From Garga Samhita, Canto Six, Chapter Fifteen,
Translation by Sri Kushakratha Das
From Garga Samhita, Canto Six, Chapter Fifteen,
Translation by Sri Kushakratha Das
… 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.
And naturally, the second time around it is all not so frightening any more, and the diagnose of cancer is not as shattering. Indeed, it feels good to get a little reminder every ten years that time is gradually running out.
From a talk by Tamal Krishna Goswami
I will give you some instances to show you that Prabhupada was not equal to women. I was sitting with Prabhupada at 7 Bury Place, our first temple in London. He told me that if Jamuna Devi who was the wife of the temple president, had been a man, it would have been she that would have been the temple president. In other words, she was more qualified than her husband. But because she was a woman, he could not make her the temple president.
Later on, I was handed three slips of paper in which the names of different persons were listed when Prabhupada was preparing to form his first GBC. They finally found these three pieces of papers in the archives. They are in Prabhupada’s own handwriting on backs of envelopes and on the first two he lists, on one of them he lists three women, on one he lists two women and in the third list that I got, he lists only eleven men. And when he formed the GBC, there were no women. Now he wouldn’t allow women to be temple president, so how could he allow women to be GBC? I am just showing you how he was not equal.
Another way he was not equal is after a while, very rarely did women accompany him on a walk. Now the women claim that this is because of the sannyasis. I don’t know which sannyasis they are talking about, but some of the sannyasis, they say, were really pushing the women away and not letting them have an equal right. There may be some truth to that but Prabhupada allowed it. Prabhupada was not so unaware of the fact that there were no women on the walk. He could have said, “Where is so and so, where is so and so?” and he did used to say, “Where is so and so, where is so and so?” but that so and so was always a sannyasi or a senior man. So I don’t think that Prabhupada was equal to all.
The social media has become extremely popular among masses today. One among the different jargons that are used is “like” or many versions of it in different social media websites. It is a common practice to write something for the world to see and be anxious about how many likes we get. “How many likes” is a common concern for all today. The concept of likes existed throughout the history of human race. Humans have always been anxious about the likes they get on the activities they perform. This is spread across all categories of people and all age groups. In fact, getting likes is an aspiration of the soul. I can recollect the first experience my daughter had when she took help of my hands to stand up. She was also concerned as to when will I like her act. When I appreciated her, she became extremely happy.
Although likes has always been a concern for humanity, there has been an inherent change in the nature of likes that are expected. This is due to the cultural changes across the world. One simple example that we can think of is that of youths visiting temples or attending spiritual gatherings. Their mothers aspire that the children visit temples. But their friends desire otherwise. So, if a young one visits a temple, he or she will get a like from the mother but not from others. But if one doesn’t he or she may lose the mother’s like but may get likes from a large number of people. So, the quantity of likes has overpowered the quality of likes. “How many likes” has become a more important question than “Who likes”. This can be seen everywhere including spiritual institutions like the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). For instance, a friend of mine was telling me that the best thing that ISKCON has done is the program to feed poor children. Unfortunately, our founder Acharya thinks otherwise as indicated in the following quotes:
What is more public welfare than Krishna Consciousness? To awaken everyone’s original consciousness is the best public welfare in the whole world.
H.H. Hridayananda Goswami’s Krishna West project is based on the simple idea that if you remove the non-essential, Indian cultural trappings of present-day ISKCON from its spiritual essence, then ISKCON will be restored to its former potency and once again become the dynamic preaching movement with high levels of recruitment it once was. According to the Krishna West mission statement, they “do everything possible to make bhakti-yoga easy, relevant and enjoyable for Western people, without in any way compromising, diluting, or diminishing the purity and power of a glorious ancient tradition.”And they aim to do this “by offering the essential spiritual teaching and practice in its entirety, without requiring students and practitioners to embrace a new ethnicity composed of non-essential Eastern dress, cuisine, music etc.” Therefore they say they are giving the people in the West “the chance to practice genuine bhakti-yoga within an external culture that is comfortable and natural for them.” The big idea behind Krishna West is that bhakti is internal whereas culture is external, and their aim is to establish a complete and mature Krishna conscious community on this principle.
In some respects, Krishna West’s approach to preaching is no different from other long-standing bridge-preaching programs like spaghetti night at the local university or the successful loft program pioneered in Australia, whose focus was to create a “hang-out” for young people so they could feel comfortable, make friends with devotees and eventually become devotees. The idea is that there is a kind of cultural rift that prevents people who would otherwise like to become devotees but due to cultural attachments won’t. Therefore, as its name implies, the program tries to “bridge” that cultural divide and make it easier for them to cross over to Krishna consciousness. Successful bridge-preaching programs generally have to deemphasize certain aspects of ISKCON’s internal culture in order to be effective.
But Krishna West is different from these past and on-going bridge-preaching projects in that it aims to establish a fully Krishna conscious society on the idea that culture is external to bhakti, that it is irrelevant. Bridge-preaching before Krishna West had always operated under the assumption that once one becomes serious about Krishna consciousness, he, or she, will automatically warm up to ISKCON’s internal culture. Krishna West, however, rejects this assumption. Because they say that culture is external, encouraging others to adopt some other culture foreign to their own tastes should be discouraged and considered undesirable. Since they regard culture as external to bhakti, they consider culture to be just as irrelevant in the mature stage of Krishna consciousness as it is in the beginning. The Krishna conscious community envisioned by Krishna West is therefore bridge-preaching scaled up from a peripheral outreach program to an extensive, fully mature, Krishna conscious society, but one in which culture is considered irrelevant to Krishna consciousness.
Q: Prabhu, how to distribute books if they are stolen from us by treacherous generals? You see, I’m angry. Isn’t spiritual knowledge so delicate in its conveyance? Don’t we become camp followers by spreading knowledge that has already tainted spots? Isn’t that a trap for others and ourselves? Prabhu, kindly help this lost soul in his confused state, that does not know what to be done and what not to be done.
A: Dear Bolo Gauranga Prabhu, whoever you are. Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Assuming that your “anger” is powered by real concern for the purity of Srila Prabhupada’s movement and the maintenance of His legacy, I can only say that such purity would be certainly far more effectively protected if book distribution would be worldwide considered absolute priority as it was the case during Srila Prabhupada’s presence. And so I can only answer as follows:
On the 26th of July we welcomed 40 ladies in Kharkov/Ukraine, who had traveled all the way from Moscow, Minsk, Moldova, Crimea and various corners of Ukraine to participate in the two-week course for ladies entitled “Exploring the Roots of Spiritual Culture”. As every year we had arranged for their accomodation in a nearby hostel of a ladies’ college. Our youngest participant was ten years of age and the oldest mid fifty, and everyone was excited to embark on this transformational journey. Each and every participant received a colorful folder with printed materials and articles. We had a tight schedule with a three hours’ session in the mornings, and another 2 hours in the afternoon. Every morning we began the lessons with a role play demonstrating the topics of the previous day’s discussions. Whenever ten-year old Manjari took part, the role plays were especially heart moving and sweet.
One of the many captivating topics was chastity – what exactly does it mean? These days we often have a very shallow and superficial understanding of this most important quality, and since women in materialistic culture don’t aspire for it at all, the term is therefore almost lost and forgotten today. I distinctly remember how I was preaching at a Sunday program many years ago in Sydney, Australia, and I mentioned this term ‘chastity’ to some newcomers. One of the ladies exclaimed with a thousand question marks written all over her face: “Chastity? What’s THAT??” Also in the German language the term chastity (Keuschheit) sounds like something from the Middle Ages.
The two main tools for a woman to cultivate chastity are tolerance and shyness. Unless a woman is tolerant, she will demand, complain, answer back, get disturbed at the slightest provocation and inconvenience, and can easily leave her husband and walk out. Tolerance is a most important quality within spiritual practice. It is the main criterion in order to measure a devotee’s advancement and spiritual strength. Tolerance indicates that the false ego is subdued and reduced. Prahlada Maharaja and Haridas Thakur are always famous examples for the topmost level of tolerance. Also Devahuti serves as a wonderful example of a wife following her husband in utter tolerance and submission. And she received such outstanding rewards— great opulences in the flying mansion which Kardama Muni created, and finally giving birth to the Supreme Lord Himself! What more would a woman desire?! She received those wonderful benedictions by paying the price of serving her husband in tolerance and submission. The main tools for cultivating tolerance however are humility and firm faith in Krsna. Unless these two elements are there, it will be impossible for a person to be tolerant.
The history of human kind is filled with examples how with full conviction leaders and followers in the name of material and spiritual progress find themselves fully engulfed in the illusory energy of the Lord, marching towards their destruction.
Indeed, as blind leads the blind, the power of their stupidity cannot be underestimated. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is so kind that he actually follows the desire of the conditioned soul and equips it with absolute faith into something absolutely relative.
Any preacher may be alert not to believe the dictations of his mind and his senses, knowing them to be fallible. Even when people talk about their conditioning, still they may not be freed of it as artificial humility doesn’t provide the liberation from ones acquired illusions. As a hungry man can conduct intricate seminars about the art of cooking, so can a cold hearted man conduct seminars about love and peace. Not knowing its real use, swinging the weapon of sastra around, he may finally cut of his own head.
(An expectant mother, who is also a devotee book distributor, submits a question to H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami. He gave a short answer and asked one of his female disciples to give further advice.)
Dear Guru Maharaja