If we want to be successful in our spiritual endeavors, we can never minimize the ISKCON Founder Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. Try to understand what happens when someone surrenders to Krsna. The modes of nature disappear. Srila Prabhupada is not in this world, but has a direct one-on-one relationship with Krsna on a moment to moment basis. Every moment Srila Prabhupada speaks, every word, is transcendental. Whatever he is saying, we can understand that somehow it is true because it is spoken by Krsna through him, even though our so-called intelligence wants to convince us otherwise.
By his unalloyed surrender, Srila Prabhupada has become the embodiment of Truth, which includes the transcendental science of how to re-establish our eternal connection with the Absolute Truth. This complete spiritual knowledge is there in our hearts as Supersoul, and Srila Prabhupada has become the manifestation of this same identical absolute truth as the external manifestation of this same Supersoul. For this reason, we say he is “as good as Krsna.”
He is never like us, who sometimes repeat some scriptures but also sometimes make statements while drawing on our culture, or mundane education, our personal opinions, etc. This is because we are ordinary men who are subject to material nature. We still believe all of our nonsense ideas.
So far your road-show is concerned, we are not meant for giving performances, we are simple kirtana men. There must always be kirtana going on wherever we travel, and nothing else. In this connection refer to the GBC letter which will be sent to you shortly by Karandhara and Syamasundara. (Letter to Kirtanananda — Los Angeles 25 June, 1972)
One night there was a darsana with one musician. I never got the understanding whether this was a person coming to Krsna consciousness or whether this was already a devotee. I always thought it was someone coming to Krsna consciousness that wanted to use their western rock and roll guitar style in service to Lord Caitanya, and Prabhupada was very adamant, and the guy kept bringing the point up two or three times and finally Prabhupada said “No!” and he pointed, there was this beautiful picture of Panca-tattva on the wall of his room. He said “You see Mahaprabhu; kartalas and mrdanga, that is all. (Caturatma das: Memories of Srila Prabhupada, DVD 51)
My opinion is that it is not necessary for us to utilize these different musical talents for spreading Krsna Consciousness. I would rather see people follow strictly the path of Lord Caitanya and His Sankirtana devotees. We are using mrdanga, karatala, that is enough. We are not musicians. We are Krsna bhaktas. Therefore we do not stress so much importance on these different musical talents. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is God Himself. Had He thought it would have been better to spread Krsna Consciousness by another way He would have done so. But no, simply with mrdanga and karatala, traveling and chanting Hare Krsna, asking everyone to chant Hare Krsna, preaching simply Srimad-Bhagavatam philosophy, this is the process. There is no need for us to try and add anything to this simple method. It will only be a distraction. Therefore I request you to follow the simple path of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and help me spread this wonderful mission all over the world. Keep yourself pure and fixed up in Krsna Consciousness by following the basic principles that I have given; chanting 16 rounds daily, following the four regulative principles, rising early, attending mangala arati and classes etc. This is of the utmost importance. (Letter to Jagadisa Pandita — Bombay 28 December, 1974)
Prabhupada: Why your dress is not as a sannyäs?
Tusta Krsna: The robes make people uncomfortable, Prabhupada. They see you as different and can’t relate. They won’t relax enough to listen when I wear robes.
Prabhupada: But sannyasis must dress in saffron with robes and shaved head.
(An address by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to his audience at the onset of their departure after a Krishna Conscious festival held at one of his temples.)
All of you came with the intention to serve Kṛṣṇa, and on that basis I became attached to you. Yet now I see that you attended this ceremony only as a fashion and are returning home to domestic affairs, though you assured me that you would serve Kṛṣṇa. Thus I have been deceived. If you say, ‘No Prabhupāda, we did not deceive you. We just have a few days’ work to complete, just a few responsibilities to tend to, after which we will return and do whatever you instruct,’ then I say there is no need for it. If someone says, ‘My house is on fire, so first let me put it out; then I will come,’ still I maintain that there is no need for that. If fire burns the whole world, do not waste time trying to put it out. All necessities can be met only by Kṛṣṇa-sevā. You have no obligation other than to serve Kṛṣṇa. The object of your and everyone’s self-interest is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The living being has no duty other than to serve Him. All your fulfilment reposes in Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.
(In fact, the potency of this speech was (and is) so much one the audience members decided to really not return home and become a full time member of Srila Saraswati Thakur’s movement, then and there itself.)
Try to understand what happens when someone surrenders to Krsna. The modes of nature disappear. Srila Prabhupada is not in this world, but has a direct one-on-one relationship with Krsna on a moment to moment basis. Every moment Srila Prabhupada speaks, every word, is transcendental. Whatever he is saying, we can understand that somehow it is true because it is spoken by Krsna through him, even though our so-called intelligence wants to convince us otherwise.
Manu Samhita confirms in its 98th verse of the 1st chapter, उत्पत्तिरेव विप्रस्य मूर्तिर्धर्मस्य शाश्वती _murthir dharmasya shasvati_, that personalities like Srila Prabhupada are the embodiment of Vedic scriptures, which includes the transcendental science of how to re-establish our true connection with the Absolute Truth. This complete spiritual knowledge is there in our hearts as Supersoul, and Srila Prabhupada has become the manifestation of this same identical absolute truth as the external manifestation of this same Supersoul. For this reason, we say he is “as good as Krsna.”
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The principle of always remembering Krishna and never forgetting Him is the essence of all other instructions given in the shastras.
Shastras describe many rules and regulations governing all the different areas of human life. The idea of all these rules is to gradually bring everyone to the point of pure and constant rememberance of Krishna, which is the original and natural position of every living entity. Until we come to the stage of such pure Krishna consciousness, we have not actually fully realized the potential of our human life.
Modern civilization is about ahara(eating), nidra(sleeping) , bhaya(defense), maithuna(Sex) or sense gratification. In modern society nobody knows his original position and how to act properly. Because people are generally acting differently, they do not know what is proper- the modern population is so much ignorant about their life – it is a very awkward position. For sense gratification people are wasting so much energy. They are not aware of what is going to happen in the next life. There is a next life, but foolish people are ignorant. This life is preparation for the next life. That they do not know.
Unfortunately, modern civilization does not know what the Supreme Personality of Godhead is, what to speak of satisfying Him. They are simply busy with material activities. Therefore all of them are performing only bad karma and therefore suffering. They are blind men leading other blind men. And both are then suffering by bad karma. A person who does not know what is God, or one who does not try to understand what is God – he is an animal. Because animal does not know what is God.
Unfortunately, at the present moment people publicly say there is no God; others say that if there is a God, He is dead; and so on. They have built such a so-called advanced civilization, with so many skyscraper buildings, but they are forgetting that all of their advancement is dependent on God, on Kṛṣṇa. This is a very precarious condition for the human society. If you defy the laws of your state, you will be put into difficulty. Similarly, if you continue to defy the authority of the Supreme Lord, you will suffer. A godless civilization cannot be happy. That is a fact.
… 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.
In the context of preaching Krishna bhakti to the scientific community of the world, I would argue, 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.