"I happened to catch the motion picture, "X" the other night about the life of the famed civil rights activist, Malcolm X . The film directed by Spike Lee was intriguing in that the faith and conviction that triggered Malcolm X's conversion from petty criminal while serving a seven year sentence in prison to the outspoken leader of the Nation of Islam was not all that different from the type of conversions that took place for becoming devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, although both movements are gulfs apart in terms of their ideology, conclusions and goals." Read full article.
Replies: 16 Comments
Posted by mahaksadasa @ 10/24/2005 02:03 PM PST
Thanks for this article. I see the similarities in these movements, especially in regard to the Fact that Malcolm X found out (perhaps too late) that he could not function in the official society of his faith, and thus went quite independent. At the end, he, too, was converted from the material vision of rascism, clearly noting that the Lovers of God (Allah) were of all colors, nations, cultures, etc.
Actually, I credit Malcolm X (assassinated two days before my 15th birthday) for the beginning of my spiritual quest. In a sense, he is considered "siksa" guru, as his pride of self (apart from false ego) and dedication to service of Supersoul is commendable.
Hare Krsna, your servant in cooperation, mahaksadasa
Posted by praghosa das @ 10/16/2005 04:54 PM PST
Hello Shiva das,
In the interest of keeping this discussion on track - my address is email@example.com and if there is more to say on your particular angle we can do so directly. I think we have each made our point. I am happy to exchange with you on this aspect but I wouldn't wish to bore anyone with it.
The original discussion was about how to effectively reach as many as possible. That is a wonderful topic. Bhakta Wallace had expressed some ideas. More could be said in this regard.
Posted by shiva das @ 10/16/2005 03:25 PM PST
Pragosh Das you have misunderstood what I have written. I didn't say that I "receive nourishment" from speakers from the Gaudiya Math, in fact I don't read or hear from them unless I come across something by them by chance on the internet or if I am searching for a particular vision that they have on a particular topic so that I can be acquainted with their philosophical vision. I have read and heard from them to a small extent because of that. I wrote this earlier:
No wonder so many people leave Iskcon to follow other Gurus from the Gaudiya Math. The Gaudiya Math gurus speak philosophy, they speak about the various deep philosophical discourses from the Bhagavatam and from the Gita and from Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. You almost never hear the hacknayed fear enducing dribble that passes as Bhagavat discourse in Iskcon from those gurus. When many Iskcon devotees first start to hear Gaudiya Math gurus give discourses, they almost always see the big difference in presentation. They always tell me about "the nectar" that the guru is presenting which they cannot find in Iskcon.
That has been a common occurence for me i.e ex Iskcon bhaktas telling me that they have found a true source of inspiration and "nectar" from a Gaudiya Math guru which they found lacking in Iskcon. I have been told repeatedly that what passes for Bhagavat pravachan in Iskcon on a day to day basis is very uninspiring, unenlightening and geared towards inducing fear in the devotees so as to keep them compliant and fearfull of leaving Iskcon.
I don't know how many times I have heard from ex Iskcon bhaktas of the distrubing traumatic experiences they had when they left Iskcon. The common complaint was that they felt full of fear and anxiety about their spiritual position in life, often they say it took years for them to become well adjusted individuals.
In my opinion this is due to the constant repetition of fear inducing classes. It becomes drilled into peoples heads that outside of Iskcon there is a great monster licking it's chops ready to devour them and turn them into drug addicted sexual deviants and their lives are going to end up going down the drain for millions of lifetimes.
Not everyone has that fear. Anyone who is well read and a bit self realized won't have that fear, they won't see Maya as some creature that is out to get them. But usually Iskcon keeps it's devotees so busy that they have little time or energy to do much study of sastra. They end up receiving most of their spiritual knowledge from classes given by devotees.
If those classes are mostly as I have described and as I remember them from my stint in Iskcon (77-81), then the result will be what I have heard from many devotees after leaving Iskcon. They have received a twisted version of Gaudiya siddhanta and trauma is the result when they inevitably leave the stultifying atmosphere of Iskcon.
I also said it is rare but not impossible to find decent classes in Iskcon. But to be honest whatever lectures you can find on the internet are going to be the cream of the crop, although a large percentage are as I described. The day to classes are most of the time little more then fear inducement about the dangers of not serving in Iskcon, the dangers of Maya attacking you as if Maya is something which consciously tries to destroy you or harm you.
Then when those devotees who have left Iskcon, which is close to 99% because most people who join eventually leave, when they come across the sanghas of the various Gaudiya Math gurus they take a peek because they want to see what it's all about. Then they usually find that the lectures are, lo and behold, very different from what they were used to hearing every moring and evening in Iskcon. Instead of paranoid ranting about maya attacking you and the dangers of not surrendering to Iskcon, they find actual Gaudiya philosophy. Then often times they join the ever growing ranks of ex Iskcon bhaktas who follow Gaudiya Math gurus.
Personally I don't need or take "nourishment" from any Gaudiya Math guru that is currently living. In my semi perusal of their writings I have not found anything which I don't already know, philosophically speaking, and I oftentimes find stuff that I actually disagree with.
If you get off on hearing from Iskcon gurus, swamis, and the rest, fine. I have simply related my own experience and the experience of other people who have spoken or written about this.
The people who give classes in Iskcon preach in the way they know how. But maybe the people who give classes in Iskcon should attmept to stay away from the overly melodramatic fear inducing motif which dominates their discourse. Maybe they can try to do a bit of studying so that they can present the deeper philosophical conclusions from the parampara, rather then repeating the same hackneyed variants on a single theme which they have been giving for so many years.
If your "job" in Iskcon is to give class then you should be constantly refining your craft. If you do so then you will be enriched and you will be able to share that with others. Classes should be a place where devotees share Bhagavat philosophy alongside their own realizations of that philosophy, keeping it ever fresh and enlightening. But due to a lack of preperation more often then not classes in Iskcon are boring due to repetitive themes centered around fear inducement and self promotion. Not all classes by everyone all the time, but it is the rule rather then the exception.
Posted by praghosa das @ 10/16/2005 06:15 AM PST
Hello Shiva Das
Thank you very much for your comments prabhu. As a ardent supporter of the healthy principle of personal freedom, I applaud your finding something in the Gaudiya speakers that is more to your liking in terms of subject matter and presentation. I would never advocate that anyone attempt to deter you from seeking spiritual nourishment there.
Having found the most satisfying environment amongst those preachers would then I assume only strengthen your natural eagerness to deliver Srila Prabhupada's wonderful books to the thirsty souls who are looking to reconnect with their best friend, Lord Sri Krsna and the fellowship of His servants.
I cannot say that I share your stated repugnance for the preaching of any devotees in any of Srila Prabhupada's temples. I have found the preaching of many devotees to be not only helpful to my Krsna Consciousness - but at times a veritably exhilhirating experience! But then perhaps there is some deficiency on my part and in time I will like yourself grow tired of what is offered there. I wouldn't suggest anyone holding their breath though for that to happen any time soon.
The way to become Krsna Conscious is recommended by Sri Prahlada Maharaja. He says that we need only learn the art of always remembering and glorifying the "heroic" acts of the Lord Himself. These heroics are recoreded by Srila Prabhupada in his wonderful translation of Krsna:The Supreme Personality of Godhead - Tvad Virya Gayana Mahamrta Magna Cittah
Viryah means Heroic and by recounting the Heroic deeds of Lord Krsna - anyone, anywhere can remain Krsna Conscious and happy, whether they are in heaven or hell.
Perhaps you could avail yourself of as much association as you possibly can of these expert preachers who you have found to be so capable and then in time you could also increase your own capacity to enlighten and enliven others in the art of remembering the heroic deeds of Krsna. Then you could occasionally share that with the devotees in the local ISKCON temple near to where you reside. As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati once said to Srila Prabhupada himself, "That would be good for you and also very good for others.
Thank you very much prabhu for your thoughts.
Posted by shiva dasa @ 10/15/2005 03:24 PM PST
Pragosh you wrote:
Shiva Das prabhu offered his opinion that in general he has found the preaching of the general devotees in Srila Prabhupada's temples to be based upon "fear inducement" and quite negative. He has also implied that their is much "nectar" to be found in the preaching of men from outside the realm of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON mission. While it may be true that our ISKCON men may emphasize the negative aspects of this material world more than one may personally appreciate - this most delightful exchange between His Divine Grace and Mrs Ludwig beautifully sums up why this is so and how she could view that in order to avoid finding too much fault in those whom Srila Prabhupada actually referred to in this exchange as his "Beloved Disciples".
Whenever Srila Prabhupada had interviews with various non vaisnavas he preached in a specific style. Srimad Bhagavatam classes or Gita classes in Iskcon temples are supposed to be presenting philosophical discourses and they are a different matter altogether.
When I said "nectar" I specifically wrote that what I have heard from others who have left Iskcon in order to follow some other Gaudiya Math guru is that they have always said the same thing i.e Iskcon is philosophically dry and that their new found gurus are giving them "nectar". The reason they feel that way is because it is rare in Iskcon to hear a class that is little more then fear inducement or short stories about how swami so and so had a "wonderful experience" giving out Krishna's mercy (which always points out the high level of the swamis mystical power and connection to Krishna.)
If you want to compare how Srila Prabhupada spoke and how swamis and leaders in Iskcon speak, then compare Bhagavatam classes. Srila Prabhupada did of course mention the dangers of not taking to Krishna consciousness and surrendering to Iskcon occasionally, but that was not the central theme in his classes. His classes were comprehensive and touched upon a wide variety of philosophical points. Something rarely heard in Iskcon anymore. If you don't take my word for check it for yourself. Listen to some of the audio files of various Iskcon swamis and leaders and then listen or read to Srila Prabhupada's classes. The Iskcon leaders's classes seem to have a common them running through all of them i.e You are lucky to be a devotee, if you leave Iskcon you will be lost for millions of lifetimes, those who don't surrender to Iskcon are insane and in a very dangerous position, there is no happiness in trying to be independent, there is only misery if you try to enjoy, renunciation of all desires to enjoy is the sane spiritual and godly mentality, there is no enjoyment outside of full surrender to the guru and Krishna (Iskcon leadership).
While all of those things may be true to some extent, what you will find in Iskcon classes are those points and similar points repeated ad nauseam, and little else. Compare that to how Srila Prabhupada speaks in Bhagavatam classes. Don't take my word for it, check it for yourself.
Then check out what Gaudiya Math gurus speak on in Bhagavatam class. Their classes resemble Srila Prabhupadas in that they go over a wide range of philosophical points. Although I may diagree with some of them on philosophical points, the fact is that they do not simply repeat over and over fear enducing rhetorical tautology.
Posted by praghosa das @ 10/15/2005 08:44 AM PST
I want to first offer my obeisances to the aggregate of prahbus contributing here. Hare Krsna.
Next I wanted to say that it would most probably bring everyone a great deal of pleasure to read Srila Prabhupada's exchange with Mrs Lynne Ludwig, recorded in the Science of Self Realization. It is entitled "Protecting oneself from Illusion" and is the 4th offering in section VII of the SSR. Absolutely BEautiful!!!! Shiva Das prabhu offered his opinion that in general he has found the preaching of the general devotees in Srila Prabhupada's temples to be based upon "fear inducement" and quite negative. He has also implied that their is much "nectar" to be found in the preaching of men from outside the realm of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON mission. While it may be true that our ISKCON men may emphasize the negative aspects of this material world more than one may personally appreciate - this most delightful exchange between His Divine Grace and Mrs Ludwig beautifully sums up why this is so and how she could view that in order to avoid finding too much fault in those whom Srila Prabhupada actually referred to in this exchange as his "Beloved Disciples". So I thought to call your attention to that most wonderful history. I am certain that you will find a great deal of satisfaction by hearing from our Srila Prabhupada on this aspect of our discussion.
Following THAT discussion - the Science of Self Realization immediately offers Srila Prabhupada's discussion with Mr Desmond O'Grady!! Entitled "Awareness of what is Best and Most Beautiful" this offering - coming on the heels of the previous exchange is most masterful discussion with Srila Prabhupada wherein he leads his audience from the discussion of war and the foibles of "modern education" to the essential nature of love!!
Again - simply marvelous and will delight those who seek the basics and have not grown tired of hearing how totally FUBAR this material world actually is - and those who seek discussion of the most nectarine aspects of the Eternal Realm of the Lord and His associates!! Like a perfect Gaura Purnima Kirtan and Feast - His Divine Grace - our eternal guide and best friend once again weaving his magic!!!!
That we must preach is certain! How to align our efforts with the intentions and "ways" of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His dear Srila Prabhupada is the joyful mystery that is gradually revealed to the sincere and the enthusiasitic!!
THAT is nectarine!! Hare Krsna
Posted by shiva das @ 10/14/2005 11:15 PM PST
Prabhupada: Therefore Krsna said that "Bhagavad-gita should be discussed amongst My devotees, not amongst the rascals." It will be waste of time. Ya imam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati. Find out this verse.
Pusta Krsna: "For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me."
Prabhupada: Not to the fools and rascals. So first of all, to give them chance, let them come to the temple, take prasadam, hear sankirtana, offer obeisances by imitating others. In this way, when they become little devotee, then instruct. Otherwise it will be useless. You'll waste your time by arguing.
Pusta Krsna: You have given the example that the field has to be plowed before the seed is sown, cultivated.
Cyavana: The mind has to want that higher taste.
Prabhupada: Ceto-darpana-marjanam. So this process... Bring the... Invite them. Chant Hare Krsna, dance, give them prasadam. Everyone will take part in this way, not immediately instructing that "You are not this body; you are soul." He will not be able to.
Cyavana: It's too difficult.
Prabhupada: Therefore this process is recommended. Caitanya Mahaprabhu argued with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Prakasananda Sarasvati, not with ordinary public. Ordinary public--"Go on chanting Hare Krsna and dancing." Never argued, neither He discussed Bhagavatam. For ordinary public--four hours' kirtana, chanting and dancing, bas. And then give them sufficient prasadam: "Take prasada." This process... Because unless he has got little sraddha, he will simply put some false argument and waste your time. Not in the beginning. Mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati. First of all create him a devotee a little. Chant Hare Krsna--harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam--only. Because this is Kali-yuga, people are so fallen, so downtrodden, so rascal, cats and dogs. It is very difficult. But this process--chanting of Hare Krsna maha-mantra, giving them chance to hear it and take prasadam--that will cure. And that is easily accepted by anyone. It doesn't matter what he is. Anyone will accept. To chant and dance and take prasadam--no one will disagree. So this is the process. When they come to the temple... Just like these boys. You are offering obeisances; they are also offering. But that will go to their credit, to become bhakta. This process should be adopted. Not in the beginning, but in the beginning give them prasadam, chant Hare Krsna. And try to sell some book. You pay something. That means he is giving some service, the hard-earned money. That will also go to his credit. And then, when he'll concerned that "I have paid for it. Let me see what this nonsense has written. All right. Read." And that will also convince him. This is the way. He'll keep this body, book, and show some friend, so the infection will go on.
Posted by shiva das @ 10/14/2005 10:16 PM PST
Bhakta Wallace, when Srila Prabhupada preached or wrote or when any bona fide acarya from the past has preached or written they do not present Krishna consciousness to the public at large as you suggest. You seem to think that the very few quotes Srila Prabhupada made about a forceful social and political agenda somehow is turned into how he preached 99.9999999% of the time.
If you want to present Krishna consciousness to the public you should study how the past acaryas have done that. NONE of them have presented Krishna consciousness with the emphasis on forcefull social and political agendas on people, nor have they focused their preaching on the negative, they focus on the spiritual philosophy. Occasionally they make comments about how life was like during the Vedic age. To think that trying to interpret the vedic age into a modern political preaching tool in the name of Sri Caitanya's sankirtan mission is really not the proper way to present Kishna consciousness to the public. Even though a lot of devotees do that, it is still improper.
To present Krishna consciousness as some kind of political and social movement whose raison d'etre is to preach and even enforce morality on the populace is not the path shown to us by the acaryas. It is foolish. I didn't think you were a right wing fundamentalist when I made the reference to the Church Lady, the point I was making is how your audience will percieve you if you preach a highly judegmental morality to them as being the essence of Sri Caitanya's sankirtan movement.
How did Prabhupada preach? He simply exhorted everyone to dance and chant and take prasad. In very few places does he ever mention anything like what you propose. The overwhelming mood of his preaching was distribution of chanting, dancing, prasad, Gita and Bhagavat philosophy. That is how all the bona fide acaryas have preached. If you think your way is better, good luck with that.
I'm not bitter, I'm just making critical observations in order to help the preaching mission. That is my right and my duty. So don't get all bent out of shape like you are some kinda faithful hero and that I am some bitter envious type whose sole desire is to rain on your parade.
It is simply my opinion that your approach and the approach of others as I have described is not a good road to take.
Posted by Bhakta Wallace @ 10/14/2005 09:01 PM PST
Praghosa Das: Hare Krsna. Thanks for the support and your kind words. Whew! I was getting scared there for a minute. Shucks! looks like I'm going to have to don my dhoti which has been gathering dust in my bag since I came back from Vrndavana and do some hard preaching. But then, they'll think I'm an "ISKCON-ite" kissing up to the GBC...huh? It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it!
Posted by praghosa das @ 10/14/2005 08:25 PM PST
This gentleman has offered some suggestions. They are merely suggestions. Go light on him. He has some ideas and Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur have actually offered very nice comments that will help him understand how to achieve his goal. Clearly when all is said and done - he is merely proclaiming in an indirect manner that he would love to see thousands and thousands take to Krsna Consciousness. There is no harm in declaring that as a surefire winning "strategy". How to reach that goal falls within the category of tactics.
In the Bhagavad Gita Srila Prabhupada writes that devotees are daring and take all risk to bring as many to Krsna as possible.
Let us all approach it like that.
Posted by Bhakta Wallace @ 10/14/2005 07:51 PM PST
Shiva Das: Haribol. With all due respect I disagree with you 100% and am shocked that you stated the things you did in that last blog which is not what I said in my "Lend Me Your Ears" article but which you have seemed to screw out somehow.
Seriously. You have painted me as some kind of finatical Baptist, right-wing fundamentalist type which is far cry from the truth. In fact, those who know me would have laughed at your statements.
Look, we're devotees, and although I understand the tone and point of your blog, it doesn't hold water. No. We must preach very boldly and fearlessly just like Srila Prabhupada and tell the truth. A Bhagavatam in one hand and a club in the other is not so bad given the time and circumstances.
Every preacher has his/her personality. Over the years I have talked about Krsna consciousness with many people including Christian Ministers etc. They were very attentive to my points of view regarding the Vedas and I was even interviewed on a cable access TV show in Colorado as well and very well-recieved in a Chistian-Mormon-Methodist community. In now way did they refuse the gita or Bhagavatam from me. By the way, I have a great sense of humor just for the record.
We can be humble but forceful, thus, my article had more to do with the power of speech and words and not on "gita-thumping" tactics as employed by various other religious zealots.
Again, this is why Malcolm X was assassinated, by envious insiders. My point was, he was a great preacher despite his stance toward "white America." In no way in my article did I allude to the fact that one should be like him except in using him as an example of one's oratory abilities etc. and the power of speech.
In a way, it sounds like you are saying that Srila Prabhupada was a fanatic! Do you think he was a fanatic because he preached the Vedic truth? That he was able to put false religionists and scientists in their place and that he used his purports to fulfill his preaching agenda to address impersonalism and atheism? Of course not! Remember, there were many envious people in India who wanted to kill Srila Bhaktisiddhanta because he was very bold in his preaching as well. This is the point I was driving at.
Think about this. Srila Prabhupada never sugar-coated the truth. You Likened me to some caricature of a fanatical evangelist on TV in a comedy skit which to me is beyond rediculolus. I laughed.
There is nothing wrong in getting the message of Krsna consciousness out to the people. Since 1977 it's been much too quiet. I think that if many of Srila Prabhupada's devotees had remained in the movement despite instituional descrepancies, and stopped in-fighting and going over to other supposed acarya camps, the movement might have made much more impact in North America since Srila Prabhuapda left us. This is my view and personal opinion.
Even Srila Prabhupada stated one must "rock the boat" a bit. By the way, sometimes you need to get flies with vinegar. Then comes the honey. If, as you say, most of the "preachers" in ISKCON, (and I'm well aware of their discourses from India to America these past 26 years)are using this approach then my hat is off to them. By the way there is an Indian Sannyasi who falls into this "bold preaching" category in India. Oh, and by the way, did Srila Prabhupada's strong preaching disuade his disciples from joining ISKCON from 1966-1977 and afterwards? No, because it was the conviction of his preaching.
Again, you seem so bitter. So anti-ISKCON. Perhaps if you were to jump on the bandwagon with me maybe we could do dynamic things in ISKCON together, but alas, there are some devotees who feel that ISKCON is gone, and thus, the dogs will bark as the caravan passes as stated before by better devotees than me. I'm sorry, but this is my view. Hare Krsna.
Posted by shiva das @ 10/14/2005 03:23 PM PST
Bhakta Wallace you gave us your vision of what agenda you would like to see promoted by Gaudiya vaisnavas if they had a large platform to speak out on, like your proposed peace march. Honestly, I have to say that your approach would be the wrong one. As the saying goes "You catch more flies with honey then with vinegar".
Defining Gaudiya vaisnavism as a totalitarian social/political dogma will hardly inspire people to investigate the Gita and the Bhagavatam.
Defining Gaudiya vaisnavism as a positive rather then as a negative will be more successfull. You've probably seen on t.v many years ago Dana Carvey on 'Saturday Night Live' doing his church lady skits. He dressed up like a prim christian fundamentalist women named "Enid Strict" who was the host of a talk show. "Church Chat" was the name of the show where he would interview celebrities using a holier-than-thou Christian televangelist demeanor. The humor of the skits was derived from the Church lady badgering the guests with snide putdowns and she always ended up blaming satan for their evil ways.
Your idea for presenting Gaudiya vaisnavism as some sort of totalitarian social/political movement reminded me of that show. Pretty much everyone who doesn't already believe in what you outlined to be the platform for the speakers, will think you are some kind of crazed fundamentalist who wants to take over the government in order to force your religious beliefs on everyone. Maybe you haven't noticed but in America at the present time the social and political situation is polarized between the christian fundamentlist "dominionists" and pretty much everyone else. The dominionists have taken up policital activism in the last 30 years and they are hated and feared by everyone else. What you propose to do would in effect have the same result. Except worse. While the dominionists get a lot of support from the christian fundamentlist crowd for their social/political agenda, your agenda would not only be hated by the same people who hate the dominionists, but also the christian fundamentalists would hate you because they think you are promoting satanism. Numerous high level chrisitan leaders have voiced their opinion that "Hindusim" is satanic and that India needs to be saved from evil.
So in effect your agenda would alienate almost everyone.
There is a tendency in many devotees to take a somewhat similar tact as you suggest whenever they "preach". I see it in lectures by swamis and from common devotees all of the time. They "preach" almost exclusively about the "dangers" of the material world and how being a devotee is the only safe harbor, usually hardly mentioning Krishna or Bhagavat philosophy other then as something to be faithfull towards.
They preach about negatives. Their so called preaching is based on and revolves around fear inducement rather then enlightening Bhagavat philosophy. Whatever happened to speaking the message of the Gita? Recently I started to check out online audio lectures from various swamis and Iskcon leaders. Almost everyone was preaching the same exact message. They were all speaking about the dangers of bad association, the dangers of not serving Krishna, the dangers of the material world, the danger of not remaining in Iskcon, the horrors of the current world situation etc. They focused almost entirely on fear enducement rather then on comprehensive Bhagavat philosophy. No wonder so many people leave Iskcon to follow other Gurus from the Gaudiya Math. The Gaudiya Math gurus speak philosophy, they speak about the various deep philosophical discourses from the Bhagavatam and from the Gita and from Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. You almost never hear the hacknayed fear enducing dribble that passes as Bhagavat discourse in Iskcon from those gurus. When many Iskcon devotees first start to hear Gaudiya Math gurus give discourses, they almost always see the big difference in presentation. They always tell me about "the nectar" that the guru is presenting which they cannot find in Iskcon.
Sadly this is very true. Check it out for yourself if you don't frequent an Iskcon temple for lectures. There are plenty of online lectures from Iskcon swamis and leaders. It is rare to listen to a lecture which is not little more then fear inducement and negative preaching about the current state of "the material world".
Posted by Bhakta Wallace @ 10/14/2005 01:41 PM PST
My dear Praghosa das: PAMHO. Hare Krsna. Thank you so much. Those were nice observations. I liked it. AGTSP.
Posted by Praghosa Das @ 10/14/2005 08:55 AM PST
Hello Bhakta Dorian Wallace
Srila Prabhupada once stated "Preaching means to describe what you see"! It amounts to simply announcing the availability of a life lived exclusively for the purpose of satisfying the senses of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In so far as we actually can do this - there will naturally be those who, by the arrangement of the Lord come into our sphere of activity and upon observing our state of obvious material apathy and its opposite - spiritual delight - will naturally inquire as to how we came by such an obviously wonderful condition, especially as all about us there seems to be less and less to take any delight in at all! In this respect then "preaching" is merely explaing WHY we do WHAT we do and more importantly WHY we accept WHAT we do - to be assuredly "authorized" by the Lord Himself!
Srila Prabhupada explains that the Vaisnava Grhasta would not even consider honoring prasadam - before announcing to the neighborhood "If anyone is hungary - please come and eat!!" This is the sum and substance of preaching. We are delighting in the available Mercy of Krsna, in all His wonderful forms, His name, His pastimes, His devotees, His prasadam, etc and we happily announce this "availability" to the rest of the world and try our utmost to cordially invite anyone and everyone to "Please come and partake of this Mercy"!
Preaching is NOT telling others what they should or should not be doing. That is not effective. Such an approach to preaching is effective in the short run due to the sheer audactiy of the preacher.
"This man must know what he is speaking - otherwise why he would boldly step forward to warn, cajole, chastise or supposedly enlighten us?"
This is a natural reaction of the masses to what is commonly viewed as "The Preacher". However in time, such preaching falls flat.
Without connection to a vibrant example of attainable Self and (s)elf realization realization - realization of our connection to our Creator, the means to connect with Him, and the full-blown realization of our mutually loving connection - we are all left with our connection to the external material creation only.
Srila Prabhupada has explained it this way. When a child is being passed around by his various relatives - he begins to suffer "estrangement' in the laps of the various unknown strangers. He cries and cries and no amount of affectionate doting by these strangers will pacify the child. It is only when the child is again placed in the familiar lap of its mother, with her tender voice and the familiar scent of her body again greeting his senses, that he is completely pacified and then his crying ceases and a beautiful smile can decorate his face!!
Unless we can actually provide the "crying children" of this world, who wander from the foreign "laps" of the various self appointed preachers of Truth in this world, we cannot put an end to their miserable tears.
We must be 100% situated in the lap of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, manifesting his intentions in all ways in order to effectively transfer our happy state to another. What you hope to see manifest, can, will and indeed does manifest wherevever this full shelter is both taken and shared. I do not know where you reside but I would offer that you seek out the association of devotees who have absolute faith in His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and the simple process of hearing from him through his books. Then share that process with as many as you possibly can.
As for changing the world dramatically, the change will take place when we have created a truly impressive example of the naturally attractive consequences of the Samkirtan movment of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Until we have such an all attractive example, our preaching will be remain confined to parochial. But Krsna is patient and He is waiting for us to grow in our faith and committment. As that grows - we will realize astounding results.
You appear to be very keen to see this occur and I am certain that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is pleased by both your grateful appreciation of the gift of Krsna Consciousness he delivered us and also your obvious desire to see this Krsna Consciousness claim its rightful place in the world as the only real means to solve our only real problms; birth, disease, old age and finally death.
I would encourage you to consider involving yourself as far as possbile in the direct distribution of Srila Prabhupada's books somewhere. This is the answer to everyone's problems; individiually and collectively. If any man became a noted and/or dynamic and charismatic preacher of Krsna Consciousness, yet his "preaching" does NOT result in the acceptance of Srila Prabhupada's authoritative presentation of our spotless Parampara - his preaching in the end is "all show and no go"! Yet if even the humblest man's endeavors result in even one single soul walking away with only ONE of Srila Prabhupada's books and the means to access the remainder of his writings - then that individual's "preacbhing" has amounted to something permenantly tangible; both for himself and the recipient of Srila Prabhupada's book!
Big Charasmatic "Preacher" or humble unknown - it makes no difference - provided in the end - their actions result in a person's receiving the guidance of Srila Prabhupada and HIS CONVICTION to repose all our faith in the reverent and affectionate recitation of the Lord's Holy Names - Hare Krsna Hare Krsna - Krsna Krsna Hare Hare! - Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Posted by Bhakta Wallace @ 10/14/2005 02:23 AM PST
Gadadhar das: Hare Krsna. Thank you for your interesting response. Yes, this is the great dilemma. It's a shame. Frankly, I never expected to get a response to something as bold as a "march on Washington, DC." It was a kind of test. It would be great wouldn't it though? The questions I posed as to why ISKCON doesn't have much more media exposure like theatre, film and TV were very valid. However, I'm just a small ant in the scheme of things. But I love Srila Prabhupada's movement and the Vedas and believe this movement, despite ISKCON's problems, will save the world. I also believe that there are very sincere disciples of Srila Prabhupada and disciples of his disciples that are devoted to ISKCON despite the obstacles.
I have some questions. Do you feel to bring about change in ISKCON is too Himalayan in scope? That is, how do you address this change that is so much desired in ISKCON proper if a devotee is not working within the institution itself?? Or do you see the situation as untenable and hopeless? Can change ever take place within ISKCON?
You said that 90% of Srila Prabhupda's disciples have left ISKCON but I assume there are many reasons such as grahasta life and having to work to support a family where living inside the "temple compound" as it were, would not be practical. ISKCON has a big congregation and I'm sure this 90% did not abandon their Krsna conscious beliefs or even chanting the holy name. Those that have been "kicked out" I assume would have to be reviewed on a case by case basis. Maybe it was valid in some cases even though I agree that as in any institution, (Catholic, Christian, Jewish etc) not all the congregational members will agree wholeheatedly on the final edicts handed down by church elders.
If what you and Rocana das say is true about the current malaise in ISKCON then what would you and Rocana das suggest? Under what banner, if any, does a devotee continue his/her sadhana and preach Krsna consciousness?
It seems to me that if a devotee was "in" the ISKCON movement and then left, even though loving Srila Prabhupada, on what platform does that devotee now actively preach? Do you start a whole new Krsna conscious movement?? Just curious.
I also have a series of questions for Rocana das in the "Faith before Initiation" blog and am eagerly awaiting his response to clarify his final stance on these issues. Hare Krsna.
Posted by Gadadhar Dasa @ 10/13/2005 01:23 PM PST
Dear Bhakta Wallace Dorian
Thanks for your article and for your earnest desire to have Krishna Conciousness spread all over the world as quickly as possible.
As for big and bold preachers, we have seen that so many have come and gone and we are left to observe and suffer the destruction they have caused and are still causing because they have left behind a system of totalitarian management so that they "can proclaim themselves to be in charge" and a mentality of "all success is due to them only".
The facts are that whatever is remaining of the once dynamic ISKCON is due to hard work of many innocent and simple devotees and not due to "so called big leaders".
What is required is brahminical devotees guiding and leading the society by their own examples.
Cooperation and spreading of Krishna Conciousness is possible only based on:
BG 18.42: Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness — these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.
These brahminical qualifications are the primary requirement for each and every one of us and particularly for leadership.
Otherwise, the cooperation with snake like leaders will only add to their envious and self serving mentality.
By now, more than 90% of Srila Prabhupada's disciples have left or have been kicked out of ISKCON and thousands of new generation of devotees have come and gone away with disappointed and broken heart.
So question is who is not cooperating?
Are ISKCON leaders cooperating?
If so then why devotees in such large numbers have left ISKCON?
You are ignoring the problems caused by corrupt GBCs and fly by night Rubber Stamped Gurus and their blind henchmen. These Bait and switch operators have caused havoc.
Cooperation can be possible based on truth, honesty, purity, humility, service etc.. Cooperation can not take place where leaders are looking for puja, pratishtha, and profit; and all that for themselves alone.
There was a meeting in Dallas in January of 2005 about firing up ISKCON's preaching in North America. More than 100 devotees attended, including big big leaders. Please check what happened to the 14 or so initiatives that they came up and report to us the results that have been achieved so far.
FYI, by mid 80's North American Temples have been decimated and many of them have survived due to help from the Indian Hindu Community.
You have big big hope but you need to go on prilgrimage of North American Temples and find out how many devotees are there now where there used to be 50 or 100 devotees in 1975.
Devotees are once burned twice shy. Unless GBC shows humility and unless GBC changes the idea of Rubber Stamped Gurus there is no chance of old devotees cooperating and no avoidance of repeatation of scanals we have witnessed before.
We must go back and establish primary requirements for cooperation. That is we must cultivate and follow brahminical qualities:
BG 18.42: Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness — these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.
That should be the basis for cooperation.
Wishing You All Well,
YS- Gadadhar Dasa
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