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Comments Posted By Pandu das

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Ocean of Mercy: Bhakti Benefits for Doomed Cows?

Hare Krishna.  Please accept my humble obeisances.  All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Is this analysis by HH Devamrta Swami meant to imply that none of the living beings whose bodies are prepared as bhoga for Krishna are benefited spiritually by the offering, or does that misfortune only apply to cows?

If a devotee bakes some bread for offering to Krishna, we don’t know which plants provided the flour, but we know that many living beings suffered by our taking the bhoga for cooking.  There are even insects, worms, etc., whose bodies were not offered but were hurt in the agriculture process.

BG 3.13: The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.

If the offering doesn’t benefit the living beings who unknowingly contributed to the offering, how or why are devotees released from the sins of hurting them?

Accepting the principle of ajñāta-sukṛti (”imperceptible benefit,” as Srila Prabhupada defined it in _Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead_) does not imply that devotees should neglect to support cow protection.  It is well known that Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of Hare Krishna farms protecting cows and supplying milk.  That should be more than adequate motivation.

Also, if I understand correctly, the intent of bhakti is to serve Krishna according to our best ability.  Milk from cows protected by devotees is indisputably the best milk and of course should be offered to Krishna when it can be obtained.  Therefore, to promote Hare Krishna dairies, it shouldn’t be necessary to negate the authentic principle of ajñāta-sukṛti, which is not a fantasy but rather something Srila Prabhupada described several times in his books. 

As mentioned above, Srila Prabhupada defined ajñāta-sukṛti as “imperceptible benefit.”   Therefore it seems improper to challenge on the basis of empiricism.  Since Srila Prabhupada said it is imperceptible, the principle of ajñāta-sukṛti should be accepted based on faith in His Divine Grace.

Hare Krishna.

Sincerely,
Pandu das

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 04.04.2014 @ 00:26

Does God Exist

Hare Krishna. I would expect atheists to disagree with the proof given here, based on the “anthropic principle,” the notion that our ability to inquire about the universe implies a universe that would allow us to exist.

However the anthropic principle raises questions of probabilities, where we can ask the abstract question of what possible universes could exist if our ability to observe it were not a given. Scientists have calculated possible ranges for the forces of the universe, for example if gravity were to weak or too strong, our bodies could not have formed.

Of all the variables, the cosmological constant is such an incredibly tiny number with such a small functional range that the anthropic principle requires a multiverse of virtually unlimited other universes in order to have enough chances to randomly produce a universe capable of supporting conceivable life.

Of course, Vedic texts indicate a multiverse, but materialist scientists cannot show any other universe, so they can’t support their theory that life doesn’t need God to exist.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 17.06.2013 @ 15:47

Krishna’s Cows

Praghosa wrote, “On the other hand by offering their milk to Krishna the cows are receiving unlimited spiritual benefit. . . .”

Babhru wrote, “I hear this so often from devotees, but I can’t think of anyone who has offered any pramana to support it. Do we really have any evidence that this is true? If so, what is it, specifically?”

Srila Prabhupada wrote in Krishna Book:
“The system of worshiping Krsna by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Krsna, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone.”

If a tree benefits when its flowers are offered to Krishna, why wouldn’t a cow benefit when her milk is offered to Him?

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 16.07.2010 @ 15:25

Why not store bought milk

I’m pleased to hear of your success, Mathura. I wanted to set up a farm sanctuary since college, but it took me 8 years after getting my degree (Environmental Studies, B.S.) before I could even afford to buy a house, and the best I could do was not quite five acres, almost 12 miles from the local temple farm. I’ve been a part of two ISKCON “farm communities”, but neither was set up for communal farming it became an individual family endeavor instead.

I don’t see how I can get from where I am now to maintaining a sustainable herd of cows. Right now, to pay for the mortgage, electric, heat, cars & fuel, clothes, etc., I have to spend 40 hours a week in a cubicle 50 miles from home. I love gardening, wildcrafting herbs, tending the animals, etc., but so far these activities bring in very little income. If I quit my job to work the land full time, I would lose my house along with the land before I could get established. With five kids and a wife all supported by my paycheck, I can’t afford to take big risks. We do have our small farm sanctuary and are protecting one cow along with a wide variety of other animals, but so far making a living of this remains a dream.

Does our protecting one cow, along with persistent preaching of Krishna consciousness and promoting vegetarian diets, give us the right to offer milk to Krishna and take the prasad with a clear conscience? I’ve given it plenty of thought, and I think it does. We’re doing our best, and the struggle for existence in the material energy is hard. I wish that more devotees would get more involved in farming and cow protection; but it’s not just the labor, it’s perplexing. How does a man of modest means and a family to support get to be a farmer working according to the principles of Krishna consciousness?

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 18.06.2010 @ 16:08

Hare Krishna.

I agree that everyone should actively engage in cow protection, but the claim that devotees are somehow wrong for buying milk from the store is not supported. I have never seen such a restriction given by Srila Prabhupada. The idea that cows raised by nondev0tee farmers are benefited by offering their milk to Krishna not imagined; it is given by Srila Prabhupada’s statement in Krishna Book:

“The system of worshiping Krsna by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Krsna, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone.”

On the other hand, the idea that refusing store milk somehow benefits cows is speculative. Who can point to a single cow that has been saved from suffering or slaughter by devotees avoiding store-bought milk? At least in the West, devotees are not in sufficient numbers to impact the milk market. However, by buying milk those cows are at least getting an opportunity to serve Krishna.

I worked for many years to bring my family to a point where we could directly practice cow protection, and we now have one cow along with a few sheep and goats for fiber. However, the cow has not yet been able to give birth and I suspect may never be able. We tried to breed her a few years ago, but it was not fruitful and now it’s been almost 3 years since she has gone into heat. At least for us, cow protection and milk production are related but separate issues.

Mathura Prabhu kindly describes some of the financial costs and benefits of cow protection, but leaves out some. For example, buying the cow. They’re not cheap! Also the most expensive factor is land. In my rural county, farmland can easily exceed $10,000 per acre. Moreover, none of the land neighboring my home is for sale. I have less than five acres, of which about 3 are pasture. Certainly that is not enough to sustain a herd.

I’ve never heard of anyone paying $10/gallon of milk. Most people are accustomed to paying half that. (I normally pay $6.75/gallon for raw, organic milk, and the devotees I’ve bought milk from asked for much less.) Still, if we take the $10/gal, forget land costs and property taxes, etc., who can maintain a family in the USA on $7,000 a year? One still needs a “real job” to support it.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 04.06.2010 @ 16:45

Balancing The Roles Of The Gbc And The Disciple In Guru Selection

I’m lacking sufficient time to participate fully in this interesting discussion, but I at least want to respond to a comment that addressed me.

@ CCD – How does my point make sense only if siksa guru is inferior to diksa guru? I don’t say a diksa guru is necessarily superior, but they have different entry points. A complete beginner can act as vartma pradarsaka guru simply by giving someone one of Srila Prabhupada’s books. A devotee with some understanding of Krishna consciousness, but who is not necessarily even initiated, can act as siksa guru simply by teaching another beginner. Acting as diksa guru is more restricted. For example, a diksa guru must himself be initiated at the very least, and Srila Prabhupada has said the etiquette allows one only to initiate one’s own disciples after the disappearance of one’s own guru. His behavior should also be a perfect example of Krishna consciousness, otherwise how can he be accepted as Krishna’s representative?

When Srila Prabhupada said to become guru and teach Krishna consciousness to others, it’s clearly calling for siksa gurus because the activity is teaching and there is no mention either of waiting until after his disappearance or a waiver of that rule. If the statement doesn’t talk about diksa gurus, it shouldn’t be taken as positive evidence regarding diksa. Just because the word “guru” is used does not mean we can take any meaning of the word that we like. We have to deduce Srila Prabhupada’s intended meaning and stick with that, otherwise it’s cheating.

While siksa may be more important, the diksa guru is still special. We can take siksa from many sources, but we get only one diksa guru. When someone asks who is your guru, it is customary that one answers the name of the guru who gave initiation. We identify with him and look to him as Krishna’s representative and worship him accordingly, as “my lord birth after birth.” The diksa guru is almost always taken as a chief siksa guru too, so when he speaks, our “only wish is to have (our) consciousness purified by the words emanating from his lotus mouth.” If somehow one of our siksa gurus fails to inspire us, we can move on without much difficulty; but if an aspiring devotee loses faith in his diksa guru, it is a serious dilemma. Otherwise there would be no need for the GBC to ask the SAC to address it. If this is a problem for experienced devotees on the GBC, how much more difficult it must be for newcomers!

Hare Krishna.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 06.05.2010 @ 16:18

The sixth page of this article begins by saying that Srila Prabhupada was clear about wanting all his disciples to become spiritual masters, but the SAC seems to be improperly favoring specific meaning of a term that actually has broad applications.

We know of at least three kinds of gurus (introducing, instructing, and initiating), so it seems helpful to consider which kind of guru is being described in each quote. The term “spiritual master” can also have various meanings, including a pure devotee with no disciples (as contrasted with a spiritual aspirant). Sometimes more than one meaning seems to be used in a discussion, making it difficult to separate them. Especially with personal letters, context often seems very relevant to the meaning and implications of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. I just don’t find arguments on this topic very persuasive if these factors are ignored.

In the lecture on 4 Nov 1973, for example, Srila Prabhupada gives an order to become spiritual master, but what kind of guru does he mean? There is no mention of waiting until after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance (as required in the 2 Dec 1975 letter to Tusta Krsna Swami), and the description is of introducing people to Krishna consciousness and giving basic instruction. The word “disciple” does not even appear in the quote. How then can this be used as proof for authorizing initiating gurus?

Another example, the next quote, from 11 Dec 1968, also qualifies the phrase “spiritual master” as “Simply speak Krsna consciousness, that’s all.”

I’ve heard of only six instances where Srila Prabhupada apparently says his disciples will be able to initiate their own disciples. Five are private letters to ambitious disciples where the point is clearly to stall his disciple’s drive to initiate, while the prospect of initiating seems to be held like a carrot on a stick to keep the disciple following. Never was such a letter sent to a patient, humble devotee. The other was an early (1971), private interview with an Indian reporter that was not even published until 1997. None of these examples seem intended or remotely sufficient to dictate ISKCON policy that was supposed to take effect in 1977 or 1978.

Since the issue at hand relates to diksa gurus, it makes sense to stick to quotes that clearly reference diksa gurus and avoid those that describe other kinds of gurus. This can also have the enlightening effect of forcing us to rethink some of our assumptions. Hari bol.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 19.04.2010 @ 23:45

Vyasa-puja book offerings for all S.P. disciples

Hare Krishna. I’ve often heard that our parampara is primarily based upon siksa, that siksa is more important than diksa, and that anyone can be a disciple of Srila Prabhupada by following his teachings. However, I get the impression that contributions for this book are being accepted only from disciples initiated by Srila Prabhupada personally or by his rtvik representatives during his manifest pastimes. If that is true (and if not then I wish someone would clarify), then what kind of message does it send to those who chiefly derive their inspiration each day from hearing Srila Prabhupada speak and reading his books?

Hare Krishna

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 23.03.2010 @ 18:11

Say NO! to vaccines

I tend to be skeptical about conspiracy theories, but I certainly appreciate mention of fetal bovine serum as a vaccination ingredient. It’s been over 12 years since I’ve studied up on vaccine issues, but back then I got the impression that there was definitely ghastliness involved in the production of vaccines. None of my five children have ever been vaccinated.

Do any of the devotees here know which vaccines contain the products of animal slaughter and which, if any, do not? I’ve been under the impression that it’s all of them, and that the manufacture of vaccines involve animal cruelty in other ways also.

Should devotees really be getting fetal bovine serum injected onto their bodies and thinking it will make us healthy? Perhaps fetal bovine serum sounds innocent due to the scientific terminology, but if I understand correctly, it’s obtained by getting a cow pregnant, giving her an abortion, extracting the blood from the fetus, and removing the solids. The remaining liquid is fetal bovine serum. That’s supposed to make us healthy? It sounds like a deal with the devil.

I’m pretty sure the Krishna conscious philosophy Srila Prabhupada taught indicated that material afflictions resulted from sinful activity, and devotees were supposed to depend on Krishna. Isn’t it true that our duration of life is predetermined and cannot be extended by material means, despite appearances? Of course it’s normally impossible for us to know what would have happened in an alternate reality based on another course of action.

Practically speaking, in an immediate life-or-death situation, I might accept a vaccine or other similarly undesirable treatment; but as a routine preventative measure the way most vaccines are given, I definitely would not consider the presumed benefit to justify animal slaughter.

ISKCON should establish a formal position on this matter, hopefully opposing the use of slaughterhouse products in routine preventative medicine. Each year as part of our homeschooling program my wife and I submit an affidavit to the state saying that routine vaccinations are contrary to our religious beliefs. To support it we say something resembling what I’ve written above, but when other devotees contradict our views on this subject, our position may be weakened and our rights could be compromised. As I see it, Krishna’s devotees should not be injecting products of cow killing with the hope that it will promote health.

Hare Krishna.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 13.08.2009 @ 01:50

New Book Reveals Fundamental Flaw in Darwin’s Theory

“I know plenty of people who believe in both God and evolution.”

Where did they get their idea of God? From their imagination? The Vaisnava acaryas teach not only about God but also about sastra. If the “scientific” idea of evolution is not compatible with what is presented in sastra as taught by Srila Prabhupada, then we have to choose to accept one or the other.

When did Srila Prabhupada ever congratulate Darwin on his famous theory? He didn’t. So if we want to embrace Darwin’s theory or something close to it, we have to let go of Srila Prabhupada. Personally I’m not willing to do that for anything. I have a scientific education too, with several biology classes (Environmental Studies, B.S.), but I also know that the whole modern paradigm is built on Krishna’s illusory energy with no idea about Krishna. Therefore it cannot be trusted regardless of how appealing it may seem.

Why should I spend time pondering things like evolution at all? I could be killed any number of ways today or tomorrow, and then such knowledge, right or wrong, will be of no use. Let me just hear and accept what Srila Prabhupada has to say, for he is our ever well wisher and he knows Krishna.

Comment Posted By Pandu das On 01.08.2009 @ 00:09


 


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