Literalism and the Shadow: Religion and the potential for evil

Ultimately all Krishna devotees will have to give up the literal interpretation of myth and turn to a symbolic understanding, or their faith will collapse on its own contradictions.

The reason a Gaudiya Vaishnava cannot be a literalist is because a literalist is always an unconscious dualist. As with all seekers of Truth, we hold that "when one's ultimate concerns are relative truths, that is called idolatry." (Paul Tillich) In other words, it is misplaced and misguided faith.

The literalist may appear to be unitarian who has resolved the problem of duality, but in fact he has a big unacknowledged Jungian "Shadow". Therefore his views are unsynthesized. This is why I say his position will ultimately collapse on its own contradictions.

We are acintya-bhedābheda-vādis. Acintya means paradox or mystery. Acintya-bhedābheda is not about artificially throwing up one's hands and saying, "It is all one anyway!" it is about the experiential and conscious synthesis of A and ~A. Experience gives intuitive knowledge, consciousness comes after rational processing.

The word acintya simply means that when we are in the realm of Divine Truth, specifically in the area of Divine Personhood and non-Personhood, the two are simultaneously equal due to the inconceivable nature of that Divine Truth.

Acintya is fundamentally a "faith" position. It is about the intuitive understanding that God is the seat where all contradictions are reconciled. Even though that realm, being archetypal, is ultimately inaccessible except through symbol.

Greta Christina, an atheist blogger, recently wrote an article in what seems to be an ongoing debate, "Faulty arguments religious people use against atheists debunked". She takes the basic position of objecting to any belief in the supernatural, whether it is God, the soul, spirits, ghosts, karma, or anything else, which is her definition of religion.

I do not at this time want to enter into a debate with her arguments, which on the whole are strong. My basic position is that religion is attributable to human functioning, both in the individual and collective psyches, but that it, like so many other percepts, must be purified by rationality and behavioral and moral reform (i.e. sādhana). So I do not find it surprising that most religion in the world is literalist and fundamentalist, arising from the lower guṇas of tamas and rajas.

This insight that religion has manifestations in the material qualities, which go from the very worst of human mentalities to the very best, can be found in the Gītā and Bhāgavata. Some form of faith follows humanity from its least evolved to its most elevated condition, for it is part and parcel of its very nature. What this means for rationalist absolutists needs to be considered.

Some religions are definitely worse than others in their capacity to produce evil consequences and ineffective social outcomes (take Afghani Islam as an example). If defending religion means defending these manifestations of the chthonic and basest inclinations of human civilization, then one is certainly in a difficult position vis-à-vis those who believe it to be a vestige of the primitive. But something similar might be said of almost any phenomenon – food, sex, interhuman relations and dealings, etc.

Human beings are meant to evolve, to seek betterment in all their endeavors including the religious. It is possible to understand religious phenomena without recourse to deities or supernatural beings, so that even atheism falls within its scope. As is so often the case, it is a question of definitions. But that is not for this article.

And if human life is about evolving to the highest states of being and experience attainable, then we must discard the baser forms of religion even as they proclaim their absolute verity. The Bhāgavatam itself is unequivocal, not only in calling out false religion, but in pointing out the many disguises that false religion takes.

jugupsitaṁ dharma-kṛte 'nuśāsataḥ
svabhāva-raktasya mahān vyatikramaḥ |
yad-vākyato dharma itītaraḥ sthito
na manyate tasya nivāraṇaṁ janaḥ ||

Those who are completely immersed in the material nature are done a great disservice when they are told to engage in reprehensible activities in the name of religion, for such people will never respect any restrictions that are placed on these acts once they have been approved as valid religious duties. [BhP 1.5.16]
Though I would not like to think that Mahaprabhu’s devotees could similarly be rājasika or tāmasika, the possibility is certainly there. The elimination of all the guṇas is the process of purification that every sādhaka undertakes. And the lower guṇas are in fact enhanced by superficial literalism, because such superficial understanding is not compatible with Truth.

If one examines the Gītā's definition of knowledge in the mode of ignorance (18.20) you can see a bit of what is meant.

Though Greta Christina makes her base definition of religion "belief in any supernatural beings" (which for her includes the soul) and argues that therefore all religion is equally wrong, she does seem to allow for degrees of bad. But like most atheists, she scents victory when liberal defenders of religion like Karen Armstrong (whom she calls “the queen of vague theology”) redefine God in a way that most religions would view as a kind of atheism. Richard Dawkins similarly calls pantheism a kind of “sexed up atheism.”

On the other side of the coin, when Hare Krishna devotees or any true believer hears, "We need to go beyond the literal concept and start thinking symbolically," they immediately respond in shocked abhorrence. Most devotees are afraid to abandon the literalist viewpoint, wondering what on earth will be left of their religion if they do? “How will I be true to my spiritual master, who demanded not only that I accept every word from his mouth as gospel truth, but the shastra also?”

The Bhāgavata says, bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syāt, “Fear comes of absorption in dualistic thinking.”

Karen Armstrong is trying to synthesize her religious experience with her abhorrence of the irrationality in the Catholic belief system as well as in other religionsm, what to speak of its obscurantist attitude to women and sexuality -- the two seem to go hand in hand.

I feel the same way. I think it is incumbent on devotees to use their rationality. But it is a perverted and dishonest rationality when the mandate is to "prove scientifically" the literal truth of ancient religious texts. This is the game fundamentalist Christians or a Michael Cremo are playing when they use science selectively against itself to disprove evolution. What do they have to put in its place? Literally interpreted myths, nothing more. Do they have the remotest capacity of proving those things scientifically?

The beginning of our autocritique has to start with humbly accepting that a lot of the shastra is fanciful stories that are meant either to moralize or just entertain.

Then the next step is to make a rational analysis of what is meaningful and an honest assessment of what is effective in the spiritual practices one is engaged in and why.

A big problem for most Vaishnavas, whether in ISKCON, the Gaudiya Math or orthodox sampradayas, is that most of them have a vested interest in controlling the message and keeping a dogmatic consistency in order to maintain their institutional strength or their individual psychological integrity.

What this results in is an imbalance, a repression of such honest examination of the belief system, which then results in the growth of the Shadow: "That which cannot be named." As this repressed aspect of the psyche is pushed further into the unconscious, it results in ugly behaviors that subvert the institution in more powerful ways, undermining its stated goals of stability, truth and happiness.

An organization with a shared or communal Shadow tends to fascistic type behaviors -- rigorous discipline and demands for obedience on the one hand, and rejection, hatred and punishment of the nonconformist. The strongest evidence of the Shadow is projection onto perceived "others" -- atheists, materialists, Mayavadis, karmis, Sahajiyas -- the list grows ever longer. And thus the potential for evil grows.

It is a mechanism that has its own dynamic. It becomes something quite insidious, when insiders no longer honestly believe their dogmas, but use them for what can usually be reduced to their own personal benefit, power, prestige and material comfort, all of which are bestowed by the institution.

By traditionalist standards, I will no doubt be closer to an atheist than a "true bhakta" (as one devotee intimated), but I in fact think that I am just a tad closer to the Truth than I was when I was an unquestioning follower. For me, the so-called "true bhakta" is one who is just starting on the path and has not really even begun to start inquiring into what is intended by jñānam advayam.


You cover a lot of ground in this post. Enough material for a book! But then, I guess your blog is a book of sorts. Anyway, I like your play on paradox and literalism. When the fundamentalist stuffs the mystery down inside, it bursts its way out as a monster. Yesterday I saw a photo of a Muslim carrying a sign that said, "To Hell With Freedom." I understand your theological gripe with Karen Armstrong, but her analysis of fundamentalism is spot on. And her emphasis on scripture as metaphor agrees with your position.
Martin Lyons said…
So although you do not further elaborate from this statement, as it stands, it does not appear to be in line with the very strong stands all out acaryas have taken in regard to confronting the implications and assertions of impersonalism. Would you suggest that that is perhaps because they were all afflicted by the weakness of 'fundamentalist literalism' from which you have perhaps been liberated? If I am completely misreading your intention or your stand, I certainly apologize - and I suggest that you clarify what you are actually saying - there is a lot of more academically flavored language in your piece that perhaps obfuscates rather than clarifies your intent.

Regarding your snipe at Michael Cremo - are you suggesting that the basic stand against evolution, which Srila Prabhupada was himself so very firm on, is amiss? If so, you have to consider deeply what ground you are actually standing on - whereby you simultaneously imagine that the acarya is merely another conditioned soul, with strongly held viewpoints that may be a result of lack of education and cultural sentimentality ... and that your own conditioned viewpoint is of more validity in whichever areas you choose to think so!

Also, for my own part, I had no difficulty rejecting evolution after hearing Srila Prabhupada - it never made any sense to me at all - nor could I ever believe that something could be 'scientifically true' when there was zero observed or experimental evidence (and we on't even talk about the enormity of holes in the actual 'theory' here).

Also, you refer to the dishonesty of 'trying to prove scientifically' the literal truth of religious texts. What do you mean by 'scientific'? Are you seriously going to question Srila Prabhupada's own stand that Krsna-consciousness is a science, because it affords a complete system of theory (philosophy) observation (of the qualities of elevated practitioners) and experiment (sadhana leading to the point of one's own direct realization of one's relationship with Krsna)? Do you uphold the unproven and arrogant assertion of materialists that only empirical evidence that can be captured by the material senses is of any validity in determining the nature of reality, that reality itself is necessarily inferior, that the only 'proof' must be in the form of something that can be controlled by our own minds?

In order to discuss any of these issues with you, we would first need to establish what is our common ground, and where our differences begin - and then begin by addressing each of those before going on to the next. In this regards, I think fist you need to determine where you stand, as a devotee and surrendered servant of your Guru ... or at which point you veer from such a 'straight and narrow' or 'razor's edge' and in favor of what? And how so?

Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
Krsna advises us all, via Arjuna, that if we want to know the truth, we must approach such a calibre of transcendentalist as has actually directly seen the truth ... ie someone who has no material conditioning, who sees Krsna directly, who knows his own identity and service in the real plane.
But it seems as if you are suggesting that our acaryas were but 'fundamentalist literalists' whose teachings we can accept and reject as we see fit (ie according to our own as yet conditioned mind and intelligence), claiming to understand the actual symbolic meanings of things ... why should we, or indeed you yourself, be more inclined to accept your own authority rather than theirs, rather than that of Guru-Sadhu-Shastra? Have you yourself transcended all material conditioning, so that your vision is true then? Or are you still doing as Anais Nin observed: 'we see things not as they are, but as we are'?
Jagadananda Das said…
Thank you for reading, Martin.

Yes, I question it all. That is my short answer. And yes, Anais Nin was as right about you as she was about me. Nevertheless, I stand by what I say.

Guru-shastra-sadhu... We pick and choose don't we? Whether we like it or not.

Ultimately, the only thing we have to go on is our experience. And my experience is satisfactorily confirming to me my ideas and my sadhana.

Bhaktivinode Thakur, who is my guru-varga, the guru of my guru, said that thought is progressive. I feel I am making progress. The conservative, literalist, dogmatic approach is that of the person he called the "useless reader." You may see the full quote here.

Jai Radhe!
Martin Lyons said…
Dear Jagat - first off, I see my original response to your article never made it onto your site ... which is fine, as I think my second posting sums up the essence of what I'd hoped to point out ... and you neglected to actually respond to the points I raised there.

Your quote of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur seems to lack real context - so the statement as it stands, 'thought is progressive' can be applied to any thought at all, which is of course an utterly useless generality. Scientists have determined that human beings are having at least 60,000 thoughts a day (very conservatively) - are these all progressive then?

What actually determines whether a thought is progressive or not? The first thing must be to determine what is progress, which demands first being clear about what is the actual goal - I think we can agree on this, in terms of becoming fully established in serving Sri Sri Radha Krsna according to our own spiritual identity. Since you mention Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, his book Jaiva Dharma gives a crystal-clear step-by-step guide as to how to do this ... and it rests on the fundamental of spiritual life, according to all our acaryas - which is to surrender your material vision in favor of the transcendental guidance of Guru-Sadhu-Sastra.

I may have misuderstood, but your blog seems to be advocating the superiority of your own materially conditioned thinking and perception over and above the teachings of Guru-Sadhu-Shastra? Of course, what exactly those may all mean is another conversation, and there is certainly much room for differences in opinion and interpretation, and much cause to consider deeply the possible filters and motives behind such differing interpretations ... but that is a a conversation for later. First, there must be agreement as to what is the basis for our understandings and beliefs - and as Vaisnavas, we accept the transcendental perfection of the vision of God and His own words, as presented via the person and book Bhagavata.

If we don't actually accept that, then we are not Vaisnavas - which is fine, there's room for everyone in this world! That is why we're all here, after all ... but it is intellectually dishonest, at least, to present oneself and one's independent thinking as being somehow representative of Vaisnavaism if one is not oneself established in the very first stage of bhakti, namely sraddha.
Questioning is good - but there must be progress also. Before accepting Guru, questions are there about what and who is Guru, why do sincere seekers of the Absolute Truth need a Guru, how do we identify a genuine Guru, etc. But after taking initiation, the questions then partake of the nature how can I serve you, how can I understand better what you have taught ... if again you are questioning the very concept of surrender, and of whether or not perfect transcendental knowledge can appear in this world, and whether your duty is to simply abandon all your own conceptions and propensity for mental speculation and surrender, unconditionally and whole-heartedly to your Guru ... then I would strongly suggest such questioning is not progressive at all, but very much regressive!

If you cannot become firm in your sraddha, how can you hope to make any progress in the next stages of bhakti-yoga?
Martin Lyons said…
And if indeed sraddha is weak, it is likely because you are suffering insufficient sadhu-sanga, which is also available by reading the words of the acaryas not with a mood to accept and reject, but with an earnest prayer to understand and imbibe their mood.

My observation is that what you have written in your blog is very distinct from, and indeed contradictory to, the mood of Srila Prabhupada ... you are not at all presenting his teachings, but your own defense or argument for independent mental speculation, and the 'right' to assert the relative truth and validity of whichever concepts your own conditioned intelligence is attracted to, regardless of whether it is actually supported by Guru-Sadhu-Shastra.

Regarding Anais Nin's quote: it applies to all conditioned souls, obviously. But our opportunity is to see clearly through hearing submissively fro transcendental authority. If you are however too taken with your own concepts, ie with the authority of your own conditioned mind and intelligence, so as to actually hear submissively from Guru, but instead pick and choose whichever of his words seem to support your own opinions, and disregard the rest as being, what, uneducated, culturally biased, conditioned by some form of ignorance? ... then you are trapped by the condition that Anais Nin's words refer to, you are rejecting the key that your Guru is holding out for you, because you are holding on to something else instead.

Also - "ultimately the only thing we have to go on is experience" - really? Is that what Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktivinode taught us? I think that Srila Prabhupada's introduction to Sri Isopanisad is a complete denial of such a statement! For a conditioned soul, 'experience' refers especially to the interaction between the conditioned mind and senses with their objects - but we have been given the opportunity to go so much beyond such a limited and faulty source of 'knowledge.' Our path is available through hearing from transcendental authority.

Everyone actually believes in this, in a more or less distorted manner. You have written a blog so that others can hear your words, which you believe will offer them some guidance, some clarification. Others may read it to gain the very same ... so? What is the difference? The difference is that you are a conditioned soul, you don't yet know the truth of which you speak. Whereas Guru does indeed know, as a matter of direct personal experience - and that is the quality of experience we can actually "go on!" The question is not whether you will listen ... but to whom will you listen? To Guru-Sadhu-Shastra? Or merely to your own mind - which imagines it has written off the necessity of hearing from Guru by deriding such as 'conservative, literalist and dogmatic.'

That may be your thinking – but I never ever thought Srila Prabhupada to be such - and yet he continually referred to shastra, to the teachings of the previous acaryas ... but his words are alive and vibrating with the atmosphere of emancipation by virtue of his realization. He never claimed to be presenting some new ‘original’ truth, like some muni – but simply to be delivering the original message from Krsna Himself for the benefit of all. On the other hand, when someone simply continues to trot out their own vision, as established for them by the specific conditionings rooted in their hearts and intelligence and mind, I find that to be 'dogmatic' small and unyielding, and offers me but the 'freedom' to go share another's cage.

Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah!

Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
I wanted to get a clearer sense of where you're coming from, what your actual point is, what the nature of the goal is ... I didn't find that very clear. I couldn't tell exactly what it is your are advocating, behind what occurred to me as a somewhat obfuscating layer of academic-sounding semantics.
In this blog you refer to the "equality of the Personal and non-Personal" aspects - but you make no mention of their difference, or the actual hierarchy of these two, that the Brahman effulgence is inferior to, dependent on, a mere fraction of, the actual expression of the Supreme Original and Complete Personality of Godhead. Just as, we are also equal to God ... inasmuch as we also are essentially spiritual in nature. But the statement does not end there! We only possess a limited percentage of the Lord's qualities, and these only in a minute quantity.
This felt a little off to me ... so I glossed over a couple of your other posts, and it is becoming clearer. You make so many statements regarding the symbols and the reality, and you refer to Radha Krsna as 'archetypes' - though you never come right out and say that These are also but symbols for something else, something presumably transcendental to any particular culture's tastes, you make comments that imply as much, and even refer to the 'myths' of Radha-Krsna lila.
So, and again, please correct me if I am mistaken, but it seems that you have taken a basically impersonalist tack, where, as Dr Radhakrishnan also proposed, Radha-Krsna and of course, Krsna and Arjuna, are not to be taken/adored/worshipped literally but as symbols for something unrestrained and undefiled by any kind of seemingly sectarian literal acceptance?
In your blog referring to Evolution, you make this statement (I didn't read any more of your blogs, though I am sure that these kind of statements are not exceptions, but fairly indicative of your general perception and bias?):
"I found Prabhupada's statement that one could use the atomic bomb to coerce people's adherence to Krishna consciousness so abhorrent. Pluralism allowed KC to enter a free society and find adherents, who were then ready to threaten their hosts with death if they did not convert also, believe or not?"
Are you serious? I have already observed your ability to take something utterly out of context to try to support your own point (as in Bhaktivinode Thakur's 'thought is progressive') - kindly present the actual quote and in its entire context also - because as it stands, it is in blatant opposition to the ample library of Srila Prabhupada's clear teachings regarding independence and love, as well as to his interactions with others.
My concern is that you have seriously distorted his words (perhaps in regards to his statements that should a war occur - which it must unless society significantly changes, in a response to our own karma! - then that would be very good for preaching, as people would be suffering and without so much material shelter and distraction as they have now) - and you have done so because you have such a need to dismiss his position as representing absolute authority so that you can try to establish your own, as with all these blogs. This is a very self-destructive path to follow, regardless of all your learning and scholarship - by making offenses to pure Vaisnavas, you destroy your sukriti and also invite so much bad karma. Yet all he ever wished for you was your greatest welfare - never did he criticize you, only extend his heart to you in love.
Martin Lyons said…
Our connection with Radha-Krsna is totally dependent on our receiving the mercy of those pure Vaisnavas who already have bhakti fully established in their own hearts. Thus a disturbance to that very connection will naturally obscure the dawning of our own sense of connection with the Personal aspect of God - and in its place an impersonal conception must arise. And in that place, there is no love. It represents Krsna without Radha, without Whom He cannot exist for a second. And that is what now seems to be fascinating you ...
Jagadananda Das said…
Funny, I thought that quote from Bhaktivinoda Thakur was rather clear about what progressive thought meant.

Jai Radhe.
Jagadananda Das said…
You are, I assume, a disciple of Prabhupada himself. In what year did you join and get initiated?
Jagadananda Das said…
You cover a lot of ground, Narasingha Dasji. I don't think I distort Prabhupada. I joined ISKCON in 1970 and there was stuff "on the record" and off.

You have a pretty orthodox ISKCON point of view. I clearly do not. I believe I have a number of degrees of difference. One is my initiation from Lalita Prasad Thakur in the direct diksha line from Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the practices of raganuga bhakti. Another is my knowledge of the Indian languages and my ability to access the sources in the original and the association I had with raganuga bhaktas in Radha Kunda and Gauda Mandal. Another is my orientation to the Sahajiya point of view and the insights coming from yoga meditation. Another is my academic study of religion in the West.

For most devotees those qualifications would be considered disqualifications, but for me each one has come at a price and brought me much valuable insight.

I am still very much an achintya-bhedabheda-vadi. I have been explaining these things on my blog in an attempt to be coherent. I will just have to put it in book form so that the overall argument becomes clear.

The impersonal is indeed subordinate to the personal. But my belief is that most devotees have a very kanishtha understanding of the two. The descriptions of the three kinds of devotees need to be profoundly understood and one must attempt to progress to the uttama stage as the Bhagavata describes it.

Oh yes, and the goal is PREMA. That is what this is all about. Nothing else. You must remember that whatever you read here.

At any rate, I again thank you for reading and hope you enjoy and also get some food for thought, whether you agree or disagree.

Radhe Shyam.
Martin Lyons said…
Hare Krsna Jagat-ji


So our differences are many - but I think they can all be traced to a single point of deviation ... but first, I will introduce myself. Although I did indeed have the great fortune of meeting Srila Prabupada during my years living in India in the mid-through late '70's, I did not recognize him as my guru - though later on I could understand the enormous blessing my meeting him has had for my spiritual life.

I joined ISKCON in Vrindavan in 1978, and soon fell prey to the combination of isolationism and of overlooking the actual transcendental qualifications and realizations of guru in favor of choosing the ‘best’ (according to the material vision of the choosers) among whoever might be immediately available ... fortunately, after some years of allowing myself to be subjected to such an impoverished and ego-centric/protective agenda, I found myself at last receiving the shelter of my own Guru Maharaja, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami.

So ... I think that it is both relevant and even necessary, for the sake of encouraging an environment where we (as persons holding often opposing views) drop 'ad hominem' insult techniques to deflect or dismiss the other's viewpoint.

Especially, this label 'fundamentalist' is an emotionally-laden word, and it is very easy to use it in a general environment that has been shaped by intellectual laziness, 'give-it-to-me-in-30-seconds/words-or-less' and cheap political discourse where sentiments are swayed by the skilful manipulation of externals, where image is everything and content passes by barely touched upon or noticed, and 'victories' are achieved by cheap insult rather than by suitably profound analysis and rational argument.

Indeed, the reality is that everyone who holds a position about anything is, to the extent that they are committedly holding on to such, a 'fundamentalist' - their underlying motives naturally predispose them towards a particular world-view or philosophy that supports the same, and that particular world-view that dictates what they either see or fail to take notice of, and how to interpret said information ... the experience and the belief are but two sides of the same coin. And to refer to one person's attachment to such a 'currency' as being fundamentalist and dogmatic while ignoring that the other's is equally prejudiced and unmoving is cheap politics, name-calling that fails to penetrate the darkness of our ignorance and lamentable condition.

I am clear about what I believe and why - and in discussing it with anyone else, unless we have a common ground of trust in and acceptance of certain authorities, I do not usually refer to such in order to make any case for my understandings. Rather, I look towards logic and common sense observation first ... although of course everyone's possibility for objective argument is indeed compromised by wherever their own form of fundamentalism has already taken root, in the form of their own specific agendas and motives proceeding from the fact of their fundamentally false position (ie identified with matter and surcharged with lust, anger, envy, illusion, pride etcetera).

In this regard, and even more so since I am not in fact 'officially' part of ISKCON, I think it is irrelevant and indeed quite inaccurate (!) to make a comment that "I have a pretty orthodox ISKCON point of view" - which, considering your overall statements about such, is a superficially polite way of deriding it as being 'dogmatic, literalist, fundamentalist, immature, inexperienced, academically less familiar' etc.

(2) to follow
Martin Lyons said…

I want to make an aside here, just in the name of authentic communication. My experience has been that as we become familiar with the external image of how devotees are supposed to look, we have a tendency to conflate the outer expressions of humility and respect or affection with an inner mood of the same. As a result, we assume that as long as we say 'prabhu' and 'PAMHO' and 'I mean no offence' and many other such platitudes, then all is well and good - but the reality is that too many times such language is merely hiding a quite opposite mood.

So I would like to suggest that for our exchanges we strive to be authentic in our attempts to develop respect and affection for one another, and to engage in our discussions with a view to learning, perhaps to seeing our own position through new eyes, the eyes of a friend who is not saddled with our own specific blinders in regards to our motives, shortcomings, and egoistic habits that have been with us so long we have little objective self-awareness of their existence (kind of like water to a fish). But we can't do this if we have a self-righteous attitude of disdainful scorn towards each other, regardless of how well we might hide that behind suitably contrived linguistic forms. You know, kind of like southern gentlemen who exude all manner of respect and etiquette in their superficial dealings with one another, but are inwardly seething with suspicion and animosity.

OK – that is my suggestion of at least one ground-rule for our communication. Let me know your response to the same.

Now I would like to try to establish where our views deviate form one another, primarily by establishing my own ‘orthodoxy’ and why I hold to such. My own spiritual journey led to my staying with several powerful yogis in India and experiencing various mystic states … and indeed to being groomed to be the next leader of one group in particular in which I was the first Westerner. So a lot was available for me there – but I had a deeper hankering that yogic states and a prominent position in a spiritual community could assuage … and I received, albeit unconsciously at the time, a wonderful blessing from my few minutes’ association with Krsna’s pure devotee at the Kumbha Mela in 1977.

Soon after, to my own great surprise, I found myself joining ISKCON in Vrindavan in 1978, I became very ill and was hospitalized at Ramakrishna Mission Hospital there – and after surgery, I began to read Srila Prabhupada’s books with a properly submissive mood of earnest enquiry for the first time. I began with the introduction to Sri Isopanisad – and it at last clarified for me what, or who, a guru truly is. It had never occurred to me that guru is actually a ‘transparent via media’ – that he is established on the absolute platform, that Krsna can reveal Himself and His own love through such a fully surrendered soul without any compromise, without any distortion of material conditionings. I at last began to get a sense of what perfection is – the same perfection that I had been aspiring to achieve in and for myself … so I could hardly doubt that any others were capable of achieving such!

I clearly recognized and understood the four defects of the conditioned soul that disallow him from ever gaining access to the perfect realm, to perfect knowledge, by his own endeavors; and I recognized that the absolute essential in spiritual life was to come to a platform of unconditional surrender to the pure soul, as supported by unyielding sraddha in the actuality of his transcendental position, his own partaking in the acintya and acyuta nature of Sri Krsna. I begged Srila Prabhupada that I would always be able to recognize that any misunderstanding or contradiction I experienced with his words was due to my own ignorance, that I would always remember that his words are directly pure representations of Krsna’ Himself.
Martin Lyons said…

Nor is such mere fundamentalist sentimentality … there is a wealth of rational support for believing in the absolute position of Guru. Regardless of where this principle has been misapplied so as to promote blind surrender to an unqualified person – the existence of a fake dollar bill does not deny the validity of a real one.

How much rational support for this principle is necessary here? You are a Vaisnava, there are innumerable shastric references in full and clear support of this statement – that “the acarya is My very self” … and so very many slokas in regards to the absolute necessity of accepting guidance from the pure devotee, whether or not one’s diksa guru is on such a platform.

I am confused by your seeming position however … and I would appreciate your making it clear. Do you accept that Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee, fully self-realized acarya, as evidenced both by his own personal example and preaching as well as by the extraordinary manifestation of empowerment in regards to actually awakening divine moods all over the world in fulfillment of Mahaprabhu’s mission? If so (and I assume you do), then where is there room to argue with his words? Or indeed with the words of all our Gaudiya acarayas, especially Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Jiva Goswami, Rasacaraya Srila Vishwanath Cakravarty, Srla Baladev Vidyabhusana Prabhu, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati …?

Because what you would then be doing is not only denying his/their absolute authority – you are also assuming your own. It is not possible to actually deny absolute authority – why? Because Krsna IS Absolute Authority – and thus this principle is always present, in one form or another. For example even the atheist must accept the supreme authority of time and of death. And meanwhile, we each assume absolute authority in regards to our own beliefs and opinions and observations – you have written umpteen blogs, all in clear evidence as to your conviction in the ‘rightness’ of your vision and understanding, your authority that others should also recognize and surrender to.

You argue against so many other points of view that you have to date seen fit to dismissively lump together as being but ‘literalists and fundamentalists’ – and in so doing, you deny their authority only by virtue of implicit reference to your own. So you denounce the acceptance of Srila Prabhupada’s words as worthy of absolute surrender (and I think, from scanning some of oyur other blogs, this is a general principle for you) – you seem to demand the right to subject everything to your own final test, via your own education and intellectual digestion of available information and your own experience … and come to what are ultimately your own conclusions. In other words, you accept your self as the Absolute Authority, and you abrogate to yourself the right to change your mind, to open up to this or close yourself off from that, according to your own preference.

The argument then is not in fact in regards to the absolute authority of Guru, of the attitude of the disciples in relation to such – the argument is simply in regards to who is properly fit to be a reservoir of such authority.
Martin Lyons said…

Rational argumentation can engage for a while, to make the logical case for the existence of God; and then for God’s being a Person; and then, for His being complete with unlimited potencies; and then, for His having the ability and compassion to reach out to us, without any need of His compromising His own spiritual nature, even though we are fully bound up in this material world; and how He especially does this via transcendental sounds that are non-different from Himself; and how such are carried by His own intimate associates who agree to come to this plane in accordance with His own compassion and their desire to serve Him in this regard … and how all this is going on under the direction of His superior spiritual energy, so that there is actually no question of any of these personalities or their activities being in fact conditioned or limited in any way by His inferior material energy … although it may appear to be thus, just as ‘fools may deride Me when I appear in human form, and perform navarata lila’ …

And then shastra provides us with so many descriptions and definitions to help us recognize who is actually Guru – though of course, our own sukriti and duskriti will play a huge role in allowing us to see or not … but at least we can become aware of our own lack of qualifications. Then we can begin to develop some proper humility and sense of hopelessness that in turn creates a favorable space in which the Lord’s mercy might appear and be recognized. Whereas as long as we are proudly self-satisfied with our own understandings, that may in turn be bolstered by all manner of material qualifications, scholarship and so on, then there is no room for His inconceivable mercy to manifest … first we must be willing to renounce our own (mis)conceptions.

So I think this is where we begin to differ – I accept the transcendental quality of Guru and his words as being of the superior energy, and I recognize that my own mind and senses are entirely compromised by material conditioning. Whereas you apparently reserve the right to judge, to question, to accept and reject according to your own sense of qualification to do so.

I differ from ISKCON in as much as I do not accept that Guru is an institutional product or property! I do not believe in surrendering to anyone simply because he is accorded the title of guru by institutional prerogative or vote, or in denying Vaisnavas who happen to function outside my own sense of institutional boundaries. I believe that as Krsna is in my heart, as much as I am sincere and fit to somehow or other receive the association of first-class Vaisnavas, He will make all arrangements … He will help me to recognize who such persons are and how to engage with them.

You may say that my view is merely an orthodox, and so not original, dogmatic following, that I fail to risk being an individual or whatever else … but it is based on the simple understanding that ‘someone who is bound in chains simply requires the mercy of one who is not thus entangled to unchain him’ – that it is not at all the lowest or most unconscious or laziest use of my intelligence to surrender to Guru – but rather, it is the greatest use of my intelligence to actively try to understand how and why this is so and to discriminate who is truly Guru, and to also rein in my mind and senses that ctively resist the priniciple of surrendering to higher authority as they wish to themselves be the highest authority in my life and have me serve only them!
Martin Lyons said…

The next subject I would broach is in regards to the specific flavor of our practices and beliefs, as enjoined to us by our gurus. You advocate a sahajiya version of Vaisnavism, which you were introduced to by Sri Lalita Prasad. So I have several questions and comments. You simultaneously claim allegiance to the whole Guru-varga, at least that which preceeded Lalita Prasad. And yet the Goswamis and their followers have been undeniably clear in regards to the actual nature of the teachings and practices of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, the proper unfolding of the steps of sadhana-bhakti and then of raganuga-bhakti after actual freedom from material conditioning has been established as distinct from what are identified as being the disturbances and distortions of sahajiya, of persons filled with material desires and conditionings now imagining through these very material filters the nature of spiritual subjects and their own engagement in such.

For example, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written as follows in his essay entitled ’The Depravity of the Sahajiya Doctrine.’

“A loathsome ideology is spreading insidiously in several places in Bengal. All the activities and conduct prescribed by this sahajiya doctrine are extremely corrupt and contemptible. The jiva is cinmaya (spiritual), and its only natural dharma is cinmaya service to Krsna. The word ‘sahaja’ means saha-ja, i.e. that which arises along with the atma. Transcendental service to Krsna is sahaja (natural) for the pure atma, because it occurs along with the jivatma and thus it is naturally inherent. However, it is not natural in the stage of bondage to inanimate matter. Sahajiyas cheat others and are themselves cheated or deprived of their pure and natural love for Krsna by transforming the union of man and woman into a mundane, supposedly natural dharma. In actuality, the union of man and woman is not a natural dharma. On the contrary, in the natural dharma of the atma, the union of the dull male and female bodies is extremely loathsome, depraved and inappropriate conduct. What is called sahajiya-dharma nowadays is totally immoral, contrary to saintly behaviour and opposed to sastra. Suddha Vaisnavas should be extremely careful in regard to this. That dharma in which the custom is to accept mantra in the left ear is in all respects a deviation.

"We never find anywhere in the scriptures instructions such as, ‘One should associate with a woman in order to attain Vrajendra-nandana’. On entering into madhurya-rasa the minute conscious jiva attains his own natural condition. Then there is no necessity whatsoever for associating with the inanimate material nature. Chota Haridasa, himself being prakrti (female), was rejected by Mahaprabhu for committing the offence of conversing in purusa-bhava (male mood) with another prakrti. Licentious people create the path of their own sense gratification (see Antya-lila 2.117), but suddha Vaisnavas neglect them. The association of a married woman is not part of bhajana even for householders, therefore this association of woman has been accepted in a regulated way free from sin for conducting household life. It is the opinion of pure Vaisnavas that male sadhakas should perform bhajana and remain separate from female sadhakas. A female sadhaka should not invite any male person to her bhajana party. Bhajana is a completely spiritual activity. When even the slightest mundane sentiment is allowed to enter it becomes ruined.”

So in such a light, how do you propose to be both a follower of sahajiya teachings and practices as well as of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, whom you claim as your ‘guru-varga?’ And how do you identify Sri Lalita Prasad as an acarya in the line of Nityananda and the Goswamis through to Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, when his teachings are at such radical odds? Not only this, but I understand he was inimical towards the position taken not only by Srila Prabhupada, but indeed of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta.
Martin Lyons said…
6) END

Is there really any question regarding the identity of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta as the world acarya his illustrious father had prayed for? Can anyone doubt the identity of such a personality who not only performed the most wonderful austerities in relation to fulfilling a vow of spending all his time simply engrossed in chanting Harinam for so long, and then in relation to establishing such a dynamic and powerful preaching mission that expanded into so many different extraordinary branches, including Srila Prabhupada’s own ISKCON?

I am not so very familiar with the activities of Sri Lalita Prasad – or with the results of his preaching? I read that you yourself received ‘siddha-pranali’ (a practice that is widely condemned by orthodox followers in the line of the Goswamis) as well as Babaji-vesha – yet you are clearly not engaged in the enounced single-pointed dedicated lifestyle of a babaji, whose only attraction and engagement is to serve the Holy Names even at the expense of serving his material senses with as much food and rest as ordinary men consider basic. So it would appear that whatever you may have received in such an inititiation did not make a lasting profound impression?

Not only this: but for all devotees, the imperative is not to enjoy Krsna, but to serve His enjoyment … and this begins with our serving the Holy Names. These Names are themselves non-different from Krsna, They are themselves Personalities … and there are very specific rules in regarding how to serve Them, else we will create so much disturbance because of our own materialistic and spiritually insensitive and uneducated tendencies. In this regard, we have been warned of the offences of namabhasa, of imagining unpalatable combinations of rasas that do not at all serve the actual moods of Radha, Krsna and Gauranga.

Therefore one example of such unpalatable namabhasa, which has been explicitly warned about by our acaryas, is the concocted mantra ‘Nitai Gaura Radhe Shyama’ (abut which you say which blends sakhya and madhurya rasas in an unwelcome manner – Balaram is never present when Radha and Krsna are engaged in Their own pastimes, as assisted by the gopis and manjaris. Of course, He is present in His form as Ananga Manjari, but the name Nitai does not indicate her or her service to Radha-Krsna. Nitai is serving Gauranga in His preaching mission – but His most intimate associates such as Swarup Damodar prabhu are serving Him in His mood as Radha, and also Gadadhar, Who is non-different from Radha … and even he cannot continuously be with Mahaprabhu, or he will encourage Mahaprabhu to enter the mood fo Shyamsundar rather than as Radha, which would contradict the actual purposes of this manifestation.

These of course are all the most esoteric subjects – and they cannot be understood by any conditioned soul. Indeed, spiritual subject matter cannot be ‘understood,’ period. It can no more be captured by the mind than the hand can grasp a thought. Therefore all mental speculation is actually a distraction on the spiritual path, and includes academia and reading with an intent to understand/grasp/own/control/manipulate/use for our own purposes … everything must be done for the sake of devotional service. But such service is alien to our conditioned nature, our every instinct is towards serving maya, serving our false sense of separated enjoying self – and as such can only be imbued by surrendering to a genuine transcendentalist. So again, to surrender to such a one, to recognize that we are ourselves utterly unqualified to give direction to ourselves, represents a far higher degree of intelligence than vainly insisting on the imagined superiority of our material intelligence and the imagined inferiority of the subject-matter as implied by our hope to dominate and possess it.


Narasingha das
Jagadananda Das said…
Well, I am flattered that you have taken so much time out of your no doubt very busy life to write so much after glossing some of my posts. I am especially grateful for the Bhaktivinoda Thakur quote. I had never seen it before and I shall respond to it later.

You have given me a great deal to think about. I will have to put it in the queue for a detailed response, however, for which I hope you will forgive me.

Let me just say a word about "progressive thought" "fundamentalism" and my dependence on my own limited intelligence, etc.

By progressive thought, I mean that all sources of knowledge are ultimately to be revised according to one's own experience. God is One, but experienced differently according to each individual's practice and surrender. So the final authority is always yogi-pratyaksha or vidvad-anubhava.

Such authority may be external in the first instance, but ultimately when through sadhana one becomes a yogi or vidvat, his experience and perception become authoritative, first of all to himself and then, if persuasive and backed by grace, to others.

The teaching of the Gita, in my opinion, is buddhi-yoga, or how to access the intelligence that comes from Divine Authority. It is this intelligence that we ultimately must believe in. The external guru is always a guide, but since thought is "progressive", we are required to build on received knowledge in keeping with our own experience.

The external Guru always leaves his remnants for the disciple to feed on. This is why I find no contradiction in both acknowledging the grace that has come to me through my gurus, but at the same time do not hesitate to disagree in some cases where my own independent experience -- by which I mean that which comes through sadhana as well as observation and study -- finds the original explanation inadequate.

By fundamentalism, literalism, etc., (as I believe I may have intimated in the article), I mean the sacrifice of independent analysis, etc., to external authority. Now in cases where one is satisfied by other criteria that the external authority is absolutely correct, then that is very well and good, but as I indicate in the article, this often results in denial and repression of disagreements due to fear, etc.

We have seen this over and over and you intimate that a similar realization happened to you in 1978. Ultimately spiritual life is individual, it is about finding your own unique individuality and from that your capacity to find love and intimacy with another such individual. This is the path to prema.

Artificial adherence to external authority is always an external imposition. This is what I mean by fundamentalism. It is true, as you say, that such impositions are subtle and far reaching. Nevertheless, let us start by going from gross to subtle.

With regards the Sahajiya quote, it would be nice to see the original Bengali. But I will respond to it in a separate post, as my disagreement with it is profound and, yes, fundamental.
Jagadananda Das said…
I just want to make one small clarification about individualism, etc., in the paragraph ending with "prema."

I believe that human life and spiritual experience are mediated through language and symbol, even to be processed to our own mind and intelligence. Whatever experience, etc., we have, even if ineffable, requires expression.

The sadhana of Two, i.e., Yugala-bhajana, similarly requires language, symbol and ritual, etc., in order to function. Moreover, the desire for human society and companionship, is similarly mediated through language, symbol and ritual.

All of these should reflect the ultimate goal of life, prema.

Radhe Radhe.
Martin Lyons said…
Re. 'Progressive Thought'

You have described Sri Lalita Prasad as a direct initiated disciple of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. I was unaware of this - aside from Sri Lalita Prasad's saying it was so, was there any objective evidence for such? The reason I ask is, as is clear in the light of the article I sent you and indeed many other teachings of the illustrious Thakur, the sahajiya philosophy and practices that you received from Sri Lalita Prasad are very contrary to what the Thakur himslef preached. In other words Sri Lalita Prasad did not receive such from Srila Bhaktivinode which would suggest that either he did not in fact receive actual diksa and siksa from the Thakur, or he rejected such in favor of his own (what perhaps you would call) 'progressive thought.' Either way, that belies this claim that he was actually his father's disciple.

This also makes sense to me, because I was very puzzled to read, in Sukavak's supposedly scholarly study of Srila Bhaktivinode's life and teachings entitled 'Hindu Encounter with Modernity,' about the Thakur's supposed carnivorous appetite, that he claimed continued into his 40's, ie well-past his publication of various extremely profound and intimate presentations in regards to exalted Gaudiya esoterica.

Then I found that the source of his information was the supposed autobiography written by Srila Bhaktivinode and 'co-authored' by Sri Lalita Prasad. My own guru had previously denounced this book, saying that while it had indeed been penned by Sri Lalita Prasad, it was not at all true to the life, teachings and actual swarupa of the Thakur, that it suggested the author's (Sri Lalita Prasad's) claiming to know so many intimate details of the Thakur's life that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was unaware of - and why would Sri Lalita Prasad know things about and from the Thakur that his most superexcellent pure devotee son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, did not?

But as I wrote, it does indeed make sense to me, because Sri Lalita Prasad's basic premise, as a proponent of sahajiya, is that one can indeed directly access the highest realms without going through the bothersome restrictions of sadhana-bhakti: that without actually becoming purified and free from all manner of material identification and lusty desires on account of identifying the soul with matter, one can directly experience and engage in the affairs of the internal potency.

So to suggest that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur is at one and the same time eating meat, under the influence of desires stimulated by tamoguna and rajoguna, and also directly experiencing spiritual affairs so as to make him a fit commentator on the highest spiritual emotions and ecstasies, is clearly very favorable for the basic premise of sahajiya ... and therefore all those who attend strictly to Srila Rupa Goswami's teachings regarding the actual progressive path of bhakti, of becoming qualified to enter higher realms by becoming freed from all material conditionings and contaminations (via whichever combination of sadhana and grace from superior Vaisnavas is specific to each individual's experience), roundly reject such claims as Sri Lalita Prasad has made regarding the maha-bhagavat Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur as being untruthful, offensive and cynically created merely to advance his own sahajiya leanings and attendant distortions of the actual teachings of all the Goswamis (including his father).

Nor does the particular passage I sent you stand alone - there is a wealth of supportive texts and commentaries, that were recounted especially by Srila Prabhupada, so as to warn future sadhakas about the dangers of sahajiya. I will copy just a few in the next posting.


Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
‘Progressive Thought’ 2

In regards to the previous passage I ‘sent’ you from Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, you express some regret that you do not have the original Bengali … however, even if some words may not have been translated with complete semantic accuracy, the basic meaning and intent is very clear.

You have pointed out that one of the features that distinguishes you is that you have indeed given much time and energy to scholarship and academic research, much of which was conducted in well-known institutions (eg Gill) – a common image that many academics wish to present is that they are in a uniquely informed and objective position, that their understandings and conclusions are somehow impartial and accurate understandings base on their historic observations, and as such they should be treated as authoritative.

So I would point this out in regards to scholarship. The idea that academia poses an objective neutrality and thus deserves special respect for its assumed authority is entirely mistaken. Hence my previous quote from Anais Nin, that we (conditioned souls) see things as we are rather than as they are. Scholarship is just a tool, it is not a replacement for consciousness, or a purifier of such. Rather, according to the actual position and coloring of the consciousness that wields it, it becomes a tool to reinforce and magnify the already-held distortions and prejudices embedded therein.

The need is not for scholarship, or any other external – although certainly all such can be utilized for service, if the consciousness and heart of the scholar is indeed devotionally situated. Otherwise, we can see there are so many atheists and mayavadis and karmis in so many schools and elsewhere, and they use their scholarship as a buffer to justify pushing devotional conclusions as far away as possible … and are thus referred to in Bhagavad-gita as ‘maya-prakrita-jnana.’

The question is, how to purify the consciousness? And the answer provided by our acaryas has ever been the same: by simultaneously absorbing it in transcendental sound and engagement, and by restraining it from mundane activities. Ie to redirect our serving propensity from maha-maya, where our service is not only unintentional but also occurs to us as the opposite of service, so that we imagine ourselves to be the lord, the enjoyer … and to yoga-maya.

The instructions Srila Rupa Goswami has given in Upadeshamrita are so clear, with regards to controlling the mind and senses, their urges and appetites … how can anyone claim to be in this line and yet so happily ignore these basic teachings of yoga … so as to imagine that his material senses can in any way associate with the fully spiritual form of the Lord, or that by indulging in the appeasing such senses in the hope of enjoying inside of a completely baffled sense of misidentification with the material body. How does anyone imagine that our imagined pleasures are somehow a source of pleasure for Krsna and Radha – I do not at all understand the sahajiyas’ reasoning, it occurs to me in complete contradiction to simple common sense, what to speak of logic or the enormity of instructions and explanations given us by our entire guru-varga.

So here is the same point I have come to previously in considering this concept of sahajiya, specifically in regards to the ‘progressive nature of thought,’ in the sense of independent and individual reflection duly weighed with one’s own experiences. This statement ‘thought is progressive’ is clearly not intended as a generality – there are so many thoughts others have, for instance in regard to your own statements, that you hold to be anything but progressive! Hence you write about what you define as fundamentalist thinking as being anything other than a ‘progressive thought.’
Martin Lyons said…
‘Progressive Thought’ 3

Then what is the context that allows for thoughts to be properly progressive? I would suggest that it refers to their breaking free of the constraints exerted by the force of conditioning that contains the very consciousness that birthed them … which is to say, it refers to the progressive purification of the consciousness and freedom from misidentifying with the material body, with the false concepts of aham-mameti, that I am this body, and that the actual meaning of all perceivable objects is in relation to my own sense of enjoyment. Hence I regard this as being attractive, and that as being repulsive, and that as being irrelevant …

I would suspect that the sahajiyas, being still fully entrapped by their misidentification with matter, and by the specifics of the material gunas that thus entrap them, each have their clear preferences regarding who is and who is not a suitable partner to ‘love.’ Perhaps they divide specific body-types and facial characteristics and ages into those they find attractive and those they find quite unattractive … which simply confirms that their perspective is rooted in false material conceptions, that they have concocted a pseudo-spiritual philosophy like so many other groups that conflates material and spiritual desires, and is anyway focused on the satisfaction of the follower – who is thinking ‘let me enjoy now … and as a result, let me enjoy later also … either in this world or the next, I will enjoy, I will enjoy Krsna’s energies, and I will enjoy Krsna.’ This is identified in Bhagavat purana as kaitava projhita dharma, simply cheating.

All of our acaryas have said over and over that a person who is still materially conditioned, whose sense of self, whose consciousness … is still contaminated by their vision of themselves as the enjoyer, cannot understand spiritual affairs. They cannot understand the relationships of Krsna with His very own potencies, and necessarily interpret them in accord with their own lusty desires. I think that what you refer to as the sadhana of Two, or yugala-bhajana, is such a result? No-one who identifies with his or her material body can penetrate into serving the pastimes of Sri Sri Yugala-Kishor – nor does such service ever include two separate and distinct jives trying to imitate the relationship between God and His own internal potency!

It is therefore essential to hear about spiritual subject matters from a bona fide representative of Sukadvea Goswami and those goswamis following in his line who are fully the masters of their senses. Such persons are both 100% free from all interest in trying to enjoy the material energy, and simultaneously fully immersed, ahaituky apratihata, in sravanam-kirtanam-smaranam Visno.

Simply by hearing from such personalities, and by using our minds to understand how what they are saying is True (philosophical speculation) as opposed to using them to challenge or question such and produce an alternative product of one’s own conditioned reasoning (which is mental speculation) … then we are naturally purified, these pastimes actually enter our hearts, and our appetite to hear them more an more grows, along with our taste for the same, and the gradual loss of taste for non-devotional topics and behaviors.

This is also an experience, prabhu, that so many devotees have had, regardless of all the obvious fall-downs and interruptions various neophytes have also experienced due to their misfortune (duskriti), offences and other factors. Even such a neophyte as myself has experienced this – and because I am indeed a neophyte, I also still act in conditioned ways that diminish my spiritual taste … but such a platform is also fully explained in such works as madhurya-kadambini – which serve to provide proper context for our thoughts, our practices and our experiences, so that we may indeed make actual progress on our paths.
Martin Lyons said…
‘Progressive Thought’ 4 - END:

Meanwhile, here are a couple more of the Thakur’s unequivocal statements regarding sahajiya:

“Many times, because of bad karma, miscreants of various unauthorized cults, such as pseudo-religion and irreligion, say that they preach the teachings of Sri Caitanyadeva. Being absorbed in material enjoyment and not having the ability to discriminate, many people accept those unauthorized cults as the line of Mahaprabhu, and thus they are cheated from receiving the actual instructions of the Lord.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur - Caitanya-siksamrta)

“An abominable sect known as sahajiya is secretly being followed in many parts of Bengal. The activities of this cult are extremely sinful. They do not follow sahajiya-dharma or spontaneous duties that are mentioned in the sastras. The spontaneous duties of the pure spirit soul are to engage in the transcendental service of Krsna. These duties are spontaneous for the soul, and they manifested at the same time as the soul, but they are not spontaneous when the soul is materially conditioned.

The cheaters and the cheated have turned their pure love of Krsna into mundane spontaneous activities by the meeting of man and woman. Actually pure love is not like that. For a soul in its constitutional position, the contact of a material male and female body is extremely abominable and improper. The cult that is being advertised at present as sahajiya-dharma is against all Sastras.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur - Sajjana-toshani 4/6)

The form in which the baula philosophy is seen at present is totally opposed to Sastras. There are two types of instructions on devotional service that are found in the sastras: vaidhi and raganuga. The baulas do not follow any limbs of vaidhi-bhakti; they engage in various improper activities on the pretext of raganuga-bhakti.
It is very hard to say who started the baula philosophy. Sometimes the baulas claim Sri Sanatana Goswami and sometimes Sri Viracandra Goswami as their propounder. Actually neither Sri Sanatana Goswami nor Viracandra Goswami ever thought of the sinful path of the baulas. (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur - Sajjana-toshani 4/4)

To preach religious principles without respecting the varnasrama system or the sannyasis engaged in devotional service is extremely harmful. The endeavors against the varnasrama system by impersonalists, whimsical devotees, and various unauthorized sampradayas, such as neda, baula, karttabhaja, daravesa, kumbhapaiya, ativadi, are also extremely harmful. (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur - Caitanya-siksamrta)

Here are a few references for your further consideration regarding the actual statements and moods of the Vaisnava acaryas regarding the ‘sahajiyas’ and their conceptions of ‘babji’ ‘siddha (or bhajan) pranali’ and so on, beginning with a suitable introduction to this topic given in a lecture by Srila Narayan Maharaj:

And then there is this compilation, that was very interestingly and perversely gathered under the title ‘Narayan Maharaj is a Sahajiya’! There is no mention as to how any of the quotes therein might pertain to Maharaj … but, leaving aside whatever perverse intention the compiler of such may have had, the quotes provide a powerful argument against sahajiya:

This passage also clearly establishes the bhagavata-parampara:
Jagadananda Das said…
Well since there is a handwritten manuscript in Bhaktivinoda Thakur's own handwriting, it seems reasonable to think he wrote it. But I would not want you to contradict your guru because of some silly thing like that.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Meat Eating and Lalita Prasad Thakur

But I did not get sahajiya teachings from Lalita Prasad Thakur, at least not Sahajiya teachings. According to the Gaudiya Math he is a Sahajiya.

Am I defeated yet? Can I go home?
Martin Lyons said…
Oh come on Jagat, really? We both share a strong yen for philosophical writing and argument ... and such has been encouraged as a means to actually strengthen our understanding, our faith and ultimately our attraction for Krsna.

You have yourself written so very many blogs here, much of which is/are filled with arguments suggesting/exposing what you perceive as flaws and distortions of spiritual teachings as you have received and understood them - and so you are writing, I am thinking, to present what you feel to be of the maximum benefit to others, for the sake of disillusioning as well as enlightening them; and to defend what you hold dear also; and to deepen your own faith and understanding. That at least is my intention ...

So I have raised so many arguments both according to my own sense of logic and reason as well as according to so many quotes from previous acaryas, including Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. Perhaps you have already responded to such elsewhere, and I am unaware of those places ... but if you have not done so, where is the integrity in continuing to state something that there is legitimate challenge against, especially if said challenge comes in the form of the words of our guru-varga, Srila Bahaktivinode Thakur?

Surely progressive thought must occur in response to reflecting upon his words, and allowing them to recreate our direction. If you are a fan of subjective experience and independent thinking especially you can appreciate how the directions we are following today are based on what we have heard and learned in the past ... but should a new piece of information enter our life, then it is entirely likely and appropriate that a previously unforeseen direction may also come to mind.

One thing I am interested in, in particular - you say that the letter in which the Thakur detailed so much of his youth, including his predilection for meat, was written in his own hand. How could we verify this to be so? Is the letter still in physical evidence? Does it indeed reveal the same handwriting as other samples known to be the Thakura's? In other words, I think this is such a significant point that anyone's mere say-so is insufficient - for me to accept what you (and also Sukavak) are saying, I would like to see incontrovertible evidence of the letter's existence as well as th identity of the author.

Meanwhile, in reference to the relationship between Srila Vipin Bihari Goswami and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, as well as an understanding of pancaratrika parampara c/f bhagavata parampara, you might be interested to read this:
which also includes this paragraph:
Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura: According to the pancaratrika-guru-parampara, the diksa-guru of Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Sri Vipina Bihari Gosvami, who is situated in the pancaratrika-parampara of Sri Sri Jahnava Thakurani. From our other viewpoint, no one can deny that Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s life is imprinted with the stamp of Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja’s anugatya (guidance). Vaisnava Sarvabhauma Srila Jagannatha Maharaja is a disciple of the famous Madhu-sudana Dasa Babaji Maharaja in the parampara of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. It is not necessary to say that Vaisnava Sarvabhauma Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja is superior to Sri Vipina Bihari Gosvami in tattva-jnana, bhajana-siksa, etc.
Jagadananda Das said…
You are wrong. I am not interested in debate and argument. I have said what I have to say about Bipin Bihari, siksha parampara and all the rest of Gaudiya Math sophistry on this issue.

I wrote about these things years ago and I am really not interested in rehashing it. If you want to read what I wrote, read it.

But because some Gaudiya Math apologist somewhere said something, you expect me to flail my arms and start shadow boxing?

It is very easy to find things using the keywords. Try Bipin Bihari Goswami, Lalita Prasada Thakur, etc., if this is the issue that interests you. Then if you have a question, ask it.
Jagadananda Das said…
With regards to the Sahajiya comments, I will deal with them in a separate post in due time.
Martin Lyons said…

You are a scholar - therefore I expect you to provide verifiable cites for your claims.

Previously I asked you to kindly provide specific references to substantiate your claim:
"I found Prabhupada's statement that one could use the atomic bomb to coerce people's adherence to Krishna consciousness so abhorrent. Pluralism allowed KC to enter a free society and find adherents, who were then ready to threaten their hosts with death if they did not convert also, believe or not?"

But the only response you gave was:
"I don't think I distort Prabhupada. I joined ISKCON in 1970 and there was stuff "on the record" and off."

I have also asked you to offer objective proof that the letter 'svakhilita-jivani' Sri Lalita Prasad claims was sent to him by his father, the illustrious Bhaktivinode Thakur, in which the Thakur apparently reveals so many otherwise unheard of details of his earlier life, including a habit of eating meat. I have heard from elsewhere that the original letter Srila Lalita Prsad received was altered and edited by him ... so I think it is of the utmost necessity, if you are going to offer its contents as being authoritative, for you to be able to prove that the letter was indeed original and unedited and clearly written in the Thakur's own handwriting, as yopu claim when you say:
"Well since there is a handwritten manuscript in Bhaktivinoda Thakur's own handwriting, it seems reasonable to think he wrote it."

Otherwise, without such properly acceptable backing, all you are doing is repeating hearsay, which is unacceptable in any credible forum, be it academic or legal or spiritual.

Similarly, to respond to may many arguments against sahajiya teachings with merely an expression of frustration and sarcasm as in:
"Am I defeated yet? Can I go home?"
is also unbecoming either a scholar or a spiritualist, especially one who has for so many years been revealing his penchant for philosophical argument and debate (as this blog-site clearly evidences).
Nor would anyone ever accept as a meaningful rebuttal any claim, without a drop of supporting argument, your claim that:
"You are wrong. I am not interested in debate and argument."

I am wrong in so many ways - but that is irrelevant - what are the faults in the many arguments I have presented in what I had hoped to be a philosophical discussion to better reveal truth?

Meanwhile, I doubt anyone who has read your posts will accept you to be disinterested in debate and argument. I have read here and there in your site, and have read almost nothing in simple direct glorification of the beautiful features of Sri Sri Radha Krsna and Their pastimes ... rather, almost all I have read here has been in a spirit of contention with most all other flavors of spiritual practice (especially if they happen to be Gaudiya Math related), and appreciative of even atheists if their words can lend support for your own criticisms of all you label as 'fundamentalists.'

Meanwhile I await with interest your refutation of the words of Srila Bhaktivinode, whom you acknowledge as also being your Guruvarga, in regards to his unequivocal denunciation of sahajiya.


Narasingha das
Jagadananda Das said…
(1) Prabhupada said it. I don't know if it is in the record. I looked around and could only find one quote from a conversation, Bhagavan Das: "In the Teachings of Lord Caitanya, you say that even the atomic bombs can be used in Krishna's service." But the ensuing conversation does not mirror what I remember, which was, "Chant Hare Krishna or else bomb." If you ask old-time ISKCON people who were around, they may be able to confirm. It was quite well-known at the time.

But if you don't like that one, it is easy to find plenty of cringe worthy material in the VedaBase.

(2) With regards the Jivani, are you suggesting that Lalita Prasad edited his father's autobiography to make it look like he ate meat? What on God's earth would his purpose have been?

I have seen this MS with my own eyes, and if I believe Shukavak has a photo of the first page in his book. He definitely studied it first hand. I may have the opportunity to go to Birnagar later this summer and I think it may be possible to check it out then. I am personally satisfied that the document is genuine. The GM printed segments of it even during Saraswati Thakur's lifetime. So it seems they accepted it as genuine.

Ask yourself the question: Who is served by denying the genuine relation of Bhaktivinoda Thakur to Bipin Bihari Goswami? That is what this is all about.

You tell me that I am a scholar and that I should provide you with proof. Don't you think the onus is on you to prove it false?
Jagadananda Das said…
(3) As to progressive thought. This is obviously the biggest issue for you as clearly you only know how to think in certain patterns based on what you have heard from your arbitrarily chosen authoritative sources. After all, a Muslim or Christian has his authoritative sources and they fight about it. And there are plenty of other sects with their own divine revelations. What make you think you are so special? Looked at objectively, it is hard to see the difference.

If anything, Hindu mythology, if thought of as literal truth looks a damned sight more incredible than either of those two. Unless you can look at Hindu mythology in a different way, it is eventually going to leave you high and dry. That is why I refered to the Shadow. You repress your disbelief (not just suspending, but repressing) and then that eventually will cause psychic troubles. If you don’t believe me, just watch. Look at all the damn trouble “foolish readers” have caused in the world. They have destroyed the good name of religion itself.

I won't deny you are clever. Like Cremo. At least you are capable of writing coherently. But when you start from the premise that a particular set of statements is true -- for whatever reason -- and your consequent argument is based entirely on defending those premises at all costs, deliberately using selective evidence, and refusing to see the consequences of your dogmatic rigidity on your own psyche and your community, i.e., the failures of your belief system, you are arguing in bad faith.

Progressive thought means being able to assess evidence impartially and deducing from that evidence theories that fit. When things don't fit, then you have to account for and deal with them. But one word of advice: Start with yourself first and not with your critic. Cremo wants to replace evolution with what exactly? The Bhagavata? Are you kidding me! Visvasvan spoke to Manu. Go read Prabhupada’s purport to Gita 4.1 and ask yourself, does this really work for me?

But more to the point. Does the celibacy model or sannyasa model help or hinder social development? What is the evidence in ISKCON? In India, in the Gaudiya Math? What does the marginalization of women that this model implies augur for this community or any future community, especially in view of changing norms of femininity in the world? More importantly, how does this relate to Radha-Krishna as the symbols of the highest truth in Gaudiya Vaishnavism? How do discoveries in depth psychology about archetypes and other kinds of complex formation in the psyche help us to explain the nature of symbol and myth?

And what is myth anyway? Are you capable of reading the Puranic and epic texts without saying to yourself, "These are just stories"? Ten-headed demons, thousand-armed demons, etc. These are to be taken literally? Where do you stop, brother? When will the challenge to your modern intelligence become too great?

There is a great body of literature now on myth and symbol -- read Eliade, Tillich, Jung -- and then form your own conclusions. But don't just try to pretend that you live in a pre-modern civilization.
Jagadananda Das said…
(LAST) You are worried about a conspiracy by Lalita Prasad Thakur to make his father and diksha guru into a meat eater for some obscure reason, and at the same time you believe in all manner of fabulous creatures as literal truths? Do you intend to be the Orly Taitz of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's autobiography because some Gaudiya Math conspiracy theorist does not like its contents?

Grow up and come back when you start using your intelligence progressively. This is, in fact, what Krishna is talking about in the Bhagavad-gita: Give up all religiosity and surrender to me. Stop following like a blind puppy and start thinking for yourself. God is within you as the intelligence. There is no fear.

But for God's sakes, stop with the "I must follow blindly and anyone who doesn't is a fool and doomed for not adhering to the teachings of the great perfected souls."

As a matter of fact, I believe Rupa Goswami had great insight. And I still feed off the remnants of Rupa Goswami's thought every day, taking inspiration from his poetry, his rasa theory, etc., through which Radha and Krishna have become a living reality for me. My admiration for him is based in the fact that he gives me something to think about and not just historical dogmas to swallow undigested. Shravanam, mananam, nididhyasanam, darshanam.

In my opinion, the IGM (ISKCON-Gaudiya Math) is obsessed and pervaded by an anti-love, anti-woman, sannyasa model, and so they look at Radha-Shyamasundar on the altar and don't see them in themselves or the people around them. What they see is a symbol of a sectarian society, an institution that needs to be defended by dogmatic rigidity. They look at Radha Krishna and what they see is the Gaudiya Math. And they defend their institution by recourse to false argumentation and pretensions of fidelity to the disciplic succession! (And what would Freud have said of the sannyasi's "tridanda"!)

IGM is serving its purpose, but it seems that in the West at least the limits of their achievements have already been reached, to the point now that they are slowly disintegrating before our very eyes. And only troglodytes like yourself are remaining to attack "progressive thought" because you don't understand the concept even when Bhaktivinoda Thakur clearly states it for you.

You must look at teachings objectively. Not just in the beginning, but again and again. You must sift through them, again and again until you find the essence. Be a sāragrāhī, as the Thakur said, not a bhāravāhī, "a carrier of the burden" of an infinite number of jots and tittles.
Jagadananda Das said…
That was a bit heavier than I usually get, but I guess I am become more strident in my old age. My apologies.

Sri Radhe Shyam.
Jagadananda Das said…
I made a few small changes and posted to Facebook.
Jagadananda Das said…
Do I believe in Srila Prabhupada?

You are making me work too much, Narasingha. This article may help. I repeated some of it here. But I just realized you did not follow my original link to Bhaktivinoda Thakur's statement about progressive thought.
Martin Lyons said…
1) And around we go …

As I pointed out previously, anyone can claim anything – but for a claim to be accepted as being of actual substance, and so fit for affecting outlook or action, it must be supported by actual evidence. And contrary to your peculiar challenge, no, it is not up to the person questioning a claim to provide evidence that said claim is false, it is up to the person making the claim to prove that it is true. I don’t think this really requires explanation (or indeed, anyone could claim anything, unchecked!) – or, perhaps check with any lawyer, or any educator in any field at all, whether scientific, historical, religious, health-oriented or whatever … and run your suggestion by them in regards to where the actual burden of proof lies.

I think the danger we all run into here is the one that you have yourself observed, as in ‘fundamentalism.’ My thought on this phenomenon is that it is universal, and refers to an ‘a priori’ commitment to any given position, regardless of what school of thought it may be attached to.

I would suggest that we are all living in this world of duality, pulled by a simultaneous and often contradictory urge to both ‘dig in’ and strengthen our roots while to also grow up towards the sky, and away from what is familiar, from whichever step on the ladder we last ascended. You know, the same step that was once a step up from a less enlightened point of temporary ‘rest’ and material identification swiftly becomes our next point of stoppage, that by our attachment to it represents an obstacle to our continuing to actually ascend.

The inherent danger is that this attachment then defines and controls how we use whatever tools may be at our disposal, such as our ability to reason, our education and academic qualifications and whatever else. In fact, what we could say is that this attachment, which is displayed by our particular biases and agendas and so on, is actually using us. As a result, we are less inclined towards open-minded objective philosophical dialogue, and more likely to engage in debate marked by a combination of offensiveness and defensiveness that is intended but to fortify our original position. It is that attachment that opposes the very possibility of our changing direction, which is actually the opportunity of philosophical discussion and argument … our egos suggest that to ‘change’ is to admit that we (ie our egos) were wrong. But I don’t believe that at all – I have changed so many times in my life, I have changed my position, and I am clear that each position is a step towards the next, and the overall direction has been towards growth and towards developing my relationship with the Supreme, Whom I now understand to be Radha-Krsna. And I am grateful for all of it.

So I am interested to dialog with you, prabhu, because it is clear that you yourself have been willing to make dramatic changes, and separate yourself from at least one group within which your identity was strongly identified, and at the risk of so much social isolation and negative judgment. So one of my interests in discussing with you was to expand my philosophical understanding, either to deepen what I currently have, or to replace it, where appropriate, with something superior. And in such an exercise I will always offer my strongest doubts, because I am confident that the Truth can always overcome ignorance … thus one of the qualifications of Guru is that he can vanquish all doubts of the sincere enquirer after Truth.
Martin Lyons said…
2) And around we go …

So … you have made a specific claim regarding an ‘abominable’ statement made by Srila Prabhupada. I have asked for evidence of such, and you have been unable to provide any. Please forgive me, but your responses to this specific question, which are but alluding to evidence that you claim is somewhere, only you are not sure where, you cannot provide it … is akin to the evolutionists’ ‘missing link’ argument. It is only referred to as ‘missing’ because no-one has ever seen it! It is a very clever piece of Orwellian disingenuity to cover up the simple fact that it does not exist!

My request is that you take such comments off the table, unless you can properly substantiate them – personally I am hurt to hear such unfounded (until and unless you provide clear evidence to the contrary) criticism of someone I have so much love and respect and trust for. To be honest with you, such a response occurs to me as a kind of immature whining, kind of like a child trying to justify why he doesn’t want to do what Daddy says, and how unfair he is, and who does he think he is anyway … I am trying to give you honest feedback, not to offend you. After all, it is very hard for us to be objective in regards to ourselves – we are easily fooled by all the beliefs and understandings we have, that fly high in our idealistic visions, and that keep us from really seeing how we are in life, how we actually relate to and treat others, how much actual consciousness of yoga, of love and affection for Krsna and all that is His, we have truly attained, as distinct from any amount of intellectual ‘understanding’ we may have picked up …

Regarding “With regards the Jivani, are you suggesting that Lalita Prasad edited his father's autobiography to make it look like he ate meat? What on God's earth would his purpose have been?” I actually addressed this previously, in regards to what I understand sahajiya philosophy is proposing in general. Namely, that the conditioned soul can interact with the spiritual platform through his or her conditioned senses, that s/he can ‘know’ his or her spiritual identity … which is to say, that the inferior energy (namely the material mind in conjunction with the false ego) can dominate the superior energy, in the form of one’s swarupa. Such also implies a confusion between the activity of the material mind and intelligence, which is an expression of lust, ie of trying to control and to be the enjoyer/controller etc., with the actual consciousness of the self, as implied by the term ‘(self-)realization,’ which is itself a state of service, devoid of any desire for results for oneself, which are all various flavors of contaminants or obstacles on the path of pure bhakti, in the form of karma-mishri or jnana-mishri (ie sensual attainments, yoga-siddhis, intellectual attainments or ‘knowledge’ up to the very point of liberation in the sense of attaining Brahman …) And all of this is explained in detail in various of Srila Bhkativinode Thakur’s writings, especially Jaiva-Dharma.

Having stated this, then I can see two intimately connected reasons for such editing of the Thakur’s actual story. If it could be shown that the Thakur could simultaneously engage in gross sense-gratification under the influence of tastes dominated by the lower modes of material nature, while penning works of transcendental genius and beauty … then this would afford a wonderful example of the sahajiya philosophy in action – that one can indeed directly serve and realize and interact with the Supreme even though one’s mind and senses are not yet fully controlled or purified … and that one can indeed be Guru without actually being a goswami (in the literal sense, as in the vaco-vegam verse of Srila Rupa Goswami’s Upadeshamritam).
Martin Lyons said…
3A) And around we go …

Meanwhile, such an idea completely contradicts the teachings of the Thakur (as in the paragraphs I shared with you previously), and also of Srila Rupa Goswami and indeed all the Gaudiya acaryas following him; and also brazenly mocks Sri Krsna’s own teachings and example in reference to the Bhagavad-gita verse regarding how the masses of people follow the example of the leader, implying that the leaders, especially spiritual leaders, must themselves be exemplary examples of freedom from the modes of nature and from the urges of the material senses to engage with material sense-objects, and ceaseless and unmotivated (ahaitukt apratihata) absorption in devotional service … so that Krsna also explains that is why He Himself acts in so many ways that He actually has no need to do on His own account.

And by the way, your only response to date in regards to the Thakur’s statements is that you ‘strongly disagree’ – well of course you do! But so what! Someone’s mere pleasure or displeasure is hardly authoritative! Everyone ‘strongly’ agrees with whatever supports their own position and disagrees with whatever challenges the same. The question is, is that all? Or do they have some objective and profound philosophical or reasonable basis for their opinion? Or are their opinions merely the advance-guard for their ultimate purpose of gratifying their senses and desires?

What you wrote in your 3rd section, beginning with your dismissing my ability to ‘think progressively’ is of primarily an emotional and accusatory or ‘ad hominem’ flavor, and lacks sufficient rational argument to respond to in that vein – and I do not care to engage in the same tone. Suffice it to say that for all my ‘inability to think progressively’ I have managed to raise many points you thus far have entirely failed to refute. You have tried to dismiss them with scorn, but without any substantial philosophical or logical argument, that is all merely bluff, kind of like when a possum bares its teeth and hisses at predators, though it has little actual defensive strength of its own.

You say that: “Progressive thought means being able to assess evidence impartially and deducing from that evidence theories that fit. When things don't fit, then you have to account for and deal with them. But one word of advice:.”

So my immediate response (and continuing from the ‘post’ immediately preceding this one) is that you should carefully consider what you just wrote here. I see little evidence of your willingness to assess evidence impartially – you occur to me as being extremely partial to your already-existng point of view, to the point that you have thus far failed to display the objective integrity essential to any philosophical debate.

I refer to the process of first acknowledging the various specific arguments challenging your own assertions and beliefs and then responding in a purely reason-based (as distinct from the modern ‘yellow-journalism’ technique of mocking dismissal of the character or intelligence or ‘though-patterns’ whatever else of the opposing party, without substantiating any such claim or actually daring to engage in the arena of genuine philosophical argument about the actual subject matter at hand. This may be entertaining to an unqualified audience but lacks any relevance to a philosophical discussion).
Martin Lyons said…
3B) And around we go …

I think perhaps your most honest statement was when you mockingly admitted that ‘you were defeated, can I go home now’? You were using sarcasm to deflect the actual reality of that statement – a reality established to date by your inability thus far to actually respond to or rebut a single argument I have made. You regularly mock me for my implied weakness of intellect that I am stuck within such limited thought-patterns and unable to think ‘progressively’ – and yet you have shown yourself incapable of making any substantial response! The only defense of your position I have seen to date is a)your mockery and scornful dismissal of your ‘opposition’ and b) your ‘strong disagreement’ with the same. And as I have stated, such is entirely impotent in a truly philosophical and intellectual arena.

You have written so very much in your blogs – so the mocking cavalier attitude your previous (‘I am defeated’) pose attempted is false. Unless you can show me otherwise, I must consider that your failure to actually offer any philosophically strong (as appear to merely strength of emotional prejudice) response is because you can’t. Then the question is, so why continue to dig in to an untenable position? Isn’t that the very opposite of ‘progressive thought?” Isn’t that the very essence of ‘fundamentalism,’ of unwavering commitment to a fixed position, regardless of any argument or evidence to the contrary?

What happened to ‘impartial assessing evidence’ and ‘deducing theories that fit, and, most relevant here ‘accounting for and deling with things that don’t?’
Martin Lyons said…
4) And around we go …

In the actual absence of any real intellectual substance or supporting evidence to your claims, I find most of your statements basically variations on the theme you displayed when you wrote so emphatically that you ‘strongly disagree’ (and ‘fundamentally’ so) with Srila Bhaktivinode’s refutation of sahajiya philosophy and behaviour – all you actually said is ‘I disagree, because I do, and because it contradicts what I have already given myself to.’ That is merely emotional, sentimental, conditional partiality … it carries no weight whatsoever in any enquiry into truth, regardless of how ‘strongly’ you feel that way. All you are saying is that while your mind and perhaps senses also are very ‘strong,’ you are not actually revealing any strength of intelligence, as per your own statement as quoted above.

Then you make so many statements that surprise me with the lack of understanding of the basic principles of philosophy that Srila Prabhupada revealed. Having said this, I must give some examples or I would myself be guilty of an unsupported ‘ad hominem’ tactic.

But I’ll jump ahead first so as to relate these points to how you answered, and indeed rephrased, my question regarding your faith in Srila Prabhupada as a self-realized acarya. I read your article – and for all your claims to remember Srila Prabupada every day and gratefully acknowledge all his gifts, you actually don’t accept him as guru, because you regularly dismiss so many of his essential teachings as false, absurd, in opposition to progress and common sense … just to take two, a) you self-assuredly mock the literal acceptance of the itihasas and puranas replete with so many extraordinary (by kali-yuga human standards) personalities and activities as all ‘mythology,’ following which you claim Radha-and Krsna as a ‘living reality’ for you – reading between the lines, I think you are referring to what you understand Radha-Krsna to symbolize, as it seems you discount the actual tales of Their divine lilas as but symbolism and mythology … all of which is in utter contradiction with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, thus giving the lie to your simultaneous claim of faith or allegiance or whatever else in his regard.

And then b), your mocking dismissal of the stand against evolutionary theory that Michael Cremo represents, but which was entirely inspired and directed by Srila Prabhupada. This is in and of itself a very involved subject – but I have personally engaged in discussion and argument with many scientists, and although they are very rarely open to even the possibility of changing their stance, I have personally found them utterly unable to actually counter the many arguments we can raise, and challenges we can make.

Here’s the thing regarding evolution, Bhagavad-gita, etc. Christian Creationists create a false limited choice of ‘either the Bible or Evolution’ whereby ‘since this and that aspect of evolutionary theory is wrong, therefore the bible is true. But that is not applicable here.

There are two distinct proposals: firstly, that evolutionary ‘theory’ lacks anything that remotely resembles scientific veracity – there is no observation, no experiment, of any previously unseen organ or life-form arising spontaneously from any distinct and already-existing one. Nor is there any theory that can even describe the possible general stages of interim development (never mind provide even a vague description of the mechanisms that would promote such an event) – eg, the stages of development between a straight bone and the ‘evolution’ of a joint, or from a scale to a feather, or to the human eye (to quote Darwin’s own bugbear) … especially when considering that the essential criterion is that each intermittent stage must itself be fully functioning and indeed conferring a survival advantage to the ‘evolving’ host.
Martin Lyons said…
5) And around we go …

It is irrelevant whether Bhagavad-gita or Biblical literalism or a belief in Grandfather Eagle or anything else, is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Evolution is wrong because it is full of false assumptions, logic and conclusions (and if you like, I can happily send you a few arguments I have raised with a number of scientists, to which I have not heard a single meaningful counter-argument). And if all we are left with at the end of that is an awareness of uncertainty, that we don’t have any good answers, then I think that is not a bad thing at all … dancing with uncertainty is very good training

Similarly, Bhagavad-gita isn’t true because evolution isn’t! We have to examine the evidence for transcendental sources of transcendental information on its own account – and I address the basics of that later in this series.

(By the way, since a couple of your readers brought up Srila Prabhupada’s comment regarding the comparative sizes of men’s and women’s brains as ‘evidence’ of his fallibility … you might be interested to google this very subject. It seems Srila Prabhupada wasn’t contradicting verified scientific observations in this regard after all! – and, out of interest, whales and elephants have bigger brains than humans … so what all this may mean is something else, but Srila Prabhupada’s statement regarding men’s brains being bigger than women’s is completely and scientifically verifiably true)

I remember when I first read Krsna book, many years before I became a Krsna devotee. I thought it was totally far-out – but I never dismissed it as ‘mythology’ – I didn’t see why it couldn’t be true. I certainly hoped that the narrow-minded little society I lived inside of did not have a monopoly in regards to understanding what the ‘real world’ is!

How can we know what the truth actually is, when our own mind and senses clearly aren’t qualified? We can’t see that which is ‘sludge-free’ when our tool for looking is sludge! The whole Vedic paradigm is based on seeing through hearing from properly qualified authority – I am so surprised to hear your outburst in regards to how ridiculous these descriptions and conceptions are in relation to your own perspective, reasoning and experience. Why would you consider your own perception, your own completely conditioned and relative point of reference, to be the actual measure to determine what is not only true, but transcendentally so?

Regardless of how we might recognize a properly qualified authority, this is the first step, to develop some humility and in fact a sense of hopelessness in regards to the actuality of our position. But if instead we are so sure of the veracity of our conditioned perspective that we consider ourselves fit to mock the revelations of Guru-Sadhu-Sastra as being not even worthy of consideration in their utter failure to incorporate our own thought-processes and experiences …

It seems to me that you have adopted the philosophy of ‘ardha-kukuti-nyaya’ – like the chicken-farmer who cut the heads off his chickens so as not to waste money on the head end that was simply costing him money, and instead just keep the egg-laying end. You are accepting and rejecting everything on the basis of your materially compromised intelligence and impure egoistic motivations … which is a recipe to ensure your continued entrapment within karma.

Nor are we meant to abandon our intelligence and simply accept whichever ‘authority’ is put forward inside our particular culture or by chance appears along our paths – we are meant to use our God-given discrimination to become clear as to how to recognize a legitimate spiritual authority, beginning with simple philosophical understanding that we are not the body and so the proper teacher of such knowledge is him/herself clearly not situated in bodily consciousness, has no truck with seeking to find pleasure in terms of the conditioned senses meeting their particular set of objects, according to the specific nature of the body they inhabit … etc., back to spiritual science 101.
Martin Lyons said…
6) And around we go …

Perhaps this is the greatest difficulty I am finding in a dialog between us – I am assuming your agreement with the basics of spiritual science, but it seems that your sense of already ‘knowing’ them keeps them distant from your actual awareness.

But here’s the bottom line: you, me, we … are ‘in’ as in under the grips/covers/clouds of maya … ‘sludge.’ The only way out is through the grace of one who is outside of the sludge’s influence. Our need is to understand what are the qualities of such a person, how do they behave … and then surrender. And be continually alert that when we look towards such a person, or towards anything else, because our vision is sludge-colored, we will still see sludge everywhere. Therefore we are told to listen to his vision to guide us. But we don’t need a guru who is covered in his own sludge!

Our egos don’t want to surrender – they are always looking for the ‘out-clause’ – hence you are eager to embrace imagined failings of Srila Prabhupada that you reveal in statements alluding to ‘abominable’ and ‘cringe-making’ … but without presenting any actual evidence, merely allusions and scorn (eg your reference to BG 4.1 purport, what, because he dares to challenge your own vision?). So you have reduced guru to an ordinary man, complete with the failings of any other conditioned soul, though perhaps, relatively speaking, not quite so many, or quite so strong …

So there you have the essence of your philosophy, as far as authority is concerned – that the guru is but an ordinary and materially-flawed man, after all. Wonderful - now you don’t need to surrender, but instead can present yourself (to yourself and to those who have the same stuff going on inside them) as a ‘progressive thinker.’ A double-score for you: 1) Guru is ordinary, therefore I don’t need to surrender, I can pick and choose whatever appeals to me, I can resume my post as the authority in my life; and 2) Guru us ordinary, like me ... so I too can be a Guru, and present myself as Guru in others’ lives too (I noticed that is something you are happy to cite Srila Prabhupada’s words in regards to your situation).

So this is the reason why you and another sahajiya would be eager to present material failings in the life of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. The trouble is, that you have actually presented no defense at all to the arguments raised here – unless repeated ‘ad hominem’ digs like ‘trogladytes like yourself,’ ‘stop following like a blind puppy and think for yourself,’ ‘obsessed and pervaded by an anti-love anti-woman sentiment’ count as actual substantive arguments? And of course the Thakur himself has clearly condemned the entire sahajiya point of view, though you continue to hold your hand aloft in defiant ‘scissors mode’ as you fail to present anything at all to actually oppose the flood of orthodox argument and reasoning that is available to resist the sahajiya combining of material conditioning and spiritual principles..

OK – so now in regards to the specific ‘mythology’ claim. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote in the introduction to his ‘A History of the World’ something along the lines of, ‘as human beings, we may identify, label, manipulate, imitate, utilize … so many things … but we can actually create nothing at all.’ We can create nothing at all. If I make up a word that doesn’t fit an already existing concept or set of principles, it has no meaning. We don’t actually give meaning – we simply recognize and distort the meaning that is already there according to the ‘meanings’ and self-indulgent intentions given by our conditional filters.

There can be no fake dollar bill unless there is a real one. So our ability to imagine super-powers and heroes and everything else that modern man happily consigns to the ‘supernatural myth’ file … is based on what reality, exactly?
Martin Lyons said…
7) And around we go …

If God is lacking that, then that does not exist, even in imagination. The limitations you seem to be wanting to impose on God are but your own – it seems you use your own experience and abilities as the means to determine what is real, possible, ‘rational’ – a la ‘Mr Frog.’ I do not hold that my experience or understandings, or those of any other limited conditioned souls are the ‘measure of all things’ or the arbiter of truth.

“And what is myth anyway? Are you capable of reading the Puranic and epic texts without saying to yourself, "These are just stories"? Ten-headed demons, thousand-armed demons, etc. These are to be taken literally? Where do you stop, brother? When will the challenge to your modern intelligence become too great?”

I do not grant my intelligence absolute jurisdiction especially in regards to the inconceivable nature of the Supreme, and His unlimited potencies. God is creating so many universes, by just a fraction of His potencies … in a moment, He can destroy everything, and in the next, create all again … what is the potency of my intelligence (modern or otherwise) in relation to this?As the senses are meant to be ruled by the mind, and the mind by the intelligence, so is the intelligence meant to be submissive to the soul, and the soul in turn is serving the self-realized intimate associates of the Supreme.

So I have no problem taking all these stories literally, of believing there is ‘far more in heaven and earth Horatio than your philosophy ever dreamed of.’ Nor does this mean I consider that anyone’s imagination is a good source of valid understanding of the nature of reality … as I have previously written, the actual fact is that God is. His ‘opinion’ births reality as it is. He is authority, and His authority is real and absolute. Therefore the very principle of authority itself is unavoidable. No-one can deny this principle ( or if they do, by what authority do they do so!). Our freedom is to recognize His authority or to try to claim it for ourselves, that’s all. I do not accept the authority of any conditioned soul, either myself or you or however many Christian speculators and interpreters of the teachings of a pure devotee or any number of academics and other mundane observers each convinced that actually, their own limited mortal meanderings are of absolute value.

If you want to know the truth, as Krsna states so elegantly, approach one who is himself directly perceiving the truth. Approach such a one in a mood of humble submission and service – then he can indeed give you that which he himself possesses. Humble submission does not at all mean suspending one’s own freedom for intelligent reflection. Rather, it means that by such engagement you have come to recognize the limits of your own abilities, and the possibility that someone else may have actually achieved the very enlightenment you have ever sought for yourself … then place your intelligence at the disposal of your own soul, and place your very self at the disposal of such a self-realized acarya. This is the process of enlightenment, my brother, not to simply argue on the basis, and therefore for, your unenlightened position of relative ignorance. I do not at all suggest you suspend your intelligence, nor do I think you really believe I have suspended mine … for I certainly ‘make you work hard’ although, I would suggest, so far not to any powerful effect. But instead of using your intelligence to challenge Guru and Shastra, why not use it to understand how it is true, and transcendentally so.

Your “for God's sakes, stop with the "I must follow blindly and anyone who doesn't is a fool and doomed for not adhering to the teachings of the great perfected souls." is but a straw man, irrelevant to who I am, or what I say. My essays to you have been filled with logic and argument, and no dispassionate observer would call them ‘blind’ or thoughtless following.
Martin Lyons said…
8) And around we go …

I can assure you that I have already heard or myself asked these questions you are raising, and have been very satisfied, intellectually also, with the answers our Bhakti-Vedantic tradition yields. But I came from a place of already being quite disillusioned, frustrated and disappointed with what I saw and where I had been looking from previously. And that is the place to start: as you say - Start with yourself first and not with your critic

Does the celibacy model or sannyasa model help or hinder social development? What is the evidence in ISKCON? In India, in the Gaudiya Math? What does the marginalization of women that this model implies augur for this community or any future community, especially in view of changing norms of femininity in the world? More importantly, how does this relate to Radha-Krishna as the symbols of the highest truth in Gaudiya Vaishnavism? How do discoveries in depth psychology about archetypes and other kinds of complex formation in the psyche help us to explain the nature of symbol and myth?

Celibacy and sannyasa are not for everyone, especially in kali-yuga. But the leaders of society must be goswamis – how can they lead society if they are themselves servants of their own uncontrolled selfish instincts? Meanwhile, such a magnificent legacy of spiritual instruction and revelations have been given us by those great souls who have indeed fully surpassed identification with the illusion that we are still so very gripped by that it seems you cannot even countenance the possibility of anyone’s actually being entirely free for its grip!

I don’t look to ISKCON as my example – I recognize that Srila Prabupada had a few years in which to sow the seeds of a spiritual revolution, and made so many compromises for the sake of getting as much started as possible. I am sure he was well aware of the eagerness with which the most neophyte and unpurifed ego-driven souls would embrace the possibility of social distinction (within their own cultural sub-group) as afforded by sannyasa … and thus perform so many austerities for the sake of achieving such … and although so many fell back to … well, perhaps a more honest and clear outer expression of their internal state … still, their activities performed in devotion and love to Guru and Krsna stand apart, creating a wonderful deposit of sukriti to benefit their future development even though their karma is unfolding its various twists and turns in the moment.

As for the Gaudiya Math – my experience is of so many great souls who had indeed performed and maintained such austerities since youth. You may care to only note those who ‘prove’ what you wish to focus on – but my taste is to focus on those who have inspired me, such as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Swami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaj, Srila BV Puri Goswami Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Daitya Madhava Maharaj, Sri Bhakti Vallabha Tirtha Maharaj …

Meanwhile, in regards to the ladies –
Martin Lyons said…
9) And around we go …

If you were sincere to find out about the reality of Srila Prabhupada’s actual attitude towards his many spiritual daughters, you would have spoken to such personalities as M.Jamuna and M.Jadurani – hardly weak pushovers for male chauvinism to have its wicked way with them! If your motive is not so much to see things clearly, but merely ‘prove’ your won crucial bias, then you will no doubt harp on all the garbage done ‘in the name of’ ISKCON or Vedic culture according to the distortions of various neophytes and artificial ‘renunciates.’ I already know that by submitting myself to a hospital situation I will be surrounded by other sick people … but they aren’t why I submit myself … my interest in the doctor who is giving treatment.

Meanwhile, I have seen and heard a perfectly wonderful loving equality offered by my own Guru Maharaj, Srila Narayan Goswami, to all, regardless of material differences. And my wife, who I dare say is far more concerned and informed about feminism and rights of minorities than you, being an active professor of communication with her focus on Diversity and Inclusion, and who has also never been a member of ISKCON and much regards herself as a free thinker, has no doubts as to the legitimacy of our Guru’s profound and non-discriminating love and affection, in keeping with the highest standards of spiritual realization.

“In my opinion, the IGM (ISKCON-Gaudiya Math) is obsessed and pervaded by an anti-love, anti-woman, sannyasa model, and so they look at Radha-Shyamasundar on the altar and don't see them in themselves or the people around them.” I understand why you would like this to be true, as it certainly justifies a choice to do your own independent self-authorised thing … but it simply doesn’t match reality. Oh sure there are plenty of individual examples, if you want to look for those. It really all depends on what you are looking for, on what your motive is. Once more, as Anais Nin so excellently stated: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” You may wonder who you are being that you have the vision you do.”

Radhe Radhe,

Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
I just noticed that you refer to Sri Lalita Prasad as your diksa-guru. When I glossed over the reference to him previously, I assumed you had said 'siksa-guru.'
Is your position then that Srila Prabhupada was actually unfit to give you diksa, that you never received the actual holy names of Krsna from him, that he is not qualified to be guru?
I certainly understand the premise that one can have so many siksa-gurus - but only one diksa-guru. When Dukhi Krsna das received the name Syamananda from Jiva Goswami, his guru was very upset at the apparent offenses implied by such a thing ... until Jiva Goswami made it clear that he did not at all give diksa to Syamananda, but siksa only, and this new name was an expression of their deep relationship and love ... after which Shyamananda's guru acknowledged that Jiva Goswami was situated on a superior platform to himself, and was in fact a proper teacher of the highest platform of love in the mood of the manjaris.
But I am stunned to think that any Gaudiya Vaisnava can imagine that Srila Prabhupada was anything other than an intimate associate of the previous acaryas in this very mood that Mahaprabhu indeed came to freely bestow - how else could he have been so extraordinarily and uniquely empowered to fulfill His vision?
Jagadananda Das said…
First of all, my dear prabhu, it is clear to me that you are not reading my links. You say you want dialog. Many of the subjects you have inquired about are discussed at length. I consider this to be in bad faith and frankly I have little patience with it.

You ask me to read 20 or more pages of your thoughts and yet you cannot take the time to read my postings on the historical relationship of Bhaktivinoda Thakur to Bipin Bihari Goswami or any of the other things that I have written on this subject.

If you truly wish to engage in dialog, I suggest that you show me a modicum of respect as your senior and take each issue up where it is discussed on this blog.

(1) Prabhupada's statement. What more can I say? Ask around from Prabhupad's senior disciples.

I could just as easily accuse them of having erased the record because it is embarrassing. It is not of sufficient concern to me.

I have that memory and it made sufficient impression on me then for me to keep to it. Just like Prabhupada's words, "He [or such people] should be killed" or something to that effect about the "avatar" Guru Maharajji in 1972 or thereabouts. That made an impression and I spent a night in jail because Akshobhya went and told Guru Maharajji's disciples. These things were said, Prabhu, you don't like it. I am sorry. This is the last time I will discuss this point.

(2) With regards Bhaktivinoda's Jivani, I have said, look in Shukavak's book. There is a photograph of it on page 10. I suggest you learn Bengali, go to Birnagar, ask the people there to let you see it. Or you can ask Shukavak to see his PDF, which I am sure he will be happy to share. This is the last time I will discuss this point.

(3) With regards your justification for your little conspiracy theory. Lalita Prasada Thakur did not, as far as I know, have the same theories on sexuality that I have.

He did, though, like all Gaudiya Vaishnavas subscribe to the ideas of phalgu-vairagya, yukta-vairagya, dovetailing, spiritualizing or sacramentalizing the material energy, the spirituality of a devotee's body, the sacred nature of touching and serving a devotee, the value of association and affection for a devotee. He also believed that woman devotees were as good as men devotees, and that renunciation of sex was not a prerequisite for pure devotion. I am sure you do too.

Nowhere do I say that the material energy on its own becomes spiritual. I say that it is spiritualized through bhakti.

(4) As far as Srila Prabhupada is concerned, he is who he is and he is one of my gurus. How can I deny it? But I made my decision to continue on in my research. I am happy with my decision and very pleased with the results. I can see the handicaps that individual such as yourself face and I am sorry if I sounded a little condescending in my previous post.

We all acting to our adhikara. We get gurus according to that adhikara. When our adhikara changes, we are awarded by the Divine Guru, new teachers to help further our advance towards prema.

There are controversies about diksha in the Gaudiya sampradaya. Because Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati rejected the diksha customs that Bhaktivinoda Thakur followed, rejected Bipin Bihari Goswami, the respected initiating guru. This is connected, of course, to the traditional manner of executing raganuga bhakti. That is what I was taught by Lalita Prasad Thakur, in the line of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Which is discussed in detail on this blog. Look it up.
Jagadananda Das said…
(5) The last point I will respond to here, but you can look at today's blog where I post a dialog with Urmila Devi Dasi. She expresses pious hopes that one day Prabhupad's wishes for women gurus will be realized. Don't hold your breath. And the reasons are several-fold: Sannyasis are wed to a philosophy of male superiority, one that is enhanced by their celibacy. This is a mistaken notion and dangerous because it marginalizes the feminine power which predominates in bhakti. I like Jadurani, and I am sure she will start initiating too. But she too had to become a white widow to gain her status. But if you think that is the way to go, who am I to stop you.

By the way, your very Gaudiya Math polemical approach is really, really contrary to the spirit of prema-bhakti. However you claim to be an honest seeker of dialog. I don't see it.

Look up the articles on this blog for more information. It is quite easy, There are keywords all along the right hand side. You will find the ones you need, which then require clicking.

That is basically all I have time for, my dear prabhu. If you have faith in the Gaudiya Math, that is fine with me. I have no objections. Please go on.

In the future, I request that you write to the blog posts where these specific issues are raised and not pile everything up in one place. I have written a great deal on this blog. I repeat myself often enough. I will not repeat myself for you unless you show the minimum courtesy of reading what I have written.

Jai Sri Radhe.
Jagadananda Das said…
Just one more thing. You assume that I am under the sludge of Maya and have received no grace, whereas you obviously are free from such problems by following your gurus.

I have already said this, and I refuse to belabor the point. Krishna says I give the intelligence. Yes the guru is there in the beginning, but later, after you engage in bhakti and your intelligence is purified, you start to see things clearly. (yatha yathatma parimrijyate, etc.)

Of course, one who is in the stage of simply hearing and repeating cannot escape the iron grip that words have on his experience. And so a cycle of repetition begins that quickly ossifies and ceases to be helpful.

Mainly because the primary purpose is not really the truth, but merely the establishment of a kind of extended ego expansion that now includes gurus, institutions, and so on.

You need to get away for a while, do bhajan and think for yourself. Hear a different point of view. Something.

Jai Radhe.
Martin Lyons said…
Some last thoughts

"Scripture is clear: there can only be one initiating guru, who is not to be abandoned unless there is a sign of complete destitution from the spiritual path. There appears to be no evidence of this in the case of Bipin Bihari Goswami."

You wrote this. And yet you also claim Sri Lalita Prasad to be your diksa guru. ?

Contrary to your belief, I have indeed read over many of your blogs and related posts. And I am not accepting anything you have written blindly any more than I have accepted anything I have heard from Guru-Sadhu-Shastra blindly. You write as if I am foolish for not simply accepting the self-procliamed truths of which you write - and criticise me for adopting the traditional 'polemical' approach which you claim to be against the spirit of prema-bhakti.

Pur tradition is filled with such polemics, as is abundantly evident in the writings of Srila Bhaktivinode, Srila Jiva and so many others. Why? Because no-one is meant to accept 'blindly' ... but that the early stages of vaidhi-bhakti, where we must begin (unless we are already so very advanced), demand becoming fixed in philosophical understanding, or our sraddha may be blown hither and thither. Without being strongly rooted in philosophy, which naturally involves polemics, we canot rise above kanistha.

It may be in the later stages that absorption in philosophical debate is unnecessary, unpalatable even. The gopis are surely not doing such! But when they accompany Mahaprabhu, oh then they adopt this mood, for the benefit of all of us, who must otherwise labor under so many misconceptions.

Artificially abandoning the protections and nourishments essential for gradual development through the successive stages of vaidhi-bhakti and artificially and externally adopting the 'spontaneous' moods and practices of raganuga bhakti, while whimsically abandoning the rules and regulations of vaidhi-bhakti, is the essence of the sahajiya misconception, as I have understood it.

You have continually accused me of 'blind thoughtless following,' but you expect I should apply precisely that towards your own promotions, none of which you have backed with a shred of logical or polemic support ... and you have consistently ignored my many arguments and challenges to your own statements, responding only with unsupported ad hominem attacks on the quality and character of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas in the line of Saraswati Thakur.

I did indeed want open dialog - but not mere exchanges of 'I think and believe this and that' ... but substantial philosophical dialog that explains the how's and why's of what is behind your thought, with the evidences of logic, argument, and guru-sadhu-shastra. I have certainly perused your other sites, and throughout I have found this mood predominant - you regularly criticise the followers of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta as misinformed, blind, thoughtless, non-progressive fundamentalists, but for no other reason that I could find other than that your own beliefs and practices are in such contradiction to theirs, and you are confronted by the disciplinary restraints their teachings would impose upon your own beliefs and practices. Meanwhile you write as if you are so obviously an authority that whatever you say should simply be accepted without bothering with the mundane tedium of such 'anti-prema-bhakti' practices of, God-forbis, polemical philosophical debate.

I wish you well, and would extend to you a similar caution to the ones you have extended to me ... remember, belief is for those who don't actually know, as a matter of their own direct perception. It is therefore so essential to fully submit oneself to the direction of one who does indeed directly perceive ... so that our intelligence is best used to help us identify to whom it should be submitted.

Blind following? We are already blind, prabhu. Our need is to follow one who sees.

Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
A personal (& unrelated) question:

In one of your final responses to me (and I have these on my email, though I don't see them on the blog itself), you refer to me as 'Narasingha Gurudas' - since I did not refer to myself like this, I am very curious about why you did?

Re. Sri Bipin Bihari Goswami Maharaj - you should know that BG Narasingha Maharaj does not at all speak for the entire, as you call it, "IGM" - I would refer you to this very nice article from Srila BB Bodhayan Maharaj for a much more accurate and properly respectful comment on this subject:

Re. manjari-bhava ... I don't know why you are arguing with me as if I disagree with your commitment on this being the ultimate focus? The argument is about how to thus focus, what is the properly effective path by which we can indeed develop and strengthen that very thing. The principal difference between our 'camps' is that as a sahajiya you propose that regardess of your material conditioning you can simply jump in to the very highest sphere; whereas our position is that there is a very carefully and precisely delineated process, as established by Srila Rupa Goswami and also the other Goswamis. And that without accepting the authority and process of Sri Rupa, where is the possibility of being a Gaudiya Vaisnava, what to speak of a rupanuga?!?

There are so many stories regarding unqualified attempts to enter the rasa dance ... the most famous is the lila of Mahadev, when Purnamasi gave him his gopi-body, that was at first rejected by the gopis, so that they slapped him and questioned him most harshly ... why? Because his entrance was unauthorized, and his mood was a disturbance to the actual mood of the gopis and Krsna.

Similarly in the very intimate kirtans at Srivas Prabhu's house, which are non-different from the rasa-dance ... the presence of any 'unauthorized' persons obstructed the actual expression of the highest moods and tastes.

Our business is not to disturb their mood simply because we are greedy for some experience of our own, regardless of our qualification to actually engage in such!

The actual mood Mahaprabhu came to give was the mood of the manjaris - this is the greatest service ... we are meant to come to such a platform of serving the servants of Radharani, regardless of what we may or may not enjoy for ourselves.

And this mood, so alien to our own conditioned or unpurified self-serving egotism, is fully expressed in the writings of all our acaryas, which are all 'authorized' by virtue of the actual realization of the authors, which they have so mercifully presented, replete with their own emotions, within their own words.

I have no doubt you have various uncommon experiences, as do I also, as do so very many others on the spiritual path ... but the actual pure experiences of direct realization of the Supreme - are purely for those who are qualified to thus engage. Ultimately, when we do indeed have our own, our experiences will not be different, after all, the Truth we will be realizing, through the full and utterly undivided attention of all our fully spiritualized senses, is the same Vrajendra-Nandana who is already the only object of vision and affection of our acaryas.

So why should we pay heed to our compromised experiences until that point? Rather, shouldn't all our attention be given simply to the unobstructed pure vision of our gurus?

Radhe Radhe
Narasingha das
Martin Lyons said…
Jagat prabhu, I think this will prove to be of much interest to you – it is certainly very gratifying to me. I wrote to Sripad Bhagavat Maharaj in regards to the Svalikhita-jivani … as I am unwilling to simply deny its validity because its contents do not fit my previous mindset! I wrote to Bhagavat Maharaj because I know that he has a very educated and rare set of experiences so as to afford a properly informed and broad perspective. Certainly he has broadened my own vision, and I am very happy to have my vision of such personalities as Srila Lalita Prasad Thakur expanded from one of offensive minimization or dismissal to one of proper respect as befits a true Vaisnava and maha-bhagavat. I am much happier being able to include all the apparently opposed elements of our sampradyas within a deeper context as opposed to needing to minimize or even condemn this one so as to maintain my loyalty to that …

Dandavats Narasingha das,
All Glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga

When Srila Prabhupada went to visit Lalita Prasada Thakura in 1972 Srila Prabhupada explained to him about his preaching work all over the world. Lalita Prasad Thakura Praised Srila Prabhupada saying you are the one who fulfilled Srila Bhaktivonode Thakuras vision to preach the mission of Mahaprabhu all over the world. So the so called followers do not understand what Lalita Prasad Thakuras vision is. Later I met with Lalit Prasad Thakura in 1979 after Srila Prabhupada left. He was bed ridden and could not leave the room. His servant used to take care of him with a bed pan. When I entered the room the bed pan was still there with a fresh deposit and the room smelled like roses. There are many people who may have misunderstood who He was and what he was teaching. However there was no doubt that he was a Pure Devotee.

It is true that Lalita Prasad Thakura emphasized an initiation Process that was not the one that Srila Saraswati Thakura used but was closer to the Babajis. However that was the one that Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura used when he was initiating. However that does not make Srila Saraswati Thakuras initiating process invalid. His initiation process which we use in the Guadiya maths was authorized by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura in order to preach the mission more widely to less qualified persons like us. So they are both right. However LPT followers want to make the distinction which is not necessary because neither they nor we have the vision to understand the so called dispute between the two.

Srila Saraswati Thakura makes this point in his Brahma Samhita. In the purport to verse 37 he states: "Those, whose judgment is made of mundane stuff, being unable to enter into the spirit of the all-loving controversies among pure devotees, due to their own want of unalloyed devotion, are apt to impute to the devotees their own defects of partisanship and opposing views."

I can tell you of many many incidents where Srila Gurudeva in order to protect our tender creepers and direct us in the practice of Bhakti in a certain way for our benefit would say that something did not appear in scripture that was there or that something did not happen in Gaudiya Matha that happened. He did so for the benefit of the general devotees. Again this is an area which you are not qualified to enter into. So I would suggest that you put these events behind you and concentrate on the teachings that Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva gave us for our Bhajan and not be concerned about such things. IN the future if any discrepancies arise about such things please ask me I am well versed in the histories of all of this and have met all of the senior disciples of Srila Saraswati Thakura in my youth and know the truth about all of this. Part of this is also residue of my past life memories since Srila Prabhupada told me I associated with him in my past life.

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