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Comments Posted By vishnujanadasa

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Bill Clinton Gets a Bhagavad-gita

This story has inspired me to share a part of an e-mail I’ve received from His Grace Jambavan Prabhu in Michigan, who’s 12 year old son always dresses in dhoti and kurta:

“…As always, I would like to leave on a positive note so here is a nice story for you. I sent Hanuman out the other day to look at one building that was for sale near to our house. As usual, Hanuman wears a dhoti and kurta everyday (He is a preacher you know and wearing devotional clothes are still the cheapest advertisement we have). And while he was out a man approached him and asked: “Excuse me, but are you a Hare Krishna?” A discussion then ensued and the man revealed that he had been to a temple when he visited India and would like to go to one again. He asked Hanuman where a temple is located here and he informed him of the temple down in Detroit. The man mentioned then replied that he didn’t want to drive all the way down there and suggested “you guys really need to get a temple out here”. When Hanuman informed him of our home programs, he requested that we send him an invitation the next time one comes around. Hopefully we will see this nice man the next time around. Good work Hanuman! We are proud of you.”

Jambavan Prabhu is a sanskrit scholar who studied under his Grace Gopiparanadhana Prabhu. He is working on the Ramayana right now.

Jambavan is currently looking to start a preaching center, and if anyone would like to offer help or donations, please feel free to contact me at Bhaktavishnu@gmail.com and I will get you in touch with him.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jul 5, 2012 @ 2:09 am

To Comment 2

Amen Shyamasundara Prabhu.

While there is nothing wrong in wearing karmi clothes while preaching or distributing books, my own experience and that of many of my God-brothers and fellow sankirtana brothers and sisters in North America is that the dhoti and sari are very congenial for distributing Krishna Consciousness. Just the other day my God-brother Baladeva Prabhu from RVC distributed 60-80 big books a day in Chicago for many days while wearing a dhoti and flower garland. People loved it.

Also, when we do Harinam in devotional clothes (Srila Prabhupada’s and Bhaktivinode Thakur’s words), people turn their heads smiling and many cameras start flashing and filming. Who wouldn’t be attracted to such a bright and beautiful scene?

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jul 5, 2012 @ 2:00 am

Respecting Our Women In Iskcon

Comment 83

Thank you for double checking that definition. I was actually using the definition used in the Webster-Mirriam dictionary:

Definition of SARI

: a garment of southern Asian women that consists of several yards of lightweight cloth draped so that one end forms a skirt and the other a head or shoulder covering

Hindi & Urdu sārī, from Sanskrit śātī strip of cloth

First Known Use: 1785

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sari

I did not cross-reference Webster’s sources however.

I also understand that many women in India also probably did not completely cover themselves up. I am just saying that it seems, according to the Vedic literature, that women generally dressed modestly. Indeed Srila Prabhupada said men were also expected to be modest in public, for instance, by covering their chests in public (as told by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami).

The royal courts or devas were certainly allowed to be exceptions to the rule. Srila Prabhupada said Kshatriyas were allowed to enjoy intoxication and sexual relations more than other varnas, just as Greco-Roman aristocracy was often much more sensual than the general public; Greek and later Roman society highly valued modesty (especially during the Roman Republican days. Certain Emperors, such as Caesar Octavianus Augustus, tried to bring back the virtues of the Republican era during their reigns).

Consequently, Greco-Roman (and later Renaissance and Neo-Classical) art often depicted men and women in the nude, but this was in contrast to the social norms of the day. It seems that this may have been the case in India as well.

As you pointed out, in traditional Vedic culture, women were held in much higher esteem and given more respect, just as the other varnas were given more respect. As time progressed however, the iniquities of Kali-Yuga found their way into the hearts of men and women, not just in India, but all over the world. Women were viewed with great respect in traditional western culture, as seen by the esteem given to the head priestess’ of the ancient oracles and temples (see, the Vestal Virgins). This respect similarly declined, as did respect for all sorts of life forms in general.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jul 4, 2012 @ 12:02 am

Continued…

“This says nothing about Draupadi wearing a “sari”. The problem, or confusion, is derived from the interpolation and condraditions of the dharmasastras… Because the Ramayana deals with lots of social duties, it has over 300 versions.”

I am not saying the Mahabharata is mentioning a sari per say. I am just making the point that women dressed moderately and covered themselves, even before the Muslim and Christian influences.

In reference to the Mahabharata being composed of varying layers interpolated over time, it is a very good point supported by Madhvacharya himself no less. It is, however pointed out by scholars that the latest layer of the Mahabharata was added around 400 CE, which stills puts the text well before any Muslim influence, and even predates the caves of Ajanta(1)

Similarly, while the Ramayana by some estimations has over 300 hundred versions, scholars still consider Valmiki’s as the original, and if we take the latest estimates of some of those scholars we still get a date of around the 5th to 4th century B.C. E. The other editions are considered regional versions, such as Tamil, Telugu, Indonesian, Cambodian, Malai, and also versions from the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, and Maldives. Also there are sectarian versions such as Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, etc. Finally, there are the contemporary novels and comic versions.

“As for SB 10.12.19, it is obvious that Krishna is mischievously joking with the gopis. ”

Certainly Krishna is joking when he is with the gopis by the river. The main point illustrated here is that a woman was only to be seen by her husband naked, and so Krishna wanted to see them naked in order to fulfill their desire and recognize them as his wives.

“Saris, as we know them today, came into being specifically to hide women’s bodies because of the Islamic and then British attitudes.”

As you mentioned, there were varieties of clothing worn by Vedic women (antariya, uttariya, kayabandh, dresses, skirts, shawls, shirts, blouses, cholis, types of bras, etc.). Some of these would be draped on the body similar to a sari. As I mentioned in the original comment (62), sari is derived from “sati”, meaning long cloth or drapery, which would fit into or refer to one or more of the categories of Vedic clothing you mentioned. Hence, they are antecedents to the modern-day sari.

1. Van Buitenen; The Mahabharata – 1; The Book of the Beginning. Introduction (Authorship and Date).

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jun 22, 2012 @ 1:01 am

To comments 72-73

Wonderful references, thank you. Women in Vedic culture are indeed misunderstood. They did have more liberties than is often depicted by modern-day society, and as mentioned in the Manu Smriti website you posted, women, according to Manu, are to be given charge of domestic affairs, respected and given right of way when passing in the streets, etc. and should all be generally revered by the society as at large. Indeed, as Srila Prabhupada said, women are the representatives of the Goddess of fortune herself. In the words of the website you linked to above, “Even the modern feminist books would have to seek further amendments to match up to Manu Smriti.”

“All these devatās, the demigods, they also enjoy. In higher planetary system, like Indra, he is prostitute hunter number one, Indra. (laughter) But he is a great devotee at the same time.”

Indeed the demigods may be prostitute hunters and sense enjoyers and still be great devotees and servants of Krishna (although Srila Prabhupada also mentioned that the more one becomes detached the more Godly or deva-like he becomes; thus there are levels of devatas, just like there are levels of lokas). Within deva societies however we can see that there are still certain reservations about revealing the body to certain persons, like when Narada was traveling through the heavenly abodes and Nalakuvara and Manigriva were sporting naked drunk with the heavenly damsels. It is recounted that the women covered themselves up when they saw Narada, but the two demigods were so intoxicated that they didn’t cover themselves up.

Similarly, when Vyasa passed by the women bathing in the beginning of the Srimad Bhagavatam, they covered themselves up (although, as most devotees know, they didn’t do so when Sukadeva passed by, because they could understand that he was beyond attachment and aversion).

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jun 22, 2012 @ 12:55 am

Continued…

These examples were not woven into the Puranas after the Islamic invasions of India but actually predate them.

In fact, the tradition of women being covered up predates Islam. In Babylon, Purdah was practiced. Purdah is a strict set of rules governing the way women interacted with the society. The Babylonians, Persians, classical Greeks, and many others followed similar moral practices.

Regarding the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, which depict topless women: The peculiarity of these paintings, as pointed out by Buddhist scholars and Indologists, is that by depicting sensual and topless women, the paintings are contradicting Buddhist morals and principles (the paintings are Buddhist). The Buddha himself preached against worldly sensuality as an obstacle to nirvana, and yet these paintings show him surrounded by half-naked women.

The explanation offered by the scholars is that these women actually represent the temptations and allurements of the world, meant to be overcome by those seeking enlightenment. The same theory is postulated regarding similar depictions on temple facades around South India, such as Khajuraho and Konark. It should also be noted that those temples are exceptions, and are thought by scholars to be influenced by tantra. Also, they are depicting divinities (apsaras) and royalty.

Naked Greek statues similarly do not depict common life in classical Greece. In fact, those statues were painted http://blog.lib.umn.edu/jrock2/rockblog/075486.html and ancient writers describe them as having been dressed with real clothing. However, without the few references from ancient literature, and without the use of modern-day technology, we would have never known that, and our conception of the past would have mirrored this lack of knowledge.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jun 16, 2012 @ 2:47 am

To Comment # 57

Although there seems to be no mention of the word “sari” in ancient Vedic literature, the word is still believed to be derived from the Sanskrit word “sati” meaning “long cloth or drapery (in other words, a sari essentially)”. As scanty as the archeological evidence may be in regards to Vedic dress, we can still nonetheless turn to the Vedic body of literature itself for evidence.

The custom of women covering themselves for the sake of modesty is illustrated by the episode in the Mahabharata where the Kauravas try to disrobe Draupadi in order to dishonor her. Everyone is familiar with this episode. Men were not allowed into the women’s quarters of the palace and yet Dussasana flagrantly violates this rule and drags Draupadi out by force (The practice of women maintaining private quarters barring the presence of men within the household is a tradition practiced by many pre-Islamic cultures, but more on that later).

Another example is from the Ramayana. Lakshmana is only able to identify Sita Devi’s foot ornaments and not others because out of respect for her modesty he would never look at the rest of Sita’s body.

From the Srimad Bhagavatam also, the Apsara Urvasi vows to leave king Pururava if she ever sees him naked (This shows that the Vedic standards of modesty apply to both men and women):

It appears from the words of Urvasi that the standard of living, eating, behavior and speech are all different on the heavenly planets from the standards on this planet earth….Nor do they like to see either men or women naked, except at the time of sexual intercourse. To live naked or almost naked is uncivilized, but on this planet earth it has now become fashionable to dress half naked…The inhabitants of the heavenly planets, aside from being very beautiful, both in complexion and bodily features, are well behaved and long-living, and they eat first-class food in goodness. These are some of the distinctions between the inhabitants of the heavenly planets and the inhabitants of earth.
Srimad Bhagavatam 9.14.23 purport

Furthermore, Lord Krishna tells the gopis in Srimad Bhagavatam 10.22.19, “You girls bathed naked while executing your vow, and that is certainly an offense against the demigods. To counteract your sin you should offer obeisances while placing your joined palms above your heads. Then you should take back your lower garments.”

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jun 16, 2012 @ 2:44 am

A devotee once asked Srila Prabhupada “(paraphrased) despite the fact that we have the perfect philosophy, the perfect guru, and the perfect society, why are we having so many problems in ISKCON?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “because the sannyasis and brahmacaris are associating too closely with the women.”

About associating with women, Chanakya Pandit says, “One should not even sit next to one’s mother, sister, or daughter.” Srila Prabhupada would quote this in regards to the power of maya. I think most people in ISKCON (and I imagine most Gaudiyas) know this quote.

Every culture, not just Islam, separates men and women. Churches used to do this world wide, including America, up to about 60 years ago. Last time I went to Greece to my father’s old village people were still doing this. The Athenians, Spartans, and other Greek city-states did this from ancient times, as did the Persians, Babylonians, Chinese, and other cultures as well. Even horse trainers separate the stallions from the mares for peak performance.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On May 9, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

The Art Of Negative Preaching

Dear Keshava Krishna Dasa,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

The point this article is addressing is a good one, namely using discrimination when preaching. You’ve made a “straw-man” out of your fictional heavy preacher however. You may have done so to emphasize your points, but it would have been more thought-provoking if the conversation were more realistic.

A final note: Srila Prabhupada asked some of his disciples on a morning walk in Dallas how they would preach to wealthy oil tycoons in the area. The disciples said they would tell them they are destroying the environment and community and creating bad karma (I’m paraphrasing). Srila Prabhupada said the disciples should tell the oil tycoons they are thieves stealing God’s property. How would you classify such an exchange?

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 10, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

What Does Too Much Democracy Look Like?

Dandavts Sita Rama Prabhu. This article hits right on the mark. Very realistic and perceptive. Thank you for sharing your insights and realizations.

Due to the manipulation of today’s democratic governments, the rights and laws governing the world’s democracies, particularly America’s, are being stripped away. A bill was just signed into law by the president to indefinitely detain citizens without trial, which directly abrogates the U.S. constitution. That constitution is what made America prosperous. It is why other countries looked to the U.S. as a constitutional role-model, and it is what allowed us to preach so widely and freely.

Of course Lord Krishna is the ultimate permitter and controller.

The proposal that ISKCON devotees should attain to educational positions is a very good idea. Considering the currant uncertain and declining political and economic climate though, the time window proposed may be too long. It reminds one of the example of Christianity’s long and slow progressive spread and influence, and this may be the case with Krishna Consciousness. Or, one could also give the example of Islam, which, contrary to Christianity, spread extremely rapidly within only a few generations.

We, however, need not resort to the sword, but to the simple grass-roots method used by Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada: Harinama Sankirtana and transcendental book distribution. These are simple, practical, and able to be performed by anyone.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

Pitfalls of Democracy

Note: I recommended Patita Pavan Prabhu’s previous post as a good reference about current affairs, but I would humbly suggest that both this one and his one before it as good references.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 3, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

Ultimately however, people are followed by their own actions, and so unless we engage them in Krishna Conscious activity, as Akruranatha Prabhu pointed out, we cannot really save them from their fortunes (or misfortunes). He gave a wonderful example of how grassroots preaching, such as harinama sankirtana, and book distribution (as exemplified by his Grace Vaisesika Prabhu in Silicon Valley, a book distribution/harinama acharya), can have such a wonderful effect on people’s hearts. From my personal experience traveling in North America and performing book distribution and Harinama with other devotees for the last couple of years, all classes of people in America are favorable and ready to hear what the devotees have to tell them. Not too long ago, while on Harinama here in Kansas City, a group of young persons gave a donation to our party and told us we were one of their favorite parts of Kansas City! Americans are generally very nice and hard-working people, and if Lord Chaitanya’s message simply reached their ears, these people could really take it up. After all, as Akruranath pointed out, the “Occupiers” joined the harinama with their sign that said “Consume less, sing and dance more!” He said, “we have to create a better class of people”, and such people can showcase a better form of living-varnashrama dharma. Indeed, as followers of “Isavasyam” ideology, we have to help people occupy their hearts and minds with Krishna Consciousness.

Patita Pavan Prabhu’s analysis is acute and very nicely put. If anyone wants a good synopsis of current affairs in the world, they should refer to his previous post. His comment about full focus on the Holy Names and Sankirtana seems to be the consensus here. India does seem to be the great beacon of hope right now.

I am not against democracy per se, since anything used is Krishna’s service becomes spiritual itself, but I am just pointing out, as you said, the complex and constantly changing flow of things in this world. The outcome is hard to always tell. The Eastern European countries that opened up after the soviet collapse allowed much greater preaching-people were literally lined up to purchase Srila Prabhupada’s books. In the Middle East however, these revolutions are leading towards tighter control by Islamic fundamentalists. But as the saying goes, no one can tell what the Lord’s plan is.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 3, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

The example of the former Soviet Bloc countries is also a good one. When the borders were opened, tons of books flooded into the country. On the other hand, during Soviet times the devotees were really fired up and determined to preach like anything. Although Russia’s book distribution numbers had declined in the recent past, we can see that a huge up-soar is taking place (especially the last couple of months, partly due, it seems, to the potential ban of the Gita), and devotees in Russia are opening centers and ashramas all over the C.I.S. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out, nothing can stop the sankirtana movement (we can only temporarily halt it from within by un-cooperativeness amongst each other he said).
In this world we can never really tell what the out-come of a particular action will be (except for the chanting of the holy names, but that might not be classified as activity of this world) so it is hard to say what electing Ron Paul or someone else would do. He may halt intervention in other countries, but simultaneously guarantee freedoms here in the States. These freedoms (such as free speech, freedom from warrantless search and seizure, the right to bear arms, etc) are something many Americans are genuinely fearful and concerned about losing. Indeed, many of these have already been violated.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 3, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

Krishna Keshava Prabhu:

Your remark about “riding the back of the little freedoms we presently have” is right on point. Democracy does have the most potential for helping us spread Krishna Consciousness, and at the same time, as Mother Abhay’s article points out, we can also have the ideal of varnashrama there always for the world to see. Her article highlights why we in ISKCON should seriously try to implement varnashrama within our own devotee society, because Srila Prabhupada wanted us to be the example to the rest of the world, so Mataji’s article is an encouragement for us to head in that direction. In fact, many people in the West, particularly the US, are already moving in the direction of self-sufficiency (such as “The Maker Movement”, an association of people learning how to build things themselves, as well as how to produce one’s own fresh food).

My posts were meant to back up the fact that these democracies are not stable. As you pointed out, world events are always ebbing and flowing, so modern political systems are not dependable, and as Patita Pavana Prabhu has pointed out, we live in a much different America now a days, with record numbers of people either leaving the country or purchasing fire arms, surveys pointing out that when asked, the reasons these people give is fear of economic collapse and criminal government, so this is actually currently going on. This lack of stability also causes people anxiety and stress because it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain a job or securuty-no one knows their role in society. Varnashrama frees people’s time so that they can engage in more important activities, namely Krishna Consciousness.

Iran, back when Srila Prabhupada was on the planet and earlier had a high standard of living, was very westernized, and relatively democratic and liberal compared to its neighbors. Srila Prabhupada himself visited Iran and remarked that it was heaven on earth (as retold in His Grace Hari Sauri Prabhu’s “A Transcendental Diary, Vol. IV). Now a days, under the strict fundamentalist Islamic ruler ship there (orchestrated by the CIA), it is not possible to openly preach, and an Iranian devotee friend of mine tells me of how they are even closing down yoga studios now.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 3, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

Excellent point Kesava Krishna Prabhu,

Democracy should be used in Krishna’s service, and clearly, as you pointed out, Srila Prabhupada encouraged it and used it himself and gave credit to America for providing him that freedom. And it would be absolutely great if these Spring revolutions gave us the opportunity to spread Krishna Consciousness.

Unfortunately, these revolutions haven’t really created freedom for anybody really. Libya is completely destroyed and a genocide by Arabs against Black Libyans (who generally supported Gaddafi) is under way, already killing over 40,000 black Libyans. The country had the highest standard of living in Africa. Now it’s in rubbles, and Al-Qaeda is admittedly in control over there. “Under Gaddafi,” the people lament, “we had something. Now we have nothing” they say.

Egypt is another example of freedom in the name of democracy, but the situation there now is that the military has taken power and they refuse to allow free elections, severely beating protesters, including women (there is a graphic video depicting this on different news sites around the web. It was a big story last week).

It is also admitted that the C.I.A was behind these “Spring Revolutions” and is also planning, or trying to plan such maneuvers in China, Iran, and Syria. Syrian protesters are openly working with British MI6 (The British Secret service for those who don’t know), and the Egyptian government just raided a multitude of offices of “Non-profit Organizations” working within its borders, whom it believes are C.I.A fronts.

In essence we should try to use whatever freedoms and liberties we can in spreading Lord Krishna’s sankirtana movement, but the above examples of Spring Revolutions are just another round of examples showing how big, powerful governments are exploiting the well-meaning but misinformed masses-both at home to support their empiric ventures, and even abroad, gaining support from the people of the countries where their international interests lay.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 2, 2012 @ 2:54 am

The problem indeed is the leadership, and they are elected in Kali-yuga by purchasing the votes of naive shudras.

America has even passed from a Republic to a de facto dictatorship this weekend, with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the president, giving him unlimited power to arrest and detain U.S. citizens or anyone in the world for that matter, indefinitely without trial. This is not an exaggeration. Here is the actual bill from the president’s website:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/31/statement-president-hr-1540

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jHaJrnlqCgo

Not even North Korea or the Nazis had such laws penned to paper, although they did such things anyway.

Caesar has crossed the Rubicon, as the expression goes. Like Rome, America has gone from a Republic to an outright empire. Perhaps a new article should be written entitled, “The Pitfalls of Empiric Dictatorship”.

This is the problem with democracy, as pointed out by Srila Prabhupada and Patita Pavana Prabhu; namely, little dogs will vote for big dogs, and the big dogs will manipulate and exploit the little dogs. Humans have the ability to prey on their own species.

Even Obama, the first African-American president, was the first sitting president to invade Africa. This proves Srila Prabhupada’s statement that nationalism is just another form of cheating. In fact, the first European “Nation States” were founded by the kings of France and England for the explicit purpose of increasing their royal powers. These countries contain large cultural, linguistic, and even ethnic differences from one province to the other.

In the Vedic age, the only difference people saw was between varnas and ashramas, with the king being the center of all activity, be he even Muslim. The king was seen as the representative of God.

Now a days people’s sentiments and heart strings are pulled by politicians who send them off to war or rob them through their positions of power. As pointed out by Patita Pavana Prabhu, congress has passed a law making it legal for them to engage in insider trading, while the average citizen will go to jail for years if caught doing such a thing-even Martha Stewart cannot get away with insider trading. Hence politicians spend millions to get into office, and leave much much wealthier than before they entered.

An injection of Harinam-sankirtana, book distribution, and prasadam will cure this political body.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 1, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

2: Your response for inquiries on sankirtana about women is very nice, but often people want specifics, such as our position on women’s rights, social roles, women’s liberation, abortion, marriage, and people even ask what our position is about sex life or homosexuals, etc. These questions cannot be answered so ambiguously.

3: You mention that I may not have experience with women so I may not be qualified to talk about the topic, but I am simply going on shastra, not empiric experience. A wise man learns by hearing rather than experiencing or seeing. This is how Srila Prabhupada said he was qualified to speak on scientific topics, although not a Ph. D (he was a chemist but these were his words). Besides, in the spirit of shastra and common sense, I am not inclined to favor free mixing of the sexes, and so our position is closer than meets the eye you could say. There are even strict regulations for householders, as I’m sure you know, about associating with women.

4: Finally, you mention that the general tone of discussions amongst devotees should be congenial. Who could disagree with this comment, as one should always offer all respects to others and not expect any in return. You mentioned claiming a devotee’s statement as mental speculation may be offensive. While this can be an offense if done in a baseless and fault-finding manner, in this case it was rather a petition for evidence by Guru, sadhu, and shastra. Your responses by Srila Prabhupada were certainly helpful and insightful. However, they did not address the more specific question regarding preaching about the position of women. Srila Prabhupada simply points out in the quotes you cited that a person in the renounced order of life is not meant to have intimate dealings with women, but specifically adds that “One should associate with women only for important business and not otherwise.” This is because he knew that while preaching in the West one would inevitably have to deal with women, or teach others how civilized cultures dealt with women in a Krishna Conscious fashion, which falls under the “important business” category. Otherwise, we could never even hear the teachings of Lord Kapiladeva to Mother Devahuti, or the teachings of Queen Kunti.

I have keep the post short in order to focus on the original topic. My e-mail here, if one would like to continue the discussion, is VishnujanaDasa@gmail.com

I hope this meets you all well and pray for your blessings

Your aspiring servant,

~Vjd

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 1, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

Dearest devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you Patita Pavan Prabhu for getting the conversation back on track. Allow me to echo you in giving thanks to Sita Ram and Veda Prabhus for their comments also. And to Mother Abhay Mudra for the insightful and thought provoking article. I offer my humble obeisances to all the devotees on this post, as this is a nice exercise in siddhanta and rhetoric, meant to be done in a sportive fashion.

Thanks are due Paskaraksa Prabhu for the inspiring story you shared about your late wife. May she bless us with pure devotion to the Lord. All glories to your Guru Maharaja His Holiness Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja as well. I have read many of his “Sri Krishna Kathamrita” magazines and still receive “Gopal Jiu” newsletters. Thank you also for your concern and care in regards to siddhanta and the protection of our devotional creeper.

To honor Patita Pavan’s sagacious recommendation to return to the original topic at hand, I will briefly comment on Puskaraksa’s previous post, and if he or anyone else would like to continue the discussion, I will leave my e-mail at the end so that he may personally contact me.

1: To address your first point about not using the term renounced order for brahmacari life, Srila Prabhupada used that term “renounced order” when discussing brahmacarya. This reference can be found in his commentary on Chaitanya Caritamrita, Summary of Antya 2:

“Junior Haridasa…committed an offense by talking intimately with a woman although he was in the renounced order.”

Ref: http://caitanyacaritamrta.com/antya/2/summary/en1

Brahmacaris, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis are all considered to be in the renounced order of life.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Jan 1, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

Dear Puskaraksa,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your timely response Prabhu. You made several good points, particularly the one about not being attached to our positions and stances.

I’m sorry if you feel that I am being self-justicatory [sic], but I’m just trying to make clear my philosophical position, which doesn’t seem to be getting through. This is important because you are, in effect, saying that everyone in the renounced order of life (brahmacaris at least) are not supposed to preach about the position of women. Two questions arise regarding that:

1) Can you cite where Srila Prabhupada or any other Acharya in our line says renunciates are not to preach about the position of women in society?
I can see how a brahmacari os sanyasi should not be solicited for advice by Grihasta couples regarding their personal relationship issues, but to say they should never teach others about the roles of women in society seems like a mental speculation if I may be so bold as to say. Which brings me to my next question.

2) You talk about time, place, and circumstance and also that brahmacaris must not preach about the position of women in society. On sankirtana we are inevitably asked by people, “what is your view on women according to your religion?” I would like to know how you would expect a brahmacari to answer such a question? Would you have us say “No comment”?

Since I am still a conditioned soul, I will be awaiting enlightenment from you in regards to these points.

Hare Krishna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Your loving servant,

Vishnujana dasa

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 29, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

Puroprt continued…

A very nice example is given herein. Although fire is pure, still there is smoke. Yet smoke does not make the fire impure. Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements…One may then conclude that in the material world no one can be completely free from the contamination of material nature. This example of fire and smoke is very appropriate in this connection. When in wintertime one takes a stone from the fire, sometimes smoke disturbs the eyes and other parts of the body, but still one must make use of the fire despite disturbing conditions. Similarly, one should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements. Rather, one should be determined to serve the Supreme Lord by his occupational duty in Krishna consciousness. That is the perfectional point. When a particular type of occupation is performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, all the defects in that particular occupation are purified. When the results of work are purified, when connected with devotional service, one becomes perfect in seeing the self within, and that is self-realization.

Finally, you mention that it is not good for a man to have his opinions under the control of a woman. Chanakya Pandita says good advice should be taken even from a small child, what to speak of one’s caste wife. Indeed, as Sita Ram prabhu points out, in the Bhagavatam (1:7:49:) Draupadi’s words were declared to be in accordance with the principles of religion and were justified, glorious, full of mercy and equity, and without duplicity. It should be pointed out that her words were not glorious on account of her exalted birth (being born out of the yagnic fire), but due to the fact that they were in accordance with religious principles, or dharma. Indeed, a sudra, Srila Prabhupada points out, may judge one or give respect and honor to another because of age or birth considerations, but a brahmana gives honor and respect according to the quality of one’s words-whether they are truthful, full of knowledge and realization. Mother Abhay Mudra’s point is that Vedic men were not so blind-sided or chauvinistic as to not listen to the good advice the women in their lives might impart to them. Indeed, it was my own mother who, through her struggles, imbibed in me from the beginning a trust and devotion to God.

I hope this reaches you well and in the best of health.

Your humble servant,

Vishnujana Dasa

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 27, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

In respects to preaching or not preaching about what a woman’s position is and is not, I must say that abstaining from such debates is neither practical nor the standard set by Srila Prabhupada, his Sannyasi and brahmacari disciples, nor that of the previous Acharyas.
Some brahmacaris once asked Srila Prabhupada if they could remove all the women from the temple because they were disturbing the brahmacari’s minds, and so Srila Prabhupada told the brahmacaris to go move to the jungles and mountains, because in modern day society, it is impossible to avoid seeing women in the streets. Because my service and that of those around me involves preaching and distributing books, it is inevitable that we sometimes see women. We even must talk with them sometimes believe it or not! Of course we don’t go out of our way to do so, but it is inevitable. This I’m sure you can sympathize with.

In Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 18.48, the Lord states:

“Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kuntī, even if such work is full of fault.”

Srila Prabhupada states in his purport:

In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. …Despite these flaws, one should continue to carry out his prescribed duties, for they are born out of his own nature.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 27, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

Often devotees are criticized because of following their spiritual predecessor’s instructions. They are accused of trying to imitate the great devotees. My guru Maharaja His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami Maharaja narrated a nice story in this connection. In Bengal, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura would tell the Bengalis who were attached to eating fish that they should stop because Chaitanya Mahaprabhu didn’t eat fish and they would say, “That is Mahaprabhu, we are not Mahaprabhu, he is God.” Then, when these same devotees would be rolling around on the ground crying and fainting in imitation ecstasy, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati would tell them that devotees do not make such a pretentious show of devotion, in which they replied, “Well Mahaprabhu did it!” So we should also not be like that. We should simply follow the instructions of the spiritual masters and not try to change things in the name of “Time, place, and circumstances.” Alas, how much has been gotten away with in the name of “time, place, and circumstance.”

Srila Prabhupada tells us, “”Don’t bother whether you’ll be spiritually advanced or not, but take the word of the spiritual master and carry it. Then everything is guaranteed.”

~Srila Prabhuapda (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.105 — New
York, July 11, 1976)

Tact should certainly be used in preaching. Her Grace Abhay Mudra Mataji’s audience is the devotees on dandavats.com, and so she knows who she is preaching to. Besides, we’d be surprised at what the karmis are able to accept and agree with. We, as devotees, do not give them enough credit, and so we hold back from them the truth they so desperately need to hear.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 27, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

Dear Puskaraksha dasa Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your kind and inspiring words prabhu.

I mentioned that, “We can see by the above quotes that Srila Prabhupada is following in the footsteps of the previous Acharyas in strongly criticizing and fighting for Krishna. Is Puskaraksa dasa proposing a better strategy than theirs?”

I’m sorry if you feel I suggested that you thought you knew a better preaching strategy than your Spiritual Master, but I simply asked whether or not this was the case, and Srila Prabhupada said that if one states his thoughts in the form of a question, then it is not to be taken as an offense, so please do not be put off by my question. As a young man especially, I seek truth, and as Chanakya Pandita has stated in his Niti Shastra, “He who gives up shyness in monetary dealings, in acquiring knowledge, in eating and in business, becomes happy.” Also, Srila Prabhupada states that one may not speak disagreeable words due to social etiquette, but the truth should not be privy to such sanctions. Therefore, it is my duty to inquire about and preach the truth.

As you mentioned, everyone has different points of view due to different experiences in life. Atmavan Manyate Jagat: Everyone sees life according to their own particular vision and conditioning. We mere mortals come out of our mother’s wombs crying and screaming in ignorance. We can never know the truth on our own. This is why we must accept the verdict of the previous authorities in the disciplic succession.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 27, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

In a time when even first world countries are deteriorating economically, politically, culturally, and socially, real teachers and role-models are needed. There is a great need for ISKCON as a society to make Srila Prabhupada’s Varnashrama system a top priority.

Thank you for the thought-provoking katha. Please forgive this poor soul for any misunderstandings or offenses.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Yours in the service of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga,

Vishnujana dasa

Note: Although we have to some extent implemented democratic principles within ISKCON, it is more of a democratic committee (like a Republic) rather than the democracy of the current American government.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 5:36 am

You (Puskaraksa dasa) have made a wonderful point by quoting Srila Prabhupada’s purport, “It is the duty of the guardians of children to revive the divine consciousness dormant in them….”

However, although everyone is a pure spirit-soul, to say one should see devotees as well as people breaking the four regs (i.e. eating beef and hunting for women) and not chanting as the same, is almost the equivalent of Mayavadis saying that all is one. The fact is that Krishna Himself points out that these people are Naradhamas, or the lowest among men. He Himself gives them that designation.

So yes, some people may come to Krishna Consciousness and then go, but as long as they are practicing Krishna Consciousness sincerely, they should be considered most exalted and the top-most human beings. There is certainly a distinction, just as you have pointed out the distinctions between a Kanishta and Madhyama Adikari devotee.

A learned person may see the spiritual equality between an elephant, a brahmana, and a dog, but no one is going to go to the dog or elephant for initiation. He is going to approach the brahmana to solve the problems of life.

Democracy is certainly an aspect of a Republic, or Parliamentary Monarchy, but it is limited to certain constitutional rights, just as Vedic kings had to follow the laws of dharma. In ancient Athens and the early USA, a certain criteria was also set for who could vote. A democracy theoretically could be used by the rich and powerful to vote away its constitution, which is what the Nazis and Communists did. Using that power, they were able to arrest anyone without trial (Communists were funded by wealthy Financiers).

Certainly, as you mentioned, we must set an example as a society in general. Srila Prabhupada said we must establish a class of brahmanas and then saintly ksatriyas will follow. I was pointing out that Patita Pavana Prabhu and Abhay Mudra Mataji were setting such an example.

Another good point you mentioned is that the modern political system allows us the freedom to preach. Srila Prabhupada also pointed this out, and appreciated it. However, he still didn’t hesitate to criticize the modern day system. Her Grace Abhay Mudra dasi Mataji is simply pointing out the flaws within the different forms of Democracy, so that devotees may take serious Srila Praphupada’s intention to establish Varnashrama, as per the desire of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 5:14 am

In connection with what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur says above about strong preaching and criticism, and in order to address your (Puskaraksa’s) comments about what constitutes a kanistha-adhikārī and a madhyama-adhikārī, Srila Prabhupada says:

“The more you fight with these rascals, the more you advance in Krsna consciousness. You are a fighting soldier. Krsna very much appreciates (morning walk May 12, 1975).”

A madhyama-adhikārī is one who boldly preaches, rather than one who lets the karmis go to hell by being “nice” to them.

In Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 13.8-12 purport Srila Prabhupada says

“Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others, but from the point of view of a man in perfect knowledge — who knows that he is not this body — anything, honor or dishonor, pertaining to this body is useless.”

The advanced devotee is not interested in worldly honor or respect, but rather, he seeks the satisfaction of Guru and Krishna.

We can see by the above quotes that Srila Prabhupada is following in the footsteps of the previous Acharyas in strongly criticizing and fighting for Krishna. Is Puskaraksa dasa proposing a better strategy than theirs?

Ramanuja Acharya also refused to compromise the message of Godhead:

This same attitude we see with Ramanujacarya and the other great acaryas. Srila Ramanuja was threatened by the then government in Tamil Nadu to propagate a different view of sastra or else face imprisonment. At that time, Sri Ramanuja was ordered by his spiritual master to leave the scene immediately and so he left for Karnataka. Impersonating as Ramanujacarya, his secretary and disciple Kuresa faced the government and again refused to propagate a different view of sastra. He was then imprisoned and his eyes removed. Still he didn’t propagate any view contrary to Ramanujacarya’s teachings. And Ramanuja’s spiritual master was also tortured for refusing to propagate a different understanding of sastra, but he didn’t budge. In fact he died because of the torture.

~From an article entitled “Vedic Academics”, by H.G. Vidvan Gauranga dasa Adhikari (Article can be found at: http://www.oneiskcon.com/issues/vedic-academics-part-1/)

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 1:58 am

Dear Puskaraksa Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your thorough response Prabhu. I can see you took much care in your response.

To address some of your points:

You imply that H.G. Abhay Mudra Mataji is promoting the gender she has incarnated in, but according to her original article, she states:

“Of course, we may think that the opinions of women were never taken into account in ancient times even when democratic verdict was applied. But women had much to say in their families and had the power to control the opinions of their own men. Kings were only considered true kshatriyas when they offered equal justice to all citizens.”

So we can see that her intention is not to create a “puffed-up” view of womanhood, but to show that the Vedic culture is just and fair-more so than the blinkered modern-day person would think.

Also, she mentions at the closing of one of her comments, that, “Rather, as devotees of Krishna consciousness, gender is an issue that is far subservient to our eternal position as servants of the servants of Shri Guru and Gauranga.”

And so this point needs no further elaboration.

You also mention that you,

“..didn’t get into the criticism or the eulogy of democracy, but rather tried to highlight the fact that we have to be careful in not being too negative in our presentation, as it may create some hindrance in attracting people to Krishna consciousness.”

This is what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said about being critical:

“If to carry out the command of the Vaishnava Guru i have to be arrogant or brutish, or suffer eternal perdition, i am prepared to welcome such eternal damnation and even sign a contract to that effect. I will not listen to the words of malicious persons in lieu of the command of Sri Gurudeva. I will dissipate with indomitable courage and conviction the currents of thought of the rest if the world, relying on the strength derived from the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. I confess to this arrogance.”

– Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarswati Thakura

Again, he says above: “I will dissipate with indomitable courage and conviction the currents of thought of the rest if the world, relying on the strength derived from the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. I confess to this arrogance.”

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 1:31 am

Dear Patita Pavana Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Prabhu. We are not qualified to carry the torch you and your exalted God-brothers and sisters have so graciously and carefully carried all these years, but we will do our best to serve you and this mission as far as possible by Lord Krishna’s grace.

My only wish is that you bless me and allow me to serve you and all the other exalted souls engaged in Srila Prabhupada’s mission of delivering the fallen conditioned souls of this troubled world.

I’m also grateful that the devotees at dandavats.com have made such a wonderful platform such as this, where devotees from all over the world can contact and serve each other and discuss the important and relevant issues facing ISKCON today, in order to more effectively propagate Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtana movement.

That being said, thank you also for giving us a glimpse into life of the heavenly Rila Hills, and for your warm invitation to devotees to join your “rustic” and idyllic lifestyle.

I pray we may continue our correspondence.

Your fallen and aspiring servant,

Vishnujana Dasa Brahmacari

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 22, 2011 @ 12:28 am

Puskaraksha’s comments state:

“Yet, as Krishna mentions that He only is infallible, even a pure devotee such as Srila Prabhupada apologizes for any mistakes he may make, as in the introduction of his presentation of Srimad Bhagavatam, or may have made, as at the end of his life…”

Prabhupada is a nitya-siddha devotee who “built a house in which the whole world can live.” Does Puskaraksha actually believe Srila Prabhupada made mistakes or offended others? A nitya-Siddha may apparently seem to make mistakes, but they are not conditioned by the modes of material nature. Even Lord Krishna exhibited the frailties of being a conditioned living entity in illusion. Does that mean Krishna must also apologize for being in maya? Srila Prabhupada’s apologies are a symptom of his transcendental humility.

“Srila Prabhupada stated that the best devotees will join later… Hence, once ISKCON and its members raise their level, people already in the mode of goodness will become attracted. This means these devotees-to-be are presently part of society and are already concerned with doing good to others.”

Most people in the world are in the mode of Ignorance and passion, as stated by Srila Prabhupada and seen by common experience. ISKCON raises people to the mode of goodness and beyond. These “devotees in the mode of goodness already in society” whom Puskaraksha speaks of may be well wishers of society, but until they start following the four regs and chanting 16 rounds, they are not doing much good to anyone.

You mentioned Rupa and Sanatana as devotees involved in mundane society, but once they met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they lamented and repented for their previous lives. Sanatana Gosvami even thought himself unfit to be touched by Mahaprabhu, and Haridasa Thakura felt unfit to enter the temple. This was due to their humble belief that they were contaminated and fallen due to their previous lives, so we can understand their verdict in regards to worldly society. Can you imagine what they would say if they appeared in today’s modern world?

Puskarakhsa says we have to set an example and showcase our success stories. Abhaya Mudra mataji is doing just that: She and her husband have a varnashrama project they have set up in Bulgaria, and both earn their living independently and brahminically (they are Vedic Jyotish astrologers). They are preaching the glories of the sankirtana movement and in my experience are extremely amiable people. Their actions speak loud and clear.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 14, 2011 @ 2:57 am

The power of women referred to in this article is the power Savitri showed when her devotion to her husband brought him back from the grasp of Yamaraja. Yamaraja certainly has supreme authority over mortals, but Savitri’s chaste qualities were able to touch Yamaraja’s heart to the point that he allowed her husband to surpass the law of karma.

It is contested that Abhay Mudra Mataji should be humble and moderate in her criticism of modern democracy, but these are not her personal opinions. She is stating the opinions of the Acharyas, particularly Srila Prabhupada. And while Srila Prabhupada most definitely appreciated the freedoms given to him by America (so much so that he considered it his fatherland, having given him so many “fathers” in the form of disciples), he definitely considered modern democracy “Demon-cracy.” If this is not clear then we are not reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.

So there may be flaws in our opinions, but the Acharyas cannot make mistakes. Why? Because they simply repeat the message of Krishna, who, as stated above, is infallible. Krishna states in Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 7 text 15:

“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”

Prabhupada would some times be criticized for his heavy language, but he would always say, “I am not saying, Krishna is saying!”

In the purport to the above verse, Srila Prabhupada points out that because most people do not follow any of the purificatory processes of varnashrama in this age, “…99.9 percent of the population is narādhama [lowest of mankind].”

In fact, the founding fathers of America also saw the perils of democracy, because it enabled the masses to vote away the possessions of the minorities (such as the middle class, who actually employ most of the population). They liken democracy to “two wolves and a sheep voting what’s for dinner.” That is why America was founded as a republic.

This is why the Nazis called themselves the ” National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” The Nazis in power were able to exploit the ignorance of the masses to vote away the rights and property of the jews and other minorities.

Same thing with the Bolshevik Communists in Russia and later Eastern Europe: The masses voted away the property and rights of the middle class because the minorities in these countries were not protected as they would be in a republic.

» Posted By vishnujanadasa On Dec 14, 2011 @ 2:15 am

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