Comments Posted By Akruranatha
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Well, he did teach the Bagger Vance Gita to golfer R. Juna on the big screen in "The Legend of Bagger Vance".
» Posted By Akruranatha On Dec 22, 2017 @ 1:28 am
"The Christian position, and not just the specifically Catholic position, is that God’s love for each human being is so great that every person is called into permanent union with God as this particular human individual."
This may be a good argument against Mayavadi or Buddhist rejection of individuality, but the Vaisnava tradition of individual spiritual identity and variety in the transcendental realm meets this Christian argument nicely.
To be sure, the Vaisnava approach (emphasized in Srila Prabhupada's gloss on B.g. 2.12), puts less importance on the particular characteristics of the current human material body of conditioned souls. But that is a more reasonable approach, isn't it? So many of our characteristics are temporary, even in this life.
For those who believe in bodily resurrection, will the body be resurrected in the state it was in when death took place? Or will here be a more youthful body resurrected? And if so, will the youthful body then lack the wisdom acquired in later years? Even old and infirm people often die without wisdom or "Christlike" character.
The infallible world, in Vaisnava theology, is without ignorance. Just as Krishna is "sat-cid-ananda vigraha", all perfected souls in the Kingdom of God are also eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss (and have bodily forms befitting such qualities). This view is much more satisfying, both intellectually and emotionally.
"Unless ye be like little children" means, completely free from lust, doesn't it?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Oct 7, 2017 @ 4:15 pm
I love these personal stories of devotees' own experiences.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Aug 2, 2017 @ 4:52 pm
I am happy to hear that Bhaktimarg Swami will be walking to California this time. When is Maharaja scheduled to arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area? If there is anything ISKCON of Silicon Valley can do to serve Maharaja in some way, please let us know.
» Posted By Akruranatha On May 22, 2017 @ 7:23 pm
If you have not yet read “Chasing Rhinos With the Swami” (from which this article is an excerpt), you are in for a treat. I think perhaps we should distribute this book to nondevotees.
Especially this year when San Francisco is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”, many San Franciscans and others would be interested in this history. Also, fans of Beatles and George Harrison will find this memoir interesting, and of course those who are interested in the religious history of how Vaisnavism traveled west.
I was reading it on a plane and a lawyer sitting next to me struck up a conversation about it. If I had another copy I could have sold it to him then and there. He was very interested and we both liked many of the same books. I gave him my card. Maybe he will contact me, but I doubt it.
» Posted By Akruranatha On May 18, 2017 @ 11:08 pm
O how I wish I could have been there!
Agnideva Prabhu came to ISKCON Silicon Valley a year or two ago. We miss him.
I spent 1984-1987 in Ann Arbor (“A-squared”) while I attended the University of Michigan Law School. It is nice to know there is an active Bhakti Yoga Society on campus and that they have had the good fortune to host Agnideva Prabhu there.
Maybe I can go back this year for my 30th law school reunion. I have never been back to Michigan for 30 years. I would love to go back to the Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center in Detroit (Devasadana Mandir). I got to visit there in 1976 (along with a large group of devotees from ISKCON St. Louis) when Srila Prabhupada gave darsan there. Also I want to visit the devotees in Ypsilanti and see how their preaching is going on.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 22, 2017 @ 3:36 pm
It is a wonderful piece of property that Mira and Ajay Shingal and their children have purchased in the coastal foothills south of San Jose (not very far from the ISV temple in Mountain View). It is scarcely more than one hour by car from the temple (probably 35 or 40 min. from my home).
It used to be a Franciscan retreat and it has spacious buildings for kirtan hall and lectures.
Mira and Ajay previously funded the Institute for Dharma Studies at University of California at Berkeley’s prestigious Graduate Theological Union (of which Srila Prabhupada’s friend Dr Stilson Judah was a founder). Our Garuda Das will be a visiting professor there shortly.
Now the Shingals are starting a goshala from which our city temple can get a steady supply of good ahimsa milk. I would like to see, eventually, “certified ahimsa” dairy products sold in grocery stores as they now do with “certified organic” produce.
Mira and Ajay would like to start an Eco-village with a replica Govardhan and Yamuna similar to what they have seen at Radhanatha Swami’s Govardhan Eco-Village in Maharastra near Mumbai.
It is nice to see the piety and devotion of this fortunate family, and their solid friendship with Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and grand-disciples in ISKCON.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 22, 2017 @ 3:26 pm
It is nice to see glorification of the BBT. Srila Prabhupada ordered his disciples to translate his books in all languages and distribute them everywhere, all over the world. I noticed on the BBT’s website (www.krishna.com) that Bhagavad-gita As It Is is available in 58 languages and Srimad Bhagavatam is available in 37 languages. Books are available in over 100 languages, and BTG magazine is being published in many languages throughout the world. Also, ebooks and audiobooks are being produced under the auspices of the BBT. Srila Prabhupada established the BBT as a great beacon to bring light to the world in the form of the teachings of Lord Caitanya and the great acaryas, and it has been doing so admirably.
More than 532 million BBT books distributed is a great accomplishment. We want to see these books in every home. And we want to see people reading and understanding them and molding their lives accordingly. So now that we have distributed over half a billion, can we double it? A billion more in the next 40 years should be manageable, if we can recruit young book distributors and others dedicated to making it happen,
In North America, we are putting Bhagavad-gita As It Is in motel room desk drawers like Gideons Bibles. (see www.motelgita.com) There is plenty of scope for “sastra dan” programs where the books are left in hospital waiting rooms, airport chapels and other places where people may be looking for some reading matter to browse.
But of course the face-to-face interaction and the giving of donations by potential readers is an indispensable part of the formula for spreading Krishna consciousness. And the BBT is making all this possible, per Srila Prabhupada’s plan.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 15, 2017 @ 2:29 pm
I could not tell from the article which sacred land this pipeline had originally been planned to run through. Does this have to do with New Vrindavana? Some other ISKCON community?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 3, 2017 @ 3:34 pm
The devotee in the Chicago airport story is Sarvopama, not Sarvabhauma.
I still have lots of material desires. I keep thinking, “Why does Krishna keep me from being wealthy and able to fulfill these desires,” but I understand, at least theoretically, that it is because He is merciful and wants to protect me from the ignorance of not knowing what is best for me.
What is best is to chant His holy name in pure love. When oh when will that day be mine?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Feb 15, 2017 @ 8:02 pm
One concern I do have is that we do not want to create the impression (like many Christian fundamentalists do) that to be God-conscious one has to ignore scientific knowledge and information. Not all biologists are atheists or materialists; not all scientists are nondevotees.
Not all devotees have to be professional scientists, either, but they should not be afraid of confronting scientific arguments and giving credit where credit is due. We do not want to cultivate a mood of obscurantism or anti-intellectualism. Empirical science and reason have their limitations, and intellectuals can become arrogant (mode of goodness conditions by a sense of happiness and superiority), but the highest use of science and technology, as with all other arts, is in the service of Krishna. Everything has its utility in Krishna’s service.
So yes, devotee children should learn the refutations that Urmila speaks of in this article, but we should not teach them to fear knowledge or philosophy. They should just recognize that the science of Krishna Consciousness is a superior philosophy, a more profound knowledge. Some of these devotee children will be the Nobel prize-winners of the future, and some day devotees will be known as the greatest scientists and most intelligent of all people.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Aug 19, 2016 @ 7:36 pm
Nice quotations to meditate on, especially as here in the US we are in a presidential election year and the mass media are full of stories about the candidates and their campaigns.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 20, 2016 @ 3:08 pm
How interesting. Now I can’t wait to read about what happens in Tibet.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Mar 4, 2016 @ 9:08 pm
“Whomever Krishna protects, cannot be killed; and whomever Krishna will kill, cannot be protected.”
Still, what does Krishna want us to do when we get sick?
One time a few of us were discussing the Ranganiketan traveling show of Manipuri dance and martial arts. When I heard that sometimes pieces of swords may break off and fly into the audience, I said, “We must seat the audience at a distance and get sufficient insurance.”
One visitor to the temple said, “You do not need insurance because Krishna is the supreme controller and will not allow anything bad to happen.”
I said, “But we are Krishna’s servants. If we are managing a public tour of performances, we have to manage very carefully like expert professionals in His service.”
H.H. Bhaktiswarupa Damodar Maharaja overheard our conversation and intervened, saying I was correct.
It may be that Krishna wants us to demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative cures.
Or it may be that Krishna wants us to demonstrate our willingness to use effective cures which are discovered by modern, ugra-karma science.
I do not think there is a clear answer to this question. My choice was that, when dealing with cancer, I should not mess around with being all-natural and holistic. I went for the strong stuff and did not look back. So far I am pleased with the results. Maybe the cancer will later return, but for now its seems to be completely gone.
Of course I was lucky to have caught it early and to have had a form of lymphoma that responds very well to this kind of chemotherapy using “Rituxin”. Some lymphomas are more “indolent”: they spread more slowly but are harder to kill. Mine was aggressive but was killed very swiftly by the chemotherapy.
It wasn’t even all that difficult for me. The worst were the first five days of each round, when I had to take 100 mg a day of prednisone. That made me feel agitated, speedy, a bit short of breath.
Fortunately, no surgery was involved. Jagarini said she could see my tumor shrinking (the 4 cm lump was prominent under my left jaw) during the first infusion. It disappeared completely to the naked eye in about 24 hours.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Jan 20, 2016 @ 8:50 pm
Sometimes devotees were prone to fad health-care programs that were not good for them. In L.A. there was one iridologist that everyone was going to who was prescribing extreme diets. Jadurani became very weak eating only carrots or something, and was unable to walk, and when Srila Prabhupada came he instructed her to give up her fasting and eat a balanced diet.
Many western medicines use non-vegetarian products like gelatin and collagen and albumin and other ingredients taken from the bodies of animals. Much unethical testing on animals goes on in the name of science. Still, are devotees forbidden from using such products if they are prescribed by learned physicians for saving their lives and preserving their health? Should we be like Jehova’s Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions on Biblical grounds even when doing so endangers their lives?
We reject “mundane learning” and “ascending knowledge” as imperfect, but we devotees may have a tendency to think we know better than professionals and scientists, even when our conclusions are not coming from parampara but from all kinds of “alternative” sources (such as, something we read on the internet). How do we separate the best alternative information from the quacks and snake oil dealers?
We hear many anecdotes about people who were cured by faith healers and alternative treatments, but just because a small number of people had success with some cure does not mean it is the best course of treatment.
Yes, the pharmaceutical and health care industries are to a large extent driven by the need to be profitable, but there also are smart people conducting research and publishing in peer reviewed journals. Should we, as devotees, have a kind of knee-jerk distrust for such medical science?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Jan 12, 2016 @ 4:18 pm
When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in March of 2014, I just followed the advice of the oncologists provided by my health insurance. They prescribed three rounds of R-CHOP chemotherapy followed by localized radiation treatments. As it turned out, the chemotherapy was not all that hard for me, and I elected to do three additional rounds of chemo rather than the radiation. Even after the first three rounds of chemo, I was in full remission (no sign of any cancer anywhere). I am now getting scanned every six months, but so far nothing has returned.
Alternative cures are great, and mainstream medicine often treats the more serious problems (rather than promoting a healthy lifestyle). But mainstream medicine often does provide good treatment for serious health issues.
Of course, choosing a health care regimen, especially when dealing with a serious or potentially fatal illness, is an intensely private matter. We know that Srila Prabhupada preferred ayurvedic treatments for himself, and was himself familiar with homeopathic and ayurvedic cures and treatments. However, I am concerned that sometimes devotees are dying from diseases that could be treated if they accepted mainstream treatments.
Did Srila Prabhupada tell us not to use western medicine? I have heard (but cannot confirm) that he preferred us to use whatever treatment was available and effective, including western scientific medicine.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Jan 12, 2016 @ 4:18 pm
Speaking of the Lord’s Prayer, I recently attended a wedding in a Catholic church. When reciting the Lord’s payer, the recitation stopped at “…deliver us from evil.”
Fortunately, my wife, anticipating my ignorance, caught my attention and gestured to me, preventing me from booming out “For Thine is the kingdom…” all by myself.
When did the Catholic Church decide to chop this last portion off of the Lord’s Prayer, and why?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Dec 15, 2015 @ 6:59 pm
What an interesting TV show, “Another Dimension”. I like the all-white set that makes it look like they are really in “another dimension”. I wonder if this show has many viewers in the Ukraine.
The host is asking many intelligent questions, and Bhakti Caitanya Swami is giving good answers.
It is nice seeing Hare Krishna devotees on television. Was it Andy Warhol, or Allen Ginsberg (or someone else), who said, “If you are not on television, you do not exist”?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Oct 2, 2015 @ 12:25 pm
I guess my take on it is, there are different ways to look at Varnasrama-Dharma: one way is prescriptive, another way is descriptive.
In “descriptive” mode, Srila Prabhupada would sometimes point out that in every society these different kinds of occupations already exist, such as intellectuals, political leaders who protect citizens, enterprise managers who produce and distribute food and other wealth, and laborers who serve and supply the manpower. These are just the natural divisions of society. Social scientists may talk about different sectors of the economy or different social classes and the development of class consciousness (bourgeoisie, aristocracy, royalty, proletariat, rural peasants, “middle class”, etc.) In descriptive mode Varnasrama Dharma is social science. What do people do? How do humans behave in society? Asking whether we are ready for it is like asking whether we are ready for economics, meteorology or mathematics. It is a branch of descriptive scientific knowledge.
In a prescriptive sense, Varnasrama Dharma is ethics. It has a normative component. A person should know what his or her role in the social body is and behave accordingly. Not everyone has the same duties, and an action that might be right for one kind of person might be wrong for another. Satyaraja wrote a nice article on Immanuel Kant and deontological versus utilitarian ethics recently on Dandavats. The ethics taught by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita is of a piece with and directly related to His other teachings about metaphysics and cosmology and theology. So again, it makes little sense in this mode of understanding Varnasrama Dharma to ask whether we are ready for it. Ready or not, Varnasrama Dharma is all around us; it is the moral world we inhabit. Varnasrama Dharma is dharma: it defines right from wrong action, it defines what it means to be a successful human, a righteous human, whether we know it or not.*
Now, recorded history is fraught with examples of class injustice and the tyranny of various cruel kings and dictators, so much so that the modern political consensus is egalitarian and democratic. The philosophy of Varnasrama Dharma recognizes the existence of social classes and as such could be erroneously viewed as some kind of anachronistic effort to revive the class structure of the “ancien regime” in Europe, or of Tokugawa Japan or the Chinese Qing dynasty or serfdom in Russia and chattel slavery and de jure segregation in America. But that is not what it is. Nor is it a revival of the vitiated “caste by birth” system in Hinduism (which found its ideological justification in misinterpretation of Vedic descriptions of Varnasrama Dharma). If we think of the idea of Varnasrama Dharma as a reactionary political ideology aimed at reviving the social values of the 18th or 19th century, we will not only be mistaken, but will be doomed to failure. We are “not ready” for that kind of Varnasrama Dharma.
But dharma is dharma is dharma. We cannot divorce varnasrama dharma from some other kind of dharma. If it is not varnasrama dharma it is adharma (there is also such a thing as emergency dharma, or how to behave in unusual social situations, but even the theory of such emergency dharma is embraced in the greater philosophy of varnasrama dharma, for to know any subject well is to know not only the rules, but the exceptions, and the reasons behind them).
I remember being told by a Hindu man who had taken to eating beef and drinking whiskey in America: “The cows in India are sacred and not to be killed, but the cows here in America are different. They are raised for slaughter and there is no sin in eating them.” The idea that we are not “ready” for varnasrama dharma seems to be the same kind of fallacy. It may be based on a misunderstanding of what varnasrama dharma means and how it works.
*As devotees we know that success in human life means reviving our dormant love of Krishna and at the end of this life going back to Godhead (“ante narayana smrti”). But externally also there are competing ideas of what it means to be a successful person. Materialistic modern society puts great stock in becoming wealthy and powerful, or becoming learned and respected. Vedic ethics emphasizes doing one’s proper duty properly, playing the role one is meant to play in the universal drama, and playing it correctly. One must give (or receive) charity correctly, observe samskaras correctly, observe austerity and vratas like ekadasi and janmasthami, offer sacrifice, obey parents, teachers and authorities and please them, show mercy and due care for subordinates, etc. Of course all these things must be done with the right reason and motivation: to please Krishna, knowing this is what He wants from us. But they are also what we are supposed to do from a material standpoint (to be elevated to the mode of goodness and avoid sinful reactions, and to play our role in a peaceful, harmonious, prosperous and successful society.)
» Posted By Akruranatha On Dec 24, 2014 @ 3:25 pm
Some of the “arguments” identified in this article sound really strange to me. I do not think anyone would suggest that *only* members of ISKCON can be devotees of Krishna, or belong to varnas and asramas, or observe (or violate) rules of dharma.
Lots of ISKCON devotees have jobs outside of ISKCON (why is Bhaktivedanta Hospital being singled out in this article)?
Lots of people are devotees of Krishna who may not even have been in contact with ISKCON. And certainly people observe (or violate) dharma who are not members of ISKCON.
Also, if Srila Prabhupada “reacted” to devotees in ISKCON falling down by instructing that we should establish varnas among our ISKCON members, how would that give grounds for disregarding those instructions? I mean, it is not as if devotees have stopped falling down.
The thing about dharma is, it does not only exist within ISKCON or any other spiritual organization or church or creed. Dharma is everywhere. If you touch fire it will burn you. You cannot say, “Oh, this fire burns Hindus, that fire burns Christians, that one over there is for the Buddhists”. Yamaraja knows everything and if someone violates the universal rules of dharma, there is a reaction.
[In the story of Ajamila, we learn that Vaisnavas are beyond the jurisdiction of Yamaraja. We should not think this absolves us, as Vaisnavas, from acting in accordance with dharma, or gives us a license to act incorrectly. That would be the seventh offense to the holy name. We should not think ourselves exalted Vaisnavas, beyond the rules of decency, honesty, righteousness, etc. On the contrary, we should think that real Vaisnavas have all the divine qualities, and that we aspire to serve such Vaisnavas. We do not become such “Vaisnava” by external changes like shaving our head or wearing a saree or neck beads. We have to always remember Krishna and develop such qualities from within.]
Everyone has some essential quality and must behave accordingly. We cannot help it. Nature forces us to act (see, B.G. 3.5).
In ISKCON, some devotees can serve on the altar because they have been twice initiated and are called “brahmanas”. They have to strictly observe the four rules and chant their 16 rounds each day. Otherwise, they are not really worthy of the name “brahmanas” and they should not touch the Deities. They should find a more suitable occupation.
Married devotees are expected to observe the rules for grhasthas. Married brahmanas are expected to retire as vanaprasthas and sannyasis (and observe the rules according to their station).
People outside ISKCON also must follow such rules. If one steals or commits adultery there will be a reaction.
A person with sudra qualities should work as a sudra (there is no shame in that). Arjuna was meant to work as a Ksatriya and not be a false sannyasi or try to act as a priest would.
ISKCON is a movement for *training* perfect Vaisnavas (who may be married and earn an honest living). It is not that by joining we become automatically paramahamsas.
We should keep the ideal of paramahamsas (like Haridas Thakur and Rupa Gioswami) as something very rare and exalted. Most devotees have to become grhastha and work in some occupation according to their qualities. They should donate a portion of their income and must chant Hare Krishna and read Srila Prabhupada’s books. They should not be make-believe paramahamsas. Krishna does not favor “pretenders” (See, B.G. 3.6-8)
» Posted By Akruranatha On Dec 19, 2014 @ 10:33 pm
Yesterday I was with some devotee friends for Thanksgiving and we were discussing Bhagavad-gita. I was telling them about something I had read that morning about the significance of the phrase “evam viditva” in 8.28. In the Purport, Srila Prabhupada said that this phrase (which literally means “thus having understood”) refers to having understood the instructions of Lord Krishna in Chapters 7 and 8 by hearing from devotees.
Therefore, verse 8.28 refers specifically to devotees who have understood Chapters 7 and 8, that such yogi-devotees are not bereft of the results of pious karma, austerity, sacrifice, charity and Vedic study, but have surpassed all those practices.
I was downstairs and looking for a Bhagavad-gita to read for my friends, so I went into the downstairs guest bedroom and only had a 1972 edition there. When I opened it up to read the passage . . . it was not there!
That started us discussing the editing issue. I went upstairs and printed those pages of the transcript from which the Purport to Chapter 28 was prepared. Sure enough, the passage was in Srila Prabhupada’s original dictation, but got cut out of the 1972 edition. I do not know why it was cut from the Purport. Probably a newbie editor could not understand it and decided it would be better to just scrap it.
I am very grateful that the BBT saw fit to have the unabridged Gita revised in 1983 in order to more faithfully reflect what Srila Prabhupada had typed and dictated.
The 1972 edition is a wonderful, transcendental book, but the 1983 edition is more faithful to Srila Prabhupada’s intention and is thus more wonderful.
The “original” is what Srila Prabhupada typed or dictated. I would be happy to read that original, because I am familiar with Srila Prabhupada’s accent and use of English. However, for mass publication Srila Prabhupada wanted his books to be perfect, with good grammar, spelling, punctuation, free from mistakes, and therefore he engaged some of his disciples as editors, including Hayagriva, Satsvarupa Maharaja, Jayadvaita Swami, etc.
The 1983 edition, when compared to the original manuscripts and transcripts, is really much closer to Srila Prabhupada’s original intention. Yes, it is different from the 1972 edition. It is closer to Srila Prabhupada’s original.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Nov 28, 2014 @ 6:02 pm
Just as we now have veggies and other products labeled in our grocery stores as “certified organic” (and people are willing to pay a good deal more money for them), we ought to have products labeled “certified ahimsa”. Exactly how the certification process would take place to insure that none of the cows (or their offspring) would ever be slaughtered will have to be worked out, but I am sure there will be a market for such products in the US and elsewhere where there are plenty of Hindus and others opposed to unethical treatment of farm animals.
Protection of cows(and other farm animals) is essential to the foundation of an ethical society. Maybe we cannot outlaw animal slaughter, but we can at least make a slaughter-free lifestyle possible and confront people with arguments about why they should refrain from such immoral cruelty, and make them aware that they do have a choice.
It is possible in our grocery stores and supermarkets to purchase kosher food and hallal food and non-GMO food and dairy from cows not given Bovine Growth Hormone, etc. We need a procvess in place where people can purchase reliably certified ahimsa milk products.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Oct 11, 2014 @ 1:43 am
I love that the author of this article says “Hare Krishna” or “Krishna” about 10 times in just this short article. He will be wearing a saffron robe one of these days I’ll wager (or at least a white dhoti).
» Posted By Akruranatha On Oct 9, 2014 @ 4:37 am
What a timely article for the devotees at ISKCON Silicon Valley!
Srila Prabhupada’s full-sized murti and vyasasana, both made by His Grace Locana Prabhu, just arrived on Friday and were installed this past Sunday at ISV, in Mountain View, California.
You can watch the video of the installation ceremony here: http://iskconsiliconvalley.com/multimedia-archive/srila-prabhupada-deity-installation-festival/
» Posted By Akruranatha On Oct 2, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
Chanting Hare Krishna should change us in many ways. It should make us want to learn spiritual culture, too.
When I was in college (before the intrernet or even the cell phone was invented), I used to have roommates from India, Nigeria, Arabia, Spain and other places. One thing these international students would always tell me is, “We can make good money in America, but there is no family life here.” They would see that all the American familes were split up, living far apart, often with divorces and “blended” families, no connection to a home place or patch of land.
Culture is something we are not really taught in some academic curriculum. I mean, we can read about culture and study how people of different cultures behave or feel in different circumstances, but we actually acquire culture by osmosis. It seems to seep in from our family, our association, our modes of living and working, the films and television and music we consume, and the food we eat.
Marxists (and other materialist social scientists) see culture as largely dictated by material ciorcumstances such as the economics of how people earn their living. I guess there is something to it. That’s why many devotees feel we cannot really experience varnasrama culture witout changing to agrarian village life.
Of course, the other side of the argument is that culture itself is a catalyst for change. If we did not believe that, why would we chant and hear and worship the Deities? Krishna consciousness will change us from the inside out. But it does seem that culture does not change as quickly as we might hope. American devotees remain somewhat American.
Of course to properly worship the Deities involves “material,” external changes too. We have to rise early, bathe, get initiated, chant gayatri… We change our lifestyle in many different ways by becoming devotees. And if we really thoroughly do it, it should naturally change the way we treat our parents, the poor, the brahmanas, women, children, cows.
Some preachers worry that by adopting too many Hindu cultural trappings, we may become irrelevant to western audiences who find us too foreign, “not for me”. But I guess we still have to change the culture from one of self-centered, sense-gratification centered individualism to one of responsibility and properly caring for family members and for dharma, for cows and the earth and the devotees.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 14, 2014 @ 7:35 pm
Now that comedian Joan Rivers has passed away, there may be a spot available on the TV show “Fashion Police” for some lucky devotee.
But other than that we should not be too eager to enforce dress codes on other devotees, unless they happen to be our own children or disciples.
Yes, there was a way Srila Prabhupada asked us to dress. Our hairstyle with sikha brought us instant recognition, especially during the ’70s when men’s fashion was to wear long hair and beards. We have a “uniform”, and when people see a devotee with robes or a nice sari and tilak and an effulgent face, it creates an impression of meeting an angel from Vaikuntha.
The uniform is not all-important though. We are a society for Krishna consciousness, not a society for Vaisnava clothing and hairstyles.
Some orthodox Jewish men think God wants them to wear earlocks and yarmulkes and fringes, and some Muslims think God wants them to have beards or burkhas; Sikhs must have beards and long hair in a turban, with bracelet and ceremonial knife, and Christian Orthodox priests have beards, while Catholic monks have different kind of tonsured hair according to their sect. Christian nuns wear different kinds of habits and wimples, though some have given that up now. Mormons wear special underclothing, and there is even a “sakhibheki” sect (about which I know very little) in which men dress as cowherd girls in their effort to cultivate gopi-bhava.
All these different followers of religious dress codes display some obedience to God’s desire (as they understand it) and also affirm and proclaim their own faith, perhaps also remembering considerations which led their past preceptors to adopt such standards.
Yes, it is worthwhile to discuss why Srila Prabhupada asked us to dress in a certain way. There may be many different angles from which to consider these instructions (spiritual, social, preaching effectiveness, economic practicality, etc.)
But something seems wrong to me for us to assume the role of enforcer and judge over the way other devotees choose to dress, as if that is the be all and end all of their relationship with Srila Prabhupada or the sine qua non of what it means to be a devotee.
A well-dressed fool goes unnoticed until he speaks. We should recognize devotees based on their behavior and speech, rather than superficial appearances. And we should give each other the benefit of the doubt.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 5, 2014 @ 2:04 pm
With regard to women preachers who may not cover their hair, I consider it may be a legitimate attempt not to turn off the intended audience by foreign cultural trappings.
Consider this Purport (S.B. 7.5.7):
“In our Krsna consciousness movement, the tactic of dressing oneself like an ordinary karmi is necessary because everyone in the demoniac kingdom is against the Vaisnava teachings. Krsna consciousness is not at all to the liking of the demons of the present age. As soon as they see a Vaisnava dressed in saffron garments with beads on his neck and tilaka on his forehead, they are immediately irritated. They criticize the Vaisnavas by sarcastically saying Hare Krsna, and some people also chant Hare Krsna sincerely. In either case, since Hare Krsna is absolute, whether one chants it jokingly or sincerely, it will have its effect. The Vaisnavas are pleased when the demons chant Hare Krsna because this shows that the Hare Krsna movement is taking ground. The greater demons, like Hiranyakasipu, are always prepared to chastise the Vaisnavas, and they try to make arrangements so that Vaisnavas will not come to sell their books and preach Krsna consciousness. Thus what was done by Hiranyakasipu long, long ago is still being done. That is the way of materialistic life. Demons or materialists do not at all like the advancement of Krsna consciousness, and they try to hinder it in many ways. Yet the preachers of Krsna consciousness must go forward—in their Vaisnava dress or any other dress—for the purpose of preaching. Canakya Pandita says that if an honest person deals with a great cheater, it is necessary for him to become a cheater also, not for the purpose of cheating but to make his preaching successful.”
But even considering it may be a personal weakness for dressing in a modern or “more attractive” style (according to taste), Citrarupini, it seems unfriendly and mean-spirited to publicly attack Jahnava’s sartorial choices here in this forum.
I know, with my own wife, she dresses “western” and goes to the beauty parlor and gets her hair colored, but she does tons of devotional service. I do not think it makes her less of a devotee, or that it is my duty as her husband to insist that she set a better example of “Vaisnava dress”. I can tell you for sure: it is not because she is trying to attract a paramour (if that is what you are implying). It is just a matter of “style”.
Can’t we be a little friendlier to each other?
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 4, 2014 @ 4:51 pm
I get the sense, talking to many devotees from those old days, that for many of them, moving out of the ISKCON temple economy and getting a “karmi” job and their own residence was very traumatic.
It was for me. I moved out in stages, and Bir Krishna Maharaja was kind enough to let me stay in the temple while attending college during some of that time. But it was a kind of huge conflict for me because I had come to see “surrender to Krishna” as synonymous with living full time in an ISKCON temple. Our internal surrender was supposed to be demonstrated externally by being fully under the “government” and “economy” of ISKCON.
That is the way it was in those days for many of us. That is the way we were being taught.
It had its benefits as well as its drawbacks. Our sadhana was good, for one thing. It was required. We had to be at mangal arati every day and chant our japa in the temple room.
Many older devotees from those days seem to have never reconciled themselves with their move to become congregational devotees. Some still think (some devotees I talk to on the internet) that by moving out of the temple and becoming independent of the authority of an ISKCON temple president, they “left ISKCON”. For them the idea of membership in ISKCON entailed living in an ISKCON asrama, sort of being in the ISKCON army.
And for some of these devotees, the trauma of having left that former lifestyle has caused them to maintain a sense of separate identity, even of disagreement with or critical attitude toward ISKCON. It did not deliver for them everything it had promised.
Maybe we over promised in those days. We encouraged people to give up their “karmi” lives in mainstream society and be full-time devotees, and we at least implied that not only would they become Krishna conscious bhakti-yogis, eligible to go Back to Godhead, but they would also live in a kind of ideal society where the enlightened management authorities would help arrange their lives to be perfect and without any anxiety.
Maybe in some rare cases ISKCON lived up to all those promises. We should still try to manage our asramas for full-time devotees so perfectly. I guess we just have to recognize, however, that we cannot expect utopia and there may be reasons for people to live “outside”, and that is okay, too. It does not mean giving up on ISKCON.
Nor has ISKCON “failed” by developing a congregational model. It was natural and to be expected.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 13, 2014 @ 12:16 pm
Thanks Pusta Krishna, for keeping this thread alive. Yes, I think that is what I was driving at, the fact that as devotees we should protect the treasure of our Krishna consciousness as the most important thing, and yet we can go on with our lives in different ways. We do not have to have a stereotyped idea that to be a devotee means moving into a temple.
I do not think devotees these days have such an idea, but when I joined that was a basic mode of seeing things in ISKCON. When someone became a devotee, they demonstrated their “surrender” by moving into a temple and following the temple authorities.
The unspoken (and kind of naive) idea was that as we preached, more and more people would move into our separate ISKCON temples and communities, and each would be expected to be fully “surrendered” and not engaged in pursuing money or material comforts, and that is how ISKCON would grow.
We can understand the ideal of being on the perfect paramahamsa stage much sooner than we (most of us) can act on that platform, completely neglecting bodily needs. We are not meant to pretend to be on a higher platform of renunciation and surrender than we are actually capable of sustaining. Krishna does not demand that. He does not even want that. He wants us to be good examples of happy devotees who are becoming gradually purified by chanting His holy names and remembering Him throughout our lives, day by day and step by step. It is practical. It works.
It may be that ISKCON grows by developing larger and larger ideal communities that are well-governed and well-organized for the genuine welfare of all the members. But it will also grow by influencing people from all walks of life to read Srila Prabhupada’s books, chant Hare Krishna, follow the regulative principles, even while having their own jobs, cars, houses, and bank accounts.
Meanwhile such devotees, whether living as full-time members in ISKCON communities or as congregational members, will gradually realize that everything is owned and controlled by Krishna and nothing is really ours, nor are we the doers of the activities performed by our material bodies and senses.
Such complete Krishna consciousness, whether living as a sannyasi or householder, as a full-time member or part of the outside congregation, is real “self-reliance” in the sense of genuine self-realization, that being Krishna’s eternal, spiritual servant is our real identity.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 12, 2014 @ 12:51 pm
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Bhadrasrava, the ruler of Bhadrasva-varsa, and his intimate associates, prayed to the Lord’s expansion known as Hayasirsa, as follows:
“O Lord, although you are completely detached from the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this material world and are not directly affected by these activities, they are all attributed to You. We do not wonder at this, for Your inconceivable energies perfectly qualify You to be the case of all causes. You are the active principle in everything, although You are separate from everything. Thus we can realize that everything is happening because of Your inconceivable energy.” (S.B. 5.18.5)
Lord Vasudeva is so amazing and wonderful! He is not affected by any material cause, and although He remains aloof from the causes and effects of this material world, He is still the active principle in every moving and non-moving thing, inconceivably. Only He can be truly self-reliant or independent (“svarat”, see SB 1.1.1).
And yet He is always eager to satisfy His pure devotees, for whom He serves as message carrier or chariot driver. Although He is the cause of all causes, His love for His pure causes Him to do many wonderful things. Therefore the ultimate self-reliance is pure devotion to Krishna, which is inconceivable and is on a par with Krishna’s own self-reliance.
» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 11, 2014 @ 11:39 pm