Tag Archives: ISKCON

Srila Hridayananda Maharaja Finishes New Gita Translation!

Srila Hridayananda Maharaja has finished a new translation of the Bhagavad-gita. The translation is very literal and academic.

The book will include an introduction, footnotes and a description and summary of each chapter.

The proposed title is: “Bhagavad-gita – An Insider’s Literal Edition”.

The book will be available in e-book format by year’s end.

 

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Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on Gay Couples Having Children

Question by a lesbian devotee in a monogamous relationship who wants to have her own child: I want to raise my own child and not adopt. The only literature I have read on the topic of gay parenting is academic psychology articles and journals. I am a masters level student in clinical mental health counseling, and have done research and learned in my classes that when two parents of the same sex raise a child together there are no correlated sexual dysfunction issues or psychiatric issues. Oddly enough, in fact, a few studies that followed children of lesbian parents actually found that the children fared better than those that had straight parents. What is your opinion?

 

Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:

 

Here are a few thoughts:

The desire to bear one’s own child is natural. As far as possible, we try to transcend our human desires, but there are some human needs so deeply rooted in our hearts that ignoring them may cause more harm than good to our spiritual life. Prabhupada always taught us that Krishna consciousness is a gradual process and we often gradually transcend our human needs by engaging them in Krishna consciousness. So if you are dedicated to raising a Krishna conscious child, then you are spiritualizing your human need to raise a child.

ISKCON is a large, global society, and inevitably we find liberals, conservatives, moderates and everything in between. I sometimes say that ISKCON is simply “the world with Krishna.” So whatever our position may be on worldly issues, we must humbly accept that some devotees will disagree, and others will support us.

Your specific issue, raising a child within a lesbian household, is definitely not a fundamental Vedic issue and therefore the scriptures do not specifically address it. Precisely because it is an issue of detail, not basic principle, there will inevitably be different opinions about it. However the basic principle that guides us in such ambiguous or ambivalent areas is that we should do what is best for our own Krishna consciousness and for the Krishna consciousness of the world. So if you are confident that you will be a Krishna conscious mother and help an innocent soul on the path to Krishna, then I would personally support you on this.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

 

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Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on the Maha-mantra and the Perfection of Life

Question: How can we overcome all our material problems and unhappiness and attain the perfection of life?


Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:

The best way to overcome all sorts of unhappiness is to remember who we really are: pure souls, part of Krishna/God/Spirit. We have innumerable fellow pure souls with whom we are eternally related in unbreakable bonds of love and devotion.

As Krishna explains in the Gita, our consciousness is now ‘covered’ by ‘un-knowledge’ and we can dissipate that covering thru knowledge.

The Maha-mantra, ‘great mantra’, is: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Hare is an address to HarA, the feminine counterpart of Krishna. By chanting ‘hare’, we appeal to the supreme feminine power to spiritually uplift us and engage us in the Lord’s eternal service. The word hare is from the root hR, which means ‘to take’. Thus the supreme feminine power, also known as Radha, will take away all our troubles and take us to Krishna.

Krishna comes from two Sanskrit verbal roots:

1. Krsh = ‘to attract’;  2. nand = to give, or feel, bliss. [the word a-nanda is from this root.] Thus ‘Krishna’ means that God is the source of infinite bliss because He is infinitely attractive/beautiful. You are beautiful because you are an eternal part of the infinite beauty of Krishna.

Rama comes from the Sanskrit root ‘ram’ which means ‘to enjoy’. Rama means ‘the source of pleasure.’ There is a Sanskrit text which states:

ramante yogino anante satyanande cid-atmani

iti rama-padenasau param brahmabhidhiyate

“The yogis enjoy in the infinite bliss of truth, in the conscious Soul. Therefore the Absolute Truth is described by the word Rama.”

So the Maha-mantra is ‘one stop shopping’ to achieve a perfect life. If you make this mantra your constant companion, you will never be alone. A final point: the Vedic wisdom teaches that the Absolute Truth is identical to His/Her name. So when you chant the Maha-mantra, you are not merely referring to something, but rather you are directly in contact, in touch, with the Truth. In Sanskrit, the word for ‘contact’ is ‘yoga.’ So by chanting, singing, remembering, meditating on this mantra, you are directly in a state of yoga, directly in touch with the infinitely beautiful source of all happiness. By that contact, you will revive and enjoy your own eternal, divine nature. It is only because that nature is now covered that we experience, artificially, sadness, loneliness etc.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

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Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on Japa and Gaura-Nitai

Question: Srila Prabhupada says in the book Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, that when we chant Hare Krishna, Hare Rama not only do we invoke Krishna and Balarama but also Lord Caitanya and Nityanada. You said that when we chant japa, Krsna is present in His name and so we are in the presence of Krishna, speaking directly to Krsna. Can I say, therefore, that Lord Caitanya and Nityananda are also present in front of me when I chant japa or kirtana etc. and, thus, can I pray to Lord Caitanya and Nityananda – at the time of japa – to mercifully help me chant japa more carefully and with more concentration?

 

Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:

Undoubtedly Gaura-Nitai are present when you sing the Mahamantra. They are very merciful and only by His mercy, manifested in this world by Srila Prabhupada, we can overcome the ocean of Kali.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

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Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on ISKCON and Welfare Work

Question: Do you think that the increased food distribution to poor children and the opening of hospitals by ISKCON (in India) compromises ISKCON’s purpose as established by Srila Prabhupada, or diminishes its purity of distributing pure spirituality?

 

Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:

I agree that ISKCON should not become, or be perceived as having become, a mundane welfare society. It would be hard to make the case, for example, that Chowpatty is predominantly ‘mundane’, given the extraordinary attention to sadhana-bhakti there, and the powerful preaching programs at colleges etc.

In the US and West Europe there are far fewer ‘welfare’ programs, and of course the movement is largely irrelevant and forgotten. Prabhupada spoke of varnashrama and even wanted to dedicate his last visit to the US, which health did not permit, to varnashrama. Mundane society is a headless body, but ISKCON is a disembodied head. One may imagine that without widespread prasadam distribution, hospitals etc ,we will become a major spiritual force in society simply by preaching philosophy and chanting etc, but we may not. Ever.

In the West, an extraordinary historical ‘window’ opened and ISKCON grew. That window is now largely closed and we make devotees at a tiny rate compared to then. Other windows may be opening but we have yet to clearly identify them.

In India, the stunning novelty of western Vaishnavas powered the initial expansion of ISKCON, and now ISKCON India is flying under its own steam. To imagine that we can be a large, powerful movement in India and entirely reject programs such as food distribution and hospitals is, in my view, unrealistic. Such a view, I believe, ignores real history. Of course we may go too far. But we must be careful not to go to either extreme.

 

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

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Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on Philosophy and Religion

Questions: How to balance philosophy and religion in ISKCON?

 

Answer by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami:

Inevitably in every religion there will be a theological divide between those who seek to combine philosophy and religion, as Prabhupada recommended, and those who feel that religion without  rational consideration is better. Prabhupada taught us that we need reasonable devotion, and devoted reason. Otherwise, in the name of glorifying Prabhupada, some devotees drift into fanaticism and sentimentalism. And in the name of reason, others lose their understanding of Prabhupada’s unique contribution.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

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Sannyasa Statistics for ISKCON

Here are some very interesting statistics regarding sannyas in ISKCON:

  • From 1967 until 2010 included,  194 devotees received sannyasi initiation. Srila Prabhupada initiated 54 sannyasis.
  • Of these, 87 relinquished their sannyasa status and 6 have left ISKCON but are still sannyasis.
  • 12 sannyasis left their body while in good standing within their asrama.
  • Number of sannyasis presently in ISKCON:  88  (plus one suspended)

Here’s the good news:

Of the 87 who left their sannyasa ashram, only 1 was from the post-1992 period when the new, more extensive process for entering the ashram was started. In percentages, 44.5% of sannyasis from the pre-1992 era fell, and only 2.5% after that. This is an example of the GBC acting very inteligently, with a decision that brought deep positive impact to the ISKCON world.

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