Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Spreading Krishna Consciousness

(Crossposted from the discusson on Facebook)

There has been movement both ways: Just as there were Goswamis and Babajis who went to the Gaudiya Math, they have come to Iskcon also. At the same time, there have been people going from Iskcon to various GMs, and from both to other Vaishnava groups.

svajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅge svato vare. You have to feel that you are getting saintly association with whom you share the same spiritual goals, where you find affection and which is preferably conducive to advancement. In other words, on a higher level than yourself.

I left Iskcon primarily for both the first and third reasons... not because I was too proud of myself, as some people thought, but because I felt that no one there in 1979 had anything particularly useful to teach me about bhakti and this tradition. I was just remembering yesterday, when I went to the Iskcon temple to celebrate Rasa and the beginning of Urja-vrata, how on two occasions, shortly before leaving Iskcon, I had been impressed by seemingly random people I came in touch with.

In Hyderabad, of all places, an old man came to the temple and began talking to me with tears in his eyes about svarupera raghu. It was so intimate and affectionate, like a ripe fruit I needed to pick. And a little before that, in Shillong, I was giving a class on Chaitanya Charitamrita, when an old Vaishnava began talking on the kaṁsārir api saṁsāra- verse. What a delicious mouthwatering moment that was. Lobha.

Bhakti is a yoga path. No matter which angle you take on Gita 12.5 (kleśo’dhikataras), the teaching comes to the same thing: you have to go through the eye of a needle to get to God. That is the bhakti path. The jnana path is to become so diffuse that you disappear, but that is not exactly the same as prema.

Bhakti is about attraction. Our attraction was primarily aesthetic and the philosophy is pretty much just an explanation of the attraction. The explanation may have become inadequate for us, causing our faith to weaken. If so, we have to ask ourselves, is the attraction still there? If not, then perhaps we need to look elsewhere, to follow our living attraction, or as Joseph Campbell puts it, “follow our bliss.” But if our attraction still lies in Krishna, then that means we have to use our intellect to understand the deepest significance of that attraction and how it must be practically applied.

Krishna is the "transcendental Eros." The "all-attractive." In whichever direction he pulls, we must follow. But all glories to those who have recognized him in his yugala form with Srimati Radharani, and in his combined form as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Jai Gaur. Jai Radhe!

Srila Prabhupada brought Krishna consciousness to the West. Most of those who are on this path, whether they have come through Iskcon or not, recognize the role of Prabhupada. Personally, I find I often have to bend over backwards to state this for Iskcon devotees whose demands for pledges of allegiance border on the neurotic.

But, let me ask, does anyone know the meaning of the word ucchiṣṭa? The guru's mercy is his leftovers. He does not do everything himself, but leaves stuff for those who follow to do to push the movement onward.

Times change, circumstances change, and we may be able to reach the people he didn't and perhaps could not nor would not. That is the duty of every devotee, whether they know it or not. And everyone, including Tim Lee, should honor all those who are pushing things forward. Every endeavor has some fault, and we have all fallen short of perfection, including no doubt Tim Lee himself. That does not mean that the flaws, failures or deficiencies are more important than the continued effort.

Push the movement on means :

(1) Do Bhajan. Prabhupada said thicken the milk. Do bhajan in the association of advanced devotees. If you think Tim Lee is an advanced devotee, then flock to him. If you think Narayan Maharaj or Ananta Das are advanced Vaishnavas, then flock to them. The institution is ultimately irrelevant; it is the individuals who are important. But for God's sake, shoot for our sampradaya's stated goals: Radha dasya and Prema.

(2) Study seriously. Learn about Gaudiya Vaishnavism. vidyā dadāti vinayam. Real knowledge leads to culture. It leads to understanding and generosity of spirit. And don't just read Prabhupada's books. Learn, learn, learn. Hear from different people. Understand what Mahaprabhu's intention was. Learn what Rupa Goswami's intention was. Learn about this world we live in and find out how Mahaprabhu's message fits.

And how about learning the original languages of our tradition so that you are not dependent on translations all the time? Translation is always an interpretation. What if you want to at least try to understand the original without commentary?

The more you learn, the more you will understand, the more cultured you will become, and the more capable you will become of serving this movement.

Which is what, exactly?

If bhakti is not helpful in advancing the human race, then what value does it have? And if the human race or we as individuals can do without it, then what use is it? If you think it has value, then go deep so that you can add to the value.

(3) Act according to your adhikāra. But respect everyone according to their adhikāra, from the sparrow trying to drink the ocean to the Garuda who can, from the squirrel to the Hanuman.

(4) LOVE. The goal is prema. And the secret of bhakti is that the end and the means are the same. Bhaktyā sañjātayā bhaktyā.

No one is going to be a Chaitanya, a Narottam, or a Prabhupada. But who knows what geniuses of bhakti are out there being born.

Jai Radhe!!

7 comments:

Vinay said...

thank you.

Anon said...

Gaudiya Vaishnavism went the way of dodos. It sealed its own fate. It's gone now as we know it and will never be the same. And that's great!
With anything new that will come instead and talk about love of Radha and Krishna, a new outlook on things must come with too.
A thorough transformation is needed, coming from inside, resulting in a wholly new worldview.

Anonymous said...

"Gaudiya Vaishnavism went the way of dodos."

Yeah, Shiva and Puranjana...

Anonymous said...

'Personally, I find I often have to bend over backwards to state this for Iskcon devotees whose demands for pledges of allegiance border on the neurotic.'

I also feel this when I am around Iskcon devotees. I do comfort them and one such person confided me that recently he came to the conclusion that vaisnavas outside Iskcon are also people... and they might even be good people. I mean ..that's advancement and I take it as such.

I have to admit honestly that people in Iskcon who are that neurotic are becoming a minority.

Anonymous said...

"I have to admit honestly that people in Iskcon who are that neurotic are becoming a minority."

That's because they are leaving ISKCON and migrating to other Gaudiya groups where they perpetuate the same old wine in a new bottle.

It is very difficult for disciples of Srila Swami Maharaja to accept the fact that other vaishnavas may not feel the same way about their guru that they feel - no matter where they go or whom they associate with.

If one maintains a respectful but neutral attitude towards the found acharya of ISKCON, even that is deemed aparadha by them.

Anonymous said...

Hare Krsna

Please accept my humble obeisances

Srila Prabhupada is my Param Guru,my spiritual Grandfather... im initiated into His family...and im only 17 years old. i think that devotees leave ISKCON because they are causing offences to the great souls,whom they think ordinary and unable to give them any "worthy" association... that is why Krsna pushes them away from ISKCON,for their own sake.

Your servant,
Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi devi dasi

Jagat said...

My dear Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi Devi Dasi,

I hope you will not mind me saying a word or two, mainly because you have such a beautiful name. You are blessed to have such a name.

This book by Prabodhananda Saraswati has been discussed many times on this blog, and we will do so again many times in the future.

This book discusses the most confidential service to Srimati Radharani in madhura-rasa. It is a book that is cherished by bhajananandi Vaishnavas. But you will find very little discussion of this book in Iskcon, because Prabhupada never translated it.

If any Iskcon guru wants to discuss this book, he must learn about it and read it from someone who is not in Iskcon. Someone like Advaita Das, for instance, who has translated it. Advaita Das's parama gurudeva, Ananda Gopala Goswami, was one of the greatest exponents of this book in the Gaudiya Vaishnava world, and his insights were transmitted to many sadhus and bhajananandis who heard it from him in Radha Kund.

Ananta Das Pandit Baba has translated this book and given an excellent commentary in Bengali, and that book has been translated by Advaita Das into English. If anyone reads this book in English, or if they have gotten a taste for it, it is because they have received it in parampara from Advaita Das, Ananta Das and Ananda Gopala Goswami. In other words, not Iskcon.

Perhaps Kushakratha has also translated this book. But if he did, it is because he received this book from some publication by someone outside of Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math.

Now, even if someone in Iskcon wants to speak on this book after reading it, do you think that they will receive grace from Advaita Dasji, Ananta Dasji, Ananda Gopala Goswamiji, if they call them Sahajiya Babajis? Or criticize them in other ways.

So for these intimate understandings of Radharani's most confidential service, we are obliged to accept that we need the grace of these acharyas also. Not just Prabhupada. We need the Vaishnavas, not just the Guru. Sadhu-Guru-Vaishnava.

Those who know that there are sadhus, gurus and Vaishnavas outside Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math are not being offensive to Iskcon and the Gaudiya Math. They are simply following their hearts to search more deeply into the sweetness of Radha's love and they yearn for the association of devotees who hear, chant and remember Srimati Radharani.

Iskcon is an institution, and sometimes it thinks that preserving the institution and keeping people inside the institution is more important than people developing Krishna consciousness. Iskcon's philosophy is that by serving the movement, you will attain all blessings, up to and including Radha-dasya.

But the Goswamis stated that we get Radha-dasya through hearing and chanting and cultivating the desire for such service in the association of devotees who are wholly given to that service. If someone does not find this ultimate attainment in Iskcon, or in the particular devotees who are around him, Ramananda Raya says he should run to whomever has it, and purchase this great prize with the currency of greed.

At any rate, please click on the link to Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi on the right column and enjoy the posts which mention or quote from it.

Jai Radhe!!