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Comments Posted By KKDasa

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Dandavats, Skepticism, and Believing

Kulapavana Prabhu: I think most devotees acknowledge the need for critical acclaim from the scholarly and scientific fraternity. The discussions aired on Dandavats should help, but the overlapping with vaisnava sensitivities and the culturally soft “underbelly” might be a deterrent. Still, scientists and scholars also crave for peaceful coexistence among humankind, and if they observe how we deal with each other in dignity and respect, this should be an advantage.

The scholarly tendency to surmise, and to lend symbolism to otherwise inexplicable subject matter also appears to clash with the age-old system of Sruti and Smriti acquisition of knowledge. This form of submission seems too effete by modern-day standards of enquiry. These differences of approach need not hamper any rigid observation of our attempt to implement vaisnava culture within society.

It is granted that some of our scientifically minded devotees cringe at the level of “blind acceptance” of all things said and written in Srila Prabhupada’s books, and perhaps “seethe” at the ooh-aahs of subjective “revelation,” but they let their feelings be known politely, we hope. This hard-soft dichotomy is to be expected in any democratic dispensation. So how we interact in the face of this should be of interest to all. But this remains so wherever we have established community based projects; there are other levels of observation yet to be subjected to critical analysis.

Pusta Krishna Prabhu: There is a common saying, especially for older people, that when they reach certain milestones in age – and in your case – being 60, it means that you are “60 years young,” not old. Being so young and thinking in terms of “end of a lifetime” is of course, humility or your part. With this “Calling all Scholars” entreaty, you are making a lot of us nephews and nieces feel like worn-out geriatrics. How about that?

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 30.10.2010 @ 13:54

Prabhava Vigraha and Akruranatha Prabhus: Yes, I did omit to mention about vaisnava etiquette, though it could have been disguised beneath words like dignity and decorum. Since they are considered ornaments of vaisnavas, would that make some of our discussions on this site, not very well ornamented?

I sometimes see senior devotees mildly chiding or correcting younger devotees in the comments section, where inappropriate words are used, or for dwelling unnecessarily in certain subjects for instance. The senior and junior ethic plays out, just as they do in a temple or community of devotees. We are family after all, is it not?

Many devotees who have spent a good portion of their lives living full-time in the ashrama would have first-hand experience of the practicalities of vaisnava etiquette in action. It is easy to pick out elements who display in writing a lack of respect. And having been accustomed to daily classes and hearing, it is also easy to pick out philosophical errors or motivated items.

We have senior and junior devotees, and indeed laypersons who participate with the Dandavats site, and the gulf of experience or the lack of it is palpable, so could this be something to deter our mostly senior veterans who may prefer - vijnana - related discussions or articles? I have been told that some veterans among us do not participate because of this dynamic. Do they want this site to become more “tame” as it were?

But then, most of our readership will benefit in any case, from the invaluable contributions of our veterans, some of whom do frequent Dandavats. This is not to say that the elders cannot learn from younger devotees either, or be impressed by realizations and writing style, or be moved by sincere efforts to please our Srila Prabhupada and the rest of us.

The fact that we have Dandavats – and we must give due credit for the editors – which is a website that is gaining in popularity, and is a major source of Iskcon news and articles, tells us that it is an important resource. I suppose it is part of the package to have such a wide diversity of subjects and minds apply themselves here, and we have to live with it. But there is always the wise counsel of seniors and learned devotees alike to balance things out when needed.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 30.10.2010 @ 13:50

Hearing and Chanting

Let us suppose for instance, that I wanted to impress my audience from a motivated stance, and tell all that Srila Prabhupada was being inconsistent with his usual proclamation that Sabda is absolute, but cannot be heard from dvd’s and so on. I could quote the following, as taken from the above article:

“We have to hear not from a telephone but from an authorized person, for it is he who has real knowledge.” (Purport to Cc. adi 7.107) ”Unless one is svanubhavam, self-realized, [unless his] life is Bhagavat, he cannot preach Bhagavat. That will not be effective. A gramophone will not help.” (Bhag. Lecture Rome May 27th 1974)

If again I were to develop a biased form of reasoning and say that perhaps Srila Prabhupada can’t be such an elevated soul because of this, then what would that reveal about myself? I would have exposed myself as a biased motivated fool, for not having bothered to put these quotes in balance with the totality and aggregate of his teachings. I would also be an offender for assuming some deficiency in him and for – this is the important part – aiding my readers to lose faith in him.

Unfortunately there are motivated persons who consider themselves elevated enough to build up biased support, and mislead readers with some lop-sided philosophy, based upon Srila Gaura Govinda Maharaja’s occasional quotes about sabda being heard in certain ways.

Without putting his quotes into perspective of the totality and aggregate of his own teachings, such commentators expose themselves as biased and motivated. This is not pure devotion, but a divided, semblance of devotion based upon rajo-guna. Because it is divided it is divisive, in that it divides the faith of those who read such matter.

So we thank Madhavananda Prabhu for putting this into perspective for us and for telling of the need to be informed of the whole picture before attempting to pass judgement.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 30.10.2010 @ 13:46

Raghava’s Reincarnation Myth

Some concern has been raised about the public being turned off by possibly reading stories like that told by Ratnavali Mataji. Yet when the same public sees the intensity with which her story has been slated, I would have thought they’d notice that more; you know; how devotees deal with each other.

I must admit that when I first saw the title of her story I was sceptical. After reading her article I found more plusses than minuses. Her’s is a personal story, and she wanted to share it with us readers. It is obvious that this “life-changing” event had profound effects on her. I can imagine how she feels when her story is dismissed this way.

It is one thing to use Sastra to try and prove her story as false, but it is another thing to consider that Krishna Himself, who is Bhakta-Vatsala, and who personally takes care of His devotees, does not have to abide by scriptural norms to help expedite a devotee’s approach to Him. There may be time scales for the deceased soul and for duration of heavenly enjoyment and so on, but Krishna can overturn all these if He desires.

He could even cause a particularly stubborn devotee to perhaps take an animal birth to remind of the folly of wasting time. On this basis we cannot confine the Lord, and what He intends to do with each devotee, to simple scriptural expectations, or to our own. Because Krishna cares for His devotees, He need not conform, nor can we predict what the journey of a soul of a devotee will be exactly.

Even if there are some apparent “gaps” in her story, the lessons of transmigration still apply, and the ease by which one can earn a female form in this case, is scary in any case. Because many things appear coincidental in the life of Ratnavali, they more readily fit into a reincarnation belief system, but would be very strange in another belief. That’s why there are more plusses,

So rather than dismiss her story, I would give the benefit of the doubt. Besides, this major event in Ratnavalis life has helped her get serious in Krishna consciousness, which may be a comparatively rare thing. This story might encourage others to get serious as well. When we see such seriousness we should encourage that, and encourage her too, so that this may be her ultimate step into the loving embrace of Sri Bhakta-Vatsala.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 13.10.2010 @ 21:04

Revolt of the Elites

Part Four.

Iskcon is certainly established in the asramas. The well-defined positions are as clear as the dress codes, though the vanaprastha asrama may need more attention. So far, Iskcon has persevered on this basis. In time, when more and more human beings join our ranks, who have more social connections and expertise to enable the establishment of devotee retirement homes, life assurance for dependents, business networking opportunities to employ devotees, and general devotee welfare and protection; and when Iskcon can offer some clout and influence in society and so on, then varnasrama-dharma will be needed to bolster the way forward into a healthy future.

Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 05.10.2010 @ 20:29

Part Three.

In the Chaitanya Siksamrta, Srila Bhaktivinoda says that generally, after a person has been educated and before he commences work life, his – svabhava – or tendency can be determined and is subsequently identified with a particular caste. He further says that if one cannot work out his position he should consult a spiritual master, wise counsel or the community. In any case, the situation is somewhat different for a devotee. Srila Prabhupada writes: “Ultimately the aim of varnasrama-dharma is to turn a crude man into a pure devotee of the Lord, or a Vaisnava.” (SB 1.2.2 purport)

He is indicating, as Srila Bhaktivinoda does, that varnasrama-dharma is an assistant to bhakti, not the means itself. Lord Chaitanya says to Srila Ramananda Raya – eho bahy, age kahaara – “This is external. You had better tell Me of some other means.” CC Madhya 8.59. Srila Prabhupada further says in the same purport: “Anyone therefore, who becomes a Vaisnava accepted by the first class Vaisnava, or uttama-adhikari Vaisnava, is already considered a brahmana, regardless of his birth or past deeds.”

In Iskcon, everyone who accepts second initiation is a brahmana. Those in good standing may have an aptitude to do what is necessary to keep the temple engine running smoothly, by way of DIY fix-it jobs and more. If he were governed by a varnasrama arrangement he may not be allowed to cross the threshold as a Vaisnava would, and so end up being restrained in his desire to do anything for the pleasure of the Lord. Sri Narada Muni instructs Maharaja Yudhisthira: “If one shows the symptoms of being a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, .even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.” (SB 7.11.35)

Many brahmana devotees are naturally good at earning money. The ksatriyas tendency can only be geared towards administration, management and a little protection. To be truly martial, a defence force would be required which in the eyes of a secular society, be a threatening para-military force. How many devotees are sudras? Could we have the audacity to label a Vaisnava in good standing a sudra? We see glimpses of varnasrama tendencies in various devotees, but Iskcon’s set up is too versatile for varnasrama-dharma at present. A devotee lawyer may volunteer to set up the question and answer booth during Ratha-yatra. A brahmana may volunteer to cut vegetables for the Sunday feast.

KKD

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 05.10.2010 @ 20:27

Part Two.

In the purport to SB 1.15.39 Srila Prabhupada states; “the system of four orders of life and four castes in terms of quality and work, known as varnasrama-dharma, is the beginning of human life….” Elsewhere he says: “The varnasrama-dharma is prescribed for civilized human beings just to train him to successfully terminate human life.” (SB 1.9.26) Clearly, varnasrama-dharma is meant for those who accept a spiritual master and are a living a life worthy of progressive Aryans. Those who do not come to this standard are outcastes.

If we calculate how many people worldwide fit the relevant human description, in terms of belonging to a bona-fide sampradaya and displaying civilized conduct, we are looking at a tiny sample. In fact we can only look to the initiated devotees or seriously aspiring congregation members to plan any varnasrama scheme. With so few we can hardly be expected to make a workable model for versatile vaisnavas. Introducing varnasrama-dharma would be a useless exercise if not done properly: “The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 1.2.8)

Quite often devotees who take to the grhastha asrama wonder what their actual varnasrama status is. After a spell in the brahmacari asrama, or in some cases the sannyasa asrama, one takes to married life outside the temple and begins earning money. How the money is earned is not always in line with the natural inclination of the devotee. If a devotee sells goods at a flea market, but his inner mood is to write or paint, does this make him a Vaisya? Certainly not. His means of livelihood are circumstantial and do not reflect his real tendency by which his real Varna position can be gauged. His is more an act of duty, not necessarily an inclination.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 05.10.2010 @ 20:23

Part One.

Could there be other reasons why varnasrama principles are slow to be implemented? Like the “vaisnava” factor for instance.

For many years the debate has raged on about varnasrama-dharma. Is varnasrama-dharma feasible? How to implement it? How do we identify our own caste? Is it workable? Do we need it? And so on and so on. As of yet, though varying opinions abound, we have not reached a consensus.

We know Srila Prabhupada wanted the system up and working. We also know that present conditions within Iskcon may not accommodate a sudden dividing of the social orders. Why so? Because the ‘Vaisnava’ factor overrules much of the expectations derived from varnasrama-dharma.

Let us take the great soul Sriman Jayananda prabhu for example. As a Vaisnava he was performing multi-tasks befitting actions performed in all the varnas. As the happy transcendental dustbin man [Sudra activity] he managed the temple’s waste. As a taxi driver he earned much needed income for the temple [Vaisya activity]. When guests arrived, he would be the charming host and hospitality representative able to preach about Krsna [Brahmana activity]. In matters of temple maintenance he managed the temples’ affairs [Ksatriya tendency]. All these actions combined enacted from a Vaisnava standpoint endeared him to Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. In this situation, who needs separate bin men, drivers, hosts, preachers and the rest? The Vaisnava can criss-cross the varnas for the pleasure of Sri Sri Guru and Krsna.

BG 4.13 purport says: “And as Krsna is transcendental to this system of the four divisions of human society, a person in Krsna consciousness is also transcendental to all divisions of human society, whether we consider the divisions of community, nation or species.”

We often hear that varnasrama-dharma is for everybody. Is it? It is naturally present in all societies and practiced by all people knowingly or unknowingly, as BG 4.13 says. But theirs is done in outcaste mode without respect for devotional service. It is only meant for human beings. How many human beings are there? Very few indeed.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 05.10.2010 @ 20:17

The Dark Times Of The Body

Depending on which of the modes of nature dominated the thinking and bodily activities of an individual prior to joining Krishna consciousness in a regulated way, the time taken to become fully regulated or fixed, can vary greatly.

Whichever the case, the transition from a lust dominated lifestyle to a love dominated one can be tough in most cases. So tough in fact, it is like taking poison. This adjustment mentioned in this article has already been covered by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita.

In the Sri Gitamrta, Arjuna asked Lord Krishna, “Why is happiness in the mode of goodness like poison in the beginning, my Lord?” Lord Krishna replied that this was because when someone first takes up regulated spiritual life, it is painful for the senses, mind and body to adjust – it is like poison. But by persevering, the same senses, mind and body will experience the nectar that awaits.

Although the technical aspects of bodily adjustments are outlined nicely, it is nonetheless described under the broad heading of the word, poison, in Bhagavad-Gita.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 23.09.2010 @ 20:08

Does My Spiritual Master Care For Me?

There is one important consideration to be made which is often overlooked, and which would render the main diksa argument as inadequate.

Experience tells us that our present diksa gurus are not just diksa gurus in name only. Most if not all, are active siksa gurus as well, through the methods of preaching to one and all. This active dual role suits the importance of siksa over diksa.

Because our diksa gurus are actively preaching as siksa gurus, there should not be a great deal of concern if it appears that disciples are overly attached to the diksa feature. This apparent attachment is given more to the siksa aspect of the diksa guru.

So long as disciples treasure the instructing side of the guru, and render service to the diksa/siksa guru as is necessary, then the balance of service and respect to the principle of guru in various manifestations is upheld.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

Comment Posted By KKDasa On 17.09.2010 @ 21:31


 


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