Thinking about the virtues and faults of this world, some moralistic monotheists concluded that this material world is not a place of unalloyed pleasures. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They decided that the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit? Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus disobeying God’s command. In this way they fell from that garden into the material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth.
Not seeing any other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a humanlike form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died. All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a humanlike form, punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent person cannot make sense of any of this.
To accept this mixed-up religion one must first believe these rather implausible things: “The living entity’s life begins at birth and ends at death. Before birth the living entity did not exist, and after death the living entity will no longer stay in the world of material activities. Only human beings have souls. Other creatures do not have souls.” Only extremely unintelligent persons believe this religion.
The Vedic arya-sastras are divided into two sections—smarta (literature based on smrti) andparamartha (transcendental literature based onsruti). Those who are eligible (adhikari) for thesmarta section do not have any natural inclination or taste for the paramartha-sastras. The thoughts, principles, activities and life goal of every human is constituted according to his respectiveruci (inclination). Generally, smartas accept those scriptures which are in accordance with their respective ruci. Having greater adhikara forsmarta-sastra, they do not demonstrate much regard for paramarthika-sastra. Providence is the agent behind the creation of these two divisions. Therefore, undoubtedly the maintainer of the world must have a hidden purpose in having made such an arrangement.
As far as I understand, the purpose is that the jivas sequentially make progress in their level of consciousness by remaining steadfast in their respective adhikara. By deviating from one’s adhikara, one falls down. According to one’s activities, a person attains two types of adhikara—karmadhikara and bhakti-adhikhara. As long as one maintains hiskarmadhikara, he derives benefit from the path shown by the smarta section. When he enters bhakti-adhikara, by transgressing the karmadhikara, then he develops a natural ruci (inclination) for the paramarthika, or transcendental, path. Therefore, providence has made these two divisions of sastra: smarta and paramartha.
The smarta sastra has made various types of rules and regulations in order to help one attain nistha, steadfastness, in karmadhikara. In many instances, it even demonstrates indifference towards paramartha sastra to make people attain specific nistha in such rules and regulations. In reality, although sastra is one, it manifests in two ways for the people. If the jiva gives up adhikara-nistha, he can never attain auspiciousness. For this reason, the sastras have been divided into two: smarta and paramartha.
By dividing the whole year in twelve parts, the smarta-sastras have ascertained the auspicious, or religious, activities for these twelve months. All the karma, religious activities which are part of the varnasrama system when allotted to the twelve months, leave the extra month (adhimasa) devoid of any such activity. There is no religious performance in adhimasa. In order to keep lunar months and solar months in tally, one month has to be excluded every 32 months. The name of that month is adhimasa(extra month).* Smartas have discarded this extra month, considering it abominable. They gave it names such as mala masa (impure month), cora masa (thieving month), and so on.
* It is stated in Sri Surya Siddhanta that in one mahayuga there are 1,593,336 extra months and 51,840,000 solar months. Therefore, there is one extra month after every 32 months, 16 days and 4 hours of the solar calendar.
Hare Krishnas chanting in Kenya, with the Nairobi Hilton in the background 1970s.
Updates of our project in Karnataka, South India
Sri Chenna-Keshava Gram
Monthly Report-Jan 2018
Our Spiritual master, Sripada Bhakti Vikasa Swami, has blessed our community with the name of Chenna-Keshava Gram. We are located some 20 kilometers near the famous Chenna-Keshava Temple of Belur, Karnataka, India. Chenna means good or nice.
In December 2017, we harvested, 25 quintals of paddy from 2 acres of land. This rice is now the main staple grain of our community. In the current season, on about 1.5 acres, we will be growing:
… and many times it is misunderstood that the ceremony is the culmination of the whole process. People think that when I am accepted into the group as a member, when I am recognized by formal ceremony, then I am saved and whatever I do after that doesn’t matter, because I’ve been recognized. But that is not so in the process of bhakti-yoga. Srila Prabupada said, “The initiation is actually internal.” The disciple accepts the spiritual master in his heart and this ceremony is to confirm that. This ceremony marks the beginning of an eternal relationship. Actually Srila Prabhupada said, “the first initiation, this hari-nama-diksa it’s called, is when the disciple accepts the spiritual master. And the second initiation, the brahmana-diksa, is when the spiritual master accepts the disciple. With the second initiation the spiritual master begins to reveal more confidential knowledge to the disciple. But the disciple must first of all prove himself worthy. The test may be very difficult.
In this initiation we give name to the disciple and he vows to chant sixteen rounds of Hare Krsna maha-mantra everyday, follow four regulative principles and to engage himself nicely in Krsna-seva, in service to Krsna. And the disciple can expect to be tested by material energy to see how determined he is in his wows. And if he passes this test, then the spiritual master will accept him. And in that second initiation, brahmana initiation, the spiritual master is agreeing to bring the disciple back home, back to Godhead.
In the Mahabharata there is a very instructive story illustrating how a disciple may be tested. This concerns a son of the priest of the demigods, or guru of the demigods, his name is Brhaspati, and his son’s name was Kaca. So there was a war going on between the demigods and the demons. And the demons’ guru whose name is Sukracarya, he had a very wonderful ability, very wonderful spiritual power, he was a master of a mystical art called mrtyu-sanjivati which means he could bring someone who had been killed back to life in the selfsame body. So in the war between the demigods and the demons naturally many demons in their army were killed, many demoniac soldiers met with their deaths. But Sukracarya would bring them all back to life and they would again enter into the battle. Of course on the other side, in the army of the demigods, there were also soldiers being killed, but Brhaspati, he did not had this power.
Please accept my humble obeisances
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
Please click the link below to see the latest updates from the temple construction at ISKCON Salem.
(Assisted by Bhakta Piyush Mehta and Bhaktin Madhavi Mehta, her parents)
A total of 15 devotees visited Nandagrama Vedic Village last week. Nandagrama is located about ninety-one kilometers away from Baroda near the Sardar Sarovar dam in Kevadia Colony. It is a beautiful and scenic village away from the hustle and bustle of the city with its unpleasant noise and air pollution due to traffic and industrialization.
The road trip was a long and tiring drive, but now, looking back, it was well worth the time and trouble. When we arrived, a beautiful little calf came to greet us. The calf attracted our eyes and hearts, and it appeared to enjoy all the attention he received from everyone in our traveling party.
We were warmly greeted by the happy devotees of Nandagrama, and there was a pleasing Vaishnava exchange of offering obeisances and respect to each other.
This essay was originally an answer of Suhotra Swami to a question about the “fairness” of our fall down to the material world.
First of all we strongly suggest those who have a specific interest in the falldown of the spirit soul from the spiritual world to acquire the book entitled “Our Original Position”, which is available from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. It is a very elaborate treatment with much quotation from sastra.
It’s nice to see legacy of HG Sadaputa Prabhu being revived, with his books appearing back in print and new articles based on his works being published on vaishnava sites. I would argue, however, that a change of direction is direly needed. There could also be a strong argument to stick with the formula endorsed by Srila Prabhupada, too, so my arguments are presented simply for consideration, and they might be based on a wrong understanding of devotees or Prabhupada’s vision, too.
The basic premise of Bhaktivedanta Institute in the 70s was that devotee scientists can win over atheistic scientists by producing top-notch research, publishing books and articles accepted by peer review journals, and by holding conferences. In a way it was a science version of converting westerners by learning to eat with knife and fork – beating them on their own turf and on their own terms. It didn’t work for spreading Krishna consciousness and, after forty years of trying, it clearly doesn’t work with science, too. There could always be another book, another article, another conference so devotees can always find some source for hope but, realistically speaking – it doesn’t work.