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Comments Posted By Akruranatha

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No More Cattle Raising on the Planet of the Trees

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

Gita Nigari Farm’s “Humane, Slaughter-Free Cheese”

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

We are all Hare Krishnas now, meditation goes mainstream

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

Srila Prabhupada Puja and Murti Care Standards

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

Spiritual Culture – Krsna’s Divine System for Devotee Care

Good article.

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

A Happy Wife Has a Good Husband

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

Spiritual Communism, Organized Religion, Varnasrama-Dharma, and Self-Reliance

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

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

I attended a lecture on European Medeival History in which the professor (a former Greek orthodox seminarian) said, “As the world became more Christian, Christianity became more worldly.”

One might well be concerned that as Hare Krishna devotees become more involved in worldly and academic careers, the tendency might be for them to water down the purity and urgent mood of the early days of ISKCON in the west.

My optimism leads me to believe, however, that in this age of Lord Caitanya, if His followers remain strict in the matter of chanting Hare Krishna and following the principles, as they branch out and infiltrate the various occupational fields and learned professions, the tendency will be for them to Krsna-ize everything.

“The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”

Devotee writers of today, creating their own precursors, will eventually transform all the arts and sciences, the political and business institutions, into a Krishna-centered, Vaikuntha-like hegemony. With Lord Caitanya such things are possible.

I hope J.L. Borges will not mind my humble effort to make him my precursor in this way.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 9, 2014 @ 7:31 pm

I do not want to leave the impression that I thought Ida Fox Berkowitz was a Gaudiya Vaisnava or even that she had ever read Srimad Bhagavatam. (I am sure she must have read Bhagavad-gita at some time, because I remember the walls of her house were stacked with books from all kinds of religious traditions).

I do know she was a theist in the devotional tradition, because my father and her wrote some poems “debating” with one another, she taking the devotional side (“How should I praise?”) and my father taking the demonic, mayavadi side (“I damn heaven; I am heaven!”)

She was not a follower of regulative principles or, as far as I know, any particular religious tradition. She tended to see God in nature. I once told her (I must have been 14), looking at a fantastic seashell, that when we admire artists who make wonderful paintings, how much more should we admire the artist who made these shells, birds, butterflies and the world. She approved, “I never heard it said any better than that.”

But in interpreting her poem to refer to Krishna, I am taking a little license. She was an intuitive poet who may or may not have known exactly what she meant. She was more interested in getting the right words in a state of poetic inspiration. She wrote me that “note” when she was up all night with shingles and could not sleep, after our conversation about the seashell. (I may have gotten the word order wrong. I now think she the mystery of the “whole, hole, whole”.)

One way to interpret texts is to be less interested in the author’s conscious intention and more in what the words convey to the reader. In his essay “Kafka and His Precursors”, Jorge Luis Borges cites T.S. Eliot, saying: “The fact is the every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”

In this same vein, our acaryas often demonstrate how a demon like Sisupal, trying to blaspheme Krishna, is actually praising Him. In spite of the intended meaning, Krishna cannot actually be blasphemed. The words themselves are His servants!

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 9, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

I used to think the Billie Holiday song, “God Bless the Child Whose Got His Own”, was only about money. Maybe that was the author’s intention. I don’t know. But nowadays I think it applies to everything and anything we may need, including spiritual realization (our greatest necessity).

It is one thing to have a good spiritual master or religious tradition, and that makes one very fortunate. But unless one has really pleased that spiritual master and Krishna gotten full command of all the imports of the Vedic literatures by revelation in one’s heart (yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deva tatha guro…), something is still missing.

A pure devotee may please Krishna even if he is very poor. Anyone can get a little water and a flower, leaf or fruit to offer Him. Bhakti is the essential ingredient to make the offering successful, and no matter how rich one is or how opulent the offering, without the bhakti it cannot please Krishna.

However, we are performing service here in the material world, and to do so, to do the service required of us by our superiors, we need to have the proper facilities. What is that verse in Brahma-Samhita about how men imbued with devotion sing the mantra-suktas of the Vedas by gaining their appropriate beauty, greatness, thrones, conveyances and ornaments?

We all have different roles to play, as parents and children, teachers and students, providers and dependents, husbands and wives, bestowers and recipients of blessings.

Of course any real teacher or blesser worth his salt will know that Krishna is the ultimate parent, teacher, provider and giver of blessings, and that as parents or demigods or holy men we are only servants and representatives of Krishna. But we still need to get the knowledge and holiness to be able to fulfill that role in society.

And likewise we need to get the money in order to fulfill our duties to give charity in the proper time and place and with the proper motive. Not from a feeling of possessiveness and false ego, but from a sense that we should accept and fulfill the duties and social roles that Krishna has assigned to us.

We should not hanker for material benedictions, but when they come our way we should readily accept them and use them properly in Krishna’s service. Yukta vairagya.

God bless the child whose got his own. The ultimate blessing is bhakti, but our bodies and senses and ingredients with which we perform the activities of bhakti are also blessings.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 5, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

“Dedication is the principle that we must embrace, rather than exploitation.”

Yes, and our ideal is that complete dedication demonstrated by paramahamsas who have absolutely no dependence on any material circumstances whatsoever.

The life of bhakti is renunciation of the materialistic drive to control and possess material things, of the fear that without such control we will be lose something we need. Attachment to Krishna entails detachment from matter.

But not everyone can jump to the paramahamsa platform. One who restrains the working senses but mentally contemplates enjoying sense objects is a pretender who deludes himself. (B.G. 3.6)

There is a gradual process of purification recommended for ordinary people, because they are not capable of acting as paramahamsas, and would only be pretenders. They should not be induced to stop working according to the regulations of varnasrama, but through working in devotion according to the regulations prescribed for them in their various walks of life, they should gradually be promoted to the stage of pure devotion. (See B.G. 3.26)

Even those, like Arjuna, who are already capable of a renounced life, should set a proper example by responsible performance of duties as a householder, for the sake of leading others on the right path. (B.G. 3.25) Even Krishna sets such an example, although no work is prescribed for Him, nor is He in want of any economic development; if He just acted independently, being God, the common people would follow Him and have children out of wedlock, ruining society. (B.G. 3.21-24)

So the impulse to “surrender” and “move in” to a temple and engage full time in service, not caring about building a nest-egg for retirement or even about arrangements for eating and sleeping, is the true mood of pure devotional service. The gopis ran to meet Krishna when they heard His flute, without considering that their reputation and social and family standing would be ruined. That is complete dedication.

But we may not be pure enough to actually live a life of full-time surrender without care for our material necessities. And even if we are that pure, Krishna may want us to show an example of how ordinary people can live a whlesome, successful life of regulation and measured dedication, gradually leading to more renunciation in old age. Full surrender may entail playing the role Krishna asks of us. For Arjuna it was fighting a battle and being a king.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 4, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

“i’m not very clear what this quote means. more than 60% of vedic culture must have been sudra…”

Yes, cha108, I am not very clear about what it means, either. In fact, I am afraid my whole article is not very clear, but I am hoping to discuss.

It seems to mean that the other 40% should not be dependent on another’s mercy for material necessities. A vivid example is Canakya Pandit, who reportedly simply disappeared when the Emperor suggested he was dependent on the Emperor for his maintenance.

Even a modern laborer who works for a paycheck demands more dignity than a servile butler or valet. This may be example of modern sudras not following sudra dharma.

A real sudra should try to please his master, but modern egalitarianism seeks to do away with such hierarchical roles as “master” and “servant.” In “Homage to Catalonia”, George Orwell reminisces about how in Barcelona during the leftist Spanish Republic, the waiters in the restaurants “looked you in the eye”. Orwell hated the class system and the idea of servility that went along with it. (He probably never dined in some of our New York establishments where waiters get annoyed with you if you need something).

Communist novelist B. Traven also extols the “glories” of the Spanish Republic in his novel “The Death Ship”, but he makes it sound like a fool’s paradise in which everyone is highly sensual and devoid of spiritual life. The narrator of the tale is a “donkey”, a coal shoveling sailor in the boiler room of a doomed tramp steam ship. Maybe Spaniards were rebelling from “organized religion”, a church known for the Spanish Inquisition, an enforcer of unjustiified class relations, a “guard of property” (see, S.B. 5.25.7, Purport: “In Kali yuga, monarchy is abolished because the kings themselves are subjected to the influence of Kali-yuga”)

I guess in the article I was questioning the “old-ISKCON” model that a “real devotee” must live in the temple, and the economic relations that sometimed developed from that conception. Devotees could get the idea that our temples have a duty to provide them with material necessities (food, shelter, clothing, medicine, education for their kids), but this is kind of an inversion of the Vedic model where the people in general give charity to the temple and brahmanas.

Our mood should always be service to Vaisnavas and the mission, never demanding (as devotees sometimes do), “the temple should give me more money.”

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 4, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

Thank you Pusta Krishna Prabhu for your good wishes and prayers. (In February I was diagnosed with cancer and have been undergoing chemotherapy treatments. As it turns out, I caught it early, and the treatments have been very effective on this type of lymphoma. I had a PET scan in July that showed me cancer-free, but I have continued to take the treatments for preventative purposes. Tomorrow is my last “infusion” of the poisonous chemotherapy agents known as R-CHOP. It makes me feel a little bad, but it seems to have totally killed off the cancer.)

Also thank you for your very nice and insightful comment.

Yes, the “purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate” verse, which we learned as “invocation” to Isopanisad, is amazing.

In some kinds of non-Euclidian geometry, parallel lines may meet.

Similarly, in spiritual science, one minus one may equal one. God is everything but not everything is God. To understand how this is so is the essence of Bhaktivedanta philosophy.

The poet Ida Fox Berkowitz, a friend of my father’s, once wrote me a “note” in which she said “the mystery of the whole, whole, hole… is halo.” (It was longer than that) I told Jayananda about it when we were near her house in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C. (on some errand for the Radha-Damodar bus), and he said, “Let’s go see her”. I was embarrassed to visit Ida and her husband Leon (a prominent abstract artist) in my new robes and shaved head, but I always have regretted not taking Jayananda Prabhu up on his offer.

Okay, here is Ida’s “note” (she refused to call it a poem), from memory:

If you let me
I might tell you
That blue is the color

So let, so let, so let
The light
Come through, through, “threw”?

The mystery of the whole, whole, “hole”
Is halo

So let it

I told Jayananda it meant that if I was receptive to the instructions of parampara, Guru could reveal Krishna to me (who is “blue” in color). The mystery of the whole halo is that everything is resting on Krishna’s nondifferentiated energy, nondual brahman (sarva khalv idam brahma), but that this impersonal brahmajyoti, pervading everything, is emanating as the effulgent rays of Krishna’s personal bodily form, which is completely transcendental.

The fact that she “might” tell me shows the proper guru-discilpe relationship. She was telling, but it was still her prerogative whether to reveal or not to a receptive student.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 4, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

Some No-No’s For ISKCON Management

Definitely management training for ISKCON leaders is necessary and positive. Not all managers will have the same style, but there are certain common concerns, pointers and ground rules that all managers should hear about and discuss.

In ISKCON, our greatest resource is our devotees. They are the volunteers. They are the representatives. They are all preachers, whether actively giving lectures and selling books, or in a more passive way by showing to those they know — family, friends and acquaintances — how Krishna consciousness is a very positive thing in their lives.

Devotees are very sensitive. They have delicate and precious sentiments. The very fact that they are willing to serve Krishna in a self-sacrificing way means that managers have to be careful to make sure they know that they are NOT being called on to do anything self-destructive (such as, cooking in a dangerous kitchen with no ventilation).

When devotees see the temple authorities as a kind of link, via management, of their service to Krishna and the parampara (because their guru has requested them to work nicely under the temple management’s authority), it is easy for a manager quite innocently or without knowing it to seriously hurt someone’s feelings or unfairly take advantage of someone’s trust. Even a careless word uttered in a stressful situation might unsuspectingly cause bruised feelings and mental turmoil. This can be especially true when managers are dealing with full-time devotees who have voluntarily become completely dependent on the temple, both economically and emotionally.

Not that managers have to always walk on eggshells, but it is good that they learn ABCs about management, leadership (including Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the subject), and some sensitivity to the kind of power they may be wielding over the lives of the devotees they manage.

They should also be aware of local laws and ISKCON standards concerning relevant issues such as employment relations, “clergy abuse”, child protection, bookkeeping, corporate compliance, etc., and they can benefit from collective experience regarding identification and promotion of talented personnel, succession, planning and other important management functions, fundraising, deity worship, cooking, kirtan, book distribution, and other functions for which they have oversight.

Successful managers should participate in such management training to pass along what they have learned.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 2, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

“Conservative and liberal positions in and around ISKCON” – video

“Prabhupada said, ‘A devotee is thoughtful as much as a non-devotee is speculative.’ So we think deeply about these things. And in that way, whenever practical, we’re in a creative mindset.

“There’s two different kinds of arguments, creative and fixed. Now if we’re talking to somebody who’s saying ‘There is no God’ or, you know, ‘Who is this Krishna anyway?’, we’re not gonna say, ‘Well maybe you’re right; maybe Krishna’s not so important. Let’s compromise.’ You know, ‘We say Krishna is God, you say there is no God, let’s compromise. Let’s just say ‘Maybe He’s a demigod or a really smart person.’

“We don’t do stuff like that, because its a fixed… there’s some fixed things, ‘Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam’. So that’s a fixed argument. And certainly we have those sometimes, you know, when we are out…

“But when we’re talking within the confines of guru, sadhu and sastra, within Vaisnava sanga, we have the luxury of being more creative, and being able to weigh both sides, or maybe five different sides, and considering what’s the best.”

–Vraja Vihari dasa

Very important point.

And of course it takes some wisdom, experience and realization to understand whether we are dealing with a “fixed” type of proposition on which there can only one acceptable position or opinion, or one on which reasonable Vaisnavas of good will may transcendentally disagree.

Some might consider the whole approach described above as “liberal”, whereas the “conservative” position is that there is never any ground for differences of opinion between pure Vaisnavas on any subject. But I think Vraja Vihari Prabhu has pretty well established in tis lecture that such a view would be a kind of “fanaticism” and not a positive thing. There really are situations in which Vaisnava etiquette demands that we acknowledge that other devotees may have opinions or points of view different from our own, and that we should listen, be thoughtful, re-evaluate our own positions, and be willing to compromise if necessary for the sake of cooperation and unity and maintaining good relations.

Not everyone is going to agree with every other devotee about every little detail. We are persons, and different persons have different points of view. We do not negate variety. The spiritual world is full of variety. Sometimes Krishna disagrees with Balarama. But in the Vaikuntha atmosphere such disagreements only make everything more beautiful and splendid.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 2, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

U.S. Congesswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s 2014 Janmasthami Message

Yes, it is very nice that she has chosen to qote these very appropriate slokas from Bhagavad-gita. I am thrilled that we have a member of congress who is a devotee. We should also have a devotee President and at least one Supreme Court justice!

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 2, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

" Is Self Compassion Bonafide"

“The Nectar of Devotion asks us to be patient, or dhairyat (verse 3).”

Of course Mahatma Prabhu meant Nectar of *Instruction* here. Yes, patience as well as enthusiasm is needed. We have to be committed to the Krishna consciousness path for the long haul. What other good path is there? (None)

As far as killers of the soul, there is also verse 10.1.4:

nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanad
 bhavausadhac chrotra-mano-’bhiramat
ka uttamasloka-gunanuvadat
 puman virajyeta vina pasughnat

Translation: “Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the parampara system, that is, it is conveyed from the spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?”

“Pasughnat” can refer to a killer of animals or a killer of one’s own soul, which is the animating force within the body. Actually one who unnecessarily kills animals is harming the living entities who are art and parcel of Krishna. Therefore , displeasing Krishna, one is actually harming one’s self.

The same may be doubly true for those who become inimical to devotees of Krishna. The devotees of Krishna can save the whole world because only they can explain Krishna consciousness correctly. This is especially true of those devotees who are completely free from being attracted by the alluring material energy. They can administer the medicine of Krishna-katha that can solve the problem of the struggle for existence.

But actually, with all devotees, and with all living entities, we should not quarrel or become inimical, because such enmity may reflect back on ourselves.

Having said that, I should clarify that I appreciate Citrarupini Mataji’s concern for keeping strictly within the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. In spiritual circles one should be prepared to back up one’s statements with citations to relevant authority. That way we won’t stray from the path of guru-parampara.

It is a healthy discussion that provokes further references to the teachings of our acaryas.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Jun 18, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

My Initial Response to the Concerns of HH Bhakti Vikash Swami

I have been reading the story of King Puranjana lately in an on-line Bhagavatam discussion group.

4.28.19, Purport: “For family life it is very good for a husband to be attached to his wife, but it is not very good for spiritual advancement. Thus Krishna consciousness must be established in every home. If a husband and wife are very much attached to one another in Krishna consciousness, they will both benefit because Krishna is the center of their existence.”

Here is the solution to the problem of sex, love, marriage, family affection. Once again, Krishna comes to the rescue and saves the day!

Without Krishna consciousness, family life is a great perplexity. It may be the center of material enjoyment, but it cannot save one from cruel death, and that same family affection that materialists prize so much (“he was a good family man” they say in eulogizing some departed hero, “a real mensch”) actually becomes the cause of his bondage and need to take birth again. Even at death he is still making plans for the material well-being of his family, but he cannot do anything for their ultimate spiritual benefit.

But in Krishna consciousness, one can love the family and still love all beings. Unlike a materialist, a Krishna conscious person need not be a miser. One in Krishna consciousness can act for the welfare of all and still give the greatest benefit to his or her own family.

When devotional service is the center of family activities, husband and wife can affectionately partner and cooperate together without wasting life’s desires on service to their senses, and without distraction from life’s goal of self realization, or acquiring “atma-tattva”.

Only someone who can see that the real person is the soul can act for the ultimate welfare of that person. Devotees are therefore the best of friends and the best of family one can have.

I am glad there are devotees like the Grhastha vision team talking about how to strengthen our marriages in Krishna consciousness. In Krishna consciousness one can put family affection to its right use and this is a great necessity in the world. Very few people will be celibate all their lives. almost everyone will be married.

Of course, it is good to be trained in brahmacarya properly in the first stage of life so that one may be a good husband later. If we cannot show the world what successful grhastha life looks like, though, no one will take us seriously (nor should they).

» Posted By Akruranatha On Jun 18, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

Detroit 3 Day Harinama at Jazz Fest 2014

Music and religion, music and spirituality, have always been connected.

Also, people try to perceive God in art and in the beauty of creation, the artist’s creation being a microcosm of the creation of the gigantic and awe-inspiring phenomenal universe, with its “harmony of the spheres”.

Many jazz musicians and their fans have seen something spiritual in their art, and in a way this is an attempt to reach Krishna, even if it is preliminary and indirect. “Those who worship other gods actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do it in the wrong way.” (B.G. 9.23)

In San Francisco there is even something called the “Church of John Coltrane”. They collect money in the San Francisco Airport, an activity pioneered by ISKCON.

Anyway, it is nice to see the harinama sankirtan going on outside the Detroit Jazz Festival. Kirtan is a perfect expression of how sound vibration can lead to God and can be directly a form of God. Many of the early students who used to come to Srila Prabhupada’s (“Swamiji’s”) kirtans in a Bowery loft before ISKCON was even started were jazz musicians, and some of the early ISKCON devotees like Acyutananda Prabhu were jazz musicians.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Sep 4, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

ISKCON Boston Hosts Interfaith “Field Trip”

Wow, it sounds like a wonderful program that must have generated a lot of good will and understanding among these religious scholars and intellectual leaders. This is a very important part of our preaching mission, to generate a better understanding of the Hare Krishna movement to people whose opinions will be respected by the academic community (and those who pay attention to the academic community).

» Posted By Akruranatha On Jul 28, 2014 @ 8:08 am

Helicopter Service soon in Iskcon Mayapur!

It sounds attractive, even at the price of 35 Euro per passenger, to come from Kolkata straight to Mayapur in 25 minutes instead of enduring a lengthy and dangerous car ride. I assume one has to round up 8 or so passengers before the helicopter will be willing to go, but during festival times there might be regular service several times a day at least.

I wonder, though, whether the helicopter will cause a lot of noise and disturb those who never use it? Will it be the cause of some resentment and criticism of those who do?

Also, I assume the pilots will be highly-trained professionals and that the flight will be safe. One of the main reasons I would consider taking the helicopter is that there are so many car crashes. If there are also helicopter crashes it sort of defeats the purpose. A helicopter crash is probably even more dangerous than a car crash. But I am thinking that the pilots must be very good.

» Posted By Akruranatha On Jun 6, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

Husband as Guru

Nice article. Not just husbands and gurus, but all relationships in varnasrama dharma are surcharged with spontaneous affection manifest often in exchanges of reverence on one side and blessings on the other. I was just reading this morning how such a powerful king as Prthu Maharaja offered everything to the Brahmanas, headed by the Four Kumaras. These relationships are not characterized by exploitation. The superior should still be self-realized and not think “I am actually worship able”. We should all do our particular duties while remembering that these are roles we are playing for the satisfaction of Krishna. Even Krishna plays the role of worshiping the brahmanas, and yet the genuine Brahmanas never become puffed up and forget their duties to worship Krishna and disseminate Vedic knowledge.

In our impure Kali yuga atmosphere we have tried to erase all relationships of subordinate and superior because people are so foolish that they think being a superior is an opportunity to exploit, rather than a duty to protect, maintain, guide and bless, as the case may be. Little children are helpless, but parents affectionately guide them and look out for their welfare. Only a demon would sell his helpless child into slavery or steal the child’s property. In the same way, there are naturalaffectionate duties of all social superiors.

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 29, 2014 @ 10:23 am

Resting The Jiva-Fall / No-Fall Case

Some say we should only accept what Srila Prabhupada has written in his books about this subject, and more or less ignore what he has written in letters. It seems to me that the ‘crow and talk’ fruit letter was directly intended to respond to the questions of devotees generally and was not just a private instruction under some unique circumstances.

But even reading Bhagavatam I frequently come across passages lik this:

“When a living entity falls down to the material world from his original position, he becomes ‘cyuta’, which means that he forgets his relationship with Acyuta.” (S.B. 4.21.12, Purport)

We may try to reconcile such statements with other statements that no one falls from the Acyuta world, but we should expect to find the reconciliation directly in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

For me it just appears to be one of the many seemingly contradictory, inconceivable aspects of Krishna consciousness, such as “The Supreme lord walks and He does not walk.”. No big deal. There are many such inconceivable things about Krishna. We fall and we don’t fall. Why over complicate it?

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 25, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

“The main point as always is whether we were with Krsna in His lila and were subsequently banished to the material universes.”

One thing everyone agrees on. There is no question that Krishna “banished” anyone from the spiritual world. The problems we now have are our own fault, and we cannot blame Krishna or the devas.

Also, there is no point in being obsessed with our guilt of having once upon a time given up our station in paradise to become forgetful. We should rectify the mistakes we make every day, and recognize that we presently suffer from mistakes of our past. But we needn’t look for the “one big mistake” that occurred at some remote time in history. We should look for the practical solution to our predicament.

The Judeo-Christian concept of “original sin” — that even an innocent man still has to atone for something that was done by Adam and Eve — seems foreign to me. Because Judeo-Christians somewhere along the line lost the thread of reincarnation and karma, they have had to resort to these concepts. They cannot understand how we are now reaping what we have sown in previous lives.

The idea that we sow what we reap, that there is a universal law of justice on the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, is found in the Bible. The Christian concept that we are saved by grace and not by “works” is a refutation of purva-mimamsa philosophy. It seems funny that they still bother to refute the idea that we become perfect through karma, though they appear completely in the dark about the workings of karma! Karma is described in their scriptures more or less only as some hazy vestige of a previous era when specific sacrifices were made for specific purposes, which are no longer important.

For Christians, the idea that God was once legalistic and a stickler for strict administration of justice, but that with His sacrifice of Jesus on the cross He established a new, more loving and forgiving relationship with “believers” (no longer just with observant Jews), is a central part of their theology.

I appreciate their realization that God’s grace surpasses what we could ever deserve, but the whole view of Jesus as a crucial turning point in the history of God’s special relationship with the Hebrew people seems suspiciously influenced by concerns about racial or national identity. The universal moral laws that apply to all actions as a scientific principle seem missing, under-apprecitaed.

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 15, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

The bone of an animal is impure, yet a conch shell is pure. The stool of an animal is impure. What is cow manure but the stool of an animal? Yet it is pure. So these statements simply have to be accepted.

I guess in this controversy, the problem is that the “no fall” advocates are saying that Srila Prabhupada’s statements such as “but before that we were with Krishna” are unprecedented. They believe no support can be found for such statements in Vedic sruti, smrti, or even in the writings of previous acaryas.

If that were really the case, it should be a challenge for disciples of Srila Prabhupada to explain why he would say such things.

I am always learning new things. I fully expect to find support for such statements in the Vedas and Puranas. I have already seen some such statements.

I know from past experience that everything Srila Prabhupada says about these kinds of philosophical points is backed up by scriptures. It may be the job of those who feel Srila Prabhupada’s authority is being slighted to find the verses in the Upanisads or in Vedanta-sutra or in the Puranas and explain them with all reference to Sanskrt grammar, in a way that would satisfy any honest pandit that Srila Prabhupada was not just making this stuff up.

I once asked Hrdayananda Maharaja about it and he quoted me a section of the Fourth Canto (I think) — it might be in the story of King Puranjana — where someone is reminded of an old forgotten friendship. My recollection is vague, but I have seen it in these discussions here on Dandavats in the past month.

Mainly I think if we keep an open mind and try to enlighten ourselves and one another I think this controversy should just disappear. It seems far less important than people make it out to be.

Yes, everything in the spiritual world is eternal, and it is a fact that everything there is infallible and no one who goes there ever returns.

And yes, everyone in samsara has been so for eternity and without a beginning. Anadi-karma.

But also, Srila Prabhupada keeps saying that means no one can trace out when we came here because it is something that happened “since time immemorial”. It happened outside the scope of time. But somehow it did happen.

We can be sure Srila Prabhupada was not just making it up. He never did that sort of thing. So what is the basis in sruti and smrti for those statements? I have to think we will find it, and that should really rest the case.

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 11, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

“Since we know Srila Prabhupada would never deviate from the previous acaryas, and since we know he said numerous times that “it is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha”, we can conclude that any statements he made the ‘appear’ to be contradictory to that tattva, only appear that way due to the limited understanding of those who interpret his words according to their own pre-disposed ideas of what the facts are. This is a flawed approach and this is why there is the controversy we see today.”

I guess the real question, then, is how we ought to interpret the many statements of Srila Prabhupada quoted by Gauragopala and Sita Rama Prabhus. How do you interpret them?

Maybe we just have to accept them at face value and recognize that there are equally valid but apparently contradictory answers to some of these questions.

But if there are specific statement that must be taken as conclusice, such as statements from Srimad-Bhagavatam or Vedanta Sutra or the Upanisads, I would like to hear what they are. I think that could shed more light on why the “no fall” partisans feel so strongly about this sometimes.

I can understand why the “fall” partisans feel that Srila Prabhupada is being slighted by the others. To say “Srila Prabhupada did not really mean what he said”, or that he invented a kind of fairy story for immature disciples never sat right with me. It seems a dangerous approach to hearing from Srila Prabhupada, which calls into question his authority, and in some cases seems to unnecessarily and improperly place him in a lower position than previous acaryas (as some of his godbrothers may have done). As they say, a saint is not recognized in his own family.

Besides, there are many authoritative statements of Lord Caitanya and the six Goswamis and Srimad Bhagavatam that seem to support the “fall” position, that when an eternally bound jiva achieves perfection and comes to reside in a Vaikuntha planet, it is more of a homecoming than an entry into a brave new world. It is repeatedly described as a kind of remembering of something wonderful but long forgotten, as in Brhad-Bhagavatamrta when Gopa Kumar finally meets Lord Krishna in Goloka and is told his eternal identity.

The “nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabu naya” verse, seems to establish that prema is not something to be gained from outside but is dormant in the heart of all jivas and needs only to be awakened (re-awakened?)

At least, I have to be open-minded about this.

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 10, 2014 @ 9:26 pm

” Thus we can say, without doubt, that the statement that the One became many is not literal; it is a manner of speaking so the souls engrossed in a body that has a beginning and an end can grasp the thesis that the One is the origin.”

That may be one valid way to look at it (that the Vedic statement “eko bahu syam” is not literal), but Srila Prabhupada seems to favor literal acceptance.

Another approach might be to say that the One did become the Many, and at the same time both the One and Many are eternally so (“nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam”). To accept this approach entails accepting two contradictory ideas simultaneously. It is just a fact of proper understanding of Vedanta that certain seemingly contradictory conceptions are both, inconceivably, perfectly valid.

Of course this should not be overused to banish the idea of logic or philosophy altogether, but in Vedic epistemology, logic must give way at certain precisely-defined pressure points, to genuine Sabda.

The idea that logic and empirical perception are inferior to Sabda is more than just a fundamentalist’s circular way of supporting his own ideology (“God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”) It is a recognition that for the student of the ultimate science of God and Spirit there are certain truths which are truly trans-logical, but which can be appreciated as true by the qualified disciple through the grace of Guru and Krishna.

From what I can tell, this jiva origin, fall/no-fall controversy is just another manifestation of one of those many instances when two valid but seemingly contradictory conceptions must be accepted as Absolute Truth.

This one controversy seems to have somehow or another become freighted with the politics of religious institutions, however. I think it is time now to move beyond that.

One thing I can say is, in Srimad Bhagavatam, I see Srila Prabhupada over and over again stresses that no one can say when or how the jivas first fell into the material world. It seems to be an important point, and I have to believe he is quoting some important Vedic authority (as he always does).

He also says that nitya-siddhas are never in illusion, which does raise the question as to whether Jaya and Vijaya or Narada Muni are among the nitya-siddhas. Even Arjuna was placed in illusion by Krishna for the purpose of speaking Bhagavad-Gita, though we know Arjuna is one of Krishna’s eternal associates (see, B.G. 4.5)

These are valid questions.

» Posted By Akruranatha On May 10, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

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