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Comments Posted By sdmuni108

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What does the Bhaktivedanta Institute Do?

The challenge of proving anything scientifically - is that ultimately nothing can be proven scientifically! Material science is forever an open ended investigation dependent upon available evidence coupled with a hypothesis that offers that best explanatory fit. There is always more evidence to consider, and always the possibility of a finding a more powerful explanatory hypothesis. The fact of the matter is that the material energy is practically unlimited, and in contrast as tiny jivas, our perception is exceedingly limited. It can be said Krishna’s omniscience is in an eternal competition with his ever expanding creative potency - its a dynamic phenomena. In any event, Sukadeva Goswami clearly states in the 5th Canto that even Lord Brahma lacks capacity to understand the material energy perfectly. All the same, it is an important responsibility to find ways to engage human proclivities in an intelligent manner as described in this article. Exploring methods to engage a natural human impulse to better understand the material energy as a devotional art is a most important service as considered by Srila Prabhupada.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 20.03.2014 @ 21:50

Tulsi Gabbard: Living The Gita, Beyond The Photo Op

In a healthy, ideal social situation undoubtedly it will be comparatively easy to experience a natural balance in gender relations. But even in so-called ideal situations described in sastric literature, you still find examples of phenomenally powerful women.

Besides that point, is not clear what T Gabbard’s election to the US Congress has to do with dysfunctional marriage relations, whether past or present.

I would also question if SP’s priority was obsessing on transitory gender roles with which our current identification is only nominally “real,” as compared to facilitating the conditional souls with an opportunity to take up devotional life.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 13.01.2013 @ 18:43

What Does Too Much Democracy Look Like?

There’s a long tradition among American intellectuals analyzing the relevant merits of democracy in the USA. Hofstadters work is a classic example.

Having said that, it does appear that it is the western style democracies, if not the US in particular, that is making the world save for Gaudiya Vaisnavism. If only in a contemporary realpolitik way.

In the early days of the American republic, only the landed and mercantile class could be assured of having an educated vested interest in the success of a stable society. With the opening up of universal male suffrage during the Jackson era, the tenor of American democracy shifted significantly. In our times, at the very least a high school education is assured to every citizen, as well the right to cast a vote.

If Iskcon is a brahminical institution, and if the first duty of a brahman is to offer education to the public, then perhaps that is a strategic initiative to consider.

Which could then beg the question: what is most valuable part of a human education? Perhaps that part is Iskcon’s unique contribution.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 21.12.2011 @ 23:03

Dinosaur Reincarnation (Video with English subtitles)

“According to the Vedic teachings, the “designs” of the species were created at the same time, as the Universe. Whether these designs alter in time or remain the same?”
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“In fact, the species have not come into existence by evolution, but instead they have existed since the beginning of the Universe in the forms we know. This is also true for species living in the past and present as well.”
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I’ve asked a question in the past to the producers of this project - “How do they conceive of the idea ’species’?”, and more importantly, “How do they understand the Puranic concept of living form?”, as in 8.4 million forms “designed” to facilitate the spiritual evolution of the jiva via transmigration.
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After all, when Srila Prabhupada discussed Darwin with Syamasundara Prabhu and other disiciples - a conversation readily available in folio - Prabhupada emphatically stated that the Puranic concept of species is not the same as concepts engaged in debates with contemporary science.
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I would like to suggest that when making sweeping critiques of modern science about species and the stability of biological form as experienced on Earth, it would be good to offer a clear idea of what we are talking about. After all, even contemporary science acknowledges it lacks the ability to offer a consistent definition on this complicated topic. Perhaps it is worth considering how the manifestation of Krishna’s material energy can appear immensely complex.
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At this point, it could sound like the producers of this entertaining and enlightening video similarly lack a consistent definition of species, what to speak of a clear idea of what the Purana’s are referring to in its own references to conditional form. Rather awkwardly, the producers never offered a reply to the Puranic question of species on a forum discussion. It was not clear if they did not understand the question, or they just plain lacked an answer. Or perhaps, their answer was to ignore the question.
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It might be worth considering that when discussing concepts involving the origin of species, what to speak of the stability of conditional form as experienced on Earth, it would be a useful to offer a clear definition of what we mean by species. And likely even more so, when claiming to speak with authority on behalf of the entire Vedic tradition.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 29.01.2011 @ 08:19

The Great Moon Landing Hoax

“Regarding the statements … provided by Shrila Prabhupada that these scam artist “scientsts” did go to the Moon, such explanations were all issued in response to those misguided individuals who would argue in favor of the great lunar hoax. In Kali Yuga, there are many blockheads who argue against the cause of guru-vani and Krishna Consciousness incessantly.”
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Well, then, perhaps we should consider that as one of Prabhupada’s examples on how to interact with people who question radical lunar geology.
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As Patita Pavana Prabhu herewith acknowledges, Prabhupada presented the possibility of the Apollo mission failing, as an opinion, and not as a siddhantic conclusion. And he presented this opinion without calling anyone a blockhead.
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Prabhupada also presented a wide variety of alternate possibilities that would continue to uphold the integrity of the Puranic description of Chandraloka as a heavenly realm.
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He further never made any of these concerns a central point of fidelity. I know of no initiation vows where Prabhupada asked: “What are the four regulative priinciples, do you agree to chant 16 rounds, AND, what is your position on the Apollo mission?”
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It just does not appear to be an obsession for Prabhupada the way it appears here. The record shows Prabhupada was open to any number of possibilities, as long as the integrity of the sastras were upheld.
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While Sukadeva Goswami plainly states no one knows the material energy perfectly (S.B. 5.16.4), it sounds as if some of our thread posters are not inconvenienced by that shortcoming.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 12.01.2011 @ 17:29

“If you reprint everything that was said by Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in their entirety, in context or otherwise, you must admit that the relevant information is already given in this article. So, why do we need to go any further into what Srila Prabhupada said when we already know it? The arguments given by opponents of Patita Pavana’s article are clearly in opposition to the statements of His Divine Grace on the moon landing.”
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This is a troublesome statement, in my view. The author seems to suggest that there is nothing new to be learned from reading the volumes of material Prabhupada made available to us. I rather recall that Prabhuapda felt we needed to read more, and not less.
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My point is not that the variety of perspectives and recollections being presented here are irrelevant. Rather, their greatest relevancy is to be found in light of Prabhupada’s entire corpus. I assure you, Prabhupada spoke quite a bit about the moon landing, as it was an extremely topical event at the time.
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Not all of Prabhupada’s arguments rejected a mechanical landing. In fact, he engaged a wide variety of views all the while defending the integrity of the Puranic accounts. And he did so while training up EXTREMELY young devotees who’s faith in these accounts needed to be solidified, and quickly.
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Whatever the case, Prabhuypada’s consistent message involved upholding the integrity of the Puranic accounts, however that may be perceived by our relatively immature minds.
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The solution to our current dilemma that I would recommend: carefully study the original transcripts for these discussions, which are readily available. For a faithful follower in Prabhupada’s line, surely that is a welcome recommendation.
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A couple of short points before my character count expires: Personally, I am not a fan of censorship, especially for an entertaining quagmire such as this one. Perhaps better—all things in moderation.
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Second, I am not clear where our apparently Eastern European astrological hatred for NASA comes from. After all, numerous space agencies claim to have visited our favorite rock-”star” in the night sky. Some of them originate from the noble Slavic nations, while others involve ESA, China, South Asia, Japan & Brazil.
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Back in the 70s, there was even a humorous account of the Polish Air Force going to the Sun, though at night. Perhaps North Korea will beat them to it.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 26.12.2010 @ 15:27

Dear Patita Pavana Prabhu,
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As you stated:
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“Very good advice that the readers should study the diaries more thoroughly. In fact that is the purpose of the article, to get Prabhupada’s faithfuls to do just that. Shrila Prabhupada kicked the demonic scientists in the face with logic of every sort.”
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What I am rather stating is that when using material like the diaries of individual devotees; as faithful recollections they are ultimately an invitation to our fellow “Prabhupada’s faithfuls” to investigate Prabhupada’s original transcripts taken from the original audio records. These original materials are also readily available for research work. Do you have access to Prabhupada’s folio and digital tape ministry?
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Please do not get me wrong: personal recollections are an exceedingly important part of our legacy, and our shared devotional life. But personal recollections are not primary historical texts, which, I repeat, remain readily available. I would like to suggest that a comprehensive study of Prabhupada’s primary texts of these conversations reveal a body of sophisticated commentary otherwise lost in quote-fests devoted to provocative clips. Currently, that appears to be your modus operandi of research and writing.
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As a point of reference, your excerpt in folio is: Morning Walk — July 20, 1976, New York. During July of 1976, Prabhupada engaged in numerous conversations on the topic of modern science. I would like to suggest that your medley of tantalizing sound-bites hardly represent a comprehensive study of these very long transcripts.
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Unfortunately, the jiva’s referred to as “scientist” do not represent the only form of conditional cheating. As you well know, Prabhupada had many things to say about the cheating done in the name of religion, and perhaps, astrology, too. Of note, he alternatively expressed positive and encouraging aspects of these topical issues. For some reason, your presentation avoids that part of Prabhupada’s legacy.
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In conclusion, obsessing on the most provocative statements—and all too often without appropriate context—is no guarantee of sincerity. What to speak of mature scholarship and devotional realization.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 22.12.2010 @ 16:32

All the references to Hari Sauri Prabhu’s Transcendental Diary, in turn refer to raw transcripts from the folio database. The raw transcripts are the actual primary historical documents. Hari Sauri Prabhu’s accounts are recollections interspersed with short clip excerpts, from which here we are reading even shorter clips, still. While these accounts are extremely valuable historical recollections, they are not the original and full primary accounts.
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I think if a serious scholar wishes to study the raw transcripts, which are so readily available, they will find that Srila Prabhupada’s critique of modern science is significantly more sophisticated than what is coming through in this article. The initial Transcendental Diary reference used in this essay, appears to offer a clip from an exchange between Srila Prabhupada and a reporter in LA. As a start, I recommend reading it in full, line by line, as it not enough to repeat a few tantalizing soundbites, and then disregard the rest.
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Curiously, this article appears to be one in a series offered by devotees who are promoting, astrology? That is a rich tradition, and one shared by many of the founders of the modern scientific tradition such as Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, and many others. Rather, the problem here is that the understanding of what modern science is, tends to sound phenomenally naive.
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Or to put it another way, it is foolish to dismiss the sophistication latent in one’s chosen adversary’s position, if one is claiming to offer a comprehensive critique as an alternative. Again, I wish to strongly suggest a serious, comprehensive study of Prabhupada’s transcripts offers evidence of a different sort critique—and one, most unfortunately, that could sound absent here.
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As a last thought—I would suggest that our Euclidean perception of space; what to speak of our standard experience of time—are hardly reflective of the full experience of Krsna’s material energy, as it is. Attempting to box such subjects in with mere human terms of experience—no matter whether one is a critic, or promoter, of either the modern or traditional perspectives—is a fool’s mission. Claiming blind faith in either tradition, does not guarantee an intelligent appreciation of the dynamics involved. After all, even a child can play cheerleader.
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btw - what is the current understanding of the term: “above the rays of sunshine”

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 19.12.2010 @ 15:32

Rethinking Darwin – New from the North European BBT!

Umm, rather awkwardly, Prabhupada never said:
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“The more we kick out Darwin’s philosophy, the more we advance in spiritual consciousness.”
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This is a somewhat creative misquotation that came to life in Life Comes From Life, but is no where to be found in the audio recordings or transcripts for the original conversation.
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Perhaps better to promote something Prabhupada said, as it is, as they say?

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 09.01.2011 @ 21:16

Astronomical Models of Lunar Position

“As a mathematics professor with some experience in scientific preaching, I can only say that [fill in the blank] has no chance of being effective preaching.”
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This might be a pretty broad brush statement, near akin to the attitude presented by others similarly certain, if not enamored, with their points of view on the material energy, and then how to present it to intelligent people who presumably think all in one way (and perhaps in agreement with one’s own brand of material certainty?)
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Whatever route we take, it would be worthwhile presenting it with a sense of humility, and wonder. That does not mean it should be presented with a lack of confidence in the devotional paradigm. It will be a model of the descriptions found in the Srimad Bhagavatam, done to the best of our current abilities. How close, or far, it is to reality as it is, is anyone’s empirical guess.
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All of which reminds me of Sukadeva Goswami’s opening statement to his presentation on cosmology where he flatly declares no one understands the full extent of the material energy.
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“This material world is a transformation of the material qualities … yet no one could possibly explain it perfectly, even in a lifetime as long as that of Brahma…. O King, I shall nevertheless try ….” (SB 5.16.4)
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We have no way to scientifically confirm how well our current model (whatever it is) presents the fifth canto to its fullest extent. We certainly have no way to scientifically explain all the apparent discrepancies between a Puranic perspective, and that of contemporary, or even other ancient cosmological models presented outside the Puranic tradition.
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It is also good to remember there is nothing sacrosanct about modern scientific theory. They too will be overthrown in time with the addition of more sophisticated natural evidence, and more powerful explanatory hypotheses. It has happened many times in the recent past, and will continue to do so in the future—with or without our participation in this long conversation.
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However we present our ever mysterious Fifth Canto; it will be a challenge. None-the-less, Prabhupada desired we make the effort. At least about that much, there appears little to doubt.

Comment Posted By sdmuni108 On 04.12.2010 @ 18:33


 


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