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  1. Thank you for providing that article. It does remind me though that I am somewhat in a pickle, because I have a same-sex (particularly non-sexual) relationship with a significant other. We are both male, and both Gaudiya Vaishnavas, although we are both from two different Missions. We both aspire to become initiated some day. I am wondering how such a call to gender roles come to play with such relationships. In any case, I do not mind taking the role of a servitor, and seeing him as my 'gurudeva'. If I can make him happy, then Krishna will be happy with me.
  2. At the moment, I am studying Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and their guru-acharya, Srila Govinda Maharaj. I have read only a fraction of the books of his predecessor, Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and I was impressed of the balance between sentimentality towards Krishna as Supreme God and the logic he presented. If you ever read "Sri Guru and His Grace" by Srila Sridhar Maharaj, he talks about how the guru is as good as God Himself on Earth, being a representative of Krishna, and by surrendering to a Vaishnava, and only by prapatti, we can come back Home, back to God. By both philosophy and sentimentality, we can surely reach the spiritual world of Krishna! The point is, can you ultimately trust your guru to teach you, to take all of your karma and go back to God? Does he blatantly claim with pompousness that he is God Himself, or does he, with great humility, claim to be the servant of the servants of God? If yes, then you are ready for initiation, especially under your chosen guru. If he is not 'bona fide' then your search must go on. One can never come to Krishna in full immensity until one surrenders to a realised spiritual master.
  3. Hare Krishna! In my limited Gaudiya understanding, Maha-Vishnu is an expansion of Lord Krishna. Maha-Vishnu is the incarnation of Lord Krishna in the aspect of Creator, then divided into Kshirodakashayi-Vishnu (Dweller in the heart of every living being, Paramaatmaa, etc.) and Garbhodakashayi-Vishnu (Creator and Dweller in the Macrocosmic forms, universes, etc.). Worship of Krishna is worshipping all His incarnations and demigods. He is fully sufficient. Jai Sri Krishna!
  4. It's crazy, but I do believe that in order to keep the definition of Hinduism objective, it is imperative to teach that not all 'Hindus' (those who accept the Vedas as supreme; the definition doesn't imply whether a certain interpretation is orthodox or not) adhere to Adwaitic concepts or those of the Neo-Vedantic movement. ISKCON does have this continual problem with using Hindu, but at the same time, although Srila Prabhupada said to his followers that his society was for Krishna Consciousness, and not 'Hinduism,' the ISKCON website has the Heart of Hinduism webpage at the same time! But non-ISKCON Gaudiya Vaishnavites have no problem with using the term 'Hindu'. It is quite annoying, especially even in the objective sense of the term, Hinduism has so many philosophies, and Adwaita Vedanta is only one of the many. http://www.wva-vvrs.org/nectar/letter4.htm Too bad it can not be clear cut and one can say "I believe in Shaivism" or "Vaishnavism is my own religion" or "I am a Shakta, and I worship Shakti" kind of thing. To correspond on how some people may use 'Vaishnava' as a blanketing term, when I am with people who may be sensitive to the word 'Hindu' I just use the 'Vedic religions - religions that derived themselves from the Veda'.
  5. It is indeed strange how labels work. ISKCON presents itself, as per Srila Prabhupada, as a non-sectarian movement, but they are dubbed the 'Hare Krishnas' and given such a label, that many people unfamiliar with Vaishnavism call it the 'Hare Krishna religion.' <!-- END MAIN APPLICATION CONTENT --> What a terrible ideal... but it seems that the strength of India has been its spiritual wealth... but yes, in times of such statements, I know that Vaishnavism is a wonderful, although with the tendencies of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, religion, and Shaivism too. As far as I know (living in Western Canada) only ISKCON and other Gaudiya Vaishnava devotees are apparent. There is a Pushtimargiya presence in Ontario, but that is about it. Well, I know that Satguru Shivaya Subramuniyaswami wanted to establish an organisation to protect Shaiva Dharma and called it the 'Shaiva Siddhanta Church' and such is its proper name (I believe he began preaching in the mid-1950's so the label may have been appropriate back then). But I appreciate their Church's work because of how they represent the openness of Shaiva Dharma to non-Indian peoples. Although I reject Shaiva Siddhanta, since it is mainly impersonalist, I do not ignore their sincerity in their devotion to Lord Shiva. Actually, my online friend is a closeted Shaivite who is Caucasian. Anyways, as a Vaishnava, it is very difficult. I say this because to a Vaishnava, Shiva has always been a servant of God, not God Himself. Many Vaishnavas would be uncomfortable being lumped with Shaivas, Shaktas, and 'liberal Hindus.' I do not have too much of a problem, but the due to the call for disassociation with impersonalists and impersonalism, we can not but only hang with Vaishnava Hindus...
  6. Shvu, Haribol! I do not want to take away from the main topic of this forum, but it does say 'Vaishnava' and not 'Gaudiya Vaishnava' so any Vaishnavite is welcome to give his or her respective answer to the question. Being a practitioner of Gaudiya Vaishnavism myself, I do realise that not all Vaishnavites will accept Upadeshamrita, Chaitanya-Charitamrita, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindu, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Brahma-samhita, and other Gaudiya Scriptures. Furthermore, I still accept all Vaishnavites as my brothers and sisters in God, whether Sri, Pushtimargi, Nimbarki, or Gaudiya. As a Gaudiya, I accept and am aware of the other branches of Vaishnavism. Radhe Shyam.
  7. I was also wondering about this, because at the moment I am studying the writings of Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and the more that divulge with Srila Govinda Maharaj's devotees, the more that I feel that Srila Govinda Maharaj is my own guru... but who knows that until I am totally ready... Anyways, it is likely that the people who I will meet will be from ISKCON. And being attracted (romantically, not sexually) to those of the same-sex, it will be a great demand of tolerance on many peoples' sides. I do expect myself to follow no illicit sex, but at the same time, I have attachments to companionship. But yes, marriage is considered a secular institution outside of Gaudiya philosophy. Maybe one day I will meet my Krishna conscious man, or maybe I will be led a life as a single person. Who knows? ^___^ But love Krishna within whoever you wish!
  8. bhaktajan, After contemplation and talking about the issue with other devotees, I was thinking of this verse when I was making my mention, by Srila Pabhupada: "The chanting should be hears, however, from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effect can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of a nondevotee should be avoided, as much as milk touched by the lips of a serpent causes poisonous effect." As well as some of the Ten Offenses to the Holy Name: 5 - To give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord. 6 - To consider the glories of the holy name of the Lord as imagination. 9 - It is an offense to preach the glories of the holy name of the Lord to the faithless. 10 - If one has heard the glories of the transcendental holy name of the Lord but nevertheless continues in a materialistic concept of life, thinking “I am this body and everything belonging to this body is mine [aham mameti],” and does not show respect and love for the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, that is an offense. My own fear is that when spreading the Mahamantra, people may hold on to these mayavadi and impersonalist views, yet still chant the Holy Name of Krishna. I now understand that we must spread the Holy Name, but only intimate the details if they choose to become devotees. Jaya Radhe, madanbhakta
  9. But how can we go about such without thinking of how Lord Chaitanya Himself used the Qur'an to argue that Vaishnava morals and the personality of God was found in the Qur'an itself? Surely, perhaps the Qur'an may be a crude Vaishnavite literature, or perhaps not. However, Lord Chaitanya used it as an argumentative tactic and eventually won the hearts of the Muslims. Srila Prabhupada was spreading Vaishnavism as the path of Krishna-bhakti. There is definitely no doubt about that. My learning comes from Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaj. I am a Gaudiya Vaishnava. It wasn't the terms that Srila Prabhupada argued, since he said that a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. can practice bhakti through chanting Hare Krishna. But it is the attachment to those names, and not the Holy Name, that make the illusion.
  10. You say it, Lilaji! I understand though that such designations are necessary because we are necessarily part of this material shakti of God, differentiated due to the results of past karma. From this perspective, it does remind me of the accounts of ISKCON with its earlier adherents saying "I am not this body; I am spirit soul." Also, from this supposed 'reality' of an undesignated God and soul and the reality of our material existence dependent upon labels to distinguish paths and philosophies, this understanding would make many of the religions quite universal. I have never thought that Srila Prabhupada would use his constant examples of "I may be a Hindu, and you may be a Christian..." would refer to people using labels and names as an exercise in superiority before! But when I hear statements from Hindus of 'all paths lead to God' 'Hinduism is the oldest religion on Earth' (for the assertion that old = original or best), or that 'all religions came from Sanaatana Dharma, Hinduism', it makes me think of how many Hindu souls' egos would float from such statements. I often feel that too many Western Advaitins and Hare Krishnas unnecessarily cringe at the label 'Hindu' without even establishing a solid definition first. Why not embrace another label? It won't hurt your soul! I guess. But Even with Judaism (there used to be an active preaching edge with Hinduism before the World Wars, and conversion is definitely allowed within the religion) or Islam, there is not much of a focus on a centralised people. But then again, I think of the inherent Arabic influences of Islam, the subtleties of Iranian culture in the Baha'i Faith, the European ways and music in Christianity, and the Semitic influence in Judaism. Nevertheless, Hinduism, seemingly being the oldest form of religion in the world, has grown so intertwined with India that it is so difficult to separate them. Indian culture and Hindu culture are almost one and the same. From gender roles, to respect of elders and family, and the arts that are Hindu-influenced are also inevitably Indian-influenced. I have heard some people (rather with pettiness) say that Hare Krishnas are not Hindu because they are active preachers. Such a statement veritably reeks of superiority-vs-inferiority. Lord Chaitanya was very interesting. At one point of view, His movement of Krishna-bhakti and sankirtana was a successful movement in breaking down sectarian barriers and uniting peoples of differing varnas and outside perspectives with a unifying practice. Yet the 'brahma-madhva-gaudiya sampradaya' seems to differentiate from other sampradayas or congregations. One ISKCON devotee told me that although all Vaishnavites are Vaishnava, eventually there will be only one sampradaya (Gaudiya) and that ISKCON will lead them. But hey, Lord Chaitanya's movement prophesied that the Holy Name will be spread all over the world, into every town and village. Perhaps in time, we may be able to tell... One could say that by this very definition, God is Hindu, because there is no straight definition of the religion, yet the many philosophical traditions seem to have very similar practices, beliefs and terminology. Only the theology and God-focus differs. Hey, I pretty much follow the bandwagon as one of those non-Indians who chose the Gaudiya sampradaya, thanks to the efforts of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada in presenting the tradition. And it is a very beautiful tradition of which speaks of raso vai sah. Although I wish I could hang out with other Vaishnavas who are part of Nimbarkacharya's (Nimbarki), Ramanujacharya's (Sri) and Vallabhacharya's (Pushtimargiya) congregations. The only association I have had is one who is a Nimbarki and another who was part of ISKCON and is now coming into Pushtimarg, both on Facebook. XD Well, Shaivites, from what I know from Satguru Shivaya Subramuniyaswami's books, is that Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita are Vaishnava Scriptures, and that the Tirumantiram should be read instead. I assumed the Shaiva Siddhanta Church had many branches, but I guess they only have one in Hawai'i. In any case, their literature and books and the distribution of them is amazing. I have great respect for their attempt to crystallise the essence of Shaiva Siddhanta sampradaya and to continue its existence. Just as ISKCON seems to be the main representative of Vaishnavism in the West, the Shaiva Siddhanta Church represents Shaivite Hinduism in the West as well. I guess it is better to have distant family than no family at all, lol. It is important that we are recognised as legitimate forms of spiritual and religious practice, for I know that some countries do not even recognise Hinduism as a religion, but a cultural construct limited to its 'founding peoples'. Aww, but uniting Hindus are fun! Although there are slight nuances that can not be ignored (for example, the Chaitanya follower should not listen to commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita or of Krishna unless they are some form of Vaishnavite and come from a personalist perspective). Besides, I find it much fun to tell people that I am a Filipino-Canadian Hindu. It certainly becomes a teaching tool for me to show how diverse Hinduism can be. Jaya Radhe, Radhe Shyam! madanbhakta
  11. Haribol, krishnaleela! Although I take both siksha learning from Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, and slowly and most elegantly from Srila Sridhar Maharaj, I try to make myself aware that Srila Prabhupada essentially wanted all peoples from different religions to take up some form of bhakti practice, and in my limited and biased perspective, although he did use 'Hindu' at times to people when preaching, he proclaimed that his teachings were not Hindu because God has no religion. I believe that he wanted this distinction because, in my limited understanding, a) Hindoo referred to those who were born in India or have Indian ethnicity, and thus a term latent of geographical and regional bias, and b) he could also have been referring to the so-called 'liberal Hinduism' as well as their worship of the 'demigods' save Vishnu/Krishna. Most other Gaudiya Vaishnavites outside ISKCON have no real problem of using 'Hindu' as long as the term is defined objectively, as according to belief in the Vedas. At times, with certain people, I usually just say that Gaudiya philosophy is on the 'fringe' of Hindu Dharma, simply because Lord Chaitanya Himself, unlike most of the 'Hindu' sampradayas, called for active preaching. But then again, although people say that Hinduism doesn't preach, I believe it does in a subtle way. Travelling swamis do not travel for nothing! And I do agree that the term 'Hindu' can largely ignore the more cultural and regional subtleties of religious practice. But at the same time, Wicca, a Neo-Pagan religion, proclaims itself as a religion with no constructed creed or central cult creed, object, formula, etc. Even with Gaudiya Vaishnavism, ISKCON's version of it seems to have crystallised the philosophy through their 'four regulative principles' and the goals of the Society. In other Gaudiya organisations, there is a somewhat lack of a centralised creed that would even define a Vaishnava. I do like how Hinduism is a living tradition, or at least Chaitanya Vaishnavism, for the beliefs are carried on through the guru and their writings. The Guru-shastras are almost as good as the Vedas themselves! I have often wondered whether one should even separate the supposed 'denominations' of Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and liberal Hinduism or not. I am aware that the Shaiva Siddhanta Church, although their material is largely Shaivite, likes to include the 'denominations' whilst ISKCON, a large and preaching Gaudiya organisation, rejects bunching them together. I have no idea where I stand myself, but it can be very difficult when it comes to describing myself outside of the 'Hindu' fold as a Hindu myself. Anyways, as Gaudiya preachers always say, "We are spiritually individualised souls, not these material bodies." Any designation, from Gaudiya, Hindu, Vaishnava, and even 'Hare Krishna' (a designation which I strongly dislike) are all self-imposed by the false ego. So it is all irrelevant in the spiritual planes. Jaya Radhe, madanbhakta
  12. Anyway, this is what Srila Sridhar Maharaj has to say about it: How does the soul first appear in this world? From what stage of spiritual existence does he fall into the material world? This is a broad question, which requires some background information. There are two classes of souls, jivas, who come into this world. One class comes from the spiritual Vaikuntha planets by the necessity of nitya-lila, the eternal pastimes of Krsna. Another comes by constitutional necessity. The brahmajyoti, the nondifferentiated marginal plane, is the source of infinite jiva souls, atomic spiritual partices of nondifferentiated character. The rays of the Lord's transcendental body are known as the brahmajyoti, and a pencil of a ray of the brahmajyoti is the jiva. The jiva soul is an atom in that effulgence, and the brahmajyoti is a product of an infinite number of jiva atoms. Generally, souls emanate from the brahmajyoti which is living and growing. Within the brahmajyoti, their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From nondifferentiation, differentiation begins. From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individual conscious units grow. And because the jiva is conscious it is endowed with free will. So, from the marginal position they choose either the side of exploitation or the side of dedication. http://www.vtweb.com/gosai/chaitanya/saranagati/html/vishnu_mjs/jiva/jiva.html http://www.vtweb.com/gosai/chaitanya/saranagati/html/vishnu_mjs/jiva/origin_ssm.html
  13. Dear Ron, Allah-u-Abha, and Haribol! Thank you for sharing the Baha'i interpretations of Vaishnava Scriptures (which do not speak to all Hindus, since Shaivites do not accept Mahabharata, Ramayana, or Bhagavad Gita). And if Baha'u'llah is an incarnation or 'Manifestation of God for the Hindus of this Age,' the supposed 'Nineth Avatar of Lord Krishna,' Lord Krishna as revealed in the Gita prefers that we worship His form, Shyamasundara (His beautiful form as a blackish raincloud), and remember Him. At about the end of Chapter Nine, Krishna says that anyone who worships His form (as He manifested Himself during that incarnation) will surely come to Him, and of course, Bhagavad Gita 18:66 was very clear. Also, as a Gaudiya, we believe that when Lord Chaitanya came on this Earth, He gave us the Holy Name of Lord Krishna as Naam-avatara that will bring the Age of Truth. This Naam-avatar, or incarnation of the Holy Name, is the Name of Lord Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We believe that the true universal religion is the chanting of the Names of God, whether it be 'Allah' 'Jehovah' 'Yahweh' 'Waheguru' 'Amitabha' 'Al-Abha' 'Ahura Mazda' or 'Krishna'. Although we are part of Sanaatana Dharma, and are part of 'Hinduism' God consciousness goes beyond our sacraments and Indic-inspired practices. The chanting of the Name of God is blissful and is sufficient in this age for development of devotional love (bhakti). You chant 'Allah-u-Abha' and we chant 'Hare Krishna'. The essence is the same. To us, Naam-avatara is Kalki-avatara, not Baha'u'llah, although He may be accepted as an expansion of Lord Krishna in the form of a God-conscious Man. The Hare Krishna Mahamantra is Vishnu-yasha, or the Glory of Vishnu, not Baha'u'llah. Many blessings of Krishna to you, madanbhakta.
  14. I don't know much, and I have no guru shastra behind my back on this one, but in my understanding, all individual souls began to dwell in jiva-shakti, not in antaranga-shakti, where the abode of Krishna is. We actually serve Krishna in the marginal potency, or tatastha-shakti/jiva-shakti, and then become attracted to the material world (maya-shakti or bahiranga-shakti). From my neophyte understanding, it was our false-ego and to serve it rather than to serve God that brought us down. When we 'fall' onto the material world, we can be in the realm of the demigods, in a hellish existence on Earth, or go directly to Krishna-dhama (via vaidhi-bhakti [loving devotional service through Scriptural orthopraxy], which develops ragaatmika [spontaneous love] and mukti [liberation]), enveloped by His antaranga-shakti (internal potency, or spiritual energy). 1. Antaranga-shakti (internal potency / spiritual energy, also called Krishnaloka, the Kingdom of God) 2. Tatastha-shakti (marginal potency / marginal energy, also called jiva-shakti, because it is the realm of servant souls of Krishna; it dwells between the upper antaranga-shakti and the lower bahiranga-shakti) 3. bahiranga-shakti (external potency / material energy, the realm of material existence) A diagram of Krishna's shaktis would help a lot. And if anyone has any guru-shastras to help with this and remove my mayic understanding, that would be great!
  15. Having drunk coffee for such a long time, I am slowly getting off my addictions to hot chocolate and am drinking decaf coffee (and all its wonderful chemicals to make it decaffeinated). I still drink and eat chocolate, but I am trying to eat the stuff in moderation now. I have been having trouble sleeping for the past month though. Even the smell of caffeinated coffee can stimulate a person. It's crazy how much of a Starbucks society we now live in. And as a result of my friend being a barista there, he developed a kidney stone from too much coffee. Now I just need to exercise and emphasise those greens...
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