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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Explanation of 'Ignorance IS an excuse"

I have received the following reaction to my last blog and I am posting the essence of it here in case it is not properly understood:

“I can't seem to work out the implications of Vijay Krishna Goswami's thoughts. I can understand that varnashram would be difficult to practice in the western world in its strictest meaning. We can also do away with samskaras or ritualistics rites that are a part of the Hindu tradition....And while in the west for myself, I will wear the clothing preferences of the women in the west, which I consider decent. On the other hand, I am sure you are not advocating for Vaishnavas living in the western country to take to meat eating again nor to practice the permissive stance of many people in the west in regard to personal relationship. Therefore can you please explain a bit more of your thoughts about the quote of Vijay Krishna. I am thinking of the absolutes and relatives lines within this particular quote.”


My response:
“Hmm there is a misunderstanding here. I was not trying to make the point that WE Western Vaiṣṇavas should be assimilating with western culture (I myself live a combination of Indian and western lifestyles, wearing Indian clothes at home and western clothes outside). When in the opening text I spoke of westerners, I meant non-devotee westerners, and the point of the blog was that Western Vaiṣṇavas are trained to think that all 'karmis' they meet on the street while on 'sankirtan' are going to go to hell because they eat meat, drink alcohol, cohabit without marriage etc. (At least we were trained like that in the 1970s, I don’t know about nowadays) The point that Sādhu Bābā and his predecessor Vijay Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī make is that people are judged by God according to their own level of realization, their own culture and their own religious principles. Note that Vijay Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī said that they are not sinning unless and until they realized that it is wrong what they are doing.

“Whatever is thus considered decent is accepted, and unless and until it is understood and realized to be wrong and unjust it should certainly be followed.”

And we western Vaiṣṇava-converts are certainly aware of the wrongs of alcohol and meat-consumption. Ignorance is an excuse but western converts are no longer in ignorance….

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