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Comments Posted By ParamshreyaDasa

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Bill Clinton Gets a Bhagavad-gita

Dear Chaktini Mataji, I find you comment very wise and sensitive, like a happy medium between two extreme positions. By this concept there is room for all ISKCON participants to feel comfortable and simultaneously be within the frame of Srila Prabhupada’s understanding and approval.

As you correctly said, it is not only the question of what we wear, but how we wear it. For instance, you can wear a dhoti/kurta very scruffy and unironed, then it looks very unattractive and un-sattvic and people will notice it, or you can wear it very neat, gentleman-like and, if we want, even stylish, then people will generally appreciate it. The same goes with Western or any other dress. So, instead to quarrel about what to dress we could shift the discussion more on how we dress.

I am convinced that finally each of us has to feel comfortable in our external appearance to be authentic and thus successsful. If you are a fully dedicated sannyasi or brahmachari you generally have not much problems in taking up a dress code or uniform which is in contrast to mainstream society. But if you are a working family man, this might be a different case. By analysing the complete range of Srila Prabhupada’s quotes regarding this topic, it becomes quite clear that he hasn’t set up a dogmatic dress code, but a framing, where there is space for many ways of application.

Just to show how far the borders of Srila Prabhupada’s framing reach, here is a quote from Stasvarupa Das Goswami’s “Srila Prabhupada Nectar” (5.8):

>> Prabhupada once saw a picture of Balavanta preaching into a microphone during a political campaign. Behind him sat the mayor and another candidate. Balavanta wore a suit and tie, tilaka, and tulasi beads. His sikha was trimmed, and his hair was grown out. Around his neck he wore his beadbag, and he was fingering his beads as he spoke. When Prabhupada saw the picture, he said that this is what we want, to preach in American dress. He said we should be known as American Krsnas.

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Jul 6, 2012 @ 7:29 am

I can understand the arguments of Shyamasundara Prabhu. Maybe it’s true that all these particular persons, he listed, got in contact with the devotees more easily because they could recognize them by their dress. However I think we shouldn’t make it to a stereotype, i.e. “this should be the only way – and then we will be successful”.

We most probably could make a long list of (important) people who steered clear of the devotees, especially because of their outlandish dress. These people are subconsciously afraid that they also have to take to such kind of externals, if they want to take part in the practice of Krishna Consciousness.

As Prahladesh Prabhu has pointed out: Also the other way, the Western way, has its justification and there are numerous quotes of Srila Prabhupada’s approval.

Let the devotee decide for him or herself how he or she feels comfortable and to be more effective. A stereotype will not be beneficial for our preaching.

I think the brand should be our character and our bright face in first place. Everything else is secondary and can be optimized according to time, place and circumstance. It was the character and the vibe that has finally convinced people like Wheeler, Harrison, and Clinton.

I am also convinced that Krishna has not selcted Bhakta Brian because of his dress, but because of his ideal attitude.

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Jul 4, 2012 @ 9:59 am

“Karmi clothes” and “devotional clothes” – Getting the definitions right

(continued, last part)

As far as I have learned, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati has introduced a uniform for his sannyasis and brahmacaries, but not for the grihasthas or normal congregational members. He has introduced the saffron dhotis because in India at that time that was the respected outfit for religious preachers particularly of the very respected Sankara tradition.

In my opinion, the discussion should be over as soon as possible whether congregational members should wear a particular uniform or not, i.e. dhotis and saris in our case. All evidences speak against it. But if we definitely want a uniform for fulltime missionaries like sannyasis and brahmacharies and for pujaris, the question of future discussions should be then: Which type of uniform we want? Which is most suitable and practical from a climate viewpoint, and which is respected also by the particular society of our country. What was respected in India 100 years ago must not be respected in places like America, Germany or the Middle East.

Your servant
Paramshreya Dasa

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Oct 6, 2011 @ 8:49 am

(continued, part 3)

“In this age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress other than the chanting of the holy name, the chanting of the holy name, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.”

(Brhan-naradiya Purana)

Srila Prabhupada has written and spoken probably millions of words about this process. Why should we be more Catholic than the Pope or more Vedic than the Founder-Acarya and establish a new additional doctrine that the scriptures and Srila Prabhupada have not given?

Nitai Dasa said, “This change can’t take place if the term devotional clothing is used since devotional clothing already refers to dhotis and saris.”

This is exactly the topic of Chandrashekhara’s original article. If we find out that this term is unscientific and theologically wrong, we immediately have to correct the usage. “Devotional dress” has nothing to do with a specific ethnic style of dress, but is a universally term for clothes used in devotional service, like a devotional pot or plate. According to the 14th chapter of Bhagavad-gita, it is most appropriate to use things in the Lord’s service which are in the mode of goodness. Therefore, the conclusion is that the Western wardrobe offers plenty of respectable decent types of dresses which can be used in Krishna’s devotional service without a problem. In this way we can call such clothes equally devotional clothes.

If we have a problem with that, i.e. if we do not want that devotees wear any kind of clothes during worship service like kirtana, lecture, cooking and arati, even when it is clean and respectable, then we have to admit that we want to have a uniform for particular practices. In this case, we have to be honest and bring the discussion to a conclusion about whether or not dhotis and pants are devotional dress. The discussion is then whether we want to have a uniform for our members and if yes, which one and in which areas.

In this case, we have to consider that Lord Chaitanya didn’t ask his followers and associates to wear a particular uniform, but they were all dressed as their neighbors who often were demigod worshipers or mayavadis. It is a sociological fact that religions which demand a uniform from it’s members are not so attractive than religions which have no particular dress code.

(to be continued)

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Oct 6, 2011 @ 8:47 am

Prabhupada: But we are not concerned with the dress, we are concerned with the advancement of spiritual understanding, that’s all. (Room Conversation with Christian Priest — June 9, 1974, Paris)

So, I wonder, how can Nitai Prabhu be so sure that dhotis and saris, as we know them today, are eternal spiritual dresses and present this as an axiomatic truth? Where are the references and slokas from the Vedic scripture? As far as I know, there are not even words like “dhoti” and “sari” found in the Sanskrit language. In the scriptures like Srimad-Bhagavatam we find terms like “vesa” which just means garb, dress, cloth and so on. We do not really know that dhotis and saris are coming from the spiritual world. There is no exact Vedic reference.

Certainly, I don’t want to say here that Nitai’s suggestion is impossible. I personally have no problems with the idea that people of Goloka wear these dresses. I think it is wrong, however, to say that dhoti and sari is the only dress in the spiritual world, and therefore they are “spiritual dresses,” while everything else is material dress. Krishna is unlimited. His creativity and His taste have no boundaries. Why should he reduce His wardrobe to only one style of dress? Even here on Earth we see that in so many temples the devotees dress Krishna in so many styles and fashions. Recently I have seen how Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the Astasakhis of Mayapur were dressed in stitched colorful Japanese outfits. Nobody complained.

Nitai Prabhu also said, “Of course, most of us care what Krsna, His associates and His devotees wear and advanced and pure devotees will go into ecstasy simply thinking about Krsna’s clothes.” That is alright. We should certainly think about Krishna and His paraphernalia, and there are so many nice descriptions in our literature like Brahma-samhita and Srimad-Bhagavatam about how beautiful Krishna looks and how stylishly He is dressed. Why, however, must we also wear His dress in order to remember Him? If that is the process of self-realization, we also have to wear crowns, golden ornaments, garlands, a peacock feather, go to a special tanning salon which makes our skin bluish etc. No, our process of self-realization and God-consciousness is clearly described in our scriptures:

harer nama harer nama harer nama eva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

(To be continued)

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Oct 6, 2011 @ 8:45 am

With interest I have read Nitai Dasa’s comment (No.34/35). He is presenting his points in such a way that one might start thinking that Prabhupada has given us the “eternal spiritual dress,” and if we don’t accept it, we seriously deviate from the path of spiritual life. At least this is my impression. Nitai says, “Srila Prabhupada introduced the kurta, together with dhotis and saris, as devotee dress.” This is not really true. There may be statements and gestures where Prabhupada speaks favorably about dhotis and saris or “robes.” But there are also many quotes where he likewise appreciated respectable Western dress. Here are just two very clear examples:

(1) Prabhupada: No, dhoti, I don’t say. You have nice coat-pant. I don’t say that you have to… I never said that. You have adopted it. (laughs) I never said that “You put on dhoti.”
(Conversation on Train to Allahabad — January 11, 1977, India)

(2) Jyotirmayi: No, no. He’s saying why are we dressing like that, like Indians?

Prabhupada: I have not said that you dress like that. You like, you do it. Did I say that you do it?

Priest: It’s like the Indian Catholic priest dressing like a (indistinct) priest or like a European priest. I mean, they look as if they had a disguise with them.

Prabhupada: No, no, just like when the English were ruling, English national. So the Englishmen never said that “You dress like Englishmen”, but they automatically dressed. You know very well. They do like that. The Englishmen, they went there to get some money by trade, by politics. But they never went there to change their dress. But they thought that “If I dress myself like Englishman, I will be more honored.” That is their point. Similarly, we never preach that “You dress like this.” But the student, they like this dress. That’s all right. What is the wrong there?

Priest: It’s not wrong. It’s funny.

Prabhupada: Rather these girls, when they dress in Indian way, they look more beautiful. That you will have to admit. Yes. The same girl will dress in your…

Priest: (indistinct)

Prabhupada: So the girls, the women, they like to be more beautiful. So if by dressing in other way they look beautiful, why should you ask them not to do it?

Priest: Maybe for ladies and girls certainly, but for the dhoti and…

(To be continued…)

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Oct 6, 2011 @ 8:43 am

About comment 29: Maybe there is a misunderstanding, dear Sarvopama Prabhu. I just wanted to point out that even on many of our classical BBT paintings it is not the case that only the Vaishnavas wear dhotis and saris and the Non-Vaishnavas do not. No, most of the times both groups wear these dresses and therefore we cannot really say that it is an exclusive Vaishnava dress. That’s all what I wanted to say. If you like, you may certainly continue wearing dhotis and saris (I also do it sometimes), but to say that saris and dhotis are exclusive devotional dresses is not a valid statement (even) in the light of our classical BBT paintings.

I am convinced, we are equally pleasing Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, by using sattvic respected clothes (be it Western or Eastern) in the devotional service of the Lord. Then it becomes devotional dress according to Srila Rupa Goswami’s scientific definition (yukta vairagya).

Hare Krsna,
your servant Paramshreya Dasa

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Sep 25, 2011 @ 10:24 am

Sometimes I heard the argument that “Look, its Vaishnava clothes, just see the paintings!” However we often see also the deamons dressed in dhotis on the same paintings like Hiranyakasipu, Kamsa or Jagai and Madhai (before surrendering). How fits that together?

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Sep 21, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

About Sriman Nityananda Chandra Prabhu’s comment:

When researching the VedaBase we will see that Srila Prabhupada very rarely used such terms as “karmi dress”. Such terms were rather inforced by his disciples, especially after his departure. After that this overstressing was adopted by the next generation and by now most of the devotees are convinced that Western dress is automatically karmi dress, without any scientific reason.

By researching the VedaBase one will find also that Srila Prabhupada didn’t give only instructions for the dressing in dhotis and saris, or “robes” as he called it , but we will see that he allowed and appreciated the wearing of respectable Western dress equally. (“American gentlemen”)

Prabhupada never gave a scientific explanation why a dhoti should be devotional dress and why Western dress should not. At least as far as I know. When he talkes about uniform, he rather specifically meant three things: Tilaka, Tulasi neckbeads and sikha (“flag”).

Here is a list of references confirming this:

Shikha is a tuft of hair at the back of head specifically kept by Vaishnavas and brahmanas. It shows the following two things:

(1) The Vaishnavas following a descending spiritual path that is they depend on the mercy of the Supreme Lord at every step to pull them out of Maya. So when we are drowning in Maya and only our head is out of the water, Guru and Gauranga can still pull us out comfortably by holding our head by this tuft of head called the shikha. So the shikha shows the subordination and dependence of the devotee on the causelessmercy of Lord Gauranga-Krishna at all times. The Mayavadis follow the ascending path since they egotistically confident of achieve God and coming out of illusion by the dint of their insignificant efforts or sadhan. So they do not keep a shikha because they do not need the mercy of the Lord.

(2) Shikha is also like a spiritual antenna on the top of head meant to show to the Lord and that we are aspiring recepients of His causeless mercy.

Tuft of Hair (sikha)
from Pancharatra Pradipa

According to the Vedic culture, when a person undergoes the
cuda-karana-samskara (hair-cutting ceremony) and upanayana (Vedic
initiation), he must shave his head, leaving a tuft of hair called a sikha
. One must have a sikha to perform any kind of yajna. Therefore in Indian
tradition all the brahmanas, Vaisnava or otherwise, keep a sikha.
Although there seem to be no sastric injunctions regarding the size of the
sikha, Gaudiya Vaisnavas traditionally keep the sikha about the size of a
calf’s hoofprint, approximately 1.5 inches (5 – 6 cm.) in diameter. Srila
Prabhupada mentioned this in a conversation with some of his disciples in
Hawaii: "Gaudiya Vaisnava sikha is an inch and a half across — no bigger.
Bigger sikha means another sampradaya…. And they have to be knotted."
(May 6, 1972, Hawaii; Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta V, page 93)
The sikha may be any length, but it should be kept tightly knotted and only
untied when you are washing,The Hari-bhakti-vilasa observes that members
of the upper classes even tie the sikha before taking the final ablutions
of a bath. This particularly applies when bathing in a body of water such
as a river or a lake, in which case to not tie the sikha prior to bathing
is considered low class and disrespectful to the sacred rite of bathing.
You may tie it in a simple manner for bathing, retying it more carefully
after the bath.* cleaning, or oiling it. Also, when going to sleep,
attending funeral rites, or observing a period of mourning, you should
keep the sikha untied. Since an untied sikha is a sign of a death in the
family, it is inauspicious to go about one’s daily duties with an untied
sikha. It is also said that if one keeps the sikha untied, the body may
become weak.
While tying your sikha after bathing, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, or, if
initiated with Gayatri mantras, silently chant the Brahma-gayatri (first
line of Gayatri). The sikha should not be braided (traditionally only
women braid their hair), nor should it be kept long and disheveled.
Naturally, if the sikha is too short to be tied, it is all right to leave
it open, but it should not be disheveled.*

Shrila Prabhupada’s letters

…but every one of my disciples must have the flag & marks of tilak on forehead. This is essential.
Letter to: Damodara — Calcutta 13 October, 1967
…in all circumstances a devotee cannot avoid tilak, flag on head, & beads
on neck. These are essential features of a Vaisnava.
Letter to: Brahmananda — Calcutta 14 October, 1967
I never objected to any of my students dressing like nice American
gentleman, clean shaved; those who are my disciples must have flag, tilak &
beads on neck without fail.
Letter to: Kirtanananda — Calcutta 16 October, 1967
Householders may wear dhotis in the Temple, or as they like, but not of the
saffron color. They may wear white, yellow, or whatever. Outside the Temple
they may wear American gentleman’s dress, with Tilaka, flag, and beads.
Letter to: Balai — San Francisco 12 March, 1968
The Vaisnavas, with tilaka, with kunti, with chanting beads, as soon as you
see… And practically you know. As soon as they see these Hare Krsna
movement people, they also chant, "Hare Krsna," giving a chance to the
others. The dress is also required. You should be always equipped with
tilaka, kunti, and sikha, sutra. Then, as soon as a common man sees, "Oh,
here is a Hare Krsna man. Hare Krsna," he’ll chant. Automatically you give a
chance to chant Hare Krsna.
So this is required. The foolish rascals, they say that "What is the
necessity of this, that?" No. This is necessity. You must always remain
dressed like a Vaisnava. That is necessity.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.19 — Nairobi, October 29, 1975
Vaisnava must have dvadasa-tilaka, sikha, sutra, kunti, and there are many
things, description.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 8.128 — Bhubanesvara, January 24, 1977
…we must have always our tilak and sikha and there is no compromise for
this purpose.
Letter to: Brahmananda — Seattle 6 October, 1968
…our real dress is the tilaka and sikha.
Letter to: Raktak — London, 25 September, 1969
…we should always keep sikha and teelock.
Letter to: Jagadisa — Bhaktivedanta Manor 23 July, 1973
Regarding what is a Vaisnava, Vaisnava means that when others see him, they
will also chant Hare Krsna. So why not give them the chance of seeing by
wearing the beads, tilaka, and sikha?
Letter to: Sudama — Bombay 10 December, 1973
According to sastra anyone who wears tilaka and sikha and kunti over and
above the Vaisnava dress or Vaisnava sannyasi must be accepted especially
while chanting Hare Krishna mantra with bead bags. Kindly convince them and
induce them to allow these Vaisnavas to enter Jagannatha Temple.
Letter to: Syamasundara — Bombay 8 April, 1974
Rather our sampradaya-acharya Srila Rupa Gosvami, of whom’s philosophy of yukta-vairagya Srila Prabhupada was a strict and expert follower, gives a perfect scientific explanation when something is spirituslized and by that devotional and when not. He explains this in his Nectar of Devotion beginning with anasaktasya visayan.

Chandrashekhara is pointing out that there is up to now no such scientific explanation for Western and Indian dress as being devotional and karmi attire and therefore we should rethink about this unnecesarry overstressing.

Prabhupada stressed that we should not follow dogmatically or fanatically but scientificly and with common sense (“Religion without philosophy…”).

Otherwise it will only create a disturbance in society sooner or later.

» Posted By ParamshreyaDasa On Sep 12, 2011 @ 10:09 am

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