Showing posts from September, 2011

Dana Lila in Fateh Krishna's Rasa at Jai Singh Ghera

This post was on Vrindavan Today a while back, but I am adding it here because of the dana theme, which we are covering more or less exhaustively on this site. Without commentary here.


Vrindavan, 2011.08.13 (VT): Today was the last day of the Rasa Lila at Jai Singh Ghera. I have been coming down with a cold and there has been a certain amount of fatigue involved in producing this series, as shallow a presentation as it has been. Still, I am happy that my initiation into this Braj tradition was such a delightful one. My limitations in understanding the language were, at times, acute. Since humorous argument delivered rapid fire seems to be a staple of the Rasa Lila, these limitations were especially evident in plays like today's, the Dana Lila, in which such argument dominates.

The dāna-līlā is a subject I have some interest in, as I have been working on Dāna-keli-kaumudī for some time now. Here the difference is that Radha dresses up as a prince to exact tolls from the o…

Dana Lila in Barsana : Bhadra Shukla Trayodasi

The dana-lila has so many manifestations. Here is another one that had passed me by. I posted this on Vrindavan Today today, crossposting here:

Barsana, 2011.09.14 (VT): The Radhastami celebrations at Barsana turn into a festival that lasts a week. On the Bhadra Trayodasi, which this year fell on September 10, people in Barsana run from door to door through the village with young boys on their shoulders. Dressed as Krishna and Radharani with her girlfriends, these young boys are given yogurt and sweets at each house.

This tradition is a part of the Sankari Khor pastime, which is all about Krishna stopping Radharani and her friends and asking them to pay taxes for their yogurt and other wares. It is also known as the burhi-lila festival,

It is reenacted every year in a very special way at the Sankari Khor site itself. The custom is said to have been inaugurated by Shri Narayan Bhatt, one of the 16th century stalwarts of Braja bhakti, the author of many books about Krishna lila and th…

The path within, the path without

Anyone who has studied the Bhagavad-gītā will know the following verse:

ārurukṣor muner yogaṁ karma kāraṇam ucyate |
yogārūḍhasya tasyaiva śamaḥ kāraṇam ucyate ||
For one seeking to rise to the platform of yoga, work is said to be the cause. For the same person when arisen to the platform of yoga, mental pacification is said to be the cause. (6.3) This somewhat innocuous verse says a great deal about the structure of the Gītā and the sixth chapter, and indeed about the entire Gītā philosophy of yoga. As many will already know, Madhusudan Saraswati has divided the Gītā into three six-chapter sections, on karma, bhakti and jnana, respectively. This scheme has been accepted by the two Gaudiya commentators, Vishwanath and Baladeva, also.

The sixth chapter also serves as a bridge from the karma section to the bhakti section as the number of references that Krishna makes to himself, to thought of him, to the vision of him, etc., is substantially greater than in the earlier chapters. And, fi…

Do I believe in Srila Prabhupada?

A question I often get asked is, "Do you still believe in Srila Prabhupada?" Or some variation of this question. This was most recently asked by someone who had just read the article About Jagat, where I have tried to summarize the major events in my life.

This question often puts me off my guard a little, as I suspect that the questioner has a very naive understanding of guru-tattva or is out to entrap me by getting me to submit to a kind of loyalty test.

To make a succinct statement, I will just paraphrase what I wrote yesterday in my article Anti-intellectualism and Anti-Semitism join forces in the Krishna consciousness movement:

I have been out of ISKCON for more than 30 years and have developed a way of thinking that I see as being at least three steps removed from it as a result of my contacts with (1) traditional orthodox Gaudiya and rasika Vrindavan Vaishnavism; (2) with Sahajiya Vaishnavism; and (3) with the Western academic study of religion, all three of which hav…

Anti-intellectualism and Anti-Semitism join forces in the Krishna consciousness movement

Somehow, while surfing the Internet, I came across an article, ISKZION, which caused me some concern. The author asks questions about the preponderence of Jews in ISKCON leadership positions and speculates about the Vaishnava society and Jew-related conspiracy theories. The author even cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book that has passed into the annals of racist defamation as one of the most pernicious [and successful] examples of its kind; this is certainly the red flag of anti-Semitism par excellence.

Now, even though I myself am not of Jewish extraction, I would personally argue that since Jews are disproportionately represented in almost every field of merit... music, science, the arts and cinema, political commentary, finance, philosophy, etc... it would perhaps be more of a problem if Jews were underrepresented in ISKCON and Krishna consciousness. Since Jews seems to know a good thing when they see it, that would almost prove that they have no merit whatsoever!


Henri Jolicoeur on some old-time ISKCON homosexuals

There are many examples of the kind of Prabhupadanuga closed-mindedness and fanaticism that make me despair for the future of the Krishna consciousness movement. One especially good and consistent source of examples is provided by the Sampradaya Sun website, which never fails to find an opportunity to make a great display of its devotion to Srila Prabhupada at the cost of sensible rational thought. They can spend endless hours and spill countless gallons of ink discussing the flaws of the ISKCON gurus and the doctrine of the "Sampradaya acharya," but the territory no one dares to enter is that where Srila Prabhupada and his teachings are called into question.

In this respect I have two particular examples I would like to bring up; one is recent, the other two years old. I will discuss the recent on first, the second one afterwards, even though in terms of writing, the latter issue came to my attention first and was in the process of inspiring comment when the more recent in…