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Science, Society, and Kṛṣṇa Consciousness

Akruranatha Prabhu, PAMHO AGTSP.

Your summary description of the article was pretty much what I wanted to communicate. (It feels good when something you write comes across as intended.)

Some further thoughts on this:

One problem we encounter in the area of religion is that people may accept the same scriptures and saintly teachers of the past, yet still come to different opinions or conclusions about details concerning what course to take in specific situations. The tendency of members of different religions (or even within the same religion) to quarrel with one another and not to be able to resolve such quarrels seems to be a factor causing mistrust of religious authority in modern times.

I don’t have a problem with others coming to different conclusions. It’s either because there is room for variation on some things, or that the differences are due to the modes of nature. For that reason I don’t think that’s a problem that Christians, Muslims and other non-Vedic religions can then stake stronger claim to legitimacy based on this shortcoming in humanistic science. People of different modes will be attracted to them. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Jan 28, 2014 @ 5:42 am

I think I actually took this picture of Akruranatha Prabhu. Maybe someone else did. But this is the San Jose temple.

(Editor’s Note: The photo that was published previously on the article, depicting Akruranatha prabhu, has been replaced now with a photo of the actual author, Krishna Kirti prabhu)

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Jan 26, 2014 @ 4:51 am

Have the same problem as Bhakta John?

Many years ago, Mukunda Maharaja approached me to write something for it, and he explained that it was an outreach effort to engage devotees who, you might say, are regular Sunday Feast crowd. They come to the temple, they identify with ISKCON, but anything else goes. I don’t usually write for that audience, but I did write something that I thought (hoped) would be non-confrontational enough for that audience. I sent it on to the editors, and I never heard back from them. Oh well.

That said, I agree that some of the content is something on the level of the “None for the Nuns” article in the pre-reformed Back To Godhead at the start of the 1990s. For those who never encountered it, it was an editorial that spoke out in defense of Catholic Nuns not getting some pension benefit. I can’t remember which institution was the guilty party (Vatican, US Government?) Someone had also drawn a cute line-art picture to go along with it. The editorial gained quick notoriety. Almost any devotee who saw it wondered why it was in BTG at all, and why they were reading it. So, yes, ISKCON News sometimes publishes things like that.

What is also notable is the effort in terms of manpower and funds that go into the project. Couldn’t they do something considerably more edgy, more straight-forward with the same resources? I am 100% positive you would get much more of a return on that investment, something quite a bit more satisfying.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Jan 30, 2014 @ 12:05 am

Female Diksha Guru — some considerations

Sankarsana Prabhu, quoting Urmila Mata, wrote:

Also how do you respond to a logical argument Urmila mataji makes as follows: “In a situation where a guru has been giving siksa and personal guidance for many years–even a decade–to a particular disciple, where there is a firm relationship of guru/disciple, where the disciple has been worshiping and studying from and serving his or her siksa guru for many years–why is it better for that disciple to take diksa from someone else, only because the siksa guru is female? (And often the “someone else” has little or no relationship or personal knowledge of the disciple).”

The response to this, as per my prior comments, is in Lord Caitanya’s reply to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s observation that Maharaja Prataparudra was a great devotee. “Only because the siksa guru is female” is not an inconsequential fact, as Mother Urmila believes it to be. Sex attraction is there, and the means for avoiding it are strict separation at the societal level.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Nov 30, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

I would like to congratulate Sriman Basu Ghosh Prabhu on this excellent essay. A point which is the proverbial “elephant in the room” is why were female diksha-gurus so exceptional, to the point of almost being non-existent in our sampradaya and in other Vaishnava sampradayas we respect as bona-fide. For example, to this day, neither the followers of Madhvacharya or Ramanujacharya have female diksha-gurus.

One clarification needs to be made about Basu Ghosh Prabhu’s discussion of the yajno-pavita and women not getting it in our tradition: who gets the yajopavita is actually governed both by pancharatrika shastras and by dharma-shastras such as Manu-smriti. Neither permit women to have them.

Women can receive (and hence give) mantras which are not Vedic (that is, mantras that are not to be given to stri-shudra-dvijabandhu (women, shudras, and unqualified offspring of brahmanas). But mantras like the brahma-gayatri are not to be given to women. That is why up through Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura no acharya gave it to women. Doing so is against sruti-smriti-purana-pancharatra. (I’ll explore this more in depth in a coming essay.) Basu Ghosh Prabhu’s focus was specifically on Vedic mantras, not necessarily non-Vedic mantras.

Srila Prabhupada gave the brahma-gayatri to his female disciples, but the only official record we have for his reasons are in the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita, where it is described that Srila Prabhupada felt there could be “no harm” in giving to them. The context of this is that his two lady disciples, Jadurani and Govinda dasis felt slighted by not being included in the second initiation. That’s the context.

Now, as to the difference between getting a mantra because it “causes no harm” and getting the mantra because it will be beneficial is a great difference. There is absolutely no support in the shastras–sruti or smriti–that that supports any notion that chanting the brahma-gayatri will benefit women. To allege it does, one will have to concoct an elaborate theology that will necessarily contradict the corpus of Vedic literature–especially srutis and smritis.

To justify women giving upanayanam and upavita, along with the brahma-gayatri, to others would require us to contradict the Vedas and hence establish us as nashtikas, persons who do not accept Vedic authority. This would immensely disgrace Srila Prabhupada.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Nov 29, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

Aitihya – Updated with Part 2

Mukundadatta Prabhu has made a very important contribution to our understanding of Vaishnava epistemology. As per the Bhagavatam, there are four pramanas we accept. The first three we are already familiar with: pratyaksha, anumaan, and shabda. On pages 7 and 8 of his essay, Mukundadatta Prabhu shows the importance of aitihya relative to these other pramanas: (QUOTED FROM PAPER)

One is Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.19.17:

srutih pratyaksam aitihyam
anumanam catusöayam
pramaëesv anavasthanad
vikalpat sa virajyate

“From the four types of evidence—Vedic knowledge, direct experience, traditional wisdom and logical induction—one can understand the temporary, insubstantial situation of the material world, by which one becomes detached from the duality of this world.”

Here, Lord Krsëa describes aitihya as a valid proof, an authoritative evidence (pramaëa), like the other three pramaëas Srila Prabhupada more often mentions (pratyaksa, anumana, and sabda). In other words, Krsna clearly affirms that tradition itself is a fourth pramäëa.

The other verse is Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.28.18:

jnanam viveko nigamas tapas ca
pratyaksam aitihyam athanumanam
ady-antayor asya yad eva kevalam
kalas ca hetus ca tad eva madhye

“Real spiritual knowledge is based on the discrimination of spirit from matter, and it is cultivated by scriptural evidence, austerity, direct perception, reception of the Puraëas’ historical narrations, and logical inference. The Absolute Truth, which alone was present before the creation of the universe and which alone will remain after its destruction, is also the time factor and the ultimate cause. Even in the middle stage of this creation’s existence, the Absolute Truth alone is the actual reality.”

This is an even stronger reference. By using the word “aitihya” (instead of sabda) in apposition with the other two pramaëas (viz., pratyaksa and anumana), it further and more clearly shows that aitihya is not only an acceptable evidence, but that it has authority equal to that of sabda specifically—as indeed was recognized by the Indian legal tradition.

Why does this matter? When there are questions or matters that cannot be understood properly even with all of pratyaksha, anumaan, and shabda, it is aithiya that will be necessary to help us come to the right conclusion.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Oct 29, 2013 @ 4:33 am

Strictness is the Strength of ISKCON

Great article, good research Sita Rama Prabhu Ji!

At the very least, you have established that a traditionalist social model is also a viable model for growth through preaching.

I look forward to more such well-written articles from you.

ys, KKD

» Posted By krishna-kirti On May 22, 2013 @ 3:58 am

From a Disused WW 11 Airstrip to a Prasadam Distribution Day Trip A Devotional Day in the Life!

Whoa! We’re already at WW 11?? And here I thought we had been trying to prevent WW III by chanting Hare Krishna. :-)

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Apr 4, 2013 @ 4:07 am

Download for free the book “Did Srila Prabhupada Want Women Diksa-gurus?”

. . . [From my last comment]

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said,

‘Just as one is immediately frightened upon seeing a live serpent or even the form of a serpent, one endeavoring for self-realization should similarly fear a materialistic person and a woman. Indeed, he should not even glance at their bodily features.’ (CC Madhya 11.11)

Mahaprabhu has pointed out that even if a woman is a devotee, her form is still a cause for bondage. This verse and commentary from SB 3.31.35 describes the same thing:

TRANSLATION

The infatuation and bondage which accrue to a man from attachment to any other object is not as complete as that resulting from attachment to a woman or to the fellowship of men who are fond of women.

PURPORT

Attachment to women is so contaminating that one becomes attached to the condition of material life not only by the association of women but by the contaminated association of persons who are too attached to them. There are many reasons for our conditional life in the material world, but the topmost of all such causes is the association of women, as will be confirmed in the following stanzas.

In Kali-yuga, association with women is very strong. In every step of life, there is association with women. If a person goes to purchase something, the advertisements are full of pictures of women. The physiological attraction for women is very great, and therefore people are very slack in spiritual understanding. The Vedic civilization, being based on spiritual understanding, arranges association with women very cautiously. Out of the four social divisions, the members of the first order (namely brahmacarya), the third order (vanaprastha) and the fourth order (sannyasa) are strictly prohibited from female association. Only in one order, the householder, is there license to mix with women under restricted conditions. In other words, attraction for woman’s association is the cause of the material conditional life, and anyone interested in being freed from this conditional life must detach himself from the association of women.

The conclusion here is that women rarely became acharyas because the attraction between men and women is in and of itself a cause for bondage. Not only that, but it is the superlative cause for bondage. Thus women rarely became acharyas.

In the next comments, we will discuss Sanatana Goswami’s verse that SP comments on, and then we will discuss the legitimate female exceptions.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 13, 2013 @ 5:39 am

In comment #45, I introduced Srila Sanatana Goswami’s (SSG) recommendation in HBV for one not to accept a spiritual master from a lower varna if a spiritual master who is also a brahmana is present. And Srila Prabhupada’s comment is that this is an instruction “meant for those who are overly dependent on the mundane social order and is suitable for those who want to remain in mundane life.” Furthermore, SP states that “If one understands the truth of Krsna consciousness and seriously desires to attain transcendental knowledge for the perfection of life, he can accept a spiritual master from any social status, provided the spiritual master is fully conversant with the science of Krsna” (CC Madhya 8.128 purport). And the Shastric Advisory Committee (SAC) in their 2005 paper inferred that “any social status” also implies women.

But the statements of either SP or SSG do not imply women. The reason is simple: for men associating closely with men regardless of varna, the possibility of illicit sex does not arise. But if there is a woman involved with a man, then that possibility is there, and it is strong. On account of sexual attraction, the relationship between men and men is much different from that between men and women. Therefore the SAC has come to a wrong conclusion when it says “gender is also a consideration to be discarded in judging a guru’s eligibility.” Gender is indeed considered, and that is why in our disciplic succession female diksha-gurus have always been rare.

“Since I am in the renounced order, it is as dangerous for Me to meet a king as to meet a woman. To meet either would be just like drinking poison.”

Greatly lamenting, the Lord then informed Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, “‘Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than drinking poison willingly.'”

Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya replied, “My dear Lord, what You have said is correct, but this King is not an ordinary king. He is a great devotee and servant of Lord Jagannatha.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Although it is correct that the King is a great devotee, he is still to be considered a venomous snake. Similarly, even though a woman be made of wood, one becomes agitated simply by touching her form. (CC Madhya 11.7-10)

(continued …)

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 13, 2013 @ 4:47 am

Kaunteya’s fabrication of his opponents’ statements and the outspoken support for this from some of his colleagues shows that the socially progressive devotees have a tendency to prefer to address their own stereo-typed notions of devotees they disagree with than to address the actual devotees themselves. I say this is a tendency, not an absolute judgment, of devotees who are socially progressive. There are devotees who are liberal and who have more integrity than this. I know some of them. But here is a warning to those devotees: the longer you stay silent about this, the more their misbehavior will implicate you. Maunam samiti lakshanam–silence implies consent. Please speak up now while there is still an opportunity to distance yourself from what Kaunteya has produced.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 12, 2013 @ 5:28 am

Prabhu Somayaji wrote,

I don’t know if it makes sense to Krishna Kirti Prabhu but it doesn’t make sense to me. Kauteya did not specifically attribute the lexically engineered text to Krsna Kirti Prabhu but he did attribute it to his opponents, which is just as unethical.

No, it does not make sense to me either that a devotee would do this. Why, if the public discourse is so full of statements that accurately portray the points Kaunteya wants to attack does he have to fabricate his example statements from another’s text that does not make those points? Here Mata Ji Vishakha Priya has stated in no uncertain terms that she thinks it’s ethical to use another person’s words to construe some meaning clearly not intended by that person, and the rest of us are supposed to think we can hold a rational conversation with someone who believes that?

Srila Prabhupada identified Mayavada-bhashya as attempting the very same thing–unscrupulous scholars take Krishna’s words and ascribe some other meaning than that intended by Krishna. Unfortunately, Prabhu Kaunteya’s book has employed the same kind of misrepresentation, and therefore his work is objectionable on moral grounds.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 12, 2013 @ 5:08 am

This is a continuation of comment #41, which introduces the topic of the rareity of female acharyas in bona-fide Vaishnava samparadayas. The assertion in #41 is they were rare on account of varnashrama. In order to better understand why varnashrama accounts for their rareity, we shall take a closer look at a statement of Srila Prabhupada’s the SAC uses in its 2005 paper on female diksha-gurus as well as examine more closely the claims of the SAC with regard to this statement:

It is stated in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa that one should not accept initiation from a person who is not in the brahminical order if there is a fit person in the brahminical order present. This instruction is meant for those who are overly dependent on the mundane social order and is suitable for those who want to remain in mundane life. If one understands the truth of Krsna consciousness and seriously desires to attain transcendental knowledge for the perfection of life, he can accept a spiritual master from any social status, provided the spiritual master is fully conversant with the science of Krsna (CC Madhya 8.128 purport).

Now, why would SP criticize something Srila Sanatana Goswami (SSG) said? SP is not questioning that SSG himself is the origin of this reference to the Hari Bhakti Vilasa (HBV). And SP is not suggesting that this is some modern corruption and that SSG’s true text is lost. On its face, according to SP’s statement SSG is giving instructions to people who want to remain in mundane life; if one does not want to remain in mundane life, one will not accept this instruction of SSG. But why at all would SSG give an instruction that had no merit for spiritual life whatsoever?

One understanding we could come to is that SSG is wrong and that SP is correcting him. That conclusion is so unpalatable and wrong that it does not warrant further investigation, other than mentioning it for the sake of completeness.

Another, and better, understanding is that this instruction from SSG does have spritual merit for a certain class of devotee. Who comes into this class? Devotees who are too attached to the varnashram social order–they are overly dependent on it.

But what if you are not attached to varnashrama-dharma but are nevertheless overly dependent on some other social order? What if, instead, you are attached to the modern, secular regime, wherein “equal rights” is a sacred value? Does SSG’s instruction have relevance? It does (to be continued.)

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 10, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

The reason women as diksha-gurus in our sampradaya and in other bona-fide sampradayas were rare is that all these sampradayas (including ours) follow varnashrama-dharma. Because the female svabhava (nature) has certain liabilities which are detrimental to both the woman who takes up such duties and to the rest of the society, who must interact with her, only women who have fully transcended their material svabhava should take up the role of diksha-guru.

From the CC (Antya 5.51):

raganuga-marge jani rayera bhajana siddha-deha-tulya, tate ‘prakrta’ nahe mana

“Srila Ramananda Raya is situated on the path of spontaneous love of Godhead. Therefore he is in his spiritual body, and his mind is not materially affected.”

Therefore only once a woman has attained the platform of spontaneous devotional service, wherein she is free from her material svabhava, should she become a diksha-guru. Otherwise, because her mind is still materially affected, she takes up what Krishna says is “paradharma”, or the performance of another’s prescribed duties. She acts against her svadharma and hence against her best spiritual interests and against the best spiritual interests of those around her.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 9, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

Mother Vishakha Priya wrote:

My first point is that one could argue the same about “the sheer volume of” Vedic sources the opponents of Kaunteya’s views resort to support their views. And thus, given the wide range of speculation possible by extensively quoting those Vedic sources, one will have to appeal to Srila Prabhupada’s siksa in order to understand how he wanted his society to function in the twenty-first century.

Firstly, I never said that SP’s siksha be abandonded. I said that without appealing to tradition on certain matters SP’s words are liable to be misunderstood. Let me remind you that the elipses in Kaunteya’s text omit a tremendous amount of material, and in the omitted material I describe and explain how the ritvik philosophy is an imaginary representation of SP’s intentions. Indeed, therein I point out that when the GBC chose to respond to the ritviks, they appealed to tradition to argue their case. (I have requested the site editors to post my original email on this website so that you and others can inspect the letter itself.) My point is that SP is a reprentative of that same tradition, so when there is some question as to his intended meaning on some point (especially if controversial) we should appeal to that tradition to understand his intent.

Secondly, since I am explicitly saying that SP is a representative of that tradition, how do you get it in your head that I have recommended abandoning a legitimate part of that tradition? Your determination to understand my intent in some other way is both remarkable and misplaced. The text as Kaunteya has creatively cut and spliced it together–Frankenstein style–is his attempt to mislead his audience.

And finally, as I have stated, I object to Kaunteya’s presentation on both philosophical and moral grounds. Therefore I do not want my name associated with it without my position in his treatise clearly and faithfully stated on the matter. You and Akruranatha know perfectly well how you would feel if your names were similarly associated with a work you found objectionable. It’s just that you have chosen to be disingenuous in your replies. Hence, there is no need for further discussion between us.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 9, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

[Kaunteya das:]Yes, Çréla Prabhupäda did
write: ‘I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of
Bhaktivedanta . . . Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to
initiate disciples.’ (Letter to Hamsaduta, 3 January 1969) but because the Sunéti
purport was written after that letter, the conclusion is that women cannot initiate.”
If we consider the facts in the proper perspective, we must recognize that the letter
comes almost two billion years after the Sunéti story. . . . [from comment 25]

[Mother Vishakha in comment 26 wrote:] Krishna-kirti Prabhu, do you agree with the above passage? And if not, what is wrong with it? I really need to know.

I do not agree with argument that “because the Suniti purport was written after the letter, the conclusion is that women cannot initiate.” The reason I don’t agree with that is that in the purport SP is speaking about the tradition, so the serial order in which SP penned his letter to disciples and the Suniti purport is irrelevant.

I also do not agree with Kaunteya’s Hegelian, historicist counter argument. One thing that hasn’t changed in 2 billion years is sexual attraction between men and women, and that has been the primary shastric and historical factor limiting female diksha-gurus. Sexual attraction is Zeitgeist-proof. It has been unchanging throughout the ages.

I will write more about this and provide pramanas in a couple days time.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 4, 2013 @ 5:02 am

Mother Vishakha Priya,

You wrote,

Also, regarding your statement that “It’s also unethical to cite someone’s name as a contributor to a polemical work without stating clearly their position”, Kaunteya has mentioned as follows:
Acknowledgements. . .

I had assumed in the p.s. of my previous comment (#22) that you would have agreed that someone thanking you in the acknowledgements section of a treatise favoring Mayavada without stating your position on the matter would be considered unethical by you. But now I have my doubts. Would you please clearly state whether you would consider that ethical and why?

Your son and servant, Krishna Kirti das

p.s. I will write more as I get time.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 3, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

So, in the last text I said I would furnish an example of Kaunteya making up an argument against female diksha-gurus. Here it is:

On page 108 of his text, he quotes some text which turns out to be a heavily modified version of an email message I wrote last year. According to Kaunteya, as per the cited text, “the suggestion is that, in discussing if women can become diksa-gurus, we should dismiss all of ‘Srila Prabhupada’s recorded teachings’ and instead independently look for answers in the ‘tradition Srila Prabhupada himself represents.”

If this had been close to what I had written, I would have agreed with Kaunteya’s reading. However, in the middle of the paragraph there is a set of elipses that stands in place of a tremendous amount of material that has been omitted–a page’s worth of material. Indeed, if you examine my original text, you will find that he has synthesized the paragraph he cited out of two separate paragraphs of mine, both of which make very different points.

Here is the first full paragraph before the elipses (omitted portion bolded):

An important point to keep in mind in all of this is that the sheer volume of Srila Prabhupada’s recorded teachings along with a burgeoning secondary literature of personal reminiscences of Srila Prabhupada allow anyone with the wherewithal and a small investment in technology to easily gather as many of Srila Prabhupada’s statements as he likes to support whatever cause strikes his fancy. An effect of this has been that we are highly susceptible to speculative interpretations of Srila Prabhupada’s intentions that turn out to be unmoored from the tradition he represents.

With just this much of the omitted content restored, it is clear that I am making an entirely different point. I have not suggested that “we should dismiss all of Srila Prabhupada’s recorded teachings.” I have not even suggested that we dismiss ANY of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Nor have I recommended that we instead “independently look for answers in the tradition Srila Prabhupada himself represents.” With the omitted text restored, it turns out that I have said that the volume of Srila Prabhupada’s text and modern technology make it possible for someone to produce an interpretation of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that in fact turns out to be speculative and against our parampara siddhantas.

So yes, it turns out that Kaunteya is fabricating some of his opponents’ arguments.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 3, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

Dear Mother Vishakha Priya, please accept my humble obeisances at your feet. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

You have posed some intelligent questions, and in the posts that follow this I shall attempt to answer them in the order posed by you. However, and beginning with your first question, it is most important to understand why Kaunteya’s work is one of dubious scholarship–that is, even if you agree with his point of view his work should not be trusted because of the way he has gone about it.

You asked, “But we *do* hear those arguments all over ISKCON. Do you mean to say that Kaunteya invented them?” He has indeed invented some of them. In the next post I shall furnish such an example, wherein he took some text of mine and stripped out statements whose presence changes the meaning of the newly formed text he created from the bits and pieces of my original text.

You may say that Kaunteya’s taking license with my text is fine as long as the argument exists somewhere–even if it is clear in the original text that I intended some other meaning. But then, if someone somewhere has actually made the argument Kaunteya wants to attack, why, when I have not made that argument, does he have to refashion my text to say what I never said? If he can’t find some text that he can quote faithfully without substantial modification to meet his needs, then it is likely that no one has made the argument he set out to attack.

So, even though you may have *heard* those arguments in ISKCON somewhere, you have not necessarily heard those arguments from people who stand by them. Misrepresentations of what someone else has said happen an awful lot, and that is why it is imperative that sources for any text used from someone else be accurately cited and attributed. To err is human, even if you have a high position in society. Citing sources accurately is therefore giving respect to the authors of those comments. It acknowledges that one’s own self could be wrong, and it gives others a chance to correct you.

A further and more important reason to cite sources properly and accurately is that to not do so gives rise to mayavada bhashya, because that presents someone else’s text without touching on the spirit of the text itself. It is wrong to do it for Krishna, wrong to do it for Srila Prabhupada, and wrong to do it for others.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 3, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

Mother Vishakha Priya wrote,

My question is, How can I post some of your statements which Kaunteya Prabhu allegedly misused when I have no idea what those statements are.

This is my point: how can you conclude that he has correctly represented the side he disagrees with when he has left his readers no way to verify that he has indeed used their statements correctly? You shouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that he has correctly represented them, but you did–even after the author of some the comments used has raised a doubt about that. The problem here is that you agree so strongly with Kaunteya’s point of view that you feel it is too good to fact-check. What if none of his opponents hold the views he says they hold? What good, then, has he done anyone by misrepresenting them–even anonymously? (And I do say that some of his central arguments rely on such misrepresentation.) In my initial comment I invited devotees to contact me personally for further information about this, but without making a good-faith attempt to do that you gave Kaunteya’s work your imprimatur.

Sincerely,

Your son and servant, Krishna Kirti das

p.s. It’s also unethical to cite someone’s name as a contributor to a polemical work without stating clearly their position. Let us suppose someone writes a work extoling the virtues of Mayavada, anonymously cites your argument against it but thanks you for your contribution in the acknowledgments section. Now your name is associated with a dubious work. Do you not find that objectionable? I think you would, but in the case of Kaunteya’s work you don’t think it objectionable for him to do similarly because your sentiment predisposes you to downplay such questionable acts. It’s the attitude of the ends justify the means.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 2, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

My obeisances at your feet, Mata Vishaka Priya Ji,

Do you know which statements of mine Kaunteya Prabhu has used for his essay and how he has employed them? What if he has indeed used my words in an objectionable way? You are defending Kaunteya’s work without considering whether my complaints have merit. Please first post some of the statements of mine Kaunteya Pr. has used and that in your judgment have been used ethically, and then we can discuss your objections and mine on their merits.

Your son and servant,

Krishna Kirti Das

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 2, 2013 @ 4:06 am

A few points about this “scholarly” work. Kaunteya and his publishers have gone to great lengths to misrepresent the texts they quote. For example, they cut and pasted excerpts of my own texts in such a way as to produce statements I had never intended to utter, and then they ascribe them to me. They also argue for giving women the sacred thread at initiation and they also argue at length that the diksha-line of Bipin Bihari–a goswami line–is also a bona fide shiksha sampradaya. If anyone wants further information about this, they can contact me.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Feb 27, 2013 @ 12:48 am

Varnasrama and Bhakti

People nowadays do not follow the garbhadan samskara, nor do they follow varnashrama rules regarding marriage. Consequently no one can tell a member of one caste from another because everyone is varnasankara. Therefore society at large is engaged in paradharma on a massive scale. Just look around you and you will see so many people who are expert in one profession or another who have the wrong nature for being in that profession.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Dec 27, 2012 @ 7:44 am

Kulapavana at comment #14 wrote:

Verse 18.47 is directed to Arjuna who wants to abandon his kshatriya duties because they involve violence against his superiors and seem to lead towards destruction of the social fabric. Arjuna is thinking about giving them up and take a life of renunciation instead.

Yes. By abandoning his duty and taking up some others, Arjuna would be performing paradharma.

The ‘imperfect’ performance of Arjuna’s occupation does not mean poor fighting or poor governance.

Certainly it is not a rationale for mediocrity. But it does serve to show that if there is a conflict between acting according to one’s nature with a mediocre result and acting against one’s nature with a better result, the former course of action is to be considered the better than the latter course.

It means that as a result of Arjuna’s execution of duties there will be some unpleasant consequences.

To generalize this beyond Arjuna, the consequences may be good or bad, but the outcome depends on the five factors of action, as mentioned by Akruranatha Ji. It can be further understood that we have little control over these factors, where we have any control at all. One thing we have control over is the decision to perform our prescribed duties.

The general instruction for all of us seems to be that we have to surrender to our position in the social order created by Krsna so that His will is ultimately carried out.

Yes. Therefore the connection of varnashrama with the bhakti process is to be considered on the level of yukta-vairagya, or utility in the service of the Lord. In other words, this is sharanagati, or surrender. According to Sanatana Goswami, sharanagati has six facets: 1) accept whatever is favorable for executing Krishna consciousness, 2) rejecting what is unfavorable, 3) to be fully confident of the Lord’s mercy, 4) to consinder one’s self fully dependent on the Lord, 5) to have no interest separate from that of the Lord, and 6) to always be meek and humble. Accepting varnashrama means to accept a favorable condition for the execution of bhakti, and it also means abandoning other social conventions that are unfavorable.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Dec 25, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

It is also interesting to note that one’s varnashram status is based on guna and karma. Daksha, or expertise, is not a prerequisite. You may be a mediocre brahmana, but if you have the nature of a brahmana and you preform the activities of a brahmana, then you are a brahmana. However, if you perform the activities of a brahmana perfectly yet do not have the nature of a brahmana, then you are still not a brahmana.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Dec 25, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

The concept of paradharma, or the performance of another’s duties, shows that varnasrama system is not meant for the optimization of the work force. In Gita 18.47, it is said sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah para-dharma svansuthitat, svabhava niyatam karma kurvan na apnoti kilbisam, “It is better to perform one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are neer affected by sinful reactions.” This shows that if varnasrama is fundamentally about matching the most capable person to a particular occupation, then there could be no such thing as paradharma. Varnasrama-dharma has a different purpose.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Dec 24, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

Self-Identity, Conflict and Commonwealth within ISKCON

I want to thank everyone who has expressed their thoughs, appreciation, and reasoned objections to my piece. Thank you all.

If there is one and only one thing that I would like everyone to take away from this discussion, it is this: Within our society, the current direction of discourse surrounding difference guarantees separation. Schisms aren’t bad things that happen only to other religious groups, and those who dissent from the status quo are not necessarily wrong in their position. Nor are they necessarily wrong to leave. The question then is not whether there will be separation but what kind of separation. Thus I suggested a “commonwealth” model of our society as a possible outcome. At this point, I don’t think separation is avoidable. There may be some scope for influencing the separation, however.

Also, the burden of reaching out to others who dissent henceforward rests with devotees who belong to the present status quo. More and more, you will find that thoughtful devotees and their followers who also have some non-trivial difference with the maintream will no longer be knocking on your doors. They have better things to do with their time than run pillar to post and risk Vaishnava aparadha just to be heard.

ys, KKD

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 28, 2012 @ 6:50 am

Dear Mataji Vinode Vani, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your kind words and appreciation.

You wrote,

Our second generation, especially, sees no boundaries in where and how to share Krsna Consciousness with others. I do not find them bewildered by the same existential crises that we older devotees indulge. Women’s issue? Liberal or conservative practice of Krsna consciousness? To fall or not to fall? Krsna Consciousness is so much more than our minds.

I agree. And at this point I think it prudent to give devotees with different ideas the opportunity to pursue them, if only for the sake that if a Procrustean, one-size-fits-all approach is adhered to, a wrong decision made on a big matter won’t take everyone else down. We can think of the particular, differentiated devotee communities as “social laboratories for bhakti”. And if more than one succeeds, all the better.

ys, KKD

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 25, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

Dear Mother Vishakha Priya, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your kind words and appreciation. You are well aware of my own angst on these issues. And as you know, I used to maintain a blog that addressed them. Some of my best writing had been produced during that time. (I also produced a lot of bad writing, too.)

However, at some point I noticed that positions on different sides were hardening, not softening. And I did not want to spend the rest of my life wrangling with people that would continue to disagree on certain fundamental issues. Furthermore, I was not willing to volunteer my time to causes which I found to be out of line with the teachings of our sampradaya.

However, knowing that there are communities of devotees that think very differently from the community I identify with and who also have their own share of angst on these matters (I mentioned some of them in my essay), the “commonwealth” model seems to be the best approach short of kicking others out or having them finally leave of their own accord. This is my way of saying to others I disagree with, “this is how we can both get the freedom we need to pursue our visions to their logical conclusions.”

Once again, thank you, and I hope you are well.

Your servant, Krishna Kirti Das

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 24, 2012 @ 8:09 pm

Dear Sita Rama 108, my obeisances to you. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

You wrote, “You give many facts in this article but I do not see how the above conclusion [separate communities with loose affiliations within a commonwealth] logically follows those facts.” You are right that the development of these communities does not necessarily follow. But it cannot because developing into a spiritual community still depends on many choices apart from the necessity of minimizing offenses to Vaishnavas. Devotees who disagree with each other too much will not be able to make nice progress toward their respective realizations as long as they remain too close. My point here is that encouraging some distance will open up the possibility of developing each’s realization to their fullest extent.

The reason that is necessary is that deep differences are seldom limited to a single, atomized issue. The world view of each side is typically comprised of related values that cluster together. I mentioned the Amish community’s fastidiousness in repaying debts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can get everyone to be just like the Amish in paying what they owe? It would solve many problems nationally and internationally, too. But that high degree of fidelity to financial matters happens to be part and parcel of a particular world view and self-identity that few people are willing to adopt. It will be practically impossible to follow it unless you also adopt the rest of the Amish way of life (or a way of life that in many other important respects closely resembles the Amish outlook). The fact is that people who praise the Amish for their thriftiness are not about to take up the Amish way of life. They would rather live in a society in that tolerates and occasionaly forgives lapses of financial misconduct than be like the Amish.

In the same way, devotees who have deep differences over social issues usually have deep difference in approaching shastra, SP’s statements, etc. For example, some devotees believe that a spiritually healthy society makes room for women’s occupational involvement at all levels of ISKCON whereas others believe that will perpetuate our present culture of sexual misbehavior (divorce, infidelity, breaking celibacy, etc). The commonwealth solution will give different communities the chance to realize their solutions, for one will interfere with the other’s atttempt to realize their own way of life because they see it as morally repugnant.

» Posted By krishna-kirti On Mar 24, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

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