Ramanuja is well-known as the great philosopher and acarya of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. However, it should not be misunderstood that he was the founder of the Sri Vaishnavas. Originally started by Laksmidevi Herself, the Sri sampradaya contained many exalted devotees prior to Ramanuja’s appearance to whom he admits his debt in his writings. In their expressions of devotion to the Supreme Lord, all South Indian devotees were influenced by the nine Alvars, who lived several hundred years before the birth of Ramanuja. Despite some minor philosophical differences, it is plain that the themes of devotion and surrender to God, which are essential to Ramanuja’s teachings, are based to a large extent on the writings of the Alvars.
In these matters woman is more than intelligent – she is brilliant! She so surpasses man in this regard it isn’t a contest! And it is only when man seeks to delight in her company and swim in the bountiful praise and glorification which she is so eager to shower upon him, does he also find meaning or purpose and indeed pleasure in sharing her vision of a permanent home in this miserable and so very temporary material world!
Sakhi is a term for the confidential girlfriends of Srimati Radharani. The word bekhi is a corruption of the Sanskrit word vesa, which means “dress.” A sakhi bekhi is a man or a woman who dresses like a gopi and imagines himself or herself to be enjoyed by Krsna.
Sakhi bekhis imitate rasa-lila, Krsna’s dance with the gopis, sometimes by dancing with a person dressed like Krsna who wears a cuda, a crown of peacock feathers. This person is called cuda dhari. The philosophy of these two types of sahajiya groups is the same. Practically the only difference is that one group dresses like gopis and the other like Krsna.
Lord Caitanya taught, “The only controller is Krsna; everyone else is His servant.” Each spirit soul is a tiny spark of para-prakrti, the Lord’s subordinate or female spiritual energy. But this sense of our “being female” has nothing to do with mundane gender. We have temporarily assumed a male or female body as a result of past karma; the material covering does not reflect the eternal nature of the soul.
From time to time a devotee of Krsna is faced with touchy questions about the shadow side of his religion. “Is it true there are gurus in West Bengal who do dope when they chant Hare Krsna?” Or, “What about that place in West Virginia where they mix Krsna, Christ, New Age, and everything else?”
It’s best to keep a broad historical perspective when considering this problem. Hybrid versions of Krsna worship, or even downright perversions of it, are nothing new. They all tend to fit a pattern laid down long ago in India by thirteen deviant sects known as apasampradayas.
But before looking at the deviants, one should understand the correct culture of Krsna consciousness. Fashionable or not, there is a definite standard of spiritual life. It is called sampradaya.
Jayapataka Swami: “…Victorious moment, yet at the same time it is a matter of separation of a Vaisnava. So, for example, I just have a few things to say. You will find more details on how attached Pisima was, always assisting Srila Prabhupada in her childhood, from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s biography. I just remember that Srila Prabhupada said that she always used to follow him around when they were children.
Of course, when Srila Prabhupada sent me to India in 1970 from Toronto, Canada, after brief stops in Chicago with Bhagavan Goswami and in Los Angeles and in London on the way— when I arrived in Calcutta I only had Acyutananda Swami as association, although there were many other people, but there was no real association. So I remember, the first time he took me, he said that, “You should meet Srila Prabhupada’s sister. She has invited us for prasada.”
And we went to her house, and there she showed us the little Deities [belonging to] Srila Prabhupada that she was worshiping. Srila Prabhupada had given his childhood Deities to his younger sister to worship. Now, we don’t worship… I mean to say, we’re not speaking mainly because Srila Prabhupada’s material sister is Pisima. Actually, she is a Godsister. She accepted initiation from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur for the Harinama. I’ll speak about that later. So actually in the real sense, she’s a Godsister.
As they were at the right time in the right place, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were offered a unique opportunity to hear from and speak to Srila Prabhupada directly; Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are unique. If they truly used this unique momentum to come into the association of the most intimate servant of the Supreme Lord, will be clearly demonstrated to the degree they are serving His vani, His instructions how to conduct and spread Krsna consciousness.
Ideally the Vaisnava etiquette commands respect to senior Vaisnavas….provided one is senior in knowledge, realization and…one is indeed a Vaisnava. They are enough of old fools in this world.
To be Srila Prabhupada’s disciple is not a blanco cheque with open credit. As any valid credit card must be backed up by valid currency, so to be a Srila Prabhupada’s disciple must be authorized by His Divine Grace. It is not a ritualistic automatic status; it is a challenge to qualify oneself in Srila Prabhupada’s eyes. A man trying to pay with an invalid credit card will have to soon or later face the fact that he is bankrupt.