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A life of spiritual transition in ISKCON. Varnasrama, ISKCON, and the GBC – video

Part 5

Our regulative principles are slowly becoming eroded. Just imagine, in suburban living, we can fall prey to gambling as in stock market investments. Intoxications like tea and coffee are a temptation. Illicit sex within marriage is undoubtedly there. So, about the only regulative principle devotees follow strictly is no meat eating, including fish and eggs. Nityananda Prabhu’s idea for us to forget about varnasrama now because we can advance through these levels using his method is an illusion.

His approach is wrong; everyone is entitled to take the elevator. Even a child can understand how we are not these bodies, if explained as simply as Srila Prabhupada taught. How can we even chant properly living and working amongst non-devotees? Srila Prabhupada said that chanting gives us that quick lift. That’s the only way to boil that spiritual milk. And for that we need proper association constantly and that means a favourable environment. It’s really simple. Bridge preaching is the stairway.

Wouldn’t spiritual advancement be like taking the elevator if grhasthas with a need to work and earn money lived in self-sustainable farm communities? We could earn money for our basic needs within the community. The most important ingredient for boiling that spiritual milk, association, will always be there. In whatever direction you look, all neighbours are devotees. This is the most favourable setting to truly come to the stage of working for Krsna without desire for the fruits. Those dedicated brahmacaris and grhasthas completely engaged in temple activities can live and preach in towns and cities, using Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada’s traditional way of harinama sankirtana and book distribution. As time goes on, varnasrama can evolve from farm communities.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 19, 2014 @ 4:58 am

Part 4

It’s impossible to become transcendental while still having material desires. We may rationalise that we are devotees, chanting sixteen rounds and trying to follow the four regulative principles but can we honestly say we are not working without attachment to the fruits. Even for many devotees, money is still the honey. Most devotees are grhasthas living outside the temples in suburbs, towns and cities. This comes with a whole material package.

There’s the slog of at least forty five hours a week to keep your head above water with no association. You need schools for your children and all the anxiety that goes with the slaughter house education system. It’s difficult to not have a television and get influenced by all that secular nonsense on it. Then there’s the internet and the addiction – social networks take up most of your spare time. What about smart-phones, most of the devotees have that now? And with our head’s stuck in it for the majority of our waking hours, with little or no association, how can we advance spiritually. Then there’s no time to go to the temple, except on Sundays, and when we do go, there’s the need to get away as quick as possible, to engage in our material activities.

In this state, the taste for more sense gratification such as illicit sex within marriage becomes uncontrollable. Then some taste for perhaps caffeinated soft drinks, then coffee, tea, gambling in the form of stock market investments or lottery with the desire to get quick money. And finally, there’s liberalism, the desire to modify our devotee rules and understanding of sastra to suit our lifestyles.

This is not imagination. I’ve seen devotees visiting Vrindavan drinking tea (chai) at the roadside tea stalls. I also know devotees who lost lots of money, even their houses, in bad investments on a tip off – hence, the desire to gamble to make quick profits. Many devotees are also into the latest electronic gizmos or gadgets. Even Nityananda Prabhu makes reference in his class to a television programme he watches and he admits he likes the gizmos. So he is not completely detached.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 19, 2014 @ 4:58 am

Part 3

He refers to chapter three of Bhagavad-Gita, where Krsna speaks about Karma-yoga; working for Him without attachment to the fruits. Just like Anuttama Das, he tries to give a different meaning to varnasrama, implying to just keep it the way it is, do whatever work you are already engaged in, but just do it for Krsna. He emphasises the “As It Is” aspect of the Bhagavad-Gita but he interprets it otherwise.

He says that most people, the non-devotees are into their ipods, iphones, Samsung Galaxies etc and I think he is trying to say that for them in the lower levels, those who are into their latest gadgets and sense gratification, direct preaching is not necessary but some form of bridge preaching is needed to bring them up to a level to be able to understand Chapter Three of Bhagavad-Gita.

He gives the analogy of different levels of education such as kindergarten, elementary school and so on and says how all are important and similarly, we need to bring non-devotes to the mode of goodness through his stages. He says for us, following chapter three of Bhagavad-Gita, Srila Prabhupada gave us the activities of the transcendentalists such as association, chanting, and so on. So I think he interprets chapter three not as work done in a varnasrama setting but devotees going about their daily business working amongst non-devotees in this material world, trying to do their duty. It seems he also wants to take devotees through the stages of Brahmin and Paramatma realizations. This is really the stairway.

Actual Chapter Three “As It Is” speaks of activity for Krsna. Even as devotees, we are attached to the fruits of our work. We want a nice house etc, the full package that goes with the suburban lifestyle. We do not lay everything at Krsna’s feet. Devotees trying to sincerely advance through devotional practice are performing bhakti-yoga but jnana-yoga and naturally karma-yoga is included.

How many of us as devotees working outside can honestly say that we are working without desire to enjoy some fruits of our work. No! We want to enjoy many fruits, as much as possible. We want a nice house, car, the latest electronic gadgets and everything that goes with suburban living and that includes the misery and entanglement of having a mortgage, loans and living on plastic debt.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 19, 2014 @ 4:57 am

Part 2

His idea is to bring the materialists to the mode of goodness, they have to go through the first four stages of his chart which are sense objects, senses, mind and intelligence, then they will become pious, intelligent and noble. After that, he says they will become spiritualists and their driving factor will be sacrifice, austerity and charity. He does not mention how they will perform these activities living in towns and cities. Then he says the next stage are transcendentalists from Soul, Brahmajyoti, Paramatma realization and finally, the devotees, who worship the Supreme Absolute Truth, which is Srila Prabhupada’s movement, Iskcon, which he coins as “Our Brand.”

His prediction is that in twenty years, devotees will be wealthier than karmis. His understanding is that “all the piety that is kicking in” – whilst going up through the levels, and especially the first four material levels, the non-devotees will build their pious, intelligent and noble credits. With these credits, he says, they will become so wealthy that bhukti (sense gratification) and mukti (liberation) will come falling on their hands to serve. Something like karma-kanda.

Is that what we are after? Some devotees may be wealthy but Krsna can take it all away very quickly. We don’t give much attention to false wealth, paper money (fiat currency) which can all become useless tomorrow. Our actual material wealth is in the land and the cows.

He emphasises that varnasrama is a material system not for devotees. According to him, its purpose is to lift people to the material level and when they come into the association of spiritualists, they will get the opportunity to meet devotees who will take them to the transcendental level. But Prabhupada said differently, that devotees are not up to the standard of vaisnava and varnasrama is for them. He says that in future, intelligent devotees going through his program and reaching transcendence will have intelligence to introduce varnasrama for the materialists.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 19, 2014 @ 4:54 am

Part 1

While Anuttama Prabhu directly shows his aversion to varnasrama, Nityananda Prabhu, North American GBC and Dallas Temple President, is more nuanced in his approach. While he acknowledges that at some unspecified time in the future, intelligent devotees will introduce varnasrama, he makes a case to keep the status quo. He has a chart which he uses in leadership seminars for non-devotees, showing nine levels of people in general, and he classifies them into three groups. The first group from levels one to four fall under Sense objects, senses, mind and intelligence. The second group is the fifth level, consciousness. The third group are from levels six to nine, Soul, Brahman, Supersoul and Supreme Absolute Truth. He uses this chart to state his case. Key quotes by Nityananda Das, “as he said it,” are found at the end of this article.

He sort of speaks in circles, repeats without getting to a direct point about where devotees stand on this chart. But his idea is that the materialists are from levels one to four and upwards from that are devotees. His vision is to bring the consciousness of the materialists to the mode of goodness using modern techniques such as his leadership seminars to non-devotees.

I disagree with his view that because we engage in ninth level or transcendental activities, we are on the ninth level and transcendental, and therefore we do not need those traditional trappings such as that which would be found in varnasrama. So he pushes devotees right up there, not considering that most of us are still struggling with the senses and trying to control the mind.

According to his implication, we should bypass Srila Prabhupada’s express elevator process and take the slower stairway instead. He says we are promoting piety, intelligence and nobility to the lower level non-devotees. I though we were supposed to directly preach Krsna consciousness, teach chanting and bhakti yoga.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 19, 2014 @ 4:53 am

Part 7

So in a farm community, with all neighbours as devotees and working around nature, we will learn to see clearly and appreciate how Krsna’s energies work and identify this with Him and remember Him in everything we do or see around us. In this way, we will become detached from the fruits of our work although we may still be attached to the work which will clearly be for Krsna.

Of course, devotees still need to preach in towns and cities but only the more “fixed up” and sincere ones. Those grhasthas living outside and devotees living in the temples that do not care about accumulating unnecessary wealth, who are engaged in direct service and living simply should go out and distribute books, go on harinama, preach the traditional way.

Honestly, bridge preaching in Iskcon is slowly replacing the direct and tested methods of book distribution and harinama sankirtana. During Srila Prabhupada’s years, we see how quickly this movement spread. The formula was mostly book distribution and harinama. Bridge preaching was limited, only for the scientist types and some people of influence. One may argue that a pure devotee is not physically present now and therefore the potency is not there to replicate the successes of the sixties and seventies. But Srila Prabhupada is always with us and we need to know how to tap into his pure potency to make this movement spread like wildfire. The only way is to follow his default method which includes his desire to have varnasrama. Purity is the force.

So Anuttama Prabhu says the ashram side of things is easy, just adjust, the essence is doing it for Krsna. His understanding of this is influenced by liberalism. Prabhupada did not say, “Allow it.” He was forced into a corner most of the time on these issues. What did we expect him to do, tell these devotees who got divorced or broke their sannyasa vows to leave Krsna. No! Naturally, he wanted them to advance in spiritual life, he came to deliver all the Jagai’s and Madhai’s on his spiritual masters order. He could see people were heavily conditioned in the West and therefore even during the last few days before leaving his body; he spoke of his desire for the devotees to establish varnasrama.

Note: Comments on Nityananda Prabhu’s part of the presentation will be sent in for posting shortly.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

Part 6

Instead of him calling Srila Prabhupada’s many references to varnasrama simple, perhaps he should consider that it is actually simple for the simple to understand. And Srila Prabhupada was the epitome of that simplicity. It gets complicated for us when we try to make changes to suit our lifestyle. He admits the application to the goal using his method is a little complicated because of our conditioning. Why then does he want to apply rules for how we should reach our goal instead of using the simple and default position, Srila Prabhupada?

Although he says “little complicated,” he says it also means that it is quite clear because we have the example of Arjuna in Bhagavad-Gita. But he forgets that Arjuna was a ksatriya and Krsna was simply asking him to do his “varna” duty and fight and varnasrama was firmly in place then. He gives the example of Srila Prabhupada saying that a factory worker doing his job “thinking of Krsna” is pure devotional service. But surely the factory worker who thinks of Krsna constantly will be an advanced devotee. How many devotees slogging out there amongst the non-devotees think of Krsna every working minute?

He says, one should always remember Krsna and never forget Him, Nityananda Prabhu also mentions this. It is not so easy to remember Krsna twenty four hours a day, working and living amongst non-devotees. Srila Prabhupada says in Madhya 22.113 purport that to always remember Krsna is only possible when one chants the Hare Krsna Mantra twenty four hours a day.

Because this is not possible for devotees at present, Srila Prabhupada qualifies his statement in that same purport to add; that because of other duties under the order of the spiritual master, the disciple should first chant sixteen rounds which is most essential then go on book distribution or engage in other direct services where he will always be reminded of Krsna. This serves as an impetus to remember Krsna. Srila Prabhupada also says that the conclusion is one must engage in things that will always make him remember Krsna and refrain from doing things that make him forget Krsna.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

Part 5

First, he gives his personal example. He married after ten years as brahmacari. His wife had an eight year old son from a previous marriage and he had to learn new duties, perform new sacrifices like bowling and baseball. Although he hadn’t bowled since he was a boy, he took his eight year old son out bowling. He wasn’t particularly good at it but he had to bowl for Krsna just as Arjuna shot arrows for Krsna, he says. So he thought, okay, I’ll do it for Krsna and mediated on Krsna and he made his highest score ever in bowls. So he takes this as a sign that you can do anything mundane for Krsna. His says his realization from this is to know what it means – whatever you do, somehow, do it for Krsna.

He remembers a concert pianist from Denver who joined. They told him, do what every other new bhakta does, wash pots. He says they weren’t so broadminded in those days – there wasn’t a lot of vision for being a concert pianist for Krsna, he thinks these days it is much better. So again, this idea of dovetailing everything for Krsna, bowling, baseball, concert pianist and he also includes the reasonable ones like plumbing. But his whole idea is we don’t need varnasrama. Varnasrama for him means if you are a bowler, do it for Krsna.
So that’s his idea of adjusting within the ashram. But he says the problem starts on the varna side with the tendency to categorise people and this makes his blood boil. According to him, this is the historical problem, the modern problem and the philosophical problem.

He gives another ashram adjustment example, of Srila Prabhupada, who he says was making money as a grhastha, cutting vegetables and shopping and cleaning, when he first came to New York. So he asks, “is Srila Prabhupada a vaisya or sudra.
Or is he showing us the essence of vaisnava, clean for Krsna, preach for Krsna, make money for Krsna and bowl for Krsna with my kids if I have to. You know, we do it all for Krsna.”

Srila Prabhupada fits the description of Lord Caitanya’s much quoted line by Anuttama Prabhu, I ‘m not a brahmana, not a ksatriya etc. Srila Prabhupada does not need varnasrama, we do.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

Part 4

Even in the purport, Srila Prabhupada qualifies this level. He mentions the anyabhilasita-sunyam verse, completely free from mental speculation and furtive activities. He mentions the following; “The Lord is awakened in ones mind if one constantly thinks of Him” – “A pure devotee cannot remain a moment without being absorbed in thoughts of the Lord” – “Always engaging in the Lord’s service” – “Devotional service in Love and affection” – “This is the stage of becoming free from the contamination of the material world.”

But Anuttama Prabhu latches onto the last part of the purport where Lord Caitanya says He is not a brahmana etc, without fully understanding from the verse and complete purport the description of such an exalted devotee being described. Even the paragraph of the last part qualifying Lord Caitanya’s statement is clear in meaning of the devotee being described. “His engagement in material activities ceases completely. At that time, he attains the favour of the Lord and loses his faith in material civilization, which begins with varnasrama-dharma. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu speaks clearly of one’s becoming liberated from the varnasrama-dharma, the most exalted system of human civilization. At such a time one feels himself to be perpetually the servant of Lord Krsna, a position taken by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself.”

Note how Srila Prabhupada refers to varnasrama-dharma as the most exalted system of human civilization. Western or variations of hippy culture mixed with this tradition does not even come close to the greatness of varnasrama. It is impossible to become a pure devotee living in towns and cities.

Anuttama Prabhu’s understanding of “Whatever you do, do it for Krsna”, is twisted. He implies that even mundane activities like sports should be done for Krsna. According to him, Srila Prabhupada adjusted things within the ashram, he introduced things like divorce. He says although divorce is strictly not allowed, people got divorced and because Srila Prabhupada allowed it, we should allow it – he gives the green light for divorce. He says, we have this as example of how to adjust within the ashram, but because we have no examples of Srila Prabhupada dealing with the varnas, we should not try to introduce it as varnas are a little complex and problematic. He gives the example of bowling and the concert pianist as ashram adjustments.

contined

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

Part 3

One devotee may say that with all other things we have going on, to chant minimum sixteen rounds is too much. So he may canvass to make it eight rounds. Someone may say that it is difficult to follow the no illicit sex rule even within marriage so let’s introduce contraception. I heard devotees who eat chocolates say it can also be offered to Krsna so where does this leave us with no intoxication. Then what about tea, someone may ask? There’s no harm there.

Acting on the level of our spiritual advancement, there could be many different variations of how far we should go in changing details – if we even understand properly the difference between a principle and a detail. This will further cause divisions as time goes on. To use the example of Anuttama Prabhu about devotional dress, and how Srila Prabhupada allowed book distributors to wear Western clothing – we now see devotees questioning the necessity of using it not just for regular temple visits but also for sitting on the vyasasana and Deity service. So how far should we go?

Do any of us have the vision of Srila Prabhupada to change even details? No! Our adjustments will be dictated by our conditioned senses. The only way to have peace and harmony is for all of us to have a “default” position. And that is Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. It could be argued that we not only have core principles but also core details, as those within our four regulative principles. And to these, Srila Prabhupada made the final adjustments.

Anuttama Prabhu refers many times to the verse and purport read by Nityananda Prabhu for this class, SB 4.29.46 – where Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says I’m not a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra to indicate why varnasrama is not necessary. Just by looking at the verse alone; these lines, “fully engaged in devotional service” – “favoured by the Lord, who bestows His causeless mercy” – “awakened devotees gives up all material activities”, we can know a devotee of this description definitely transcends the system of varnasrama. Non of us as practicing devotees fit into this category.

contined

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

Part Two

He relates an experience he had, and concludes that everyone is confused about their varnas. This could be true. Many devotees are not in favourable settings to work out what they would naturally like to do. Instead of dismissing varnasrama completely and sticking to an urban lifestyle which entangles us more in this material world, why don’t we at least try to follow Srila Prabhupada some way and direct devotees into farm communities. Srila Prabhupada said that living off the land is like the bija-mantra (seed) of varnasrama. So with time, everything will fall into place and evolve. In this setting, and with guidance from our brahmanas, devotees will fall into their natural occupations.

Then he talks about Srila Prabhupada’s demonstration of time place and circumstance. How he adjusted some things to allow women to live in temples, the number of rounds we chant and Western dress for preaching. He states how Srila Prabhupada says his only qualification is his following his spiritual master and he didn’t change anything but he adjusted a lot of things according to time, place and circumstance.

So, our only qualification should be that we follow Srila Prabhupada and don’t change anything. Srila Prabhupada gives the difference between principles and details. A basic principle is that one has to accept a spiritual master. Exactly how one follows the instructions of his spiritual master is considered a detail. So it’s out of the question to change principles within our society but are we qualified to change details or do we even know or understand what details are?

Srila Prabhupada’s adjustments are very much detail adjustments and he was qualified to make changes. In Iskcon, there are many factions pulling in different directions. For example, Srila Prabhupada gives us the minimum in austerity; the four regulative principles and to chant sixteen rounds daily, which if followed strictly brings us to the mode of goodness. For us, to follow the four regulative principles and chant is undisputedly the most important “core principle” Srila Prabhupada left us. Can we change the details within this principle?

Continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

Part One

During the 2014 North American GBC meetings, http://www.dandavats.com/?p=12906#more-12906, Anuttama Das and Nityananda Das shared a platform in a presentation; their topic was Varnasrama. They talked “down” varnasrama.

If a politician talks down the currency or economy of his country, even in a positive way, his career is practically finished. There will be no end of criticism and pressure for him to resign.

Varnasrama is like our currency. It is our true economy in all respects – true wealth as in the land and all that which goes with it, to always be in the association of devotees, and most of all, steady spiritual advancement is guaranteed.

Anuttama Prabhu starts by admitting he is looking at this issue from a different perspective, a communications perspective. He says this is the way that orients his thinking. Immediately, alarm bells go off. Prabhupada’s desire and thoughts on varnasrama takes a back seat in favour of his approach. Also, in his conclusion, he says that leaders in Iskcon who come from the West (pretty much most leaders in Iskcon), come out of some hippie culture and in twentieth century Iskcon, we have two cultures, hippie and Indian. These thoughts of his encapsulate his vision for Iskcon. The hippie culture in the modern world has evolved into polished liberalism (freedom of complete bodily sense gratification). And we can see how aspects of this freedom culture are being accepted as what should be seen as normal in Iskcon. An example is divorce, Anuttama Prabhu says divorce is not allowed but if you have to, then get divorced.

Although he acknowledges that Prabhupada speaks many verses where human life does not begin until you have varnasrama, he calls these statements “Simple Perhaps.” He also sounds dismissive of the statement by Srila Prabhupada where he says, “Half my work is not completed because varnasrama is not in place.” His tone on this is as if it can be just brushed aside. So from his perspective, he thinks Srila Prabhupada’s statements on varnasrama are not to be taken seriously and he has a different view which he proceeds to give.

continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 14, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

Why I am not vegan

Bhakta Piyush: Maintaining a dairy herd for milk will never be profitable

Profitable or not, it would be better for grhastha devotees to concentrate on independent, small scale, natural, sustainable farming methods in crop production – such as your video link on biodynamics. Cow protection is included. And so are cow products. The goal of all activity in this should be to create favourable conditions for spiritual advancement, such as a varnasrama setting and association which comes with living in a devotee community – this goal should not be forgotten.

We worry to much about eco this or eco that as new-agers do, we should just get down to the business of ‘boiling that milk.’ Ecological considerations are naturally included in a vedic alternative.

A devotee once told me that certain aspects of biodynamics are mentioned in the Vedas, such as stuffing cow dug in horns and burying it in the ground for six months which is then sprayed on the land.

Anyone knows references to biodynamics in the Vedas?

Since I am on this page, I will make a couple of points to Priyvrata Prabhus article.

I believe it is time to redefine what it means to be a “vegan” and retire the old fanatical, ideologically inconsistent and unhealthy definition of veganism.

Perhaps we could just avoid using the word vegan in relation to devotees. Just say something like “only takes ahimsa” or “prefer protected cows milk” or something like that.

About vegetarians lacking B12, none of the devotees I know take B12 supplements. Like me, they never even think about it and are healthy. Many people in India are vegetarians from birth and don’t even know what B12 is. They simply eat fruits and vegetables. Milk products such as curd, lassi, ghee milk etc are regular items for them. So this is not a problem.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On May 15, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

Ocean of Mercy: Bhakti Benefits for Doomed Cows?

Dear Priyavrata Prabhu,

On my second point quoting you that commercial milk is toxic, I mistook it for another statement of yours I think I read somewhere, where you said that cow’s milk is full of pus and not fit for human consummation, normally a vegan line. If you did not say that, I apologise.

I know the “Patram Pushpam” verse does not “literally” mention milk but my point is that if we take selected verses from sastra in isolation from other scriptures (includes our acarya’s statements), then our conclusion will be faulty. A higher understanding will be that the “Patram Pushpam” statement could include milk as an offering if so desired by the devotee. And why not? Krsna showed by example his love for cows and milk products and He spoke that verse.

My point throughout is that if devotees want to offer store bought milk to Krsna with faith that the cows which supplied that milk is benefited, they should not be derided.

And finally, you again reiterate: The idea that commercial dairy cows are killed because of karma is simply ruthless, insensitive and a cop out.

It may sound unkind but unfortunately, it is true. The basic philosophical foundation of our preaching strategy is the concept of Reincarnation and Karma. Karma includes reactions for past actions. Why not say it as it is, just like Srila Prabhupada would? Of course, we need to show sensitivity according to the situation but to completely distance ourselves from this basic truth is wrong – or a “cop out” – to use your phrase.

Karma, commonly pronounced as Kama is a household word in the West. Ask anyone and they will define it as “what goes around comes around.” Why not build on this in our preaching.

Famous England football manager, Glen Hoddle, once made this statement:
“You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.”
He was said to have a controversial belief that the disabled and others are being punished for sins from a previous live.

He was severely criticised for this from The Prime Minister of that time, other politicians, disabled organisations and the newspapers. Many called for his resignation.

If even devotees are in denial of this basic truth, how are we going to make this world understand?

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Apr 9, 2014 @ 9:50 am

Millions of people, even some very prominent, are subscribing to this fallacy. One prominent ISKCON devotee, Priyavata dasa, global FFL minister, was given a platform at the Euro RGB 2013 meeting through Syamasundara dasa, the Euro minister for cow protection and agriculture. Some of Priyavata’s points for no milk where:

• Srila Prabhupada was not an expert nutritionist and therefore we cannot accept his authority on diet.
• Milk is full of toxic chemicals, growth harmones and antibiotics and full of pain.
• Some people are lactose intolerant.
• He says Srila Prabhupada’s comments about leather are applicable to milk.
• We don’t have to use milk and can use what we like.
• The “Patram Pushpam” verse does not include milk.
• It is a “wrong throw out” comment that cows are killed because of their karma.

These comments above show a lack of understanding of our philosophy and these comments are more in line with radical vegan though – customised for ISKCON. And many devotees follow this path.

Instead of trying to look good in the eyes of these radical animal activists who say that milk is never intended for human consumption, devotees should preach to them.

I do not condone the millions of cows slaughtered each year. My heart goes out to them and I wish for a time when people all over the world will look through our eyes.

But in the meantime, instead of lashing out at devotees who use store milk through circumstance they cannot control, our leaders should encourage them to settle into farm communities which is a stepping stone towards varnasrama. How can devotees living in cities drink only milk from protected cows when they do not have the facility.

Maharaja says that four GBC members at the recent GBC meetings in Mayapur, while making an official presentation on the need for ahimsa milk also dealt with the “graced-though-dead” notion. He again speaks in derision here. Perhaps these four devotees were more advanced and fortunate to have this simple understanding.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Apr 5, 2014 @ 9:46 am

He likens this argument to devotees using public swimming pools for their exercise, the water touching these devotees’ feet which then touches the heads of other swimmers.

Firstly, from my experience with devotees who go for their daily swimming in public pools, it is more sense gratification. Some of them discuss and wait eagerly for this daily moment from the morning. More advanced devotees will seek conventional ways to get their exercise or seek something away from dedicated sense gratification.

Anyway, Maharaja’s argument will not make sense to devotees with simplistic, more advanced faith. Krsna can show mercy to other swimmers in that pool, even if devotees enjoying the swimming are not very advanced. The unseen living entities in the walls or open spaces that are fortunate to hear devotees chant or do harinam are benefited in some inconceivable way. All these almost dormant souls that seem like dead matter will someday, by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, evolve into fully conscious devotees to populate the future of this golden age for the next ten thousand years. We have to understand the inconceivable nature of this.

Maharaja then says that often when this issue comes up, someone might cite a vegan agenda. But the vegan agenda is really strong and unfortunately, has influenced ISKCON devotees. This group have infiltrated and taken over regular animal right organisations such as the S.P.C.A and PETA. One only has to read on the internet and look on youtube to see how extremist they have become against any consumption of cows milk, even if produced non-violently. Their mantra is simply that humans are not meant to take bovine milk, not now, not ever.

Continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Apr 5, 2014 @ 9:43 am

Maharaja concludes his article with this statement below:

Without fear of condemnation, bhakti practitioners should make an informed personal choice about how and whether to cope with the milk problem. Regardless of our chosen option, please, let’s retire the tragic tale about the slaughtered cow receiving spiritual benefit when her milk is offered.

In this conclusion, he makes two points:

1. Whatever side you take on this issue, it should be without fear of condemnation.
2. Don’t use the tragic tale of the slaughtered cow receiving spiritual benefit because this is simply not true.

He did not follow his own rule in his first point. In a condescending way, he derides devotees who take the side of offering store bought milk to Krsna with their understanding that the cows that contributed to a particular batch of milk benefits. He almost condemns them with derision.

He sets out in the article to show how the slaughtered cow which has given milk, used by devotees to offer to Krsna is not benefited. He uses mostly empirical examples, without deep spiritual insight or realisation, unfortunately.

He challenges: Out of millions of cows offering billions of litres of milk; find the one cow that will benefit, if a devotee offers some of that milk to Krsna. He asks devotees to please find that cow that contributed that specific milk for their offering.

This is not a very advanced understanding of our siddhanta. Certainly, we cannot know which cows contributed to a particular offering but Krsna knows. Krsna is in every particle of material energy and even in the particles and atoms of milk and he is in every cow’s heart. Certainly, He knows where each and every droplet of milk came from which was offered to him.

Maharaja compares devotee’s realisation and simplicity of faith as Daydreams, “Myths and Fantasies” and a Folk Tale. Having realisation that slaughtered cows which performed unknowing devotional service are benefited should not be derided. Perhaps less advanced devotees always have to justify empirically. More advanced devotees actually live the philosophy in their hearts and not just theoretically.

Continued

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Apr 5, 2014 @ 9:36 am

Have the same problem as Bhakta John?

To be fair, the Iskcon.org team, at: http://news.iskcon.org/page/about-us,1/ is not representative of all Iskcon devotees worldwide. All in the team are Western devotees, five live in America, two in Australia and one in the UK.

There are articles about health; humanitarian issues etc, things that could easily be found elsewhere on the web. On their team profile page, they say

“our mission is to be a reliable, balanced, and timely source of news about, and of interest to the devotees, friends and people interested in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Judging by some of their articles, these friends could be people from humanist, vegan or other such organisations. Who makes the decisions who these friends are and what news should be displayed for their benefit?

They further state that:

“It is our conviction that such a resource will help to create a more well-informed and connected citizenry within ISKCON, and thus positively impact ISKCON’s ability to carry out its mission.”

Devotees have different opinions. There are so many issues in ISKCON, some supporting one side or the other. How can it be the conviction of the Iskcon.org team that their approach will create a well informed and connected citizenry within ISKCON when the majority of ISKCON devotees, such as in Africa, Russia, India and more traditional conservative countries are not represented on this team.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Jan 22, 2014 @ 10:01 am

Who Is This Ramo?

A comment on this forum could unintentionally, ever so slightly, question Srila Prabhupada’s chanting. Some devotees could have doubts whether in his fast chanting, all syllables were properly pronounced or even that he completed every word in the mahamantra.

This fast chanting of a pure devotee can be understood against Srila Rupa Goswami’s statement where he says that when the holy name is chanted, Krsna dances on the tongue and one aspires to have millions of tongues to have Krsna dance on it constantly and also millions of ears to hear sufficiently.

A pure devotee fully realized in the holy name would chant so fast so not to miss out on relishing Krsna personally on the tongue even for one moment. Srila Prabhupada was a pure devotee and relished the holy name and it is inconceivable to us how he may seemingly not complete a syllable sometimes but at the same time he completes it in the race to get Krsna dancing on his tongue every second. For him, the mind races forward with the name of Krsna before the tongue can complete the pronunciation.

Haridas Thakura chanted very fast to complete 175 rounds a day and still have time to associate with Lord Caitanya and other devotees and rest. So it is inconceivable for conditioned souls like us to understand how pure devotees could have Krsna dancing on the tongue even for what is seemingly an incomplete syllable or mantra.

We cannot imitate. Therefore Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to Pusta Krishna Prabhu that he even pronounces the “Rama” complete. Although “Ram” could be acceptable, in the beginning stages, chanting Ram would encourage missing syllables or even words in the mahamantra. Just try it – when someone chants “Rama” in the mahamantra, a slight pause is forced upon the chanter and after that it is very difficult not to complete the mahamantra properly. So Srila Prabhupada instructed Pusta Krishna Prabhu accordingly.

As for chanting “Ramo”, Praghosa Prabhu quotes Srila Prabhupada saying “don’t worry Krsna knows who they’re calling.” Certainly this is true. Even Eastern Europeans pronounce the holy names with a different accent but they say it naturally from their heart, it is not imitating the latest trend. So devotees calling Krsna in their natural way, even the partially deaf or even animals with their barks, meeoows and grunts – certainly Krsna knows they are calling him. But for devotees wanting to imitate the latest fashion trend – this is unacceptable by Srila Prabhupada.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Oct 26, 2013 @ 4:00 am

Diary of a Traveling Monk, Volume 13, Chapter 8

For example, for the past twenty-four years our movement has distributed tens of millions of plates of hot, nutritious food in low income areas such as the outlying towns and villages of Kwazulu Natal.

I was fortunate to go with Laxminath Das on food distribution once, in rural Kwazulu Natal. It cannot be emphasised enough how Laxminath Prabhu always distributes the holy names with prasadam and he has single-handedly made Hare Krsna a household word amongst the indigenous Africans of that region. If you ever travelled in and around Durban (capital of KZN) or greater KZN, and if you had tilak on your forehead or a sikha or looked like a devotee, Africans, mostly children from informal settlements or villages would come up to you at traffic lights or stop signs and greet you with the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and show pleasure in seeing you.

This is indeed using prasadam distribution the proper way. These people are innocent and therefore they take to the holy names with simplicity and sing and dance with enthusiasm. Their devotional service has started.

Laxminath Prabhu, a disciple of HH Indradyumna Swami, has been doing this for over 24 years all by himself. He cooks every morning, loads his van and goes to the rural areas – the villages and informal settlements to distribute prasadam but he makes the people chant the Mahamantra as well. Harinam Sankirtan is regularly held in these areas together with prasadam distribution and the results are clearly to be seen – the Mahamantra is a household name amongst the locals and Krsna consciousness is very favourably accepted due to prasadam distribution done properly. It has even infected Nelson Mandala who looks favourably towards the Hare Krsnas and now we see the present President of that country and other leaders from that region become infected as well.

Other devotees distributing prasadam in other parts of the world should take a leaf out of this example. Give Krsna Consciousness WITH prasadam – do not feel embarrassed! We do not hear the glories or Laxminath Prabhu as we do other Prasadam distributors – because Laxminath Prabhu does not desire recognition. He is successful because he has the adikari, he is a simple brahmacari and his faith is simplistic and wholesome. I always wanted to glorify this Prabhu for single-handedly and selflessly spreading the holy names all through Kwa-Zulu Natal and here is my chance.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Feb 4, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

BB Govinda Swami οn the death of the young Indian girl who was gang raped in Delhi

In response to bbd

In actual Vedic society women freely mixed with men

This is just your assumption based on modern view or speculation. It is not in line with shastra and has already been proven conclusively in comments to other articles regarding this issue. On the bodily platform, there are different prescribed duties for different people which is favourable for spiritual life. This subject is “chewing the chewed” and I will not go into it.

Nothing in this world is going on independently of Krishna’s divine plan.

I agree but Krsna gave us freewill and we should feel anxiety for the future of Krsna consciousness all over the world and not sit idle. Srila Prabhupada said that his guru maharaja used to say that to preach, you need to have “life”. Without “life”, you cannot preach. Srila Prabhupada translated this “life” to mean enthusiasm. Srila Prabhupada knew Krsna was doing everything, still he showed us how much “life” he had. So we should not sit idle thinking Krsna will do everything. Krsna will be pleased if we act. Presently, due to a comfort zone we have settled into, many devotees have lost this “life” and I have to admit that I am one of them. I pray that Srila Prabhupada gives me some “life”. There is still much enthusiasm in India amongst second genreation devotees to take Krsna consciousness to every rural village and this should be encouraged.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Jan 1, 2013 @ 3:35 am

Did you ever visit a country of 1,241,491,960 people where over half of the people perform their toilet activities on the train tracks or the sides of the roads daily?

We have to understand this in relation to a 1.2 billion Indian population compared to small populations of Western countries. India is trying to fit into the Western miniskirt overnight. Rural people come to the cities for material progress and want this overnight. With Western countries, they had a smaller population and material progress was gradual. Here, we have an old lady squeezing into the tight fitting skirt of a young lady without knowing the rules.
Yes, a revolution is needed. But, it should be a revolution of consciousness. Krishna consciousness, God consciousness.
There seems to be a contradiction of an earlier implication – that the youth should not care so much about what their parents or society would say and should progress towards bringing in a new constitution where all citizens are equal. This would gradually take the protection of women out of the hands of father, brother or husband and be more a responsibility of the State.
A revolution of Krsna consciousness in India would bear fruit if devotees preached not just to the elite such as the rich and college or university students but concentrated more on the rural populations of India. Many of the rural are converting to Christanity and joining rebel movements because they feel abused by the caste system and also want “material” equal rights quickly. The Hare Krsna’s can show how they can also become brahmins or truly be the upperclass of India if they take to Krsna consciousness – no matter whatever varna they feel inclined towards. We have the philopsophy. There is devotee manpower in India. It would not take much planning to spread out to even the remotest of villages and set up little preching centres. No need for big temples, send men and put up temporary inexpensive wood or iron structures. There is ample devotee manpower in India. People should be encouraged not to give up their farms for false happiness. Since the majority of Indians still live off the land, it will be easier to preach with varnasrama in mind.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Dec 31, 2012 @ 7:16 am

Continued from previous:

The change that the “status quo” should bring to the youths of India is how to respect and protect women and go back to simple morals. The sad rape and subsequent death of this young girl who went out at night with her male friend has gained hugh publicity all over the world simply because of the protests over this. The protests in Delhi, in some instances leading to riots, were mostly by youths, spearheaded by young males – university and college students. They were using this incident to demand government protection and freedom for women to do as they please. To facilitate this freedom, the government should protect the women. The subtle desire of these males are simply to make these women loose so they can exploit and enjoy them.

But I think the Indian youth are too afraid of what their parents and society would say. Rather, they use the social media to ape the degraded materialistic culture.

In a way, it is good that the youths of India are still largely respectful to their parents and society. Unfotunately, social media and television is quickly taking the Indian youth down the road of degradation.

I wish the Indian old elite would do the right thing, step aside, and allow brains that work to develop a structure for the nation in which all the citizens were equal before the constitution.

It is a fact the elite abuse power and should step down. However more elderly leaders are preferable, they still hang on to some culture, using “old fashioned brains,” despite the corruption. As we see, the recent preference and popularity of younger leaders in the West has led to quicker moral degradation. Materialistic false equality before a false constitution is only created for explotation. How often did Srila Prabhupada smash the idea of this so called “demon-crazy” (democracy) civilazation. The “structure” needed is to go back to the roots. India is a country where varnasrama or farm community living will be more easily accepted amongst devotees and the rural population.

Continued:

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Dec 31, 2012 @ 7:15 am

Dear Maharaja, Please forgive me for any offence but I must voice my opinion on this.

The present perverted culture of India allows rape and molestation of women to take place anywhere and everywhere in the nation.

What is this perverted culture? I heard it said that India is like an old lady, very ancient. She tries to fit into a tight fitting miniskirt of a younger Western lady. The understanding is that an old lady does not look attractive in a tight fitting miniskirt as she tries to look younger to “fit in”. So India is an old ancient lady trying to imitiate and live Western culture and attain this in an overnight transition. This is impossible, especially with a 1.2 billion population, and millions of rural dwellers migrating into cities every year, trying to fit into tight Western skirts. Hence, the sight of people performing toilet activities on train tracks, uriniting anywhere being acceptable socially, trash thrown anywhere etc. And with material progress, women lose protection of their fathers and brothers because of a desire to be independent. As a result, the govenment needs to give this protection and they do not have the resources for such a large population.

I wish the Indian youth were savvy enough, and courageous enough, to use the social media in the same way that it has been used over the past few years to bring a change to the status quo.

What “status quo” should they change? It would be better if the youth of India were “savvy and courageous” to realise that the ultimate degradation of Western society is fast approaching and to do a U-Turn now and not imitate. The culture of marriage in the West is fast becoming extinct – sexual partners are changed as easy as buying new clothes and it is considered normal behaviour. Women crawl on the streets intoxicated – with barely any clothes on, they vomit and urinate unashamedely on the sidewalks. Sex life becomes perveted, because of over familarity with the opposite sex. Many men no longer look to women as desirous, instead they turn to homosexulity, pedophilia or other perveted forms of sex. It is said that there are special dogs that some women keep as pets which are trained to satisfy their sexual desires. This is because men and women become fed up with each other to the point of hatred.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Dec 31, 2012 @ 7:10 am

Iskcon Cultural Divide, Or Unity?

Adipurusa Prabhu says: It is already ISKCON law since many years. Except for a few (revered) ISKCON members in South India, lady guruship does not seem to evoke any special feelings in anyone in India.

Possibly for the small circle of devotees Adipurusa Prabhu associates with in Vrindavan, “special feelings” are not evoked. But not for “All India.” For the majority of devotees in India, it is not an issue because they already take it for granted based on tradition that diksa guru is male.

It should be noted that Adipurusa dasa holds a senior position as well as he is a teacher at the VIHE (Vrindavan Institute of Higher Education). Mother Narayana dasi, who’s name has been put up for being the first female diska guru is also a senior devotee at the VIHE. And out of nine teachers for this years VIHE courses (Bhakti Sastri, Bhakti Vaibhava and Bhakti Vedanta), four were females: Laksmimoni Dasi, Urmila Dasi, Prasanta Dasi and Vraja Lila Dasi. This information can be found on the VIHE website http://www.vihe.org/index.html

So the VIHE is influenced by a small group of Western devotees and also by gender equality. It is sad that an institution entrusted with disseminating the conclusions of Sastra should not perfectly understand its conclusions “As It Is,” on the gender issue.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Dec 26, 2012 @ 10:50 am

Govindas questionnaire results

If they want to… every Hare Krishna devotee will have the opportunity to be involved with the Govindas Restaurants. Either as an employee or even owning part of the franchise and running it as their own business.

The danger here is raw capitalism and greed creeping into the devotee community. Presently, a small percent of the population hoards almost ninety five percent of the world’s wealth. We need to have vision, to be able to see fifty or some hundreds of years from now. And, if as predicated, all other religions fall away and Krsna consciousness becomes the predominant religion of the world and we have some varnasrama system in place, then this proposal of big business will have no place in such a society.

For such planning, spiritual guidance is needed. That means not just taking advice from senior devotees but actually advanced devotees. The shelter of a proper spiritual head with vision (brahmana) who can give proper advice is required.

So this idea of “either as an employee or even owning part of the franchise” sends out a message of an intention for this to be run as a big business enterprise such as Mcdonalds. Many grhasthas would have thought of opening a vegetarian restaurant at some point, it’s a perfect way to earn money and preach at the same time. So better to use the expertise and set up grhasthas to run their own restaurants independently. If the influence and fame of Iskcon and Govinda’s are to be used, then spiritual guidance from an advanced devotee with vision of a future Hare Krsna world with varnasrama principles is required.

It could be networked into some franchise for uniformity and some percentage of profits taken as salary but it is dangerous to get into the super-rich (hording) mentality.

Another danger is that a big business organization with absolute authority could introduce new age ideas or other deviant philosophies in their restaurants so that it becomes unrecognizable as the Hare Krsna’s. The idea to open Govinda’s all over Europe is good but it is better to set up individual vaisya’s to own them and spread the wealth.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Nov 9, 2012 @ 7:54 am

Financial Speculators Buying up Farmland – Prices Soaring. Shouldn’t Devotees Step in Now!

Hoping this finds you all well, feel free to contact me at puskaraksa_das@yahoo.fr if you are interested in discussing further this project and seeing it turn into a reality during your current lifetime.

Puskaraksa Prabhu is willing to at least facilitate some discussion as a start. I hope grhastha devotees will feel encouraged to get a team together in their regions and at least talk about it. Please contact him on his email address. Also, there are devotees already doing farming. It would be nice if they can come on board with their expertise and advice. Devotees from all over the world interested in these projects should stay networked to encourage one another and share ideas.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 21, 2012 @ 11:31 am

“Interesting article. I was however hoping for more input as to how and why devotees might get involved?”

As for “how” devotees could get involved: Grhastha devotees, with blessings from our leaders, should take it upon themselves and start devotee community projects in all parts of the world.

We should facilitate the needs of most grhasthas, which is to earn money to support their families – to do this by getting them together and offer them land to farm. They are already working outside in offices, factories, shops etc to earn money to support their asrama and I think most of them will be grateful to earn money within the association of a devotee community. The simplicity of this idea is to let the grhasthas get together and take care of this and not involve our leaders who may already be overburdened with other services. This does not have to be called varnasrama but communal living. Varnasrama can evolve from this.

Grhasthas in every zone could organise themselves into teams to take care of matters of economics, logistics etc and to source and purchase land. The logistics of different countries will differ but to take India as an example, 500 acres of land will easily settle about 100 grhastha farmers with each having appromimately 4.5 acres of land and they could earn between seventy to a hundred thousand Indian rupees per acre per year. The remaining 50 acres could be used for a little village within the community with a temple, shops, gurukula etc and perhaps houses for non farming devotees who want to settle within the community. About 10 acres could be used as a retirement home for cows – traditionally in India, farmers keep at least two cows and a bull.

As for “why” devotees should get involved: Living in a varnasrama setting will be beneficial for steady spiritual advancement – “Boiling our Milk.”

There is an article I wrote that was posted on Dandavats called “Varnasrama – Why Now!” giving more details. Shorter edited versions can be read at the links below.

http://www.varnasramanow.com/2012/08/ksatriya-vaisya-and-sudra-are-all.html
http://www.varnasramanow.com/2012/08/varnasrama-why-now.html
http://www.varnasramanow.com/2012/08/vaisyas-are-solution-for-varnasrama-to.html

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Sep 16, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

Looking for evidence to convince my family that eating eggs is bad for health

If Sri Krishna Charan Prabhu is an Indian or Indian origin devotee, then I can understand his problem. Lots of traditional vegetarian families in India have now accepted eggs as being vegetarian. Indeed, I have heard that one Chief Minister of a South Indian state has publicly stated that eggs are vegetarian. So there is lots of propaganda for eggs to be included into a vegetarian diet.

There are so many Western influences which creep into Indian culture with subtlety. One such example is a law that girls under 18 years of age are not allowed to marry. Their reason is that parents should be forced to give women a fair change in education and careers.

As a result of this, we see girls becoming sexually active at earlier ages and out of marriage as it is difficult to curtail sexual desire after puberty. If not checked, it will only be a matter of time before India becomes an over sexualized country just like the West.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Jun 2, 2012 @ 4:15 am

Respecting Our Women In Iskcon

Since you have joined in the discussion, we are sure you also want our social development to succeed.

Very much so. But my approach may be different from yours. I mentioned above how most of the devotees in the world would actually be conservative so why not build on this. More of my ideas on this are in the article I wrote: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10520

In this respect, Vishaka Priya Mataji’s comment 56 is one such example. True, it is a specific, not general, but it nonetheless teaches us how widely diverse Srila Prabhupada was. He was not a blinkered extremist or fanatic. He was not even truly conservative in his own Iskcon social applications. Perhaps history will reveal that our version of renunciation turned the tide towards conservatism.

Srila Prabhupada was not a blinked extremist or fanatic as you say and therefore if we choose to follow him strictly, neither are we. What was liberal for Srila Prabhupada is actually very conservative for us. What was liberal for Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu who gave even the casteless the holy name was actually very conservative in relation to the process as Srila Prabhupada gave us. He dealt with women as opposed to Lord Caitanya who did not even look at them. If you look at Srila Prabhupada’s rules as given to us, how you can say that it is not conservative when there are groups trying to adjust even these rules which could be considered liberal by previous standards. So if we want to simply follow Srila Prabhupada’s rules which are conservative according to our standards, are we blinked or extremist.

And in regards to the letter in 56, you can’t use that to say that Srila Prabhupada was widely diverse when he spoke to a specific devotee in a specific way. Also, how did I not understand and comment on that letter in its proper context – or “as it is” as opposed to this comment by Pusta Krishna Prabhu “I want to offer an angle of vision to help decipher Srila Prabhupad’s comments to Her Grace Himavati dd so many years ago (comment 56)”Why does he need to offer an angle of vision to decipher Srila Prabhupada’s words to this letter when it is clear. Perhaps this is our disease; we try to twist everything Srila Prabhupada said to suit our own vision. Scrutinize the letter and my reference to it and show me how my comments to this letter is different from what Srila Prabhupada intended – as opposed to Mother Visaka Priya’s intent for using the letter.

» Posted By Nitai dasa On Jun 18, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

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