Comments Posted By Akruranatha
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It should be obvious that authorities in ISKCON have to be prepared to handle mental illness issues in a responsible and practical way, as they will come up from time to time. We should not think we are capable or qualified to try to “cure” serious cases, and we should respect the professionals and social services that are available to try to help people who need it.
When I was staying at Berkeley temple in the early 1990s we had a sad, serious case. One devotee from South America was living in the temple but his behavior started becoming more and more strange. He was glaring at some of the women and frightening them. When we spoke to him he was clearly delusional and accused us of having a nuclear bomb under the temple that we were trying to hide from him, and similar incoherent, paranoid things. We contacted his ex-wife in South America who said this had happened to him before which is why she had to separate from him.
Fortunately Hanumat Presaka Swami was visiting at that time and took charge of the situation. We found some free psychiatric services available in Berkeley for such cases and insisted that he started getting professional help. It was clear that was the only thing for us to do. His case was very severe.
Unfortunately, this devotee would not keep his appointments. I drive him a couple of times to see the psychiatrist but he stopped going and refused to go. We told him he could not stay at the temple and we really did our best to help him. For some reason we were not able to get him taken into custody for a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Law enforcement would not do that and starting a court case to get him held for his own protection (conservatorship) was beyond our means and uncertain.
The sad conclusion was that he lived on the streets of Berkeley for some time, could not get the attention and medication he needed, and eventually hung himself.
If there were some way I could have gotten him committed to a psych ward where he could have been given effective drugs, it might have saved his life. At any rate, we could not let him just stay in the temple in that condition and possibly endanger others. I am afraid such cases are not as rare as we might hope, and we should be prepared to deal with them responsibly and in a way approved of by government authorities.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 12.11.2013 @ 02:57
“According to Srila Jiva Goswami, it is mentioned in the Madhyandina-sruti that all the Vedas, namely the Sama, Atharva, Rg, Yajur, Puranas, Itihasas, Upanisads, etc., are emanations from the breathing of the Supreme Being. The only differences are that the Vedic mantras mostly begin with pranava omkara and that it requires some training to pronounce the metrical accent, without which the mantras cannot be successfully chanted. Although Srila Suta Goswami was a preacher of the first order, he did not bother much about the metrical pronunciation of the Vedic mantras. But that does not mean Srimad-Bhagavatam is of less importance than the Vedic mantras. On the contrary, it is the ripened fruit of all the Vedas, as stated before.” (S.B.1.4.13, Purport)
I agree with the article that we should pronounce the Maha-Mantra as Srila Prabhupada taught us, but I just wanted to add this perspective.
The Hare Krsna Maha Mantra, though found in the Upanisads, is not like one of the Vedic mantras used for ritualistic fruitive activities, which have to be pronounced in proper metrical accent in order to bring about a material result. When Lord Caitanya says that there are not even hard and fast rules for chanting the holy names, that is proof that it is not that sort of mantra. For successful chanting, the ten offenses must be avoided, but perfect pronunciation is not required, or at least not in that sense of successfully invoking some effective material vibration.
I am not advocating lazy chanting or sloppy pronunciation, but trying to properly glorify how magnanimous is the holy name. To pronounce it correctly one must pronounce it with prema, but one need not be an expert in Vedic Sanskrt. The prayers of Narotamma Das Thakur, though written in simple Bengali language, are accepted by our acaryas with as much reverence as Vedic hymns.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 12.10.2013 @ 14:25
Yes, we should not make it a habit to say “Krsno” “Ramo”.
We should also not make a habit to say “Krsnaa” and “Raamaa”. In Sanskrt the short “a” is pronounced like “u” in “butter”, not like “o” in “mommy”. Often I hear devotees saying Krsnaa, which is a different word.
But actually we should not be sticklers about the pronunciation of others. I agree we should pronounce the Maha Mantra correctly, especially when we teach it to newbies. But ultimately it is more important to avoid offenses than to have perfect pronunciation.
I was looking at some old movies from the 1960s, and the devotees were saying “Kreeshna”. Actually even when I first started hearing about Hare Krsna, American devotees were still saying “Kreeshna” and they were known as the “Kreeshna People”. It seems funny to us now, but it still had the potency to spread the movement among the youth like wildfire in those days.
Many people from different parts of India have their own way of pronouncing. Many Northerners drop the final “a” to make it “Ram” (common) or sometimes even “Krsn” (less common). Some South Indians say something closer to “Krushna” or “Nrushimhadeva”. (And they may know Sanskrt very well).
But I agree with the article that there is a tendency for fads to develop, and if we start saying “Ram-o” too much, we might start hearing the mantra chanted that way more and more often. We should stick to Raama (with the short “a” at the end).
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 11.10.2013 @ 16:50
These stories about the Janmasthami festivals in different temples are inspiring to read. 200,000 guests! Wow!
I wanted to comment how nice the newspaper article was about the Utah celebration, but there is no place to leave a comment. The reporter seems to get details correct that may easily be misunderstood, and recites the whole Maha Mantra twice!
In the new ISV temple in Mt. View we had over 4,000 guests for Janmastami. The neighborhood is crowded and the temple building and parking lot are not big enough to accommodate such crowds, but everything miraculously went nicely and smoothly with minimal complaints from neighbors. Attending the festival were Giriraja Swami, Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami, Rtadvaja Swami and Bhakti Raghava Swami. Also Trai Das was visiting from Italy.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 02.09.2013 @ 19:15
Nice video. I especially like the piano-accompanied kirtan soundtrack. It is very melodious and transcendentally peaceful.
It makes me wish I could have been there. San Francisco Ratha Yatra yesterday was very nice. The weather was unusually sunny and pleasant (it often gets foggy and cold).
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 19.08.2013 @ 20:42
The very first sentence in the Purport of 8.2 in the 1972 edition is gibberish: “The Lord of sacrifice accepts Indra and Visnu.” What the heck is that supposed to mean?
The Second Edition published in 1983 restores Srila Prabhupada’s actual intention: “‘Lord of sacrifice’ may refer to either Indra or Visnu.” The rest of the paragraph now makes sense.
The Second Edition in so many ways brings the text closer to Srila Prabhupada’s authorship and corrects mistakes missed by inexperienced editors. Learned, scholarly devotees who have studied the editing closely and compared the two unabridged editions to the original archival materials (manuscripts and transcripts), as critical scholars do, can easily see what a great debt we owe to Jayadvaita Swami for restoring so much of Srila Prabhupada’s original authorship by completing the job of editing that had been mistaken in so many places in the First Edition.
Srila Prabhupada definitely did not want his books to contain so many editors’ mistakes. On numerous occasions he instructed that editing had to be done very meticulously and that all mistakes should be corrected before going to print. Pradyumna records in one letter how Srila Prabhupada told him that a single mistake will “murder” the book.
I am glad the BBT is publishing these annotated scans that permit us to go through each change one by one. When we do, we see how much closer to Srila Prabhupada’s intention is the text of the Second Edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 29.07.2013 @ 15:42
I love the “Worldwide Book Distribution” graph at the top of the WSN.
We can see that world distribution was down in 2001-2004 but has been on a steady, gradual rise since then. In sheer numbers, it has not reached the peaks of 1978 or 1983 or 1994, but this time it seems to be making gains at a more steady, sustainable pace. More parts of the world are involved, and more congregational distribution is contributing.
Hopefully, these numbers will keep gradually increasing and will not be as prone to ups and downs as earlier high-volume years, which were heavily dependent on a smaller number of very dedicated and very highly-skilled book distributors who mostly lived in temples.
Aside from the “supply-distribution” side of the equation, we can also expect sales to pick up as demand increases. Srila Prabhupada’s books should get good publicity, word of mouth from satisfied readers, attention from intellectuals and arbiters of what people ought to be reading.
There is a general interest in religion these days (at least it seems to me — I have not done any research), more of a willingness to broaden one’s religious interest outside of the tradition of one’s parents and understand the whole gamut of world religions. The big book chains like Barnes & Noble seem to have a healthy supply of new books on religion, including books about the various religions of the world and how they compare and contrast with one another.
Bhagavad-gita is already a much more recognizable name in the United States than it was when I started distributing books 37 years ago. “Kirtan” and “bhakti” are also more well-known terms, and I can only hope that “Lord Caitanya” and “Srimad Bhagavatam” will start to become phrases that readers become more curious and buzzing about.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 27.07.2013 @ 15:35
The BBT has done an amazing job over the years of continuing to keep Srila Prabhupada’s books in print and available for distribution, while also getting them translated into many different languages.
In addition, projects which are very dear to Srila Prabhupada, such as the TOVP in Mayapur, are receiving much-needed funding from the BBT.
Those who want to purchase “classic” reproductions of the 1972 MacMillan edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is (in spite of numerous editors mistakes in the text) can do so from the BBT as well. There is no need to get them from any other source.
The BBT is accountable and you can know how BBT funds are being spent. Buying books from rival publishers is at the cost of the BBT, and the profits are going to God knows where.
If we want to please Srila Prabhupada, we should buy his books exclusively from the BBT and participate in the system of supporting ISKCON projects and BBTv publishing activities, which Srila Prabhupada created and as Srila Prabhupada demanded of us.
There is no alternative for a loyal follower of Srila Prabhupada. Period. This is perfectly clear.
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 27.07.2013 @ 15:14
When Aindra says, “It means we have to shed pounds and gallons and gallons of blood to get the job done,” we should be clear that he means we have to work very hard, expend lots of our energy, in order to fill everyone’s mouth the the Maha Mantra all over the world.
To a reader unfamiliar with the way this expression “shed gallons of blood” was used by SBSSTP and Srila Prabhupada, it could very well sound like Aindra is advocating some sort of violent war in which we intend to spill the blood of our opponents. Of course, he means nothing of the sort, but to one who does not know the history of this phrase within our movement it is possible someone will get the wrong impression and think he is advocating violence and bloodshed with guns and bombs and so on.
It is kind of an idiosyncratic expression, to say “shed gallons of blood” when what one really means is to expend (to a superlative degree) one’s own life force and energetic exertions.
I thought in these days of religious fanaticism and terrorism it was worthwhile to make this distinction. Aindra was in no way advocating the use of bombs and guns and violence. Our weapons are music and blessed food and giving love and tolerating the insults and misunderstandings of those whom we try to bless with Krishna’s holy names. We know that, but what will uninformed readers think?
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 17.07.2013 @ 16:15
“Even if Macaulay did not write it, and nobody actually spoke it, even IF it was created by the victims of the British to bring attention to the lamentable situation, why endeavor to discredit it?”
Um… because truthfulness is good and spreading falsehoods is bad? Do we need any better reason than that?
Victims of British imperialism do not need to stoop to inventing falsehoods to support their position. The actual statements of Macauley are bad enough. The actual evidence of British arrogance and disrespect for Vedic culture is overwhelming.
If you knowingly pass along that which is false as true, you not only commit sin of lying (”satyam” is one of the austerities of speech listed in B.G. 17.15), but you also lose credibility and therefore do more harm than good to your cause.
Truthfulness is the last leg of dharma remaining in Kali yuga, and it seems to be a very wobbly leg at present. The internet especially is a “devil’s playground” for all kinds of rumors and hoaxes to proliferate out of control without any accountability. Devotees should be aware of this and avoid the tendency to repeat falsehoods.
Kali yuga personified wants to undermine the sankirtan movement. To do so, he is always trying to foment quarrels between the preachers of the holy names. We do not have a professional class of devotee journalists or historical fact-checkers, and it is easy for quarrels to arise when devotees are accustomed to repeating rumors and thinking the worst about each other.
To check this tendency, it is a good idea for devotees to become very scrupulous about the factual accuracy of quotations. It is easy for someone to take something a devotee (or Srila Prabhupada) said, put it in a different context, spin it a little differently, and create a rumor which gets perpetuated throughout our society. We should stop this tendency.
Now you may ask, we should be careful not to spread rumors about devotees, but why should some bigoted British Lord be protected from being the butt of an internet slander campaign? He deserves to be blamed, so why not blame him with falsely attributed statements?
The answer (I guess I am repeating myself) is that by doing so one not only destroys one’s own credibility but also undermines one’s own moral integrity as a lover of truth and an opponent of falsehood. Do we need any further answer than that?
Comment Posted By Akruranatha On 17.07.2013 @ 16:38