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Posts posted by madanbhakta


    Namaste all.


    There's something that I've wondered about for awhile. Whilest reading through the Rigveda I've come across this famous verse (This is Rigveda 1:164:46).


    To me this verse seems to indicate that Indra, Garuda, Agni etc. are all but facets of the supreme God. Here's the thing though, according to most Vaishnavas Indra Agni, Garuda and a fair bit of the other Vedic devas, are but mortal souls who have been elevated to the status of a demi-god by the supreme God Krishna, which would contradict this interpretation. Is there a standard Vaishnava interpretation of this verse?

    Well, in my limited understanding, not only are the demigods accordingly to the status of angels, they are also emanations, or manifestations of Krishna's shakti in material creation (bahiranga shakti). It says in the Gita that the one who worships the demigods actually worship Krishna, but in a wrong way, and that He is the receiver of all prayers and worship, the Reservoir of All Pleasures.


    Thus, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha, Varuna, Indra, etc. are created emanations of Krishna's (or Vishnu's) bahiranga shakti (and Parvati, Saraswati, Durga, Kali, etc. are emanations of Radharani's [or Lakshmi's] shakti). But we are called by the Gita to worship Lord Krishna, or God, and not His emanation. Even our souls are emanations of Krishna's shakti. So if one were to look at it from the demigods-as--former-mortals vantage point, then one can also say that why worship a servant of God, when we are called to directly worship God? Why look at the finger pointing at the moon, when one can look at the moon itself?


    Personally, and I do not know if this is Vaishnava, I see the demigods as also differing facets of Godhead, but Krishna clearly states in the Gita that worship of Him is Supreme. Thus, while there are many conceptions of God, and the sages call Him by many names, the Krishna conception of God is the Highest, as shown in Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita via a plain reading.


    If there is any guru-shastra or Scriptures on this, that would be helpful! ^___^




  2. Dearest Shushan,


    I have only been associating with ISKCON since November, but I know for a fact that ISKCON is only a Society to help us become devotees, surrendered, spiritually-realised souls for Krishna. And although you may not agree with the writings of the gurus, I still believe that reading them would be of great benefit. Reading the writings of Srila Sridhar Maharaj has definitely left a mark on how starkingly different Krishna consciousness or conceptions of Krishna can be by looking it at different angles.


    Some people find it very difficult for certain parts of Gaudiya practice. For example, I have a more difficult time understanding why ISKCON devotees do not eat mushrooms (which are in the mode of ignorance) when eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes are in the same mode as well. Illicit sex is not a big problem for me though, although I know of a devotee whose one large contention is with this 'regulative principle'.


    Eh, regarding chocolate, only the more fundamentalist devotees are adamant about others not eating chocolate. But most Gaudiya devotees, both ISKCON-related and non-ISKCON-related, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. According to ISKCON, tofu and soy are not offerable to Krishna, whilst in Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, tofu and soy are definitely offerable, especially with vegan devotees!


    In SCS Math actually, the harmonium is not used specifically because worship music should not gratify the senses and to awaken a simple devotional love for God through our voices, the mrdanga and karataalas.


    Poverty (spiritual) is a virtue, and the story of Narada Muni and the elephant going through the eye of a needle is a wonderful example. So just because some devotees gratify their senses with very tasty prasadam, does not mean that you have to as well. I personally try not to eat eggplant, although I enjoy it when it is cooked by others. Onions and garlic are only eaten in situations where it would be rude to remove them, and meat is absolutely forbidden for myself.


    We are coming deeper and deeper into Kali Yuga, and thus allowances can be made. I have made the decision to only read books that preach of God-consciousness; I have several translations of the Qur'an, Bible, Baha'i Writings, along with my Vedic literatures. My music can be anything clean, but worship music should be simple. I offer everything, even when eating out in restaurants, to Krishna, and I try not to hang with drug-abusers, alcoholics, impersonalists, sex-addicts, etc. and try to hang with more God-loving peoples.


    Patience is necessary for spiritual progression. If we are too hard on ourselves, then we become simply frustrated.


    Srila Sridhar Maharaj said: "The center of all attraction is Krishna. His attraction is by beauty, by charm, and by love - and not by coercion and force. That is the Krishna conception of Godhead."


    With Krishna, there is no official policy. I and all others have no right to judge your spiritual capacity but Krishna alone. ISKCON, the gurus, and other Gaudiya organisations are tools to help one to become conscious of Krishna's presence as the ultimate conception of Beauty and Love. As soon as we create disharmony, then Krishna is displeased. If every soul is a Vaishnavite, an eternal servant of God, then we must try not to offend anyone.


    If Krishna is your Ishta-Deva, then listen to Him, pray to Him, and love Him as best you can. Chant His Name, continue associating with devotees, offer every foodstuff, action, suffering and sin to Krishna, and always think of Him constantly. Perhaps Krishna's mercy will grace you when you leave this earthly life. And of course, love your friends and family as servants of God, and worship Paramatma through them all. :)







    I've been going to ISKCON temples on and off all my life since I was 5 years old (so that's 35 years!), and Krishna is my main ishtadeva, though I am also happy with other Vaishnava, Saivite, Shakti etc. deities. I love chanting the maha mantra, but also chant to Shiva, Devi etc., and I think the current "Radhe Radhe!" chanting is great, and actually empowering for female devotees. I also find a great deal of value in certain elements of Buddhism. In my heart, I am equally at home in ISKCON temples as I am in any other Hindu temple. Yes, I know, ISKCON devotees don't consider themselves Hindus...! I don't actually consider myself one either - I just follow what feels right and true for my own spiritual path.


    I do not have a guru and do not necessarily feel the need for one. I am wary of many of their motives, have problems with the hierarchical structures, and do not agree with all their teachings. There are HUGE egos all around, and I see them in gurus, musicians, and at pretty much every level of every ISKCON or Hindu temple I've been to. One of the great things about ISKCON is that it ignores the caste system, but this has not abolished big egos! All the in-fighting, bickering, controversies etc. attest to this, and until I see a guru immune to their own egos, I follow my own path of study and chanting....


    I don't wish to offend anyone, but I also don't agree with some of Prabhupada's interpretations of the Gita or with some of his teachings. And I don't feel like I have to. For example, sex with my wife is an expression of love, not lust, and to me love is the closest we can come to divinity on earth. Maybe this means I have sahajiya leanings! Whatever, I refuse to limit my expressions of physical earthly love to procreation purposes only and don't see any valid reason for it. Too much like Catholicism! There is no guilt or shame in being human.


    Clearly, there are parts of the Vedas that are no longer applicable to modern society. Otherwise we'd still be sacrificing animals, as the Rig Veda instructs. Change within a religion is not always necessarily a bad thing, and in fact is sometimes the only way it can survive. Even in the Mahabharata it says that it is worse to not kill a man who deserves to be killed than to not kill at all. I don't think many of us would agree with that.


    I don't feel the need to stop eating onion and garlic, I like an occasional glass of wine with dinner, and the idea of giving up chocolate (caffeine) is unthinkable! I don't think these things make me unworthy or impious or a bad person or whatever. I also find that there is some hypocrisy about 'sense gratification', when incense, music and chanting, sometimes 8 or 10 different kinds of wonderful prasadam (including sweets), etc. are a feast for the senses. Why are these okay but not other forms, if they are within reason and done with love? Answers like "because Prabhupada said so" just do not cut it for me. Please don't get me wrong - there are many more things I respect and admire about him than otherwise - just not EVERYTHING.


    I also would never even consider for a moment not associating with non-devotees, because that would cut off most of my family and friends. To me, that is not a sign of devotion or non-attachment, but a total denial of love and what it means to be human. That's what cults ask you to do, and has been one of the main criticisms of ISKCON.


    On my last ISKCON stay, I was met with some disapproval about my inclusive attitude to religion. It even seemed that because I've been going for a long time it was even worse - as if I've rejected it. The fact that I come out of genuine interest, love, connection, and spiritual devotion, and that I chant and dance with enthusiasm and contribute karma yoga does not seem to matter to certain people if I don't accept Krishna and ONLY Krishna as the one true Supreme Godhead, and sign up to everything Prabhupada said. This is exactly what born-again Christians say about Jesus. I felt it was very exclusivist and judgmental, and it made me feel very unwelcome. This was very disappointing considering that ISKCON has been my main focus of spirituality for most of my life.


    Of course not all devotees are like this, and there are always more warm, friendly people at temples than otherwise - people I would trust with my life within minutes of meeting them!


    So my question is, given my liberal and INCLUSIVE views about religion, and the fact that I'm unwilling to accept and adopt all of ISKCON's "requirements", am I even welcome? Is there an official policy on this?


    Hare Krishna,


  3. Forgive my naivetes, but although I am not even initiated under a guru, I still call myself a Hindu because of my practices. I practice Hare Krishna mantra-yoga via japa, puja time to time, darshana, read the Scriptures of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-Gita and guru-shastras, and of course, believe ultimately in the Supremacy and authority of the Vedas.


    I believe in Gaudiya Vedanta, and thus part of the Gaudiya Sampradaya of Vaishnavism. I am a Vaishnavite Hindu. I dislike the name 'Hare Krishna' because it is too ISKCON-specific; the Gaudiya tradition is by far large and each organisation, matha and temple seem to even have a different bhava.


    Actually, I loathe the name 'Hare Krishna' as a name of what I follow. It is too specific to ISKCON, and I prefer to be called Gaudiya, (Chaitanya/Gaudiya) Vaishnavite, or Hindu, or a mixture of the three. But I refuse to be called or be known by the name 'Hare Krishna'. That is our mantra, not our philosophy (Acintya-bheda-abheda, Gaudiya Vedanta).


    As Hinduism is becoming a world religion and is being more and more open to Westerners, it has ceased to be associated with Indian peoples (the 'Hindoos') and describes those who follow the Vedas and Sanaatana Dharma. The belief in their authoritativeness is more important than their interpretations. Many Hindus themselves claim that Hinduism is the Mother Religion and the origin of all religions.


    And of course, the Shaiva Siddhanta Church uses 'Hinduism' frequently to mask their strong Shaivite orientation (and indeed, I was sorely disappointed that their magazine, under the assumption that it would have allowed Shaktas, Vaishnavites, and 'liberal Hindus,' was totally Shaiva Dharma). Why can't Gaudiya Vaishnavites do similarily? ;)


    As much as the Shaiva, Vaishnava, Smarta and Shakta paramparas (and 'liberal Hindus, if you want to count them) are constantly changing social contexts yet adhering to traditional beliefs, the word 'Hinduism' constantly changes along. As par BG 18:66, labels are still inevitable due to being an intrinsic part of maya-shakti in this short lifespan. I just try not to be so attached to them, for with attachment comes the ceasing of pure servitude, surrender and loving devotion without arguing over proper apellations.


    Therefore, I am a Filipino Hindu, and I am proud to be so. However, I am a Gaudiya Vedantin, rejecting the Adwaita philosophy that is so seemingly popular nowadays with the liberal, almagation-of-Shaivite-and-Vaishnavite-pantheons temples.

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