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Comments Posted By Sng dasa

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Slavery to Banks: A Vedic Prophecy

Regarding Ameyatma Prabhu’s comments, this is, again, an example of a non-rational and substantially irrelevant attachment to conspiracy-theory oriented information. The presentation is not well researched. He, himself, admits to its highly speculative nature. I appreciate, of course, his enthusiasm in spreading Srila Prabhupada’s teachings to one and all. Clearly, he wants to engage that enthusiasm in Krsna’s service and that can only bring positive results.

Thank you, Yugala Kishor Prabhu for, again, teasing out the truly significant elements of this dialogue, particularly with your view towards responsibility in preaching as functional, intelligent and rational individuals.

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 05.02.2007 @ 03:36

Yugala Kishor and Sri Nandananda Prabhus,

I am an economist by training and am interested to enter into this discourse. Sri Nandanandana Prabhu, I applaud you for your efforts to connect the readers to elements of Vedic knowledge through a modern context, but, do note a very srong “conspirator” mood in your writing. I appreciate also that you have done a reasonable amount of research, and, certainly, in thetic writing, the facts we glean from our research are employed in the service of our argument. I think, however, that if you really want to argue in a strong line against contemporary economic function, you should balance the discussion with a more appropriate representation of the way in which the economic terms, theories, etc. which you allude to actually work.

There is much that comes through in your writing that misrepresents core (and, frankly, essential) principles of economic theory, even core principles of economic theory that are found in Kautilya’s Arthasastra or other semblances of literature that represent a philosophy of life based (however loosely) to the information found in the Veda. I would refer you, initially, to make a serious reading of Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” and also to the writings of John Maynard Keynes. I would also be happy to help refine the information for you.

I have a personal, vested interest in seeing the members of ISKCON, as active and contributing parties to a functional society, progress beyond a level of engagement with the “rest of society and the world” in a manner which allows them to more actively and contributorily engage in relieving the suffering inherently attached to the human condition. In so much as they wish to engage with, or discourse on, existing systems, that much more they should be grounded in their functoin, purpose, intent, and methodology. I am not suggesting this be done at the expense of one’s spiritual practise- whatever that may be for each individual. I am suggesting, however, that we simply be well, and accurately, informed.

In short, I appreciate your zeal, but think you can do much better, in so much as your thesis may be argued in a more professional, and polished, manner, the essential construction of which will be found to rest on a more thorough understanding of the issues at stake.

I am sure Yugala Kishor Prabhu will concur. YKP, comments, suggestions, etc?

Ys,
Sngdasa

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 02.02.2007 @ 16:55

From Hinduism to Krishna Consciousness: Steven J. Rosen’s New Book Bridges the Gap

There’s no mingling at play here. As the title of the article clearly states, the book discusses aspects ranging FROM Hinduism TO Krsna consciousness. Satyaraja certainly draws a distinct line and establishes general Hinduism and the Vaisnava cult- especially the Gaudiya Vaisnava cult, and, amongst Gaudiyas, especially that type of Gaudiya practise as established by Srila Prabhupada- as disparate entities.

That being said, your points are well taken, and quite important. In vox populi conversation, it is all too often that Gaudiya practitioners identify themselves as “Hindu” for the sake of descriptive ease. For a Gaudiya practitioner to answer the questions, “What is your religion?” or “Tell me more about your spiritual path.” by casually responding with an allusion to Hinduism is not, as you have pointed out, what one might call the most superior or correct response. To be sure, an appropriate theological explanation of Gaudiya practise will require some minutes of time.

That being said, it may also be noted how persons, like Srila Prabhupada, who are privy to a thorough understanding of the deepest theological complexities of Gaudiya practise are able to explain such concepts quite simply while retaining relevance and holding the interest of the inquirer. The best remedy, then, would be to encourage modern Gaudiya practitioners to hear from Srila Prabhupada through his books and to hear from Srila Prabhupada’s disciples who have demonstrated consistent loyalty to Srila Prabhupada and the movement he created and, most of all, to the instructions he left behind regarding the practise and distribution of Gaudiya ideologies. This will both encourage and correctly establish theological complexities in their minds and will allow those concepts to develop with lucidity, such that they themselves will be equipped to enter into respectful discussion while maintaining the integrity of the Gaudiya tradition.

I also want to note that Satyaraj is writing for a wide and complex audience. Because he has dedicated his time to preaching in the academic sphere he must engage with all varieties of material and ideas, material and ideas that are all too often dismissed by those devotees without academic leanings as “maya” or “nonsense”. The fact of the matter is, however, that no person endeavouring for academic development can source his arguments from one well. The very nature of academic evolution is objectivity and, more often than not, that means: (1)Unless one is quite established and has a track record of working only on one isolated “area” they are obligated to consider their thesis in comparison to a multitude of other ideologies, and; (2)Even having become established, everything that anyone says, no matter who they are or how strongly they are established will be argued with by other academics. In other words, the entire academic enterprise is largely dedicated to deconstruction of ideas or, we might say, to endless speculation to which an answer never really comes. It’s a rough business and, at the end of the day, despite being trained in “openness” and “objectivity” most academic participants are highly SUBjective and close-minded.

Srila Prabhupada had a wonderful answer to this. He told the devotees who were engaging in academic preaching (especially those like Bhakti-svarupa Damodara Maharaja who were working against the scientists) that their principle argument should be (and I summarise here), “You have your authority and we have ours. You take a newspaper or any such book by any such expert in any such field as your authority. You have the right to choose your authority and so do we. You can not prevent us from also having an authority. Our authority is Krsna and Krsna speaks through the Veda and through His devotees.”

I’m in academics, so, I state the above observations from personal experience. As my advisor once told me, “You can’t write about Vedic religious tradition in this way and be successful. People don’t believe in the validity of the Veda. It’s mythology to them and that’s all it will ever be. You can only do that kind of verifying work if you’re willing to write about the Bible or the Torah, or Buddhism, because, somehow, that is currently considered “cool”. You can only write about Vedic theology if you’re a specialist with a long track record of publication like Steven Rosen.”

As shown by the review written above, Satyaraja has managed to become respected enough in the academic community that he is now considered by other academics as a specialised authority whose writings and words carry some weight. This alone is no small feat. And it is, without a doubt, the beginning of the “infiltration” of Gaudiya theology into circles that had, previously, shunned it outright. He is doing the same thing Srila Prabhupada did with his books, bravely entering into an arena which, despite its’ claims is wholly rooted in Judoe-Christian ideals and loathes anything but the obligatory “polite nod” in the direction of Eastern theological concepts. And his work does draw the necessary distinction between Hinduism and bhakti. So, your argument is actually supported by his productions.

Finally, when we isolate bhakti itself, we find that it is thoroughly independent (”svarat” as mentioned in the Madhurya Kadambini of Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur) and thus is under no obligation to adhere to any specific religious tradition. It is even more interesteing to note that it is the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition who is largely responsible for this idea. What Caitanya Mahaprabu, the six principle Goswamis of Vrindavana, and espcially Bhaktivinode Thakura and Srila Prabupada have done is to raise the consciousness of bhakti to the point where it can be seperated out from the karma and jnana that are inherent in any religious tradition. Once seperated it can be given proper attention and application. As the natural result of bhakti is Krsna, one can, then, only become Krsna conscious. A brilliant method to say the least and one that is truly the mission of the Krsna consciousness movement.

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 13.10.2006 @ 17:48

Chant (at least) One More Round: Increasing our attachment to the Holy Name

Prabhu,

Thank you for a very nice article.

Just curious as to what subject your Ph.D is in and from where it was awarded. I’m interested in further correspondence. Thank you!

Ys,
Sngd

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 11.10.2006 @ 14:08

Hare Krishna in popular culture

What is quite tragic, however, is that, at least in film and T.V., the devotees are, more often than not, being made fun of. Although Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, in Harinama Cintamani and other places, notes that, even for one who chants or hears the Holy Name in jest spiritual benefit is accrued, it is still disheartening to see that public opinion (which the films are a reflection of and which further fuel public existing prejudices) does not view the movement in a serious way.

Comparatively, this may seem depressing. Other religious movements may be more positively portrayed, or not portrayed at all, by modern media if for no other reason than because some modicum of respect for their process remains. It would be interesting to see how often the pope, for example, has appeared in characature.

Devotees are encouraged to do their best to represent themselves as ladies and gentlemen in the public light. Annuttama Prabhu and Vyenkata Bhatta Prabhu, of ISKCON Communications, are shining examples of this.

On a positive note, at least there is that benefit of spiritual sound vibration. Srila Prabhupada also used to become pleased by this. Once, when a very unfavourable article was written about the devotees, Srila Prabhupada expressed his pleasure saying, “Just see how many times the article has said, ‘Hare Krsna’!”

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 15.09.2006 @ 16:28

Searching for Truth in a Forest of Misinformation: A Comment on the Recent Discussions

Jai Nitai Prabhu,

Thank you very much for taking pains to correct the overwhelmingly speuclative, unfounded, biased and mob-mentality-generated misinformations that are so aggressively swirling about.

Thank you also for inspiring and encouraging all of the persons close to this (wholly unecessary) quandry- on both “sides”- to act responsibly and to place their dedication to responsible adjudication at the forefront of this healing process.

Your servant,
Sngd

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 03.08.2006 @ 08:17

TREATING VAISNAVAS WITH CARE–A CLARIFICATION

Dear Maharaja,

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

Despite having “taken sides” (in support of DDS) in relation to this issue, I want to thank you for bringing the real matters- Krsna Consciousness, Vaisnava Consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada Consciousness- to light. Now that we have been adequately reminded and en”light”ened, may we also take those most important matters to heart.

Your servant,
Sundara nanda-gopala dasa (Rabindra-svaraup Prabhu’s sisya)

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 27.07.2006 @ 07:44

Impartial We Stand Biased We Fall

Dear Laxmi Nrsimha Prabhu,

Thank you for your very thoughtful and, quite frankly, most necessary response. I pray this information becomes widely disseminated and appropriately known.

Your servant,
Sundara nanda-gopala dasa

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 27.07.2006 @ 07:35

Do we need a Guru approval system?

Responding to Krsna Dharma Prabhu’s reply:

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU WROTE:
I was merely referring to the fact that the vast majority of Prabhupada’s disciples have no sanction to act as guru, which according to ISKCON law (at least as of 1995 when I wrote the paper) includes siksha guru.

SNGD: That is certainly true, and, in fact, in discussion with some senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada, one of whom is an active member of the GBC, I have been told that many GBC members believe it to be a healthy idea to expand that number by extending the opportunity to qualified persons.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU:Sure, anyone can preach, but then the devotees they make and nurture will be very likely initiated by someone who hardly knows them and will have limited – if any – dealings with them.

SNGD: Although, because the opportunity does exist by following the process, this is not necessarily true. I do agree, though, that as a social function, this is much more typical.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: This has proved a serious discouragement for many preachers that I know. There are probably eighty or ninety devotees today who are approved gurus with the “no objection” certification. These are usually the first choices for new devotees who are looking for a guru. Very rarely do they think of someone not on the list, although I understand that this is acceptable, provided the chosen prospective guru goes on to get approval from the GBC. However, what usually happens is that they get inducted into one guru club or another.

SNGD: I understand this although it seems simple enough to change. What you are reporting on is a function of social consciousness or, perhaps, even peer pressure or following the crowd mentality. As you mention in your initial paper, this consciousness could be expanded by a more thorough enducation in sastra. As that principle is so very necessary, do you have any specific recommendations as to how that activity of sastric study could be increased, or, as to how it could become more a “social norm” (in so much as the other social functions you have referred to seem to be)?

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: Thus those who are preaching without the guru sanction often find it difficult to develop and maintain a meaningful spiritual relationship with new devotees they are nurturing. Some relationship will be there, of course, but at the end of the day a devotee will naturally look toward his guru for his main spiritual guidance.

SNGD: Again, I think this is a highly subjective position. In so far as you may have experienced or witnessed that type of relationship, I have also witnessed the direct opposite. I have seen many initiated disciples of one guru who, for a plethora of reasons, receive the majority of their spiritual guidance from the guru’s godbrothers (or other devotees who we may, sastrically, refer to as “siksha gurus”).

KRSNA DHARMA: I think one needs to have had a fair amount of preaching experience as a ‘non-guru’ to fully appreciate this problem. Personally it became apparent to me after I had been struggling to start a small centre for ten years. Another five years of the same made it even more starkly obvious and I finally gave up trying.

SNGD: I am having trouble understanding why the fact that you couldn’t make disciples at all interfered with your desire or ability to preach. I am not entirely clear on your meaning here, although (and please forgive me for saying so) one way in which the above statement could be interpreted is, “I want disciples and because the GBC won’t sanction me to initiate, I am giving up my preaching.” Have I misunderstood? Please clarify this point.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: And I generally find that (only) those who have had a similar preaching experience can actually understand the points I am trying to make. In my experience,

SNGD: Thus I have said that your position is thoroughly subjective. That does not, however, detract from many of the valid points you make in your original paper. I only point to it as evidence that if your arguments were presented in a more objective light they would carry more weight.

SNGD PREVIOUSLY WROTE: As the position of siksa guru is not “officialised” in ISKCON,

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: As I state in my paper, this is not true. ISKCON law includes siksha gurus as requiring approval, unless this has now been changed.

SNGD: Yes, you are correct, this was my mistake. Siksha guru is, in fact, an officialised position in line with GBC law. I do not understand how it is possible to “officialise”this position as it relies entirely on natural formations. Perhaps it could be explained…?

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: And if it has been changed then one needs to think carefully about the statement below

There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service. Adi 1.47

SNGD: That certainly adds a new persepctive doesn’t it?

SNGD PREVIOUSLY WROTE: The system in ISKCON does, in fact, encourage that personal choice. Consider this: Is it not true that, at some point in the past, all of the current 69 “officialised” gurus were NOT initiating gurus? They became gurus because “some new devotee” (as you write) DID, in fact, appreciate their instruction and then, subsequently, comfortably pursued a relationship with that person in the mood of a disciple.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: Well, this is the theory and indeed the thinking behind the system we now have. However, is it working?

SNGD: Yes, I believe it is working, although, like any developmental effort, it may take some time for the “bugs” to work themselves out.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: Here in the UK when the system began back in 1987 a few new gurus were approved. But since then not a single one has been approved.

SNGD: Why? Certainly, one cannot place the full responsibility for that on the GBC. It’s a two way street.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: I think the experience is pretty much the same everywhere.

SNGD: I don’t.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: Devotees usually want one of the current “big gurus”, who are often widely touted by their disciples. And because our present situation tends to make virtual ‘superheroes’ out of diksha gurus, there is an understandable hesitance about making anyone else into a guru, and often a hesitance on the side of preachers to put themselves forward for that role.

SNGD: I disagree. Speaking subjectively, I do not see this “superhero” consciousness as socially prevelant as it was some years ago. Devotees are maturing and they are training the newer devotees to be more discriminating and intelligent. Although, this must be done very carefully, lest we develop a class of new bhaktas and bhaktins who, in the name of “free thinking” challenge EVERY piece of spiritual guidance given to them and thus wholly reduce the sastric standards. From my subjective position, this is actually a greater problem than the low number of “officialised” gurus.

KRSNA DHARMA PRABHU: We need to think outside of the box. If the situation were to be opened up then the diksha guru would become a different figure to what we see today. IMHO he would be that person who is inspiring and teaching his disciples in a very personal way, and he would only have as many disciples as he can actually deal with in this way. As Prabhupada writes:

According to sastric injunctions, there is no difference between siksa-guru and diksa-guru, and generally the siksa-guru later on becomes the diksa-guru. SB 4.12.32 purp.

SNGD: Yes, that is a very nice idea. What can be done, practically, to initiate this process of “opening up”?

KRSNA DHARAM PRABHU: Anyway prabhu, I make no claim that my paper or indeed my perspective on this issue is perfect in any way. I am merely trying to point to what appears to me to be a very real problem in our society that is practically strangling the preaching. It seems there are a growing number of devotees who share this view, and I was certainly encouraged by the SAC paper about this issue that is posted on this site. I thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my paper and am grateful for your thoughtful feedback. At least I am getting the matter discussed a little, which is my main aim.

SNGD: Thank you also. More than anything, I appreciate your dedication to the actual discussion and am very inspired by your willingness to be detached and humble in consideration of these ideas. I am trying to follow your example and do the same, and, indeed, it makes this discussion very enjoyable. I look forward to your reply.

Your servant,
Sundara nanda-gopala dasa

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 31.07.2006 @ 09:29

Dear Prabhu,

You have written a thoughtful article, though, there are several places (only two of which I will presently address) that rely on rather faulty logic and/or bad information/research. Please do not take my comments as malicious criticism or as something offensive. It is quite clear that you are an intelligent and thoughtful individual and I am mentioning these two items, merely as examples, such as to encourage you to expand that intelligence and thoughtfulness accordingly.

Quoting your paper:

“There are over 5000 direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada who could all potentially be spiritual masters. However, as at the time of writing there are only 69 who have been approved by ISKCON. The other 5000 or so are just not validated as preachers by the institution for no apparent reason. This effectively dis-empowers a very large part of our potential senior manpower in ISKCON.”

Unless you are equating the term “guru” with the term “preacher” (itself a manner of faulty, or, at least, incomplete, logic), to say that the remaining disciples of Srila Prabhupada- or of any other guru- are “just not validated as preachers by the institution” is simply dead wrong. There are many devotees in ISKCON who, despite not serving as “officially approved” spiritual masters are preaching quite thoroughly and effectively. Their preaching is absolutely validated, supported, and encouraged by the ISKCON society, despite the fact that they are not serving as initiating gurus. There may be a plethora of reasons why they are not serving as initiating gurus, none of which require justification. As you yourself mention in the article, according to the examples you’ve cited from Srila Prabhupada himself, it is largely a matter of personal relationship and, therefore, personal reasoning. We could expand on that idea here, but, that is not the point in question. The point is those devotees who are preaching Krsna consciousness in service to the ISKCON society not only do not require sanction as gurus to be valid in their action but ARE in fact vaildated and appreciated by the society on a regular basis. Their “official position” as guru or not-guru has nothing to do with that preaching being respected by the general and leading populace of ISKCON.

You also write:
“In fact we effectively dis-empower any devotee who is trying to preach but is not an approved guru. As this approval is required before one can even be seen as a siksha guru, then the institutional position is that even though new devotees may be forming a relationship with a preacher in their locality, if that preacher is not approved then the new devotee will at some point think, ‘Now I need to find a bona-fide guru.’ He or she will then begin contemplating the possibilities from the list of authorized gurus given by the institution. The existing relationship with the devotee who actually is acting as a guru, being not ‘authorized’ by ISKCON, will not be seen as being sufficient.”

These are, again, bad “facts” (i.e. “not facts”). As the position of siksa guru is not “officialised” in ISKCON, it is wrong to suggest that an aspiring initiate is “forbidden” to see that person as guru. Again, as you have mentioned, and as supported by Srila Prabhupada’s writings, it is a matter of personal choice. The system in ISKCON does, in fact, encourage that personal choice. Consider this: Is it not true that, at some point in the past, all of the current 69 “officialised” gurus were NOT initiating gurus? They became gurus because “some new devotee” (as you write) DID, in fact, appreciate their instruction and then, subsequently, comfortably pursued a relationship with that person in the mood of a disciple. As that relationship naturally developed, the insititutional process of “officialising” was applied on it. However, that “officialising” process did not at all hamper or interfere with the natural development of the relationship. Rather, it was- as it is in any healthy society- the application of the majority’s socially-accepted tenet (i.e. a “law”) that allowed that process to fructify and develop.

I know that your paper has made many points. I humbly request, however, that if you care to reply, we agree to keep our discussion limited- at first- to these two points. There are too many topics to “topic switch” to, so, if we are to develop these ideas, let us do so in an orderly and “lawful” manner. That will greatly assist the “natural” process all the while enhancing its personal attributes. Hare Krsna.

Your servant,
Sundara nanda-gopala dasa

Comment Posted By Sng dasa On 27.07.2006 @ 08:45

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