Comments Posted By niscala
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Dear Devaki, in the following words you describe that giving protection is indicative of higher birth and receiving it is indicative of lower birth: “Of course not, because being ‘higher’ means giving protection, care and shelter to those who are ‘lower’.”
I wonder how you arrived at this opinion as the ksatriyas “protect” the brahmanas and brahminical culture (real ksatriyas of course) but materially they are considered lower birth. Also women protect children, including boys, who are supposed to be a “higher” birth.
I therefore respectfully disagree with your conclusions. Certainly there are bodily differences which require women to be protected, but this does not mean they are of lower birth.
» Posted By niscala On Oct 20, 2014 @ 5:37 am
(continued) Srila Prabhupada described that we are always in Krsna’s lila, even in this material world, “Directly or indirectly, always we are serving Krsna’s lila. ” letter to Madhudvisa, 1972. This indicates that the breadth and scope of his understanding what it means to be “in Krsna’s lila” and in that context it is in no way a misrepresentation of the truth, to say “We were in Krsna’s lila and have forgotten it” If even the material world is Krsna’s lila, for He is always in some part of it, in His Bhauma lila, and is always in every part of it, as Paramatma, and is the very seed of it, as Garbhodaksayo Vishnu, then we are never separate from Krsna- except in our memory. Repeatedly that memory gets revived by Krsna or His representatives and repeatedly we still forget that eternal relationship.
Thus the position presented by Srila Prabhupada is not at all at odds with the sampradayaic understanding, as presented in great depth by his grand spiritual master, in Jaiva Dharma. There every question about the origin of the jiva was asked, and answered in detail. Srila Prabhupada never deviated at all in his representation of these answers. With great skill and expertise, and avoiding outright lies, he adjusted the understanding so we would have some sense of belonging in Goloka, which would not have been possible if he had answered these questions in another way. How can one have a sense of belonging, in regard to a place where we have never been? So he laid stress on another truth- that Krsna and His lila and associates are present even here in this material world and in that sense, we were with Krsna, and have just forgotten it and this is the cause of our falldown and entrapment by maya.
In addition, of course, in many places in his books, he lay stress on the fact that no one ever falls from vaikuntha, it being the eternally effulgent abode wherein the influence of the darkness of maya cannot enter even to the minutest degree.
» Posted By niscala On May 25, 2014 @ 8:00 am
Sita Rama, I was also raised a western Christian and imbibed the idea, very strongly, that going to God was returning to Him, that we had once turned our back on him and the prodigal son was an analogy of us, encouraging us to go back home from whence we had come. That was the unambiguous message from my teachers. Many Christian hymns are also about “returning home”. In regard to the differences in doctrine we have with the Christians, Srila Prabhupada was able to explain their source. He addressed all the issues you brought up- bowing down to a human being, deity worship and parakiya rasa, explaining how they are not of the ilk of the Christian prohibitions. So he tried to bridge the gap between western and eastern sensibilities, through explanations that were very reasonable. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura was famous for doing the same thing.
But these angas of bhakti (accepting a guru, arcanam… the nature of Krsna lila) are essential aspects of the process of becoming Krsna conscious. Where we have come from, is not an essential aspect, and when pressed on the point, Srila Prabhupada would often describe it as “not important”. I am sure you know the references. His opinion that it is not important means that it is a detail. It is up to the acarya to always adjust details, if they will help people become Krsna conscious. If it makes you more Krsna conscious, or more desirous of entering Krsna’s pastimes, to feel you are going home to where you belong, rather than a place you have never been before, then you should keep to that understanding. But for other devotees, whose desire for Krsna’s pastimes has awakened to a point that they know they belong there, even if they have never been before, it is quite suitable that they know the siddhantic tattva, presented by the parampara.
The fact you’re avoiding is that Srila Prabhupada never said that nitya siddhas fall from vaikuntha. When asked if nitya siddhas can misuse their independence, he replied that they can, but they never do. Well, we have, so logically that means we were never nitya siddhas. In regard to Srila Prabhupada’s statements that we were once with Krsna, or once in Krsna’s lila, they are not “lies” as some choose to call them, as this material world is also a lila of Krsna. It’s the place where He constantly resides, as Bhagavan Sri Krsna in His bhauma lila, and it is the place where He constantly resides as Paramatma, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu, the murti and in the hearts of his devotees.
» Posted By niscala On May 25, 2014 @ 7:19 am
Uttamasloka: There are no seeming contractions in the statements of the acaryas. There was no controversy indicated in any of their writings. It has only been an issue for contemporary Vaisnavas.
It’s not even an issue for all contemporary vaisnavas- only those in ISKCON. Ask any gaudiya matha mission, they are in complete agreement that no one falls from vaikuntha. Then try the other groups as well. While in Vrindavan we visited so many temples, some descending through Madhva, many with many branches of our family tree in common. Try to find one, not ISKCON affiliated, that thinks nitya siddhas fall from Vaikuntha or Goloka. A devotee did that, and the reply was incredulous “In ISKCON they believe THAT?”
Srila Prabhupada presented two opposing viewpoints, one completely in accord with the family tree (paramapara) and one at odds with it. Can one contradict the parampara and still be an authority? Absolutely! Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura contradicted Jiva Goswami’s direct words regarding the topic of parakiya rasa being present in aprakata lila. Their opinions were at complete odds. He contradicted Jiva G whose word is considered as good as sastra. VCT proved that Jiva was making adjustments according to time, place and circumstance. Jiva’s followers were opposed to parakiya rasa, considering it immoral.
Similarly many westerners would be opposed to the idea we have never been with Krsna as the Christian idea of the fallen soul is the idea of a prodigal son rejecting the father then returning to him. It is perfectly acceptable for an acarya to say, to please them “Yes you were with Krsna, then you rejected Him” Jiva G also wrote to please and appease his followers.
When SP wrote that he did not deviate an inch from the previous acaryas, it is the same way that VCT never deviated from the previous acarya, who was Jiva G. Acaryas such as Jiva G and SP preserve the essence, unchanged, while making adjustment to non-essential details. The essence- what we need to know to achieve perfection- is that we belong with Krsna. We are His servants. This is true whether we fell or did not fall. SP himself indicated that whether we fell or did not fall was a detail only- he said it was not important. In comparison, parakiya rasa being present in Goloka is a relatively essential aspect of our philosophy- yet even that could be changed by Jiva G. What to speak of an unimportant detail for the sake of the western world’s sensibilities.
» Posted By niscala On May 19, 2014 @ 5:57 am
Devaki wrote; In regards to emotions: we have to distinguish between material emotions and transcendental emotions. As I am mentioning in the article: material emotions are connected to the platform of our mind. You also wrote: So this emotional need and nature impells most ladies to learn how to become selfless servants by raising children. This is an argument for, not against the woman becoming diksa guru, who is the most selfless servant of all. If the emotional nature impells us to become selfless servants, and if the children we are raising are devotees, then how is that emotion not spiritual? Is it because the bodies of the children are small- or related to our bodies? Such is a mundane conception. It may be argued that our emotional nature is mundane because it impells us to care for the bodies of our children- but not their spiritual development- but we see in many devotee mothers with realisation, they care both spiritually and materially for their offspring. Caring materially is not a disqualification- Srila Prabhupada gave many caring instructions for his disciples on the topic of health.
The active word here is “care”. They are not without emotion. And neither is the good diksa guru. He feels love and compassion for his or her disciples. He or she utilizes his or her emotions- which are the natural function of the soul- to teach knowledge- but not without feeling and great concern. It is natural for the soul to be emotional in relation to Krsna and His devotees. Presently we have so many emotions about things we should not have emotion for. For example, if we lost a lot of money or our respectability, we would become emotional. That is our attachment to the mundane sphere. But when our hearts break seeing the suffering of conditioned souls- that is spiritual emotion, which Krsna also feels. Such emotions propell us to become selfless servants- and if we have sufficient knowledge, which according to Srila Prabhupada, must be to the level of the Bhaktivedanta degree, we are authorized by him to initiate disciples. The point I am making is that having emotions is a good thing, so being more emotional (than someone else) is even better! We have to dovetail this valuable asset for the right purpose. Thats bhakti.
As I wrote before, and as Srila Prabhupada makes this point many time in his books, emotions are not a “bad” thing. The topmost servants of Krsna are filled with overwhelming emotion.
» Posted By niscala On Nov 30, 2013 @ 9:15 pm
“I want that all of my spiritual sons and daughters will inherit this title of Bhaktivedanta, so that the family transcendental diploma will continue through the generations. Those possessing the title of Bhaktivedanta will be allowed to initiate disciples. Maybe by 1975 all of my disciples will be allowed to initiate and increase the number of generations. That is my program.”
(letter, Srila Prabhupada 3rd Dec, 1968)
Prof. O’Connell: Is it possible, Swamiji, for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession?
Prabhupada: Yes. Jahnava-devi was Nityananda’s wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection…. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Krsna. Then he or she can become guru. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya. In our material world is it any prohibition that woman cannot become professor? If she is qualified, she can become professor. What is the wrong there? She must be qualified. That is the position. So similarly, if the woman understands Krsna consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.” (Conversation 6/18/76)
I therefore can’t understand why the disagreement. Is there anything ambiguous in the above? Did Srila Prabhupada EVER say that women cannot be diksa gurus?
Some opposing the idea quote Srila Prabhupada that women should be humble and submissive, to prove their point, but humility and submission that is not blind is not detrimental to Krsna consciousness and therefore cannot be detrimental to the service position of someone with the most realization of it- a guru. If a Krsna conscious person has humility and submission that is not blind, then the most Krsna conscious person, the guru, has the most of humility and a submissive attitude that is not blind. He or she humbly and joyfully submits to a more advanced person, regardless of their gender. Being submissive to a person with less spiritual advancement, is not recommended.
When the guru wants something of us, it is something we should take very seriously. It should be “our life and soul”. We failed him in giving him his expressed wish, of women becoming diksa gurus, by the due date: 1975. How long will we keep him waiting?
» Posted By niscala On Nov 30, 2013 @ 11:33 am
Devaki prabhu makes some really good points here, especially that sad guru does not need authorisation. It goes without saying that such a principle applies to diksa gurus as well. And as she has so lucidly pointed out, being in a position of “high managerial leadership” is a pitfall. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can hardly recommend a pitfall for us, when He advises us all to be gurus, and liberate everyone. Neither did Srila Prabhupada, when he told us his desire that his spiritual sons- as well as his spiritual daughters- all become diksa gurus in the future, after inheriting/earning the title “Bhaktivedanta” Since no guru would encourage a pitfall for his disciples, it should be understood that being a guru, whether of the siksa or diksa type, is a service. It means that one is in the service of his/her disciples, to be there whenever they have doubt or difficulty, confusion or lacking clarity and/or direction. It is tireless and to some extent thankless, because it is time away from one’s personal bhajana- which is extremely joyful. Putting the need of others before one’s own personal time with Krsna is selfless compassion. As for any honour that may accompany such a task, the devotee should shun it, until he is strong enough to pass it all onto the mercy of his own gurudeva, coming to him, though so unqualified and undeserving.
There is one point I wish to contend however- that emotions can cloud the vision, or make it impossible to raise anyone up to the transcendental platform. This is impersonalist dogma- we can never be free from emotions, and the attempt to do so is artificial and will not last. The soul in its purified state is burning with emotion and desire, inflamed at ever moment! To the extent we inflame our passions with love for the Lord, His associates, and whomsoever has the slightest desire to serve Them, we become qualified to enter the abode of eternally passionately inflamed lovers of the Lord! If the soul embodied in a woman’s form is somehow endowed with more emotion, as has been suggested, then she is far better equipped to traverse the path of bhakti- she just must learn to direct all those emotions and desires towards the service of the Lord and if she does so towards His struggling devotees, being equipped with full transcendental knowledge (Bhaktivedanta) she is already performing as a guru, and only ignorant or blind people will not recognize it.
» Posted By niscala On Nov 22, 2013 @ 11:59 pm
nice interview. I am wondering what Maharaja meant by : “And without panchagavya, the Brahmanas become unemployed”. My understanding is that the brahmanas were not employed as such. They just received maintenance. If one interprets “unemployed” not in the sense of a wage, but in the sense of being “not used” then still I am wondering why pancagavya must be there, as the main business of a brahman is teaching, and he can do that without the cow, though ideally cow would be there. Of course, panchagavya is used in diety worship, which the brahmanas perform, but 1) one can worship Krsna with other things in the mode of goodness, and 2) diety worship is not the only business of the brahmana.
» Posted By niscala On Dec 23, 2010 @ 7:39 am
thats a very interesting response that Srila Prabhupada gave to Atreya Rishi. Thank you for sharing it. We are more influenced by our backgrounds than we realize- and when we hear someone has converted Muslims into Hare Krsna chanters, than we may applaud, because our Christian backgrounds were all about conversion,, but Srila Prabhupada did not convert, and Krsna consciousness is not about conversion, it is about devotion, nothing else. If someone is devotedly chanting Allah, he is a vaisnava.
Sometimes therefore, Srila Prabhupada just tried to get people to become vegetarian- they already believed in God, were devotees, but they didnt know that diet had anything to do with religion, or that if they did, they thought it was not about compassion but cleanliness- avoiding pork. However, at other times he said that Krsna consciousness was not about converting people to vegetarianism- even monkeys were vegetarian. So vegetarianism, devoid of God consciousness, is not a very wonderful thing, but God consciousness without vegetarianism, is not genuine. The reason is that an important part of God cosnciousness is Supersoul consciousness, that God dwells in the hearts of all as a witness to all their sufferings, and that to cause pain to any living entity causes the pain of compassion in the heart of the Lord. So to love God means to only do good to all living entities, and even do good to edible plants by offering them up in sacrifice, speeding up their purification by ajnata sukriti, while causing minimum distress to the living entity, by killing it in its most unconscious state.
The worship of God,, without an awareness of God in the heart of every living entity, is as useless as pouring ghee into ashes. So although Supersoul realization is not as profound as Bhagavan realization, without it, Bhagavan realization remains theoretical- if we really realize Bhagavan, we recognize His energies as well, and their nature of being non-different from Him.
» Posted By niscala On Dec 22, 2010 @ 10:09 pm
certainly a symptom of the mode of ignorance is that it destroys, and the economic system as it is, destroys the ecology of the planet. They may make adjustments to lessen the impact, but the ecology is so far gone that it actually requires a complete return to nature, in order to regain its equilbrium. Our CO2 levels are so extreme, that we need to stop technology now, if we are ever to get the planet into ecological balance. So it is not a question of whether the capitalist system works for people. One could argue that it does, in an economic way, provided one does not have the unconscienable dealings of the lending sector that led the world to the brink of ruin. But if that did not happen due to strict regulation, as is here in Australia, still the fact remains that a system based on profit, rather than protection of the environment- the right of all life forms to exist- not just human ones at the expense of others, is ideologically at war with the environment. Certainly ecological communities that actually work need to be established. For them to work, certain spiritual principles must be there- tolerance, equality of vision, pleasing He who resides in the hearts of all, generosity, kindness, in short, the qualities of a vaisnava. Those who have such qualities are the natural leaders in varnashrama, and this is why the system works. Rather than ambition being the driving force for attaining position in society, as it is at present, it is guna or personal qualities that determines position or karma, in the varnashrama system. Leadership is particularly based on the quality of being concerned about others’ welfare- it is described that the ksatriya considered all citizens including lower forms of life, with the same affection, concern and right to protection, as his own family members. With such caring and involved leadership, people naturally feel valued, gradually they become loyal and devoted, and the thought of leaving the community for the materialistic world of exploitation and impersonalism, is unlikely to occur-. If instead guna is not stressed as a criterion for leadership, and people become leaders due to driving ambition to have power over others, then the community has no advantage, socially and psychologically, over the materialistic society. and people may leave. Ecological communities that work need to be established- that is varnashrama.
» Posted By niscala On Dec 23, 2010 @ 8:57 pm
Akruranatha:“Siksa-guru does not mean he is speaking something against the teachings of the diksa-guru. He is not a siksa-guru. He is a rascal, because that is offense. Gurur avajna…
It is clear from this statement that the essential qualification of guru is that he does not change the message. In our case, that message is not from the diksa guru, as in Prabhupada’s time, but the siksa guru of all of ISKCON, who is Srila Prabhupada. To the extent that our diksa gurus don’t change in any way the message of that siksa guru, they are to that extent, bonafide. And if they are in this way, bonafide, then other siksa gurus should not speak something against their teachings- as that would be a deviation. It is not because the diksa guru is above the authority of the siksa guru, but because he is bonafide- that he does not change the message- that is the criterion of his authority, not that he performed a fire sacrifice and gave a name. And if he is bonafide, the siksa gurus should not contradict his teachings, as that would certainly be deviation.
“If one’s initiating spiritual master and instructing spiritual masters are of small spiritual potency, or in other words, if they do not possess a special power to give spiritual instruction on worship for devotional service, then one may listen from the mouth of other great advanced Vaisnavas and understand the special instructions. However, thereafter the disciple must go to his spiritual master for his confirmation or instructions.”
It is not clear here which spiritual master he needs to go to for confirmation- the siksa or the diksa guru, so this quote is irrelevant. Is there a quote in Sivarama Swami’s book that even if the siksa guru is more spiritually advanced or more pure than the diksa guru, one still needs to confirm the siksa guru’s instructions with the diksa guru? Lacking such evidence, it is to be understood that when Srila Prabhupada speaks of the diksa guru to his disciples, he is referring to himself, and when he says that the siksa gurus should not deviate from the diksa guru, he is referring to his disciple’s not deviating!
This is indicated in the quote you give: If K. Maharaja speaks what I speak, then he can be taken as siksa guru.
And if K. Maharaja has these days become a diksa guru, and Srila Prabhupada is regarded as the siksa guru for his disciples- then their diksa guru must not deviate. Lacking such clarity, opens the doors to minimize the instructions of S. Prabhupada..
» Posted By niscala On Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:11 pm
thats interesting, Akruranath and Visakha Priya, that the siksa guru must only be secondary to the diksa guru- that the disciple must consider the diksa guru as his main connection to the Lord. It seems that throughout the guru parampara, the opposite happened many times- many links being siksa not diksa links. How can that be right?
Considering that Bhaktivonode Thakura considered his siksa guru, Jaganatha Dasa Babaji’s instructions most importantly, and rejected at least some, if not many, of the instructions of his diksa guru, particularly when the latter started claiming he was superior to Raghuinatha Dasa Goswami- due to his birth-I think that Srila P rabhupada’s instructions need to be taken in context- that he was preaching to his disciples according to time, place and circumstance. He knew that he was not deviating in any way from the conclusions of sastra and parampara, and he wanted that the other gurus in his disciples lives, siksa gurus, exactly follow his preaching, not be at variance with it: “my only qualification is that I do not change the message”
If a diksa guru is in any way deviating from Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and orders, and one finds a siksa guru who isn’t, then does it not make sense to follow the example of Bhaktivinode Thakura and consider the siksa guru’s instructions the vital ones? The main thing is that the guru is bonafide- whether he is siksa or diksa guru is secondary. Bonafide means that he is exactly following the orders and precepts of the predecessor acaryas, all the way back to Krsna.
I think that the essential point in understanding Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, is that when he speaks of siksa and diksa gurus, he is speaking of bonafide ones, who do not deviate in any way, personally or philosophically. Assuming both are bonafide, the siksa guru should certainly give directions in accordance with the diksa guru. In the present context, the pre-eminent siksa guru (Srila Prabhupada) is the one to allign oneself with, and diksa gurus are bonafide inasmuch as they do not deviate an inch from the instructions of the Srila Prabhupada.
Times have changed, and far more stress was placed by Srila Prabhupada on the guru being bonafide, on the guru “not deviating an inch” on “the message being passed down unchanged” than on diksa gurus versus siksa gurus. The clue is in his last words in the quote “all on the absolute platform”…
» Posted By niscala On Sep 12, 2010 @ 3:47 am
thank you for writing this article, prabhu, which is an expansion of the topic of your last one, which was about receiving mercy from seniors. You are certainly right that the actual mercy of the guru is his siksa- and you also mentioned that the guru may not have time to talk with everyone when he visits. Then the only siksa the disciple may get is in the form of a public lecture, which is usually tailored for newcomers, or a lecture at the temple, which may or may not allow him time to do his business as a disciple- enquire. It is also expected that the disciple will enquire on matters related to the lecture- whereas his doubts may be elsewhere. He may also feel inhibited due to shyness, to raise his hand in public, particularly to expose a doubt he has! So in 3 aspects, enquiring publicly has its drawbacks- lack of opportunity, related subject matter, and shyness. Therefore, the guru must be available for private and personal enquiries from each and every disciple, in order to ensure that the disciple is gaining ground in understanding all nuances of bhakti, and the practical implications of such- eradicating his personal anarthas- which are unique transmutations of the material modes that need specific instruction on.
It is curious that you interpret the liberating siksa as an onus on the disciple, rather than the guru- as in the carrying out of the instruction. That is only half of the siksa process- the process mentioned in the gita is not just sevaya- serving the instruction, but enquiry. If there is no opportunity to enquire, because the guru has initiated a thousand other disciples, or because he is more focussed on making disciples, rather than keeping them, or on travelling the world, rather than freeing a mind, then it will be a failure. One may object that this is exactly what S. Prabhupada did, but he did not. His personal instruction was there in the form of his books, and additional siksa could be had by mail or in person, if needed. We cannot imitate him, in initiating the numbers he did, without following in his footsteps, spending 6 hours a day, after sleeping 4 at most, writing vital instructions for his disciples and followers, now, and for generations to come.
Generally the warning is against accepting too many disciples. Thus, not following such orders can create difficulties, not least the disciples suffering from lack of guidance.
» Posted By niscala On Sep 10, 2010 @ 12:30 am
Great news that the Hindu Council is gearing up to help the Pakistanis, regardless of their religion, I assume! Certainly such action is part of the peace process…we want to fight atheism, but so much atheism is caused because of sectarian religious hatreds, violence, jihads, crusades, or just as bad, turning a blind eye “because they are of THAT religion”. Only non-sectarian religion can bring about peace and the breakdown of atheism among pious people who take to it only because of outrage against the above. This is not a speculation- generally atheists always argue “but religion has caused so much violence and misery!” We have a non-sectarian philosophy, but unless we get rid of our sectarian mindset, it will do us no good, and will contribute to a godless civilization of lost souls. It will also do us no good if we get rid of the sectarian mindset, but do not express the result practically. This is an excellent opportunity.
Priyavarta Prabhu, we would like to help us volunteers for FFL in poor areas in the near future- my husband is often expressing the desire- but we need to tie up a few of our material loose ends first, so for the time being, we will just donate..
» Posted By niscala On Aug 31, 2010 @ 11:01 pm
Thank you, for your wonderful work, Priyavarta prabhu. Requesting Indians to help Pakistanis might seem like a long shot, as there is much ill-feeling towards Pakistan in India, after the mumbai bombings. But I hope that at least devotees can avoid the mistake of identifying the bodies of those helpless and desperate villagers, many of whom are innocent children, with those of terrorists, simply on the basis of their place of birth. Such is gross ignorance, based on bodily conception only, devoid of compassion, and the equanimity of vision described in the gita. Thank you for rising above it all, and I hope that our Indian godbrothers will follow suit, and do all they can to help spread goodwill and understanding.
» Posted By niscala On Aug 27, 2010 @ 7:18 am
Visakha Priya wrote: Regarding Niscala Prabhu’s apparent reluctance to accept an elevated Vaisnava’s so-called failure to show affection toward his dependants, I would suggest that the closer the disciple is to the spiritual master, the more the spiritual master will treat him strictly.
Thankyou, for your feedback. I certainly agree with you that a guru will chastise a sincere disciple, as he can learn so much from the chastisement. I was not referring to chastisement, which I see as a symptom of affectionate dealings. I was referring to the withdrawal of affection on the part of the guru or advanced devotee- not as in chastisement, but as in a pulling away from the disciple, an aloofness, a non-interest in him, if you will. I think we all agree that chastisement is an affectionate dealing, so I was asking KK why a guru or advanced devotee would withdraw his affections- not why he would chastise. Such a situation appears quite rare- there is the dealing with Harikesa and Prabhupada, but generally, Prabhupada was there for his disciples- he was ever approachable.
Therefore, Kesava Krsna’s point is very valid- that there should not be so much distance between senior and junior members, but, as in the quote you gave, a feeling of oneness, closeness…your quote indicates that there should be feelings of oneness (which in vaisnava understaning, is not as in merging, but as in a sense of brotherhood) even between disciples and gurus, what to speak of senior and junior members in our society! There must be a sense of brotherhood/sisterhood. Seniors are elder brothers and sisters, and should therefore be always attentive that their younger siblings are progressing. They should not be aloof and uninterested.
Even when seniors chastise, it should not be to crush, intimidate or humiliate , but only to correct- the only motive should be to help, to raise the disciple/junior up. When one is affectionate, one may chastise or praise, and the recipient feels valued either way, even from the chastisement, because the senior or the guru has gone to so much trouble to correct him. But when the guru hardly even know’s his disciple’s name, because he is the thousandth disciple, or because he has better things to do with his time, then that is showing no affection at all- not on occasion, not as an exception, but as a general rule. What value is of a guru who has no time for you? What is the value of being a senior unless we can help our younger siblings?
» Posted By niscala On Sep 2, 2010 @ 6:20 am
thank you, Pusta Krsna prabhu for your appreciation! It is certainly the inter-vaisnava dynamic we are talking about, in action! An ounce of action is worth more than a tonne of theory, and I will try to follow your example of being appreciative, and not just talk about it!
Thank you also, Kesava Krsna for your explanation. I am still not sure why advanced devotees sometimes do that- be aloof- what is to be learnt from it. In the case of Harikesa and Srila Prabhupada, I think it was because Prabhupada wanted Harikesh not to be too dependent, in every respect, on him- to spread his wings and find his own potential, which was vast. Like we mentioned, the spiritual master’s goal is to make the disciple as qualified as he is, but if the disciple is always in the guru’s shadow, typing and doing nothing else, than how can that be accomplished? In the case of Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji, maybe it was because he didn’t want pratishta, especially the glory of having such an exalted devotee as Bhaktisiddhanta as a disciple. He was happy to be unrecognized- to be thought of as a simple illiterate person…
Generally, however, the guru/disciple dynamic or senior/junior dynamic is one of affectionate guidance and approachability, like a father. Sometimes, like when teaching a child to ride a bike, the father just lets go and sees what the child can accomplish on his own and what he has learnt. Or it is like a teacher- generally he is always answering questions, but at exam time, the roles are reversed…But these are exceptions to the general dynamic.
» Posted By niscala On Aug 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am
Pusta Krsna wrote: issues of pratishtha are political issues… others make some recognition of higher and lower, and are illusory… we may think more of ourselves by false pride…
That’s right, but when you wrote that we shouldn’t worry about it, it seems you were saying that we shouldn’t worry about a major anartha, as it will be swept away by Krsna consciousness. While that’s true, one cannot attain such flowering of the KC creeper if one is affected by anarthas, as they are weeds that strangle the creeper. One must attend to both creeper and weed, like a gardener, otherwise we may water the weeds, even by our chanting (CC). So a conscious effort must be made to distinguish creeper from weed, to distinguish desire for pratishta from a desire to serve. The distinction of senior and junior devotee must be only to facilitate service, not pratishta. Just as the junior should think ‘how can I serve this senior?” the senior must think “how can I serve this new devotee? How can I help him?” and when he thinks like this, with genuine affection and concern, that is Krsna consciousness, which drives out anarthas from the heart. When one is thinking only how to serve, how to help, there is no room for thinking of how I might be respected…
Akruranath’s point that respect may be lacking and understressed because of the egalitarian society we were born into, is very relevant. Respect must be there- to every vaisnava, to every living entity, but special respect must be given to rep’s of the Lord, who instruct us, and to His dear servants, and so on. That is humility in action. At the same time, as PK pointed out, the devotee should have equal vision, and see no higher and lower, and so on. So these are opposite paradigms that must be simultaneously accommodated (acintya bhedabheda). If we stress too much the equality and equal vision, there is no opportunity for service, for offering respect, for offering guidance, and there is the pride that I, a beginning student, am as good as the professor. If we stress too much the difference, if we stress respect, without any sense of equality, we may have pride and dominance amongst seniors, and helplessness and dependency amongst juniors. Srila Prabhupada said the the business of the guru is to make the disciple as good as him- to empower him, open his eyes. That is the goal of seeing difference- to make equality on the spiritual platform, through elevating everyone. That is love, and acintya bhedabheda in action
» Posted By niscala On Aug 14, 2010 @ 9:28 pm
Love, even in the perverted reflections of this material world, is based on simultaneous oneness and difference, the proof being that loving relationships break down whenever there is a total breakdown of ego barriers (resulting in an apathy/control dynamic, where one partner has no will, and the other, all the will) or where the barriers are complete and non-porous (resulting in no dynamic at all- only aloofness)
The example of Sanatan Goswami is “acintya-bhedabheda” in action. He affectionately and humbly considered himself no different from anyone else, and thus anyone could approach him…yet he acted differently in a service capacity, because the separation was porous, the moving dynamic between barriers being loving exchanges of service via instruction. The Ego barrier between souls is like a filter- it is a barrier, but it is not complete. It allows certain things to go through, all things of the nature of love and service. Were it to dissolve completely, there could be no love and service- duality or the sense of “me’ and “you” being totally absent.
» Posted By niscala On Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:22 pm
very nice article, Kesava Krsna Prabhu! Just wondering what you meant by :
If in the presence of such willingness borne of humility, a senior fails to show affection, is this an abuse of some sort?
The answer is yes if the senior or leader has a “rajasic” motive other than a purely Krishna conscious one. And no, if the senior or leader wishes to, for example, emphasise something profound from a Krishna conscious perspective.
How could a senior emphasize something profoundly Krsna conscious by witholding affection? The rest of your article is wonderfully enlightening, so I am very curious as to what you meant by this!
It seems to contradict the gist of your article- that humility should facilitate vaisnava relations, not prevent or distort them!
Pusta Krsna wrote: Don’t flounder on the mental plane, worrying about pratishtha or lack of pratishtha, for in the end these things will be forgotten in the beauty and ecstasy of Krishna consciousness
Yet Bhaktivinode said that we should be worried about it- pratishtha being more difficult to overcome than sex desire. An excellent way to overcome it is this suggestion by KK- that seniors do not put distance between themselves and juniors, and his suggested method of how to do that is also spot on- through affection. Through affection, barriers are broken down, at least, unnecessary barriers of ego “I am better than thou, being more advanced”. The necessary barrier that “you are requiring instruction, and by the Lord’s mercy only, I am in a position to give it to you” is still there, but in a service capacity- here is an opportunity for me to serve this junior devotee, through instruction. As an elder brother, I must give affectionate guidance to my younger brothers, for to neglect them when they are eager to learn, would cause displeasure to the father.
Necessary barriers between egos are those that facilitate service, not isolation, aloofness and/or estrangement. Our philosophy is “simultaneous oneness and difference” the oneness is necessary for heartfelt affection- by acknowledging our common identity, needs, etc, we can thereby love each other as ourselves – the difference is necessary for service in the capacity of servant (junior), friend (peer), and parent (senior) . If there were only oneness, there would be no perception of a need for service- how could I serve someone who is myself in every respect? If there were only difference, there could be no bridge between souls, nothing shared…
» Posted By niscala On Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:19 pm
Pusta Krsna has given some practical insights into the challenges that face us, in bringing the delightful couple Love and Trust into our movement, but it appears that he has almost given up hope, based on his past experience, which is quite vast.
There is one thing we have not tried in our movement, and that is to organize it– not on the basis of favours and rewards, nor on conformity to authority, nor on seniority, influence and/or connections– but on guna- the innate quality of the individual. There are among our devotees, some who care more about themselves, and some who care more about others, some who care more about profit, and some who care more about if the devotees are deepening their realizations, growing in spiritual values. This individuation is natural, because every one of us has had a different evolutionary path, different conditioning in the modes. That does not mean that the profit-minded or the ambitious are not given service- everyone can be a devotee, who wants to. But if the profit-minded head up sankirtan teams, the objective to spread enlightenment may be lost. Or if the more self-absorbed and/or ambitious personalities become the presidents of temples, the objective of the presidency-to care for the devotees welfare- may be lost.
I do not believe that in this wide and wonderful movement, there are no devotees who are interested in helping other devotees get ahead in their spiritual lives- that all are ambitious and exploitative types. Even in the material world, there are the ambitious exploiters and the caring well-wishers, existing side by side. Look at what whistle-blowers do- forsaking career, security, and even safety for the sake of what is right. They are out there. They may have never picked up beads to chant the holy name and be purified by that method, but they are detached anyway. What to speak of our movement, which is all about becoming free from material ambition?
When one is disappointed, it is easy to fall into cynicism, which is a kind of blindness, as it limits one’s vision of all the alternatives, as yet unexplored. Cynicism is the hard shell of hopelessness, which under a soft shell, becomes depression. All hopelessness, leads to death within, a stagnation we can never succumb to. The fact is, we have not explored the alternatives given us by Prabhupada. Put the caring men and women in our movement, in positions of leadership, and love and trust will naturally follow.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 12, 2010 @ 1:29 pm
Prabhava Vigraha quoted an important and relevant sloka- how it is essential to develop the vision of spiritual equality of all beings with the Lord. Pancharatna prabhu has suggested a practical exhibition of such vision, by breaking down the barriers of “us” and “them”, the elite, and the rank and file in this movement. He also mention the seven purposes of ISKCON. One is “To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna… to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead. ” There are two parts to this purpose. The first one is to bring devotees together, or eliminate divisions and misunderstanding between them, and the second, to bring them nearer to the Lord. Both purposes are served by the understanding that we are all of the quality of Godhead.
Pancharatna prabhu wrote: And we all know it is natural for us to look for people that agree with us, but now this has become our criterion for selection into our elite bodies.
Understanding that we are all of the quality of Godhead makes it impossible not to show equal respect to all. If a self-realized soul sees no difference between a dog and a learned sage (!), how much more would he see no difference between a devotee who offers critical feedback, and one who just offers praise and confirmation that we are doing well? Indeed, Krsna describes a self-realized soul as regarding praise and blame equally.
Of the secondary objectives for ISKCON, Prabhupada wanted “To discharge as a matter of course the vitiated system of supremacy of one man over another by false prestige of birthright or vested interests.” He equated the caste system as not just prestige of birth, but prestige of vested interest. To avoid it, we need to act on behalf each other’s interest, and that is varnashrama. In VA, the ksatriya regards all people exactly as he does his family members. That is his equal vision. In the story of Arjuna retrieving the brahmana’s sons, it is described that the ksatriya felt completely responsble for even mental suffering in his subjects, and would go to all lengths to alleviate it.
This is the basis of love and trust- that we are prepared to put others interests before our own. It is a tall order- therefore we need VA so that those who are the most selfless and caring become our ksatriyas, and those who are the most wise and realized, detached from position, become our brahmans.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 9, 2010 @ 11:17 pm
Kesava Krsna wrote: We can learn from these social unity events. Though they are ultimately self-centred, they speak in favour of the atheistic creed. If masses of people can join together like this for a common cause, who needs religion?
To extend the experience. One can preach to soccer fans- its like a game that never ends. That feeling of elation does not come from a ball going in a net. If it did, no one would go to a game, they would watch it at home. The bulk part of the elation comes from sharing feelings- this is called rasa. The problem with rasa in this material world, is it is temporary- the game lasts an hour and a half, then people go their separate ways, or they may celebrate for a day or two. Maybe a week, if they’re in Brazil. Or they may lament. So that is another problem with rasa in the material world- it is limited by duality- contingencies, circumstances. But if the object of rasa is God, then there is no duality or limit.
This is real religion- breaking down barriers between people, by recognizing their oneness. In general, religion has been used to divide people, and this happens in soccer games too, when the object is not unity but division- our team against yours. If the attention is united with ones team, rather than divided against the other team, the elation is there. If it is too much divided against the other team, the feeling of elation is tainted with anger, even violence. From this we can learn that soccer is not about balls and nets, but the spiritual identity of all the souls there. The same with religion. Religion that recognizes God’s existence, while ignoring His presence in all souls, is separatist religion that does not lead one to God at all, but the preformance of empty rituals. This is explained by Lord Kapiladeva in the 3rd canto, SB.
Kesava Krsna has made some good suggestions about preaching by capturing people’s interest when they browse on the internet, rather than facing them off in the street, where they might feel threatened or not be in the mood for discussion. I think his ideas are very good, worth looking into.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 11, 2010 @ 10:50 pm
thank you prabhu for the kind words, and for elaborating on the Nietzche quote and drawing from it wisdom which can be used to further our faith in Krsna consciousness. This is the effect when I come accross writings from so-called non-vaisnavas that confim the vedic understanding of reality- it deepens my faith further. I don’t think that faith is just something you have or do not have- even if you have it, you need to work on it to make it stronger, drawing realizations from all sources- I think that is why Prabhupada said all departments of knowledge should be used in the Lord’s service -“then they are hari-bhajan”.
Nietzche seems to confirm Krsna’s statements that people are swept helplessly along by the modes of nature -external forces. Nietzche may have regarded “external forces” as such things as popular opinion and approval from family, but on examination, it is not opinion and approval per se that push us, but our desires in relation to these external forces- the desire for fame and prestige, which are symptoms of the mode of passion. These desires are separate from who we are. When we realize that we are not our desires, but something, a mode of nature, is pushing us in this way, the disidentification coming from the realization, immediately places us in a position to overcome it.
Nietzche observed that people are influenced by these external forces , but they do not have to be that way, and again this is in concurrence with Krsna. When Arjuna complained to Krsna that his mind was as helpless as a leaf blown by the wind, Krsna replied that he could control it- by determination and practice. And He explained the influence of the modes so that Arjuna could disidentify with his desires- the first step in determination.
The problem is that people do not realize that they are not making independent decisions- that they are dictated to by the modes of nature. When they even become aware of this situation, they can be determined to act freely. This is exactly the psychoanalytical discovery- that becoming aware of something, helps one to become free of it. However it is fallacious to regard social judgment as the culprite, as saints exist alongside social judgment and are not influenced. It is how the modes of nature influence us to regard public opinion as important- to place value on it. Then through the mode of ignorance or illusion, we understand ourselves and value ourselves through other’s opinions and judgments of us… false ego.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 7, 2010 @ 10:50 pm
I am not sure what Nietzche meant by that, but just to set the record straight, I have never played soccer, never been to a game, and the word “her” would be a better pronoun for me! The reason I wrote about this game was the interesting observation by Kesava Krsna prabhu – that it brings people together, their differences are forgotten about, and everything they fight and kill for, their designations as Iraqis, Americans, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims etc, all these are transcended, not because soccer is in any way a transcendental activity, but because people have found a common identity and purpose. So this is the dynamic in social circles that transcend designation, such as ours – purportedly- and when it is thus experienced, it carries with it, all the elation of a soccer game, the highs and lows, the shared joys, the sharing of all feelings, as in one person. In the dynamic of love between Radha and Krsna, Krsna wants to feel Radha’s emotion, so they become one person- Mahaprabhu. So in love, there is a sharing of feeling, empathy and so on. It need not be romantic love- there are many kinds of love. When one empathizes with a distressed person, that is love. It is there in all the rasas- friends feel the distress of a friend, parents of their children and vice versa. Even a servant can feel joy or distress when his master is joyful or distressed. Sharing of feelings is the basis of any good interpersonal relationship, as it is the basis for being loving. When that happens on a mass scale, the elation one may feel in a good relationship is multiplied manifold. This can happen in our movement as well, and to the extent it does, our movement will be have Joy as a permanent resident. Unlike a soccer game, which is mundane and temporal, relationships between devotees are eternal, when not influenced by the modes of nature, all of which carry the quality of self-centredness.
I think that much of the elation in this sort of thing is a recognition by the soul on the unconscious level, of our qualitative oneness. In material life, with mundane vision, we see only difference, or we may try to find qualitative oneness in such ideas as nationality, but this is still based on duality- my nation, not yours. All of this dissolves when one finds a common identity and purpose. It is what we hanker after- the non-dual atmosphere of the spiritual world- and whenever we find even the palest, most limited reflection of it here, we feel we have come home.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 6, 2010 @ 9:00 am
It is very interesting, actually, the banyan tree analogy, and I am glad you brought it up. A reflection has everything of the semblance of the real thing, without the substance of the real thing. When people come together and unite for a singular purpose, disregarding their differences, whether it be helping the people of Haiti, the victims of 9/11, or even something so frivolous as winning a game, that mode of being focussed on something outside their own centre, in united effort with others, is exactly the dynamic in the spiritual world, but like a reflection, it does not have the substance of the Personality of Godhead. It still fills an eternal need of the soul to engage in a spiritual dynamic- in which bodily designations become meaningless, in which we are all of the same quality, feeling the same emotions, intensely desiring good for another- the victims or the players. At such times, therefore, the atmosphere becomes surcharged with energy…and feelings of elation and well-being, even amidst sadness, are common. The whole thing ends – either with the game, or the end of tragedy- as the impetus is temporary, being based on arrangements of the material energy. When such a spiritual dynamic is enacted towards the Personality of Godhead, however,the bliss is ever increasing, by His spiritual potency, and of course, it has no cause for ever ending.
I don’t think one can brush off the experience of a soccer game as happiness in the modes of nature, as both in ignorance, passion and goodness, one is focussed on oneself, or extended self, family etc. One may argue that the soccer team is an extension of self, of the ego, as are all the supporters of the team. But keep in mind that these are complete strangers with whom one instantly unites and feels acutely empathetic with all their emotional swings- it is more like a radical breakdown of ego barriers than a cultivated extension through means of attachment. Examining how the ego normally extends itself, when a woman meets a man, at first her ego boundaries do not include him, but after many years of marriage, his pains are her pains. But almost everyone in a soccer game are strangers to each other. How suddenly they come to identify with each other. It is an instantaneous crashing of ego boundaries. This proves that when the ego is annihilated, the self continues to exist in an attitude of service, and in feelings of friendship and qualititative oneness with other servants.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 3, 2010 @ 12:27 pm
Pusta Krsna wrote: Just for the sake of discussion…we want to be certain that we do not get caught into the cycle of bhoga-tyaga. It is we who place value on something…by contemplation of the objects of the senses.
Curiously, there is nothing particularly beautiful about a ball going in a net, it is not a scene which would attract the eyes of anyone but a person who has decided that it is important. So it appears in this case that the assigning of values precedes the sense contemplation.
A soccer game is a religious or eternal dynamic for a non-religious or temporal end. People come together for a single purpose, to support the team and in doing so put aside their differences, their self-centred goals.
You wrote: On another level, everything has its origin in consciousness. Like the proverbial banyan tree with its roots upward and its trunk and branches downward (BG 15.1), we understand that the material plane is based on the spiritual reality, and we are simply seeing a pale and distorted reflection of reality at best.
I agree. The unity of a game, the feeling of oneness with each other, of being united for a single purpose, is the spiritual dynamic of Goloka. Souls here hanker after that eternal atmosphere of unity, of undivided effort, of having themselves no longer at the centre any more. So in a soccer game, they actually have the kingdom of God, without God. There are others, religious people, who think that they can have God without His kingdom, i.e. attain God, without surrendering to the spiritual dynamic of love and unity, without surrendering selfish goals and aspirations- that may even be disguised as motivated to please the Lord. When we put others spiritual lives before our own, by taking time to listen to their needs, being sensitive to their perceptions, and when we put aside our conceptions of greater and lesser, seeing each other equally important, and non-different from ourselves, when we reach that level of empathy, we have the kingdom of God, with God. We do not have to attain God separately from His energy. This is the reason why we worship Radharani. We can reach Him, through service to the servants of the servants of Radharani, a service that is based not on duty, which is something I perform because I need something, but service that is without calculation, service in friendship and unity. ..
After all what are the soccer fans doing, other than serving their team in friendship and unity, by cheering them on?
» Posted By niscala On Jun 2, 2010 @ 11:04 pm
Thank you, prabhu, for the excellent insights. You mention the word “unity”, people coming together for a common purpose. Even if the purpose is utterly meaningless and benefits no one- to put a ball in a net- because they are unified in the effort, in the celebration, it is liberating. Material life means isolation by the false ego, separateness from others, even in a crowd. Walking down a street full of people, we are more concerned about being bumped by them, than who they are or how they are feeling.
The joy of the game has nothing to do with where the ball went, it comes from sharing what everyone else is experiencing. But after the soccer event, all those who were united in heart and spirit, who for an hour had soared together to the heights of celebration, and commiserated in failure, once again go their separate ways, oblivious again to how each other is feeling, and not even questioning their oblivion. Or, as you pointed out, they may see only cause for difference rather than unity- wearing their cloaks of Muslim, Hindu etc.
The soccer game is actually a religious experience, for each person has agreed to surrender to what is important for everyone else, and put aside differences. They are no longer men, women, bosses, workers, old people, children- they are one thing only, the supporters of the team. With such barriers broken down, egos collapse, and they feel what the others feel, the instant they feel it.
We can learn from this, that religions, or interpretations of it, that put up barriers between people will actually block religious experience, even if the stated goal was to love God. Krsna consciousness, if properly presented, unites people- it tells people that they are all the same beneath their assumed identity. It even states that religious identity is false- we are not Hindus, Christians etc. To think so, is false religion, a cause of hypocrisy and quarrel. Real religion makes everyone one’s brother, with a common purpose, to serve the Father. Like a soccer game, it brings people together under a common identity and purpose.
Even in our vaisnava communities, if we do not agree to surrender our identity as members of a certain group, or disciples of a certain guru, and if we see others as separate from us, on the basis of these designations, we will certainly block religious experience. Lord Kapiladev, goes far that such a separatist mentality will make one’s worship as fruitless as pouring ghee into ashes.
» Posted By niscala On Jun 1, 2010 @ 11:50 am
Even if man can play God and make a living cell, no doubt with great effort and intelligence, is that not in support of the existence of God? How can one strive to come up to the standard of design of someone who simply does not exist? When the first DNA came about, there was no man, and no laboratory. There was a soup of elements, thats all. So, so long as man does not leave his laboratory, and the chemicals therein automatically form a living cell (given trillions of years) the whole pursuit falls down strongly on the side of theism…
» Posted By niscala On May 22, 2010 @ 5:39 am
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Its interesting, Maharaja, how we can approach the same subject from many angles of vision. I thoroughly appreciate your stress on cow protection, which is certainly central to varnashrama. It is my contention, however, that the benefits of varnashrama can penetrate much further than only rural communities…to transform all of our centres, as Srila Prabhupada wanted, so that there would be no one incapable of becoming – or staying-a devotee, who wanted to be…
He observed, as we do, that so many devotees that are artificially elevated to brahmanas, and then fall down from the principles. They are then ridden with guilt, or have to engage in pretense – what Prabhupada called “showbottle spirituality” – just so they can stay in the movement. Prabhupada’s reason for introducing varnashrama in ISKCON was specifically to bring everyone into the Krsna consciousness movement, and keep them there. The books are the theory that can attract everyone; devotional service, in the vehicle of varnashrama, is the practice.
In my book “Varnashrama, the Eight-Petalled Lotus” I have stressed the important psychological, social and spiritual benefits of varnashrama- as they apply to society in general, and to ISKCON in particular. I have used the research of psychologists, sociologists and ethicists to make my points, all of which corroborate the reasons Srila Prabhupada gave for introducing varnashrama into ISKCON. I have also used sastra, and the examples in sastra to show how varnashrama is a healthy social structure that would provide a solution to many of the problems ISKCON now faces- not the least of which is its declining membership!
Unless a healthy social structure is in place, then there will be no one to look after the cows- a situation extant in many of our communities- or arguably worse still, there will be people responsible for the cows, who do not really care for their welfare!
So I hope you will find time to read my book, and please write to me, if you have the time… (email@example.com) . Thank you.
For an independent review, please visit Giridhari’s blog :
» Posted By niscala On Apr 28, 2010 @ 1:14 pm
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