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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Spirit of Subal penetrates Vrindavan

Deity's Modern Attire Creates Disturbance
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Sep 16, VRINDAVAN, INDIA (IANS) — Priests at the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan yesterday dressed up the main deity in modern attire, sparking massive protests. Priests at the temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, at the request of some fun-loving devotees, gave the deity on Thursday a modern look, complete with jeans and a shirt and wielding a mobile phone. Activists of groups like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) termed the move blasphemy and burnt effigies of the priests. They demanded that those who defiled the sanctity of the temple be punished. Sanskrit scholars like Chandan Lal Parasher and Nirmal Giri of the Kailash temple here criticised the wanton callousness of the Vrindavan priests. The Rashtriya Lok Dal and Brahmin Sabha also organized similar protests. Some have called for the sacking of the priests.

28 comments:

  1. This is probably why it said that only the pure devotees are the ones allowed to make innovations in the form of worship.
    You can see what happens if 'others' take that liberty.
    'They' can argue that Krishna likes an occassional joke, but I doubt if this is 'funny'.

    For me deity-worship always was hard to accept coming from a Catholic background. It is even harder to accept for Jews.

    After reading 'The life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya' by Bhaktivinode Thakur, written for people like me with similar backgrounds, I accepted that Sri Murti is sad-cid-ananda-vigraha.

    But what would have happened if my first confrontation with Sri Murti, would be with Sri Murti dressed as Ken ? Probably my 'christian' doubts would have prevailed.

    Luckily that didn't happen.
    Glory to Thakur Bhaktivinode !

    (Edited)

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  2. "only the pure devotees are the ones allowed to make innovations in the form of worship"

    I personally dont think that anyone can make innovations in the form of worship, because it is a timeless process connected to a timeless Person.

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  3. Innovation is maybe not the correct word. Pure devotees do reestablish occasionally the original standard of worship, also if long forgotten. It can look like innovation, but indeed it is not innovation.
    Also pure devotees sometimes temporarily tolerate mistakes made by their disciples in order not to tamper their enthousiasm by correcting them too much at once. That is also not innovation.

    Likely in this case a devotee of lower adhikara may also correct the priests of this temple in Brindaban.

    Thanks for the correction of my comment.

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  4. For w long time another tasteless decoration is going on of Biharijee - they sometimes garland Him with a garland of 100-Rupee notes. Money can never be clean, so it is an impure offering, as well as a vulgar and materialistic one. Kali is on the march, unstoppable.

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  5. Boy you beat me to this story Advaitaji...

    I couldn't believe it, what an outrage and with a 'cell phone'?

    namaskar,

    jijaji

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  6. His Holiness Gour Govinda Maharaja would always sarcasticly, while mocking the greedy, sing... Money, money, money, brighter than sunshine, sweeter than honey.

    But this is now very much happening in India. The Indians ofcourse don't have to stay in poverty. A little development is a good thing. But they should learn from the West and see what nasty side effects economic development can also have. This is not happening. Instead they are running the ratrace like nobody has ever run it before. Big, bigger, biggest in the United States of India.
    Number one subject in India is .. right... money. Number two.... more money...software, applications, financial growth, Bollywood and so on.
    The events on this blog in a way symbolize what's going on in India. People are forgetting Krishna, who He is, what He wants and how He can be pleased.
    That this is happening in our Capital Brindaban though is new to me and .... shocking

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  7. More....
    Sep 17, VRINDAVAN, INDIA (PTI) — Shopkeepers downed shutters as protests against the alleged dressing up of Lord Krishna idol in the famous Banke Bihari temple here, in T-shirt, jeans and holding a mobile phone in his hand instead of a flute, spilled over into the second day on Sunday. A case has meanwhile been filed in court against the temple's caretakers for the allegedly sacrilegious act.

    Activists of saffron organisations like the Hindu Yuva Vahini and others took out protest marches and demanded action against the caretakers of the temple for the "sacrilegious act" in this temple town, about 10 km from Mathura.

    Markets wore an empty look as shops dotting the town's narrow and cramped lanes had downed shutters in protest against the incident. A petition has been filed in the district court against the caretakers of Banke Bihari temple and the court has issued notices to the parties concerned, according to temple sources.

    The idol was reportedly garbed in western attire on Thursday during Anand Mahotsava festivities and protestors allege that that temple caretakers were involved. Lakhs of devotees from around the world flock Vrindavan to pay obeisance at the temple, considered auspicious for members of the Hare Krishna cult.

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  8. And you know whats next: they will get the "idol" connected to the Internet where He will have His own blog "Bihariji At Your Service".

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  9. In the vaisnava sangha I used to frequent here in Amsterdam a couple decades ago we sometimes daydreamed about Krishna on wooden shoes and things like that because we had a very hard time believing that God is an Indian. Not to affront, not to put Him on a bicycle, or giving Him a cell phone, etc but just to put some space in the Indian concept of Bhagavan.
    Of course Indian mystics will only see Him as an Indian, in dhoti etc., but to us western 'hindoos' things are not Indian. Why limit the LORD to local tastes/appearances?

    Can to the orthodox, Vaisnavism only be a LOCAL religion? Is that their big vision?

    Maybe WHEN and IF western devotees get mystic experiences too, they will see that there are more ways than only the Indian way.

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  10. Typically Dutch. That opens the old discussion - if Krishna is 'Indian' (by the way, where is the word 'India' in the shastras and where were Holland and the USA
    5,000 years ago?) then why give Him an Indian name and not call Him Jantje or Billy instead? All the verses that proclaim Krishna to be saccidananda vigraha will be Indian too and indeed the shastras are also Indian? What about the statements that Radha-Krishna's
    ornaments arent made of (Indian) materials either but are part of Their sandhini shakti? Why bother about Krishna at all if you want to keep God strictly Dutch/European/whatever?
    Isnt this called 'anthropomorphy', projecting one's own human cultural vision upon God? Of course you can accuse the Indians of the same, but then the question remains - why do tens of thousands of Latinos, blacks, whities, Slavs, Nordics, other East Asians and Aussies all over this planet
    all get attracted to Krishna, despite His Indian features? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Krishna means 'all- attractive'. Whence the transcendental ecstasy all the abovementioned ethnic groups experience while chanting the 'Indian' names Hare Krishna Hare Krishna? Why not from chanting Billy Jean Billy Jean Jean Jean Billy Billy? Did your group in Amsterdam really get a buzz out of chanting Jantje Pietje Klaasje Koos? Did they try it? Srila Jiva Gosvami says in the Sandarbhas that chanting concocted names, while projecting (aropa) Godhood upon them will not have any effect. That proves that Krishna's names, forms and attributes are not kavir kalpana, the imagination of some Indian poet, but eternal selfmanifest and yes, universal Truth. If we didnt all experience transcendental bliss through Krishna I could concede we're just a bunch of India-loving old hippees.
    Perhaps your sangha of old probably was a bit on the mental and intellectual plane rather than on the saccidananda one?

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  11. This is how I see this. If the temple is a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple then I think that what they were doing was craziness gone bersek. In Gaudiya Vaishnavism the tradition and knowledge are meant to be handed down by way of parampara – from the top to down. Therefore, if they were GV devotees then these “innovators” were putting the parampara system upside down—bottom to top .

    If they were not GVs then we have to ask: are the priests thinking they were going by their “vision”. Ok, give them the benefit of the doubt, it’s “vision”. And to be generous to Yadupati, ok we will try to accommodate your thinking of “Why limit the LORD to local tastes/appearances?”
    With regards to vision I would have to ask : will the cool Krishna in Levis 501, T and mobile, set the mood for a devotional Sunday or will it be conducive for the serious devotee to practice his Krishna smaram ? I would have to say , NO WAY !!!.

    Also if we have faith that how Krishna or Radharani were descrbed in the scriptures and commentaries of our great acharyas and saints based on their “visions” were how they were in their eternal swarup, then are we not lampooning the sastras and the poets of our acharyas? My point here is similar to Advaita’s points.

    I stick by the principle of parampara and the “innovation’s” practical effect on a reasonable person. To be honest, I have also pondered Yadupati’s question in the past, that is the reason how I came up with my thoughts above.

    BTW, Yadupati’s slide show photos in Jyoti Dham are wonderful – thanks. Yes, Jijaji, I read your site almost everyday.

    And yes, Anonymous, the medium of internet will not change the message unless you manipulate it, ok?

    Radhe Radhe

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  12. "If the temple is a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple then I think that what they were doing was craziness gone bersek. In Gaudiya Vaishnavism the tradition and knowledge are meant to be handed down by way of parampara – from the top to down. Therefore, if they were GV devotees then these “innovators” were putting the parampara system upside down—bottom to top."

    The Bankey Bihari devotees are not Gaudiyas but descend from Haridās Swāmi. Nevertheless they will have their own tradition and parampara too. Besides, if Krishna is anādi ādi, the beginnningless beginning, how can there be any change of tunic for Him? He doesnt belong to any sampradāya, let alone to India.

    īsvarah paramah krsnah saccidānanda vigrahah anādir ādir govinda sarva kārana kāranam
    (Brahma ṣamhitā 5.1)

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  13. Krishna's eternal form is non-different from its apparel and from His names too, that are again non-different from His apparel. Pitāmbar means 'yellow dress' and is yet also a full name of Krishna. Now it would become Nīlāmbar because He wears blue-jeans? Same thing for 'Muralīdhar', which means 'the holder of the flute' - This would now become Nokia-dhara? Manihāra means 'jewel necklace' and is also a name of Krishna. But now He is wearing a gold chain, so He is now Svarna-hāra? What to speak of putting Him into wooden shoes. Add to the Gopal Sahasra Nāma: kāsthā-pāduka (wooden shoes): Krishna's 1001st name?

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  14. I apologize for having added a thought on this blog. As I do not belong to your (plural) type of people because I am the ONLY one here who was NOT converted (directly or indirectly) by Srila Prabhupad I should not mix in your musings. I dont belong to your (plural) type of fundamentalistic, premodern type of believing with which I sincerely wish you all the best of luck.
    Again my apologies for sticking my rather big nose in.

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  15. Advaitadasa,
    Please cite the sources of the two articles you have quoted in your blog. We should always know the sources of our information.

    Thanks.

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  16. The first was from IANS, Indian Asian News Service, quoted in harekrsna.com, and the second was from PTI, Press Trust of India, quoted in jyotidham.com

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  17. "And yes, Anonymous, the medium of internet will not change the message unless you manipulate it, ok?"

    No Myrla, I am sorry but not ok on that. I still disagree with you: The Internet is such that it changes the message ultimately. May I humbly suggest you get acquainted with the message much further. My impression of you is that you are bright as a beautiful explosion of fireworks. At Radhakunda there is a saint, Ananta Das Baba. Go seat by his feet and get the message... My humble suggestion.

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  18. Yadupatiji, please don't be offended. I think that there is some merit to your points, but surely you can see that dressing Krishna up in jeans and t-shirt (or whatever) is going a bit too far?

    Heck, there was enough concern (by our Advaitaji no less!) when I posted a pic of Radha-Krishna wearing tartan because of some possible Scottish influence. LOL.

    Actually I dunno whether to be shocked or offended. This story takes my breath away. I wonder how they thought they could get away with it? They must have known that local organisations would be up in arms.

    Ha ha ha, I just thought of Madhava. What must he be thinking, having arrived right when the fray is going on? LOL.

    And Anonymous, would you please stop with that Internet discussion please? We LIKE the Internet. If you don't, you know what to do. Thanks.

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  19. Hare Krishna, Anonymous

    I can not exactly dig your description of me !!!

    Anyway, actually after almost 25 years I have finally decided I can not live without KC and without the mercy of a Guru, that is why I will be in the Vraja area next month to seek some mercy.

    Anonymous, please forgive me if at some stage my "barb" went out for you. Believe me, I can be very soft and pleasing. Ask Babhru das of Hawaii, I sometimes give him something to chuckle about.

    All the best to you Anonymous. Well, I am so curious about who you are; you seemed like a very interesting devotee- person. If you change your mind from being anonymous, let me know at jivattatva [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk

    (e-mail address tweaked to protect myrla from spammers)

    Haribol!

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  20. I think it's a good thing that Anonymouse once in a while remembers/warms us about the dangers of internet. It keeps us sharp and vigilant. And his warning is valid on any topic..... also this one.

    We are not all waterproof linguistics, English is not everybodies mothertongue, sometimes we tend to use "humor" that is easily misunderstood, because we can't see eachother and don't know eachother and in the fire of a discussion we can go overboard.

    There is a risk of unwillingly hurting somebody and the discussion can end unsatisfactory, because "important elements in the exchange will be always missing" (quote Anon).

    Yadupati, I guess your apology is meant sarcastically. Your are welcome to call me a fundamentalist or a hypocrite anytime though. You have a right to do so, because there is truth in it.

    I am more a 'fundamentalist' like Advaita and so on, but if somebody offers "klompen" to the Lord with love and does so privatly..... maybe one day, maybe He will wear them for a second or so just to please you, because He loves you. Indeed, I see no harm.

    At the moment I cannot go more broadminded than that.

    Please do not be angry with us for too long.

    Your narrowminded "cyberfriend" and landgenoot.

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  21. "And Anonymous, would you please stop with that Internet discussion please? We LIKE the Internet. If you don't, you know what to do. Thanks."

    I am sorry but, if the host allows me, I will not stop.

    You say "we" but I will take it that realistically you can only speak for yourself. My approach is not personal so please don't make it such. As for ‘liking’, people may like many things, some like violence and pornography, but does it mean such things are automatically acceptable?

    The argument I make here is one which I believe is important to the devotional life as any other. If one claims to be here for additional reasons than entertainment, then so am I.

    As for myself, yes indeed I know what to do and I am doing. I am speaking up on the deception of the Internet [as a means of sanga] because no one else is. If you can't refute my arguments, then, please hopefully you know yourself what to do...

    I brought up the subject of Internet in this discussion again because it is widely pertinent. Indeed it is practically one of those “I told you so!” cases. Those who are not familiar with what is happening in the Dham due to Western influence, would do well to research the matter a bit.

    The traditional ways (including of course devotional practices) is at risk in India in general. The devotional life in particular is affected because the most active preachers are unfortunately the least prepared to counteract this insidious advancement of Kali Yuga (as mentioned earlier by Advaitadas). The larger sect of vaisnavas actively preaching in the West presently, tend to not take counsel with traditionalists. Thus, albeit well intentioned, these spreaders of the message of Mahaprabhu are in general and unfortunately, poorly equipped for their mission.

    As Advaitadas succinctly but pointedly said, Krsna and His characteristics are eternal, never changing, and it falls on the West and modernity to adapt, NOT the other way around.

    The fact that such traditional institution as the Bhanki Bihari mandir in Vrindavana allowed for the imposing of western modern traits such as jeans and cell phone on the Deity is a clear sign of who is influencing whom. And I wasn’t joking when I suggested that easily such priests could next be adding a computer near the Lord on the altar.

    To deny the part that the Internet itself as an institution plays in this spreading the ways of the west among Indian culture, is to be naïve at best. I am convinced that unfortunately we are not simply being candid, but rather not being responsible enough. We must look at our own participation in this scheme with a little more sobriety than telling each other to go away. Otherwise, bhakti is not affected, only us.

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  22. Anuradha: "but if somebody offers "klompen" to the Lord with love and does so privatly..... maybe one day, maybe He will wear them for a second or so just to please you, because He loves you. Indeed, I see no harm."

    For a second, just to acknowledge the love. Otherwise, Krishna told mother Yashoda in Govinda Lilamrita (ch.5) that if she wants Him to wear shoes (of wood or cloth or whatever) all the cows would have to get shoes as well! So Krishna's eternal transcendental form is barefoot - and WHAT FEET!!!!

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  23. Anuradha: "I think it's a good thing that Anonymous once in a while remembers/warns us about the dangers of internet. It keeps us sharp and vigilant. And his warning is valid on any topic..... also this one.
    We are not all waterproof linguistics, English is not everybody’s mothertongue, sometimes we tend to use "humor" that is easily misunderstood, because we can't see each other and don't know each other and in the fire of a discussion we can go overboard."

    I agree. But there is always risks in everything: just by crossing the road you expose yourself to risks. And the only thing you can do is reduce the risks. When westerners “join” a “cult” called ISKCON or when a raised Catholic such as myself lived in the ashram in the Philippines, people saw risks. It is the same with the internet – there can be some dangers. The internet is a tool with its own limitations. But based on my own personal experience the internet has enhanced my spiritual life and mind my word, enhanced. Of course if you live near the temple and there is a supportive community of devotees that is preferable than cyber sanga. But if someone , like myself, is in a not so conducive situation, then the internet has a place in the devotees lives, it can help, especially if the administrator is Advaita das.


    Anonymous: "As for myself, yes indeed I know what to do and I am doing. I am speaking up on the deception of the Internet [as a means of sanga] because no one else is. If you can't refute my arguments, then, please hopefully you know yourself what to do..."

    And that is the problem you want to win in the arguments. With due respects, I believe you have amply, even more so, stated your points, so if you are on a “crusade”, you can then please give us a break. I do not think Adavita das will close down anytime soon.There are more sites for you to work on. ( I can give you webaddresses if you like) And please read my points above. You want Advaita to censor you, I think he believes in some freedom of expression, so you can please self-censor yourself.

    Anonymous: "As Advaitadas succinctly but pointedly said, Krsna and His characteristics are eternal, never changing, and it falls on the West and modernity to adapt, NOT the other way around."

    Yes, that is why we saw that we have to broadcast our views against such. Without this blog I will not know that that has happened in Bhanki Bihari.

    Anonymous: "To deny the part that the Internet itself as an institution plays in this spreading the ways of the west among Indian culture, is to be naïve at best. I am convinced that unfortunately we are not simply being candid, but rather not being responsible enough. We must look at our own participation in this scheme with a little more sobriety than telling each other to go away. Otherwise, bhakti is not affected, only us."

    Of course the internet have a part in the westernization of the Indian culture but so have others for hundreds of years !!! And I do not think Advaita or Gaurasundar in his blog advertizes Nokia !

    I am a fundamentalist: I am strongly for the preservation of the eternal characteristics of Krishna based on the shastras and it extends to the murtis of the deities.

    But I am also of the progressive mind and I see a sort of evolution in how transcendental knowledge is conveyed. We all know that transcendental knowledge is originally conveyed through oral tradition. Then at the beginning of the Kali-yuga, Vyasa codified the Vedas and Upanishads for the benefit of humanity in this age. Obviously when paper and ink was invented it was handwritten. Then at the advent of the printing machines its conveyance was facilitated by books. And because of this more elaborate commentaries by acharyas were made from the Vedas. We the advent of the recorder and film we can recheck, confirm what one has said and can verify recent history maybe. Now it’s the internet – the webcasts, (which I have just used to watch a great devotee delivered a talk on the topic about Jiva Goswami’s teachings being reconciled with Mahaprabhu’s ) also forums and of course Advaita’s blog for which I am thankful because I am learning so much.

    I repeat the internet is a tool: its how you use it.
    I am making the best use from this invention called broadband . Cyber sanga can exist side by side with physical sanga and they are complementary.

    Hare Krishna

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  24. Krishna told mother Yashoda in Govinda Lilamrita (ch.5) that if she wants Him to wear shoes (of wood or cloth or whatever) all the cows would have to get shoes as well! So Krishna's eternal transcendental form is barefoot - and WHAT FEET!!!!

    Wonderful quote !
    Thank you

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  25. Thanks Myrla for your wise words. You echo my own thoughts perfectly. The Internet is a tool and any miscommunication of any sort is the fault of the user, not the medium.

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  26. Tool. Please consider this: The internet is like a gun. There is one use only for a gun: to kill.

    The internet kills those human traits necessary for understanding of spirituality. Its a slow suicide, but a kill nevertheless.

    If you want a tool for prema prayojana, you have to associate with sadhus as sadhus are meant to associate with one another - all traits of humanity [and more] included.

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  27. I am kind of surprised with how everybody seems to agree with the Bajrang Dal and other activists creating a ruckus in the holy Dham over something like this. Yes, it was tasteless, but burning effigies of the priests? Sriman Mahaprabhu had a rather different view of how to treat Brahmins, especially those worshipping the Lord in a temple, even when they did so "incorrectly". To me this looks like Hindus imitating Muslims in how one should react to perceived wrongdoings. I find it scary.

    And if Krishna's dress is unchanging, how come he so often dresses like a Moghul Lord?

    Bhrigu

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  28. Bhrigu, I dont think anyone here endorses the burning of effigies, I certainly don't. As a matter of fact I am more than any other western Vaishnava a supporter of traditional brahmin-hood. If the senior brahmins wish to punish the junior brahmin who did this, then fine. It's between them. As for the Moghul-style, I don't keep any such pictures in my personal gallery because I don't believe that this is Krishna's apparel at all. Sandhini sakti is not Turkish or Afghan or Persian.

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