Showing posts from March, 2018

Antinomianism and the Hare Krishna Movement: A cautionary tale from history

Killing for Krishna: The Danger of Deranged Devotion by Henry Doktorski III. 660 pages, soft cover, 9 x 6 x 1.5 inches, 2.5 lbs . PO Box 893343, Temecula CA 92589. (Facebook)

In November 1973, I was living in Dallas while Dayananda Das Adhikary was temple president. During that time, the Bal Yogi “Guru Maharaj Ji,” was the current rage, attracting disciples at a rate that made ISKCON’s growth look tepid. A big convocation had been arranged at the Houston Astrodome for his followers, and the ISKCON temples from Texas and beyond sent numerous book distributors to the location in the hope of selling Prabhupada literature. One of our Dallas Gurukul teachers had heard a statement of Srila Prabhupada about Guru Maharajji, in all likelihood “The so-called, pseudo guru, false guru, he should be killed.” (London, August 5, 1973 ) He made the big mistake of getting into an argument with one of Gurua Maharajji’s premis in which he quoted this statement, and before we could say, “Jai Sachinandan…

Braja Vasa sadhana for foreigners

This is a cross post from Vrindavan Today, with a few revisions.

One of the subjects I have been thinking a great deal about is identity and globalization. My identity in Vrindavan is that of a Vaishnava sādhaka living in the Dham. This identity has to fight against the demands of the ever-increasingly dominant modern, globalized culture.

Now there are two kinds of people living in Braj. The first are true blood Brijbasis, some going back many generations. Though there are many of these, the religious elites, the Gosais, are at the top of the hierarchy. But the traditions hold that all these Brijbasis are namasya, because they are most directly serving the Vrindavan lila. Times are changing, but they have been learning the game known as "Braj" for many generations. And many of them are now in the process of learning how to "be Braj in the world."

Collectively also, the battle is on for an identity for Vrindavan. Brijbasis are not immune to external influences. But …

Religious tourism and Hindu proselytization

Yogiraj Prem Prakashji responded to a recent article addressing environmental concerns and I started to answer, but it spun out of control and became too long for a comment. And it was also becoming incoherent. So I decided to give it a little more thought and write it as a separate article.

The environmental issue in Vrindavan is really a big deal. It is so everywhere in the world, but here we can feel it much more acutely. People in the "first world" can only imagine the kind of environmental degradation that is ongoing in India. Just think: India has four times as many people and only one-third the terrain of the US, what to speak of Canada.

Many people are enthused by India's material progress and the rapid urbanization, but it is a bit harder for me to join the chorus. Every so-called step forward simply means more of the same haphazard construction of ugly buildings surrounded by heaps of refuse and open, garbage-filled drains emptying into what were once consider…

"...each and every one of Gauranga's limbs"

I am trying to gather up Gadadhar's writings and put them all in one place so that we can see what can be done about making them available. The above picture was painted by Gadadhar himself and is on the cover of his translation of Gauranga pratyanga stava raja.

The title means, "The topmost prayer, which describes each and every one of Sri Gauranga's beautiful limbs." It is the prayer he sings three times a day as the cornerstone of his worship for several years now. This picture is the meditation that accompanies this prayer.

Gadadhar tells me he is tired of painting, and indeed I have watched him. He is tireless. The whole time I was there he was retouching the hem of Nityananda's shawl. He complains about and I can understand why. He likes the excitement of meditating directly on Gaura, indeed of being with Gaura. If you like, it is a kind of prema-vaicittya. He has Gaura right in front of him and he is complaining that he doesn't get to serve Gaura in t…

Notes on my visit to Assam

Sapatgram (Feb. 22-28, 2018)

Sapatgram, Assam, which is the home stomping ground of Pagal Baba or Lilananda Thakur, the one who built the imposing white temple on the Mathura Road in 1977. According to the very sparse details I was able to get from a book published at his ashram, he saw that though Vrindavan was on the road from Delhi to Agra, people just went right past it and never came to look at Krishna's abode. So he got his Marwari followers to fork out the money for that imposing structure. Basically this is all the information his biography contains:
Not much is known about the early life of Pagal Baba other than that he was born in Mymensing district, now in Bangladesh. His father's name was Kalicharan Chakravarty. From a young age, he wandered all over India, especially in the Himalayas before returning to Bengal.

About one year before India's division in August 1947, Pagal Baba moved to Assam where he organized Akhand Kirtan in Sapatgram village (Dist. Dhubri). …

Notes from my travels in Bengal (Kolkata, Nabadwip, Birnagar, Purulia, Medinipur)

[This is one of those posts that was messed with several times and is therefore a bit confused. Maph koro.]

Time has been going by quickly and the last few days I did not have a computer so I was not able to keep in touch with my Facebook friends. I haven’t been taking photos either. Finally I broke down and bought a new computer in Nabadwip and hopefully this one will cause me less misery than my previous HP’s. The store in Nabadwip just had the one laptop, an HP. I am currently posting from Sapatgram in Assam where I am speaking for a week’s worth of time. Supposedly Bhagavatam, but I decided to do Gaura katha instead.

So… my latest adventures in Bengal.

Kolkata Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math

First I went to Kolkata Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math where I spent rather longer than expected considering I only was to speak one evening for fifteen minutes. And I don't think I even used my fifteen minutes. The subject confused me and I did not have a paper prepared like the other speakers, all o…

Fantastic investment property beside the Ganga in Mayapur

Sridham Mayapur, the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is quickly becoming the preeminent place of tourism and pilgrimage in West Bengal, visited each year by millions of people from all over the world.

This four bigha (1 and 1/3 acre) plot sits right on the bank of the Ganga within sight (only a few hundred meters) of Mayapur’s main attraction, ISKCON’s world headquarters and Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, which is now nearing completion.

1) For developers, this land could be turned into a multi-star hotel and spa. The view over the Ganges is exceptional here and the cooling breezes coming from the river assure an exhilarating environment in all seasons. Most of the surrounding properties are also nicely wooded, giving the flavor of being far from the madding crowd even though only within a short walking distance of the ferry ghat to Nabadwip and most of the ashrams and temples in Mayapur.

Only two hours from Kolkata, which is also accessible by steamer, there is no doubt t…

Another side of Bhaktivinoda Thakur 5: Learning Siddha Krishnadas Baba's Gutika

Not more than two months after I received diksha and siddha-pranali from Lalita Prasad Thakur in 1980, he left this world, entering Radha Krishna's nitya-lila. But Prabhu's departure stirred a greater desire in me for the bhajana-shiksha that I desperately needed. This lured me to Radha Kund the same year.

When the Toofan Express pulled into the Mathura station, late as usual, I was contemplating how to reach my destination. It was late afternoon and I was alone. So I started praying to Radharani for guidance. Whenever I enter Vrindavan, it always seems that something mystical happens, and this time was no different. Stepping down from the train onto the platform, I saw a Vaishnava friend from Nabadwip named Jadunath Saha who was getting off the same train a couple of bogies away. Upon seeing me, he came running over. Since we were both alone and in the same predicament, we decided to team up.

"Come with me," he said, "I shall introduce you to a great sadhu.&qu…

Publishing Gadadhar Pran's books

Since I am here at Gadai Gauranga Kunj until tomorrow, I will take this opportunity to solicit some financial help for his publication .

Due to financial constraints, Gadadhar has not been publishing his books in the traditional manner. This has been a big problem for him and the devotees who are thirsty for more insight and inspiration in raganuga bhakti. Until these books are published and distributed widely, these devotees will be held back in their progress.

Up to the present day, Gadadhar has been making his books available to interested sadhakas through photocopied versions, but as you can imagine, this is labor heavy, more troublesome and expensive than normal printing. Also we currently have no publishing expertise for e-books, etc., but even the free distribution of books on the internet is time-consuming and does not make it easier for him to continue this seva.

So we are looking for generous donors to help bring these books on raganuga bhakti by a longtime practicing sad…