Comments Posted By dayananda
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Devotees who visit Vrindavan should either directly serve Friends of Vrindavan (FOV) or learn from it in order to provide similar services to the dham. The dham serves devotees in a number of ways, including offering them spiritual benefit, supplying shelter, bearing their waste and sins, and giving water and food. How can devotees visit her without offering something in return?
If we love Vraj, we’ll be concerned with her ecology, including deforestation, pollution of the Yamuna, sewage management, and cleanliness of her streets. In many ways, Westerners and their culture are responsible for bringing pollution to the region. Destruction of the environment began with British colonialization, and it has continued with India’s increasing embrace of Western industrialization and standards of consumption. However, devotees know that Krishna loves the Yamuna; He loves Vraj; He loves the trees. If we love Krishna, we will serve His beloved land, trees, and river.
Mukunda Goswami (ISKCON guru) and Drutakarma das, PhD, mention Friends of Vrindavan in their book, “Divine Nature”, published by the BBT. Ranchor Prime (Ranchor das ACBSP) also mentions FOV in his book, “Vedic Ecology”. Prof. Haberman writes about it in his recent “River of Love”. FOV is one of the important privately funded groups that maintain Vrindavan infrastructure and ecology.
Devotees may or may not support Friends of Vrindavan; however, all devotees should learn from it and give service to either FOV or similar groups. If an American, for example, spends $2000 or more to travel to and stay in the dham, but cannot give another 5% or 10% of that sum for the benefit of Vraj, then, without service to the dham, I would challenge the value of such a visit. In the past, some sadhus were so devoted to the dham that they would collect their stools in pots and deposit them outside the dham. The Bhagavatam (4.30.37) says that devotees travel to the dham to cleanse her of contamination caused by sinful persons. Thus, it is the duty of Vaishnava devotees to serve and cleanse the dham. At the very least, we should compensate Vraj for the stools we deposit, the water we use, and the divine shelter we accept.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 28, 2007 @ 4:18 pm
This is a nice article by Madhava Ghosh. Like Sudama Sakha, I’m inspired. In a festival lecture Prabhupada said, “Not that ‘Because I am grhastha, householder, I cannot become a preacher. It is the business of the sannyasi or brahmacari.’ No. It is the business of everyone.” (9-3-71)
Moreover, devotees would do well to try to reestablish the sankirtana economy. In the 1970s, Prabhupada guided ISKCON toward a book sales economy. If devotees use their independent intelligence (dadami buddhi-yogam tam), as Madhava suggests, certainly they can figure out how to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of books instead of the $2-3 million currently sold in North America.
As Madhava is optimistic, so am I. Now is the time to reestablish a focus on bhagavata marga in North America. Niranjana Swami stated in his book distribution lecture posted on dandavats that devotees are accountable to distribute books. He explained that Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas Thakur to report their preaching “scores” to Him at the end of the day, and similarly, Prabhupada wanted to see the book scores. Thus, as Madhava suggests, we are not just accountable for opulent deities, but for preaching results, too. The ideal consciousness of a devotee of Mahaprabhu is that he or she seeks to offer such results to Him.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 30, 2007 @ 8:04 pm
I pledge $100 to Urmila for her expenses. The Vaishnava system is for someone to offer his or her words, deeds, intelligence, money, or life. I’ve given her money in the past. I trust her implicitly.
Urmila urges ISKCON pilgrims that go to Vrindavan to use their financial influence to change the use of plastic bags. Let’s make this a movement. We need to start somewhere. Let’s organize and make Urmila our leader, if she’s willing.
Here are some of my “straw man” suggestions.
1. Lobby the Krishna-Balaram authorities to provide reusable bags for shopping. They can charge a few rupees for the bags, and offer something for their return. The shopkeepers may also catch on, and may start offering bags on which they can make even a small profit.
2. In time, perhaps shopkeepers could (a) make a small profit from reusable materials; (b) be fined for not using them.
3. Like recyclable bottles in the West, perhaps we could implement a system whereby poor people could make small amounts by turning in bags for a refund.
2. On the bags, at least on some of them, catchy environmental slogans might be printed, slogans like “Service to Yamuna Devi”, “Yamuna devi ki seva”.
3. Someone might go to Michael Duffy or Srivatsa Goswami, who are leading Vrindavan environmentalists, and find out what might be the most valuable and practical ecological impact that ISKCON could have in Vrindavan. Whoever goes should be clear that the initiative has to be in ISKCON’s name.
4. A small delegation might go to Ganga Prasad’s store and other major ISKCON suppliers to inform them that we favor reusable packing, and that we are going to continue to lobby for its use.
5. Sponsor a half-day Vrindavan or Yamuna cleanup during pilgrimage times, in other words, during Kartika, Gaura Purnima, Holi, Divali, Govardhana Puja, and so on. For this event, we can use slogans from the scriptures as themes, not Western environmental themes. These themes are already in use, so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just find out what they are.
6. Find out what Indian environmental laws are in place. Some of these laws may not be enforced due to corruption or widespread disobedience. We can then inform our own membership (ISKCON devotees) of the spiritual need to obey such laws. The Indian legislature has already passed many laws that remain unenforced.
7. Let us Westerners keep in mind that we should be bold, but not arrogant with Vrajbasis, even with shopkeepers and those we think are exploiters. After all, many experts, particularly Indian ones, point to the Western culture as the primary bad example of earth exploitation and propagator of the fossil fuel based culture.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 7, 2007 @ 3:51 pm
URMILA’S EFFORTS SHOULD BE SUPPORTED AT ALL LEVELS!
There may be other issues, but as far as I know there are four major environmental problems in Vraj:
1. Waste management. (For example, sewage contaminating the Yamuna).
2. Deforestation, begun on a large scale in the 1900s and continued.
3. Environmentally destructive exploitation of natural resources like coal.
4. Recyclable waste, which is being discussed in several posts here on dandavats.
All these are difficult to solve. Regarding Yamuna, according to Haberman, the most serious, and nearly impossible issue with the Yamuna, is the Delhi exploitation of her, which nearly dries her up and pollutes her unimaginably. After Delhi, it is the Chambal tributary that restores her prior to reaching Vraj.
To the extent that was might have an effect, we should try to do something and not get discouraged with the enormity of the issues. Krishna will arrange for the results. Nevertheless, since we visit His Vrindavan, we should be conscious of the issues and ensure that, at minimum, we are not part of the problems.
URMILA’S EFFORTS SHOULD BE SUPPORTED AT ALL LEVELS!
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 6, 2007 @ 7:19 pm
For anyone who is interested in the fate of the Yamuna, I highly recommend “The River of Love in an Age of Pollution” (The Yamuna River of Northern India) by David L Haberman, who is a devotee scholar. He has been coming to Vrindavan since 1980, and has thoroughly researched his book, which is published by Univ of Calif press.
For anyone serious about the ecology of Vrindavan, I recommend two things: (1) Obtain this book (and others), and begin reading about the problems and solutions. If you are serious and inclined to take active steps toward environmental preservation, I’m willing to send you a free copy of the book. This is a limited offer. (2) Those who are really committed to starting and sustaining something in Vrindavan should contact Srivatsa Goswami to find out how to coordinate your efforts with those already established by local Vrindavan environmental leaders.
As a 60 year old man who has worked for decades in large corporations and in ISKCON, I am strongly against “reinventing the wheel”. In other words, when there are experts who are already working on a problem, it is important to learn from them. After carefully learning and applying others’ methods, one can develop his or her own strategies.
I extend my deep respects to you, who are participating in these discussions on ecology, and urge you to move toward activism. My email is email@example.com.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 6, 2007 @ 6:44 pm
See my recent post on Karuna Purna’s article by following the above link.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 7, 2007 @ 6:24 pm
SUPPORT URMILA’S EFFORTS!
Please see my posts on the other article entitled “Ecology in the Dham”. Let’s all lend support to Urmila’s efforts. She’s calling for practical action, while some of us, including me, are just talking. Now let’s help her. We are servants. Service means doing what Urmila wants us to do and, if possible, going even further to understand and satisfy her motives, methods, and desires. Let’s execute!
SUPPORT URMILA’S EFFORTS!
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 6, 2007 @ 7:29 pm
In 1981, while living in Vrindavan, I was sitting, talking liesurely with Ganga Prasad, the owner of the famous Loi Bazar cloth shop who has since passed away. He told me this story: In the early 1900s when he was a boy running and playing in the courtyard of his home, he accidentally kicked a rat and killed it. This happened early in the morning while his grandfather was doing puja, so he considered Ganga Prasad’s deed very inauspicious. In order to mitigate the offense, his grandfather put the rat on a board, covered it with a harinam chaddar, and carried it through the streets chanting Hare Krishna on the way to the Yamuna, where he cremated it. In other words, he treated it just like a devotee.
That story reminds me of another. Prabhupada once told me that his uncle used to own a cloth shop and each evening he would put out a bowl of rice for the rats, and for as long as he had the shop they never disturbed the cloth. Prabhupada was concerned about our habits in relation to nature and the environment. In Los Angeles, while on his morning walk, he once noticed a water faucet that had been left on, so he told his servant to turn it off. Another time he told me that he had a friend in Calutta whose guru lived in the Sundarban forests and who was friends with the tigers there. Anyone who has seen a healthy Bengal tiger knows that it is one of the most powerful and awesome animals in the world. As he was telling the story, it was apparent that Prabhupada was impressed with his friend’s guru, because when the man went to the forest to visit, his guru would call out, “leave him alone, he’s my man”. And the tigers would leave him alone.
Since I’m remembering these stories, here’s another: In 1970, in Los Angeles when a few of us were hard at work making church classrooms into temple living quarters, Prabhupada came around for an inspection tour. Later that evening he called me into his room and mentioned that he saw some plates of half-eaten prasadam left near our construction area. He was gentle with me, knowing that we were working very hard. Rather than chastise me, he told me a number of stories about the harmony of humans and nature, how varnasrama society is natural society, and how the rules of such a society, like honoring prasadam, fit within a scheme of care and respect, not only for Krishna, but for His nature and for human society.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 2, 2007 @ 3:57 am
I commend what you are doing and hope we can work together at some point in the future.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 28, 2007 @ 1:30 pm
As a disciple of Prabhupada who was active continuously as a temple administrator or senior member from 1967 to 1977, I was privy to most of Prabhupada’s policies and actions, most ISKCON issues and controversies, and most GBC decisions. I say “most”, meaning nearly all.
I agree substantially with Hari-sauri’s brief history above. I was directly involved with nearly all of what he describes.
I’d like to add that Prabhupada’s highest priority (from 1966-77) was the establishment and maintenance of his ISKCON organization. The guru institution is part of those efforts. Therefore, in my mind, one of the most important aspects of the ISKCON guru is that he and his disciples are a part of the structure of ISKCON. Not that they are absolutely required be, but as good followers of Prabhupada, they are.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 21, 2007 @ 4:48 pm
I read your book, and I commend your attempt. I think it has good information. In addition, an important book in my library is Peter Burwash’s “The Key to Great Leadership”. It is concise, and provides information not only individual leadership, but service business. Our ISKCON is in many ways a service business, so his comments are welcome. Peter has been a devotee for decades and a well wisher of ISKCON.
Anyway, your book: you focus on leadership, which is understandable, since it your selected topic. However, you seem to treat management and leadership as one; however, they are separate, but interrelated topics, and some feel it is important to treat them separately.
I especially appreciate that you’ve included a section on “everyone is a leader”.
Regarding the parallel lines issues, I would not presume to give my opinion on this in a short note. However, I have worked in an organization (corporation) that used “matrix management”, which uses parallel lines of authority. A caveat is that such a system requires the rank and file to be more responsible than in the hierarchical methodology. I’m not suggesting that the ISKCON parallel lines be force fitted into matrix management. However, I suggest that we not necessarily think that ISKCON must fit into a strict hierarchical model.
I hope these comments are useful coming from someone who has wrestled with issues of management and leadership for about 42 years, as a non-commissioned officer in the military, an ISKCON administrator and senior member, and business consultant in the corporate world.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 21, 2007 @ 5:28 pm
Good point Madhavananda Prabhu.
Devotees should check sources and not cite unsupported Hindu sentiment. However, some may have trouble discriminating between such sentiment and Vaishnava varnasrama. Well-versed devotees may attack materialistic culture, but alliances with Hindus are probably not a good idea. Intelligent devotees know that the goal of such attacks is to establish Vaishnavism or Vaishnava varnasrama, the culture of sacrifice (yajna).
In the context of British culture, one of Prabhupada’s statements about England is powerful, “Exploitation was their policy. A small country, and bring money from the whole world—this is their bad policy.” (Durban, Oct 6, ’75). As an extension of that exploitative culture, devotees would do well to see that America has inherited this policy of greed from Britain. For the last hundred years, England and the U.S. have established and maintained oil suzerainty throughout the world. Nevertheless, anti-Bush liberalism is a horrible solution to such greed. Vaishnava varnasrama applied as a culture of sacrifice is the only proper solution.
Such a solution transforms American culture into one of sacrifice. For example, SB 4.21 says that although the Lord is transcendental, he accepts various forms of sacrifice by materialistic people, and this helps to foster bhakti. In “Light of Bhagavata”, Prabhupada explains that the duty of the brahmanas is to encourage the ksatriyas and vaishyas to organize and execute sacrifices. In this way, the culture of sacrifice (yajna) is the true expression of varnasrama.
Back to Macaulay, yes, devotees should indeed attack modern culture. However, the goal is not to support Hindu sentiment, but to usher in a culture of Vaishnava supervised sacrifice as Krishna indicates in the Gita. Krishna, after describing various sacrifices, says in 4.34 that you (Arjuna) must understand these sacrifices (tad viddhi) by approaching those who have seen the truth (tattva-darsinah). This reinforces Prabhupada’s statement that the duty of initiated brahmanas is to encourage and supervise sacrifice, particularly the sankirtana sacrifice.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 16, 2007 @ 7:53 pm
We devotees can overcome the greed that characterizes the modern economy by reestablishing the economy of sankirtana in ISKCON. In other words, by selling Bhagavatams widely in large quantities, and thus establishing ISKCON’s Bhagavata economy we can foster an associated Bhagavata culture, which will curb American greed. The current deity economy of ISKCON is laudable, but not sufficient in the age of Kali. A Bhagavata economy is essential.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 27, 2007 @ 6:52 pm
With deep respect to Sita-pati, I would like to see the general results of GBC discussions, but would not like for the leadership to be too influenced by dialogue on the internet, including dandavats.com. The democratic process has some utitlity; however, when the leadership becomes driven by its constituents, that leadership can become weakened and indecisive. The GBC should be sensitive to the desires of its constituents; however, not driven by them.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 17, 2007 @ 1:43 pm
Akruranath, kindly check out in this note my push to empower devotees. This is congruent with Vaisesika’s preaching mood–go go go.
Thank you for the link. I downloaded the report. I’m moved by the statement “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems”.
The fact that ISKCON (Vaishnavism) converts people to vegetarianism is very significant. Extremely important and practical aspects of our brand of vegetarianism are that (1) we offer a positive alternative in prasadam, (2) our influence effects a deep commitment to vegetarianism in those with whom we come in prolonged contact. Whatever faults ISKCON or devotees might have, meat eating is never one of them, so we can leverage vegetarianism as a weapon in our dialogue with the mainstream. In my youth in the 1960s and 1970s, the mainstream climate would not allow us to do so.
Even a part-time devotee who is a vegetarian can represent the Vaishnava community as an ecologist, what to speak of a fully practicing one. Devotees are EMPOWERED to be such representatives. Ecology is a platform upon which everyone can preach–subtly, grossly, intelligently, foolishly–it doesn’t so much matter. Live and learn. Prabhupada approved of such a strategy during a morning walk in Venice Beach when he encouraged devotees to attack the scientists, even if devotees were not themselves polished or well educated.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 20, 2007 @ 5:52 pm
In my post number 22 published on Aug 31, 2007 the link is http://destruction-of-the-soul.blogspot.com/2007/08/change-of-mentality-change-of-culture.html
The final comma published above in #22 prohibits one from being successfully directed to the site.
» Posted By dayananda On Sep 1, 2007 @ 2:00 pm
Akruranatha and Pandu,
Great points. Pandu, I agree that ISKCON’s (the Vaishnava community’s) strict vegetarian diet alone is enough to demonstrate commitment to the environment (in addition to our farms). We have an excellent position to start, with improvements to be made along the way. I’d like to see your essay on the environmental effects on meat eating. Can you send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
Akruranatha, I’ve just finished a two year project writing a sankirtana-yajna commentary on the Gita. Now, I plan to spend at least two years writing and working on Vaishnava environmental activism. The Deep Ecology movement is very interesting. Prof Arne Naess more or less started the movement. It is distinct from Shallow Ecology, of which Al Gore is a poster child. The fundamental criteria for Deep Ecologists are that they reject a human-centric view of the environment in favor of a nature-centric one, and they urge activism. The Shallow people (they don’t like that name) are usually more interested in technological improvements and less in an underlying shift in worldview. My strategy is not to join or align with Deep Ecologists, but to penetrate them with Vaishnava-Vedic ecology. Still, regardless of Deep Ecology, I strongly believe the environmental movement in general has much more potential for preaching than the new-age and yoga movements so popular among North American ISKCON preachers. My primary philosophical thrust is to introduce yajna (sacrifice) as the essential ingredient for an ecologically balanced society. I’ve established a website, http://www.deepecology.us toward that end.
If you read my article, http://destruction-of-the-soul.blogspot.com/2007/08/change-of-mentality-change-of-culture.html, you can get an idea of what I’m trying to do. The article is long, but the section “Real Change–Sacrifice” presents yajna. I submitted it to dandavats for publication, but it may be too long for them.
Moving forward, I’m eager to attract some devotees and non-devotees who appreciate my strategies and with whom I can work. I’m a firm believer in teamwork. Maybe we’ll have the opportunity to work together, you and I, since we seem to be like-minded.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 31, 2007 @ 5:05 pm
The concepts of “reduced carbon footprint”, “reduced footprint”, “green technology”, and so on are not bad; however, by themselves they are not goodness. They are part of a cheating, exploiting mentality. Vaishnava solutions go further. The two major solutions that Prabhupada introduced are (1) militate for a change from demonic culture to sankirtana culture; and (2) establish self-sufficient village models of Vedic-Vaishnava culture.
Currently, ISKCON attitudes in North America have become too concerned with what the American people think. In addition, many leaders in ISKCON-America are worried about the impressions that conservative Indians will have. Thus, the ISKCON culture is primarily temple and deity based. This is because the “deity economy” is more lucrative than the “sankirtana economy”. Still, regardless of current ISKCON attitudes, without changing the American culture, it is unlikely that much progress will be made to curb the worldwide environmental crises.
Some of the devotees here in this thread are arguing for ISKCON to set a better example. However, I would argue that ISKCON, from the start, sets an excellent example by preventing its followers from eating meat, which is a huge example of reducing the impact against the environment. Now it is time for devotees to become activists as in Prabhupada’s time. It is time to strike out at the culture. We no longer need to be defensive or passive in our approach, but rather assertive. We can begin by using words like “karmi” and “demon”. We can all commit to the yajna, which purifies the environment, sankirtana-yajna, even if our commitment is a small footprint like four hours a week. Yes, we should, as you suggest, continue to improve our individual “footprints”, but we should go on the offense and challenge Christians and polititians to match ISKCON’s commitment to the environment, including its yajnic commitment.
ISKCON can again be focused on changing the demonic culture into Vaishnava culture, or at least into a culture that has sacrifice at its center. The culture of sacrifice is the Vedic-varnasrama culture, and it is the culture that Krishna teaches in the Gita, chapters 3 & 4. The American culture is one of greed, overexploitation of the earth, and killing, especially killing animals; it is demonic culture. Vaishnava culture is based on isavasya (concern for one’s individual footprint), yajna (sankirtana, if possible), and para-upakara (welfare for others).
Such a culture is completely different from demonic culture, but we should not merely stand up for Vaishnava culture. We should not stand up for our culture. The best defense is an offense. We should push it out. If we merely stand defensively, we’ll get pushed over by the demonic culture of greed. We should push back, push hard.
With respect and affection to you and your personal example,
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 26, 2007 @ 4:47 pm
Yes, pulling our weight is good. Distribution of water is a good idea, and ISKCON should not accept donations from industries or industrialists that pollute. Scholars often mention that large donations from industrialists is one reason that religious groups are reluctant to take a strong stand against polluters.
As far as spearheading environmental issues in Vrindavan and Mayapur, the ISKCON leadership would do well to coordinate such efforts. You mention, “our more spiritual programs”. However, a coordinated effort to focus on sankirtana and implement environmental initiatives is the most spiritual and effective preaching that we can do worldwide over the coming decades.
In 1985, Srivatsa Goswami of the Radha-ramana family told me about the importance of afforestation in Vrindavan. It took some years for me to fully appreciate his vision, which is simultaneously reverent, wise, and clever propaganda. My god-brother Ranchor Prime, author of Vedic Ecology, is involved in Vrindavan afforestation, and in his book, he quotes Krishna: “The whole life of these (Vrindavana) trees is to serve. With their leaves, flowers, fruits, branches, roots, shade, fragrance, sap, bark, wood, and finally even their ashes and coal, they exist for the sake of others.”
In 1995, Mukunda Goswami and Drutakarma wrote a book called “Divine Nature” that was published by the BBT. Even years prior to that book, Mukunda Gos foresaw the tremendous potential of Vaishnava thought with respect to the environmental crisis. In the 1980s in areas other than ecology, Mukunda Gos’s vision for ISKCON resonated well with several ISKCON thinkers and leaders, so much so that their direction is significantly felt in today’s ISKCON. However, his ideas about preaching and the environment are an exception. Apparently, they did not resonate as well or they were just overlooked.
I agree with you Kulapavana, with Mukunda, and with Ranchor. We should work concertedly to practice and strongly present Vaishnava ecology. However, I do not agree with Al Gore. Currently, many scientists, politicians, and businesspeople are commenting on environmental issues, but in general their solutions do not match well with Vaishnava-Vedic practice and thought.
For example, one important direction in the world is the Kyoto Protocol. Such an initiative, while perhaps good intentioned, is impractical and insufficient. Simplistically speaking, American culture is the problem, and Vaishnava culture is the solution. In other words, an international Protocol will do little, even if followed; however, a change in American culture will do much to save the environment.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 25, 2007 @ 3:16 am
Regarding environmental issues and solutions, devotees would do well to go beyond the media to look more deeply, and, in particular, use the Vedic-Vaishnava perspective. Vaishnavas have much to offer, and American Vaishnavas have the right to be bold and assertive.
On one hand, many environmentalists including Al Gore use science to communicate and technology to solve issues. On the other hand, their voices obscure the true environmentalists who say that the fundamental issue is a moral one, or if you like, caused by the mentality of the people. For example, Prof. Lynn White, seminal environmentalist of the 1960s, wrote, “more science and technology are not going to get us out of the present crisis until we find a new religion[…]”
White, a historian whose expertise is in the development of technology since medieval times, criticizes Christianity for its human-centric views that have influenced environmentally destructive technology. Considering White’s widely accepted perspective, devotees have an excellent platform to present Vaishnava environmental morality. Some aspects of that morality are that nature is sacred, nature has soul, and the essence of culture is sacrifice.
In the Gita, chapters 3 and 4, Krishna gives a summary of the importance of sacrifice. He even refers to materialistic sacrifices, like dravya-yajna (4.28), which includes offering shelter and food, planting trees, digging wells, and so on. Sacrifice provides the practical basis for selflessness. In contrast, exploitation of nature, including killing of animals, is selfish. True, Caitanya Vaishnava conviction is that the highest sacrifice is the glorification of the Supreme; however, other sacrifices lead to that point.
The Vaishnava potential to make a moral and social contribution to environmental problems is extremely significant. Vedantic perspective on the soul, Krishna’s (God’s) love for trees, and the concept of sacrifice within the Vaishnava-Vedic culture are practically absent in American culture, and many would welcome these fresh views.
Considering the strength of the Vedic-Vaishnava position, and the nature of American society, devotees should assertively present Vaishnava sacrifice. Even Gandhi’s strategies were not passive. For example, they included an economic attack on the British salt tax. In addition, he desired to cripple the British cloth manufacturing industry. Moreover, Prabhupada usually favored even stronger tactics than those of Gandhi.
Having written all this, I offer my deep respects to your wife and beg her pardon if anything I’ve said is disagreeable.
Your servant, Dayananda
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 24, 2007 @ 6:40 pm
I appreciate your offer. I am also quite pragmatic. However, I’ve been a practical man for forty years, both as an ISKCON administrator and a householder. Now I’m retired from ISKCON management and my children are long grown, so I’m writing and being a visionary for a little while. If I were to start an environmental project, (and I’m not ready to do so) it would be something like this: I would assemble a team to attack (nonviolently) the materialistic establishment for environmental offenses. Such attacks would be based on Vaishnava principles. For example, we might sue (litigate against) the oil companies for stealing from nature, causing irreversable damage to the environment, and threatening humanity. I would submit the lawsuit on behalf of the demigods and the Supreme Lord. I would argue that they (the oil companies) should pay trillions of dollars in damages just as the cigarette companies paid billions for causing cancer.
I would argue that the monies should be used for sacrifices to the Lord and His agents, after which the results of the sacrifices could be distributed to those humans, animals and plants in need.
Such an idea may or may not be practical; however, the basic concept is to strike a blow against materialists. They are the ones who are destroying the planet. It is their mentality, their governments, industries, and sciences that are destroying. We represent 5000 years of Vedic and Vaishnava culture, which does not have a history of killing and exploitation. The materialists and their culture have already shown that they are killers and theives. In American culture, money is everything, so to attack where the money is located is a good strategy.
Now is the time to prepare a higher profile attack against materialism. America is the best place to mount that attack.
If you’d like to continue this, kindly send me an email. email@example.com. I’m doing a little book distribution for a couple of days, so I won’t be able to reply immediately.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 19, 2007 @ 1:31 am
I don’t think we have much disagreement; however, I would characterize it like this: our lines of thinking are parallel, but not exactly the same. I view building temples and model communities like Vrindavan and Mayapur as sankirtan. My understanding of fundamental sankirtan is threefold: temples, public chanting, and book distribution. This understanding is partly because I joined the movement when there was not public chanting (next to none), no book distribution (next to none), but the sankirtana empasis (by Prabhupada) was on opening temples.
Beyond these three fundamentals, my understanding of sankirtana is any activity that glorifies Lord Krishna. On one hand, the fundamentals should be kept solid as a basis for other types of sankirtana; however, to limit sankirtana to the basis would, as you indicate, be ludicrous (my word, and my own opinion).
I think your suggestions are more inward looking, building on current ISKCON strategies and projects. My suggestion is for a new line of preaching. I suggest reaching out to “movers and shakers” of the environmental movement with our Vaishnava perspective on the environment, as per Palmer, Haberman, White, Ranchor, and others. I also urge ISKCON leaders to reach out to leaders of the Indian government and Indian society to say we will not tolerate pollution of the sacred places of India. You should be aware that one of the reasons that religions (including ISKCON) do not speak out against pollution is that they get large donations from businesses (or business owners) that heavily pollute.
I know my suggestions are controversial. First, they appear too conservative and fundamentalist, but they are not. Yes, they are conservatively based in Prabhupada’s teachings; however, my vision is bold and innovative. Second, the current trend in ISKCON is to improve existing structures and behaviors. I’m not suggesting that any of that stop. Such improvements are both required and highly professional–certainly blessed by Prabhupada. However, I believe it is time to introduce some innovative “old wine in a new bottle”. I am convinced it is time, especially in America, to become bold and asservice. The country is far too materialistic, and religious people, including Vaishnavas, are too complacent with the status quo.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 17, 2007 @ 2:09 pm
Thank you for your intelligent and experienced response. You mentioned “simplistic in approach”. I acknowledge that complex problems likely require complex solutions. However, people, whether they know it or not, approach most problems with a methodology. Science has scientific method. Vaishnavism has another methodology, one that in some cases militates against scientific method. In fact, how can we trust environmental solutions from governments, industries, and sciences that have caused or contributed significantly to the problems? These entities, including science, should be held accountable and supervised using Vaishnva methologies.
I’m impressed by Palmer’s “Faith in Conservation”, and HRH Prince Phillip’s subtle indictment of Western Christianity. In addition, Prof David Haberman writes (in River of Love) that White, a seminal 1960s environmentalist, wrote that Western Christianity’s strong anthropomorphism has contributed significantly to destructive practices. White also wrote, “more science and technology are not going to get us out of the present crisis […]”
In my original post, I cited Haberman’s criticism of impersonalism. I believe, along with White, Palmer, Haberman, and Ranchor Prime, that one’s worldview, and indeed the collective worldview of one’s community and country, has everything to do with one’s relationship with the environment.
My presentation of the worldview of Vaishnavism is as a culture of sacrifice. Sacrifice alone can direct a society away from greed and selfishness, and toward long-term goals, selfless goals, and worship of the Supreme Lord and His agents. Sacrifice is the Vedic culture, and the sankirtana sacrifice is the Gaudiya Vaishnava culture. (Yes, that was a simplification).
BTW, my “thank you” above was not a formality. I meant it.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 16, 2007 @ 8:45 pm
Thank you prabhu. In a famous quote Prabhupada said “distribute book” three times, and you have said it five times! Book distribution is the essence, the basis of our philosophy and practice. One can adhere to this principle fanatically, moderately, or peripherally; however, the principle itself remains the same. Yajna has always been the true focus of society; ISKCON is a society; yajna in this age is sankirtana; and book distribution is the most important aspect of sankirtana. It’s just that simple.
Those who follow the principle of sankirtana are acting responsibly in spiritual life; those who do not practice sankirtana are not acting responsibly in their relationship with the parampara.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 15, 2007 @ 2:39 pm
These problems with water are due to lack of sacrifices. The Vedic tradition is based on sacrifice. Indeed, nearly half of the verses of Rgveda use the word sacrifice in some form or another. The yajna for this age is sankirtana, so we can stave off the drying of the Ganga via sankirtana.
Another good book that addresses environmental problems with the Yamuna is “River of Love in an Age of Pollution” by David L. Haberman. In that book Haberman puts the blame on impersonalists. Roughly speaking, “If all is one, why not pollute?”
Vaishnavas have a responsibility to speak out against pollution of the holy places, identify causes like impersonalism, and spread the sankirtana sacrifice to counter the ill effects.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 13, 2007 @ 10:16 pm
From the yavana-sastra like the Bible to basic Vaishnava literature like the Gita to advanced works like the Bhagavatam and Caitanya-caritamrta, they all recommend the sacrifice of chanting, “sankirtana-yajna”.
The Bible says, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Gita: yajnanam japa yajnosmi, “Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa].”
Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 3.52) and Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32): krishna-varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parshadam yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah, “In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Kåñëa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kåñëa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.”
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 14, 2007 @ 8:10 pm
Dudyanta’s reference to SB 3.29.15 is excellent. In respect to the purport of that verse, there is an environmentalist movement called “deep ecology” whose followers hope to change the mentality of people who are exploiting the earth. They struggle with various perspectives, but Prabhupada’s purport to the verse that Dusyanta has cited encapsulates the Vaishnava “deep ecology” perspective very well.
It is important for every devotee to understand the Vaishnava philosophy with regard to the environment. So-called “shallow ecology”, exemplefied by Al Gore and the mainstream, is not very philosophical, but deep ecology is.
Back to Dusyanta’s verse: One of the most important points of Prabhupada’s purport to 3.29.15 is his quote of Gita 3.13: those who enjoy nature without offering it in sacrifice are thieves. In this regard, in Dallas, circa 1972, on a morning walk, devotees pointed out the home of a wealthy oil-man. Prabhupada asked them how they would preach to that man. After the devotees stammered a bit, he said, “Tell him that he is a thief”.
Thus, hand in hand with cow protection, devotees have a responsibility to speak out and tell others that they are stealing from Vishnu, Who is called Yajna, and His agents the devas. Thus, I challenge the leaders and preachers of ISKCON, “what are you doing about those who steal from Yajna (Vishnu)”.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 28, 2007 @ 2:15 pm
In the Vedic varnasrama tradition yajna is in the center. In this age, yajna is sankirtana. Successful teaching and establishing varnasrama requires that sankirtana be taught explicitly as its theme. Sankirtana is not an implicit part; it must be explicitly linked to each varna, asrama, and the cooperation of all of varnasrama.
» Posted By dayananda On Aug 13, 2007 @ 10:24 pm
Prabhus, particularly Caitanya Caran,
Several devotees over the past 3 decades have developed brilliant arguments and strategies to address scientific issues. For a student to immediately develop his or her own arguments without reference to the authorities may be presumptuous. Good devotee students are as familiar with the works of devotees like Sadaputa, Drutakarma, Svarupa Damodar, and others as with the works of scientists like Newton, Darwin, Liebnitz, Bayes, and so on.
Moreover, the study of strategy is essential. Simply to present arguments is not enough. For lessons about strategy, look to the lives of Svarupa Damodar Swami, and Srila Prabhupada.
Having said that, Prabhupada indicated that we should fight with materialistic science regardless of how imperfect or immature our presentation might be. (From a recorded conversation/ Venice Beach) So, keep it up!
» Posted By dayananda On Jul 17, 2007 @ 10:01 pm
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In the temple I see Yamuna, Shyamsundar, Harsharani, Subal, Aniruddha, Harivilas, Krishna devi, Bhakti jan, Lilavati, Nandarani, Devananda, and me. Initiated devotees have large red (chanting) beads around their necks, except Aniruddha–his are blue. Many of the devotees I’ve listed have their backs to the camera. The only devotees I can identify at the Rathayatra are Jayananda, Devananda, and me. Shyamsundar is driving the truck.
Some of the women have saris that Prabhupada brought from India as gifts. Lord Jagannatha is missing from the temple–He has a cold. The painting of Mahaprabhu in the temple on the altar, Srivas-angam, was done by Haridas, the first ISKCON artist, and the temple president of the San Francisco temple at the time.
» Posted By dayananda On Feb 27, 2007 @ 4:38 am
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