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Comments Posted By Sitalatma Das

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Bona-fide Study Rests The Case; We Fell From Love!

Re sentence from purport to Sri Isonapishad, mantra 16 - it looks clear only when read in isolation. If one reads it in full context, however, the idea that jivas are originated in Brahman looks completely out of sync because the topic of jiva origin itself does not belong there. It’s also highly unlikely that Srila Prabhupada would have dropped such a bombshell and didn’t elaborate on it at all.

We can argue about the meaning of the sentence itself but, perhaps, we should check the proper understanding of this and the previous sloka, which specifically deal with Brahman and brahma-jyotir, against the conclusion given in the next purport (17) where Srila Prabhupada says:

As we have learned from previous mantras, the brahma-jyotir emanating from the transcendental body of the Lord is full of spiritual sparks that are individual entities with the full sense of existence.

Brahma-jyotir is declared as “full of” jivas, not “source of” jivas, and so we shouldn’t hurry to interpret the sentence from purport to verse 16 that way.

It’s a bit difficult to comprehend how “jīva-śakti (living force) is generated as both conditioned and liberated souls” should comply with the stated conclusion but it’s not impossible. Perhaps “generate” here refers to the future destination rather than the origin - we know that after achieving liberation, Brahman, some jivas descend into the material world and some become attracted to devotional service, as per Lord Caitanya’s explanation of “atmarama” verse, so they all have a potential future that needs to be “generated” and then their living force could become manifested.

Maybe it’s not an adequate explanation but the point is not in knowing how to explain it but in accepting Prabhupada’s conclusion first and speculating how it can be true later.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 28.05.2014 @ 11:59

Thank you Devaki Mataji!

From the WDG book (p.20):

“But, one might ask, how to apply unity in diversity in connection with women dīkṣā-gurus? … One way to have unity could be to prevent women from becoming dīkṣā-gurus but allow them to become śikṣā-gurus; this could be considered as fulfilling both the need for unity (throughout the whole world, only men can initiate) and diversity different roles for different genders). Another attempt at unity in diversity could be to accept the tenet that women can become dīkṣā-gurus but allow them to initiate only in some places and not in others. Both options, however – as this book explains – present serious theological and logistical problems. Another way – we believe a better way – to fulfill the need for unity is embracing the fundamental, overarching principle that women, if qualified, can become dīkṣā-gurus.

Official position expressed in SAC paper uses the word “rare” several times which indicates that FDG is an exceptional, not “overarching” principle.

I wish Kaunteya Prabhu clarified his stance on the issue. It appears that he is seeking parity between male and female gurus and it’s not what SAC paper recommends.

Also, “unity in diversity”, in which name Kaunteya Prabhu’s book recommends to widely introduce FDG, is not important enough to start modifying guru-disciple relationships that are governed strictly by Krishna. Our compliance with “unity in diversity” will not legitimize dīkṣā, only Krishna can do that.

“Unity in diversity is ISKCON’s underlying worldview and theological doctrine – its theory of everything” (WDG, p 19) - it is, but Srila Prabhupada used this phrase as a descriptive term when explaining concepts like acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, not in the modern, post-Prabhupada sense of society building, ie overcoming apartheid in South Africa or EU motto.

Modern sense of the phrase is important and is in line with Krishna consciousness, too, but in this sense it’s the “unity in diversity” that should accommodate receiving proper dīkṣā, not the other way around.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 03.12.2013 @ 06:13

Appreciations of Srila Prabhupada from Direct Disciples

This list has been on Hrishikeshananda Prabhu’s website for over ten years and the original contains his own one sentence contribution which is missing here.

Acknowledgments should be given when copying other vaishnavas’ work.

http://www.agt-gems.com/Book/Gurus/acbsp.html

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 23.11.2013 @ 17:10

The Not-So-Hot Issue: Women Diksa-gurus

From the article - “And therefore I – and perhaps other readers of both genders – find myself scratching my head and asking myself: “If according to Devaki Mataji this is a hot issue and if women’s vision is clouded by emotions and ‘they cannot see things as they really are,’ why on earth she attempted to write this article and provide clarity? If she is clouded, why does she try to instruct the whole world?”

I’m scratching my head, too - this argument is actually counterproductive to pro-FDG agenda!

If Devaki Mataji’s vision is clear than we should accept her conclusion, which is anti-FDG, and if her vision is clouded then it’s a further testament that women should not be be gurus.

Either way, pro-FDG can’t win with this.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 22.11.2013 @ 10:26

That book, “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa Gurus?”, has been presented on Dandvats earlier this year. It didn’t go unnoticed and generated over fifty comments. Why plug it in again, ignore all the criticism it has attracted, and supply only glowing blurbs instead?

The gist of that criticism was that the book promotes a biased agenda and the author was not totally honest in constructing his arguments. Now that it’s been promoted again here and in the sister “Hot Issue” thread makes it look like a political ploy to sway public opinion.

It’s hard to believe that Kaunteya Prabhu, apparently the author of both the book and this article, hasn’t read the earlier Dandavats responses. There’s something definitely off about this kind of promotion.

Download for free the book “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa-gurus?”

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 22.11.2013 @ 06:36

The Hot Issue - Female Diksa Guru

“..So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children. This is an argument for, not against the woman becoming diksa guru, who is the most selfless servant of all. “

Diksa guru gives a mantra, that’s all, you are talking about selfless mentorship by a siksa guru which is a different role even though most often served by the same person.

In our ISKCON the only diksa that matters is induction into chanting Hare Krishna mantra, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, however, considered gayatri initiation as diksa, and then there were sannyasi and babaji mantras, too.

For women being sannyasa or babaji guru is out of question. Giving out gayatri and sacred threads is marginally supported by FDG proponents but is also unthinkable in India. The main battle is about Hare Krishna and that little bit of magic that happens when you officially get it from a real guru rather than from a sankirtana devotee on the street.

I say magic because it’s completely imperceptible to our material senses, therefore we must be very careful when deciding who gets to perform this magic and who doesn’t. Theoretically, strictly following official GBC policy would give such an authorization but, imo, it would be questionable if setting of that policy was tempered with through political pressure.

Questionable does not mean it has to be rejected, however, if we do not accept GBC decisions as final we would live in perpetual chaos. Still, everyone would love to see consensus when conferring such an important authorization as connecting aspiring bhaktas to parampara, as we understand diksa in ISKCON

Btw, when we search for shastric support to our arguments we should make sure that what we mean by diksa and what shastras mean by diksa is one and the same thing, and it’s also the same thing that FDG proponents want. Ceremonial and spiritual sides of things are not always in sync.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 04.12.2013 @ 06:45

Change the language from ‘I should do’ to ‘I want to do’

It’s not really a choice. The mind is a simple thing, it either wants things or it doesn’t, there’s little we can do about how it reacts to external stimuli. You can’t just order it what to like and what not to like. We can retrain it to like the taste of vegetarian food but it won’t be able to appreciate prasadam component of it. We can retrain it to like getting up early and singing mangala arati but it won’t see the Deity’s transcendental form.

So, if one day our minds become attracted by melodious kirtans or beautifully decorated Deities it would be a great help for the sadhana process but it won’t be real bhakti yet, and if, by circumstance, we get deprived of this particular kind of stimuli our “devotion” will be gone, too.

It’s the intelligence that is supposed to force us to perform sadhana regardless of how our minds feel about it and intelligence speaks in the terms of “should”, not “want”, so we are back to square one.

Our intelligence isn’t perfect either and, as actual bhakti starts growing in our hearts, we, as spirit souls attracted by Krishna, will occasionally be making decisions against our better judgment. Like gopis who left their husbands in the middle of the night but a lot less dramatic. There are plenty of controversies in our movement that suddenly might become too big for our intelligence to handle and we’ll just have to go with our hearts instead of what is considered to be right.

Somewhere along this way there might be a moment when our intelligence gets convinced that becoming a devotee is really the best course to take for our lives and that’s where we realize that we *want* to surrender, not that we *should* because everyone else tells us it’s a great thing to do. Maybe this is what Vraja Bihari Prabhu was talking about in the article but this kind of epiphany can’t be forced either, and from that moment on there will still be plenty of *should* orders coming from our intelligence to our minds.

There are no magic tricks to unlock our devotion, there’s a gradual process of anartha nivritti, chanting and avoiding offenses, there are no shortcuts, save for really special mercy.

This is not to say that the proposal in this article is bogus either, it encourages people to become better devotees therefore there can’t be anything wrong with it, whatever works.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 20.11.2013 @ 05:24

The Great Need to Understand Mental Illness in ISKCON

“..mentally ill person who hung himself “might” get a body better suited for devotional service, or that the person who jumped off the roof of the Amsterdam Temple might have attained Krishna by chanting Krishna while his head crushed into the cobblestone in the street? This approach is truly unacceptable. “

I’m sorry you feel this way, Pusta Krishna Prabhu, but that’s what is said in Bhagavad Gita.

It is no preclusion from treating mentally ill devotees either. There’s no contradiction there.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 22.11.2013 @ 10:18

How do we tell who are “pop” psychiatrists and who are “real” ones? Medication of mental patients is promoted not by scientists but by big pharma companies who, reportedly, spend twenty to thirty thousand dollars per each psychiatrist on average to entice them to prescribe more and more of their drugs. One big name psychiatrist from Harward Medical school admitted that he received 1.6 million dollars hidden payments from drug companies.

Drugs can obviously be very effective in treating acute symptoms of mental illness but that also means that pharmaceutical companies, who are in business of making money, not curing people, are not interested in treating the disorders themselves, only in continuous managing symptoms.

Jivas are given particular bodies to resolve their issues, not to swipe them under the carpet. In that sense taking medicine to hide symptoms of mental illness it’s not much different form undergoing chemical castration to better follow the fourth reg. Take a pill - problem solved, or rather avoided for the moment. This doesn’ t seem like a Krishna conscious approach.

As a relatively young society ISKCON might not have enough experience in dealing with mental problems and so there’s no shame in learning a trick or two from organizations like NAMI mentioned in the article but continuously medicating ourselves to become better devotees just doesn’t sound right. It’s definitely not in our books.

Biochemical disorders as causes of mental illness is also largely a myth, and you can’t tell healthy mind from a sick one by studying brain images either. Science doesn’t know what makes people mentally ill, in this regard I remembered this video which proposes a reasonable answer to causes of ADHD epidemic outside of biological factors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwNI1_VObto

In some states up to 16% of children are diagnosed as mentally ill and prescribed medication for ADHD. Are we going to do the same thing with our gurukulis? I imagine they can be as disorderly as any other kids of their age. Are we, on advice of “real” science, going to put them on drugs so that they grow into better devotees?

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 20.11.2013 @ 10:42

Even the main article about psychiatry on Wikipedia has a large section dedicated to controversies. In light of what Srila Prabhupada said about psychiatry we shouldn’t dismiss psychiatrists themselves crying “humbug”.

As for progress, there’s one quote there that explains its dynamics:

“..a number of phenomena considered “deviant”, such as alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness, were originally considered as moral, then legal, and now medical problems. As a result of these perceptions, peculiar deviants were subjected to moral, then legal, and now medical modes of social control.”

In Prabhupada’s time main treatment was psychotherapy but now it’s psychopharmacology. According to the same wiki

“A major reason for this change was the advent of managed care insurance plans, which began to limit reimbursement for psychotherapy sessions provided by psychiatrists.”

And this isn’t even the controversial part, controversy lies with pharmaceutical companies pouring large amounts of money into psychopharmacology and thus influencing how psychiatrists practice their trade. In Prabhupada’s time a psychiatrist would schedule one follow appointment in an hour but now they can easily fit three or four, because all they do is give out prescriptions.

Apparently there is progress, but more in a sense of “change” than in what constitutes actual progress from Krishna consciousness point of view. We don’t need to catch up on it just as we don’t need to catch up on any other scientific theory.

This article’s title says that there’s “great need” to understand mental illness in ISKCON. Is there? Did Srila Prabhupada leave us with incomplete knowledge?

Maybe this need is no greater than the need to use facebook and twitter, or provide devotees with medical insurance in countries where healthcare could be very costly.

There’s also a growing divergence in the comments between what the author recommended - group therapy, and Gauragopal Prabhu’s advocacy of medication.

Incidentally, a few days ago I saw a self-portrait of a very successful Hollywood producer. Instead of a face it was a huge pile of prescription medicine on a table. He isn’t mentally ill but the point is still there.

Perhaps there’s a greater need to maintain healthy skepticism about where modern science and psychiatry is taking us.

Comment Posted By Sitalatma Das On 19.11.2013 @ 06:18


 


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