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Comments Posted By Akruranatha

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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

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?

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 25.05.2014 @ 14:43

“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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 15.05.2014 @ 14:25

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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 11.05.2014 @ 20:46

“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.

Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 10.05.2014 @ 21:26


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