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Monday, June 04, 2007

Paving the holy dhama

Interesting article on The damage is already done, it is too late now, but even if people would have written this earlier it couldnt have been stopped, unfortunately. Worst thing is that these houses are mostly empty, belonging to Indian daytrippers or rich westerners who bloop right after building their lot in the holy dhama. This is Kaliyuga.


  1. Advaita-ji

    You have hit the nail on the head, this is Kali-Yuga. We see this happening everywhere, but it is especially sad when it happens in a Holy place.

    We often forget that towns/cities are just like people - they get addicted to money coming in. If there is a 'building boom' one year, they need at least that much money next year - how best to get it? Issuing lax zoning rules, shrinking 'lot' sizes & making it more difficult to hold large pieces of land.

    This has happened right in my back yard. Close to home, Walmart just took over a gigantic open field & built one of their 'super-duper' stores. Now, what was once a beautiful field with cows grazing is a parking lot full of consumers - every day all day. Meanwhile, local parks (and I mean local - a few miles away) sit with no visitors...

    The article was a little over simplistic, but the problem is there none the less - and there is precious little anyone can do about it.

  2. Yes - India or USA - Walmart or any of 'em big shot Vraja 'acaryas'- money talks.

  3. Advaitadas said:
    Yes - India or USA - Walmart or any of 'em big shot Vraja 'acaryas'- money talks.

    There is however a difference between the general mood in the West and what is going on in India.

    Anyone who goes to India on a yearly basis, especially if staying for an extended time, can confirm this difference. Its actually impossible to miss, hence the article written by those russian bhaktas. So many devotees that go there speak like that. Actually its part of the Kartik experience now that one has to deal with the shock of what is happening in the dham.

    In the West we see a general sense of tensing up as we deal with the consequences of our foolish lifestyles. We are holding our breaths as we prepare for the inevitable collision ahead of us. We know about global warming, we are aware of our harmful consumism, and we hysterically debate, but at least there is a debate about something.

    In India they foolishly, absurdly ride a frantic wave of eufhoria. India is reapeating the very same fatal mistakes the West made. Only faster. Much faster. For us western devotees visiting the dham, its like watching your children play with dynamite.

    The whole of India is so engrossed in its present sense of importance due to its extremely artificial economic growth, that one literally gets sick watching their tv adds, their billboards, their adopting of the ways of the west which we now race to clean up.

    At Braja, Govardhan or even Radhakund, one cannot notice the absurd hysteria that has taken over the country, and which is affecting the behavior of the residents of the dham shockingly. Older brijabasis who have been worshiping in Braja for their whole lives are leaving. One lady told me she is shocked that nowadays the youth here and there in Braja mock her for weaking devotional clothing and tilak, and for her beatific demeanor. She has sold her home in Vraja and is moving to Govardhan. Unfortunately Govardhan and Radhakund are being invaded by the Delhi picnickers in troves as well. There is no sense of decorum from developers whatsoever in their greed to use the dham for profits. They are literally desecrate the dham. The Braja spirit is used commercially by locals businessmen and politicias as well who succumbed to temptation and finally compromise in the interest of making more money themselves. They then on their turn build gigantic houses for their families, joining the madness of destoying old buildings of historical importance. The ammount of intricatelly carved pieces of old structures, some over a hundred year old, littering the dham everywhere is scandalous! These structures are destroyed in a heartbeat to make room for modern, ugly, cheaply and poorly made buildings that will be used by turists from Delhi, Agra and surroundis for wedding parties, etc. On New Year's eve last year, from the street I saw that in one of these buildings, still unfinished, a party was going on with mirror ball, flashing color lights, blasting disco music and dozens of youth cladded in jeans dancing away immitating westerners.

    The little alleys in the old section of Vrindavan is now a place for local young men to indulge in their new fad: speed down the crowded alleys on powerfull motorcycles, at no less than 40 miles/hour, swerving dangerously while uniterruptedly sounding their impossibly loud horn. The whole of the country is out of control like a Tsunami that will hit one partying, unprepared coast...

    For us Vaisnavas, that doomed coast is the once pristine, simple and sane shelter we call The Dham.

  4. David wrote: "The article was a little over simplistic, but the problem is there none the less - and there is precious little anyone can do about it."

    I kind of disagree with the two stances taken here by David. I don't think the article was oversimplistic and I don't think there is nothing to be done about the problem.

    Simplistic rather is the mantra "its kaliyuga" - we know its kaliyuga, the point is what can be do about it.

    These devotees are proposing a "new movement to live in authentic Vraja mood, simplifying life to increase bhajan and service and decreasing material impact".

    This is a step further in the wisdom of knowing about Kali-Yuga.

  5. By simplistic I meant that the article, while bemoaning the loss of the Dham, did little to comment on the reasons behind the development.

    I agree that India, like a few other countries, are rushing headlong towards disaster and there seems to be little one can to to avert it. Poverty and greed combine to make an explosive combination - we have seen it here even in the US. So much land is sold off to 'quickie' development because it brings in obscene amounts of money.

    Somehow, I don't think building mud huts is going to end the crisis. It is deep rooted in the poverty and exploitation of said poverty that this happens... where do these Delhi 'neuvo-rich' get their money? The new business that US companies bring, exploiting the lower wages in places like India? How much of this is built on the backs of the really poor?

    This is what I meant by overly simplistic...

  6. Actually all Gaudiyas should work together on this and make local and national governments in India conscious about their heritage. Economic growth and tourism can be planned a few kilometres outside the Holy Dhama. The mayor of Brindaban should forbid excessive advertisements, bill boards, loud mundane music, megaphones on cars promoting nonsensical things and so on.

    Even in my liberal overcrowded Holland we have places where building projects, billboards and noise are prohibited to protect either the environment or the cultural heritage.

    I was visiting Bhaktivinoda's Samadhi shrine this year and tried to meditate there. I couldn't. A speaker was located in a shop next to the shrine and loudly advertised first class American brand cigarettes ! Nobody, including me (who am I as a foreigner) stopped it.

    Instead of being divided amongst eachother we should collectively organize a during committee that directs governments in keeping the Holy Dhama harmonious. Usually these attemps strand due to infighting and nobody willing to take and keep responsibility. It disturbs our bhajan. But if we want to keep our Dhama a place of meditation we should take up this task anyway.

    One great Vaisnava in a traditional line made a comment also expressing that chanting and meditating are important, but sevice to the Dhama should not be neglected as is happening now. That is real bhajan. The Goswamis were very active in protecting the Dhama, establishing it as a place of worship and building temples in harmony with the environnement.

    We should serve the Holy Dhama. But what are most of us doing ? Only relishing. Enjoying the Dhama. And when the nice pitoresque atmosphere is destroyed, we say.... Krishna's will. We complain a little, write an article that nobody reads and then find another place to enjoy.

    The Goswamis are Chaitanya's limbs and represent Krishna's Will. And Their lives were about actively protecting The Dhama.

    Who is following ?

  7. The fact that there is a McDonalds in Vraja is beyond belief.

  8. It's been there for quite a while, though I havent seen it myself - I think it is stationed in Mathura.

  9. The fact that McDonalds was able to get established in Mathura is due to our collective failure to work together in the service of The Holy Dhama.

    Though we are supposed to be humble, in this case humility means saying.... Hands off, The Dhama is holy and It is ours !!

    Shame on us

  10. I agree Anuradha, shame on us who have failed our simple duty of speaking up! Of course there has always been meat shops everywhere in Mathura city, and some in Vraja as well, although the latter are inconspicuous. But because it's of western origin, McDonald's carries an officiality in India that says "Don't worry, we do it in the west and its great! As you Indians know, westerners are smarter and happier so a McDonalds in stuck-in-the-past vegetarian India is actually a sign of better times to come for your country." And even so close to Vrindavan Indians buy this kind of “presence” propaganda to keep up with the "times". But followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu definitely should know better.

    The Gaudiya tradition is not large enough in numbers (adepts and related organizations) and does not promises enough rewards of the senses to move large masses of people like world corporations do. Nitai das has advocating submission to the ways of corporate philosophy in the name of what he call Caitanya Vaisnavism. But what he and those who fall in his well fail to see is that Caitanya is not separate from his dham. Krsna is not dettached from his place of lila. Its not that the dham is to conform with the ways of the world but the world must conform with the spirit of the lila/dham. In this Advaitadas was right – the deity’s dress and so forth must not be altered to accommodate the times. And as you and also I have said before, there is a line that once crossed means adjustments cease to be for the service to the Lord to become in actuality aparadha. As Advaitadas pointed out, with restrictions ignorance can be an excuse. But when we knowingly we attempt to manipulate the divine this is offensive.

    My understanding of the sankirtan movement is that it is a movement firstly of cooperation. One individual cannot have his/her own interest served until and unless the interest of all others is served. This is not just another form of self-interest, but a real awakening of humility in the individual's consciousness. What is the best interest of humanity? It is release from bondage by self-realization. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu awoke in his confidential associates, real men at the time, this real humility (dhanya) that externally took the form of them excavating various sites of Krsna lila at Braja. Those men, intimate assistants to Gauranga Mahaprabhu as they became, understood the physical dham on this earth to be a transcendental entity essential to the sankirtan movement. How so? Because without its physical location on earth and eartly characteristics bhauma lila would be rendered devoid of meaning, it would have been as if never happened in full reality – a myth created by the mind of men!

    Sastra actually says that the here manifest lila gives more pleasure to Krsna than the aprakat lila. Such is the mystery and the glory of the Lord’s acts!

    Its seen in all religions that, while mind visualization of the heart’s ideal is recommended, a physical location on the planet to go for pilgrimage is recommended even more. If in this life the body/senses have not come in contact with the dham, it is very likely that one has to take birth again in the future to purify one’s body by contact with physical sacred elements on earth. It is recommended that the the jivas in the human form of life engage body/senses, mind and intellect in sadhana. The dham is the environment for such. In the mental level as meditation and on the body level as contact with the physical dham. Remember that other worldly bliss when, in our remote spot of the planet, someone brings us a drop of water from the sacred Yamuna, of some dust from Govardhan to put on our head and tongue? I cannot describe the feeling myself.