Comments Posted By Babhru

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New ISKCON Property Purchased in California

This is wonderful news. Vaisesika prabhu is a wonderful example for all. Congratulations to him and all the devotees of the Silcon Valley sangha.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 25.07.2012 @ 15:19

Embracing Unity in Diversity: Early Notes Toward a Rhetoric of Consciousness

I thank Pusta Krishna prabhu for his kind words. I’ve had few personal dealings with him over all these years, but those few encounters were consistently encouraging.

I think we all would do well to heed his advice about the environment’s friendly nature. I also have something to say about the longer article to which he refers, but I’ll respond to that piece itself. The author seems not to have quite understood the point I intended to make.

I also think Pusta Krishna’s advice about enthusiastically catching whatever favorable breezes of spiritual opportunity come our way. If the wind blows toward the shore of bhakti, let out those sails and take full advantage of it, regardless of doubts expressed by those who would have you stay stuck with them. We should not let ourselves flounder in the doldrums of suspicion. Suspicion, it is said, leads to suspension. Instead, we should let out the spinnaker of anukulyasya sankalpa and race for the shelter of the Lord’s service without hesitation.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 01.04.2012 @ 21:26

Thanks to Akruranatha for sharing Vaisesika prabhu’s letter, as well as his own insights into the benefits of a broad vision of preaching. That devotees with the kind of vision Vaisesika shows are as prominent in ISKCON as he is a good sign. It shows that there is still much vitality in the world’s most visible institution dedicated to spreading Lord Caitanya’s teachings. That should gladden the hearts of all of Mahaprabhu’s devotees.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 01.04.2012 @ 21:12

Keshava Krsna prabhu,

I believe you’re right on the money to suggest that embracing unity in diversity challenges the boundaries of our tolerance. And that can only be a good thing. And I certainly agree that the appreciation on which such embrace is founded should reach to missions other than that with which we ourselves may be affiliated, whether it be ISKCON or one of the other missions working hard to share the teachings of Lord Caitanya with whatever fortunate souls we may encounter.

My perspective on the discord we see enacted within and among missions may be a little different from yours, though. I don’t see them as slightly distorted expressions of the pure ego, as the examples you cite from Goloka or Gaura lila. Rather, and I say this after having participated in and having observed these interactions for over 43 years, I contend that they are motivated by narrow mindedness that symptomizes our lack of spiritual maturity. The evidence can be found in attempted suppression of diversity, in discouragement, in the dearth of actual appreciation for variety.

And, as you point out, over-centralization and bureaucracy can serve to encourage such narrow vision. I hope devotees will apply themselves to carefully studying the literature created by our acaryas, so they may be better equipped to discern between principle and detail, between superficial and substantive differences.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 01.04.2012 @ 19:29

(continued from previous post)
And even among devotees in this world, we can appreciate that devotees will be different in any number of ways, and that’s not necessarily an impediment to either the devotees’ culture of devotion or its propagation. Instead, it’s an ornament, enhancing both. So, even looking just in ISKCON, we may find preachers as different as Indradyumna Maharaja, with his big flashy festivals around the world, and Purshatraya Maharaja, with his self-sufficient community in the forest of Brazil; Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, with his traditional approach to bhakti culture, and Radhanatha Maharaja, with his broad approach to finding ways to help those who may otherwise not have the chance to appreciate the culture of Krishna bhakti. Having such different devotees does not impoverish ISKCON. It enriches it. We need devotees who can preach as renunciates to show the ultimate in dedication, as brahmacaris to add youthful exuberance, and as householders to bring stability and balance to the community of devotees.

As different as they are, they are all unified in their pursuit and propagation of the love for Krishna taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If we go beyond ISKCON, as large and as broad as it is, we find many more missions inspired by Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and our Srila Prabhupada, and they all enhance the sankirtana movement in some very different ways, attracting yet more fortunate souls to the Lord’s lotus feet. And in order to grow our own bhakti most effectively, and to help the broadest range of living beings become as fortunate as we, we all must appreciate how all these different souls ultimately work as one while serving as a rainbow of diverse ornaments surrounding that one blazing sapphire that is Krsna, with no conflicting personal interest. This may seem a tall order, but it is the order we are called to fill to ensure the sankirtan movement’s success.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 10.03.2012 @ 03:07

Kesava Krsna, the overlapping you suggest may be inevitable is certainly so only to the extent we maintain selfish interest. Those ripples are the clashing of personal interest, nothing more, caused by the materialistic inability to “adjust the varieties and the disagreements” Srila Prabhupad mentions in the letter I cite. When Srila Prabhupada spoke at the University of Hawaii in 1972, he gave the example of the ripples in a pond. If we drop stones here and there, each one will create a pattern of ripples, and those ripples will clash, overlap, creating a chaotic pattern on the pond’s surface. (These may be called eccentric circles.) However, if we drop every stone, regardless of its size, shape, color, etc., in precisely the same point, it will create a harmonious pattern of concentric circles, none of which will clash with the others. This is unity part of the equation, which Srila Prabhupada addresses when he says that if we “keep Krsna in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties.”
However we serve, whatever our individual talents, perspectives, approaches, etc., it is this keeping Krsna in the center that makes possible the mutual appreciation I write of, that, as Srila Prabhupada puts it, will ensure our movement’s success. That’s how it works in Vraja. Everyone there has a different service for pleasing Krsna, a different relationship with Krsna. There are those who please Krsna by acting as servants, those who please him as friends (all of whom are different from each other in a number of ways), those who please him by acting as parents of one sort or another, those who please him by acting as girlfriends, again in a broad variety of groups, with different talents, temperaments, etc. But everyone has one focus of attention: pleasing Krsna. That’s called unity in diversity. It is not a detriment; rather, that diversity enriches Krsna’s pleasure.
(continued in next post)

Comment Posted By Babhru On 10.03.2012 @ 03:06

When tolerance is discussed in the context of diversity, writers and speakers often complain that it’s too small a word. What I found in Srila Prabhupada’s letter, backed up by several dictionaries I consulted, is that the broader sense, which is in fact the primary sense, is what he intended, and the most useful for the point I intend to make.
I strongly disagree with any suggestion that I should restrict myself to the narrower and perhaps most widely used sense of the word. I do so after careful consideration (which consideration was an important part of the process of writing this piece). I’m accustomed to working with at least six dictionaries (including OED) and as many usage guides. I chose to make this point very deliberately. (Starting to see a theme here, folks?) Every good usage guide includes what some refer to as “frequency of use” by educated writers as an important consideration, but certainly not the only, or even overriding, factor. Here’s what Bryan Garner, whose Modern American Usage I have long found the most useful guide on my shelves, says: “[W]hile actual usage can trump the other factors, it isn’t the only consideration.” Please note that he doesn’t say “actual usage” does trump, or even should trump, other factors; instead, he says, it can. That’s all.

Here I’m deliberately trying to prod devotees into considering that broader meaning in some contexts, not to discard the other. In the context of discussion of tolerance of diversity in the broader society, many writers and speakers have opined that tolerance is too small a word. That’s because they read it in the sense of just putting up with what’s different or not comfortable. However, it appears that too many are simply unaware of that broader meaning or afraid of having their case labeled specious (or whatever) by small-minded readers. I am neither. I intend to change–more accurately, I think, to stretch–the perceived meaning of the word, at least among followers of Lord Caitanya, and I think I have good bases for doing so. You may call it hubris; I’m not afraid of that, either. I’m not a Nobel laureate, and I’m no celebrity guru, but I am an experienced sadhaka, an educated person, and an experienced writer. I’m making a philosophical point, not playing to the crowd.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 02.03.2012 @ 16:37

Some readers have objected elsewhere that I’m overreaching by focusing on the broader meaning of “tolerance.” They suggest that I should limit myself to the narrower sense, that of putting up with something we don’t like or are uncomfortable with. To do otherwise, they say, makes my argument appear specious. They also say that, although the broader sense I use in my essay does indeed appear first in most English dictionaries, I should follow what they say is the most used sense.

I certainly anticipated precisely this objection and researched it pretty thoroughly. (It would be just silly to think that I hadn’t, considering my experience as a writer and a teacher of serious writing.) That included asking devotees with PhDs in Sanskrit whether that broader meaning could be found in the Sanskrit word. I didn’t get what I wanted, so I deliberately kept my argument from overreaching. However, that broader sense is clear to me in Srila Prabhupada’s remarks to Kirtanananda in the letter I cite. As much as I tried, I could not at all reconcile myself to the idea that Srila Prabhupada used that verse to tell Kirtanananda to, in effect, just hold his nose and put up with devotees who had a different approach, different sensibilities, or whatever. There were other things I could have used to enhance my case here, such as a well-known letter to Tusta Krishna, or the festival at Kheturi. But the piece is already longer than I wanted.

When tolerance is discussed in the context of diversity, writers and speakers often complain that it’s too small a word. What I found in Srila Prabhupada’s letter, backed up by several dictionaries I consulted, is that the broader sense, which is in fact the primary sense, is what he intended, and the most useful for the point I intend to make.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 02.03.2012 @ 16:33

Double-voice amplification kirtans in Iskcon Mayapur

I’m with Akruranatha here. My experience is that sound systems are far louder than necessary. The default seems to be that the leader’s voice needs to be at least twice as loud as everyone else’s combined, which just doesn’t make sense to me. Add to that large karatalas too close to the mic, solid gongs being played by devotees swinging from the shoulder, and lousy acoustics (as is the case in Alachua), and you have a recipe for disastrous hearing health. Too many of us have hearing loss and raging tinnitus. We should all be more thoughtful, and our kirtans more tasteful.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 22.04.2011 @ 13:31

Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HG Urmila Mataji

(continued from previous post) It’s not particularly difficult to see that Srila Prabhupada said different things at different times about any number of topics. Here’s an interesting quotation that, we may argue, may be seen to apply to the education and engagement of female devotees: “We have seen your note regarding Sarasvati Maharaja, and you may engage one Sanskrit teacher for Sarasvati so she shall become a very great scholar, just like Jiva Goswami was trained in Sanskrit language from early childhood and no one could surpass him in all of India.” Some may argue that this is an instruction about educating one particular girl, not about educating girls in general. I’d suggest that it’s more than both–that it shows he was interested in addressing individual situations. As he said once, when a leader complained that some devotees were interested in services other than book distribution, “Do not think that the spiritual master is a dead stone who cannot give different instructions to different disciples.”

It appears, then, that Srila Prabhupada’s vision may accommodate engaging women outside the kitchen.

Comment Posted By Babhru On 29.05.2011 @ 22:25


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