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Comments Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi

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A perfect Christmas or New Years gift of prasadam, discounted for the Holidays

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The devotees who cook and offer these bars are very first class. Three of the devotees in this company are alumni of the old Vrindavana gurukula. The bars are exceptionally tasty and a great way to honor and distribute prasadam while supporting devotee projects.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 15, 2007 @ 2:14 am

Does Sex Attraction Bring People to Krishna?

Prabhupada on head covering and dancing:

“If you have gone to the warfield and if you practice nonviolence there, this is useless. Why should you go? There is a Bengali proverb that naste bose gunthanam(?), that… In India, the girls, they cover their head. That is the system of married girl’s shyness. So it is said that one girl is on the stage for dancing. Now while she is to dance, she’s covering the head. What is the use of covering the head? You have come to dance, you dance. Similarly, in the warfield, you have gone there to fight. Where is the question of becoming nonviolent? So things should be done according to the time and atmosphere.
(lecture Bhagavad-gita 2.27-38 — Los Angeles, December 11, 1968)

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 19, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In response to comment #71, the words “Krishna Book” in that letter were underlined because in the days of typewriters, book titles were underlined. Today, with computers, one puts book titles in italics. The underline was not for emphasis.

Also, one could not conclude that Prabhupada wanted only dances based on Krishna Book and Caitanya Caritamritathat just because in those two letters Prabhupada says the dances should be on those books. For comparison, if I tell you I would like a potato subji that does not imply that I only want to have potato subjis every day.

In response to comment #72, Prabhupada was talking about another time when he said women shouldn’t perform for the public. I was personally with Prabhupada when he watched the Ramayana in New York in 1976 with Rasajna as Sita. He said she was the best actress in the world, and appreciated the performance very much. There are many, many instances of Prabhupada being very happy with dramas that included women. Some, such as The Age of Kali, were not pastimes per se, but rather philosophical plays. Others, such as Mr. Fish (I played maya in that one!), wrong bank account, etc. were not lila at all, but based on metaphorical stories that Prabhupada told.

As for Bir Krishna Maharaja’s question about women performing dances to Indian love songs in hotels as part of preaching , I would think it’s pretty clear that Prabhupada did not want us listening to, playing, or performing what he called “cinema songs.” This prohibition would apply equally to men and women.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 18, 2007 @ 3:28 am

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

It’s hard to believe the above “Prabhupada says” in comment #65 about performing dance in the temple, in light of the letters we have from him to the contrary.

Particularly one wonders about such a story coming from a temple that has a firm policy against even older, senior women who are VIHE sastra teachers giving class in the temple. That policy exists in spite of a GBC resolution specifically asking that temple to have women giving class, and in spite of Prabhupada having personally asked women to give public class there in his presence. If they are opposed to an older, scholar woman giving class, one would imagine that they would also oppose dancing. That is one temple where almost any type of dancing by women in kirtana is also discouraged.

Of course, it could be that the story in #65 is true, but in relation to some very specific circumstance.

If anyone would like to see two letters where Prabhupada very much encourages traditional dancing for preaching, please go to: http://www.radharani.com/quotes_dance.html

Note that there are two letters on that page–one needs to click on the thumbnail of each one at the top. These are photographs of the original letters.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 16, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Here’s a description of the Shyama dance as done on the Polish tour:

Krishna is dancing and maybe ten devotees are also dancing. All the dancers, including “Krishna,” are women. There is nothing to indicate the rasa lila pastime in particular, as is the case with the Manipuri performance. The impression I got was that it was a metaphor for any and all pure devotees who are serving Krishna in the spiritual world.

In the front of these is another dancer who is dressed totally in black. She is the focus, while the others are doing some very simple steps in the background. This dancer is expressing, through the words of the Shyama song and gestures, that she has knowingly left Krishna and His service and now wants to return. My impression was that she represents any and all fallen jivas.

At one point in the music/dance, one of the pure devotees approaches the fallen jiva and removes the black clothing. Underneath is a colorful dress like that of the pure devotees. The pure devotee puts in the hand of the now pure, previously fallen jiva a garland to offer to Krishna. The newly pure jiva offers Krishna the garland, and Krishna embraces the newly pure jiva. It reminds me of the painting of Krishna embracing Gopa Kumara when he returns to Goloka Vrindavana.

The newly pure jiva then joins the general group of devotees who are dancing with Krishna.

Again, I found it a very moving performance. It’s sad that others have “copied” it and changed it to something else.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 15, 2007 @ 2:37 am

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you very much, Bir Krsna Maharaja, for the above clarification in post #27.

It is very gratifying that you are concerned about how our movement appears to intelligent and educated people. Perhaps you are also concerned with the women of our movement being protected and not exploited.

I wonder if you have personally seen the Shyama dance on the Polish tour? I’m not sure how it is portrayed elsewhere by other devotees, but I saw the performance several years ago at the Woodstock festival in Poland. The woman were very chastely dressed and the drama was not exactly of the rasa-lila pastime. Rather, I understood the dance-drama to be a general metaphor for the fallen jivas who regain their spiritual position through bhakti and the mercy of Vaisnavas. The dancing style I witnessed in Poland was very modest and subdued, as well. There did not appear to be any type of sexual theme in any part of the presentation. I wonder if it were presented as a drama with spoken lines, rather than as a dance, if the person who objected would continue to do so. I doubt it.

The dance-drama reminded me of the many philosophical plays we used to perform at Sunday feasts and street preaching in Prabhupada’s time. These include the scholar and the boatman, wrong bank account, fish out of water, and so forth. In the Shyama dance-drama, instead of dialogue, the words of Gaurangi’s Shyama song are used.

Personally, I found the presentation in Poland very moving and spiritually inspiring and not at all improper or disturbing. I should add that sometimes I have seen devotee presentations that involve dress and/or styles of dancing that are very sensual and most likely inappropriate mediums for a spiritual message.

Perhaps the problem is not inherent in women doing a philosophical or pastime dance-drama to Western music, but the specific people and mood of a particular performance. It could be that this same Shyama dance-drama has been performed elsewhere by different devotees other than those I saw, and done under the guidance of persons not of Indradyumna Swami’s vision, and they have degraded it into something unpalatable. Perhaps you, or others who have informed you, have seen some of these other versions. For comparison, I have witnessed kirtanas in temple rooms, done by men dressed in dhotis and using traditional instruments, that were sexually inappropriate. I recall in the 70’s one erstwhile sannyasi leading kirtana in Gita nagari who kept looking at the women and moving his body like Elvis Presley. It was very disturbing and soon afterwards he gave up his sannyasa.

Your question about attracting intelligent, educated and higher-class people is an interesting one. Such people in the West attend functions including opera, ballet, symphonies, and theater, some of which have highly religious themes. In India they attend traditional dance and dance-drama presentations based on sastra.

So, in my opinion, the dance-drama of Shyama I saw in Poland would be considered appropriate for a religious organization, and attractive to intelligent, educated, and wealthy people in the Western world. I have much experience with that class of people. I would think that most Indians of any class–especially the more educated ones–would also likely find it appropriate for a religious function.

There are people who might reject our message with that medium of presentation, but I doubt that practically anyone in those groups would give up their present sectarian affiliation to start chanting Hare Krishna no matter how we present ourselves. These people include fundamentalist Christian evangelicals who reject any and all dancing, ultra-orthodox Jews who reject any performance of women for a mixed audience, and so forth.

Addressing a point you brought up in your first posts, I should add that I also feel uncomfortable to see kirtana presentations and harinamas where the only devotees who are dressed and decorated in an especially fancy way are the young and attractive women. I feel even more uncomfortable if such gorgeously dressed pretty young girls make up the entire harinama party. My concern in such situations is that the women appear to be exploited, even if that is not the intention of the organizer.

My suggestion to festival organizers is that kirtana performances and harinama processions that include dancers (unlike bhajanas that may only include musicians) should have dancers of all ages and both genders (with men separated from the women, of course!). If the standard for the preaching program is festival-type attire, then such should be worn by everyone, not having only the young and pretty girls standing out in an otherwise drab crowd.

Finally, Maharaja, I am afraid that the reaction of some devotees and leaders to your question may be to exclude all young attractive devotee women (or all women) from meaningful and equal participation in kirtana and preaching. The main argument I still hear against women giving class, leading kirtana, dancing in kirtana (yes, there are places that ask women not to dance in kirtana at all!!) is that the women are thus being exploited and the men will be distracted.

One devotee friend recently suggested that perhaps the solution is to have an ISKCON standard for very visible preachers–both male and female– that they be properly situated in an ashrama (married or solidly renounced). Then no one, either man or woman, who is actively looking for a spouse would be allowed to do a service such as leading kirtana or giving class. Having seen improperly situated men use their preaching and/or leadership position to attract and manipulate women–at least emotionally if not physically–I would suggest this devotee’s proposal as worth consideration.

The GBC now has a committee to evaluate kirtana standards. Perhaps the above discussion could be part of the criteria they use for making their decisions.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Dec 12, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

The value of wearing saris and dhotis in the execution of our devotional activities

At the request of one sannyasi, I did some research on this topic a while ago.

Below is a list of quotes from Srila Prabhupada. ( You can also download it as a .doc file from here ). Taken as a whole, we can conclude that Prabhupada was fine with grhasthas dressed as “ladies and gentleman,” wanted sannyasis especially to wear traditional robes, and wanted all his followers to wear tilaka and neck beads, with shaved heads and sikhas strongly preferred.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Guest: Is the exterior clothing important?
Prabhupada: Ah?
Guest: Is the exterior identification important?
Prabhupada: Yes, important. Just like officially the policeman must dress, but a policeman sometimes in ordinary cloth also, that’s his duty. But that is special case. But external, external dress is also required. By… In the dress of a police if he is a thief, that is very dangerous. That is very dangerous. Just like this dress of sannyasi, saffron cloth, one will respect that " Here is a sannyasi." But if he is a thief in a dress of a sannyasi, that is dangerous. That is dangerous. One must dress… (end)
Questions and Answers — January 17, 1974, Hawaii

Mr. Faill: Krishna consciousness seems to involve shaving the head and wearing saffron robes. How can an ordinary man caught up in family life practice Krishna consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: The saffron robes and the shaven head are not essential, although they create a good mental situation, just as when a military man is dressed properly he gets energy— he feels like a military man. Does that mean that unless he is in uniform he cannot fight? No. In the same way, God consciousness cannot be checked— it can be revived in any circumstances— but certain conditions are helpful. Therefore we prescribe that you live in a certain way, dress in a certain way, eat in a certain way, and so on. These things are helpful for practicing Krishna consciousness, but they are not essential.
Mr. Faill: Then one can be a student of Krishna consciousness while going about normal daily life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
SSR 5e: Meditation and the Self Within

Kirtanananda’s position is like that. Because he helped the society in starting the Montreal center I thought he is now able to start other branches & when he asked me to give him sannyasa I agreed taking the opportunity of his presence in Vrndavana. Simply by his Sannyas dress he thought himself as cured of all material diseases & all mistakes but under the influence of maya, he thought himself a liberated patient, just as the foolish patient thinks himself cured from the disease. Under the spell of maya, he deliberately disobeyed me by not going to London & consequently his disease has relapsed. Now in N. Y. he has began to dictate nonsense in my name— such as giving up robes, flags etc.
Letter to: Pradyumna — Calcutta 17 October, 1967

So far as your dress is concerned, that is immaterial. But as a soldier you know that every soldier has got a uniform dress according to the army etiquette of regulation. Therefore, the army of Krishna Consciousness must have at least the tilak on the forehead in all conditions. For your business you can wear your naval service uniform; similarly, if you have tilak on your forehead as a soldier of Krishna Consciousness, you may not have so much objection, because it is essential.
Letter to: Robert Hendry — Los Angeles 3 August, 1969

Atreya Rishi: When you first came, Srila Prabhupada, a lot of people probably presented you arguments such as If you call the movement God consciousness you’ll be more successful. If you not wear tilaka and do not shave your head and do not wear robes and do not go on sankirtana, you will be more successful. And people still tell us things like this, that You tell us the philosophy, we like the philosophy, but why do you go on sankirtana? So what were some of the arguments you presented to these type of people?
Prabhupada: This is the same argument, ardha-kukkuti-nyaya [Cc. Adi-lila
5.176]. You cut the mouth of the chicken because it eats, it is expensive, and keep the back side because it lays down egg. You see? Intelligent man said, I am getting every day one egg. So that side, the back side, is very good. But this side is expensive, eats. Cut it. So he does not know, he is such a foolish, that if I cut the head, then the egg-giving business will also stop. Similarly, if you accept this philosophy, then you must accept this also.
Atreya Rishi: Yes, that is difference…
Prabhupada: If you don’t accept this kirtana, then it will prove that you don’t accept the philosophy.
Room Conversation — June 29, 1972, San Diego

Prabhupada: Light. Catch it. But what… Why did you not have tilaka, both of you. You have no time for tilaka?
Devotee (3): Our tilaka was locked in the bathroom. The door got locked.
Prabhupada: Tilaka, why it is locked in bathroom?
Devotee (3): Somehow the door became locked from inside this morning, I don’t know how but we couldn’t go inside.
Prabhupada: You don’t get him my tilaka? All right. What is this?
Morning Walk — February 28, 1973, Jakarta

Prabhupada: No, I no… You cannot forget your duty. If, if there is some extra duty, that does not mean you shall forget your own duty. So now they
are selling books. You also join. Yes. And you have no tilaka. You are just like ordinary boy. Why?
Jaya Hari: I don’t have time to…
Prabhupada: No, no. This is not good. This is not good. You must be as our representative, with tilaka, as we are dressed. Yes. Don’t be deviated. You have got a good opportunity. Don’t be deviated by bad association. Yes. You are a good boy. So you must revive to your original position. All right.
Thank you.
Interviews with Macmillan and various English Reporters — September 12, 1973, London

Prabhupada: And I have no Indians to manage these big, big temples. Neither they are trained up. Trained up. I have trained up these American boys. They are doing nicely. But they cannot. They have taken a brahmacari dress, and they will come with pant. And they will argue, " Why? What is the wrong there? Why should I give up pant? Why shall I have tilaka? Why shall I give up smoking?" Why, why… They will put so many " whys" that my life will be spoiled. Because they have advanced. So many rascals swamis have told them, " Yes…"
Room Conversation — March 20, 1974, Bombay

Better go and speak philosophy in your grihastha dress, not this dress, but you have nice coat, pants, gentleman. Who says no? I never said. Rather I shall be glad to see that up-to-date gentlemen with tilaka and sikha are speaking. That is very prestigious everywhere. Why this false dress? What is the wrong to become grihastha? I was grihastha, paka caliber grihastha. My Guru Maharaja was brahmacari, This is ever… Just see his character. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was grihastha, but when He took sannyasa: " Oh, I am now…" For sober person. That is wanted. That is ideal. He married twice. Bhaktivinoda Thakura married twice. Caitanya Mahaprabhu married twice. What is the wrong there? One has to become pure devotee, that’s all. Other things, of course, are circumstantially favorable,
Room Conversation — January 7, 1977, Bombay

Prabhupada: And you must see that what you are doing, that is according to the principle which all other sadhus and devotees do. They have tilaka, and you say, " I have no tilaka." That is not sadhu-marganu. Sadhu-marganugamanam. They have kanthi. You say, " I can avoid it." That is not sadhu-marganugamanam. So, from very beginning, if you disobey, then how you’ll make progress? Then?
Room Conversation — January 27, 1977, Bhuvanesvara

Prabhupada: Ask him to have tilaka always.
Prithu-putra: That, that boy who came.
Prabhupada: No, that man who came. Ask that…
Prithu-putra: To wears always tilaka. He has the kanthi-mala, but I don’t…
Prabhupada: No tilaka.
Prithu-putra: No tilaka.
Satsvarupa: He does not wear tilaka.
Room Conversation — January 28, 1977, Bhuvanesvara

Prabhupada: Ten thousand dollars means one lakh of rupees. So we shall save from that luxury department. And this is solid work, yes. It must be done. Without any hesitation, without any impediment. That will increase our prestige of the movement. And go in good dress because people…
Svarupa Damodara: In suits.
Prabhupada: In suit, yes. You get first dress, then address. (laughter) But tilaka must be there. You dress like up-to-date gentlemen, but tilaka must be there. That is our trademark.
Tamala Krishna: Some hair for him is all right? Little bit of hair.
Prabhupada: I don’t think hair is required. Nowadays many gentlemen shaven.
Tamala Krishna: Shaved head.
Prabhupada: Yes. Many gentlemen. I have seen many Russian scholars and politicians, they shave clean.
Gopala Krishna: There is a very big American actor who always has a shaved head.
Prabhupada: That is now fashion, shaved head. But if you think it is impediment, you can have hair.
Room Conversation — March 31, 1977, Bombay

Svarupa Damodara: I would use tilaka many times when I was doing my thesis, also like this, but in giving lectures, especially amongst the scientists, sometimes if we come with head shaved, sometimes they think it very strange. We can do it when…
Prabhupada: No, no, no. Don’t disturb them, that " These are strange people." No, we don’t want that. But we must have our position. Tilaka is our position. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s stricture. You will not see one face if there is no tilaka. He used to say it is cremation ground. Yes, without tilaka. Pasanta mukha.(?) Tilaka must be there. And so far dress is concerned, you can dress up to the taste of the modern people. So what is your breakfast time here?
Room Conversation — March 31, 1977, Bombay

Guest (1): Does the swami, once he has been installed in office, does he every…, wear a white long coat with a white hat?
Prabhupada: Of course, the real meaning of swami is one who has got control over his senses. It does not mean that by wearing a different colored garments one becomes master of senses. Neither it does mean that one, a man in gentleman’s dress with hat and coat, he cannot control his senses. Dress has nothing to do. But according to the Vedic system… Just like there is a particular uniform that this class of men, who have renounced this world, his robe or garment should be like this. That is simply… Just like policeman has got a particular type of uniform, but that does not mean that… That may be imitated even by a thief. So that is not very important thing, to dress. You can become a swami even with your this hats and coats. That doesn’t matter. Yes.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.3 — Boston, May 4, 1968

The dress is not sannyasa, but the attitude of service to Krishna is. The word paramatma nishtha means being a devotee of Lord Krishna. Paratma-vigraha. Paratma, the Supreme Person, is Krishna. Isvarah paramah krishnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah [Bs. 5.1]. Those who are completely dedicated to the lotus feet of Krishna in service are actually sannyasis. As a matter of formality, the devotee accepts the sannyasa dress as previous acaryas did. He also accepts the three dandas. Later, Vishnu Svami considered that accepting the dress of a tridanda was paratma-nishtha. Therefore sincere devotees add another danda, the jiva danda, to the three existing dandas. The Vaishnava sannyasi is known as tridandi-sannyasi.
Excerpt from Sannyasa Initiation of Viraha Prakasa Swami — Mayapur, February 5, 1976

So these marks and this symbolic representation reminds others to Krishna consciousness. Just like a policeman, as soon as he appears in his dress, " Oh, here is a policeman," so similarly, these things are also required to remind others. Our process is to raise persons to Krishna consciousness. So if by our symbolic representation one immediately remembers Krsna.
Interview — September 24, 1968, Seattle

So if you don’t accept this dress, that does not mean you cannot be in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness can be achieved in any condition of life. It doesn’t matter whether you are dressed in this way or in your American way or any way. That doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do.
Woman (3): But I would think, sir, that that does make a little bit difference that you feel that way.
Prabhupada: Yes, it makes a psychological condition if you dress. Just like if you dress yourself just like a queen, sometimes you feel, " I am queen." You see? Just like an actor in a theatrical stage, or if you sit down on a car, you think that you are much elevated. These are temporary, but they are not very important. If you have no objection to accept this dress, that’s nice. But if you have got objection, then we have no objection. Krishna consciousness is different from this dress or that dress. Just like a policeman, police constable, he is dressed in a different type than ordinary gentleman. But that does not mean simply by dressing, he is a perfect policeman. Even without dress, he can become a perfect policeman.
Woman (4): It is motivation. It is just like policeman. He feels…
Prabhupada: Yes. Just to make others know that he is a policeman. But his business does not depend on that dress. Similarly, our this dress may be advertisement to others that " We belong to the Krishna consciousness group." That is another thing. But Krishna consciousness does not depend on dress. Ahaituky apratihata. Without any reason and without any impediment. Krishna consciousness can be executed without any material condition. There is no material condition for advancing in Krishna consciousness. (aside:) Why you are late? (chuckles)
Lecture at International Student Society — Boston, May 3, 1969

In my opinion, Clean shaved Brahmacharies & Grhasthas in saffron robes look like angels from Baikunta. Translation of prayers into English is good & if somebody dresses like nice American gentleman without any robes, I have no objection; 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

I have no objection if members of the Society dress like nice American gentlemen; but 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

When our devotees go outside I have no objection if he dresses as nice American or Canadian gentleman. Up to date gentlemen are all clean shaved so if we do not keep long hair & dress ourselves nicely with tilaka, flag & beads on the neck, apart from our devotional service, then certainly we shall be distinct from the Hippies. I think we should follow this principle rigidly & there is no question of giving up robes in the temple.
Letter to: Pradyumna — Calcutta 17 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. It is not required to wear dhotis, as this society does not understand, so outside the Temple dress suit is more socially acceptable. If they so desire, for ceremony, they can dress in dhotis for Kirtana.
Letter to: Balai — San Francisco 12 March, 1968

The next point is that you should dress just like perfect American gentlemen, but the sikha and tilak must be very prominent. Coat, pants, necktie, and everything, Brahmacari and Grhasthas, they can put on, because you are not Sannyasi. In the temple, you can dress as brahmacari, but in order not to become ridiculous in the eyes of others, outside you should dress just like a very nice perfect aristocratic American. So there is no objection. But we must have always our tilak and sikha and there is no compromise for this purpose.
Letter to: Brahmananda — Seattle 6 October, 1968

Our process of helping the misguided youth should remain the same. Namely, they should join the different services in the temple; chanting, dancing in ecstasy with Hare Krishna Mantra. They must be cleanly shaved, with tilak, have saffron robes, take prasadam, attend classes, chant 16 rounds of beads daily, etc. We are sure anyone who joins us will be free of all material disease including craziness and madness.
Letter to: Bhagavan — Bombay 24 March, 1971

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Nov 27, 2007 @ 9:45 am

Taking Science on Faith

This is a great reference article for preachers.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Nov 27, 2007 @ 3:12 am

HG Sanjaya Prabhu ACBSP passed away

That photo of Sanjaya is in Back to Godhead, issue 15-07 in 1980, in relationship to the article, “Becoming a Devotee of Krsna, ” by Yogesvara Prabhu

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Nov 22, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Who can forget Sanjaya and his enthusiastic book distribution in the 55th Street New York temple? He’s one of the people in the photo on the roof that was in Back to Godhead.

He has lived near the Manor for a long time and I sometimes spoke to him there. His wife works at the Manor school. He would do morning worship and household duties at home and then chant all his rounds in front of the Deities from 9-11 in the morning, every day. He continued to do book distribution his whole life.

A few months ago, he had a heart attack and was in the hospital for some time in great pain. He told me that he was extremely grateful for the situation and even the pain since he totally focused on his chanting. Sanjaya explained to me that he even felt he’d prefer to stay in the hospital in pain since he was able to really give his heart to the holy name. He told me that he felt very ready to leave his body, but that Krsna simply wouldn’t take him.

He was always a happy, smiling, friendly person, ready to serve the Lord and the devotees. It was a privilege to know him.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Nov 22, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

SALTED BREAD

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This book is very inspirational and exciting. It also contains quite a bit of the history of the Hare Krishna Movement in Communist countries. The plot moves quickly, the devotees in the pages truly “come to life,” there is much excitement and humor, and the reader will find him or herself deeply enthused in spiritual life.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Sep 10, 2007 @ 8:32 am

Statement of Mr Macaulay

Thank you for pointing out that we should not use this false quote!

Here’s the truth, which is not so pleasant….

Lord Macauley, who went to India in the early 19th century, was responsible for the British remaking Indian education in the English medium, and based on the culture of Western Europe. He is famous for an essay he wrote about how he desired the crown to finance and organize education in India. He wrote,

“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect…. I have never found one among them [Indians] who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted…. It may be safely said, that the literature now extant in that language [English] is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together.”

(Macauley, T.B. (1958). Minute on education, in: A. T. Embree, S. Hay, S. N. Hay, & W. T. Bary (Eds.) Sources of Indian Tradition (p. 601). New York: Columbia University Press. (Original work published 1835)

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Aug 16, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

Respect for Individuality

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for all the thoughtful comments.

To clarify–my statements about relating personality type to race and gender is simply that not all people of the same race or gender are of the same type of personality as each other. This statement has absolutely nothing to do with gender social roles as explained in the sastra. And, in fact, it is totally within the Vedic understanding.

Explaining this from the Vedic point of view, we could use the personality demarcations (yes, they apply to the psychology, and not just the body) of kapha, pitta, and vata. (Incidentally, some people have a mentality that is different from the body so one could have a pitta body and a vata-pitta personality). These three-and combinations of them–are ways of categorizing personalities.

Those who know Ayurveda will explain that these types exist in all races and in both genders. That is my point. Not everyone who is, for example, Indian, will have the same personality type, nor will all men have the same personality type.

Of course, those who are from the same cultural background tend to have some attributes in common. There are also certain general psychological tendencies shared by most or almost all men, or bymost women. The study of personality types is a different way of understanding individuality than the discussion of general gender psychological tendencies. The two studies complement each other, but are not exactly dealing with the same thing..

I hope the above eliminates any confusion.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jul 20, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

PRESENTING… VEDIC COSMOS DVD

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

There is useful information on this DVD, especially the graphics showing how all the aspects of the universe fit together. It makes an important addition to the body of materials devotees have to understand cosmology. Hopefully, it will contribute to the design of the planetarium that Prabhupada wanted.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By urmila devi dasi On Nov 25, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

1st European Summer Camp at Simhachalam

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Unfortuntely I will not be at this German festival as advertised above. My going was never solidly confirmed and I wil now be, Krishna willing, in Hungary during those dates.

I hope this has not caused any one any difficulty.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jun 15, 2007 @ 7:14 am

Great humor for devotees

This is really funny! Moving, too.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On May 23, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

Kinds and degrees of illicit sex

One “gurukuli” wrote me this letter and gave me permission to send it here as a comment without giving the gurukuli’s name….Here it is:

I also really appreciated your recent article on degrees of sin.

I would add that the degree of sin can also scale to the number of people you hurt in the pursuit of your enjoyment (or their spiritual caliber aka don’t mess with sages/brahmanas/Vaisnavas). For instance, I re-read the story of Ajamila a few months back and was struck by the fact that he was married ( http://www.srimadbhagavatam.com/6/1/65/en). His sin was certainly greater because he hurt his wife and community. We’ve both seen that devotees who suffer personal problems but don’t let that hurt those around them, do much better than those who willfully hurt or manipulated others.

Your article made me peaceful because I can see that I am at least at a small working level.

It IS very difficult to stay with 1 person for any length of time. No, seriously. It is tapasya. They don’t always want what you want when you want it…and I’m not even talking about intimate stuff! They get sick and you have to take care of them, even if you want to do something else. Or you get sick and they don’t take care of you like you want! You have to spend time with them, cook with them, do laundry, the whole thing. It’s a lot of work. Happiness at times, pain at others.

Ajamila fell because he was trying to avoid all of that by getting a prostitute. He was trying to play the system. He wanted all the fun and none of the work – which he got for a bit until she took over his life! If he had fallen and picked himself up, it would have been a different story. But he deliberately went back, brought the prostitute into his home and wove her into his life. It’s your own fault if you invite the vampire in, right? ;-)

I’m convinced that Krsna’s name is where it’s at…now to translate that into a real CONSISTENT reality.

Your servant, (name withheld)

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On May 2, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

The Sunday Feast Kirtan

Prabhu, Thank you for your thoughtful ideas. This post is most welcome.
Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Feb 21, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

Business Model For Vicarious Cow Protection

In addition to Kurmarupa Prabhu’s Care for Cows, I suggest that donations be made to the similar program Sudevi runs north of Radha kunda. Donations can be made to her through Kurmarupa if they are tagged for that program. She takes care of about 150 abandoned and injured cows and bulls practically singlehandedly. Her program is rarely visited and there is little income over that supplied by her parents.

Also–those cow programs deal with symptoms–what about getting to the root, at least in the Vrindavana area? How can we restore a cow culture in the dhama before the cow slaughter culture there becomes irreversible and all the grazing land is gone?

Your servant, Urmila devid asi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 21, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

The Environment–You Are Correct, but Strategically Off Base

Not only for Western devotees, but also for Indians from other places in India. And the orientation could include not only when to wear shoes, but also how to shop, how to dispose of trash, how to find a place to stay, etc. that will be most friendly to the cows, bulls, and the environment.

Anybody up for creating booklets or films on this topic?

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 19, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

Prabhu, these are all great ideas and I hope that a group gets together to implement them. Just by discussing these issues we will generate ideas and please Krsna with our desire.

All the above require skills or contacts beyond the means of most of us. I do see that simple, grassroots endeavor in Western countries was the start of the ecological movement. Money and greed are powerful forces, and if shopkeepers know that they will get more business by using only paper bags, clay cuts, etc. they will do so. Also, many devotees unwittingly harm cows out of ignorance, and an education program for visitors could make a big difference to many individual animals.
Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 18, 2007 @ 7:33 am

Hm. So how you are spending that money?

From the following quote, it is unclear whether his contribution of 50% was simply his own personal “home” worship or if he was giving to someone else. If it was, indeed, his own personal worship, then such use of 50% cannot be considered “second rate.” Just a thought…

SB 5.19.7 purport:
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had a very sincere devotee whose name was Kholaveca Sridhara and whose only business was to sell pots made of the skin of banana trees. Whatever income he had, he used fifty percent for the worship of mother Ganges, and with the other fifty percent he provided for his necessities. On the whole, he was so very poor that he lived in a cottage that had a broken roof with many holes in it. He could not afford brass utensils, and therefore he drank water from an iron pot. Nevertheless, he was a great devotee of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is a typical example of how a poor man with no material possessions can become a most exalted devotee of the Lord.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 21, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

Our Heart in Vrindavana…and our intelligence and hands and pocketbook, too!

Thank you very much for that other article as well as the many follow-up articles others have written. Perhaps we can brainstorm some further solutions here on Dandavats or various forums.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 22, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

Draupadi Instructs Satyabhama

Draupadi was fully dependent on Krishna and her husbands. In that capacity as both a devotee and chaste wife, we see that she also had occupations suitable for her varna. One can say that those occupations were part of, or connected with, her ashrama of grhastha–yes, a woman’s varna is connected to her ashrama. The same is true in a different way for men. A man’s varna activities change according to his ashrama (that is, a vanaprastha man or a sannyasa man does not engage in economic development although he is still in the same varna as he was in grhastha life). The fact that one’s varna duties are connected with ashrama does not negate the fact that both men and women have (material, or spiritualized dovetailed) duties in both ashrama and varna. That was my point, and this post from Draupadi is one of the most clear sastric examples of that fact. I hope this is more clear.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Jan 10, 2007 @ 7:52 am

Thanks for posting this. Evidently, Draupadi was in charge of well over 200,000 people, in addition to thousands of animals. And, from the following section, it appears that her duties were equivilent to a modern-day secretary of the treasury: “It was I alone amongst the Pandavas who knew the income and expenditure of the king and the extent of their wealth. Those bulls among the Bharatas, assigning to me the burden of looking after all those that were to be fed by them, would pay their court to me. This load was extremely heavy and would have been incapable of being born by persons of evil heart. I used to bear it day and night, sacrificing my ease and all the while affectionately devoted to them. While my husbands were engaged in the pursuit of virtue, I alone supervised their inexhaustible treasury, which resembled that of Varuna.”

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Dec 31, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

The Amish, Learning From ‘The Plain People’

We used to live close by the Amish, who surround Gita nagari. And, years later, Jagadish Prabhu asked me to research various communities that differed from the world at large either by religious philosophy or simpler living–we wanted to find out how these communities prepared their children for marriage and jobs. I spent about five years studying this topic.

The film to which Akruranatha Prabhu refers does not present a universally valid picture of “wilding” or the time between age 16 and when an Amish youth can decide to take vows. Most Amish youth rebell in rather mild ways if at all. A good description is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumspringa The Amish do not have a mood of allowing rebelliousness or disobedience. They do insist that vows be taken freely. Indeed, it is this very insistence that led them and other Anabaptist groups (those who baptise in adulthood) to be persecuted in Europe and thus flee to America. A good summary of who the Amish are can be found here: http://www.holycrosslivonia.org/amish/origin.html

The Amish almost always educate their own children in their own schools run by their own teachers through the 8th grade (age 14) at which point boys and girls get a hands-on vocational education. Their view of the Bible is very literal and they strongly discourage philosophical inquiry. They are non-violent in the sense that none will ever fight in any war, but meat-eating and animal slaughter is an integral part of their culture.

There are certainly many things we can learn from the Amish, but some of the foundations of their success are difficult to imitate. First, they are all ethnically and culturally similar. They are decended, in fact, from the same handfull of German families. The Amish have a high proportion of some otherwise rare genetic diseases because of excessive in-breeding. They are thus bound by strong bodily ties. Also, there is no “brahminical” or “ksatriya” class among the Amish. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that the 25% of children who leave are those who are inclined to such work. Also, few Amish have to deal much with money. They inherit land, which was originally purchased hundreds of years ago. Except for a few things they buy from the “English,” their economy is based on barter.

It is certainly interesting that their average number of children is 7–strong evidence that without artificial birth control most women will not have 20 children. Their numbers are growing because they have many children whom they raise with great care and attention. Converts are very, very few. Although their children may feel some attraction to the glitter of modern technological life, they cannot find anywhere the social cohesion and support an Amish community offers.

Perhaps we in ISKCON should consider learning from the Amish by promoting our traditional Gaudiya Vaisnava model of large families, solid Krishna conscious education for our children, vocational training in an apprenticeship model, and then also have communities where members really support each other. We could also add to this mix more emphasis on an ecologically sound lifestyle in harmony with the land and cows. Most of those who come to us are very attracted by the philosophy and ideal way of life we propound, but find us quite lacking in the social and economic spheres.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Dec 19, 2006 @ 8:47 am

Halting the March of Kali

Maharaja, Thank you for this wonderful article. In response, I am working on an article to detail our responsibility, the problems, and some ideas for solutions.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Dec 14, 2006 @ 5:01 am

Out of the Woman Comes the Man, Spends the Rest of His Life Getting Back When he Can

Akuranantha Prabhu, since you answered the question so well, there was no need for me to respond. I do not plan to take further part in this discussion, but I might submit a separate article on this topic a bit later on.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Dec 10, 2006 @ 7:41 am

This is in response to comments by Krishna-kirti Prabhu and Trivikrama Maharaja. Sorry it is long, but I was asked for more clarity. I hope this suffices as I doubt I have time to write further on this topic.

The first problem I mentioned is a wrong or distorted view of varnasrama roles so that the way that women’s (or other’s) roles is defined has more to do with some experience in our personal lives or some experience in modern times than it has to do with sastra and history. Krishna-kirti responds by quoting Prabhupada saying that women should not be seen by the sun and gives this as a specific example of how we can understand what varnasrama roles actually are. Fair enough. But, we also have Prabhupada’s descriptions of the women of Vrindavana going to the Yamuna for water, running through the village to catch their naughty children, and so forth. Clearly, they were not in palanquins and the sun saw them. Things are not so clear. So much time and energy is wasted when we insist that people should follow a tradition, but we cannot with clear authority describe that tradition which we should follow! Some quotes here and there do not suffice when there is also contrary evidence.

The second problem is that of applying varnasrama distinctions to spiritual duties of the nine processes. I wrote of “the principle of spiritual equality”. I am surprised to be asked the praman for a principle of spiritual equality. But, here’s a nice quote that sums up what I mean:
Madhya 25.121, purport:
The devotional activities of the Krsna consciousness movement are completely transcendental to material considerations. As far as different faiths are concerned, religions may be of different types, but on the spiritual platform, everyone has an equal right to execute devotional service. That is the platform of oneness and the basis for a classless society.

And:
Adi 7.115 purport:
The Padma Purana states, arcye visnau sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati-buddhih . . yasya va naraki sah: “One who considers the arca-murti, the worshipable Deity of Lord Visnu, to be stone, the spiritual master to be an ordinary human being, and a Vaisnava to belong to a particular caste or creed is possessed of hellish intelligence.” One who follows such conclusions is doomed.

Trivikrama Maharaja pointed out that there are differences on the spiritual platform, also. I had written that distinctions in spiritual service (the nine processes) can be made on the basis of things such as realization and initiation. Those distinctions have nothing to do with the body and mind. For example, if we say that someone who does sudra work (or someone of European birth, or a woman) cannot lead kirtanas or preach Bhagavatam, although such a person is initiated and strictly following, we impose varnasrama distinctions onto the nine processes.

To sum, regarding the process of devotional service, everyone has an equal right, and distinctions are made on the basis of things such as strictness of following, realization, initiation, and so forth.

The third problem is of applying the fact of our equal nature as souls, or the principle of spiritual equality, to duties related to the body and mind. In this sphere of varnasrama the differentiation is made according to the body and mind, rather than on the basis of the soul or an individual’s realization of spiritual truth. Here’s a suitable quote in this regard:
Morning Walk — December 10, 1975, Vrndavana:
Prabhupada: No, no, I don’t say that I don’t like women, but I cannot say that equal rights. How can I say? First of all show that you equal rights — your husband becomes sometimes pregnant and then you become pregnant, alternately.
Aksayananda: That doesn’t mean you don’t like them.
Prabhupada: No, it is truth. I am speaking the truth, that “If you have equal right, then let your husband become pregnant. Make some arrangement.”
Harikesa: Visakha was preaching to her. She said that “Actually we are less intelligent.” (laughter) That started a big scandal…
Prabhupada: Yes. And that is Krsna consciousness. [break] They are in equal right, then… Nowadays, of course, they are thinking like that, that man should remain independent, and they’ll have homosex, and the woman also independent and they will make some… This is most immoral things.
Indian man: If only people think that they have equal right…
Prabhupada: Where is equal right? Even in Russia there is no equal rights. They have created some of them are managers, and some of them are workers. Why? If equal rights, then everyone should be manager.
Harikesa: Well, in America they have women senators now.
Prabhupada: Huh?
Harikesa: Women senators, women are in charge of companies sometimes.
Indian man: No, in India there are two women. They are high commissioners of India to the foreign countries.
Prabhupada: No, that is possible. That it requires education. That is another… By nature the woman’s body is different from man’s.
Indian man: Women are subordinate.
Prabhupada: Not subordinate actually. The occupations are different. It does not mean… That is another mistake. Just like the leg is walking, and the head is directing, so although the occupation is different, both of them are important. We require the head and leg also. If simply head is there, if there is no leg, then who’ll walk? This is the understanding, not equal.

To sum, regarding duties of this world, whether or not they are dovetailed with devotional life, the right to perform a duty depends on the suitability of that duty according to the individual’s psychophysical nature as prescribed by sastra. These duties are differentiated not only by a person’s brute ability or desire to do something, but also by a holistic approach to the welfare both of individuals and society. To give a better example than a child driving a truck….Suppose that a man is very capable of giving good instructions to a misbehaving child, but that child is not under his authority. He is not the child’s parent, teacher, nor a general authority such as a police officer. Unless there is some emergency, that man should not instruct that child, although he has the physical and mental capacity to do so, his instructions might be superior to those of the child’s authorities, and the man may have a position where he is the instructor of many children. Varnasrama duties according to sastra are not only what we are good at, but what is good for us and help us have the peace both to dovetail those duties and to engage in the process of bhakti.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Nov 30, 2006 @ 8:49 am

I suspect Krishna-kirti has set up a false dichotomy in saying we must choose the philosophical assumptions of Manu or Mill. He says that Manu assumes we are inherently sinful unless tightly controlled, and Mill assumes we are inherently good and only need the proper environment to flourish. He further equates Manu with conservatives and Mill with liberals. But, we followers of Prabhupada and bhakti agree and disagree with both positions. Krishna tells us in the gita that we are all eternal beings, His parts and parcels, and have the same nature of pure goodness as He. He also tells us that we are born into delusion and overcome by desire and hatred. So, we are intrinsically good, but in conditional life appear as intrinsically bad. Perhaps the Manu-samhita deals mostly or wholly with the conditioned side without a direct attempt at spiritual elevation. From that perspective, the main process will be rules, fear, and punishment. Negative regulations and punishments are also part of the process of bhakti. We have lists of offenses to avoid, and sins we must give up, or face dire consequences. But the process of bhakti, and the way in which Prabhupada dealt with his followers, is based on the idea that pure love of God is our natural position and needs the nourishment of sunlight, water, and fertilizer to bring that creeper of love to the full fruit of prema. The fence of rules around that creeper is also necessary, but is not the process itself.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

» Posted By Urmila Devi Dasi On Nov 30, 2006 @ 8:45 am

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