Comments Posted By Sita Rama 108
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Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu,
You write, “The same applies to ‚Äústrictness.‚ÄĚIt might help novice Bhakti-yogis rise to higher levels of Bhakti, but it does not constitute pure unadulterated Bhakti ‚Äď it is simply a means to get there. Still, the common knowledge of strictness itself has no relevance to pure Bhakti”.
The,”common knowledge”itself may have no relevance to Bhakti, but if someone applies that knowledge as a means to attain Bhakti, it certainly has relevance. How can something applied as a means to attain something be irrelevant to that attainment?
But I agree that knowledge of the need to be strict to attain anything useful is common, and a common sense person will know it is required for the ultimate attainment. An intelligent human can analyze and see how much another person, group,or culture, emphasizes service to God and spiritual attainments as apposed to material attainments. Anon devotee can thus observe Bhakti in others . Of course observing is not the same as tasting it, but the clear distinctions between the external, behavior of one devoted to Krishna, compared with a materialist is,a crucial aspect of what makes Krishna Consciousness a science; it is testable, experienced by the individual, and correlated with behaviors that are observable to others.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 18.06.2013 @ 20:36
Dear Kesava Krishna Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obiesances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I think I understand the point you made in comment # 8, “It was also intended for a show of support for this because it appeared to bolster the ‚Äėconservative‚Äô cause. If such support exists without resort to Bhakti or just for the sake of it, then it is sentiment, not Bhakti.”
The Acharya’s tell us that we cannot achieve Bhakti if we consider the rules as ends in themselves. Bolstering the,”conservative” cause for the sake of it, seems like another way of saying-seeing the rules as ends in themselves. I would not intentionally do this.
The point I was making is that we do not need to think the practical aspects which are required for bhakti(accepting the scripture as absolute, and avoiding prohibited behavior) need to be relaxed so we can lessen the tension we have with secular ways of thinking and acting. We do not need to purposefully create tension with secular society but trying to ease the tension is likely to lead to decline.
The overall thesis of the economics of religion is that religious organizations in general have something unique to offer,immortality and a relationship with God. No secular organization can offer these. When religious organizations offer material benefits they lose their uniqueness and fall into competition with organizations that can offer much more materially. Therefore in general, the “liberal churches” which have compromised with secular society, have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s while those that emphasize spiritual benefits have grown steadily.
I agree that ISKCON has something unique to offer. We have the fullest understanding of the science of Bhakti, and we have the most practical and easy means to develop devotion. But we cannot say that devotion, or Bhakti is totally absent in all of Christianity. I believe you have pointed out an area where my thesis needs work- how the aspects that make these churches strong are connected with bhakti. I will work on that area. Thank you.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 15.06.2013 @ 20:32
With all due respect I have to admit I do not understand the thesis of this article. But I want to point out that is certainly possible for, ‚Äúmundane‚ÄĚ scholars to determine whether a religious organization focuses more on concepts that are outside the boundaries of the material world or more on social/ethical considerations. For instance in my article,‚ÄĚ Strictness is the Strength of ISKCON‚ÄĚ I cited a massive study on church growth/decline. It measured how much members of particular congregations/denominations accepted their scripture as literal truth and how much their church restricted ,or regulated, eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, dress, unwed couples living together etc. Thus the study is relevant to Bhakti because it is undeniable that accepting a scripture as absolute and accepting prohibitions, which restrict the spirit of sense enjoyment, are requisites for developing Bhakti. What the study showed was that religious organizations which emphasize literal acceptance of scripture and prohibitions grow (although this creates tension between them and society in general) while those which embrace secular morality and world views decline. It is therefore safe to conclude that if ISKCON tries to minimize its distinctiveness from society at large by relaxing rules on behavior, and compromising absolute acceptance of the scripture, we will also decline.
I have access to many studies on the correlations between strictness and church growth/ decline. These include arguments on the applicability and generalizability of the data, criticisms and overt attempts to disprove theories, etc. I am thus prepared; and will be happy to address, any direct criticism of my assertions.
I will give one example. In 1975, the Presbyterian Church, in response to declining membership since the mid 1960‚Äôs, did a survey of 681 of their own congregations. The Presbyterians described themselves as liberal, and wanted to determine if there was any merit to the claim that conservatism lead to church growth. The conclusion of the study begins with:
The results suggest conservative churches are somewhat more likely to grow in this sample of 681 United Presbyterian churches. The correlation is weak, but it is supported by a similar finding (McKinney, 1979) among United Church of Christ churches (both Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed).
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 14.06.2013 @ 22:55
Dear Kesava Krsna Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obiesances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
You write, “While considering our Iskcon social needs and development we can minimise the value of Bhakti.” This mirrors the thrust of an article by me on this site, “Strictness is the Strength of ISKCON “. Scholarly observation of the level a religious organization focuses on social needs, as opposed to spiritual concepts, shows that those which focus on social needs, in an attempt to attract followers, actually decline while those that focus more on spiritual concepts, grow (in spite of the fact that the more spiritual organizations have social structures which are in tension with secular society in general.
The theory (known as the, Economics of Religion) which explains the observational data, is: 1. In a free market, organizations are in competition for participants. 2. Religious organizations can offer something secular organizations cannot, namely, the spiritual benefits of immortality and an eternal loving relationship with God. 3. When religious organizations change their focus from fulfilling spiritual needs to fulfilling social needs, they place themselves in competition with secular organizations; however, secular organizations can offer more material benefits than religious organizations can. In this way religious organizations invariable decline. Scholars and religious historians use the term, “inner secularization”, to describe the ubiquitous tendency for religious organizations to switch from attempting to fulfill spiritual needs to fulfilling social needs. ISKCON is, in no way, unique in offering eternal existence and love for God. It follows: if ISKCON loses focus on spiritual concepts( to decrease tension with secular society) it will lead to decline, as seen throughout the history of Christianity and recent research on growth/decline of religious organizations..
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 14.06.2013 @ 05:03
In the above article we read:
[Suniti, however, being a woman, and specifically his mother, could not become Dhruva Maharaja‚Äôs diksa-guru.‚ÄĚ
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 4.12.32
Note: It is interesting to consider the fact that all other instructions superficially supporting FDG ideology are not found within such first-class evidence as Puports to S.B. or any other classical literature commented upon by SP. Hence, those pro-FDG instructions are weakened during confrontation with S.B. 4.12.32‚Äôs purport.]
The best evidence we have regarding whether women can be Guru‚Äôs, or any other issue, is Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs direct answer to the question. Which is:
‚ÄúYei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya [Cc. Madhya 8.128]. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya‚ÄĚ See:
FEMALE DIKSHA GURUS - ‚ÄúYES. BUT, NOT SO MANY.‚ÄĚ SP BY AJAMILA PRABHU.
Srila Prabhupada quotes Cc Madhya 8,128 numerous times in his purports. And, in case there is any confusion, he explains here that it indicates women can be Guru‚Äôs. I see Srila Prabhupada‚Äôs spoken comments about the meaning of a verse to be valid, and not superficial. As claimed in the article above.
When asked the question Srila Prabhupada had the choice of referring to the standard during previous ages or to the Avatara for this age. He choose to refer to Lord Catianya’s instruction on this issue and I will follow his, and the Lords footsteps. The instructions of the Yuga Avatara and the Acharya are to be given more weight than external social/political traditions.
ISKCON is an preaching movement,we can offer people the highest thing, eternal bliss. When we emphasize external ethics we fail to distinguish ourselves from social organizations. We can all be quite sure that we have no ability to compete with social clubs in external things.. Emphasizing the external is the beginning of the end.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 05.12.2012 @ 09:15
Using our material logic, we might say, ‚Äú oh in previous ages it was almost exclusively brahmans who were Guru‚Äôs so in Kali Yuga one must certainly at least be a brahman. But that is not what we are told by Lord Caitanya. He is the Avatara for Kali Yuga and he explicitly orders all to become Guru‚Äôs. Do we find this stated by another Avatara or Acharya in a different age?
SB 11.5 36 Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of sa√¨k√©rtana.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 03.12.2012 @ 09:23
I, like you, feel very strongly that we need to be more aware of the full meaning of mataji and the level of respect that goes along with it. I am disturbed when I find papers on varnashrama which describe women‚Äôs roles exclusively in terms of a chaste wife.
At one time I was planning to write a paper including empirical research on what it takes to be an effective mother. Basically it means teaching the child with the utmost concern for the child‚Äôs wellbeing as opposed to simply being concerned with controlling the child for one‚Äôs own peace of mind. The spirit of sacrifice produces intelligence in this regard. A good mother does not only improve the child in terms of good behavior but studies have shown IQ levels are increased by good mothering. In fact several studies showed evidence that children brought up by their own mothers tended to fair better in general intelligence than those reared in early child care centers. This research was eventually stifled due to social/political pressures. My conclusion is that those who are really dull and unable to perceive anything abstract, like intelligence, can only see mothers as diaper changers. Thus they consider a mother a menial sudra. Contrary to this, even a mother in a sudra family must be a teacher.
Real respect can only come from understanding how much that respect is warranted. Otherwise calling someone a mother is an empty platitude. So in some cases there may be grounds to consider the epithet an insult. But the answer is not to conclude it is an insult per se, but to develop a culture of genuine respect.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 29.11.2012 @ 00:03
I agree and, as usual, will add some things. First I feel we need to acknowledge a general concept. Lord Caitanya says a sudra can be a Guru. A sudra Guru may not have managerial abilities. So the qualification to be a practical leader and qualification to be a spiritual leader are separate issues. It should be obvious that the question of women managers in ISKCON is a totally separate issue from women being Diksha Guru‚Äôs
Lord Caitanya says ones needs sufficient brains to join the Sankritana Movement. A human must have brains enough to see the need to transcend material existence. But Lord Brahman himself does not have the mental power to understand Krishna. Some say women have smaller brains, but that difference is infinitely small in comparison to the difference between a human brain and Lord Brahma‚Äôs. The conclusion is that no one can understand Krishna with material intelligence. It comes from the mercy of Krishna only, and that is available to any human being who strives for the unlimited mercy of Krishna
A grown son may take responsibility for caring for his mother in ways that a father does not require. Although the mother is then in a subordinate position, on the material level, the son always, naturally, accepts his mother as superior. Similarly I see no reason why a women who is teaching a disciple spiritual values cannot be seen as superior although in her external position she may be dependent in ways a male devotee can renounce.
I believe a change in the culture which produces a clear understanding of the virtue of motherhood would have a positive effect on the level women feel satisfied in that role. Women as well as men need to understand its importance. However a diksha guru must accept that position only for the interest of the disciple. Being convinced that the Guru accepts that role exclusively for the spiritual benefit of the follower is a primary duty of a perspective disciple. According to our current paradigm this evaluation is in the hands of the perspective disciple. The chance that men or women will accept the role of Diksha Guru to fulfill their own desire is always a possibility. But it is up to the disciple to judge that. If they judge a woman to be purely motivated why should there be a restriction? That is not rhetorical (however I have not yet heard a convincing reply).
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 28.11.2012 @ 23:58
You say,”There is no need to officially declare that a woman should be a guru because that is her original position as mother. When you have called a woman ‚Äúmother‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúMatajee‚ÄĚ you have accepted her as your guru and as a representative of the nourishing energy of the Supreme Lord.”
It seems you are saying that simple addressing a woman a mother is equal to accepting her as a diksha guru although she is not allowed to give Diksha. I do not follow your logic there, Mataji.
I agree that hot tempered arguments are not productive; however, avoiding a dialogue when those emotions exist will never solve the conflict. So I am expressing the way I must see the issue, based on the way I understand the concept of what a bonafide Diksha Guru is. I invite others explain why they must see it in the way they do.
I have a certain frame in which I am evaluating this discussion. I was initiated in 1980, before the reform. Around that time, of the 11 original Guru‚Äôs, a few had been removed and a few had been added. Later, a major upheaval occurred when, within a short period of time, several of the Guru‚Äôs fell down. At this point the GBC, under duress from pressure by senior devotees, made a radical change. The new idea was that any devotee in good standing could be a Guru. If a Guru Disciple relationship naturally developed, then the devotee could petition for the ability to give Diksha.
We were then indoctrinated into the idea that this concept, of any one being a Guru based on the desire of someone to be a disciple, along with general qualifications, was self evidently, and absolutely, the only right way to do things.
This was actually a big change from my original understanding, but I accepted it. From this vantage point the restriction of women to be Dikhsa Guru‚Äôs is an arbitrary limitation that is irreconcilable with the concept that anyone can be Guru. This is not a hot tempered argument or a politicking. A restriction on women giving diksha is contradictory to the principal by which I accept male devotees as bonafide Diksha Guru‚Äôs.
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 27.11.2012 @ 07:01
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I apologize. On the bright side, although the point I made did not add to your article, I might have reiterated an important aspect of it.
All I can say is I need to work on becoming a better listener. Work in progress.
Sita Rama das
Comment Posted By Sita Rama 108 On 28.11.2012 @ 08:30