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Comments Posted By chandrashekhara

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The Best of Both Worlds

This is wonderful news. Never should we think that this school is in any way less brahminical than the school of Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami. Indeed, this is relevant brahminical education for today’s contemporary society. Congratulations.

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 19, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

“Karmi clothes” and “devotional clothes” – Getting the definitions right

I would like to veer back to my original intent: redefining, if necessary, the terms “karmi-dress” and “devotional dress.” I suggest that we stay focused on this specific point.

By reading all the comments so far, only Nityananda Chandra prabhu addressed the issue directly by stating that the term “karmi dress/karmi clothes” was introduced by Prabhupada. I pointed out that Prabhupada rarely used those terms, actually. Rather, his disciples used those terms.

The only time when Srila Prabhupada uses the term “karmi dress” is in a letter of 1976, in which he states:

” If karmi dress is favorable, then go on with karmi dress. We have to execute missionary activities; dress is not fundamental.”

Please note that he is using the term “karmi dress” as a reply to a devotee’s query in which the devotee himself or herself introduces the term “karmi dress.” Prabhupada is only repeating the term, not introducing it first-hand. The other two times the words “karmi dress” come up in the Vedabase is when Bhakti Vikasa Swami uses them in one of his books.

Similarly, the term “karmi clothes” appears also only once when spoken directly by Srila Prabhupada (in a letter replying a similar query as above). For the other twenty-five references to that term, it is disciples of Srila Prabhupada who use it.

As far as the term “devotional dress” or “devotional clothes” are concerned, we do not even find one single entry in which Prabhupada uses those terms, not even in a reply to a devotee’s query. He never used that term at all.

Thus, from a study of Prabhupada’s own statements recorded in the Vedabase, we can make a solid argument that the terms “karmi dress” and “devotional dress” were introduced by disciples of Srila Prabhupada, and not by Srila Prabhupada himself. This is not to say that Prabhupada did not go along with those terms, but it shows that those concepts were not his own constructs. Therefore to say that we must continue using those terms because Srila Prabhupada used them may be incorrect.

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 26, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

Pusta Krishna prabhu made a beautiful point, which I am posting again:

“We, who are trained to recognize the atma in every living creature as the true self, should not think that simply wearing a dhoti or sari (with or without kunti mala) is in itself devotional dress. In India and elsewhere, hundreds of millions of people wear this dress and are not bhaktas. And, very unfortunately, we have even seen bad behavior unbefitting a vaishnava being perpetuated by people in such ‘devotional’ garb. Really, the consciousness of the individual is of prime importance. Martin Luther King used an expression in relation to racial discrimination: A person should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. While we can emphasize the dress, we should not de-emphasize the entire purpose of Krishna consciousness.”

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 22, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

Sita Pati prabhu’s statement “Wearing clothes that are *different* from everyone else is Prabhupada’s point” is, I respectfully think, not fully objective. In other words, while Prabhupada at some times insisted on the dhoti (mostly with brahmacaris and sannyasis or ‘saffron-clad grihasthas”), Prabhupada also made extremely clear and numerous statements to the effect that devotees are free to dress in respectable Western clothes. To ignore these statements is not scientific and is no loyal to Prabhupada. If it was good enough for Prabhupada, it should be good enough for us.

I did not understand Nitai Prabhu’s argument; I am sorry.

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 17, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

There was not enough room in my last posting to finish my point, which is:

[When Prabhupada says that we fell from the spiriutal world, I believe that he meant it.]

Similarly, when Srila Prabhupada told Sacinandana Swami’s father, “One can be Krishna Conscious in a suit and tie,” I fully believe that he meant it- he meant it fully and completely. If Sacinandana Swami’s father had become serious about Krishna Consciousness, had begun chanting 16 rounds and had requested Prabhupada to initiate him, I am 100% sure that Prabhupada would not have changed his policy. Prabhupada would not have told him, “Yes- I can give you initiation. But forget what I told you previously. Now that you are serious about spiritual life, you have to put on a dhoti. Disregard everything that I told you before.” I don’t believe this one bit.
If Prabhupada said we can practice Krishna Consciousness in Western attire, let us believe him fully, in toto. Let us not add anything to his clear statements; let us accept them “as they are.”

Regarding Sarvopama prabhu’s statement, in today’s context, I doubt that it is more simple to wear dhotis that are imported from thousands of miles away than to wear trousers. Sarvopama prabhu lives in India; most Vaishnavas do not. Of course, to wear trousers imported from China is not much more simple either. This just shows the complexity of today’s economic situation. However, wearing a dhoti that comes from a cloth market in India is not more ‘simple’ than wearing trousers purchased at any local garment shop in one’s own city. In fact, purchasing a pair of trousers is much simpler than finding and buying a dhoti. One can find a pair of trousers anywhere, whereas dhotis are only available in extremely restricted shopping areas. In fact, in many countries, it is simply impossible to find a dhoti. What is more simple, then? The essential principle is to practice Krishna Consciousness wearing clean and respectable clothes, period.

We will introduce the principle of “simple living, high thinking” not by standing out from society by our exotic appearance, but rather by participating in society, from within, and enacting significant policy changes (closing slaughterhouses, for example.)

Coming back to the original point of my article, it is a fact that our definitions are factually incorrect. Second, our own founder-acarya made it crystal clear that Vaishnavism does not depend on wearing a particular style of dress.

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 16, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

Sitapati prabhu’s comment is very appropriate:

“Once a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati insisted to the Math editors that the dictionary by changed rather than a word be corrected in an article written by his spiritual master. His spiritual master appreciated his sentiment, but had the word corrected to the standard spelling. ”

Also, it is a fact, as Paramshreya prabhu points out, that Prabhupada uses the term “karmi dress” or “karmi clothes” only once in the Vedabase, in reply to a letter of a disciple who himself (or herself) uses that term to indicate Western dress. Conversely, Prabhupada refers to Western dress as “Western dress” and other similar descriptions many, many more times. Therefore we are in no position to demand that the entire dictionary and English language be re-written because Srila Prabhupada once used the term “karmi dress” to refer to Western clothes.

Also, as I pointed out and as Pusta Krishna prabhu points out, the very fact that millions upon millions of non-Vaishnavas wear dhotis is the proof in itself that we cannot call a dhoti “devotional” by itself.

Another point: Are there really Muslim kurtas in Vaikuntha?

The whole “Vaikuntha dress” argument is anthropomorphic anyway: in a real sense, who cares what Krishna wears ? How is that relevant to us down here? Does He say anywhere that we should imitate His dress in order to reach Him? Or does He stress that Sankirtan is the way to reach Him? Are we to imitate or follow? If we want to imitate, fine. But if we don’t want to imitate His dressing and rather stick to performing the Yuga-dharma dressed in Western clothes, that should be perfectly fine, by all means.

Our founder more than once told interested people that they could indeed wear Western clothes and be Krishna Conscious. Are we going to take these words at face value, or are we going to apply the same logic that the proponents of the “soul never fell from Vaikuntha” hold? They say that Prabhupada was only being diplomatic and strategic in terms of preaching to Westerners when he claimed that the soul falls from the spiritual world. In fact, they claim, Prabhupada never really MEANT that. He always knew that the soul cannot fall from the spiritual world, but he spoke in this way just to for preaching purposes. Do we accept such an argument? I don’t. When Prabhupada says that we fell from the spiriutal world, I believe that he meant it.

» Posted By chandrashekhara On Sep 14, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

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