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Comments Posted By krishna-kirti

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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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 28.01.2014 @ 05:42

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)

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 26.01.2014 @ 04:51

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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 30.01.2014 @ 00:05

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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 30.11.2013 @ 14:37

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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 29.11.2013 @ 16:41

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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 29.10.2013 @ 04:33

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

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 22.05.2013 @ 03:58

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. :-)

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 04.04.2013 @ 04:07

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.

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 13.03.2013 @ 05:39

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 …)

Comment Posted By krishna-kirti On 13.03.2013 @ 04:47


 


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