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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Saint Cynic and modern cynics

Monday, 11 May 2020 / Published in Articles / 6,032 views

By Kasya das

Sixteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita denote godly and above all demoniac qualities – daivasura sampad vibhaga, which are to be found in a man’s heart. One of the human quality is cynism.

I was curious, where Krishna describes that in sixteenth chapter, so simply that it belongs to godly or demoniac character qualities? Nowhere. It took more effort to figure it out. Apropos, if we would make an public inquiry questioning, “How do you fancy a demon?”, common answer would be, “… a fairy- tail-ish hellish creature with fur and horns on its head, eating human flash, bad and mischievous.” Krishna does not describe it that way, except for that mischievousness (kruran). He leaves out outside look, but focuses on character and enumeration of dirt in the heart.

I took an advice from monolingual dictionaries. It says that cynic is a person, which believes that human dings are all motivated by selfishness only, and that cynic is a person with pessimistic view of human character or said in just the opposite manner, it is a person who has very little faith in virtue and good nature of others. With these definitions we are much closer to what Krishna has to say and there are plenty examples of cynics in recent history.

As we can see it is not a philosophical category, but a faith conditioned by impure state of heart so peculiar for so called modern man. It is the one widespread present day illness, step by step everyone is considering to be normal state, to be necessary evil. Cynicism is a mixture of demoniac (asura) qualities (sampad) described in sixteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita. All these qualities are in varying proportion present in demoniac person. It is nothing unusual. We see those around in others and in ourselves. All contemporary humans, more or less, suffer from these bad qualities.

About Czechs it is said that they posses cynical humor. Indeed, one of the biggest cynic, who mercilessly murdered millions of innocent men, women and children in concentration camps and in other ways, considered Czechs to be “smiling beasts”. Yes, it is a way the Czechs exhibit their cynims. No worry, cynism could be found in any nation. Americans are roughly and toughly cynical, ever ready to dispatch you and prove their superiority above all they survey. So called Indian sadhus are cynical too. In one moment they take all your hopes for genuine spiritual revival by saying that there is no problem at all, because everyone is god, and all paths lead to the same goal. It is not about nations, but the character matters.

It begun with Krishna separating demons from devotees. Cynic is almost like synonym for a demon. How is that? asatyam apratistha te jagad ahur anisvaram aparasparam sambhutam kim anyat kama-haitukam Bg. 16.8 They say [the demons] that this world is unreal, without substance and no God in control. It is rumored it originated from sexual lust only. That is the root of manifestation of cynism. That is the source, from which it sprawls out. The very next verse indicate the fruits of such atheism, which leads to cynism. That I will come to presently. etam drstim avastabhya nastatmano ‘lpa-budhayah prabhavanty ugra-karmanah ksayaya jagato ‘hitah

Following such opinions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible activities meant to destroy the world. We do not have to go far for the examples. Present-day is rich with them, more than in the past. When common man observes these horrible and unbeneficial acts, fear, disbelief and cynism grows in him. He does not have to be a demon, but he is daily exposed to effects of demoniac activities. More and more he thinks, “So much evil. So much wrong. Nothing good, no better alternative.”

Gradually he loses good faith, and finally stops to believe anyone and anything. Everywhere he sees only bad. No other choice is left for him, but to become a cynic, because he is not educated in the culture of Krishna consciousness. He knows not Bhagavad-gita. He does not know how to face such a load of badness. He at all does not know what to think about it. Therefore he joins the cynical attitude of a demon, “Everything is just bad and hopeless. Better I join the club of cynics and demons.” Then he becomes full fledged demon too. But saintly person, devotee of Krishna sees same things, but puts no faith in them. He know that everything is wrong and temporary, and that positive option rests behind – the soul full of knowledge, unending spiritual bliss and almighty God with absolute will, tolerance and kindness.

But cynic says something here too, “It is just your opinion.” He does not see and does not waant to accept something better. He always leans towards worse. Vaisnava always chooses better option. Fly is always looking for stool and rotting, but bee is seeking nectar. That is about nature. There is the dividing line between cynic and skeptic. Cynic does not want to see anything first-rate. He lives out from doubting any good intentions and ultimately doubting motives of God and His very existence. Whereas skeptic is pessimistic about being happy in the material world. He has no faith for a slight enjoyment and happiness existing without God. Here is a short story and a piece of history to illustrate how the construct cynic came into terminology. In ancient Greece was one ascetic saint, who lived in the forest.

He lived very humbly and was dedicated to some kind of meditation and yoga. His name was Cynic. Once Alexander the Great payed a visit to him. He wanted to serve him, and asked him what he could do for him. Cynic answered to him to move aside, because he is shading a sun for him. Alexander the Great understood that he is elevated saintly person, “I am such a big king, but he wants nothing from me. He is simply satisfied in himself.” In ancient Greece was a school established by Antishtenés. Its members called themselves cynics after saint Cynic. Characteristic of this school was ostentatious disdain of wealth and enjoyment, which was common for them and Cynic, except for ostentatiousness. Cynic could by his humble selfless way could impress even wealthy epicurean king, and show him the way to spiritual bliss. However, ostentatiousness stinks with pride, envy, i. e. with demoniac qualities.

This marks the path of modern cynicism. Antisthenés and his disciples should have better follow in the footsteps of saintly cynic. Derivation of word cynic is cynism, in Greek kynikós. I do not know Greek. This word may be derived from name of secondary school – Kynosarges – where philosopher Antisthenés teached. More often word kynikós is used meaning biting, malicious, coon, thus a man, who is like dog – kyón. Indeed suitable nickname for cynic. Eventually, we are unsettled by cynism, and we yield to it, but if we like to chant Hare Krishna, hear about Krishna and like to serve devotees of Krishna, cynism will dissipate in short time. That is definite hope.

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3 Responses to “Saint Cynic and modern cynics”

  1. niscala says :

    Cynicism means seeing the bad qualities in everyone, and assuming it is all there is. Wherever there is assumption, there is departure from reality, which spells ignorance. On the other hand, devotees such as Yuddhisthira Maharaja could find no bad qualities in anyone, which was certainly not the truth, at least as we see it. But we see things in terms of duality- “good” and “bad”… Maharaja Yuddhisthira saw only spiritual energy of the Lord around him- so for him there is no “bad” or “good” there is no duality at all- only the Lord all around him- everywhere.

    The neophyte devotees see fault on the basis of external features- either in the body or the mind. The madhyama devotee sees fault on the basis of the soul- how it is turned towards the Lord, or not- and thus he makes friends with devotees, preaches to the innocent, avoids the envious. The uttama adhikari sees beyond the intentions of the soul, even, to the spiritual reality that is everywhere, which is the Lord’s all-good energy. Unaffected by time, he sees even the external energy to be subservient to the Lord. Nothing is apart from Him, even His shadow…

    Why do people focus on the worst in human nature, what is it that attracts them to focus thus? They call it terrible, yet they are actually attracted to it, to the point of seeing it everywhere, much like an uttama adhikari, being attracted to Krsna, sees Him everywhere. This means they are attracted to the dark side of the Lord, which is also attractive. But as devotees, we try to see the lotus face of the Lord- as it is by seeing the face, we can see if He is pleased with us, by our attitude.

    We practice becoming like uttama adhikaris when we try to appreciate the good qualities in each other, regardless of external faults. Until we are actually uttama adhikaris, however, we need to find ourselves some good devotee association, and that requires that while overlooking external faults, we try to see whether or not the soul is turned towards the Lord or not, and take shelter and association of those souls that are…

    Overlooking external features, we try to see the sincerity in the heart. We then may see a devotee, even in the heart of an atheist, for many have turned to atheism because of being angry with false religion…We may also see an atheist in the heart of a devotee- what Srila Prabhupada calle the “mundane person in the dress of a vaisnava” So we must try to cultivate vision that is penetrating to the essence of a perso

  2. Thank you Niscala for so nicely expressing these important points.

    So much of the process of devotional service as we learn in, e.g., Nectar of Instruction, involves learning how to act socially: engaging in loving exchanges with other devotees, avoiding association of materialistic or atheistic people, avoiding nondevotional talks, respecting advanced devotees properly, and eventually learning to live constantly in the association of Krishna and His pure devotees by properly hearing, chanting and deeply remembering His names, forms, qualities and pastimes after the jaundice of ignorance is totally eradicated.

    Krishna consciousness is extremely personal in every respect. It involves replacing exploitative relationships (centered on our misconception of ourselves as the enjoyers of matter), with the natural, eternal relationships that are based on serving the senses of Krishna, who is Hrsikesa, the Lord of the senses.

    To do that we must heed the advice Niscala is giving.

    Living among devotees is so important. Tandera carana-sevi bhakta-sane-vasa, janame janame hoy ei abhilasa. We aspire to serve the lotus feet of the Six Goswamis, living among the devotees, birth after birth.

    I recently came across this statement in the Purport to S.B. 4.9.11:

    “The significant point in Dhruva Maharaja’s statement is that he wanted the association of pure devotees. Transcendental devotional service cannot be complete and cannot be relishable without the association of devotees. We have therefore established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Anyone who is trying to be aloof from this this Krishna Consciousness Society and yet engage in Krishna consciousness is living in a great hallucination, for this is not possible.

    “From this statement by Dhruva Maharaja it is clear that unless one is associated with devotees, his devotional service does not mature; it does not become distinct from material activities. The Lord says, satam prasangan mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah (Bhag. 3.25.25). Only in the association of pure devotees can the words of Lord Krishna be fully potent and relishable to the heart and ear.

    “Dhruva Maharaja explicitly wanted the association of devotees. That association in devotional activities is just like the waves of an incessantly flowing river. In our Krishna Consciousness Society we have full engagement twenty-four hours a day. Every moment of our time is always busily engaged in the service…”

  3. Some people suggested to me that by quoting from the Fourth Canto Purport above I was being sectarian and criticizing other groups of devotees. That was not my intention. I do not think it was Srila Prabhupada’s intention to distinguish ISKCON from any other society of pure devotees.

    The main point is, Krishna consciousness means living within the society of pure devotees.

    Some very learned and renounced sages or yogis live in the forest and search for the Absolute Truth in seclusion, but unless they enter the society of devotees they at best realize His brahman or paramatma feature, and there is every possibility of falling down.

    Even great Vaisnava poets who praise Krishna but not His associates, the cowherd boys, cows, gopis, Nanda and Yasoda, His flute, the trees and flowers of Vrindavan, etc., are missing something. Lord Krishna is more beautiful in the company of His various potencies.

    On the other hand, I do think that by mentioning ISKCON specifically in this Purport, Srila Prabhupada was expressing optimism that the ISKCON society he founded will be successful.

    We are not really a society of perfect devotees. Many of us (myself certainly) are materialistic neophytes still struggling with senses, mind, false ego, impure intelligence, who are not very cultured or refined in the ways of dealing with other devotees and with obeying all the instructions and rules of bhakti yoga.

    Still, we should see in each other the chance of becoming great devotees by Srila Prabhupada’s grace. As he told us, “You cannot blame a dirty man if he is in the shower.”

    This Krishna consciousness movement is like a giant divine shower, divya snan. “Ceto darpana marjanam…sarvatma snapanam.”

    If we chant Hare Krishna and avoid offenses — especially the offense of blaspheming devotees — our hearts will be thoroughly cleansed. It is now springtime, so let’s go in for a spring cleaning. Hare Krishna. Come on down to the sankirtan car wash and make everything sparkle inside and out.

    But the cynics may think it is not possible. We have too many faults. The process won’t work, or even if it does work, we won’t be able to carry it out successfully.

    True, converting ourselves and masses of people into fully turned-out, completely pure devotees is a tall order, but with Lord Caitanya’s grace anything is possible. He really is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He really has ordained this.

    Let’s prove these cynics wrong and win them over! Haribol!

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