Where Do the Fallen Souls Fall From?

When we hear that we live in this material world because we are “fallen souls,” it’s natural for us to ask, “Where have we fallen from?”

Srila Prabhupada says that as living souls we are all originally Krishna conscious. But what does that mean? Were we all originally with Krishna in the spiritual world? And if so, how could we ever have fallen? InBhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, “Once you attain to that spiritual world, you never fall.” So how then could we have fallen from there to begin with?

Some have tried to work around this problem by suggesting a different idea: We fell not from Krishna’s personal abode but from the brahmajyoti, the effulgent light that surrounds it. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, yogis who seek the impersonal aspect of the Supreme may merge into that effulgent light—only to fall back later to the material world. Perhaps, then, we originally fell from the brahmajyoti. read more

Krsna’s sweetness

I remember, one year I was with Sacinandana Maharaj and a whole group of devotees on a boat, sailing in Danish waters. Maharaj gave this seminar about Krsna’s sweetness. It was all about Krsna being so sweet, looks so sweet… and this sweet and that sweet… and at one point, it just got too sweet for me.

Having a bad character and being not sweet myself, when things get too sweet, I cannot handle the sweetness. So, I spoke after Maharaj and I said, “Well, I very much appreciate the presentation of Sacinandana Maharaj but I have one little question. Why is it that in the Middle Ages, one third of the world population died of the Black plague? Why is that just a decade ago, in three days, five million people were killed in Rwanda? In one night in Bangladesh, five hundred thousand people drowned? Where is your sweet Krsna in the middle of all that? Is that sweet also?“

So I asked him, how is Krsna so sweet? I remember that he rolled-up the sleeves of his sweater and he even loosened his scarf. He was getting serious and philosophically explained how even this is sweet, bitter sweet! Because ultimately, the sweetness of Krsna means that Krsna will leave no stone unturned. Krsna is not a passive Lord who is just seated on a throne, accepting our offerings – another golden plate with beautiful fruits, “Bless, bless…” No. That is not Krsna. Krsna is the one who, out of his sweetness, is destroying our material life. As death he destroys everything. He acts as a destroyer – very sweet. Simply because Krsna cannot wait. read more

Are there different sizes of infinity?

In the Purusha Sukta1.3-4 from Rig Veda 10.90 [1] it states that the material creation of the Lord is only one quarter of the total creation while the remaining three quarters is the spiritual sky.

 etavanasya mahima-ato jyayash-ca purushah 

pado-asya vishva bhutani tri-pad-asya-amrtam divi read more

Impersonalism and Krishna West

Both of these statements are from Hridayananda Goswami: “It’s like a rite of passage, a test of your faith and love, that you don’t care what the public thinks,” Resnick said. “If we go out in the street, it’s like Vedic Cirque du Soleil. People love it. They take pictures. But how many Americans want to join the circus?”[1]

“Then of course there’s the argument about uniforms. And what I say is the general advantage of a uniform does not necessarily justify a specific uniform. It’s like what if for example a policeman instead of wearing these sort of like really cool pants and shirts and everything, what if they wore mini-skirts, or what if they wore clown costumes? You could say, “Well it’s a uniform.” What if police wore clown costumes so if you saw someone dressed as a clown on the street you know, “That’s a policeman. So, I need a policeman. Look for someone in a clown costume.” It’s not just the general idea of wearing a uniform, it’s wearing something that people feel comfortable with, they can relate to, and it totally connects with them.” [2]

The first is from a recently published article on the Krishna West project, and the second is from a lecture he gave at the ISKCON temple in Hawaii in 2011. It is clear he thinks devotees who dress in dhotis and saris and chant Hare Krishna on the streets of cities all over the world are “clowns” and part of a “circus.” read more

HUSBAND AS GURU – HOW ABOUT SRILA PRABHUPADA AS GURU?

The article “Husband as Guru” presents much of what could be considered common-sense advice for husbands struggling to come to the human platform. However, some grave faults mar what otherwise might in some contexts have been valuable suggestions.

By predicting “that some men will not agree with me (although I doubt any woman will disagree)” the author anticipatingly dismisses any opposition from males as being mere chauvinism. I am currently imprisoned in a male body, but it is not on such flimsy grounds that I perceive significant blemishes in what he calls his “illumination.”

The author constructs his thesis on a series of assertions (for instance, that “we have a higher divorce rate in ISKCON than in the outside society”) for which he submits no evidence.  Presumably the reader is supposed to accept everything he says just because he says it. However, no serious scholar in any field would give credence to a series of opinions built on unsubstantiated pronouncements. Such is the stuff of cultism and propaganda, not intelligent journalism. read more

Philosophy, Rules, and Krishna West

Dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. A senior Krishna West preacher has written,

“The statistics paint a very different picture, on the contrary: the large majority of disciples of Hridayananda Maharaja have in fact not rejected their guru and instead continue to derive inspiration in their Krishna Consciousness from him. . . . . Aside from the above consideration, the question is how does one define the state of being “fallen.” How many times does Prabhupada claim that if one chants sixteen rounds and follows the four regulative principles, one is precisely *not* fallen?”1

In 1987, when Kirtanananda Swami was excommunicated from ISKCON, a majority of his disciples followed him. Yet no one at the time accused him of (or believed) that he was breaking the four regulative principles or not chanting his 16 rounds. Indeed, there is no mention of any of this in the 1987 resolution that expelled him from ISKCON: http://gbc.iskcon.org/2012/02/03/1987/ read more

About women separated from men

I am a liberal by my conditioning.   I was raised during a time when permissiveness was in vogue.  Voices demanding equal rights for blacks and women blared from media.  I understood that there was no difference between men and women on the inside.  I bought into the quest for equal treatment.  Who wouldn’t?  –  besides the “Man” like Chicago’s Mayor Daley who sent his Chicago police bearing their truncheons on protesting youth at the ’68 Democratic convention or the Ohio National Guard when in May 1970 they murdered four students at Kent State – yes, maybe those ignorant sops doing the bidding of the people in “suits.” But my generation? Not.

Then suddenly, Srila Prabhupada appeared out of nowhere in my life to obstruct my foundational beliefs; He spoke a truth so bold that I was shocked in submission to listen like a deer frozen in the headlights.  He said all kinds of *politically incorrect* things; yet, the truth of his statements dissipated the darkness of  Kali yuga.  He made so many statements that challenged my view of the world; I put the ones that I didn’t understand in mental boxes to be revisited over the years.  One by one, everything he said proved to be deadly accurate, and there are more stored in my mind that await further revelation.

The area of assessing the differences between men and women have always been difficult for me to fathom.  Nevertheless, I have continued to keep Srila Prabhupada’s insights and instructions in mind.  I have noticed where my finite assessment has been expanded by Srila Prabhupada’s advice, counsel, and example.I may not realize everything Srila Prabhupada said, but I do have faith in everything Srila Prabhupada said.  I have no doubt that Srila Prabhupada does not want to see any women become GBC’s, what to speak of guru’s. His books, lectures, talks are just too full of contrary instructions in that regard.  The few examples brought to contradict his overwhelming teaching in this regard are like a feather compared to his preponderant teachings to the contrary. read more

My further response

As Maharaja has quoted me, I wrote, “But if Srila Prabhupada is fallible in his own books, how could anything else he says in them be trusted?” I did not make the claim that “all that Prabhupada says” is true. This distinction matters because on the one hand it acknowledges that a guru even of Srila Prabhupada’s stature is not omniscient and, for example, might be mistaken about how the latest iPhone works. And on the other hand, it asserts that there are some domains in which Srila Prabhupada’s opinion should be considered infallible.

For example, in his own statements in his own books, it is self-evident that he is self-consciously speaking as a representative of our parampara. If what Srila Prabhupada says in his own books does not always faithfully represent our parampara siddhantas, then apasiddhantas are sometimes to be found in his books. This is what Maharaja’s 2005 paper on moral theology implies about Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 3.20.26. If it is the case that in Srila Prabhupada’s own books there are some utterances of his that are apasiddhanta, then it follows that Srila Prabhupada has no standing as a spiritual authority.

In response to Maharaja’s second enumerated point, a) Gita 12.10 recommends a “gradual process” for those who cannot properly follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, so b) there is no need to speculate in the face of Srila Prabhupada’s own repudiation of the approach that Maharaja has recommended. Furthermore, the artificial restriction of sense-gratification does not necessarily lead to its abandonment (see SB 7.11.34). read more

Dharma as a Consequentialism

In some recent public statements, Hridayananda Maharaja questions the authenticity of the well-known pastimes of Yudhisthira Maharaja having gambled away his wife Draupadi in a match rigged by Shakuni. He also questions the attempted disrobing of Draupadi in the assembly of the Kurus. Given that these pastimes have been accepted by Srila Prabhupada and by other acharyas in our line, Maharaja’s statements have caused considerable disturbance. This is not the first time Maharaja has made controversial public statements, nor is it likely to be his last. But what is not well known is what these recent statements have in common with other controversial acts and statements made by him over the years. They are products of a world view that places the moral philosophy of consequentialism above all other forms of Vedic authority. Maharaja’s radical application of consequentialism to Krishna consciousness is a form of adharma called abhasa, and it accounts for the deep differences between him and Srila Prabhupada on diverse subjects ranging from Vedic authority and culture to fundamental sexual ethics. Due to efforts over many years by Maharaja and others to propagate this, virtually without impediment, there are now many devotees whose understanding and practice of Krishna consciousness from the very beginning has been formed around adharmic principles.

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HH Hridayananda Goswami, Krishna West, and Consequentialism

Dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Hridayananda Maharaja is a devotee who is widely revered and dear to many throughout ISKCON, but he has also said and done many controversial things over the years that have been cause for concern. Although the typical response to Maharaja’s controversial statements and actions has been to treat them as separate, one-off events without relation to each other, they are instead deeply connected by a moral philosophy called “consequentialism.” (In this regard, I have attached a paper that examines this issue in depth. One version is a PDF document, and the other is a Word document.)

As Maharaja explains in his 2005 paper titled “Vaisnava Moral Theology and Homosexuality,” consequentialism seeks “morality primarily in the consequences of acts” and “argues that moral behavior must produce good consequences.” Consequentialism is plainly operative in some of his more controversial statements: read more