Hridayananda das Goswami’s New Year Greeting

This is the New Year Greeting written by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on the 31st of december:

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Srila Prabhupada. On the last day of 2010, I wish you all a wonderful Krishna conscious 2011. For me, the greatest and most inspiring challenge in the coming year is to strengthen ISKCON in the western world.

When I joined the movement in 1969, ISKCON seemed like a North American movement with branches in Europe, Australia and East Asia.

In 1970 Srila Prabhupada dramatically established ISKCON in India. The movement also spread throughout East and Southeast Asia.

Prabhupada planted a transcendental seed in the Soviet Union which blossomed into a huge, powerful mission throughout Russia and other CIS countries.

I helped to expand the movement in Latin America in the mid 70’s and ISKCON is now well established throughout that region.

However it is ISKCON in India that has expanded beyond comparison. Of course, India has a huge, natural advantage. It is the land of Krishna. Even in America, ISKCON congregations in most large cities consist mainly of devotees from an Indian background. We find the same phenomenon in the UK and South Africa, and in most other countries that host a significant Indian diaspora.

This phenomenon is not so evident in most of Latin America, or in some parts of Europe, where there is a comparatively small Indian population.

Still, the massive expansion and unique wealth of many Indian devotees, both in India and other countries, presents an interesting challenge to the International Society for Krishna consciousness. Is ISKCON destined to be basically an Indian movement with branches in foreign countries? Or is it meant to be a truly international society that establishes the yuga dharma as a dominant spiritual process throughout the world?

In India, ISKCON’s influence at all levels of society is enormous. In America, and most European countries (England and Hungary might be exceptions) ISKCON’s national influence is insignificant.

Personally, I believe that ISKCON can fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s and Lord Caitanya’s vision only as a truly international society that presents Krishna consciousness as a non-sectarian, non-ethnic spiritual science. I learned this from Prabhupada hismelf. Thus it is the responsibility of those of us who serve Srila Prabhupada in the west to do all we can to reignite the fire of a powerful, relevant movement in our respective countries.

I find this vision, of reestablishing the full power and relevance of ISKCON in the west, to be a most inspiring challenge. It is to the fulfillment of this vision that I wish to dedicate myself in 2011. I invite all the devotees to share and serve this awesome vision.

Wishing you all a year of health, happiness and potent service in Lord Krishna’s divine mission, I invoke this blessing: Krishna-shaktir astu te!  May the force of Krishna be with you!

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

 

60 Comments

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60 responses to “Hridayananda das Goswami’s New Year Greeting

  1. Pusta Krishna das

    Wonderful enthusiasm on the part of our Godbrother, Sripad Hridayananda Maharaj. He has inspired many young westerners and has many disciples amongst them. In a battle, the generals and strategists lay maps on the table and plan their campaigns accordingly. So, what is the plan?

    In San Jose, we have our first Bhaktivedanta Forum scheduled for March 6, 2011. It is a non-sectarian invitation to working people and intelligent individuals to explore bhakti-yoga. You don’t have to sell your soul to work! We want to provide practical ways for people to become God-centric along with their families. Will most of those interested be Indian or Westerners? Who knows, but all are welcome.

    Now, we know that there is a huge interest in yoga at all levels of western society. Naturally, people are looking for “belonging” and “peace”. They are being cheated, short-changed, by the teachers of this so-called yoga. How will you give them real gold instead of fool’s gold? It will take being out there showing compassion and lighting the way! There are no shortcuts to this. The battle will not be won for Krishna without a fight! It sounds familiar…Kurukshetra. The universities are the reservoir of millions of students who are in the formative and seeking parts of their lives. Make a plan to reach them, even if it means sitting under a tree in yet another Plaza of the Americas, a la Gainesville. It is a plan which requires “boots” and a will to get mud on those boots. I agree, lets make it happen, for the pleasure and glory of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!!! Pusta Krishna das

  2. NISCALA

    Making ISKCON relevant and effective to western society

    I am so happy that this subject is becoming the focus of Srila Acaryadeva in 2011. When I joined, there were no Indian temple devotees, only as congregation, and as a result I felt that this was where I belonged. The reason is that we identify with our bodies, and when we see a whole temple full of Indians, we naturally feel out of place- they all are Indians, they all know each other, and even if they are friendly, I am an outsider. I may start to think it is an Indian religion- then “what am I doing here?” For ISKCON to be relevant to westerners, it needs to be full of westerners. Theoretically we know we are not the body, yet still after 30 years in the process, I identify with my body. What to speak of newcomers?

    Another reason I am so delighted that Acaryadeva is taking this mammoth task on, is that I am afraid that with Indians more or less taking over the management of our movement, aspects of Indian culture and beliefs may be introduced, in due course, that are in conflict with our philosophy and its application. My husband experienced in one ISKCON temple run by an Indian couple, that they did not want him to do puja, though he was brahman- initiated. They were exhausted from trying to manage a temple and restaurant, and therefore the unspoken message was clear, he was not fit to do puja- as he was not Indian. Especially when we consider that varnashrama is now being taken seriously by ISKCON, if such typically Indian attitudes come to the fore, it will not be varnashrama at all, but the caste system, which is considered evil by all of our acaryas back to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

    If this happens, then we might as well close down ISKCON, sell all the temples and print books, as the goals are not being achieved as described by Srila Prabhupada in its formation: “to put a stop to the domination of one man over another on the basis of birthright or vested interest” A vision of varnashrama needs to be established which is in direct opposition to this domination mentality- a vision of equality of all beings, from the insects in the field to the cows in the paddock, from the pujari doing sacrifice, to the pot-washer. All have the Lord in their heart, and among devotees, many devotees in humble positions may be more advanced than those in exalted ones. We need to see beyond externalities, to what is in the heart- that is Krsna consciousness. We need to give up our India-inspired tendency to assume spiritual advancement on the basis of color of cloth, insignia, titles and so on, to see who is actually embodying the principles of a liberated soul as described in Bhagavad gita, or an advanced devotee as described in the bhakti-sastra.

    The advantage of genuine varnashrama over other social systems is that it recognizes personal qualities or guna, rather than ambition or birthright, and assigns karma or work accordingly… In both ISKCON and in the west, one gets into a position of power and responsibility primarily through one’s ambitious drive, be it rationalized as “taking responsibility for Prabhupada” or “doing good for the country”. In ISKCON, as in western society, one is also elevated by a pleasing subservient attitude to those in positions of power and influence. As a result, saintly persons are without influence, and those with influence are not always saintly. The record of our leadership and its frailties and fall-downs provides ample evidence of this- at one stage even going so far as to cover up cases of child abuse (and some leaders even took part in it).

    But if position is given not as a favor, nor as a reward, but simply because one has proven that he has all the qualities of a leader, summed up in the requirement “he regards all citizens with the same affection and concern as his own family members” then you have a society with leaders who are fully involved, caring and affectionate- in other words, they are concerned with others’ welfare, much more than their own. When Arjuna could not relieve the distress of one of his subjects, he was prepared to enter fire. Ranti was prepared to cut off his flesh. The point is- saintly ksatriyas and brahmans will do anything to protect living entities from suffering bodily or mental anguish– the ksatriya through material means, the brahmana through spiritual insight. Both types of leader simply live for others. They are in the mood of the gopis- bring others to Krsna, rather than myself. If they are not so self-sacrificing, but are at least affectionate to cows, they may be vaisyas, but if their primary focus is their own welfare, they are given no responsibility- they can live happily and with all due respect and affection as valuable sudras. By organizing the society thus, people feel valued and cared for- this is varnashrama.

    Thus, genuine varnashrama can improve our society enormously, and attract westerners. Particularly in western society, as opposed to Indian society, people feel isolated from each other, depersonalized at their places of employment, and simply a “cog in the machine”. Loneliness has been described as “the western epidemic”. But if they come to the temple and are immediately embraced and made to feel part of the family, and after joining, they feel that they are valued and indispensable, that their welfare and happiness is of utmost importance to the leaders, that they are valued just for being themselves, and if they are not made to conform or display as Srila Prabhupada put it “showbottle spirituality” (a criticism he made of ISKCON) , if they are thus engaged and challenged according to their own unique individual natures, then how could they leave? If instead we kick out non-conformers, and replace them with imported Indian brahmacaris wanting to get permanent residence in the west, then we will not only lose the relevancy of Krsna consciousness in the west, we will have lost its efficacy, and its very essence.

    There is no point in getting all the puja done or even maintaining temples if the essence is lost, or the message in any way is lost or changed. We have a non-sectarian all-embracing philosophy, we just need a social vision to manifest it. Genuine varnashrama is based on the principle of valuing all equally, and within this equal respect to all, putting those who care the most about others into positions of leadership. It honors both equality and diversity in a way that other social systems can only dream of, because they have at their actual root, the dirty dollar, rhetorical constitutions notwithstanding. We have at our root, the esoteric principle that God accepts service only from those who consider themselves servants of the servants of the servants- that as Jesus put it, the lowest are actually the highest. Aspiring to serve all vaisnavas, regardless of rank, and having the same affection for all as one’s own family, is the all-attractive. non-dual essence of Krsna consciousness that is by nature all-attractive to all living entities, regardless of race, religion and so on.

    I wish Srila Acaryadeva all success in this vital mission. More about varnasrama’s relevance to it, can be read in my book “varnashrama, the eight-petalled lotus” which can be ordered by emailing me: niscala_dasi@yahoo.com.au

  3. Nari devi dasi

    Thank you so much, Maharaja, for your enthusiasm….. Srila Prabhupada’s process that he used for us will bring the best results…. Daily Harinama parties of humble, personal devotees for hours everyday along with book distribution…. When the devotees need a break in doing one of these activities, they can switch to the other pure activity of either chanting or distributing books. Back at the temple or preaching center, some devotees can be cooking maha prasadam offerings…..some can be cleaning and doing devotee laundry or other services. There should be numerous classes a day from Srila Prabhupada’s books. A van can stop and the devotees can hop in and have a short enlivening class then the devotees will remain enlivened and inspired and what they have learned is on the tip of their tongues for preaching. Small lunches can be brought out to the devotees. No one should feel forced or pressured to do any of these services. Everyone should be looked after and be engaged properly and so inspired. The devotees should feel protected. The “holy name” will give all of the strength. “Krsna Book” readings at night before resting is very important. Everyone should chant japa together after mongal arotika……No one goes out unless their japa is finished. More and more chanting and more and more classes….. Everyones’ hearts will be so pure. Just as Srila Prabhupada explained to us how to do things, this is how the movement spread so rapidly in the past. The yuga dharma is very important going on “as much as possible” along with glorification of Krsna “as much as possible”. When chanting lessened and classes lessened, maya took more of a hold….
    Srila Prabhupada has taught us to eventually be engaged in “Krsna’s” service 24 hours a day. We want to gratify Krsna’s mind, Krsna’s intelligence, Krsna’s senses…… Hare Krsna.

  4. Kishori devi dasi

    Great article! Unfortunately the UK yatra has fully sold out to the Hindu community. More or less all temples in the UK are now controlled by the Indian community. They are lost to ISKCON, the GBC has been bought off and the few Westerners remaining have been silenced and corrupted by large saleries. Book distribution has declined to almost zero and no new temples have been opened for more than a decade. In fact if any of the older devotees want to preach they are not allowed to do so within the present ISKCON framework. It is a very sad and depressing situation. In short, the Hindu takeover, Srila Prabhupada has warned us against, has been fully accomplished. Most devotees in the UK feel that the UK yatra has been irrevocably lost!

    • niscala

      just wanted to focus again on Kishori’s experience in the UK- this if the situation is as she says- then the mission to rid ISKCON of hinduization is extremely urgent. We don’t want every temple to end up like that. Yet in San Jose, the book distribution is thriving, in the Indian dominated congregation. The difference I think is not place of birth or ethnicity, but motivation. The San Jose Indians are respectful of older western devotees, they even have one as their guru, and thus not seeing according to the external dress, they can effectively reach out to westerners and give them knowledge. One has to realize the knowledge of transcendence, to give it effectively to others. But if someone considers himself superior because of his birth or ethnicity, he will lack the humility to change people’s hearts. There has to be some symptom, in the leaders, of equality of vision on the basis of external dress, or the worship of the diety will only be as good as pouring oblations into ashes, according to Kapiladeva- the worship will go on, but it will be fruitless. If older western devotees are, as she says either silenced or corrupted by high salaries, and if book distribution is almost zero, then there is some symptom of fruitless worship of the diety in the temple, for book distribution is the natural result of feeling ecstacy and wanting to share it with others.

      • Sikhi Mahiti das acbsp

        Dandavats!

        Niscala, again, thanks for speaking openly. Your statements are strong and could be interpreted as xenophobic : ). But, we can choose to see them as a sincere desire to elevate the Western people to Krsna Consciousness via our ISKCON centers.

        If I understand you correctly, you feel that Western people will not become members of our ISKCON centers because they don’t like to associate with what is perceived as Hindu culture. Also, it seems that the current management is Indians who bring their culture to ISKCON and thus discourage non-Hindus from participating because of the cultural differences.

        This argument could be applied to the fact that we don’t have a lot of African Americans also. They are not attracted to associating with White American culture. Does this mean that the white bodied devotees are the problem and need to change?

        The next argument is our Krsna Consciousness is not pure and therefore we can’t cross cultural boundaries and unite everyone under one temple. That could be true. When Srila Prabhupada was present, not many African Americans joined. I come from a mixture of all White culture in my childhood (birth to age 10) and all Black culture in my teens (10 – 17 yrs of age) of the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I remember as a teenager trying to get my black bodied friends to hear the philosophy of KC. They would dismiss it because they consider it a product of white culture. Not one friend would even visit me in the temple after I moved in the ashram in 1974. They considered me a traitor for abandoning black culture. This occurred during the period of the civil rights fight in America.

        We witness also that during Srila Prabhupada’s lila that Indians would not join the ashrams in the West or in India. The Indians in the West felt we were just hippies or not real Hindus. In India, the same mindset was there plus the idea that we were CIA members trying to take control of their country. Cultural differences again.

        Swarupa Damodar Swami told me if it wasn’t for his friend dragging him to the temple to see Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada’s preaching to him directly, he would not have surrendered to ISKCON. His first encounters with ISKCON was Western devotees performing street harinam. He dismissed them as hippies.

        So, purity is important. Can we become pure enough to merge the cultural differences in the world? Probably not. Lord Caitanya was able to turn the animals in the forest into Vaisnavas. He is God of course. We may be able to change a few of our culturally similar brethren (level of education, race, economic position, etc), but we may not be able to cross all cultural lines and change everyone. That is why book distribution is so powerful. It crosses all cultural divisions. Anyone can generally distribute a book to anyone if he is pure enough. And, we have witnessed it in the old book distribution days.

        Here is a story from my early ISKCON days as a bramacari on Radha Damodar bus party to highlight my point.

        I remember being dropped off in a town of people who hated blacks. My Radha Damodar sankirtan leader was not sensitive to racism. I could immediately see how the people were looking at me and I commented that maybe I shouldn’t distribute books here because the people here didn’t like black people. He told me I was lazy and didn’t want to distribute books and drove off.

        I had person after person threaten to harm me if they found me standing on the intersection when they return. On the bright side, I sold a few books because people were amazed that I, a black person, was selling books on the intersection of that town. Maybe this was Krsna’s arrangement for those few to get a book. They may not have purchased one from a white bodied devotee. But, feeling sorry for me or wanting to see what I was selling, they purchased one.

        Finally, the gas station owner across the street who was watching came over and dragged me off the intersection. He told me that he wasn’t going to let me stand out there and get hurt. He made me sit in his station until the sankirtan leader returned. When my sankirtan leader returned, he blasted for not distributing books and would not hear my arguments about the racism.

        The next day he drops me off in a mall parking lot in that same town. I was like a flashing beacon in the place, the only black person walking around to each car selling something. I was arrested and put in jail. I spent the night in jail and was convicted for solicitation without a permit. I still have that conviction on my record. It was brought to my attention during a job interview. I left Radha Damodar after that and returned to ISKCON Chicago.

        That sankirtan leader and I didn’t see each other again until 2005. That incident occurred in 1975. After the “haribols, where have you been all these years”, I again asked him about why he didn’t listen to me back then. He couldn’t talk about it and still didn’t understand what I was experiencing : ). We are friends and I don’t have any negative feelings towards him. This is the person who he is and he can’t relate to what I was talking about. He is a good devotee and has been a strict follower since the day he dropped me off in that racist town. I, on the other hand, crashed and burned in 1983 only to return with my tail between my legs in 1994.

        This just goes to show that becoming a devotee doesn’t mean that you will automatically become Saint Francis of Assisi, love and understand everyone and everyone loves you accordingly. Of course the Six Goswamis were dear to everyone and everyone was dear to them. On the contrast, look at what happened to Jesus Christ.

        In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with opening different centers in the various cultures of the world. Srila Prabhupada told Bhutabhavana prabhu, a black bodied devotee, in New York to go to Nairobi and preach. Bhutabhavan prabhu told me that Srila Prabhupada picked him because he had a black body. There were only a few in those days. He told him to preach to his people. It doesn’t mean that he can’t preach to anyone else. Or, that no else will listen to him.

        In pure Varnashram, we have culturally different groups. What unites them is that Krsna or Vedic culture is at the center. The variety of Varnashram is required. Just like we require hands, legs, belly, and head. Which do you like more and which is the best? As we become Krsna Consciousness, our false ego vanishes and we are happy to serve in our natural capacity. Or, if we are very fortunate, we can serve how Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga dictate.

        We should be thankful to the Hindus for saving ISKCON in the West. There would be no Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON Atlanta, or so many other Western temples if they did not join. What to do now that the Hindus have made our centers financially stable? Follow Vaisesika prabhus lead. Preach and influence whoever to follow your Krsna Consciousness lifestyle, whatever it maybe. We all don’t have to live the same. Start a Yoga center if you want. It’s all good : )

      • niscala

        Dear SM, Not sure what appeared xenophobic- I feel very comfortable with Indians and black people, but I know that if I was new, I would feel out of place in a temple full of Indians. I was never scared of them, though!
        I am sure others feel the same, so we do need to make it relevant for westerners, despite the fact that it appears- at least to outsiders- now to be an Indian religion. Since environmental, social and economic catastrophes are engulfing the planet, and concerning so many people in the west, self-sufficient communities such as envisioned by Prabhupada, need to be established to show how KC is relevant for our survival, not just spiritually, but ecologically, socially and economically as well. And that is what my book is about and why it was written. And all of what Nari has said is very good and appropriate, as well, for the spiritual practice must be there. I am not disagreeing with you Nari! Self-sufficeint communities without a sense of KC can give only temporary benefits, and even they are limited, because unless one has spiritual vision, there will necessarily be friction on the basis of conflicting personal interest, and the projects will not last. But translating the philosophy into a social dynamic that reflects it, and at the same time showing its relevancy to those who are ecologically, socially and economically afflicted is necessary to make it more universal. These are the concerns of the 21st century- whereas the fascination of the 60’s and 70’s was meditation and all things Eastern.

    • This is the first time in my 10 years in the UK that I’ve heard anyone put it so clearly. Kishori, get on twitter, get yourself a blog, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Talk about this, I think people need to know.

  5. Ken

    I offer my humble obeisances to Hridayananda das Goswami Maharaj for His Holiness’ new year greeting, and to the four *posters* who have thoughtfully shared their realizations in response. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    HDG Maharaja can always be counted-on for a thought-provoking piece. And where there is Mother Niscala there is sure to be intelligent provocation. While mental speculation is generally shunned within our *society*, there is something to be said for the use of good intellect in a movement that grows increasingly void of it. More important and on-point with these posts, it is a movement devoid of Srila Prabhupada’s original passion, instructions and envisagement. I have only to attend another Diwali Annakuta Mahotsava at my local angrese mandir to know there is a giant rubble of Hindu hodge-podge where there used to be a Govardhana Celebration (at what was known as my local ISKCON Center, btw.)

    I came to ISKCON in 1970 and left lock, stock, and barrel after Srila Prabhupad disappeared in 1977 — never to look back as much as ONCE — so I could pursue university life replete with sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. I was dumbfounded 20 years later when the bhakti creeper beckoned me to return out of the blue. In fact, I am still in shock when I attend what Srila Prabhupada called the Sunday Love Feast and I am among the VERY few (devotees or congregation) in a Western body. And when did Hare Rama become Hare RAMOH? And where did all those beautiful, smiling book distributors go? Did they go out to an airport on harinam sankirtan one day and just not come back? And when did Prabhupad’s two-step become a frenzied, dervish competition that could hardly be perceived as “dancing for the pleasure of the Lord?”

    I could go on and on…but I won’t. It smacks of wistful sentimentalism. I wish His Holiness well on his New Year inspiration. The Western world could use some intelligence and good inspiration. Haribol!

  6. NISCALA

    very thoughtful posts!

    To Nara DD- your vision is wonderful, but to generate that kind of enthusiasm, one must make ISKCON a positive alternative. Otherwise people who receive the books may come to the temple, or even join the temple, and then after a few years leave, as so many do. Srila Prabhupada, as well as wanting books going out, wanted to stop the exodus. In his varnashrama discussions he focused on this- why so many leave, why so many do not join…many devotees cannot follow the brahminical standards of the temple, therefore varnashrama communities must be there, to cater for all types, because after receiving the books, which is the birth of sraddha, then sadhu sanga and opportunity for bhajana kriya through one’s work being dovetailed 24/7 makes one fixed up, joyful, feeling that one belongs and therefore unlikely ever to leave.

    To Ken, welcome back, we need your realizations from the time capsule you entered, the reminders of how things were. Otherwise we may see it all as normal, this hinduization of ISKCON, as we have become so used to it. Even if we ourselves have started to feel completely at home in a temple full of Indians, 1) non-Indian newcomers may not, 2) Indians may unconsciously stress cultural aspects over Krsna consciousness, or may even not know the difference, and 3) the universality of Krsna consciousness may be eclipsed by the sheer numbers of Indian born devotees inadvertently bringing along their cultural conditioning.
    BTW at what stage did the Sunday Love feast become the Sunday Feast?

    • Ken

      Good question, Mother Niscala. Your guess is far better than mine. I was likely lying face down in a ditch, selfishly but unconsciously awaiting Krsna’s mercy, whilst hordes of Hindus were buying their way into ISKCON’s good graces — forever delivering them from the pain of airport distribution. So my guess is that Love was dropped about the same time as Rama became RAMOH. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

  7. Pusta Krishna das

    Hearing the despair of Western bhaktas regarding the influx of Indian bhaktas, I think we have to see that there are many permutations to what is taking place. In our local San Jose Iskcon Temple (Iskcon of the Silicon Valley), I gave the talk yesterday to an enthusiastic congregation of over 100 Indians or all ages. This group, inspired as they are by Vaisesika Prabhu, are fully engaged in book distribution. Since early December 2010 to the present (early January, 2011), this congregation of “Indian bhaktas” have distributed nearly 30,000 of Srila Prabhupad’s books. They regularly go on street sankirtan in Palo Alto, and their children are enthusiastic and educated in Krishna consciousness, proudly memorizing and quoting slokas beyond what most of us can do. It is a very promising congregation…and whether they have Western or Indian bodies, it is irrelevant. We are starting another program soon called the Bhaktivedanta Forums, and other community preaching programs are already in place.
    We can attribute this to the effective guardianship of Vaisesika Prabhu who is a dedicated book distributor and sankirtan devotee for the past nearly 40 years. It really is a question of leadership. So you must not think in one dimensional terms when you speak of Indian communities in the west embracing Krishna consciousness. They love Srila Prabhupad, and they love the Dieties of Sriman Mahaprabhu, and Sri Sri Radha MadonaMohana. We teach that people have to get beyond the “skin disease” of materialistic conditioning. We must also practice this and see what Krishna’s plan is. After all, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu encouraged that those who took birth in India have a special responsibility to teach Krishna consciousness to others. I would venture to say that while many of us westerners chose to leave devotee association and re-pursue their material life, it is much more likely that the Indian devotees will be more steadfast and reliable to stick with Krishna. We have something to learn from them…we have many things to learn from them, and they never appear to be envious when we westerners try to teach them something about Krishna consciousness. These are marvelous qualities that I recognize and respect. Pusta Krishna das

    • Ken

      This is a very fair statement, Pusta Krishna, and I accept the subtle “correction” I am handed in this regard. If we are not this body, then the skin in attendance should not matter. It is more important that the jiva accepts the instruction, and that the behavior (and sadhana) follows accordingly. While I suppose I am admittedly wistful for the more “innocent” and unfettered ISKCON of years-gone-by, I must learn to dwell in the present and make appropriate adaptation for time, place and circumstance 😉 Thank you. Hare Krishna.

  8. Sikhi Mahiti das acbsp

    Happy New Year!

    Dandavats at the feet of all the Vaisnavas.

    I feel inspired by HH Hridayananda Maharaja’s (HDG) New Year’s message of inspiration. It is also inspiring to hear HG Pusta Krsna prabhus thoughts and comments along with the brave open comments made by the other devotees. Sometimes we want to protect our ego by being “politically correct” in public and thus we don’t contribute fully to public discussions. Thank you all for speaking publicly.

    My thoughts are that the methods and details of how to attract the general masses to Krsna are not “black and white”. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Swami Prabhupada was a very strict vaisnava but he targeted the upper class of Indian society with radical methods. He reestablished sannyasa, he had opulent maths (the first had a tennis court), he wore shoes and western dress on occasion, and the math even owned an automobile. To own a car in India at that time would be equivalent to owning a helicopter nowadays. And, this was done by a group of individuals who society expected to live in poverty. But, for preaching this was done. This example was given by HDG in a class in Atlanta a few years ago.

    So, how to attract each unique community to Krsna is not an exact method based on externals. It is based on a genuine desire to please Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga, “purity is the force”. If we are pure, then we will be able to use so called unorthodox preaching methods. If we are not, we maybe simply facilitating our material desires in the name of preaching. We can judge the preaching methods by the results.

    What are we producing? People who follow the Krsna Conscious principles or a lot of loose followers? And, are we ourselves become more enthused to use everything for Guru and Gauranga or are we struggling with the allure of the material energy.

    These are the the struggles vaisnavas have to endure. And, we have to take risks for the sake of preaching. I put the dust of the feet of those devotees who take those risk on my head. All of them are glories who try whether they succeed or fail. We are at war with the material energy.

    I feel creative leeway is allowed for senior devotees. But, it is safer to follow the previous achraya and protect our devotional creeper. It is more important to save our self. Then, our purity will have a greater effect.

    ys,
    Sikhi Mahiti das (Not the Sikhi from South Africa : ) )

  9. Nari devi dasi

    My most humble obeisances, Maharaja. My most humble obeisances to all of the contributors Niscala, Kishori, Pusta Krishna, Ken and Sikhi Mahiti and readers also…. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada and all of His Previous Acaryas and Pure Followers …
    Since this is Kaliyuga and Maya is a pure devotee of Krsna, we should not be surprised when corruption sets in, Kishori, especially when the devotees are making inroads into Maya’s territory. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to remain so fixed and one pointed. Failure is not in the failure itself but when we give up. Pray so intently for help and have patience. It has happened here to us also and it took 7 years but things are looking up.🙂
    If a more advanced or a pure devotee is doing the cooking for the devotees, the prasadam offering will have that much more potency…..(innoculation against the material energy.) If there is enough hearing and chanting going on about “Krsna” this will be protection “also”. (Not so many new devotees will leave, Niscala) Everyone wants to hear and chant about themselves or grumya katha about others, but, “What about “Krsna”? To hear and chant about a pure devotee is different because the pure devotee is “Krsna conscious”….. They try to engage others as much as possible in service to Krsna…… I would not be so qualified to do this because I am not very knowledgeable like Maharaja, Niscala and Ken and other devotees, but to engage new peoples’ propensities in the loving mood of using everything purely in Krsna’s service, we know is so important. Srila Prabhupada wanted a society of Brahmanas and the varnashram system may bring some devotees who strictly follow “very quick” elevation to brahminical standards so that should not be kept in a box and frustrated……
    We all need to try and develop a loving mood in everything we do and to keep Krsna always in the center “literally”…. if leaders of centers want to make devotees and keep them.
    Srila Prabhupada started ISKCON by His Pure Chanting……we must not forget the Importance of “The Holy Name”….. It is the Yuga Dharma…..All of the other 8 limbs of “Bhakti” must be accompanied by “The Chanting of the “Hare Krsna Maha Mantra” to have effect in Kali Yuga. Srila Prabhupada said “Chant, Dance, Take Prasadam, Be Happy and Do a Little Service”……This is Fun….. Things do not have to be so complicated……
    Everyone should be engaged according to their perpensity……No one should be “pressured” to do a certain service. A good manager will gear the temple around the types of services that his man-power can do rather than making devotees engage in activities that are not their nature…… Srila Prabhupada did say that a more advanced devotee will do the needful but new devotees should not feel forced.
    Jnana is a “limb” of bhakti. A pure devotee is not necessarily the most learned but is definitely the most qualified. Bhakti is devotional service. It does not matter what service you do for Krsna but it has to be done with so much love and affection, Srila Prabhupada taught us about love and devotion. If one loves Krsna, he loves all of Krsna’s parts and parcels also so we have to have such a warm and loving atmosphere at the preaching centers and temples….
    Pusta Krishna is very fortunate to be serving in such a fired up Krsna conscious atmosphere. It sounds like some of the temples I have served in in the past. You are very fortunate.
    I agree with Sikhi Mahiti Prabhu that just like on an airplane, we put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we help others……. We are not the doers, it is the modes of nature at work. It is important that we are doing our own bhajan…..or all is lost….
    Thank you Maharaja for your association. Please forgive my faults. Haribolo.

  10. NISCALA

    Nicely said, Nari! Of course, Krsna must be in the centre, but He is not just in the chanting, in the temple, but also in the heart. Hey, we know that don’t we? The teachers at the Vrindavan and Mayapura and Dallas gurukulas also “knew” it. There is a difference between knowing it as theory and practice, and we can identify those who know it more than in theory, by how they treat those under them. So my point being- if Krsna is actually in the centre, there will be love and respect for all, regardless of rank. Respect means that people are listened to, not just instructed. It is devoid of judgment, and then people can reveal their mind in confidence. This simple dynamic will make ISKCON very appealing and relevant to the western mind, which is so full of anxiety about what others think of them. It is so common to find self-righteousness and judgmentalism in the religious. Let ISKCON be a shelter from that.
    BTW, I haven’t heard that jnana is a limb of bhakti. Did you read that somewhere? I have heard that bhakti mixed with jnana or karma is not pure. Yet both karma and jnana can be used in devotional service. Then they are called karma yoga and jnana yoga respectively and are not contaminants to bhakti. Desire for knowledge or the fruits of action without an intent to use it in devotional service, is entangling. If one desires both jnana or karma AND bhakti, it is mixed,and cannot lead one to the goal, but if one desires only bhakti and uses karma and jnana to that end- in devotional service, then they are as good as direct devotional service and can certainly lead one to love of God. If this is one’s intention, then desire for karma and jnana does not lead to mixed devotional service. Thats my take on it. Because the second chapter of the gita is entitled- Karma yoga-action in Krsna consciousness and in the purports Prabhupada practically equates karma yoga and bhakti- what is bhakti other than action in Krsna consciousness?

  11. Mahaksa Das (ACBSP-UK)

    When I joined ISKCON in Vrindavan in 1974 the temple was mostly run by Commonwealth devotees who could all stay indefinetely at the time without visas. There were very few Indian devotees…maybe 5 max. At that point we could get big vaishnava industrialists like marwaris to donate, but none would catually join. Best thing about ISKCON in those days was it was an entirely transcendental movement with Prabhupada constantly stressing we were not hindus. Topmost thing was that though we had a GBC we had a personal King over it – Prabhupada, who could change at a moments notice any law that the GB enacted in response to real human conditions on the ground. That ws entirely the way I liked ISKCON. After Prabhupada left our vision the amangement style changed to democracy but with some kind of oligarchy controling ISKCON at the top and hanging on to power. The result was quite a lot of decisions that were didgy, politically motivated, ducking and diving. Many older Prabhupada disciples lost complete faith in the GBC to make good decisions whilst still in my case respecting many on a personal level. the other change was that we threw in our lot with the powerful hindu lobby especiially in UK and India but elswhere it crept in..hindu orthodoxy. Personally it was not the direction at all I thought ISKCON should move to make none Indian origin devotees around the world although it seemed to work in very rigid russian society. t certainly didn’t work in advanced western cultures. Personally I would have made the movement more liberal for those people and more in tune with modern culture. Overemphasis on seperation of the sexes as in Indian traditional culture did not go down at all well with modern people. Keeping women all bundled up and hidden away..very medieval..not in tune with the times.
    Of course there has been a lot to be gained by getting so many Hindus behind ISKCON. But we lost something essential. the temples became radically changed with lots of paid workers in many countries and in India ‘Heaven on Earth’ at 2 laqs entry seemed all about buttering up to the rich and also not in tune with the common man..bit elitist and too political. I applaud Hrydayanada Maharaja’s attempt to address these issues.
    Love and appreciation anyway to all devotees of Sri Krishna.
    YS Mahaksa das (ACBSP_UK)

  12. Giridhari Das

    Hridayananda Maharaja has asked me to thank all of you who have left a comment. He wrote: “I read their posts and thank them for their kind words, and inspiring devotion.”
    Your servant,
    Giridhari Das

  13. Visakha dd

    I just found this blog, full of enlivenment!
    Thank you prabhus!

  14. Nari devi dasi

    My most humble obeisances to You, Maharaja, and all of the devotees.
    Niscala, obeisances to you, most certainly Krsna is not just in the temples and not just in His Holy Name. Krsna IS in the hearts of ALL living entities. Kirtan HELPS every living entity. We are not being partial, but acting as Krsna’s servants, He is not partial as stated in the “Bhagavad Gita”. This is the golden age of Lord Chaitanya’s samkirtan movement. In the old days we had so much fun doing service because we were becoming so purified with all of the Harinama samkirtan, daily and so many classes daily….. When all of this stopped, maya’s coverings increased.
    Just like on an airplane we are told to put the oxygen mask on ourselves, first before helping others, as aspiring devotees we all need to be sure we are getting innoculated enough against the material energy so that we can be enthusiastic enough to give Krsna to others and stay around without getting burned out and leaving…… If Srila Prabhupada’s program is followed with enough reading and study time and everyone is treated with honor and respect and encouraged to discuss their realizations in a loving and peaceful atmosphere, Krsna consciousness can be maintained. Srila Prabhupada did not just give us vaidhi bhakti, this bhakti it is laced with Raga. Srila Prabhupada gave us even from the beginning in the introduction of the Bhagavad Gita that we can have a relationship with Krsna in any of 5 different rasas. In the “Nectar of Devotion” even in the very beginning we are hearing that we should develop a relationship and follow in the footsteps of one of the Vrajabasis an eternal associate of Krsna. The translation of Gauranga Bolite Habe, in the song book that Srila Prabhupada gave is “When will I follow the teachings of the 6 Goswamis?”
    Regarding jnana being a limb of bhakti:
    In the “Madhurya Kadambini” by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, The First Nectar Shower it states:
    The all-powerful Lord Himself, by becoming Upendra (the younger brother of Indra), made Indra His superior and then gave him full support. Highly learned souls have realized that this showed His unsurpassed mercy, rather than His inferior position. In the same way, if jnana sometimes appears to take a superior position to bhakti, it is only because bhakti is mercifully playing the role of its assistant….. Bhakti, though transcendental and supremely independent, accepts the material mode of goodness (sattviki-bhakti) and becomes a limb of jnana to give support to jnana. This is the understanding of wise men.

    Srila Prabhupada has given us so much.
    I pray to Radha Krsna to help me to please Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnavas and I pray to Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnavas to help me please Radha Krsna….Haribolo.

  15. Hare Krishna to all prabhus and matajis, pranams.
    I certainly appreciate HH Hridayananda’s intended line of action for 2011. A devotee is always looking forward preaching duties. And devotees become enlivened by such enthusiasm.

    In order for our movement to be successful at all levels we need as many participating devotees who are situated on to the spiritual platform as possible. On an individual basis, if we are to pick up the challenge of making ISKCON sucessful, we must take very seriously the practice of KC as thaught by Srila Prabhupada. When Srila Prabhupada’s teachings have been enough taken seriously on individual basis, then the desired impact will be there. There is no magical formula based on external endeavors alone. No statistics based on externals can match with an individual’s purity of purpose, of mind, of consciousness. We need devotees who live the teachings internally. And realizing by how much they are benefited by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, they will naturally want to share it with others without consideration for bodily designations. Spreading KC is on the level of soul to soul relationship as a consequence of knowing one’s relationship with all souls because of knowing one’s and all other souls’ relationship with the Supreme Soul. These are basic teachings of Sri Isopanisad. I strongly urge devotees to go back to study most carefully the Sri Isopanisad. This is a grass-root book, and there is enough spiritual knowledge within that small book to uplift one to the spiritual platform. Purity is the force. Without purity, our preaching cannot be effective. A devotee has to do one’s share into making ISKCON sucessful by adhering to and practicing the teachings of spiritual life, perfectly transmitted through the parampara system. The success of ISKCON begins within our own heart first, and then the world is the next place to make it successful. Let’s never forget this order of priority. But KC is so nice that by trying to be Krishna conscious and preaching it to others, this very endeavor alone is good enough on a long-term basis to make one successful within and without. All glories to the sankirtan movement and to Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful rendition of Sri Isopanisad! God knows how many devotees have been made through reading this wonderful book! Let us read it, assimilate it for our own upliftment and we will all be better active devotees on this earth. The key to success is right there! Our success can be gauged on the basis of how well we have made the teachings of Sri Isopanisad part of our daily perception of life, especially mantra 7. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

  16. niscala

    Prabhava Vigraha prabhu,
    your so right that we need to live the teachings internally, not just individually but as a society. We do need to make ISKCON relevant for westerners, but there are so many western devotees who are excluded from it, because we haven’t internalized the teaching that ISKCON is a non-sectarian movement, that breaks down barriers between people. Including these western devotees in our movement despite their different understanding and faith, or at least letting them attend temple functions and do service, is the realized knowledge of non-sectarian vision, translated into practical action. It is hypocritical to distribute books that claim KC is non-sectarian and yet the KC movement is sectarian in practice:
    http://www.chakra.org/discussions2/PersonalJan09_11.html
    http://www.chakra.org/discussions2/succMay31_10.html

    • Hare Krishna Niscala,

      Thanks for your comment. I am saddened by reading some descriptions of “negatives” going on due to, once again, I would say, to ignorance or effects of the bodily concept of life.

      In any case, what are we to think? There are a lots of things going on in the material world where nobody is properly treated. This is the very nature of living in a place where everyone identifies with their body and do not know how to appreciate anybody else as a spiritual spark, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Like Srila Prabhupada said, in this place everyone is crazy. This is a place for suffering. As long as one does not make it a point in one’s life to rise above material designations, then one will still be subjected to the roller-coster of material life in joyful ignorance. Is this the kind of life that we want, really? Devotees are devotees, and not all are on the same level. Why? Because of different levels in their surrender to the Supreme. But Srila Prabhupada has given us the matchless science of Krishna Consciousness for us to “try to understand”. These are the words that Srila Prabhupada used a lot especially in the sixties: “Try to understand”.

      But some forty-five years down the road, what kind of reason may we still have if we are still “trying to understand” the very words of Srila Prabhupada? What will make the difference if some fortunate soul, devotee, will have understood properly Srila Prabhupada’s teachings? The answer has been given by Srila Prabhupada in so many places in his books or his conversations or lectures: yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau…. Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed. Srila Prabhupada is not ordinary spiritual master and devotee. It is our choice to stick faithfully to his service and teachings and reap the desired results. The choice is ours too to “look around” at the price of neglecting our spiritual father. There are consequences for that. It is not all the same —yatha path tatha path—, as some impersonalists would say. No. Through the years, remaining faithful to Srila Prabhupada, understanding the mechanics internal to ISKCON, how everyone is subordinate and will ever remain subordinate to him in ISKCON, and to never lose sight of this eternal internal perfect setup, to see how nothing and no one can offset his position as founder-acharya, for the simple truth is that everything and everyone claiming or aspiring to be a disciple of his, is simply meant to offer their respective service and existence at his lotus feet according to the principle of parampara system, without any pretention, in a humble honnest mood. It is simple and sublime. When one truly accept this order of things, then there is harmony and blissful spiritual life. There is serenity, light, absence of illusion and lamentation. Because the representative of Krishna, the true center of life is respected as he must be respected. With faith and loyalty. There is no substitute for an individual devotee’s faith and loyalty to Srila Prabhupada, when Srila Prabhupada’s unique position as the founder-acharya of ISKCON is properly understood. It is an irrevocable fact. Srila Prabhupada built a house in which the whole world can live. It is up to us to pray and keep on praying to see and to appreciate the inner workings of that sublime house. Actually, this is Krishna’s house, the kingdom of God with God in the center and His bona fide representative at whose feet all other masters sit. The second generation disciples are meant to be educated in this broad vision as well. The future of ISKCON is in establishing this truth that everyone is situated in disciplic sucession on the map at whose centre there is Srila Prabhupada. One is simply directly or indirectly a servant of the servant of the servant of Srila Prabhupada. No envy is therein necessary because this is the place of dharma-projjita kaitava ‘tra for thoroughly honest and pious men.

      Yes everyone is free to think whatever they want about ISKCON, whether they stay or leave, but one has to judge by the results. Look at all externals if you want and don’t forget to look within for a change. Are we truly at peace and serene knowing that we are threading under expert guidance the right path leading us back home, back to the kingdom of God without the embarassment of any doubt? In the meantime, we will try our very best to do good to others as instructed by Srila Prabhupada and all previous acharyas. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

    • Niscala mataji, pranams. Please allow me to humbly submit one more comment to your attention.

      I read both of your articles located at cakra’s. On the whole they are well intended and liberal enough so a reader can understand that the author is open minded, sincere and honest. That is alright, but there is a shortcoming to this liberality when taking into account other individuals who don’t see beyond their immediate interests instead of seeing an institution’s interest deserving protection and expansion as foreseen by its respective founder. There is enough room under sun so everyone can be accommodated. There is a way of respect for all into existence that has to be there. But many if not most people lack such vision.

      Therefore there is a problem with too much liberality when it is taken advantage of by zealous individuals who couldn’t care less about this liberality because they are on a steady basis being moved in terms of dualities (Bg. 7.27). If you read carefully Srila Prabhupada’s purport, it is pretty obvious that there may be a lot of persons situated at that level. This is the level that unexperienced devotees have over time to rise above. Only then, there can be open doors, and taking into account that everyone coming in is above dualities, everyone will respect each other, and will not try to pull anybody out from anywhere. But that won’t happen overnight because even after years and years, many individuals remain selfish, self-interested, narrow-minded even though in the garb of spiritual outfits. Therefore, it is better for most people to remain in instituted delimited organizations. They may find therein what they need for the time being, and if need be, they may move somewhere else when they are no more satisfied, being in need for something more. (But if they come to ISKCON, this is a preliminary entrance door to the spiritual world, once going there, there is no need to come back or look anywhere else. It is param gati, param dhama. It is authorized by the acharyas.)

      For the purpose of preaching KC, there has to be some homogeneity of purpose and cooperation. ISKCON has its history and culture. The same applies to other institutions. It is part of the spiritual varigatedness. Yes, everyone would like blended unity, but that is at the price of sacrificing anybody else’s pre-existing values and setups. It won’t happen. The varigatedness exists, it is allowed to exist by the Supreme Lord because He satisfies everyone’s desires. But overall, the whole display is under His inconceivable control and perfect plan allowing anyone and everyone to move from one experience in life to another in order to come ultimately to understand KC as it is. It is a very long and patient process because it takes time for conditioned souls to come to the understanding of surrender wholeheartedly to the Lord in truth and freedom. If they are not to be convinced one way, it will have to be another way.

      In the meantime, we are to practice our individual sadhana and, while at it, if need be, learn to be satisfied. Learn to be a mahatma internally and drop the duratma mentality that we’ve been attached to for so long. We acknowledge that we do need association for our own progress. We don’t need however to be “cancala” (restless), to look at this or that, who is teaching this better about this or that. That is a waste of time and energy. One time in New Mayapur, there was a devotee of muslim background at the time — who did not stay very long, but at least he was present at the time of Srila Prabhupada’s visit— when Srila Prabhupada came to visit in 1976. On a walk, he could monopolize SP’s attention and did ask about 5-6 questions in a row, all describing or hinting at different approaches in Christianity, Islam and KC. And then Srila Prabhupada put an end to the discussion by saying: “what is the use of so many questions? Better to follow one path, but to follow it perfectly. As long as the goal is attained, that is wanted: love of God.”

      I was thinking of an analogy that I could give you. Here goes. Let’s say that you gather all the main CEOs of the car industry in one room. Then taken for granted that they agree, you ask them that they will have to produce one car cooperatively and for free on top of that. Can you picture the challenge? Immediately the cultural attachments will surface. One will say that he would like to proceed that way or that way. And another will say, “but we are used to do things this way or that way”. As long as this one or that one remains attached to “their way”, progress will remain hindered and nothing will really get done. Therefore, those who are more intelligent, who can see that cooperation is needed and that only the end result counts, will sacrifice or give up unnecessary attachment to do things “their way” in order to get the job done: producing one car cooperatively. It is simple and easy to understand, isn’t it? The same applies to spiritual circles. The same applies to ISKCON within ISKCON, to ISKCON and other institutions. One temple may do things one way a little different than another. But it is the end result of Krishna being satisfied that counts. One cannot be impersonal and have no way of doing things. There will always be a personal way of doing things. The manners and varigated creative approaches cannot be stopped, that is life. Living entities are not machines and cannot refrain from acting not even for a moment. When one can see throughout that the Lord is giving intelligence and facility to satisfy everyone’s desire, you may find the unity in diversity. Om purnam adah purnam idam… so many perfect units coming from the Complete and Perfect Whole…. all the way up to… yathatathyato ‘rthan vyadadhac chasvatibhyah samabhyah, the self-sufficient philosopher who has been fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial (Sri Isopanisad, mantras 1 and 8). Our transcendental pleasure is to understand how the Lord works for the peace of all sentient beings. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

      • niscala

        You mention that the problem is with people seeing in terms of duality… this “kanishta mentality” was described by Srila Prabhupada as the consciousness of “us” and “them” – and it is a problem that is as prevalent inside ISKCON as outside it. The solution is not to eject individuals with the contaminated mindset, or one would be left with hardly a handful of devotees the world over, the solution is to expose the fallacy… it is as simple as that.

        One can hardly expose it, when one is contaminated oneself by this mentality…Identifying with one’s group and jumping to its defense even when truthful and essential criticism is offered, trying to protect devotees from leaving it, and condemning those that do leave, without being interested in their reasons, always assuming that other groups are enemies, envious, or at least competition, are all symptoms that one is identifying with one’s group as an extension of false ego. KC is non-sectarian and cuts across all such barriers, but not all in the KC movement are KC! It has never really been stressed– just distributing literature about it, while we act in completely sectarian ways ourselves. Let us clean up our own act rather than point the finger, cultivate the compassionate view of not excluding anyone from the progressive science of KC,and clarifying for those in subtle delusions of grandeur such as sahajiyas, the error of their convictions, on the basis of guru, sadhu and sastra, instruction coming down in parampara. Then if they remain attached, they will exclude themselves from our association, but we may, like Lord Nityananda, go with a straw in our mouths to beg at their doors that they return…My God, how far we have strayed from His example! The transcendental brothers acted kindly, even to monists, deconstructing their arguments and winning them over by their excellent transcendental qualities, not through forbidding them to associate or come to vaisnava temples, but giving association to them, with great kindness and respect. Returning to the original theme, the inclusion of all the western-bodied excommunicates, will immediately render ISKCON more relevant to westerners, as the common man identifies with his body and seeing a temple full of Indians only, is certainly apt to conclude it is not something for a westerner to get involved with- it is irrelevant and mostly for Indian ex-patriots. It is not, of course, but is perceived in that way.

      • Hare Krishna, Niscala. Pranams,

        You wrote:
        “One can hardly expose it, when one is contaminated oneself by this mentality…Identifying with one’s group and jumping to its defense even when truthful and essential criticism is offered, trying to protect devotees from leaving it, and condemning those that do leave, without being interested in their reasons, always assuming that other groups are enemies, envious, or at least competition, are all symptoms that one is identifying with one’s group as an extension of false ego.”

        I would like to express a nuanced opinion with the last bit of the above statement “…one is identifying with one’s group as an extension of false ego”. Here is a different point of view that I present to your attention. It is our duty as Srila Prabhupada disciples to have at heart his interests and —to be specific— the management of his properties, collectively taken as ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada may not be present physically, but for a disciple he nonetheless continues to consider that anything related to ISKCON belongs to Srila Prabhupada as if Srila Prabhupada would have never departed.

        As disciples, we don’t consider that we have anything personal to fight for with anybody because we have surrendered everything including our very beings at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. On that basis, It is a subject for lamentation and concern if a disciple sees some individuals abusing, or lacking care for Srila Prabhupada’s institution. I believe that this does not belong to the jurisdiction of false ego. It is a symptom of sincere attachment to one’s spiritual master. On that basis, one acts as a matter of duty. The duty to maintain Srila Prabhupada’s institution at least if not also to expand it if possible. And such duty because not being whimsical is sustainable and spirtually rewarding.

        My point of view is that we may try to preach to so many conditioned souls coming in contact with Srila Prabhupada’s institution, which is the same somehow or other, as coming in contact spiritually speaking, with Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic sucession, the manifestation of Lord Caitanya’s mercy in this age. We may try to imbibe someone with the spirit of service to Krishna and with a little time to Srila Prabhupada’s mission. On that basis we feel dejected if we see anyone leaving, meaning putting aside the opportunity of KC that he or she has been offered through ISKCON. We may try to convince someone not to leave the institution or, the other way around, into coming back to KC FOR THE SAKE OF SRILA PRABHUPADA and his mission for which and to whom we should feel so much endebted. And this is a matter of consciousness, of awareness, of awakened love within one’s heart. On that basis, a devotee acts and speaks from the heart of a devotee to another existing — or potential — devotee. There are no false power trips related to false ego.

        This is not on the same level as with identifying with one’s group or defending it, and entering into blackmailing other groups with this or that., culprit hunting, etc., etc. I would agree on for the different unfortunate scenarios you have outlined. It is as well an easy and superficial way of excluding oneself from any responsibility on one’s part if things did not turn out so well in the respective areas as mentioned above. Anyway, God knows what is what in such situations and who is sincere or not. And whichever parties involved will always have some lessons to learn through it.

        ___________________

        Besides that,you are very right: “One can hardly expose it, when one is contaminated oneself by this mentality…” It is obviously not cheap neither that easy to rise above the dualities of material life. It requires a lot of devotion and sincere praying to get there. But by Krishna’s grace and guru’s grace we have sometimes some break-aways here and there so we can begin understand such subjugation and the process of release from it too. We have to remain humble about it and remain thankful to the Lord to give us such mercy, and if we are so blessed, by humbly distributing our meek understanding to whomever we deem will benefit from it in a mood of sheer genuine loving intended service. Your humble servant.

  17. Tribhangananda das

    Hare Krishna and many dandavats to you all. Definitely all glories to Srila Prabhupada! What wonderful vision he has.

    I read the articles with great interest as I share the concern that we have to present Krishna Consciousness very much to all the local people. Sorry for coming in so late to the discussion, but I don’t often log on to dandavats.com, but maybe this will now change🙂

    Through all this discussion, the prime focus Prabhupada gave us was to encourage and be encouraged to practice bhakti-yoga. I happen to live in the UK and chair the Manchester temple, where, true to form, we have a thriving (but by no means exclusively) Indian-bodied congregation. I confess I’m not on a giant salary (sorry!) and neither am I sold out to preaching and promoting anything other than what Prabhupada gave us in his wonderful books, society and devotional practices.

    What we may see as obstacles are also, in fact, opportunities. Opportunities to encourage the development of the congregation to become thoroughly conversant with the above and become expert in promoting these to the western world – not just to the “soft target” other Indian-bodied 2-legged carbon-based life forms who pass as human beings, as we know from Prabhupada’s teachings that to become actually human there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

    If these multitudes of congregation can just become trained up to preach to westerners, then we have the makings of a massive preaching force. Frequently they just lack the confidence to do this, but I’m glad to say not all suffer from this.(I actually met some who do this yesterday at Bhaktivedanta Manor!) True, those who do have such confidence are yet in a serious minority, but this is where we can really score with engaging the locals in programmes like book, holy name & prasadam distribution and helping them develop, simultaneously helping ourselves.

    There must be outreach to spread Krishna consciousness, as well as in-reach and training, and Krishna must have sent all these people for a reason. So the way I see it is we have now to get on with the job of training and engaging everyone He sends to work as productively as possible to transcend practically these designations and develop the skill-sets to preach to all and sundry.

    Your humble servant, Tribhangananda das (ACBSP)

    • Hare Krishna, Tribhangananda. PAMHO and AGTSP.

      Thanks for your nice comment. I would like to add that there is plenty of opportunity for senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada to take up the responsibility for preaching to devotees within ISKCON in order to share experience, knowledge and realizations. It is a question of desire to do so. Younger devotees and new comers will appreciate such endeavor. This preaching targeted at preaching and sharing with devotees is essential for all kinds of devotees, old and young. It is so much rejuvenating. It is a sublime aspect of the sankirtan movement that should be encouraged internally to the movement. It gives everyone a chance to taste and share the nectar of krishna-katha. It makes everyone realize how everyone may have so many nice realizations also. It makes everyone desire to improve in KC and to look forward for such support of other devotees and encouragement. This is wanted. The reality then of loving exchanges between devotees becomes in practical terms revealed in this way. The association of devotees is very much relishable and it turns out that this is the only association that we can turn to in order to make our mind our best of friend. Otherwise there is no other association as favorable that one can afford in the material world. It is all based on desire to make it happen. This is a sure way to brake mundane barriers as well. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

    • niscala

      Dear prabhus,
      To make ISKCON relevant to westerners is not necessarily accomplished by us overcoming our designations- certainly we already go out and preach to all and sundry. But those whom we are preaching to, need to see its relevance for what is important to them- our preaching needs to be adjusted for the concerns of the 21st century western mind, it needs to have a different emphasis compared to the preaching of the 60’s and 70’s where people were fascinated by the east, and just to mention the word “yoga” was enough to get their full attention. Concerns of the 21st century centre around economic and environmental concerns, as there is a global crisis in both spheres. Showing the relevance of KC to these concerns and how it offers a solution to both, will certainly capture the attention of the western mind. If instead they go to the temple, and find a little India there, replete with ancient samskaras, and plenty of Indian sounding words and clothes and insignia, they may be charmed, but not see the relevance, hence think it is for Indians. KC is the consciousness or philosophy or vision which is non-sectarian and can be applied to all, without changing one’s religion. Furthermore, it is the consciousness/philosophy/vision necessary to protect the environment and defuse the economic crisis. How it ensures protection of the environment is that it is the consciousness of God residing in every part of the creation- sanctifying every nook and cranny and rendering us responsible for keeping clean the air, the rivers, the ocean, the land, much as we would keep clean the temple… Next, it is the consciousness of God in the heart, rendering us responsible for ensuring the survival and protection of all species (biodiversity) including those unnecessarily exploited for food (animal welfare). Bhagavan realization includes realization of both Brahman and Paramatma, but if one prays to God as a person, and disregards His presence in the hearts of all (Paramatma realization) , his worship is as good as pouring ghee into ashes. Such a person is anthropomorphizing God into a person like himself, with sectarian and limited vision and concerns and awareness, someone just concerned with hearing prayers and not concerned with how one is treating every part of the creation, wherein He also resides.
      How KC is relevant to the economic crisis is that one realizes the sustenance of one’s existence to be God, rather than the stock market. One thus lives simply, either through growing one’s food or earning enough to put a roof over one’s head, food and other necessities, and not accruing debt due to a need to spend on objects that will give only temporary satisfaction. One will wear clothes until they wear out, not until the fashions change. One will eat simple vegetarian food cooked at home instead of at expensive restaurants. Thus one discards the use of the false plastic currency of credit…. If at all possible, one becomes self-sufficient, not dependent on fluctuating interest rates and the stock market and if one has land at all, even a backyard, one grows food. The ample production of food keeps low the food prices, and since it is produced locally without need for transport to markets and refrigeration for storage, this greatly reduces global warming. Being satisfied with so little is the result of KC as one gets much more satisfaction from one’s relationship with God, and seeing His miracles in nature, providing one’s sustenance, compared to the empty pleasure of going to the mall, At the mall, things are attractively arranged just to exploit ones senses, and send one into credit crisis, by offering interest-free purchases. In nature, things are also beautifully arranged and presented, but with no agenda to exploit- gifts like sunsets are freely given, and essential gifts like food are given in exchange for a little labor. Appreciating God everywhere precludes the need for credit, as His gifts require no exchange of currency, unless one wants to exploit nature, rather than working with her, in which case one needs poisons to kill weeds, etc…thus the economic and environmental crises are linked and the link is one’s consciousness- to get more and more non-necessities of life just to augment false ego, at the risk of financial and environmental catastrophes that future generations will have to deal with.

  18. Vedavyas das

    Hare Krsna!!
    PAMHO! AGTSP!

    I am dissapointed, that a constructive criticism is not allowed on the pages of Dandavats. That leaves one with the impression that you represent not only an oppinion of a few chosen ones but also, and that is even much worse, that there is a hidden agenda on your minds.

    My contribution did not represent any violation of the teaching Srila Prabhupada has, so graciously, given to us all. You can call me “One being on the fully material plane”, ‘One who doesn’t understand” and so on and that would have been completely all right. For we all are on different planes and all of us have different understanding of the teaching. But then for the sake of puttin things right, it would have been appropriate that you correct me, where I would be, in your oppinion, wrong. Unfortunately, that did not happen. What am I supposed to think, now?

    We all know that a constructive criticisme = of anyone who deviates from the teachings of the “guru, sadhu and sastra” does not constitute a “vaisnava aparadha” even in the case if he would be wrong, unintentionally, in his assesment. On the opposit, these thinsgs are absolutely neccessary, for the healthy state of any organization.

    Hare Bol!!!!

    • niscala

      I agree, I have given up on Dandavats, so many articles they haven’t posted, many more than what they have posted. Thank God CHAKRA is more sensibly inclusive and now allows interactive discussions for FB members! The best of both worlds! All glories to Madhusudani DD!

  19. Ken

    Wow, thank you Mother Niscala for 1) comprehensively articulating exactly what I was inartfully attempting to in my earlier post, and 2) bringing this “back” on-topic — and re-aligning it to, I believe, HdG Maharaja’s intended message in his New Year’s greeting. IMHO, you’ve hit the nail on the head regarding relevance to Westerners. And we need to find a way to deliver Srila Prahnupada’s books and vision to a fresh generation of westerners — regardless of skin color or country of origin — in a way that westerners can relate. After all, SP came this way to do this very thing at the behest of HIS spiritual master. Not just preach to Indians who are essentially the choir. Its time once again to gather up more “dancing (white) elephants” Hare Krishna!

  20. Ken

    Dear Readers,
    Please forgive the inadvertent misspelling of Srila Prabhupada’s name as “Prabnupada” (sic) in my previous post. That’s what I get for typing feverishly from a silly Blackberry! Hrdyananda das Goswami ki jaya. AGTSP. Haribol.

  21. Ken

    Oops, my bad. HRIDAYANANDA das Goswami ki jaya. I’ll stop now.

  22. niscala

    I didn’t even notice it, Ken, typos are so common these days, I don’t think you need to worry!

    THREE POINTS OF RELEVANCY, TWO WAYS TO ACHIEVE IT

    I wanted to add that since the economic and environmental crises are fascinating, absorbing and alarming the modern western thinking so much, Prabhupada’s instructions on simple living have to be lived, not just preached about, to show how one can secure the environment and the essential economy- the food supply- by such methods. Our farms have not been very successful, however, they have suffered the exodus of devotees, much like the urban centres, but unlike the urban centres, they are generally too geographically isolated for the Indian congregation to get involved on a very regular basis. Hence they more or less struggle to maintain Diety worship what to speak of growing all their own food. The answer is not to import Indian brahmacaris wanting residency in the west, but to ask ourselves why devotees leave in the first place, or why they fail to join, to begin with…

    Point One- Personal Inadequacy
    These farms need a mass injection of participants, which can be all those devotees past, present and future, who have left ISKCON, or who feel like leaving because of not being up to the standard, or who may want to join but are discouraged because they may feel not up to the standard. When SP observed that many devotees were falling down from the standards he set, he recommended varnashrama within ISKCON, so that one need not be a brahmana in order to play an active and vital role in the movement. But even sudras were to be respected as vaisnavas, and considered vital… SP: “it is not that because it is leg, it is less important”

    Most devotees have trouble with the “no illicit sex” principle in married life and the honest ones have left us- they need not leave ISKCON but stay and enjoy life on our farms, contributing to a model that is completely relevant to both the economic and environmental crises, and thus proving us to be not just a religion but a powerful force for change.

    Point 2- The Social Environment
    It is important to note that many devotees have left us, not because of their own personal failings, so much, but because they are discouraged by the dynamics in the temple, esp. the way devotees are treated. This is the second vital role of varnashrama- to make each member valued as an essential limb of the Supreme Lord. Only in the caste system- and arguably western democracy- is there a hierarchy of lower and higher- in varnashrama even farm laborers are the Lord’s legs, and no less important than his head. It is the ksatriya’s duty to provide this appreciative atmosphere by being personal, and involved with each member. It is described that the ksatriya was expected to protect all the inhabitants from any kind of distress, mental or physical, by treating them all with the same affection and concern as their own family members… His to give shelter, not exploit or control…

    By stressing such guna- qualities of caring leadership, the future of the farms is secure, as it is unlikely that one would ever want to leave a place where one is fully appreciated and treated as a family member. Especially in the west, feelings of isolation and lack of personal value are a problem, so this must also be addressed. It is not the content of our preaching that will make us relevant, but by showing a living example which counteracts that which the western mind has come to hate- environmental degradation, economic insecurity (especially of food supply) and impersonalism.

  23. niscala

    Dear Prabhava Vigraha,

    Thank you for expressing your point of view. You wrote:

    “but for a disciple he nonetheless continues to consider that anything related to ISKCON belongs to Srila Prabhupada as if Srila Prabhupada would have never departed.”

    No, not just anything. Child abuse, devotee abuse, cow abuse- and neglect,
    Covering up all of the above and defaming those who refuse to be covered thus…sectarianism, accepting someone at variance with SP’s siksa as one’s siksa guru, advising the whole society to do the same, then overnight rejecting him… silencing of truth-speakers, condemnation of truth speakers as “against Prabhupada”, excommunication of swathes of devotees, their favorability notwithstanding, are happenings that have belonged to ISKCON at various times, but do not belong to SP. They were never part of his preaching, or his example. If these things are not corrected, far better to sell the marble of each of the temples and print books with it, then keep on a charade of KC. At least the books make people KC… Or be honest and rename it, ISPAM, International Society for .Personal Ambition- we would advance by that name, because Krsna accepts only honest service.

    “As disciples, we don’t consider that we have anything personal to fight for with anybody because we have surrendered everything including our very beings at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada.”

    This statement is full of assumption. Just because one is a disciple, does not mean he is surrendered.

    “On that basis, It is a subject for lamentation and concern if a disciple sees some individuals abusing, or lacking care for Srila Prabhupada’s institution.”

    It is lack of care not to speak up when one sees individuals lacking care for SP’s institution, This is the real threat, for as SP said “this movement can only be destroyed from within… by personal ambition” Taking his warning with full faith, we should have no fear of any outside influence whatsoever. But inside influence? That’s another matter. We should be like watchdogs, always ready to bark when we see ISKCON getting misused, sidetracked, and in general, not fulfilling the mission laid out by SP at its foundation. That is real love for ISKCON, not turning a blind eye.

    “My point of view is that we may try to preach to so many conditioned souls coming in contact with Srila Prabhupada’s institution, which is the same somehow or other, as coming in contact spiritually speaking, with Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic sucession, the manifestation of Lord Caitanya’s mercy in this age.”

    And you are welcome to your point of view. To my point of view, however, it makes no sense whatsoever, in light of our history. You really have blinkers on. Amazing that the good Lord gives people eyes to see and they just won’t open them. Too much trouble…

    “This is not on the same level as with identifying with one’s group or defending it, and entering into blackmailing other groups with this or that., culprit hunting, etc., etc. I would agree on for the different unfortunate scenarios you have outlined”

    Right, and they have gone on and are still going on. So don’t equate all this bs with SP or his mission, or the parampara- it is a terrible insult. I would never criticize SP as his example was completely perfect and above reproach. Considering his saintliness, any criticism of him would be fault-finding, I owe him so much. And all of us. His example continues to inspire us, decades after his departure. No one has left because of SP’s actions, many people joined and many people came back because of his loving dealings. But many people have left because of the dynamic in ISKCON, and few return. A great many practice at home, because they have not lost faith in KC due to SP’s books and his example, but they have lost faith in ISKCON and its leadership. Many go to other groups for the same reason. Many are bitter, not at SP but at ISKCON. So don’t equate ISKCON with SP, one is a perfect example of complete surrender and perfect knowledge, the other is a society of conditioned souls, some innocent, some with personal ambition, some showing some qualities of the vaisnava, some showing none, but taking on the leadership, nevertheless, because that is how rajo-guna acts, to inflame desire for glory and honour. Read Bhaktyaloka by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, very instructional.

  24. niscala

    just want to clarify- I wrote:This statement is full of assumption. Just because one is a disciple, does not mean he is surrendered.

    Yet a real disciple would be. Its like the university student- higher learning is implicit with being one. But not all uni students are learning, some are just taking advantage of other things exterior to the purpose, girls, parties etc. Similarly, surrender is implicit in being a disciple, but not all disciples are surrendered- hope that’s a bit clearer now…I don’t mean to implicate you or anyone else, certainly many disciples are surrendered, but many is not all, hence your assumption.

    • Hare Krishna Niscala. Pranams.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Over the years, for what I have observed within or around the movement. There are those who are really interested in keeping themselves well informed about all the politics and whatever political moves are going-on. The ones watching over whatever “negative activities, downfalls, etc.” going on, and to top it all, the readers within the heart ambition stampers. The movement may be benefited by such internal watch-dogs to a certain extent. But there is a limit to this kind of service. What is the legitimate service done to Srila Prabhupada by being so watchful when it becomes an abusive addiction? When it seems to make oneself doubtful of everybody else in the movement? Cynical* about anyone and everyone whether genuine or not, honest or not, spiritually successful or not, pleasing to guru and Krishna or not, sincere or not? Always ready for the least fault?

      Intuitively, I prefer not to keep myself in that position. It is a long time choice of mine. I prefer to keep away from such mentality and politics, even though I may be aware of certain things. I prefer to stick to Srila Prabhupada’s instruction in SB (1.1.17) that a devotee is engaged in the positive service of the Lord. Devotional service brings about the familiar “churning of the milk”. After a while, one can see the poison appearing along the milk. One can focus on either. But in the end, the desired result is that one should embrace the path chalked out by and for a pure devotee. Admitted that I may not be a pure devotee for the time being, but I have the desire and intend to take the steps as they will become revealed one at a time to get there by the mercy of guru and Krishna. That is my choice. That is the desire of my spiritual master in my taking that decision. I may be the laughing-stock of the cynical. Who cares? It boils down to how long one can keep suffering not being a surrendered devotee?

      It is my vision to see the beauty of the parampara system working when conditioned souls come in contact with ISKCON. That is my choice to surrender at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. And on that basis, I have nothing to feel offended about by your comments. Like I said, I have nothing personal to fight for… with you or anybody else, because I am satisfied with the shelter that Srila Prabhupada has provided me within in the assembly of devotees. It is my choice to (at least honestly try to) see the good qualties of devotees and to (at least honestly try to) accept them as my gurus in so many ways whenever they give me good advice. It is my pleasure to serve them. I may see faults with them, but I have enthusiasm and faith in the process of devotional service that with time, all incongruities will be made to disappear because of the purifying effect of contact with the Lord in devotional service (suddam apapa-vidham). I have no doubt about the purifying effect of service to the Lord. It is my profound conviction. Like any disciple, I work on my anarthas and devotion, and, so far, I begin only to be satisfied with the progress accomplished over the years. Sure there is still room for improvement and I don’t intend to sit on any small progress I may have achieved by the combined mercy of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

      You have written that I have blinkers, I don’t care, neither feel offended by that for the reasons I have already given above. I prefer to focus on the milk for the time being. I think that there is room for many kinds of devotees in the service of Srila Prabhupada. I hope you understand me well as much as I do understand where you stand, but I don’t see any relevance for me in acting the way you do because I have a different nature and approach to things. I respect the service that you feel relevant to be doing. I am convinced that you have a big heart and that it is not always that easy taking that kind of approach. Wish you best serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission. I you have any good advice for me, I will gladly take.

      With my respect, your humble servant.

      * cyn·i·cal/’sinik?l/Adjective
      1. Believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.
      2. Doubtful as to whether something will happen or is worthwhile.

  25. niscala

    Dear PV Prabhu,

    I agree that cynicism is as bad as sticking one’s head in the sand. The desirable in-between is to separate truth from lies, and substance from illusion. That is a “reality check”, as they say these days. And the motivation is to see things as they are, and to benefit all by doing so: “The highest welfare work is to separate truth from illusion for the benefit of all”.

    Nevertheless “even if my devotee performs some abominable action, he is to be considered saintly” SP describes these “abominable” acts as accidental fall-down due to attachments coming from a former life.
    So cynicism in regard to ordinary human failings, that we all have from time to time, is cold negativity that destroys one’s own soft-heartedness. But if we see that someone’s action in the modes of passion and ignorance is causing distress to others, or the movement as a whole, we need to speak up. That is the highest welfare work, separating devotional service, from the modes of passion and ignorance that, being of the illusory nature, often do pass off as devotional service: “there are 81 varieties of devotional service in the modes of nature” … Accidental falldown does not come into this category, as the person is well aware that he is fallen, and oh don’t we like to remind him? How fallen we are by doing so, disregarding the Lord’s compassionate forgiving nature…!
    But if a person is acting in the modes of passion and ignorance and doesn’t realize it but thinks he is “doing it for Prabhupada/ Prabhupada’s movement/ Krsna” then we must point it out to him, for his own benefit and for those he might be affecting adversely.

    How to do this when we are personally without qualification? We each have within us, the Supersoul, guiding us through intelligence “Intelligence is the Supersoul-directive” so with that guidance, we can easily discern who is making a pretense, who is thoroughly honest, who is damaging people’s lives, who is kind and friendly, who is sectarian and who is closed-minded. Our association is essential for our spiritual life- the sastra stresses it over and over, that it must be sat-sanga. And not everyone dressed in tilak and neck-beads is sat-sanga. In CC, SP warns that “there are materialists in vaisnava dress in this KC movement, and they must be neglected” Bhaktinode Thakura warns that the materialist in devotional garb is worse association than an outright materialist, because of his duplicit nature. Kutinati, duplicity, is one of the anarthas warned about repeatedly by our acaryas. Simplicity is stressed as a good quality. When a simple person, who only wants the good of others, sees duplicity, he wants to point out the fault, so that the person can separate himself from that demon that is poisoning him , that appears to be so desirable and only wanting Krsna’s service. Putana also presented herself as only wanting to do Krsna service. Almost all the demons appeared in some disguised form, to blend in. This is not necessarily a conscious decision- it is the nature of ignorance to cover knowledge, not to make one aware of anything, but to make one unaware. So if we are aware, by the kind Lord’s causeless mercy, we must make others aware. If we are misers with our realizations, while other suffer, , why will Krsna keep giving them? We must separate truth from illusion for the benefit of all- all mean

  26. niscala

    You wrote:It is my vision to see the beauty of the parampara system working when conditioned souls come in contact with ISKCON

    We are also conditioned souls, and the beauty of the parampara is that even us conditioned souls can take advantage of the superior wisdom of the acaryas,- then the parampara works on us. Parampara is a living, evolving thing that happens every day, not once a year for the few moments one’s guru lands on local turf, but every day, each devotee learning to see through the eyes of sastra and the parampara, and separating matter from spirit, from a mixture most insidiously presented as divine, through the dishonest mind’s propensity to cheat itself through rationalizing every act done in the modes of nature, as done with the highest transcendental motive. I would very much appreciate this done for me, and as Jesus advised “do unto other as you would have them do unto you” Of course some motives may be hard to distinguish, but when one sees that devotees are being put into difficulty either by having the philosophy misrepresented to them, or by dishonest financial dealings in the movement, or by seeing some sort of abuse, or, in a nutshell, living with what is obviously blatant hypocrisy, then to close one’s eyes and say nothing, does the whole movement a great disservice…
    Silence or inaction does not keep one free from offense, offenselessness means to act according to one’s conscience, though one may thus be branded offensive, cynical etc.

    • Hare Krishna Niscala. Pranams.

      Haribol! I appreciate very much your two last comments. I would just like to add that depending on one’s nature, time and circumstance there may be more than one way to present the truth. The approach is to be sincere and honest about it; to say the truth in such a way that the true and beneficial purpose is understood by the intended targeted individual or audience. That you know already (SB 1.1.2). And for doing that in the proper mood and intention,why should there be any reason to be branded anything? Nothing beats the real truth coming from the heart of a devotee looking always to be inspired by the Lord within his own heart and guru on the outside, in order to do good to others. Para upakara, that is our only real pleasure.

      With respect, mataji, I wish you a very nice day in KC.
      Your humble servant.

  27. niscala

    I think we at least agree that what one is branded is not important. Thank you for the exchange. Its always nice when at the end of the game, players on the oppsite sides shake hands

  28. I agree with you. Thank you very much again.

    Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

  29. Dear Prabhu’s
    Pamho-All Glories to HDG Srila Prabhupada !
    My sincere Dandavats to all the devotees in Iskcon+ Outside it.
    In India, U.K. America and worldwide !
    As this Hinduized Iskcon is such a hot topic and touchy subject
    and many I feel so strongly about. I will say a fews words
    of my realizations. I have been with Iskcon since –1970– in Phila. Pa USA ,where I met devotees when I was 17 yrs old.
    I surrendered to a Temple and Srila Prabhupada in July 1975
    I saw very clearly Srila Ptrabhupadas Iskcon as HE wanted it.
    My points are as follows The iskcon of the 60s and 70s
    was vastly aimed at the local Westerners or locals. (not Indians)
    WHY ??? Thats the way Prabhupada intended it for His Iskcon in the West ,be it U.K. or America and Book Distribution was KING, Not Hindu Weddings, Demi God worships, Car Blessings , House Blessings -Prabhupad was NOT interested to take HIS Iskcon in these directions-Not at all ! Some devottees misuse Prabhupads own words to Justify Deviations and compromise to Hinduized our now western Iskcon ! This is a cheating for $$$ mentality. A cop out and fabrication of the Real TRUTHS
    The Bible was also mispresented and so was Jesus Christ.
    Is Iskcon poised to make this their Legacy > To Misrepresent
    Srila Prabhupadas Instructions for Iskcon in the West Forever ?
    It Seems so and it’s tragic. See the world now its so INauspicious
    Is this a reflection of Iskcon’s deviations ??? Think about it.
    By the way I personally saw few Indians coming to the Iskcon USA Temples at the Sunday programs in the 70s (those that came were treated equally like the rest of the guests.
    No Special Hindu programs aimed at Indians. It was a fact.
    Many times they chanted rounds and became devottee’s, (Not Hindu) A term Prabhupada didnt wanted attached to His Iskcon and This is a fact greatly Ignored and misrepresented.
    Im sure many temple’s are making the Indian congregation real Bhaktas’ but There has to be a realization that Iskcon has gone flip flopped into a Hinduized Iskcon in the West and this is not following Prabhupads instructions at all, for Iskcon in the West.
    Its wonderful we have attracted many Indians to our Iskcon Temples and they are helping with service and donations.
    But if thats at the-Decrease- decline of -The Book Distribution
    The Hari Nams, The Bhakta Programs, The Bramacari /Bramacarini ashrams Ashram’s Something is wrong and OFF.
    I think its sad when a senior devotee points out this reality that
    he or she may be accused of racism toward Indians (its twisted)
    The fact is I joined Iskocn because of Srila Prabhupadas and his sincere disciples association and training and to see Iskcon
    go down the road of Hinduized and Compromise is Heartbreaking for me and many of my Godbrothers and sisters.
    (not the ones allowing it in Iskcon, but the thousands who left .)
    Thats a fact. If Prabhupadas disciples are not happy with the direction iskcon has gone towards, HOW can Srila Prabhupada and Lord KRSNA be happy-Satified- ???? This is a Valid point
    I hope this situation in Iskcon will be cleared up someday and it gets back to what Prabhupada intended for it (NON-Sectarian)
    Not a Hindu Religion. Not advertised as Hindu but as Bhakti Yoga a Science of self realization for all beyond ,body or birth.
    Thanks for your time. May God (KRSNA)Bless you all Hari Bol
    Your servant,
    ~Jaya Madhava Das (acbsp) Moscow Russia — Feb.2011—-

  30. niscala

    Thank you, prabhu, for reminding us that ISKCON is SP’s brainchild, or heartchild, and should be run according to his vision only. He set various aims for the society at its legal creation- aims we should always be referring back to. In this context, the aim to “discharge as a matter of course, the vitiated system of domination of one man over another, on the basis of birthright or vested interest” is relevant, for he points out here that not only birth, but vested interest, may be the motivation for a domination mentality.

    Forcing devotees to do service contrary to their natures, by using a guilt trip that they owe it to their spiritual master to suffer thus, is against the aims of the society, and has resulted in many devotees feeling that surrender is too difficult. And when they leave, the assumption on our part is always that they were not surrendered enough, therefore they “blooped”. When SP was asked about this, whether a devotee had left because he was not surrendered, he answered “yes, but we must make the thing sweet” – he focused us on what we could do about it, rather than lay blame on someone else. This proactive mentality is the current much-aspired-for and recognized test of mental health and integrity…on the other hand, laying blame on others is commonly recognized as a symptom that one is not psychologically mature- such an orientation is commonly found in teenagers, adult sociopaths and negative role models.

    To “do good to others”, which is the axiomatic symptom of a vaisnava, we must think of HOW to do good to them- always thinking thus, SP was able to work magic on people’s hearts. This thinking of “how to do good to others” should not be only to the man on the street so he will take a book, but even after he has joined… and forever after. “Ever well-wisher” means just that—but if we are his well-wisher until he joins, then his dominator thereafter, the well-wishing may simply be a ploy, rather than part of our character .

    Seeing so many devotees leaving or falling down, rather than blame them, condemn them, judge them, rather than see their falldown as their fault, or simply not care by saying: “in a war, there will be so many casualties”, as we tend to do, Srila Prabhupada considered “how to do good to them? How to keep them in Krsna’s service, in a way that they will be happy?” He asked that we introduce varnashrama in ISKCON, so that each person can be engaged according to his nature, “doing a service very much pleasing to him”. Many were also leaving, because of falling down from the regulative principles, and this is another reason SP gave for varnashrama- no one should feel that he cannot be a devotee, or fully engage in devotional service, whatever his limitations. There should be no reason for leaving ISKCON other than loss of a desire to be a devotee of Krsna – and such a loss of a desire should not be because of our actions, but despite our actions! Surrounded by well-wishers who only want to see you happy and Krsna conscious, engaged in service that is pleasing and natural, one can live in a very happy and natural way, without feeling forced..

    It is natural to surrender more and more when the atmosphere is loving, accepting and also full of challenge and responsibility. SP wanted that each of the members of ISKCON become “independently thoughtful and competent”, and that management be the art of inspiring people to rise to a challenge, rather than dominating them. He modeled this as a guru, always challenging his disciple’s understanding of the philosophy. He did not want blind followers, nor disciples who felt ridden by guilt and hopelessness. If something was too difficult, adjust the process, rather than see one soul leave, who still has a desire to serve the Lord.

    It may be argued, this is too late. So many have left, that we are a society of congregation, who run the temples while living separately. Our congregation distribute the books, cook the Sunday feasts, do the puja. The problem is that for the rest of the week they are perforce not engaged in devotional service, but meeting bodily needs, which now include family needs, in ways contrary to both their spiritual and conditioned natures- how many people actually love their jobs, and how many jobs allow one to focus on the Lord and pleasing His devotees?

    SP envisioned farms for devotees in such a situation, so that 24/7 one can be engaged in devotional service according to one’s nature- or in a way that one enjoys, while at the same time offer service to the other vaisnavas, and so that through varnashrama, no one need ever leave because the regulative principles become too difficult to follow. Our congregation faces the huge challenge, spiritually, of living in an environment full of the modes of passion and ignorance, coming home from work late, and not knowing what filth the children may have been accessing on the internet. They could instead be living in a tranquil environment, and still meet all bodily needs, living very happily. This is facilitated by the ksatriya- who is required to make sure that they suffer no bodily or mental distress of any kind, and the brahmanas who challenge their spiritual understanding, so that ambition or challenge or excitement comes not from sensual stimulation or acquisition of wealth, but the world within, of spiritual awakening, and deepening faith.

    Our social experiment has more or less failed, because we failed to implement varnashrama, which is a society based on caring, not self-sufficiency as some believe! Only the one-eighth part, the vaisya is concerned with self-sufficiency in actual varnashrama. The others engage in caring and in service, making sure that each member feels valued and indispensable, and helping the others with their service as required. When we let go of the control mentality, we realize that Krsna is the attracting principle, and that people do not need to be forced or guilt-tripped or even managed, but will voluntarily serve Him, and His devotees, with joy and enthusiasm, when they feel cared for and appreciated .

  31. Mother Niscala, pranams and all glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Serving Krishna is based on knowledge and strong faith in the words of the spiritual master. Ekatvam anupasyatah. Krishna being the center for all. The absence of clash amongst individuals when they concentrate on the real center of interest, it is all there in the purport of Mantra 7, Sri Isopanisad. So well explained by Srila Prabhupada.

    Feeling cared and appreciated helps to serve Krishna indeed. But it is not this carrying feeling that will make one complete in devotional service. Therefore, I would add that such a feeling IS or SHOULD be closely related to oneself being caring and appreciative of others on the basis of a genuine inner desire to please Krishna by serving and seeing all souls as His eternal devotees. Ekatvam anupasyatah. This is the vision that not only devotees need to have and practice, but the whole world as well needs it because this vision extends to all souls. This is beyond the limitations of any kind of temporary speculative concept. It is the responsibility of all devotees to pick this vision up and benefit their entourage. This is the vision based on sanatana-dharma. It transcends shortcomings related to the bodily concept of life. God knows how the whole world is in desperate need of such understanding. It is the business of the devotees to assimilate this vision individually and then to be a living proof of it by distributing it. Only then we’ll talk about how the world has become a nicer place to be in. It is quite a challenge. But there is not other choice for a loving and caring vaishnava.

  32. Ram Prasad das

    Looks like I stumbled upon this conversation late, but I found it sort of weird as San Jose is being used as an example of a thriving ISKCON temple in North America. I helped start the San Jose Temple in 1998. I am glad to hear it is going so well — though I do not understand the metrics for judging the success of a temple. 100 congregation members is nice. There were 200 12 years ago though. Is this decrease in attendance due to a change in demographics of the area since the dotcom bust (2000)? Rather than focus on the number of books that we were distributing, we made a conscious effort to make friends — we took names and phone numbers and spent time calling the people we met and invited them to programs. We also had clubs and programs at 5 universities, San Jose State, Berkeley (believe it or not), UCSC, San Francisco State University, Stanford, and the little community college 30 minutes N of San Jose (forget the name).
    Before I give my opinion for what metric could be used to judge success, and I don’t think it need be limited to a particular temple, as we’re all in it together, maybe His Holiness could give some examples of what kind of growth or success he would like to see.

    your das Ram Prasad
    vaishnavebhyo namo namah

  33. Niscala

    PV wrote: Feeling cared and appreciated helps to serve Krishna indeed. But it is not this carrying (caring?) feeling that will make one complete in devotional service. Therefore, I would add that such a feeling IS or SHOULD be closely related to oneself being caring and appreciative of others on the basis of a genuine inner desire to please Krishna by serving and seeing all souls as His eternal devotees.

    If one has genuine vision of the living entity being Krsna’s servant, and the attitude of serving His servants, then one will not discriminate on the basis of body, sect, or social standing. One will not give all facility to sannyasis, while neglecting those in female form, who are often left without shelter in our society. One mataji who was incapacitated even recently took her own life, because she felt herself a burden on the devotees (written in her suicide note). With devotees clamouring to serve those in orange, it would be unthinkable for the sannyasis to do so, but we see in terms of social standing… rather than beyond it, to the servant that exists in all, regardless of form.

    Yet real devotees such as the Pandavas would enter fire, rather than see the most insignificant of their subjects suffering in any way- mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. This is ksatriya- to protect from harm, any sort of harm, and to give shelter and protection, not according to social standing, but according to one’s level of vulnerability. They would never neglect old men, women or children, yet the children of our society had to go to the karmi courts to get justice for the atrocities committed by their so-called devotee teachers. If we had ksatriyas modeling themselves after the likes of Arjuna and Yuddhisthira, there would be no reason to leave ISKCON, no reason to be bitter, as so many are, no reason for lawsuits. We would have the caring varnashrama society Srila Prabhupada envisioned ISKCON to be, rather than a society of sychophants who only care for those with exalted position, and neglect everyone else, and see women not as Krsna’s servants to serve, by protecting and offering service, but objects of the senses, to be avoided.

    Thankyou for your comment, I would just like to add that seeing all souls as parts and parcels of Krsna, naturally evokes a sense of love and caring for them, for this is the way the Lord is served- through His devotees, who should never be seen according to their varna (social standing).

    Making any sort of discrimination on the basis of external bodily dress, renders one’s worship as fruitless as pouring ghee into ashes, as explained by Lord Kapiladeva

  34. Mataji, pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Authenticity. Authenticity. Authenticity. I will keep beating at the same point over and over again. On a individual basis we have to take up Krishna consciousness with utmost seriousness. At some point in one’s Krishna conscious life, one has to challenge one’s own bottom line. Asking oneself, what can I do to be really pleasing to guru and Krishna? How can I be a living example of the teachings of Srila Prabhupada? How can I assist Srila Prabhupada by being what is expected of a devotee in his books and classes? It is that simple. Don’t simply think about it, but act inside out upon such determination. Follow the process and give up anacar, sinful activities of all sorts.

    Srila Prabhupada gave us complete knowledge to elevate ourselves to the right platform of devotional service: that is to rise above the bodily concept of life by engaging as spirit souls in devotional service being free from bodily designations. We have to hear, to hear, to hear, over and over such purifying message of Srila Prabhupada in order to move up above the material platform. Then and only, all pieces of the puzzle of getting real about being Krishna conscious will befall into place and we’ll see clearly what is our duty and we’ll have a clear vision that cannot be befooled by externals only. That is a welcome vision based on purity of consciousness. No money is powerful enough to buy it or imitate it artificially. No material gimmick can imitate ahaituki apratihata implemented in a devotee’s life. Pure bhakti is there dormant in everyone’s heart. Awakening this dormant bhakti, we need nonetheless all the devotee association that is available. We recognize that such association is very valuable for our advancement, and we should know how to appreciate it on a regular basis as recommended by all sastras such as the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Nectar of Devotion and Nectar of Instruction.

    I appreciate some valuable observations that you made into your comment. Will we ever be all perfect? We’ll probably won’t see that day in our lifetime. But we are all on the same boat sailing on the ocean of Viraja heading our way back to Godhead. We need each and every devotee no matter his or her status. Because a vaishnava or vaishnavi is he or she who makes us remember Krishna just by their very presence or our remembrance of them. All living entities are equal in the eyes of Krishna. And our vision of other devotees should be the same —applied trinad api sunicena, etc. Therefore then and only then, there will be equal treatment of everyone on a practival basis of equal respect. Because in the eyes of Krishna everyone is dear and equal. Samo ham sarva bhutesu. A devotee must necessarily have this vision too. Panditah samah darsinah. And how do we get there? It all boils down to chanting offenselessly the Holy Names. You see, you mention the externals being so and so and I believe very firmly that there is a tremendous need of education about the internals of being a devotee in such a universal movement as ISKCON. The screwy externals are a reflection that something is as screwy internally. Therefore on-going education is necessary. Three quarters of Srila Prabhupada’s classes were teachings aiming at convincing us out of the bodily concept of life. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! What a most compassionate patita pavana!

  35. Niscala

    Thanks for responding. I guess we are on the same page as usual. You say offenseless chanting is the solution, and I agree. Let’s avoid the 3rd offense as a society, and follow Prabhupada’s instructions to introduce varnashrama in ISKCON, as a way to stop the exodus of devotees, include everyone, and “make the thing sweet” by having leaders who are leaders because they have the guna, the natural propensity to care for others, either as a ksatriya by giving material shelter- physical and psychological support– or as a brahmana by giving spiritual shelter- guidance. Then we can actually have communities, not empty spaces filled by people wanting PR in the west.

    I think we are on the same page, but I am a lot more specific. I believe in spelling out the offenses, not just recommending “lets all just chant offenselessly!” People hate specifics, vagueness makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. It makes them feel they need do nothing, right here and now, to change the situation. It allows for complacency. You say to not see externals, but specifically what does that mean?It means that anyone and everyone should be offered loving care and decent facility, not just sannyasis and gurus. It means questioning why we have temples with brahmacari ashramas but no brahmacari-ni ashrama, and why we allow people to give us their money and surrender their lives, without setting up a medical fund for them, so that later in life, they have to go begging for donors on CHAKRA when a medical emergency arises. Everyone who has sacrificed their careers for Krsna should be given permanent facility in ISKCON to live and to serve, as the sannyasis are. If any temple has a policy of “no pay, no room” for devotees who have given their wholes lives to this movement, and often have no money, then such wayward presidents need to be removed by the GBC, or at least given opportunity to reform their inhospitable natures. Best however, is to place people who really care about people, in charge of our temples- that is ksatriya, not people who care only about money- the vaisya guna. The presidents should either be brahmana or ksatriya, not by a two-paisa thread, but by quality of character, guna. That is varnashrama- it is not synonymous with self-sufficiency, but having those with the correct qualities to care for others, in positions of leadership in our society. Having uncaring leaders or leaders who are sycophants, makes the whole society uncaring, for the mood can filter downwards. Caring leaders make sure that those under them also care about others welfare, they do not care about making money, as they know Krsna will provide, they care about pleasing Him by offering all facility to the least of His devotees- in other words, das das anudas. That is the explanation of “das das anudas”, or saying it is simply meaningless and nothing more than the party line, for making a show of false humility.

  36. Mataji, pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I applaud your comment and support it wholeheartedly. We need devotees who are real, who have godly qualities and who do act accordingly. That’s makes a big difference. Devotees who do understand the meaning of SB 5.18.12.

    yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcana
    sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
    harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
    manorathenasati dhavato bahih

    “All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?”

    To maintain oneself above the mental plane is by constant chanting and engaging in practical devotional service. As it is said: idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Devotee means being engaged in practical devotional service with focus and drive. Then there won’t be room for lamentation and less and less room for illusion proportional to one’s sincerity and adherence to the process of practical engagement in devotional service.

    You are specific, that is alright. When one clearly sees the good intention behind it, the overall Krishna conscious picture, then it is even more alright.

    That’s it for today, as I have a loaded day of seva with and for devotees in the service of Srila Prabhupada. Whish you well.

    Your humble servant,
    Prabhava Vigraha dasa

  37. This is a very relevant concern: How to increase the influence of Krishna consciousness within mainstream culture?
    These are my personal thoughts:
    1. Devotees have dis-empowering beliefs based on dependency on an organization (ISKCON). Srila Prabhupada clearly indicated that he wanted his followers to be independently thoughtful and competent. He did not want a society where members have to beg for permission to do anything.
    If there are features of the ISKCON society that we do not like, we have opportunity to do some thing about it. Not through campaigning to the GBC or canvassing the mass of devotees, but by taking initiative to do things (even on a small scale) to show that there is a better way.

    We can see that many of the positive innovations in ISKCON have come about through small independent projects that have become successful and then influenced the thinking in mainstream ISKCON. HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami, HH Radhanatha Swami and Caru Prabhu in Utah come to mind.

    I feel that this quote from Margaret Mead is relevant.
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    CALL TO ACTION: Individually (or better with a small group of like-minded devotees), what can you do to help spread Krishna consciousness in the place you live? Don’t wait for the temple to do it, or for a knight on a white horse to ride into town to do it. Take the initiative to do something yourself. You will be amazed at what happens when you just take the first step.

    2. Following on from the point above…
    All devotees should be trained to be self sufficient “preachers”. HH Hrdayananda Maharaja has discussed this previously. “We should be creating leaders not followers”.

    As we develop our preaching, our objective should not how many members can I make. It should be how many people can I empower to become spiritually strong preachers.

    3. Don’t neglect the Indian devotees, they are a great asset… as preachers.
    Some devotees only want to preach to Westerners and avoid preaching to Indians. Rather we should preach to anyone who is interested in Krishna consciousness, we should train them how to preach not only to Indians, but also to the general population. The way Vaisesika Prabhu is training the Indian devotees to distribute books by is an excellent example of how this can be done. Imagine what would happen if all the Indian members of our congregations were actively preaching to the general public. It would be massive.

    4. Segregation can be good.
    I appreciate that if a local comes to a temple full of Indians they might feel out of place. Therefore, having preaching programs that are targeted towards the local people, where culture shock is purposely minimized can be very helpful.

    At the same time it will be natural for people to preach to people of there own culture. Russians will naturally preach to their Russian friends, Chinese people will naturally preach to their Chinese friends, and Indians will naturally preach to Indians. There is nothing wrong with having preaching programs based around common culture and language, whatever helps people come to Krishna consciousness.

    This is a good way to build a strong army of preachers. See point 3.

    We have seen that many Indians become devotees through “Indian” preaching or nama hattas. This is great. It means there are more people who can preach to the local people.

  38. Niscala

    These are excellent thoughts and very practical. At the same time, I don’t think that devotees should be left with “disempowering beliefs” that hamper the effectiveness of the mission …If possible, we should try to help them also. In a hospital, if the doctors get sick, they should also be treated- actually as a priority- so that they can be effective in helping others. We should not only destroy ignorance outside the society, but inside it as well- maybe especially inside it, in order to make ISKCON as a whole, a spiritual shelter, not in name, but in fact- a spiritually empowering dynamic. That can be done by modeling a positive alternative.. Srila Prabhupada did that when he went alone. But is his brainchild ISKCON any better than the Gaudiya Matha? Therefore, he tried to shift the focus to the doctors- to get devotees fixed up in the philosophy- rather than recruit new members who soon leave. This instruction was ignored, and the focus continued to be on recruiting new members.

  39. Niscala

    “As we develop our preaching, our objective should not how many members can I make. It should be how many people can I empower to become spiritually strong preachers.” If you have that focus on the beginning, you will probably be very successful in the long term, and avoid the “shooting star” phenomenon. Recruiting many new members brings great glory to the recruiter. Training up people to be powerful preachers shifts the focus of glory away from oneself- to the people one has empowered. This is very pleasing to the sincere soul who wants to avoid that major obstacle to devotional service- personal honour.

  40. Sasthi Devi dasi

    There is only one way to preach properly and that is by understanding Srila Prabhupada as much as is possible. In Dallas 1973, Srila Prabhupada held a few darshans in his garden. The subject of all of these darshans was preaching.
    The first day, he heard a type of droning/chirping in the garden and was disturbed by it. He knew birds don’t make that kind of sound, so he asked what it was. He was told that the creatures were large beetles called Cicadas. He commented, “We are not preaching properly, because Kali yuga is advancing in spite of our presence…this is a most inauspicious sound.”
    He next asked the men where the women were, and was told by Jayatirtha that they were all busy doing service but Jayatirtha had previously told all the men not to invite the women.
    The men who were in attendance were all asleep during most of the darshan and after it was over, none could not remember what Srila Prabhupada had said.
    There was one Indian man who had come to Dallas with Srila Prabhupada. He was a non-devotee who wore bell bottom jeans and a paisley shirt and he had big sideburns and “big” hair. He was encouraged to travel to Dallas so that Srila Prabhupada could preach to him. No one else was qualified to preach to Ashoka.
    I was the lone woman in attendance. Srila Prabhupada faced my direction as the garden was in the back yard of my house and I hid on the back porch. Only Srila Prabhupada could see me because the men had their backs to the house.
    Srila Prabhupada continued, ” What is the greatest thing in this world?” he asked. No one stirred…after a pause, Srila Prabhupada repeated the question. Ashoka, who was trying to stay awake by standing up said, “Krishna is the greatest thing in this world!” Srila Prabhupada said, “No that is dogma…what is that thing which is everywhere in the universe?” No one stirred and no answer was given. Srila Prabhupada continued, ” The sky is the greatest thing…because it is everywhere.” “If you don’t understand everything properly then how can you preach?” Dogma will ruin our movement…he has his dogma and another man has invented a different dogma…and everyone suffers.”
    ” All of you, initiated devotees, should discuss all matters until they are thread- bare…only a unified understanding of things “AS THEY ARE” can empower you to preach and slow this age of Kali. If you know what I know, then you will be able to preach and our movement will gain recognition all over the world…there will be no differences in understanding…and the women also can preach in this way…what is the difficulty?”
    Because everyone was non responsive, Ashoka left during this darshan and we were told later that he returned to New York.
    The next day, the Cicadas were less noisy and this pleased Srila Prabhupada. “Just see the chanting of the insects has decreased because we have been discussing the absolute truth!”
    Again, I was the only woman in attendance and the men slept through most of the darshan.
    Srila Prabhupada continued, ” Knowledge is the basis of preaching…even a child can preach if he has knowledge…but purity is the power to convince others…to get others to hear and take up proper chanting in association of devotees is the real preaching.”
    ” In India the main disease is that every Indian thinks they know Krsna and they have no need for a guru. They have some knowledge but it is very little and this causes so many opinions… dogma can not help anyone.”
    There had been a question asked by the president before this darshan,
    “What should we do if Indian people come to the temple a few times and then ask us for Tulasi seeds?” Srila Prabhupada included the answer in the darshan, “Indians who leave India to live in the west are all nonsense…do not encourage them to come to the temple…they will pollute it with their “I don’t need your guru…I am my own guru” dogma. Innocent westerners are far better…if they come they will benefit …Indians come for material reasons…one wants blessings from the Deities for his daughter’s marriage…another wants blessings to make money…all impure…ill motivated. If there is one Indian that wants to surrender then first he must accept initiation. These Indians who want Tulasi seeds only want to make Tulasi tea…they do not want to do Tulasi puja…do not give them any seeds…if you refuse to give seeds they will not come and that is best.
    Indians are dangerous to our men because our men are easily fooled by
    Indian nonsense…our men will fall down by their association…so do not give Indians improper encouragement…we don’t need their donations which are all impure…they MUST become initiated and they must be humble…that is required.”
    The next morning Srila Prabhupada held his last darshan and the Cicadas were quiet while he spoke, “The more you know what I know, the better you can represent me. One must have complete faith as well as knowledge, cleanliness, austerity and compassion, to preach nicely…you must preach according to time place and circumstances.
    In India people have lost their spiritual culture and they are blind like Dhrtarastra. They claim that so many fallen men are “tri-kala-jna”…
    but only one who knows the entire Vedic past can understand the present
    and the complete future. Just like Arjuna…he wanted to show off his weapons from heaven…so he told his brothers “See what I have”…he couldn’t keep the weapons unused…so in the same way the demoniac leaders will use their atomic bombs…they cannot keep them unused…there will be a big war…it cannot be otherwise. Preaching is the only business of our men but dogmatic preaching will ruin everything. Dhrtarastra’s impediment was spiritual. He had too much affection for his own sons and he could not see how that would cause a war. We must learn from him where our affections should lie. At the end of his life he realized his mistake but it was too late to save his sons.”
    There was a question, ” There is a woman devotee here who says that
    you told her she doesn’t need to preach…is that true?” Srila Prabhupada asked her name and was told and then replied,” If a woman is happy doing some work like sewing for the deities everyday then she is preaching…if she is shy or does not like to approach men then she does not have to preach like a man. The women who are restless due to sinful wanderlust will like to preach like a man but when they become purified by that preaching…and that day will come… then they will not like to preach like a man. ..but do not force women to work like men…men must undergo all difficulties to preach…they must tolerate all types of conditions…women are weaker and should not be forced to into such engagements. Women are also less intelligent and may not be able to preach like a man. Women are NEVER allowed to take sannyassa …they MUST always be protected. A married woman can preach with her husband. A woman should never go on Sankirtan alone nor should she distribute books without the protection of men. I arranged everything properly in New Dvaraka…in the beginning…even the chanting party was to have the householders (men) at the front with their wives following and then the brahmacharinis behind them and the brahmacharis at the rear. If the women are not protected from the rear they may be attacked. The brahmacaris are the best protectors, as it is their practice to see all women as mother. This service will give them great spiritual strength.”
    “Women should be included in every darshan because they also need knowledge…why only men? Mother is the first guru for everyone…she must have knowledge of Krsna consciousness.
    Our women who are chaste or becoming chaste are to be given all help.
    Women who are not chaste or do not like chastity…are to be ignored.
    Our movement must not fill up with women who wear western clothes or hair or who won’t cover the head if they are married. We also don’t want women who are chaste to their husband only…no man is pure enough to guide his wife to Krsna…so in this age, chaste means chaste to the instructions of the guru. Men also must be chaste to these instructions, then everything will progress sporitually.”

    • Ken

      Nuggets such as this one, proffered by Sasthi Mataji, don’t necessarily appear in Veda Base. But as an anecdotal reference, they help us return our attention to the essence of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and wishes for his Society. While some may perceive aspects of those teachings to be “politically incorrect” in light of more modern times and circumstances, there is still much to be gleaned from them — and we can use such to make the notional corrections necessary to align his Society back up with his wishes, with consideration for time and circumstance. And I believe this is a recurring theme, too, in Mother Niscala’s rather poignant posts on this topic.

      I feel as though I’ve heard these instructions of Prabhupada’s (as referenced by Mother Sasthi) expressed elsewhere under different circumstances. Thank you for posting this.

  41. Mother Sasthi, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    This is a really nice contribution to this thread. I could read a hundred of these everyday. Just getting in touch with the instructions that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to follow. Thanks so much. This is priceless input of yours.

    Your humble servant,
    PVd

  42. We’re very fortunate that at least you didn’t fall asleep, Sashti prabhu, and were able to share that darshan with us. Thank you! I have already used it in my writing, it has so many good points in it, that we can learn from. Especially the part about dogma.

    About the more traditional views, I have experienced only one hari-nama where the men were both in the front and behind us, and I so much preferred it. I felt totally at ease, whereas in other hari-namas, when abusive people started following us, I would always be nervous, looking behind, wondering what they would do. It was the best and most enjoyable hari-nama I ever went on- when you follow behind, it is like you are not important, but in the middle, you feel very valued- protected on all sides.

  43. I also really liked the part about allowing people to be shy, and not forcing them to preach when they feel too shy to do it. I struggled with that for years- basically I was forced to talk to guests, and the result was awkward both for them and me. I wish I had your darshan memories to assure me that I could still be sincere – and not preach.

    • Ken

      “I find this vision, of reestablishing the full power and relevance of ISKCON in the west, to be a most inspiring challenge. It is to the fulfillment of this vision that I wish to dedicate myself in 2011. I invite all the devotees to share and serve this awesome vision.” -Hridayananda das Goswami, 12/31/10

      It is a testament to those who feel aligned with Hridayananda Swami’s sentiments and stated commitment that we have kept this thread alive for more than a half-year since the above words were written. Moreover, it would be great if we could get him to re-enliven the group with his observations and thoughts on this same subject at this point into the year.

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