of my worldly experiences is something I have had to go through, which is good for me and those around me.

Where I was frightened of mundane education and worldly association — that they might prove superior to Krishna consciousness — I have stronger faith now and conviction in the supremacy of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

It is as if by being able to know something of the world of maya and being able to see it and describe it through the eyes of a devotee, I can participate in “reclaiming” the world for Krishna, as the Dutch reclaim land from the sea.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 18th, 2009
60 pustakrishna

My friend Akruranath das brings up something said by Caru das, “We have to give up the attitude that we are the saints.” This area must be analyzed from several viewpoints. First, we must look upon the vaishnavas as saintly, hence saints. Otherwise, we are relegated to kanishtha adhikari stage of bhakti wherein one sees the Supreme Lord in the temple, but does not recognize the devotees of the Lord who have established service relationship with Krishna. All of us are the product of our many experiences. We have sometimes given honor to the vaishnavas, and we may have offended some vaishnavas. We want to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord, and so we must see the connection of the bhaktas with Krishna.
Another point that Akruranath Prabhu alludes to is the personal journey he has taken in remaining Krishna conscious. There was (and probably still is) a great deal of guilt that occurs if one joins the ashrama as a resident and then later leaves to pursue their life outside the ashrama. Living in the ashrama is no guarantee that one is Krishna conscious, and living outside the confines of the ashrama is not a sign that one has rejected Krishna consciousness. Certainly, the congregational reality of modern day ISKCON is a healthier example of what Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur refers to when he says: grhe tako vane tako sada hari bolo dako. Whatever external circumstance we may find ourselves in, we must adjust and center on Krishna bhakti.
We know that our time is at hand, and it is natural to have a sort of transcendental lamentation or lalasmayi for our spiritual upliftment. But, what we need is not a position but rather love to be awakened for Krishna. We have enjoyed these discussions inspired by Krishna Kesava das. Many deeply wonderful ideas and ideals have been brought out. This is very auspicious indeed. Yours in service, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 20th, 2009
61 Akruranatha

I do not pretend to know exactly what Caru Prabhu meant by giving up the attitude that “We are the saints,” and I would love to hear more of his own realizations on the subject. [It may have somethiing to do with his prabhu-datta-desh being “Latter Day Saints” country, i.e. Utah]

But what it meant to me was, not that we should give up seeing Vaisnavas as saints (or even recognizing and appreciating saintly qualities when they appear in persons ostensibly outside the Vaisnava tradition), but we should give up our individual and collective attitude of self-righteousness.

The true saint is humble, tolerant, and ready to offer all respects to others while expecting none in return.

Speaking for myself, there were times when I felt so proud of having accepted a bona fide spiritual master and having been practicing regulative principles as a follower in ISKCON, that I thought preaching was a matter of “winning” a debate, convincing others that they should do as I am doing and join ISKCON or they are faulty.

It is this attitude of basking in the borrowed authority of one’s spiritual leaders that has been the hallmark of neophytes and fanatics from time immemorial.

The Baptist fundamentalist says, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” “I’ll pray for you.” While these statements outwardly masquerade as expressions of humility, surrender to God, and transcendence of philosophical speculation, they are in actuality a declaration of the know-nothing’s sense of superiority to whomever he encounters. He is not able to discriminate between actual saintly persons who are above the modes of passion and ignorance and common people who are controlled by base desires. He has merely joined a club, and if you can “talk the talk” as a member of that club, you are considered “saved”, otherwise “lost”.

We followers of Srila Prabhupada may appear to the uninitiated as just another flavor of fundamentalist. We do appeal to inerrant authority of scriptures and demand surrender to the will of God through adherence to certain regulative principles. And some of us may from time to time have acted as fundamentalists (I know I have) and felt superior, as if my identity as a “Vaisnava” gave me a right to dominate others and subject them to my packaged philosophy that I could repeat without much understanding.

We have a duty to represent Srila Prabhupada better than that. Religion without philosophy is fanaticism. True saints have saintly vision.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 20th, 2009
62 Akruranatha

This “We are the saints” topic might be more properly addressed as being “Too proud to chant (properly)”, rather than “too proud to hear.”

It is a topic very worthwhile to discuss, as it involves how we act and speak while on preaching duty.

It also goes to what Pusta Krishna Prabhu was saying about how living in the temple is no guarantee of Krishna consciousness and living outside is no guarantee of forgetfulness of Krishna.

We have to learn to find some spark of Krishna consciousness in whomever we encounter and fan it somehow. We need to learn the Prabhodananda Saraswati “he sadhava”-style of preaching.

Too often we give people “doctrine” when they are not asking us to explain our doctrine. Or we do something else to satisfy our own whims rather than tuning in to what they want.

When we are communicating, people may be paying more attention to our “vibe” and our ability to connect with them that precisely what we say. We should strive to always leave them with a good impression, and (hopefully) with a book.

And if they do not take a book, that’s okay. We shouldn’t worry about our “score”. They can sense that too. We should leave them with a sense that they might someday be interested in whatever makes us feel so happy and *act* so saintly.

Living in an ISKCON asram and following the program Srila Prabhupada chalked out for us, though no guarantee of our Krishna consciousness, is certainly our best chance, at least for the young unmarrieds. But we cannot be too impatient to expect others to do it.

Nor should we feel an “us versus them” oversimplified view of what Krishna consciousness is, which might be how some of us (like me) felt when we first joined ISKCON.

And of course, we should see anyone who s even chanting Hare Krishna as a saintly Vaisnava, worthy of respect (at least within the mind).

But for ourselves, we should always be meek and humble, thinking how much is lacking in our own perfection of real love of Krishna.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 23rd, 2009
63 pustakrishna

Realizing the identity of the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Creator-Maintainer-Destroyer of all, the Summum Bonum, to be Krishna…it is not a matter of debate, or even consideration of other religions or their peculiar sensibilities. One of Srila Prabhupad gave the expression…”We have landed (on the island of Krishna consciousness) and we have burned our boat”. That is, we have no place else to go, committed life and soul to Krishna. Fanatic is not equivalent to Faith. Shraddhavan, possessor of faith. Whether speaking or silent, shraddhavan.
When the time will come at last that we depart from this mortal frame, our faith will be our most valuable possession. For even then, we are at the mercy of Sri Krishna. Even then, we must feel that we have ‘landed and burned our boat”, that there is no One else, no place else to find shelter…even if it requires and eternity to find Him, or for Him to find me, I must be saturated with faith that there is only Krishna to protect me (raksha mam) or to save me (pahi mam).
There is no need to feel that one’s intellect must be so broad as to incorporate all other religious conceptions or beliefs. Krishna advises that one should not unsettle the ignorant, but rather encourage them to work in the spirit of devotion. That is sufficient to remember.
Someone might want to ‘cover all bases’ by having faith in Jesus, Krishna, Siva, Jehovah, Buddha…but that is far short of anything which our Acharyas have taught. It may be an offense to the Holy Name as well, perhaps bordering on impersonalism.
Krishna declares, “There is no higher Truth than Me.” Some will hear and believe, some will hear and not believe, and to some He may reveal Himself, tattvatah, as He is. Deep faith, deeper faith, deeper and deeper…Krishna consciousness is not merely a mental exercise or practice. It is ultimate reality. Sarva Dharmam Parityajya Mam Ekam Saranam Vraja. Just the beginning of the wonderful reality of Krishna, culminating for us in Krishna prema. Humbly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 24th, 2009
64 Akruranatha

Thank you Pusta Krishna Prabhu for this discussion of sraddha or faith and how it is different from fanaticism. It seems to be a further expansion on the topic of what Srila Prabhupada means by “not exactly intellectually.”

I forget which purport it is (I am pretty sure it is Bhagavad Gita), where Srila Prabhupada says the whole process is one of developing faith, more and more, until one falls completely in love with Krishna. [I’ll go look for it later and post it. It is such a nice passage.]

This process of developing faith, which Srila Prabhupada sometimes describes as the firm conviction that if we can simply serve Krishna we do not need anything else, may be synonymous with the process of clearing away the anarthas and offenses.

I guess I am asking. Is this the same thing? Or are these different aspects of the process?

For example, the famous verses starting with “srnvatam sva kathah Krishna…” through “bhidyate hrdaya granthis…” (First Canto, Second Chapter), describe a process in which hearing Krishna katha cleanses away nearly all dirty things within the heart (or as Lord Caitanya says, “ceto darpana marjanam”), and by constantly serving the Bhagavata (both the book and the person in the form of the pure devotee) unalloyed devotional service to Krishna becomes established as an irrevocable fact.

Then the effects of passion and ignorance such as lust, greed, envy, illusion etc. subside and one becomes situated in unalloyed goodness and becomes fully conversant in realization of bhagavat tattva on the completely transcendental platform.

[It is not by any material efforts such as through karma or mental speculation, because material mind and senses cannot approach the Absolute Truth in the realm of cause and effect. This always reminds me of what Christians mean when they say we are saved by “grace” and not by “works”. See, Krsna Book, Chapter 87, Prayers of the Personified Vedas.]

Or, we also hear there is a “clearing” stage of chanting. And we hear about bhajana kriya, anartha nivrtti, then nistha, then ruci.

So these all sound like a description of one same process whereby we turn away from thinking our self interest can exist outside of devotional service to Krishna.

For example, why would one ever commit the Seventh Offense, or the Third, or the Tenth, unless one thinks one has some self-interest in committing sins, disobeying the guru, or being attached to material possessions?

And we develop that faith

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 26th, 2009
65 Akruranatha

We develop that faith by this process of “nityam bhagavata sevaya”, by somehow or another constantly hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam and serving great Bhagavata devotees like Srila Prabhupada.

By serving devotees who are completely freed from vice, one gains affinity for hearing about Krishna. (S.B. 1.2.16)

Certainly no one will deny that we should scrutinizingly study Srila Prabhupada’s books and examine them from all angles.

And furthermore, as far as possible (if it can be done in a nice way), wherever we go and whomever we meet we should try to get them interested in discussing these miraculous books (which are the real “philosopher’s stones”, which can change gravel into diamonds).

That is bhagavata-sevaya. It is particularly the seva that Srila Prabhupada asked us to do, more important I would venture to say than constructing temples and worshipping Deities. This is, after all, the age of Sankirtan, and the universal religion that is now being ushered in is that of nondenomination chanting of the holy names of God.

Whatever people in general are interested in talking about can somehow be deviated into the channels of Krishna katha, because everything is Krishna’s energy and He is thus present everywhere. What could be more interesting or attractive?

Magazines in grocery stores shout at us about the lives of movie stars and pop musicians, and this must be attractive to some people because they seem to sell a lot of these magazines. They are there in the beauty salons and dentist’s offices, and somehow people nowadays are well-informed about the children of Angelina Jolie, the pecadillos of the British Royals, or the latest divorce of Madonna or Paul McCartney.

In the Indian stores I see similar magazines about Bollywood celebrities, and this is going on in every culture of the world today.

But whose life and activities and family is more attractive than Sri Krishna’s? When the public by some good fortune gets a glimpse of Krishna, then “People” and “Us” and even the more “yellow” tabloids like “National Enquirer”, etc. will fill their pages with descriptions of festivals in Krishna’s capital Dvaraka, what did Rukmini wear, etc.

It could happen.

Raising and discussing doubts in the proper setring is also beneficial. Arjuna gave us the perfect example. If they are presented before the proper authority and destroyed, our faith increases. I have no fear that the faithful devotees can destroy any doubts or misgivings.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 26th, 2009
66 Akruranatha

Regarding “not unsettling the minds of the ignorant”, one angle I have always seen that from is in the context of how a pure devotee, who is an ideal yogi, need not take up the duties of a sannyasi or go live in a secluded forest, even though he is not personally interested in material activities.

In the Second Chapter Krishna had explained the position of one in the perfectional stage, how he can be peaceful because he is equipoised and not disturbed by desires, how being of steady intelligence he can restrain his mind and senses at will.

So then in the Third Chapter Arjuna asks, “If intelligence is better than work, why do You ask me to fight?” Krishna reveals that real intelligence and sense control means one can be equipoised even while working. He had already famously stated, in 2.47, one should not be attached to shirking one’s duties.

So in Chapter Three He describes the condition of one who can live happily in the “city of nine gates” (i.e., the body), and appear to go on performing social duties just like a fruitive worker, but without attachment and without becoming entangled in the modes and the karmic reactions.

Because most people are not ready to stop working and just sit and meditate and hear and chant, the great devotees do not encourage them to do so. Rather, they encourage them to engage their bodies in works of devotion, and by their own example they show how this is done, because everyone follows what great ones do, (which is why celebrities and athletes get paid so much to endorse consumer goods: people want to drink the tea that Tiger Woods drinks and drive the same car, etc).

So…rather than tell them, “All your activities, your ambitions for happiness in family life and for making money, are futile, and will be taken away at death”, we can also tell them, “You are good at cleaning, so clean the temple. You are good at writing and speaking, so write and speak about Krishna.”

But the deeper meaning (I think) is that Krishna is giving a hint that even the perfectional stage of spiritual life is never static or without variety. It is full of juice and wonderful activity. It is “silent” only in the sense that there are no material sounds there, but there is beautiful kirtan.

When the Upanisads say the Absolute has no hands or no qualities, they mean no *material* form or qualities. When Krishna says naiskarmya is not merely giving up work, He hints that there is transcendental work to be done.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 26th, 2009
67 Akruranatha

And for us, the transcendental work we have to do is to somehow engage the world as far as possible in Krishna consciousness.

First and foremost, our task is to engage the world in true appreciation and faithful discussion of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

People still read books. I see them walking around the streets every day with books under their arms.

So rather than disturb their minds by telling them, “What is the use of all that garbage you are reading? Don’t you know it simply agitates the mind and senses and leads only to death? There is no real life there. It is a place of pilgrimage for crows, and you will never catch a paramahamsa reading Danielle Steele, John Grisham or even Gabriel Garcia-Marquez”, we can instead tell them, “Oh yes, you are a literate person, you love to contemplate the important questions of philosophy and science, morality and war and politics and human nature, romance, passion, intrigue, beauty and truth. Please listen how nicely all these things are explained in Srimad Bhagavatam!”

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 26th, 2009
68 Akruranatha

I think I found the quotation from the Bhagavad-Gita purport I was remembering above, about how by developing one’s faith one “falls completely in love” with Krishna, but it is not exactly as I remembered it.

It is the last paragraph of the last purport in Chapter 8. The whole Purport is truly remarkable. The last paragraph is clearly a paraphrasing of the “adau sraddha..” verse, but in the context of studying Bhagavad-Gita. It is not as focused on sraddha as I had remembered.

But I am sure I have read elsewhere that the whole process involves the development of faith.

That does raise the question of whether (and how) the development of faith relates to sadhu-sanga, anartha-nivrtti, nistha, ruci, asakti, bhava and prema.

It does seem that the destruction of anarthas corresponds more or less to the establishment of firm conviction or faith, because almost all of the bad habits and bad qualities can be traced to some misgiving or feeling that we cannot completely surrender, that we may lose something, like Draupadi still pulling with one hand on the sari, or Gajendra still struggling with his own strength against the crocodile.

The dirty things being washed from our hearts are the accumulated impulses of trillions of trillions of different impressions or seeds of future karma, which in various ways are subtle manifestations of our lack of sraddha.

Isn’t it? I mean, I would like to phrase it as a question. I have no authoritative quotation for exactly the idea I am proposing. Does anyone?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 26th, 2009
69 Akruranatha

p.s. The “city of nine gates” is in Chapter Five, not Chapter Three as I said above. My mistake.

However, it relates to the same subject matter. In Chapter Three we find also, tattva vit tu maha baho guna karma vibhagayoh gunan gunesu vartanta iti matva na sajjate: Those who know tattva, the Absolute Truth, seeing how the senses are engaged in sense gratification under the modes of material nature, do not become attached to such activities. (B.G. 5.28) It is the same idea.

And 5.29 says, “Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge.”

Rather than merely change their activities by inducing them to become monks externally (while remaining hypocritically attached to sense gratification in their minds), the pure devotees find ways to encourage the general public to change the *mentality* of sense gratification while engaging externally in the same occupations as materialistic people: producing and distributing food, shelter, clothing, medicine, ornaments, military defense, welfare, justice, government administration, etc.

The whole Vedic system of sacrifices and varnasrama dharma is based on this principle.

The truth is that for the paramahamsas there is no need for the elaborate social and economic arrangements of big sacrifices with expensive ingredients and implements. They can live “tout simplement” in the forest and perfectly offer whatever little is around them.

But most of us are not paramahamsas, not even close. They are the saints, not us. We are just common people putting our kids through college and keeping roofs over our heads like others. We need to purify those activities by somehow pushing on the sankirtan yajna.

Maybe some ISKCON devotees really are paramahamsas. We know Srila Prabhupada was. But most of us still have a lot of dirty stuff in our hearts to get rid of by engaging in constantly serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission and discussing his books.

It won’t help us to imitate Srila Prabhupada and try to be respected and worshipped like he was. We are simple sadhakas, dirty perhaps, but in the shower. Thus we can relate to the general public in a friendly, humble way, and not try to overlord them due to our supposedly superior, “spiritually advanced” positions.

I think that’s what Caru meant.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 27th, 2009
70 Akruranatha

Pusta Krishna Prabhu says: “Fanatic is not equivalent to Faith. Sraddhavan, possessor of faith.”

Yes, but how are they different? This seems a fertile topic for discussion.

In English, the word “faith” sometimes carries the connotation of believing something without having good reason to do so, or taking a “leap in the dark.’

In Bhagavad-Gita the verses “sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo mattah” and “asraddhadana purusa dharmasyasya parantapa” do not have this connotation of blind following.

Certainly 6.47 refers to someone who can directly perceive the Absolute Truth by realization with transcendental senses. There is no question of “leaping in the dark”, although there is a connotation of perceiving something which cannot be perceived by common people and which is inconceivable to the material intellect.

“ajnas casraddhadhanasya samsayatma vinasyati” (4th Chapter) discusses how those without faith meet destruction. But the solution given is to destroy all doubts with the weapon of transcendental knowledge.

It may be true that the simple faith of a neophyte is a very valuable commodity that serves him well, even if he has little knowledge or realization.

But mostly what we call “fanatacism” involves those with little realization nevertheless demanding that others have faith in what they do, without being able to defeat opposing arguments.

Often their “faith” or belief in something unseen is used as a basis for feeling superior and entitled to dominate those who do not share such faith. Thus they disturb others, even to the point of committing violence, but they have no power to truly enlighten others.

Yes, realization of Krishna as the Absolute Truth is not a matter of debate, as the process is not “exactly intellectual.” And yet Srila Prabhupada was constantly putting forth arguments and reasons to explain Krishna and devotional service wherever he went.

One godbrother criticized Prabhupada’s disciples for this argumentative style of preaching, saying that Lord Caitanya converted the Mayavadi’s in Benares by exhibiting His humility and effulgence, not by discussion. When this was reported to him, Prabhupada responded, “But there was discussion also, rascal!” :-)

Of course, by imitating Srila Prabhupada without realization, trying to conquer the world with arguments about Krishna consciousness, we may cause disturbance and act like “fanatics”. We should be mindful not to commit the 9th offense….

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 28th, 2009
71 Akruranatha

We should be mindful not to disturb people who are not prepared to hear about Krishna consciousness because they are too envious or lack the requisite “sraddha”.

And yet Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to go and preach boldly and talk about Krishna to whomever we met. We just have to have a little intelligence to distinguish whether someone is innocent enough to hear, and tactful enough to present Krishna consciousness in a way that will appeal to such a person’s sense of friendliness and willingness to consider and be purified by considering Krishna.

“He sadhava!”

Just as every conditioned person is busy seeking food, money, sex, etc., they are constantly seeing to be respected and loved, and they cannot find the true love they seek. They are very eager not to be disrespected or “defeated” by an opposing viewpoint.

This struggle to be superior and more worthy of respect than others is going on constantly and is second nature to us. It is like one of the six urges or “whips”, because it is constantly prodding us (maybe it is contained in “manasah krodha vegam”?)

A religious fanatic is constantly telling people, “I am superior to you, because I am speaking God’s words and doing God’s will, whereas you are an infidel.”

An advanced devotee, armed with true humility and spiritual vision, can tell people: “You are superior to me, because you are part and parcel of my Lord Krishna, you are so dear to Him, though you have for the moment forgotten, but your eternal nature is to be one of His dear associates, and I am the servant of the servant of all such associates.”

This is not a process of insincere flattery, but of the genuine love and compassion that are the hallmarks of a true Vaisnava preacher.

And you can find such Vaisnava preachers among Christians and Muslims and even Buddhists, actually (oddly enough). They might not give the highest thing or explain Radha-Krishna lila like the six Goswamis, but they can inspire people to live a spiritual life and become detached from sense gratification and devoted to God (and that’s perfect).

But when many a Christian has told me on book distribution “I’ll pray for you”, what they obviously meant was, “You are my enemy and unless you accept my doctrine I would gladly run over you with my truck and back up and do it again.”

I pray that I may have genuine realization so my preaching is truly compassionate and faithful, and does not sink to that fanatical, unphilosophical level.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on April 28th, 2009
72 pustakrishna

Akrurannath Prabhu is thoughtful about so much. Yesterday, grace of Raxit Prabhu in San Jose, I was requested to give the Sunday program lecture. I spoke about the six symptoms of surrender described in the Hari Bhakti Vilas. One young man with a young child on his lap asked questions about the practical application of Krishna consciousness in family life. My answer was that we must try not to make a distinction of practicing Krishna consciousness only in the setting of the temple. We shall rather try to keep Krishna in the center of all of our activities, even in our family life (teaching and encouraging a Krishna centric life to each other) and internally when we are unable to express our Krishna consciousness to others directly.
We are in the process of developing transcendental character. Srila Prabhupad used the example that in order to enter fire, we must become like fire. For devotees living in the ashram, the regulated lifestyle focused on service potentially facilitates this remembrance of Krishna. But, we must not, living in our homes, miss the opportunity to live Krishna centric lives. And, we must give encouragement of the same to our householder friends and acquaintances.
Regarding death and faith, we may try to plan out our lives according to a mental picture of our future. We do not know what the future holds. Today, one of my surgeon colleagues was telling me how one of his partners retired at a relatively young age, wanting to enjoy years in retirement from work. Unfortunately, he developed bone cancer shortly after retiring, and he died within months. I was able to use this as a preaching opportunity for the surgeon who is a Muslim and was receptive. We cannot afford to phantacize about our future. We must not think that we can enjoy material life now, so that we can later become renunciates dedicated to preaching or a quiet contemplative life. Further, the more we fuel material life, the more entangled we become in Maya’s web. If Prahlad Maharaj tells his young 5 year old friends not to wait until old age to become Krishna conscious, how much more it is necessary for we who already are old!
In summary, we should have our antennae out to hear about Krishna all the time. As Keshava Krsna Prabhu has brought out, it seems strange that older “seasoned” bhaktas might lose interest in hearing from young enthusiastic devotees. We should be introspective about such phenomena. Respectfully, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on April 29th, 2009
73 caitanya caritamrta

Please accept my humble obeisances, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

May the Flames engulf me! 2 weeks later and the fire is still burning!! The dialogue on this particular “blog” has amazingly expanded, if not to elaborate on “Sankirtan-Katha” or for “personal-anartha” dissolving, either way it seems that some very practical exchanges are being offered. Personally speaking, as a householder, this on-line format does give a chance to get some advanced association, for physical location does place limits.

Although, would also like to remind those, like myself who are distanced from Vaisnava’s, to remember to practice some form of “Arcana”, whilst away from the Mandhir’s. It was also recommended by Srila Prabhupada, and from what I’ve experienced this practice certainly has increased my attraction to the Lord’s form.

Japa is good, with Deities even better, certain personal exchanges begin and this simple process will strengthen our sadhana and protect us when we are surrounded by so much illusion. Plus, you can increase your prasadam distribution from home!

Thank you for your valuable time,
your servant in training,
caitanya caritamrta das, das anu das

Comment posted by caitanya caritamrta on April 29th, 2009
74 pustakrishna

With all respect to His Grace Chaitanya Charitamrita das, we must be careful to try to choose our words carefully. “Japa is good, with Dieties even better…”. The service of the Holy Names, Sankirtan Yajna, IS the Yuga-dharma. Ceto darpana marjanam…
In our Vaishnava line, we recognize 9 authorized processes of devotional service, any one or which, or combinations of which, when practiced with sincerity under the guidance of Vaishnava Acharyas (vande ham sri gurun…gurun is pleural), will potentially re-awaken Krishna consciousness, love of Krishna, in each of us. There is really no hierarchy of processes of the 9, but the special benediction of this age, grace of Sri Krishna Chaitanyadeva, is that simply by chanting the Holy Names without aparadha, we can achieve love for Krishna. It seems that you may have a proclivity for service of the Dieties, and that is certainly authorized. But, we must remember the principles as they have been given to us.
I do not want this to be taken the wrong way, as I am not trying to be an elitist…but I want to express this as follows. Please understand the spirit in which it is expressed, as I am worthy of criticism for my own spiritual benefit. Here it goes, and this one is going to be my last comment on this particular blog so to minimize any conflicts. We know that younger devotees may be far more advanced than so-called older devotees (this is a life to life process, bahunam janmanam ante).
PERHAPS THE BEST REASON TO PARTICIPATE IN HEARING FROM YOUNG ASPIRING VAISHNAVAS IS THAT WE CAN, ON BEHALF OF OUR SAMPRADAYA, HELP THE DEVELOPING PREACHERS TO LEARN THE PRINCIPLES OF THE PARAMPARA IN A PRACTICAL WAY, TESTED AND OF COURSE ENCOURAGED BY THEIR SINCERE EFFORTS AT PREACHING, AND COACHED BY THEIR MORE EXPERIENCED GODBROTHERS AND GODSISTERS.
We have a responsibility to Srila Prabhupad and our line of Acharyas to teach that which comes from Krishna through the transparent line of disciplic succession. If we concern ourselves only with our own spiritual advancement (neglecting the development of others in our line, as they too give us opportunity for devotional service) then to that extent we might rightly be considered spiritually miserly. We can take inspiration from the expression in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, that when distributing KC, Nityananda Prabhu and others plundered the storehouse of Krishna-prema, & it was increased!
Yours in service, Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on May 2nd, 2009
75 Akruranatha

I understood Caitanya Caritamrta not to be saying that deity worship is better than japa, but that adding deity worship on top of the foundation of good japa makes household life especially sweet.

For householders who live close to a temple, they can participate in the local temple’s deity worship and be greatly benefitted. But for those who live far away that is not an option.

I have seen how Caitanya Caritamrta Prabhu and his good wife worship their home deities in Modesto, invite friends into their home, distribute prasadam to them, and teach them to chant japa and read Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. I love the oatmeal cookie prasadam CC is always passing out to all and sundry.

In this way CC remains always humble, happy and full of energy.

In my own home the deity worship is not very elaborate. I give my Prabhupada and Gaura-Nita water and sing to them. The prasadam we eat gets offered upstairs to a picture of Srila Prabhupada. We have lots of room for improvement. But CC is giving some good advice that Jagarini and I should take to heart.

Especially for the householders, it is our duty to worship the deities according to the pancaratrika system. Otherwise, how will we become clean and pure enough to chant the holy names without offenses? And how will we purify the deeds we do in order to earn money?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on May 4th, 2009
76 caitanya caritamrta

Please accept my humble obeisances, All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Would like to thank all the devotee’s who’ve participated in this particular “b.l.o.g.” (bhakti love on grid) for they all are “Karuna Sindu” an, ocean of mercy.

Prabhu Pusta Krsna has a good point on watching our words ( no offenses: with our minds, words and body) and am grateful for his advice. My neophyte stage has become puffed-up with attachment to the Arcana process. Will be more humble when discussing this or better to say: “hold the reins of my enthusiam”. Thank you for your valuable time!

Prabhu Akruranth has honored me again and am sincerely grateful for his association. Yes, there is no comparison of the Holy Names, in any practice for they are self-evident. It is difficult to fully convey these sentiments in writing.

Thanks to Kesava Krsna Dasa who started this with the seeds of sravanam and also produced arcana ,smaranam, sakhyam, dasyam and our acts of sevanam. An excellent gardener indeed!

Prabhu Praghosa dasa whose accurate reminder of using our preaching poignantly and also Gangamata Goswamini dd who knows the value of sadhana.

Now, am looking forward to “virtual” association with ALL of you!

All glories to the assembled devotee’s! All glories to the assembled devotee’s! All glories to the assembled devotee’s!

your servant in training,
caitanya caritamrta das, das anu das

Comment posted by caitanya caritamrta on May 6th, 2009

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