Comments Posted By Locanananda dasa
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Oh, yes — and as far as how to refer to the two basic categories of clothing worn by devotees, I would take into account the origin and the purposeful design of each. If Vaisnava dress (dhoti and kurta for men, saris for women) originates in the spiritual world, we may refer to that as devotional attire, for that is the original use of those garments. Dresses, pants, suits, and ties, on the other hand, are worn all over the world, but their origin is in Western civilization. Their purpose is to accentuate the bodily concept of life, so they are correctly referred to as “karmi clothes.” Clothes do not make the man, but the connotation of this expression would incorrectly indicate that a devotee so attired has become a fruitive worker, which, I hope, is not the case.
It would not be appropriate at all to wear “karmi clothes” on the altar, even if one were a pure devotee of Krishna. And our Krishna consciousness is strengthened by appearing as a vaisnava in terms of outward dress whenever possible. Srila Prabhupada approved of devotees dressing as a gentleman with suit and tie, but at the same time, he did not want us to neglect wearing neck beads, carrying a bead bag and sporting a sikha, or flag, as he called it. I have even heard that he once suggested wearing a suit jacket on top of a dhoti. So, preaching is not hampered by wearing Western dress, and one’s results may even be greater in terms of books distributed and donations received.
So I am inclined to use the terms “devotional attire” and “Western dress” as our two alternatives, based primarily on the original purpose of their design.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Sep 8, 2011 @ 4:24 am
According to my recollection, it was forty years ago to the day, on the occasion of Holy Radhastami, that I travelled from Paris to London to receive brahminical initiation and the sacred thread from the hand of Krishna’s pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. I was also carrying three sets of beads for him to chant on for new initiates, two young men and one young lady, who received the names Jaya Krishna, Jaya Balarama and Jaya Subhadra.
To have had the personal association of Srila Prabhupada, even if only for a single moment, was sufficient to awaken all auspiciousness in our hearts. In my own case, to have acted as his trancendental courrier, I felt at the time that the purpose of ths human form of life had been completely fulfilled.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Sep 4, 2011 @ 8:27 pm
Thank you, Visakha Priya mataji, for pointing out that we have no formal record of Srila Prabhupada stating that 50% of his work was unfinished. In the conversation you referred to (Vrndavana Oct. 9, 1977), devotees were imploring the spiritual master to remain another ten years, not just to complete the Srimad Bhagavatam, Cantos 10, 11, and 12, but to lead the Krishna consciousness movement until it became known as the world religion.
It is a fact that Srila Prabhupada noted, if the Krishna consciousness movement were to continue to grow at it’s current pace at the time (like wildfire), it would become the world’s leading religion within ten years. (In this regard, he sometimes referred to the victory of the Pandavas in eighteen days, saying that if we preached sincerely, we could similarly take over the world in eighteen days.) Brahmananda and others were hoping Srila Prabhupada would survive to see the opening of the Bombay temple and the installation of Radha Rasa Bihari as well as the opening of Prabhupada’s very own Palace in New Vrndavana.
Srila Prabhupada’s response to Brahmananda’s statement that 50% of his work was not finished was “No.” Whatever work he completed is what was ordained by the Supreme Lord. The next phase of spreading Lord Caitanya’s movement is what was left, by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, for his disciples to carry out, and that is the way it has been with all great acaryas in our line. A disciple should not think the spiritual master, who is a pure devotee of Krishna, did not finish what he set out to do. Rather, we should be thinking about Lord Caitanya’s mission to spread love of God and understand what part we are meant to play in it.
It was predicted that he would cross an ocean and open 108 temples for Krishna. His mission was also to write many books explaining the science of self-realization and Krishna consciousness. To the amazement of the entire world, he achieved all of these things beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. With Rathayatra festivals and Deity installations worldwide, the training of his Western disciples to an exalted brahminical standard, the translation and distribution of his books in all of the major languages of the world, and his success in spreading the chanting of Krishna’s Holy Name, all these mark the greatest accomplishment that has ever taken place during the lifetime of any saintly person in human history. Mission accomplished.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 10, 2011 @ 9:50 pm
The Sri Mayapur International School offers one of the best opportunities on the planet for a child to be trained in Krishna consciousness. That is why I decided last year to help sponsor the education of one of the children attending the school.
It is often quite difficult for devotee parents to raise the funds required for private school tuition, especially if they have more than one school-age child. Because we are a society of vaisnavas, every member of that society should feel responsible for the welfare of all of its other members. When devotees display the quality of compassion towards one another through acts of kindness, Krishna is attracted to bestow His blessings upon that society. So let us show our concern for the future of the children who are the flower of this movement by supporting this school.
Our movement has the power to change the course of history as long as its members remain pure in their motives and chaste in their behavior. The Sri Mayapur International School is safeguarding the future of our society by transmitting the pure teachings of Srila Prabhupada to the next generation and by training them in all of the transcendental arts. A most worthy endeavor, indeed!
One of the principles taught by Srila Prabhupada was that the blind man would help the lame man to walk, while the lame man would help the blind man to see. Whoever can make the financial sacrifice
should consider donating to this cause as a sponsor or partial sponsor of one child’s education. That child will then have a chance to perfect his or her life, living in the holy land of Sri Mayapur dhama.
That same child, later in life, will remember with gratitude the support and encouragement that came from the society of devotees during those formative years. This bond between the generations will solidify the society as a whole based on love and trust.
Though no one has requested that I make this appeal, I urge all devotees to visit the website shown at the bottom of the above article and inquire about how you can support this most important project.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jun 14, 2011 @ 9:04 pm
(continued from comment #2)
Pusta Krishna prabhu in comment #1 suggests that the disagreement between Bangalore and Mumbai should never have come before the civil judicial system. I agree wholeheartedly. Seven years ago, I was called to testify in a court case that had two camps of devotees pitted against one another, very similar to the situation under discussion here. I was questioned by attorneys representing both sides and I responded truthfully without considering who would be helped or who would object to my statements.
As vaisnavas trained by Srila Prabhupada, we must always stand on the side of truth.
From the witness stand I could see devotees who were all of the opinion that they were fighting to preserve Srila Prabhupada’s legacy, but as I left the courtroom my only thought was how disappointed Srila Prabhupada must be that the future of one of the temples of ISKCON was in the hands of a judge who had no understanding of the message of Krishna consciousness or appreciation for the work of ISKCON’s founder acarya.
Srila Prabhupada once wrote to Malati in London:
“We have so much work to do, we cannot lose our solidarity. Do not cause a crack there with any fighting spirit or competition. Whenever I hear complaints or disturbances in our centers my mind becomes too much disturbed and I cannot properly translate my books. So please spare me from such disturbance by cooperating all together Godbrothers and Godsisters.” (Letter dated 1-7-74)
At this late stage, one might think it is not possible to withdraw the Mumbai/Bangalore case from the state judicial system, but didn’t the judge himself recommend that the proper solution could be found by an out-of -court meeting of the minds between the parties? Was that not Krishna speaking through the judge? The Mumbai and Bangalore devotees should show their spiritual meddle by immediately embracing the judge’s advice, understanding that Krishna was using the judge as His instrument to end this strife before it permanently cripples the mission of the vaisnava acaryas to spread love of Krishna throughout the world, to every town and village.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jun 21, 2011 @ 2:48 am
I don’t think anyone would make the claim that it was not Srila Prabhupada’s intention for the GBC to act as the ultimate managerial authority in ISKCON. The debate is actually whether the GBC has been representing the will of the founder acarya as a transparent via medium. The next question is whether the GBC is endowed with absolute authority if they are not fully transparent in representing the will of Srila Prabhupada.
I would not want to make this forum a battleground where the authority of the current management of ISKCON is challenged. Instead, I would only like to suggest how the leadership of the movement should handle dissension and discord.
The onus is upon the empowered leaders to maintain unity within the society. To do so, all of the members should be treated with decency and the utmost respect. Everyone should have the right to voice an opinion without the prospect of ostracism. Each devotee should feel that the house that Srila Prabhupada built — ISKCON — is their home. The GBC and temple managers are responsible for creating this mood of acceptance based on the principle of unity with diversity. They should not expect or force individuals to all think alike. Where intelligent people assemble to serve the Supreme Lord, there will always be differences of opinion, but those different viewpoints must be reconciled by leaders who submit to the guiding hand of the Lord within the heart.
So how are we to deal with dissenters? Srila Prabhupada once wrote to Mukunda in London (letter dated 11-6-73):
“Another request I have to you is that there have now been two instances of when somebody does not agree, you try to get them out by calling the police. This is never to be done…. With great difficulty we get a man. We have to reform them. Our business is to become sympathetic to fallen souls. So in future do not do it. Everything should be done amicably.”
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jun 15, 2011 @ 5:01 am
Thanks, Maharaja, but it is only by your blessings that I am able to explain what has been missed
by so many interpreters of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on future initiations. I firmly believe our best bet is to simply accept the terminology Srila Prabhupada himself introduced when discussing the matter in Vrndavana with his GBC select committee. His recommendation to have initiations performed by officiating acaryas, had we followed it from the beginning, would have allowed us to avoid the conflict of non-parallel lines of authority which have been a source of confusion for devotees for the past three decades.
If you will be attending the New York Rathayatra, which takes place in a little less than two weeks, perhaps we can discuss the subject in greater depth. Hoping to have your association again, I remain
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 31, 2011 @ 2:25 pm
I am hoping that once the lawsuit between the camps is settled, both sides will try to work toward
brotherly reconciliation. In this bitter legal battle, vicious attacks have come from both ISKCON Mumbai and ISKCON Bangalore, criticism filled with hostility and malice. I agree with Akruranatha prabhu that both parties should take the high road and call for an end to the kind of divisive remarks and behavior that has hampered the possibility of cooperation among godbrothers for a decade.
The first undertaking in reconciliation is to find the common ground, which is faith in and obedience to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. Then, the parties will need to iron out their differences of interpretation, particularly concerning the role of the GBC and initiation protocols.
The GBC must find a way to lovingly convince the Bangalore residents of Srila Prabhupada’s intentions with regard to how initiations should be conducted in his physical absence. This was actually clearly stated in the May 28, 1977 discussion with the GBC.
Question: These ritvik acaryas, they are officiating, giving diksa. The people who they give diksa to —
whose disciples are they?
Srila Prabhupada: They are his disciples.
This exchange refers specifically to that time when Srila Prabhupada would no longer be present.
Those giving diksa would be acting as officiating acaryas, and those receiving diksa from them would be their disciples. Srila Prabhupada did not say, “They are my disciples,” which is what ritvik ideologists want us to believe he said. The conversation continues:
Question: They are his disciples?
Srila Prabhupada: Who is initiating. He’s grand-disciple.
“Who is initiating” refers to the officiating acarya who is giving diksa. Those who receive diksa from him are his initiated disciples and Srila Prabhupada’s grand-disciples. These were the words spoken by Srila Prabhupada and there is no need to further interpret that which has been clearly stated by the Acarya.
Let this be the foundation upon which we finally establish a common understanding of how Srila Prabhupada wanted future initiations to be carried out. With the world in the situation in which it finds itself, it is high time devotees throughout the movement set aside their differences by coming together to propagate Krishna consciousness for the pleasure of His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 27, 2011 @ 5:55 pm
In a letter to Karandhara dated 9-26-76, Srila Prabhupada wrote:
“If you make 2,500 mrdangas per year, that is very good, then distribute to the whole of American people. ”
Srila Prabhupada was very enthusiastic about us devotees manufacturing our own drums. I remember hearing of his impression at the time, that they were already 90% perfected, and that was thirty-five years ago.
I left Amsterdam to open a temple in Tel Aviv right after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance in 1977.
The Balarama drum I had ordered from Los Angeles arrived just days before our departure. What a blessing! These drums have great resonance for street kirtana. We need to train hundreds of devotees and fire them up to again take the transcendental sound of sri mrdanga to the streets of all the great cities of the world. This is the mandate given to us by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu via His empowered representative, Srila Prabhupada.
After more than forty years of playing mrdanga on the streets of cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv,
Geneva, London and New York, I am feeling a little tired these days after just ninety minutes of pounding the pavement with the transcendental Sankirtana party. I find myself asking, “Where is the next generation of street Harinam Sankirtana mrdanga players going to come from? Who will take the baton and carry on the tradition of daily Harinam?”
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 27, 2011 @ 7:11 pm
I like that, Akruranatha Prabhu — The printing press is the great amplifier of written kirtana.
And it was invented right around the time of Lord Caitanya’s presence, if I’m not mistaken.
In New Mayapur, France, there is no amplification at all during mangala artik (sweet!), but in the Brooklyn temple, the amplification during mangala artik is deafening! I mean really painful. At least it was so when I lived there for a few months in 1998.
I once attended a Rathayatra in London (must have been in the seventies), and there was no amplification of the kirtana. Instead, we had six devotees lead the kirtana in one voice. As I recall, we chanted Srila Prabhupada’s favorite tune the whole way and everyone responded blissfully.
On Saturday night in New York City, we also use no amplification. We just sing very loud, and people are attracted to join in.
I recall how, in 1972, the authorities in Geneva, Switzerland ordered us to stop playing musical instruments on Sankirtana. We continued to chant daily in the town square, but with hand-clapping only. That was a real test of our spiritual meddle.
As for double amplification, it is not required. I think Krishna wants to hear all of the devotees’ responding to the lead singer. But, if you have thousands of visitors passing through the temple room
as does occur in Mayapur, and just a few devotees chanting, I could see having the response miked up so there would be no gap in the vibration of transcendental sound. However, the response certainly should not be louder than the lead singer.
As far as loudness is concerned, kirtana should be performed tastefully. Our NYC outdoor kirtana was measured by the police department at 93 decibels, and no one seemed to be complaining. But if you are getting up to jackhammer, rock concert or jet engine range, it might be a good idea to tone it down a bit. I’ve got a 25% hearing loss, mainly of higher pitched sounds. I wouldn’t say, though, it is the result of being in the nucleus of so many kirtanas over the years. What it means practically is that I don’t hear many things spoken by women, which some would call special mercy.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 6, 2011 @ 4:02 pm
I have to say that I find Sitadasi’s arguments, taken as a whole, to be an irrefutable presentation as to why women in ISKCON should not give diksa, no matter how qualified they are to give siksa. I would like to think that the GBC vote on this issue was not unanimous, and that dissenters presented strong arguments against the resolution just as Sitadasi has done here. At best, it was a controversial decision
insofar as it does not appear to have been based on a direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada.
The need for gurus in ISKCON really means there is a need to increase the number of full-time preachers. Those preachers can be women or men, without distinction. Srila Prabhupada was adamant about only men entering the sannyasa order. He was also adamant about women living
under the direction of a male authority. He never appointed any woman to give diksa, either to initiate on his behalf while he was present, or to initiate disciples of her own at that time when he would no longer be physically present.
We have to be very careful not to overstep the intentions of the founder acarya. There is a tendency to overrule his instructions based on what may have been written by a previous acarya under different circumstances, or on the basis of a statement found in a scripture that Srila Prabhupada did not comment upon. We should not enact resolutions that introduce manufactured ideas as new ISKCON policy. If we consider Srila Prabhupada’s statement that the spiritual master is a resident of the spiritual world, we may want to re-think the role of the initiators in our movement and the nomination and approval procedures we follow in their selection.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 29, 2011 @ 6:08 pm
My obeisances unto you. All glories to His Divine Grace! You and I go back a long way. We did travelling Sankirtana together in France thirty years ago, and you were the party leader. When it came time to return to Paris, our driver, Mahabala prabhu, became quite ill and you asked me to step up and drive the vehicle. Within about ten minutes, I had an accident with a car that was making an illegal turn. The devotees were having prasadam at the time and when I slammed on the brakes to avoid a crash, everyone’s prasadam went flying all over the front and back seat. I just wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for ruining everyone’s prasadam experience and for damaging your van. I believe Mahabala prabhu, despite his high fever, ended up driving the rest of the way.
I’m happy to see you are still in the fire of preaching Krishna consciousness, reminding us of Srila Prabhupada’s desire to see everyone in the world engaged in Krishna’s service. I always found you to be a strict follower of His Divine Grace yet kind to others, just as he was.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 29, 2011 @ 5:25 pm
Thank you, Sitadasi, for your response to my comment #35. The statement, “of course a woman can give diksa,” was actually proposed “tongue in cheek” because we would not expect that there would
come a time when not a single male devotee would be present somewhere in the Hare Krishna world qualified to give diksa. You may have taken the word “present” to mean present locally, but it was actually meant to mean present globally.
In the verse kiba vipra kiba nyasi sudra kene naya, the qualification to act as guru is that one must be conversant with the science of Krishna. A woman can be fully Krishna conscious and as knowledgeable
as a man in the science of God.
In a letter to Vaikunthanatha prabhu and Saradia Dasi, Srila Prabhupada authorized the wife, who had been brahmana initiated, to speak the Gayatri mantra into the right ear of her husband. She was also authorized to perform the fire sacrifice.
“I am enclosing herewith your sacred thread, duly chanted on by me. Gayatri mantra is as follows:
[Sanskrit]. Ask your wife to chant this mantra and you hear it and if possible, hold a fire ceremony as you have seen during your marriage and get this sacred thread on your body. Saradia, or any twice-initiated devotee, may perform the ceremony.” (dated 4-4-71)
We may have our conception of what is permitted by the rules of vaisnava etiquette, but Srila Prabhupada revealed to us in this instruction to two of his disciples who had traveled to a remote area to open a temple that necessity sometimes requires that we adapt certain rules according to existing circumstances so that the Krishna consciousness movement might be pushed forward.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 27, 2011 @ 6:33 am
Of course a woman can give diksa, but it is only permitted in situations where no male present is qualified to act as diksa guru. Has the situation in ISKCON deteriorated to that extent?
The real work of preaching Krishna consciousness can be carried out by both men and women. Women can be just as qualified or even more qualified to preach. It is a question of being conversant with the science of Krishna and of surrendering to the order of the spiritual master, of maintain one’s purity and working cooperatively with others to spread this movement.
We say preaching is the essence. We don’t say performing the formalities of giving diksa is the essence.
Krishna conscious solutions to practical issues are usually very simple. Whenever possible, we should quickly resolve controversies because otherwise they become divisive and distract us from the real work of spreading the glories of Lord Krishna by breaking the society of devotees into unworkable factions. Taking the example of Mother Urmila, a vaisnavi advanced in spiritual realization, she should be encouraged to preach Krishna consciousness and to enlighten devotees concerning the education of children. Her expertise in this area is sorely needed throughout the movement. When the time comes for her students to take diksa, Mother Urmila can present them to an authorized initiator who will perform the ceremony, give spiritual names, chant on the beads or in the case of second initiates, chant on the thread. By officiating in this way, the giver of diksa does not disturb the siksa relationship between Mother Urmila and her students. If Mother Urmila agrees to this arrangement, we have solved one of the many controversies that currently distract devotees from the joyful and unbridled practice of Krishna consciousness.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 7, 2011 @ 5:55 am
The men are weak. The women are weak. We are all weak as we stand before Krishna. He is the strength of the strong, and the source of our spiritual strength, as well. It is a symptom of spiritual strength that a man or woman will preach Krishna consciousness with the purpose of uplifting a misdirected materialistic civilization. Externally, that is the objective of the Hare Krishna movement.
Internally, our purpose is simply to please Krishna by our words, thoughts and actions, and to awaken our transcendental love for Him.
It is my understanding that Srila Prabhupada’s instructions concerning how initiations would be conducted when he would no longer be physically present were to a large extent managerial in nature.
Of course, to give diksa one must be qualified to act as guru, but Srila Prabhupada was also concerned with sustaining the role of leadership of his GBC to maintain order within the Society.
We previously pointed out that in ISKCON, the managerial role of women is that they direct from behind the scenes, whereas the men present themselves as managing externally (publicly). The role of the acarya includes the giving of diksa and the acceptance of disciples as Krishna’s representative
and as the official link to the guru parampara. This public role of leadership of a spiritual movement
could not possibly have been meant for female devotees to occupy since their role, according to Srila Prabhupada, is to manage internally, not externally (publicly).
If women as a class are more easily than men taken advantage of, duped or misguided, they must remain under the protection of qualified male leaders. For our GBC to authorize women to give diksa is a subtle admission that the men are not qualified to do so themselves. We don’t see women who follow Vedic principles and are of ksatriya stock, for example, fighting on the battlefield’s front line. Nor do we hear of the women of Vrndavana switching roles with the men so they can tend the cows. Nor would the wife of a sudra do the extra heavy lifting in the presence of her husband. Similarly, the position of initiator within our movement will be most effectively executed by male leaders who exhibit acarya-like qualities. Their wives may assist them in those duties to the extent to which they themselves are suitably qualified.
All in my humble opinion.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 18, 2011 @ 6:09 pm
It has been made clear by citing Srila Prabhupada’s instructions that women are not barred from giving class in local temples. In fact, it should be strongly encouraged in the case of any woman who is so inclined.
I mentioned in a previous comment that giving class in Mayapur is a somewhat different situation. Those who decide who will be asked to give class must make their decision based not only on vaisnava etiquette (senior-most sannyasis first) but also by determining which speakers will inspire the assembled devotees to push forward this movement. I believe that asking a woman to give the Bhagavatam class in Mayapur breaches the etiquette of the festival. Giving Bhagavad-gita class or conducting a special seminar or workshop at the festival might be more appropriate.
The morning class in Mayapur is also about establishing the leadership of the movement. Devotees coming from all over the world want the reassurance that the movement is in good hands. They attend the Bhagavatam class to be preached to and to feel inspired to give their lives to Krishna.
According to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on the activities of devotee women, they do not function independently. I therefore agree that to ask a woman to give the all-important Srimad Bhagavatam class during the Mayapur festival sends a subtle message that we no longer accept this social norm. It makes the men look weak, and I can understand why women would feel unprotected when the free speech and equal rights tenet of modern society is thrust upon the traditional hearers of Bhagavata philosophy in the Holy Dhama. We have to take into account the time, place and circumstances in our decision making process. We have to be very careful not to allow the modern values of a mundane civilization to distract us from following the time-honored values transmitted by Krishna’s pure devotee.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 2, 2011 @ 4:51 pm
Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to Harivilas prabhu who was the president of the Paris temple at the time (1971-2) informing him of his plan to send two sannyasis to each zone to preach for one year. Soon thereafter, Bhagavan das and Indradyumna das, both grhasthsas, arrived in France.
Srila Prabhupada’s intention was to firmly establish the Krishna consciousness movement by having his leading preachers set up headquarters in centers throughout the world. Of course, in our society special respect is due the members of the sannyasa asrama, but preaching can be carried out by any devotee who is surrendered to the spiritual master and conversant with the science of Krishna. The Supreme Lord can empower anyone, male or female, sannyasi or grhastha, to speak on His behalf. Anyone who displays acarya-like symptoms can address the assembled devotees in class, at Sunday feast lectures or speak at any other public event.
The question then becomes, “Can women manifest all acarya-like qualities and can they therefore be offered the same opportunities to preach as sannyasis or other senior men, or are their preaching opportunities limited by vaisnava etiquette and social norms?”
In a local temple, the etiquette may be a litle different than at the Mayapur festival. A sannyasi in charge of a temple actually should want to hear class given by anyone who regularly preaches to the devotees, just to verify that the philosophy propounded by them is accurately parampara. The leader will also want the devotees under his jurisdiction to develop as preachers and that means giving them every opportunity to speak as representatives of the disciplic succession, giving Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita classes, included.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 2, 2011 @ 4:10 pm
The preaching situation in Mayapur during the Gaura Purnima festival is quite different from any other ISKCON temple. Devotees travel thousands of miles to hear from and associate with the most advanced leaders of our movement in the Holy Dhama. It is an august assembly, and those who are chosen to give class are expected to represent the entire parampara as they transmit the message of vairagya vidya nija bhakti yoga. The speaker of Bhagavatam in Mayapur at festival time must inspire the devotees to surrender fully at the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna, push forward the Sankirtana movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and further convince them to adhere to the instructions and assimilate the teachings of our founder acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
It is expected that those devotees who are situated in the sannyasa asrama, who are members of the GBC or who initiate disciples will be especially empowered in the above-mentioned way. But, insofar as we are in the midst of Kali yuga, we should always expect to see anomalies. Who is actually empowered is decided by Krishna, and it is by His will only that one is given the opportunity to render such confidential service, for empowered preachers are most dear to the Lord.
“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.” (B.g. 18.68)
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”
We do not know who asked a woman devotee to speak on the Bhagavatam in Mayapur, nor who approved or disapproved. All we know is that not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Lord.
Personally, I believe it to have been a decision made without regard for kala, desa, patra — time, place and circumstance. Not that Mother Urmila is not a qualified speaker. She certainly is, but if there were devotee sages and saintly leaders present who were slighted and not properly acknowledged according to vaisnava etiquette by being asked to give class, it is possible that the purpose of giving or attending Bhagavatam class that day was defeated even before the class began.
All in my humble opinion.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jul 20, 2011 @ 6:18 am
I joined the Krishna consciousness movement in Paris in 1970, but it was not until the summer of 1972 that, with the kind help of the French Department of Justice, I was able to first return to the United States at no personal expense. My destination of choice was the ISKCON Henry Street temple in Brooklyn, New York, the abode of Their Most Beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Radha Govinda.
The first morning program I attended culminated with a Srimad Bhagavatam class given by a female devotee whose name I later learned was Jadurani. I thought her knowledge of sastra was unparalleled, and her presentation included many personal experiences and instructions she had received directly from Srila Prabhupada. She was in the weekly rotation with Jayadvaita brahmacari, Bali Mardan Maharaja and perhaps two or three other senior preachers.
On one occasion, Jadurani was seated on the asana giving class and a young sannyasi was sitting amongst the assembled devotees. I guess no one had thought to invite him to speak in Jadurani’s place, but after listening to her explanation of the verse for a few minutes, the sannyasi raised his hand and was acknowledged by the speaker. From that point forward, he began to expound on the meaning of the Bhagavatam verse and Srila Prabhupada’s purport which he appeared to be very familiar with. Meanwhile, from the asana, Jadurani listened most respectfully as did the assembled devotees, eager to hear the comments of Srila Prabhupada’s most recently initiated sannyasi.
I believe we all realized that a breach of etiquette had occurred. It is not that a sannyasi cannot listen to a female speaker of Bhagavata philosophy, but the sannyasi must first be offered the opportunity to speak out of respect for the asrama and his renounced status.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jul 20, 2011 @ 5:15 am
Kudos to Mother Sitadasi for her comment #350. I consider it the most insightful comment on a social issue I have seen posted anywhere on the Internet by a follower of Srila Prabhupada in a very long time. Her powerful conclusion
“Superficially it may seem women are being honoured by giving them equal facility but in fact, it is an insult both to the sannyasis it dishonours and to the women it misleads.”
is brilliantly succinct and should be posted everywhere for ISKCON devotees to read, discuss and assimilate. IMHO
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jul 20, 2011 @ 4:29 am
It is a fact that Srila Prabhupada differentiated between the roles performed by men and women in management. In a letter to Yamuna dated 9-16-70, he wrote:
“The girls should manage internally and the boys should manage externally. Be always engaged in this way and become happy.”
Yamuna Dasi was personally trained by Srila Prabhupada in different areas of devotional service. She was sent to Vrndavana with her husband to develop that project on the same principle, that the women would manage internally and the men externally. Years later, when she started a rural project on her own, Srila Prabhupada arranged for her to work under the authority of the nearby GBC, not independently.
So I would have to agree somewhat with Sitadevi, that the role of women in management does not include sitting on the GBC, nor should a woman act as an initiating spiritual master. According to Srila Prabhupada, a woman cannot travel all over the world as could a sannyasi, because she could easily be taken advantage of. Nor can she chant on the brahmana thread when awarding second initiation to men.
When it comes to preaching, which is the real essence of guruship, there is no limitation for a woman, depending upon her qualifications. In ISKCON, our sannyasis and brahmacaris are on the transcendental platform, and it does not disturb them to watch youg women perform Indian dance
on stage or to see attractive women dancing in front of the Sankirtana procession. So why would they be bothered by listening to a detached, senior vaisnavi explain the phlosophy of the Bhagavatam?
I would not go so far as to say that the GBC is offending Srila Prabhupada by their experiment to have women manage externally. I believe they are just a bit overly concerned with comments about the leadership being gender biased.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 9, 2011 @ 3:23 pm
It appears that this is the tail-end of an interesting discussion on the role of women preachers in ISKCON. I recall that when I attended the Mayapur/Vrndavana festival in 1976, the morning Bhagavatam classes werre given by Srila Prabhupada and the evening Bhagavad-gita classes were given primarily by his sannyasa disciples. In the presence of such an august assembly, and due to the
usual time restraints, women did not have the opportunity to recite the Sanskrit verses after the men as was done in all other ISKCON temples at the time. Now, thirty-five years later, a senior devotee in a female body is speaking the philosophy of Krishna consciousness from the seat of Vyasa to that same assembly in Mayapur. How the times have changed!
I understand that ISKCON management has resolved that advanced women devotees may be permitted to initiate disciples. It follows that if a senior Vaisnavi is deemed qualified to give diksa, she must also be qualified to speak on the Bhagavatam! I heard Mother Urmila speak many years ago on the education of devotee children in the New York temple’s Srila Prabhupada Memorial Museum. Her dedication and sincerity could not be missed, and she was gifted by Krishna with excellent skills with which to present her realizations. It comes as no surprise that the leaders of ISKCON wanted her to have the opportunity to address a worldwide audience.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Apr 29, 2011 @ 5:59 pm
This comment is found in a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to Visvakarma prabhu in Toronto:
“No, you may not serve decaffeinated coffee in the restaurant.”
(Letter dated 11-19-76)
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Dec 31, 2010 @ 7:32 am
Mother Ratnavali’s diary is a human interest story for devotees. We are trying to understand the phenomenon from the standpoint of sastra and through the teachings of our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. Devotees learned in the (not so perfect) science of astrology seem to perceive validity in the belief that Ratnavali mataji is the same spirit soul as Raghava das brahmacari — a young man who was becoming accustomed to celibate life distracted by a member of the opposite sex, then dying in an untimely fashion and coming back as a woman. Plausible, to say the least.
I don’t question her recollection of past events, even from a previous lifetime, but what I do question is why her spiritual authorities would recommend the speculative procedure of past life regression as if it were a bona fide method by which a devotee might resolve deep personal issues. And to tell a disciple, “There is no doubt that in your previous life you were a brahmacary doing Harinam Sankirtana,” sounds to me like guess work being presented to a neophyte devotee as encouragement in spiritual life.
Ratnavali’s enthusiasm for Sankirtana is what is most inspiring about her story. It is exemplary. Our movement would explode if we all caught Sankirtana fever from devotees like Mother Ratnavali. If she were to join my Harinam party, I think though I would have her play karatalas instead. The mrdanga and karatalas were Lord Caitanya’s weapons of choice, and I prefer to follow tradition rather than introduce instruments that are not part of our vaisnava heritage and which cover up the purifying transcendental sound vibration of the mrdanga drum.
Personally, I do not recommend dwelling on the circumstances of one’s past life because it can hinder one’s performance of the activities recommended for us in the present life. Taken a step further,
or many steps further, one could even imagine what one’s identity was before coming to the material world and then begin artificially to think and act in that role prematurely, without becoming fully Krishna conscious. I believe Srila Prabhupada would not have paid much attention to this story of past lives but would see to it that we were focusing on the mission at hand which is to spread the chanting of the Holy Name to every town and village.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Oct 17, 2010 @ 4:40 am
Beautiful words spoken in glorification of our spiritual master are the ambrosia of transcendental life. Srila Prabhupada is an ocean of mercy and we, his followers, should always act as representatives of the ocean of mercy. Our society was never meant to become a field of fault-finding but rather a field of forgiveness and understanding.
In his humility, Srila Prabhupada said, “Do not trust me. I may also let you down. Trust Krishna. He will never let you down,” but the truth is that Srila Prabhupada could be trusted as much as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as Krishna asked Arjuna to declare boldly that His devotee would never be vanquished, it is because the pure devotee always keeps his word of honor that we can trust him fully and without reservation.
Today, we must all repose our absolute faith in the teachings of our spiritual master, for his words are not different from the words of the Supreme Lord. We cannot go directly to Krishna on our own strength. We have to catch ahold of the lotus feet of His pure representative who will take us to Krishna. Just one
moment’s association with such a great personality is sufficient to start us off on the path leading to perfection.
The time has come for godbrothers to join together under the banner of love and trust. Srila Prabhupada will not take pride in the work we do separately as much as in what we achieve collectively through cooperative endeavor. Setting aside all feelings of sectarianism and separatism, it is our agreement to honor Srila Prabhupada as the deliverer of his many generations of followers that will forever bind us together as a family. The eternal father, our beloved spiritual master, is waiting to see whether we can
turn the words of our Vyasa Puja offerings into positive action and begin to lead the world in the direction of the Lord’s abode beyond the realm of illusion. No matter what other affiliations we may have cultivated over the years, we must reaffirm and reassure one another that the role Srila Prabhupada plays in our lives remains to this day the central point of our existence, and that is the unifying principle of the Hare Krishna movement.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Sep 6, 2010 @ 9:20 pm
As soon as I arrived at New Mayapur on August 5th to attend the Kulimela, the first thing I was told by devotees was that Citra mataji had left her body. Two weeks after the incident, devotees were still visibly shaken.
No one can be happy if they consider themselves to be a burden on society. No matter how much service one has done in the past, unless one is on a very elevated platform, we all need to be actively engaged in service for the mind to be peacefully absorbed in thoughts of Krishna.
There is no doubt that the role of responsible devotees is to see to it that those around them are blissfully rendering devotional service to the Lord. If that is not the case, there are many signs that a devotee is experiencing difficulty. Depressing thoughts are the product of an unbridled mind that has come under the sway of the lower modes of nature. If this problem is brought to your attention, you must see it as Krishna’s arrangement for you to help His dear servant and bring him or her back to the blissful life of Krishna consciousness.
If depression persists over an extended period of time, one’s thoughts can become suicidal. A devotee has to be totally fixed in the understanding that suicide is one of the last snares of nescience, thinking that my misery will end with the death of this body.
Life is very dear, and the devotee who lives in this world purifies it by his presence. As the population of our movement ages, we must encourage one another to make whatever contribution we are capable of
to the propagation of Krishna consciousness. Proving to the world that one can remain a devotee throughout one’s entire life is in itself a great contribution. We should allow Krishna to reveal His plan to us with regard to how and when we will naturally leave this world. That would be most auspicious.
Devotees are compassionate by nature. We should let that compassion shine through by appreciating and caring for the devotees in our midst who are most vulnerable. Just as we say, “No one should go hungry in a ten mile radius of our temples,” similarly, no devotee should be left to feel isolated and neglected within a ten, fifty, or hundred mile radius of our centers. This is one of the benefits of developing a congregation of devotees and friends of devotees, that they can look after one another’s welfare, both material and spiritual. The temple itself is the spiritual hub, and the compassion of the devotees should expand outwardly in waves.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 27, 2010 @ 7:15 pm
A fitting tribute to a great Vaisnava and dearmost friend of the devotees. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the servants of the Holy Name at the Krishna Balarama mandir who will keep Aindra prabhu’s dream alive by continuing the twenty-four hour kirtana at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Aug 18, 2010 @ 3:31 pm
There is an even simpler explanation of the May 28th, 1977 conversation and the July 9th letter.
The July 9th letter presents a list of eleven disciples of Srila Prabhupada and refers to them as ritvik representatives of the acarya. The acarya is the actual initiator, so during Srila Prabhupada’s lifetime,
anyone initiated by himself or by a ritvik representative would be a direct disciple of His Divine Grace.
The term officiating acarya was introduced by Srila Prabhupada when he was asked about initiations that would be conducted particularly at that time when he would no longer be present. In other words,
when he would no longer be physically present, the initiators would then be Srila Prabhupada’s disciples acting as officiating acaryas and those receiving diksa from them would be Srila Prabhupada’s grand disciples. In order to act as an officiating acarya and for initiations to be effective
in linking the new disciple to the Vaisnava Sampradaya, the initiator would have to have all of the qualities of a regular guru.
Srila Prabhupada did not ever say that his disciples were already acting as officiating acaryas during
his lifetime because the word acarya would have indicated that his disciples were initiating disciples of their own. Pancaratna Prabhu has stated that “After he leaves, the disciples are of the officiating acarya,” with which I totally agree. The question is, “When will we start referring to those devotees who give initiation as officiating acaryas?” It is a very exalted position of service and the term specifically chosen by our founder acarya to designate those who would initiate disciples in ISKCON in the future.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On Jul 22, 2010 @ 10:39 am
Let’s remember that Krishna was preaching to Arjuna, not giving him diksa. Arjuna became His regular disciple. So why do we classify those who give diksa in our movement as “authorized ISKCON gurus?” What about those who simply preach Krishna consciousness, who are conversant with the science of Krishna and who inspire others to place their faith in Krishna? Because the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the generations of His followers was to deliver the message of the Bhagavad-gita to the world, those who follow strictly and who preach are also authorized to act as guru. In no way are they unauthorized.
Who should give diksa in our movement? It must be those who are most acarya-like. We need many more preachers than we need initiators. We also need devotees who can manage the preaching effort.
Young devotees as well as older devotees need to see that in the future there is the promise of increased service. Each leader has a zone, and within his zone, the GBC man is responsible for the advancement in spiritual consciousness of the entire population, not just of those he has initiated. There can be no small-mindedness when it comes to delivering the fallen conditioned souls. Vasudeva Datta set the standard for such universal compassion.
Srila Prabhupada is our jagad guru. Regular gurus must be the transparent via medium to Srila Prabhupada. It is explained in the Nectar of Devotion that the guru’s role is to train others to follow in the footsteps of the great acarya. Therefore, the duty of a leader in ISKCON is to see that everyone is nicely engaged in Krishna’s service, that devotees are working together cooperatively to push forward the movement and that they are following the program of sadhana chalked out by our founder acarya. The leader must communicate Srila Prabhupada’s vision to Srila Prabhupada’s followers. He must also observe first hand that by proper training, devotees are learning the skills necessary to propagate Krishna consciousness successfully and that the content of their preaching is parampara, i.e., in line with the understanding imparted by Srila Prabhupada.
So let the new devotee become fixed up in the philosophy that he is not this body (B.g., Chapter Two), fixed up in street chanting, book distribution, assisting in the kitchen and in cleaning the temple, and when he is ready to take the next step, he will be recommended by his temple president to receive diksa from an authorized initiator within ISKCON.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 21, 2010 @ 9:15 am
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I very much appreciate the comments that have been posted here by senior, experience devotees. I think we are all interested in seeing the expansion of the Krishna consciousness movement through the agency of the institution Srila Prabhupada founded. The crux of the issue concerning initiations is how the giving of diksa should be managed within the context of a worldwide movement without causing a disruption to the smooth running of the temples and our overall preaching programs.
I am very much attracted to the description given in the Caitanya caritamrita of Raghunath dasa’s initiation by Yadunandana Acarya, a personal associate of Lord Caitanya and disciple of Vasudeva Datta. There it is said that Yadunandana Acarya was the “official initiator spiritual master” of Raghunath dasa. This fits very well within the ISKCON framework where it is the founder acarya who is the agent of divine grace and by whose mercy we will be relocated back to the abode of Krishna.
The essence of our movement is its outreach preaching programs — Harinam Sankirtana, transcendental book distribution, Hare Krishna Festivals, prasadam distribution, Rathayatra and so on. And to remain spiritually fit and empowered to preach, devotees have their sadhana program of regular hearing and chanting before the Deities in the association of the vaisnavas.
The more emphasis is placed on the choosing of one’s guru, the more the gurus will feel encouraged to canvas for new recruits. They will think this is what is being asked of them. Subsequently, they will spend their time in places where they have disciples or where there is the possibility of making more disciples. I believe the real focus should be on training up new members who join our movement in devotional arts and vaisnava skills. These new devotees should be filling our temples, but instead, we have the same temple devotee population that was present ten years ago.
Along with the principle of “I will choose my own guru to initiate me,” we have many new initiates who have never experienced temple life. They reside independently, follow the rules and regulations, and support themselves financially. In many cases, they have practically no Sankirtana experience and will never feel the urgency to become good preachers of our philosophy. To solve this imbalance of values, I believe ISKCON needs to facilitate more preaching by gurus while placing less emphasis on how to receive diksa from the guru of your own choosing.
» Posted By Locanananda dasa On May 20, 2010 @ 4:04 pm
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