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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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 30, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 30, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 30, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 13, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 5, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

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

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 5, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 5, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Oct 5, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Sep 23, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

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.

» Posted By KKDasa On Sep 17, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

Puskaraksa Prabhu,

Yes, you made some valid points, as you did with my previous article. The problem is, that when trying to focus on a particular aspect of, as in this case, Guru worship, it would lengthen the article greatly to add other considerations. To evaluate the level of advancement of the guru or prospective guru is an extremely important part of Guru Tattva. It would require at least a lengthy paper to cover this.

You may not be aware, but I wrote a previous article for Dandavats called, “When Guru Worship Gets Sentimental.” I briefly mentioned the downside of over-estimating the advancement of certain gurus. But this topic needs to be understood in perspective with our present early days of Iskcon and so on. It is worth writing about, but has to be done carefully due to the sensitivity of it.

One can imagine that for God brothers and God sisters, who were raised in Krishna consciousness along with someone who eventually becomes guru, will probably have a different perspective on that guru than his disciples would have. Yet, in the context of the problems we experienced with certain gurus not living up to very high standards previously, there has to be some awareness, or even preparedness in case something undesirable happens.

Niscala Mataji,

In regards to the curiosity raised about the emphasis on diciples working on the guru/disciple relationship, we have to ask; does the guru need disciples, or do the disciples need a guru?

When the necessity is there for one to search out for a bona-fide guru, then the need is greater for the disciple. Of course, as you say, the guru must teach the disciples. And if there isn’t much time for this? This can be a problem. This is why we need the siksa principle brought to life with our senior devotees being there. Again, prospective disciples are warned, or should be warned, about the likelihood of personal contact, or lack of it, especially with gurus who have many disciples.

Akruranatha Prabhu,

Amazing how technology can enable instant contact, as if going back to the walking pace of the sannyasis of olden times. But not all gurus are up to scratch with skype and so on.

With so many senior devotees around within Iskcon, they should be taking the siksa role. This can help lessen the external dependence on the guru, as well as tone down possibilities of sentimental guru worship as happens sometimes. This can bring siksa to life, as it were.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Sep 12, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

Dear BBD?

I hope you will appreciate that all broadminded members of Iskcon are fans of the Guru Principle, or the Principle Of Guru with all of its varieties, and yes, including the emphasis on Siksha as our predecessor acaryas taught.

It is true there may be some elements of sentimental guru worship, but as Puskaraksa Prabhu mentioned in his comment (3), that with the right guidance and willingness to progress in Krishna consciousness, the internal mood will blossom eventually.

One does not have to be a deviant to highlight these things, but then, there should be an effort made to highlight certain issues amongst ourselves in the spirit of cooperation, as Srila Prabhupada desired. Unfortunately, there are those who cannot withstand this cooperation and will try to suggest, or exaggerate matters from the comfort of non-involvement, or motivated righteousness.

And guess what? It seems to be easier to opt out of the rigours of cooperation, and easier still, to pass judgement. It should again be appreciated how the members of Iskcon are serving in cooperation, and sometimes in difficult circumstances. That is where the mercy of our Siksha Guru, Srila Prabhupada, flows abundantly for those who try, even try, with their body, mind and souls to do the needful. Yet this conception cannot be grasped by all.

Pusta Krishna Prabhu,

It seemed your comment was a part two, or a continuation of something previously written. It would be presumptuous to ascertain your whole message otherwise.

Vishaka-priya Mataji,

It is nice to see you getting more involved here. We met a few weeks ago in Johannesburg and you indicated about this. And your contributions are valuable too.

You correctly wrote of the other extreme of Guru worship. We in Iskcon are striving for the correct balance in terms of “institutional” challenges and other trial and error developments. You and I have witnessed and experienced the downside of unqualified gurus. This experience certainly does not produce membership of guru “fan” clubs. We are “fans” of the guru principle, and the oneness of guru in all of its varieties, if we want to put it that way.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Sep 12, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

Exploiting Humility

There are many valuable lessons to be learned from observing human nature. Since us humans are now trying to uncondition ourselves through the process of Bhakti, it is certainly imperative to try to do some housekeeping within our house. If it means suggesting we be more affectionate by citing valid historic examples, then why should this be considered needless “floundering?”

Years ago when Mrs Thatcher was British prime minister, she wanted to reform the finances of the EU. The other European leaders sarcastically thought that she was just a typical housewife. “What does she know?” They should have known that their own wives often controlled their family finances. So Mrs Thatcher took this as a compliment after all. Some EU housekeeping was in order.

Attention to detail is something that Srila Prabhupada approved. Whether it be emphasizing awareness for improved relations between ourselves, or mentioning various anarthas that afflict us, cannot be inessential “floundering” particularly if one is involved in management, as I am.

If it is meant that the need not to flounder is to rise to the level of Srila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji, then we run the risk of neglecting our house, for he was not an institutional type. If we all becomes uttamas in the true sense, we will not function. Yet he encouraged his disciple Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who, with some tens of thousands of disciples, was beset with institutional concerns.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta wanted that instead of dwelling on the uttama level, as was previously the case during his fathers time, when vaisnavasism was misunderstood by opportunists who imitated our Babajis, that to come down to the madhyama level and preach, was his revolutionary concept. A madhyama must be attentive to real-time details.

Srila Jiva Goswami’s attention to detail for the Sandarbhas was exhaustive and exacting, as if to be simply a scholarly exercise. But it was to establish the supremacy of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

To not flounder and strive for higher goals in Bhakti is the ideal for oneself. But while sharing this house of Iskcon we must flounder on issues for the benefit of all members, even if they appear uncomfortable. In this regard, it should be taken as a compliment rather than a prohibition.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Aug 22, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

Niscala Mataji,

Here is the reason for writing the sentence you highlighted, which seems at odds with the rest of the article.

Most devotees deal with each other on a madhyamas or kanisthas level. Wherever there are rare “niskama” or truly desireless vaisnava s, their way of dealing can be profound or seemingly indifferent or unaffectionate. I did not want to elaborate on this as it would have side-tracked from the main theme of affection.

For instance, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s initial approach to seek initiation from Srila Gaura Kishor Dasa Babaji was rather, we could say from usual friendly experiences, a harsh refusal. Of course, there was a profound import to this.

Srila Jiva Goswami was, we could say, banished by Srila Rupa Goswami, until Srila Sanatana Goswami interceded to help restore matters. These are not our average gifts of affection. Indeed they appear to be the opposite. But these sorts of dealings happen from time to time.

I could even mention our famous Harikesa Dasa. Srila Prabhupada requested that he go and take responsibility for preaching in the then US nemesis, the Soviet Union. In spite of all good reasons not to go, Srila Prabhupada remained unfazed. It appeared like an unforgiving and punitive assignment for Harikesa Dasa.

These are some examples which do not fit into the normal definition of affection as most of us understand it.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Aug 14, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

Reflections on Guru-purnima

Here is some additional information about the significance of Guru-purnima within our Iskcon.

On a morning walk HH Tamal Krishna Mahäräja asked what was the significance of Guru-pürnimä, and Srila Prabhupäda replied simply, “Guru-püjä, that you are doing daily.”

Tamala Krsna: Today is the disappearance day of Sanatana Gosvami.
Prabhupada: Oh.
Tamala Krsna: It is also guru-purnima.
Prabhupada: Today?
Tamala Krsna: : Yes. Is there some special celebration or significance?
Prabhupada: Guru-puja, that you are doing daily.

Morning Walk — July11, 1976, New York

Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 29, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

ISKCON Namacharya Aindra Prabhu

Forgive me for saying this, but I think great care should be taken. If we look at our sampradaya, there were many pure souls who could have earned the accolade “Namacarya.” But we do not see others with this title. Perhaps there is a good reason for this.

Who is the founder of our sampradaya? After the Brahma-vimohana -lila, our original sampradaya guru sought to make amends. Srila Hari Dasa Thakur was the result. It is no coincidence that he be the Namacarya. And for good reason too.

Lord Brahma gave the holy name to Sri Naradaji, and so on up to the present day. “ Iti sodasakam namnam…” This Hare Krishna mantra first came from him. Now with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu his role was re-invigorated so to speak. Srila Hari Dasa Thakur is acknowledged as Namacarya, just as Srila Rupa Goswami is abhidheya acarya, Srila Sanatana Goswami, our Sambandha acarya, Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, our prayojana acarya, and Srila Jiva Goswami, our siddhantic acarya, and so on.

Since their time we do not know of others in our line who have claimed similar titles. Because it is through them that we can progress. No one else would even like to assume a title the same as they. So Lord Brahma and Srila Hari Dasa Thakur are almost synonymous.

If we do our prema-dhvani prayers, will there be two Namacaryas? In fact it is a matter of etiquette that these titles remain with them. Someone else with the same accolade might appear to be a competitor.

So while I was shocked and saddened like most devotees by the loss of Sri Aindra Prabhuji, I would hate to see his name get embroiled in controversy, as this proposal will do. How about some other title? Why not. One definition of humility is to not change what our previous acaryas have done for us. If it is intended that many great souls of Gauranga lila be recognised by certain titles, it might be a lack of humility to try something new, or different in this context. This is not to minimse the greatness of Sri Aindra Prabhu, but to maximise it.

It is a nice gesture and well intended, but our glorification of great vaisnavas should be an informed type. If I am spoiling the fun, then please let me know. I am a learner and seeker. If what I have written is incorrect, then anyone can correct me here for my own spiritual progress.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 19, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

Invisible Chains

Interesting topic.

Unless some of us have fine-tuned our future predictions, it seems best to “baulk” at attempting to do so. Even this 50 years scenario appears to be based upon, “The scientists say the petroleum will be finished within fifty years or like that…” Then Srila Prabhupada says perhaps 100 years. So we can safely assume, from 13 to 63 years from now according to this reckoning.

Yet elsewhere Srila Prabhupada said that Hari-Nama-Sankirtana has the power to change what might otherwise be destined. There is no clear-cut prediction. But it is certain anyway, that the present world system run on oil will finish. It may take longer, if the “peak-oil” alarmists are wrong.

New technologies to harness natural elements without pollution side-effects may yet be able to keep this “slave” order intact. There are other factors that can dramatically end things the way we know it.

Einstein calculated that if pollen bees disappear, humans will only have 3 or 4 years to live. Our pollinators are in decline in some areas. If the Gulf-Stream gets altered it could mess up our temperate weather patterns. Let’s hope the present oil blow-out gets fixed.

Often times devotees say, “After a disaster happens, then we can more easily spread Krishna consciousness.” I’m not sure if I am comfortable with this. It seems to infer a tacit admission that we are unable to do this without a disaster. Sure enough, something major will happen, but that should not be the opportune time to really make an impact.

I can bet the bottom rupee that hundreds of other religious denominations will also stake a claim for “ripened” recruits during this “disaster.” We won’t be alone. After the Berlin Wall collapsed, we Hare Krishna’s were not the only ones to claim credit for its demise. The same other denominations also claimed that their undercover preaching did this.

We need to be different. Of course, the Force of Purity will make the difference.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 13, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

Gurukula Project Team Weekly Reflections [23 June 2010]: Slaughtering Chastity

When I first saw the title of this article, “Slaughtering Chastity,” I more or less expected to read a hard-hitting essay. Upon reading it however, I was charmed by the way of writing. The words came from the heart, and given the authors’ personal experience, it was authentic reading. It toned down an otherwise controversial subject. So I concur with Padmapani Prabhu.

Some years ago, an uproar was caused by a rock band who released a song called, “Bring your Daughter to the Slaughter.” Such belittling of this issue of chastity and real femininity – not the nature bashing women’s lib type – can really be felt by those, like Ishvari Devi Dasi, who wish for a return to proper moral values. Very nice.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 1, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

Corrupt Leader Exposed!

I knew that the Dandavats web team would not publish an expose, as the title implied. But one still had to read on to find out who the culprit was. Oh yes, the mind of course. So it was a clever tactic, and amusing too.

There are so many qualified devotees who can give realizations about the mind. I would hate to think there are some literalists who might take Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s shoe and stick remedy for real, and walk around black and blue. I doubt it.

Yet some religious traditions, like the Coptics and Catholics, have provision – whether this is authorized or not – for self-inflicted pain, discomfort, deprivation, or torture of the flesh, to try and help curb the raging mind and the evil desires thereof. This doesn’t seem a very exciting prospect for me.

I’d rather stick to eating, singing, dancing and chanting my way to mind control. I feel better already. But I hasten to add, that this eating, singing, dancing and chanting – in spite of its carefree inferences – has to be done dead seriously to benefit.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 1, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

Love and Trust

We all want to see an ideal situation within Iskcon. But I wonder sometimes, that if everything were perfect and harmonious, and everything functioned with Swiss clockwork precision, and all ideals met our expectations, then what would be left to attain? There is a good chance of becoming complacent.

If we are expecting this to happen amongst kanisthas, madhyamas, and uttamas and much more in between, then the famous, “Trust no future, however pleasant,” will likely dash our hopes. If trust is difficult enough between fellow members, we are going to have to trust time itself.

There is a constant flux within Iskcon. It is healthy. It keeps us occupied – “How to improve this, or that?” Sometimes I say to myself that nothing really surprises me anymore. We have experienced as many surprises in Iskcon as other traditions have experienced over centuries. Anything new under the sun?

The fact that we have a worldwide movement still held together by Srila Prabhupada’s plea to cooperate is truly unique. Putting our trust on this plea has worked thus far. Developing love and trust amongst each member is not instant. It usually takes time. So, time, in this case, helps us to develop trust.

However much some of us may not trust certain personnel in trustworthy positions, and the allocation of responsibilities, all meet with exposure in good time. While we have to serve this mission and make it a loving home, still, the surprise factor can dramatically alter matters.

Selflessness is the clue to trust. If each of us is honest about our own position, materially and spiritually, more trust will develop. So, honesty is the truth factor for trust. Without it, time and again, we revisit old issues which are part of the flux.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jun 12, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

Beautiful Game, Beautiful Festival

Nice observations from Pusta Krishna Prabhu and Niscala Mataji.

We can learn from these social unity events. Though they are ultimately self-centred, they speak in favour of the atheistic creed. If masses of people can join together like this for a common cause, who needs religion?

Perhaps the secular system of things is the projected answer to the problems of squabbling religionists? Keep religion out. The “New World Order,” that envisions a oneness of political, social, and hopefully, religious unity is already mooted.

The Brotherhood of Freemasonry for instance is comprised of multi-faith members. Their knack for unity lies in avoiding religious discussions during their Lodge gatherings.

We Hare Krishna’s are different, right? We are not a religion as such. Yet, if we preach in ways reminiscent of evangelism, causing people to identify us as another religion, then we fall into the stereotypical mould – how are we different?

Within this age of instant communications people expect to be informed as such. Perhaps these mass events in sports and entertainment can be subject to more subliminal types of preaching.

For instance, on one major website I often see small captions – these appear to be akin to what we read in Srila Prabhupada’s books – saying, “You are not the clothes you wear. You are not your name.” This is intriguing for an average person. If people click on the caption they are led to another website belonging to Scientology and their store of books. Quite imaginative. Fair play to them for thinking modern.

During these times of secularisation we need to let people identify us as distinct from the usual religious mix. We are above religious confrontation and other issues that count in favour of atheism. But to highlight the difference we have to adapt, and somehow tap in to these mass events of human fervour and material joy.

Imaging if book distribution used the web as the Dianetics people do, I’m quite sure we’ll reach out to many people who hate to be accosted on the street, a bus, a train, and so on. Those types of people also want what we offer, but would rather be discreet about it.

So here is something for us – Discreet book distribution.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jun 9, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

Srila Prabhupada and the Gaudiya Matha

Regarding comment 3: To reach consensus on a “self-effulgent” acarya would probably be difficult. A consensus of another kind almost negates this possibility at present, and that is the “good as God” adoration disciples have for their spiritual masters, many of whom cooperate as the GBC.

After the demise of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s attempted GBC and the fall from grace of an elected “acarya,” many leading lights of the Gaudiya matha became acaryas of their own various mathas. From “one” elected acarya came many acaryas, that exemplified the Gaudiya matha, and it was a development not of Srila Prabhupada’s liking.

Though the spiritual masters who lead our Iskcon are not acaryas – at least by name or title – there would be little need to discover a unique individual possessed of “self-effulgent” characteristics. If even someone was elected from among Prabhupada disciple God brothers/sisters, perhaps unanimously, we can well imagine the potential resentment of certain grand disciples. We wouldn’t be ready for such a thing at present.

But why not in the future? As this “golden age” within Kali-yuga progresses, and the glories of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai increase, it will become an increasingly attractive proposition to want to participate somewhere in the world. So we should not be surprised to find just one, but many self-effulgent souls all relishing the mellows of sankirtana.

If they happen to be GBC members, there should be little concern. With succeeding generations of vaisnavas being born and raised, with true standards of learned humility naturally abundant, cooperating should be the easiest thing to do, naturally.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On May 26, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

This was certainly a dramatic read. Some thoughts came to mind while reading, one of which is this.

We often hear that the Gaudiya matha gurus in question, have Srila Prabhupada’s interest at heart. As such, when Srila Prabhupada’s followers leave Iskcon to join them, and in some cases, to get re-initiated, which in itself must be embarassing and disappointing for Srila Prabhupada, then how can willingly accepting disaffected devotees this way be in any way an attempt to help Srila Prabhupada and his mission?

Surely, if someone were truly concerned about the welfare of Srila Prabhupada’s Iskcon, then whenever some unhappy devotees seek to take shelter of a particulat guru, would that guru not say; “Do you realize that Srila Prabhupada wants everyone to work together, however difficult things are between yourselves. You are embarassing him by leaving his mission and coming to me. My way of thinking is different from your guru or Srila Prabhupada’s. Therefore, better that you stay. Please do not leave his mission.”

Because there is a willingness to accept those coming from Iskcon for whatever reason, in spite of saying they have Srila Prabhupada’s interest at heart, these action seem not to tally with their noble sentiments.

There were some instances whereby certain of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were approached, or even taken onboard other mathas by other Godbrothers, without any following of due vaisnava protocols,which deeply hurt and saddened His Divine Grace. In the abscence of proper vaisnava rules for acceptance and giving of initiation without prior permission from one’s guru and so on, again, how can these breaches indicate a desire to help Srila Prabhupada’s mission?

It may appear to be a blind form of following to say these things, but if these actions differ from the original desire by both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta to cooperate, against all Kali-yuga odds, then it is more blinding to disobey, however pressing the reasons are for not doing so .

In this regard, we should give more appreciation to all those devotees in Iskcon who still persevere, perhaps even after being initiated by 1, 2 or 3 gurus who fell away, and who could have gone elsewhere or joined with some protest splinter group. These sort of devotees should be engaged to help identify, or bring back those who have lost precious faith due to guru/disciple problems.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On May 23, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

There, But Not There

Dear Mataji,

I’m sure there are many suggestions on how to come off “automatic pilot,” as you say.

One thing is clear, that in the “fire” of kirtana, or intense service performed in unison, one would expect all personal differences to be set aside. It is the power of the holy namas and the shared experience which enables this.

Still, within a large body as ISKCON we cannot realistically expect everyone to be as personal as we would like, considering all the personality variables that exist. This is why there is more distance created usually in large temples or where there are frequent large gatherings.
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This is where “small” could be beautiful, as they say. Wherever there are pockets of good devotee friends working together, they should produce better results. When management is able to identfy teams like this then, given interesting initiatives, service becomes easier all round.

This is where the spread of Nama-hatta groups can excel. Such groups can form the basis for community centres and future temples. We need not always have to rely on having a mega temple in a certain location if only a fraction of people will attend regularly, particularly in Western cities.

In spite of these practical ways of encouraging “togetherness,” the same fire of correct association is required. If handled properly we can all benefit all round too. And for this there has to be education and training departments in place. Not merely to study Srila Prabhupada’s books in theory, but to encourage practical means of mixing as the great souls do.

Even so, for instance, in Kuruksetra 5000 years ago, Lord Krishna, in His royal garb wanted the exclusive association of Sri Radha and the gopis who were also present there. If things were somewhat difficult for Krishna in His lila, you know, formal against informal, then we earthly dwellers shouldn’t expect utopia.

For this reason the personal examples of senior devotees are very important. If senior devotees sometimes complain of our “rough and tumble” automatic youngsters, then more time should be spent with them to encourage personal development, and the junior devotees should allow seniors to dispense wisdom. This is Siksha in action. Again, the spread of the Nama-hattas can reach out and engage seniors who can teach and preach.

Just as a balanced family allows elders to part with wisdom, our devotees communities should have a healthy balance of seniors helping out.

Kesava Krsna Dasa

» Posted By KKDasa On May 17, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

Easing Into the 5th Canto

There seems to be a real problem, not only in the literal versus empirical equation, but of acceptance of authority, depending on which line we take.

If I, for instance, were to quote verbatim all that Srila Prabhupada said against dinosaurs and the moon phenomenon, this would probably meet with less resistance from the sceptics. If however, I repeat the same sentiments as a faithful follower, then the swords of fanaticism, blind faith, and the rest, get thrust.

So far in these discussions I have avoided citing scientific authority to back up any claims against controversies, which may be a prudent thing to do. Then, heeding the good advice of self-realized souls not to be infatuated by scientific claims, there could well be other explanations besides the scientific standard.

For instance, it is known that micro organisms mutate according to differing circumstances. As of yet it appears that we see some instances of mutation in birth defects in relation to the Chernobyl nuclear incident. The leaning here is that in previous kali-yugas some disastrous human experimentation and technological advancement could have produced extreme mutations in different species resulting in the dinosaurs not necessarily listed as some of the 8,400,000 species of life. Even today hybrids are created through genetic engineering, so it is feasible that “new” or unlisted species could be produced. If a buffalo was a mystic attempt to upstage the existence of cows, then it is certainly within range to mutate other creatures.

If this is so, then genetic mutation would not violate the established number of species created naturally – the Vedic view is retained. Would this scenario oppose the evolution of species as proposed by the Darwinists? Not totally, because otherwise a really strong case has to be built as to how environmental factors can cause mutation of the scale shown in textbooks. Considering the extraordinary complexities of basic living cells and the protein constituents required it is highly unlikely. However, some mystic or uncontrolled human intervention could inadvertently set off something quite different from established Vedic norms. So dinosaurs would be a non-descript set of species.

Even with this theory in place, it does not contravene our faith in the words of Srila Prabhupada and the parampara. In any case, just as medical doctors can also fall ill, intellectuals can suffer severe doubt attacks.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Aug 11, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

Brahma Prabhu,

It is exceedingly obvious that the cosmic opulences delineated previous to the cited Gita verse are micro descriptions, indeed even the 5th canto information is a micros of imperceptible reality.

Nowhere do I say that that the 5th canto cosmic description is the prime substance of knowledge, because it precedes the 10th canto, and is therefore a description of some of the unlimited opulences of the Lord.

Again your reference to figurative language needs to be questioned. Are these figurative descriptions by the Lord in the Gita, and by Srila Sukadeva Goswami in the Bhagavatam factual, or non-factual?

It is true we cannot even remotely begin to fathom the depths of cosmic reality, but it is reality nonetheless, though subject to scheduled devastation. When Sri Sada Siva glances at inert primordial elements to inject life, is this figurative or factual? I am not sure how far your figurative assurance goes.

If it is used merely to cover for our inability to comprehend matters, then there might be a convergence of opinion, though differently put. If however it is used to relegate Krishna’s words, and those of Sukadeva Goswami, to substitute lingual inadequacies about things that just happen way beyond our heads, and that things do not really happen the way they say, then the doubt colours our predilection cloaked in empiric methods of inquiry.

Srila Bhaktivinoda is appealing to a certain audience hot on the heels of Darwinism and allied scientific deductions, whereas Srila Prabhupada appeals to his followers of bhakta tendency and is generally more literal, in face of the same but more refined and technologically astute Darwism and allied disciplines. If Srila Prabhupada’s literal approach appears at loggerheads and we exaggerate this to form doubts, then acceptance of truth from his being is troublesome.

Whether he appeared to have scientific comprehension or not is immaterial, for his enlightened internal vision, given in tune with our sampradaya, is quite enough to help us ease into 5th canto but also the 10th canto smiling face of the Lord. Any doubt other than this will present an unsmiling face symptomatic of rigid resistance to subjective truth.

Ys,Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Aug 6, 2009 @ 9:11 am

Brahma Prabhu,

You speak of this unlimited cosmos as being of the shakti of the Lord, or another way of saying an opulence thereof. If this is so then surely it requires a measure of faith or conviction to accept as truth all that the 5th canto and the rest of the Srimad Bhagavatam tells us.

“One who is factually convinced of this opulence and mystic power of Mine engages in unalloyed devotional service; of this there is no doubt.” (BG 10.7)

Notice how Krishna says this after previously briefly describing the cosmos and the progenitors thereof.

While the 5th canto is certainly not the prime form of knowledge for us because it is part of a gradual run up to the tenth canto, we nonetheless must have a conviction that this section of the Srimad Bhagavatam is true.

Because some doubt or bare indifference exists due to incomprehensible subject matter presented in the Bhagavata Purana, some of us attribute compromise and appeasement with the “None Literal” approach, and it signals a shortfall of conviction of Krishna’s opulences needed for unalloyed Bhakti.

I am well aware of the need for realism and appearing not to be unreasonably biased in loyalty to every word and dictate of self-realized revelation, then neither can we expose our doubts by using frail tools of reasoning while simultaneously questioning the deep faith of those who accept the conclusive truth.

Of these two methods of acquiring knowledge I think I’d rather choose the former because there is safety in surrendering our all – including our analytical propensities – at the lotus feet of those whom the heart is unalloyed conviction. If this appears somewhat naïve and demeaning for the rest of us, then perhaps we should notice the downside of scientific research and the sometimes dubious motives for seeking funds, and the competing with fellow colleagues and the rest.

“I am the servant of that person who is a servant of the six Goswamis. The dust of their holy feet is my five kinds of foodstuffs.” (Nama-sankirtana 6)

It also appears that to be convinced of the opulences of the Lord one has to take; “One gigantic step for the sceptic, and one calf’s hoofprint for the bhakta.” So be it.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jul 26, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

A Blessing in Disguise

Payonidhi Prabhu raises an important issue. While the suggestion to transfer both mother and daughter to Vrndavana is good, this case highlights more cases we may not be aware of in our Iskcon world. And we can learn from this example by preparing for eventual scenarios yet to unfold.

We see how Krishna Jivani mataji is happy and contented under the shelter of the holy names, and she wishes no inconvenience for others to help her, which is fine. This could lead us to believe that her dependence on Krishna means to leave her as she is, for she is happily situated. If we think like this we run the risk of neglecting her, or anyone else in a similar situation.

Sooner or later her mother may pass on. “It’s all right…she’s under Krishna’s care in that rundown building.” Simply because a vaisnava/i is happy in their Krishna consciousness does not we mean can leave them to providence if we have the means to help in any way. Iskcon is an ideal place for selfless souls, and when selflessness prevails, automatically the inclination to help devotees, happy or distressed, will ensue, in spite of protests not to inconvenience those who offer help.

We see how HH Indradyumna Maharaja did initially want to give back those roubles, and this intended help could be tried in other ways, or with a compromise win/win situation.

We know everything is “Krishna’s arrangement,” but we have a selfless duty to assist devotees of Krishna in sickness and health, in struggling or sublime consciousness. Sometimes this “Krishna’s arrangement” can be an excuse for neglect. It is for us to rise above this potential for indifference and keeping our distance. It is far better to have “Krishna’s arrangement” happen in cases like these, through the loving care of fellow devotees, then in spite of protests to the contrary, we can share and benefit from assisting a devotee addicted to chanting Hare Krishna.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jun 28, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

Vaisnava culture of respect and honour

While the necessity is there to honour and glorify those devotees worthy of praise, there is a risk of neglecting to honour other devotees who are equally worthy, but are lower down in the hierarchical scheme of things. In other words, the combined glorification can appear too ‘top heavy’ or exclusive.

Disciples honouring their gurus must also give the lion’s share to other devotees in good standing, and who may not be in the forefront of things, preferring to remain in the background. An equalisation of honour and respect has to happen in order that the parallel system of management runs smoothly.

So long as the exclusivist attitude remains which can cause some imbalance in normal authoritative matters at temple level, this same imbalance assumes a lop-sided form of social cohesion, which in the longer term, runs the risk of creating havens of loyalty dissimilar to the interests of our common good.

Then, with our frequent changes of management it is hardly surprising to find the necessary trust and loyalty in new incumbents on par with that of the gurus or GBC’s. It takes time. Meanwhile certain authorities wonder why they cannot function properly.

We tend to be inconsistent in continuity of temple or community policy. It usually happens that a new temple president has a different set of ideas from the previous authority, and when implementation begins, all previous progress is halted, or toned down…and we sometimes wonder, “why aren’t we moving forward?”

All sensible governments put policies into legislation so that whoever comes to power next will continue – there is consistency. For us to function just as well – and it is a difficult ask considering the inordinate strength of Maya – our middle leaders have to be havens of stability, thus earning the trust to manage mutually with the guru/disciple interests at heart.

So the equalisation of respect and honour will fluctuate with every changing of the guard as it were. In such circumstances unique to a volunteer mission as ISKCON, parallel authority or cohesiveness will be quite an accomplishment.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jun 3, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

Just A Sesame Seed Of Doubt

I would like to say a little more for those who have gripes with my use of the word fundamentalism. Perhaps what should have been said was that we are fundamentalists at heart, but innovative and pliable in practice.

When I preach I do not use this word to describe our state of being any more than I would use the word cult, for much the same reasons.

Yet in matters of faith in Krishna consciousness we do need to be fully convinced, or advancement is troublesome. Our ascending powers of observation will simply hold us down while seemingly trying to escape this world by partial faith. The two do not mix. Genuine spiritual life is as clear cut as this.

The consensus here is to take full shelter of the holy names. If everything we do in Krishna consciousness is a reflection of how we chant Hare Krishna, as again mentioned in Harinama Cintamani, then our present state of mind and how we perform our devotional duties, not to mention the severity of doubt and faith loss, can be attributed to this.

If this deduction is still sounding extreme and fanciful then I owe it to the Mahajanas to rest the case.

To be a convinced fundamentalist at heart but externally appearing to the public as learners and seekers of truth is a way of not appearing fanatical or blinkered. Indeed there are many interesting things we can learn from science which tells us how much of a genius Krishna really is, but to lessen our Krishna conscious faith with doubtful empirical assumptions is risk too much.

Ys, Kesava Krsna Dasa.

» Posted By KKDasa On Jun 3, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

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