Comments Posted By Akruranatha

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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).

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 28.07.2014 @ 08:08

" 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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 18.06.2014 @ 17:15

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).

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 18.06.2014 @ 16:47

Husband As Guru – How About Srila Prabhupada As Guru?

I did not see Mahatma’s article as an effort to contradict or surpass Srila Prabhupada. I thought he was just trying to explain that Srila Prabhupada’s statements should not be taken out of context and misapplied by men who feel they have a right to be irritable like Cyavana Muni and expect their wives to be ideal and saintly like Sukanya.

Mahatma explained that in his personal experience he has seen these teachings being misapplied within ISKCON. It is a duty of all of us to understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings well and apply them in our lives in a practical way to actually produce beneficial results.

In kali yuga people have given up the social hierarchies of prior ages, to be sure, but another problem is that the low-class people of this age take advantage of privileged social positions without understanding and carrying out the duties and obligations that go along with those positions. The symbol of kali yuga is a low-class man dressed as a king torturing the earth and the personality of dharma in the form of a cow and bull. We have to properly understand and apply both sides of this equation.

To present varnasrama-dharma only in terms of the duty of subordinates to respect their superiors is not only unattractive to modern audiences, but is actually lopsided and gives an incorrect impression. If we read Srimad-Bhagavatam we see Srila Prabhupada presenting both sides and presenting a picture of how it actually works as an ideal society, not a tyranny of irritable, selfish superiors being placated and won over by saintly, submissive social inferiors.

In fact, I attended a lecture of Bhakti-Raghava Swami about the “Four Movements”, in which I was surprised to learn that Srila Prabhupada presented the establishment of varnasrama-dharma as the “Classless Society movement”. We should try to understand what Srila Prabhupada meant by this formulation.

We should understand all of Srila Prabhupada’s statements rather than to take some parts out of context as an excuse to indulge our own irritability by comparing ourselves to personalities like Cyavana Muni. I took that to be Mahatma Prabhu’s salutary instruction.

Whether ISKCON has a higher divorce rate than other groups may be a matter for scientific surveys, but given Srila Prabhupada’s statement that in Vedic culture there is no such thing as divorce, we can at least see that we are far from that ideal. When I think of my own godbrothers I can think of many divorces.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 06.06.2014 @ 17:54

Self Compassion

Citrarupini says: “I find it very distressing that on a site dedicated to Vaisnavism that an article by a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada completely lacks the mood or standard methodology of explication that Srila Prabhupada set regarding that all statements we make should be supported by sastra.”

I like Mahatma’s articles. We can find the sastric support for them if we look for it, but he is giving his advice as an experienced devotee who has been practicing Krishna consciousness for many years, practical advice about dealing with common problems.

This article reminded me of Bhagavad-gita 3.31. Krishna has said, in 3.30, that Arjuna should surrender all his works to Krishna, performing his prescribed duty of fighting without any lethargy, with full knowledge of Krishna, without desire for profit, without a sense of proprietorship. This is a description of how to act in Krishna consciousness, without becoming entangled through false ego in the reactions to work.

And in 3.31 Krishna says one must follow this teaching of His with faith, without envy. Srila Prabhupada comments: “In the beginning of Krishna consciousness, one may not fully discharge the injunctions of the Lord, but because one is not resentful of this principle and works sincerely without consideration of defeat and hopelessness, he will surely be promoted to the stage of pure Krishna consciousness.”

It is a practical question that comes up all the time. We preach, and people become devotees, but many of these devotees find it difficult to maintain the regulative principles for initiated disciples. When they ask us about it, what do we tell them?

We can tell them about the seventh offense to the holy name, that they may not make a business out of repeatedly sinning and seeking absolution by chanting, that they should develop some program to rectify their behavior. But what then? What if they ask, “How can I make such a program?”

If people have not asked us this sincere question, there must be something faulty in our preaching. Or maybe we just have not been doing it very long. I have to think that people have asked Mahatma about this and he is drawing on his own experience and wisdom to give a helpful reply.

People have come to this Hare Krishna movement for shelter. They have difficulty maintaining the Vaisnava behavior (which goes beyond sense control to also include honesty, kindness, tolerance, mercy…) What practical advice can we offer them?

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 08.06.2014 @ 13:17

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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 06.06.2014 @ 17:17

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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 29.05.2014 @ 10:23

Bona-fide Study Rests The Case; We Fell From Love!

At the end of the “Story of King Puranjana”, a kind of allegorical fable told by Narada Muni in the Fourth Canto of Srimad Bhavgavatam, chapters 25 through 28, a King named Puranjana, who represents the conditioned soul, has taken birth as a woman in his next life due to being overly attached to sense gratification. As the daughter of King Vidarbha he marries a stalwart devotee and serves him faithfully, even during his vanaprastha years as he lives as an ascetic in the forest. After her husband dies, as Vaidarbhi cremates his body and prepares to throw herself on the pyre, a brahmana arrives who reminds her that the two of them were once happy as intimate friends, that they are like two swans who live together in the same heart, that he is none other than the Supersoul who is the dearmost intimate friend of the individual jiva, identical in quality, but long forgotten by the jiva who has been bewildered by the prospect of material enjoyment.

I thought of another “remember you had an old friend” device in mundane literature (there are many): The famous film “Citizen Kane”, by Orson Wells. (Spoiler alert: If you have not seen this award winning film that is more than 70 years old, I am going to reveal the surprise ending below).

In the beginning of the film, a wealthy and powerful but controversial man dies in his fabulous mansion (castle, actually) with the word “Rosebud” on his lips. Journalists wonder, “Why did he say ‘Rosebud’? Who or what is ‘Rosebud'’?”

The film then takes us through the man’s controversial life, the portrait of a larger-than-life but flawed man who remained unsatisfied, spiritually empty, despite great success, power and wealth, who amassed a marvelous fortune and hoarded great works of art and craftsmanship from around the world but was unable to fill the void in his heart.

The journalists are still wondering at the end, “Why did he say ‘Rosebud’?” they concede, “I guess we’ll never know”.

Meanwhile, workmen have been burning all kinds of junk stored in Kane’s castle. We see a child’s sled burning in the furnace, with word “Rosebud” on it. Smoke pours out of the castle chimney as the sled burns. The audience realizes that the big, powerful but empty man died remembering a glimpse of childhood happiness when he was a poor orphan playing in the snow.

It is a dim reflection of Narada Muni’s story that we once had real happiness in Krishna consciousness but have forgotten. The Bhagavatam version is more powerful.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 21.06.2014 @ 12:48

Resting The Jiva-Fall / No-Fall Case

Yes, Svarup (are you Svarup Hebel or a different Svarup?), but it is NOT a dream as in “merrily merrily merrily merrily, nothing really matters because nothing is real and all is permitted, the universe (jagat) is false (mithya)”

The world around us is made of real stuff, Krishna’s separated energy, and the only “dream” is that Krishna is not present as the proprietor and enjoyer, and we are these bodies, and are the masters of all we survey.

The demons say the world is “unreal”, but they are very attached to making various arrangements for enjoying this “dream”.

Whereas the devotees say the world is Krishna’s correctional facility for those who are not pure devotees. Their “dream” is that they shall enjoy it for themselves without Krishna. But it is real in the sense that we can (must!) use it in our devotional service, as our bounden duty.

So, mayavadis say, “Only spirit is real and the material world is false (brahma satyam jagan mithya)”.

But devotees say “I shall make my guru’s order the one-pointed focus of my life, performing my duty in this world. I have somehow come to this place (no matter how…surely through some fault of mine), and I have neglected my duty, but now I shall rectify myself and make advancement in devotional service.”

Whether I came here by “falling” or I originated in a fallen state, or on a border line and then fell from there. Srila Prabhupada say, it does not really matter. All may be true. It is not that important. The important thing is to now rectify myself.

Many different descriptions of the same thing can be valid in their way. Even though we know that there are eight material elements in Bhagavad-Gita 7.4, that does not mean we should be opposed to knowledge of the periodic table. Such knowledge is useful in its sphere.

Different scriptures and wise men of different cultures tell various stories of creation. We do not have to say that their is wrong because it is not 100% like ours. Even different sages have different opinions. In fact one cannot be a “Rsi” unless one has a unique opinion (”nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinna”).

Therefore the only safe path is to follow the footsteps of the mahajanas.

It seems to me that our devotees arguments about this (sometimes) may be “stand-ins” for other issues. I mean, I just can’t see why it is so important to establish one side or the other, and insist “They both can’t be right”. Why not? Srila Prabhupada said both *can* be right!

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 11.07.2014 @ 02:32

It seems there are clear and unequivocal statements on both sides of this debate. It does not seem that the case has been “rested”, at least for some devotees on both sides who seem to have strong feelings about it. I hope we all can agree, at least, that merely assenting to one side or another in this debate will not save us from birth and death. We probably also agree (am I too optimistic?) that individuals can be tremendously devoted to Krishna without necessarily favoring one position or another.

The statement alluded to above about new souls being “created” to replace those who have been liberated at least (to me) seems at odds with B.G. 2.12, where Krishna uses past present and future tense in saying that not just Him but also Arjuna and the others on the battlefield exist eternally as individuals.

I have a question about “jiva bhuta”, which is sometimes contrasted with “brahma bhuta”. We know that jivas remain individuals even in the nondual spiritual world, like green birds entering a green tree. But can it be said that when they no longer identify with material things (including material bodies), they become fundamentally different somehow, such that the whole history of “falling” or not falling, being “created” or not, no longer apply, at least in the common or ordinary sense?

For some reason, in Srila Prabhupada’s books (as well as his letters and conversations), he does present a picture of souls rather “sleeping” in Maha-Vishnu than being “created” by Him from nothing. For example, in Cc. there is a discussion in which Haridas Thakur assures Lord Caitanya that the universe will not become void (even if everyone chants Hare Krishna and goes back home to Godhead) because there is an unlimited stock of souls lying dormant in Maha-Visnu waiting to resume their (beginningless) karma.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 02.07.2014 @ 19:30


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