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Comments Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram

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“Conservative and liberal positions in and around ISKCON” – video

I’m not sure where this class was held, but I’m grateful to whoever asked Vraja Vihari to address this. I think he made a good start, and I’d like to see more public discussions of issues like this. This is a sample of the kind of civil discourse I’ve advocated among devotees for a very long time. Thanks so much for sharing it.

» Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram On Sep 2, 2014 @ 12:08 am

“Back to Godhead” means Back to Godhead

I hope I can briefly make three simple comments in response to Sita Rama dasa’s article, even though some may not welcome them.

First, he has framed the issue incorrectly. He says the root of the issue is “whether or not we accept Srila Prabhupada as the ultimate authority.” However, Srila Prabhupada has taught to accept the Supreme Lord as the ultimate authority. He also made it abundantly clear that his own authority rests on his repeating the previous acaryas’ teachings without changing anything.

Second, there’s the nature of the authority Sita Rama uses. He quotes Srila Prabhupada very selectively, using only quotations from letters or conversations. I think most devotees accept the hierarchy of authority Jayadvaita Swami suggests in the front matter to the VedaBase, that Prabhupada’s books should be accepted over other sources. This same principle is accepted when arguing in courts of law. A ruling from, for example, the U. S. Supreme Court carries more weight than that of any other court.

With that question of weight in mind, I find that any discussion that doesn’t take into account the purport that Dulal Chandra cites in his comment can’t be taken very seriously. Besides that purport, there is this, from the Bhagavatam’s 7th Canto:

Maharaja Yudhisthira inquired: What kind of great curse could affect even liberated visnu-bhaktas . . . ? For unflinching devotees of the Lord to fall again to this material world is impossible. I cannot believe this.
The bodies of the inhabitants of Vaikuntha are completely spiritual, having nothing to do with the material body, senses or life air. Therefore, kindly explain how associates of the Personality of Godhead were cursed to descend in material bodies like ordinary persons.

. . . The Lord comes to this material world through the agency of His internal potency, and similarly, when a devotee or associate of the Lord descends to this material world, he does so through the action of the spiritual energy. Any pastime conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead is an arrangement by yogamaya, not mahamaya. Therefore it is to be understood that when Jaya and Vijaya descended to this material world, they came because there was something to be done for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise it is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha.

» Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram On Apr 25, 2014 @ 1:24 am

Reflections of the Past – Spiritual Nourishment for the Future

I’m always happy to see how Ksudhi prabhu has kept himself engaged in recent years. I met him on a long train ride in India in 1980, and he and I spent much of the ride discussing with a religion professor from Cambridge or Oxford (it was a long time ago). I’m particularly struck by his recounting Srila Prabhupada’s response to Ksudhi’s assertion that going to Africa would increase his service to Srila Prabhupada: “Service to Lord Caitanya, service to Lord Caitanya, service to Lord Caitanya.” Just see the breadth and depth of his vision. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

» Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram On Feb 14, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

On the Subject of Female Diksha Gurus

Basu Ghosh das wrote: “Prabhupada told Prof. O’Connel [room conversation @ Toronto, June ‘76] that female gurus were extremely rare & Jahnava Devi “did not declare” [herself as guru].”

For the record, here is what Srila Prabhupada actually said, after making it clear that there’s no essential distinction between men and women in our movement, to the extent that women could be panditas:

Prof. O’Connell: Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession?

Prabhupada: Yes. Jahnava devi was-Nityananda’s wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei 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. [break] In our material world, is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.

» Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram On Dec 28, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

Phalini wrote, “Traditionally, we see only male gurus giving diksha. The women in our line who initiated others during the time of Lord Caitanya were most likely giving harinam initiation, which is not actually diksha.”

Traditionally, there are many examples of women giving diksa. Phalini’s suggestion that women who initiated during Mahaprabhu’s time only gave harinama, not mantra diksa, is nothing more than speculation, as she admits by qualifying it with “most likely.” On what basis would anyone make such an assertion? Such guesswork doesn’t help her argument; rather, it weakens it.

In fact, there is no evidence that women initiating disciples during or subsequent to Mahaprabhu’s time gave only harinama. In fact, examining Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s diksa patra shows three women, aside from Jahnava Thakurani, in the third, fourth, and fifth positions back from Bhaktivinoda Thakura. These women certainly gave their disciples both sacred mantra and transcendental knowledge.

I don’t want readers to think that I submit this to denigrate Phalini in any way. My family was friends with hers when we lived in California in the ‘80s, and I remember her and her husband fondly as dedicated servants of our beloved spiritual master. However, I haven’t seen anyone address this point in her argument yet, and I think it’s a mistake to let it go unquestioned.

There is considerably more to say on this issue, and I may do so soon, when I have some time.

» Posted By Swami B. A. Ashram On Dec 8, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

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