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Friday, June 15, 2007

Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa not present in the deities?

I took part in this interesting exchange on a webforum:

Q: "Traditional Gauḍīya Gurus have said that one should not take prasādam at the Iskcon/GM temples, This does not come from just one traditional Gauḍīya Guru alone, but is a general consensus it seems. It is also said by traditional Gauḍīyas that Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are not present in the dieties of Iskcon/GM, reason being because they do not have proper dīkṣā in those institutions, so therefore the dieties are not properly installed without that proper channel."

Advaitadas: "These are two separate points really. For the first issue, my Sādhu Bābā indeed advised me not to eat outside our āśram, though he did not aim that at Iskcon alone. For the second point, I'd like to quote my own blog of February 27, 2006:

"In a private darshan I ask Satyanarayan whether Kṛṣṇa will not be there in the deity because of corrupt management of its temple or org, due to lack of prāṇa pratiṣṭā or lack of bhakti. He says prāṇa pratiṣṭā is just a show conducted for social acceptance of a temple. Kṛṣṇa is anyway everywhere, so why not in a non-installed deity? Kṛṣṇa is manifest in the deity according to the bhakti of the individual who comes for His darśan."

Satya-nārāyan Bābā is initiated in an ancient line, from Gadādhara Pandit, so it is not that there is a consensus on this among traditionalists."

Q: "So let me ask you advaita dasji.... Do we really even need diksha for diksha mantras to manifest their potency...or is that just an unnecessary external ritual?"

Advaitadas: "Dīkṣā is prescribed in Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu, Bhakti Sandarbha and Haribhakti Vilāsa, so there is no doubt about its necessity. The starting theme of this thread was whether God is present in the deity according to the dīkṣā of the pūjārī. I certainly agree with Satya-nārāyan's opinion here that He is there in the eye of the beholder (devotee). Muslims consider it their sacred duty to destroy the deity because they see it as an insult to God to limit Him to a statue. That destruction is the greatest offence imaginable for us, but for them it is an act of devotion to that very same God. The point is, it is the attitude towards the deity that counts. For example, the deities in Iskcon Vṛndāvan have been installed by Rādhāraman Gosvāmīs, who received dīkṣā in Gopāl Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī's line, and worshiped by followers of Siddhānta Sarasvatī, whose lineage is in doubt (it is not even sure whether he really did not receive dīkṣā, and AC Bhaktivedānta Swāmī had a family guru at the age of 12, so he has mantra in paramparā, though we do not know in which line) - now what is it going to be? God is there in the deity or not? Is the deity like a traffic light that goes on and off according to the (initiated/non-initiated) person who worships Him? Is there any evidence for that philosophy that God is not present in the deity because one or two pūjārīs MAY not have proper dīkṣā? Please consider all this. It doesn't add up."


  1. Bravo Bravo!!!
    Common sense in Gaudiya Vaishnavism seems to sometimes be lacking. But not in this post!
    Very nice!

  2. I remember a couple of devotees within Iskcon that argued fanatically that a Deity can only be installed by a maha-bhagavat devotee (and that would be of course their guru). All the Deities installed by devotees that later fell down or devotees of lower adhikar were therefor not really installed. So although beautifully shaped pieces of stone, Krishna wasn't there to accept service.

    I believed these devotees and develloped an ambiguous relation with certain ´uninstalled´ Deities. I bowed down feeling my bowing was in reality only an empty ritual.

    Nowadays I look at it differently. Establishing oneself by downplaying others' sincere attempts to serve Krishna is really nothing more than sectarianism.

    Similarly I am not a fan of the 'my-initation-is-real-so-your -initiation-must-be-false'-logic. Though I also walked around with this sentiment for a long time.

    I know this post is a result of a question posted by Jijaji who is really tired of walking on eggs to not offend someone.
    Let me say this... I do share many of the criticisms put forward by him towards some of the institutions. It is moslty reasonnable. Yet when it comes to initiation, Deities, the Goswamis and Bhagavatam it is better to walk on eggs (meaning not not-being critical, but being carefull and following vaisnava etiquette). Because we are only human and liable to make mistakes.

    'If God is on my side, He is not on yours' is simple not God-consciousness, but simply making the same mistake over and over again. In that case you are becoming what you criticize.

    And I also would be carefull in becoming someonelses' spokesman unasked. If a great devotee wants something to become public, he is mostly perfectly capable of reaching the public. If not, he will have his valid reasons to be carefull.

    The above mentioned guru got into a lot of trouble because his disciples were fighting a battle that wasn't theirs to fight. He himself was very softhearted and bowed down to any Deity of the Lord wholeheartedly. Alas, if I only knew !!

    I stand by Advaita and Satyanarayana on this as well.

    The joke about Advaita eating too much IGM-prasad is of course a joke and a little funny. What I think though (Advaita, correct me if I am wrong) is that as we grow older we become less fanatic, softer and more thoughtfull.

    Most religious fanatics (in the case of terrorists) are males from 16 up to 35 years. It will be hard to find a 50+ year old willing to blow up himself and a bus of children in the name of God.

    Fanatacism makes place for realism. And realism is, that no mortal can claim or unclaim God.

    That said, I do feel with the criticism, that all present day Gaudiyas in the West have to deal with an 'image-problem' created by some individuals from certain communities that gave a weird interpretation on how to devellop Love for God.

    PS. forgive me my boring comment

  3. Anuradha, I agree and disagree with different portions of your comment. I do agree that we must understand that subjectively speaking each devotee sincerely believes he/she is following the right person, as long as they dont realise that there is more to it than what they got from their current Guru, which may or may not happen. I do not believe, however, that therefore everyone is objectively right and nobody is wrong. Otherwise there would be no use of the Bhagavata and the Gosvamis books, that set certain parameters. About the 'wisdom-comes-with-the-age-factor, that is unfortunately not a universal rule either. I know of several famous teachers, past and present, who were fanatical and immature even in their 80s and some very young devotees, much younger than me, can be very wise and mature. But I agree that these are exceptions rather than a rule.

  4. No, you agree with me fully on this, you only get me wrong ;-)

    I got this reaction earlier from different sides, where it was more or less suggested that I implied that eveybody is objectively right and nobody is wrong. But I do not believe that either.
    My purpose is trying to find common ground ( which isn't hard ) and to question myself and others, what is the best way to deal with the differences. This only works of course if sectariansm is thrown out and sincerity is at the base of the attempt.
    Apart from some differences that will always remain (on the relative plain) in interpreting sastra, many of those differences are simple things made difficult and a lot of blabla without any compassion and feeling for the actual goal.. Love of God !

    It is the flipside of oversimplifying matters as is done in the communities some of us are used to criticise.

    The Diety question is a good example. Where is the love ?

    While we are spending time criticizing eachothers' Murtis, Ronald McDonald entered Mathura, because we were offguard being sooooooo busy.

    That's my point !


  5. I am not a fanatic!

    At least not in the orthodox sense :)


    I didn't mean to upset everyone, but this is a question I have had for some time starting with my old friend Jayasachinandana telling me that Tinkadi Baba tiold him this...

    Hey at least I gave you something else to talk about besides Nitais Meat & Bhajana topic...

    forgive me,


  6. Radhe Radhe

    Jijaji ji

    But I hope you will not replace Ksamabhuddi (Guruvani) as the shock jock of internet forums ! -:)

  7. No hard feelings. We are just exchanging thoughts here.. and doubts.

    I was discussing with an uncle of mine the topic of fanaticism and the sometimes violent texts found in Bible, Torah and Koran. And if you are unable to detect the message of Love in those scriptures, you might take some of those passages literally and become a religious warrior, like a crusader, jihadist or haredim fanatic.
    I remarked that we have in our Scriptures too remarks like cutting off somebodies' tongue if the devotees are insulted, yet in practice it never happened (I guess ?). I think it is because the message of Love and non-violance are in the forefront.

    My uncle, a theologist with a modest sympathy for our Krishna-faith, corrected me. In our language we say for example, when we feel the urge to say something that we shouldn't, that 'we rather bite off our tongues'. Now nobody with sane mind ever really bites of his tongue. It's language only.

    Our Goswamis make the point that Vaisnava-ninda is intollerable, but they do not want us to walk around with knives cutting of tongues of everybody we weren't able to defeat by argument. I would have to spend lifetimes cutting, cutting and cutting.

    Even though some of us learn Sanskrit or high-class Bengali, we might have lost touch with some of the imagery used. It can be compared to a linguistic a thousand years from now concluding that we were a tribe of tongue-biters.

    And sometimes our teachers really speak harsh language to this person and sweet to the other. Maybe this disciple should be kept in the asrama instead of flying around like a butterfly everywhere harvesting different opinions and getting confused. 'Don't go there, there is nothing for you there'.
    Some other disciple might get the instruction to go and study Bhaktivinods' Poems in the Iskcon Library (I have witnessed). So to one he said stay away and to the other go and study.

    That's why I advised to be carefull being someonelses' spokesman unasked for. We don't always know why certain things are said.

    You can find Babajis opposed to much emphasis on lila smaranam ( like SBSST also was ) and at the same time stimulating a few intimate disciples to go and do it. Why ?

    We don't know.

    It is known that Gour Govinda Maharaja (Iskcon) had intimate shiksa connections with some of the Babajis of the Orissa District. Back in the days in Bhubaneswar you could meet many... in the Iskcon temple !! Giving their blessings to each.

    Then we all know Mahanindhi Swami.

    Vyasa-Puja Srila BP Puri Maharaja (Gaudiya Math). The whole vaisnava community was there. Many Parivars were represented. I didn't know our tilak was being painted in so many different ways !! It was not just courtesy. Some of the non-IGM Babas gave lectures in the main hall.

    Also our Satya Narayan Prabhu is sometimes invited to speak in some Iskcon centres again on the basis of his learning and link to Gadhadara. Speaking of contrasts.... have you ever heard of Pundarik Vidyanidhi ? Even Gadadhara misunderstood him in the beginning.

    Let us focus (however hard sometimes) on the positive.


  8. I frankly don't see what was so harsh in this regard that got everyone so miffed...

    This came from Tinkadi Gosvami, and besides one cannot offer proper archana without diksha anyway.

    I see it not that much different than acknowledging that IGM is without Guru-Parampara.

    and Malati..I have been around ages before Ksamabhuddi dear!

    I said before someone is eating too much IGM prasad, it was a joke then, now I'm not so sure.


  9. I for one was not miffed about the suggestion that RK are not in some deities, I simply dont agree, and I showed that was also the opinion of Satyanarayan. Also, adhikara for arcana is one thing, and RK's presence in the deity another. There are other reasons for there being no adhikara for arcana, such as a lack of sadacara, which is more likely to occur in a non-Indian Iskconite than an Indian sadacari Vaishnava. Krishna wont accept the offerings then, but that too is another issue from Krishna not being in the deity at all.

  10. Hey no worries advaita...

    Just curious though does Satyanarayan see eye to eye with your Sadhu Baba..?

    Have you taken a new Guru..?



  11. No Sadhu Baba is my eternal Guru, but I liked many things that Satyanarayan Prabhu told me. He wouldnt accept me as a disciple anyway - when I want to pay my obeisances he grabs me and embraces me. I also heard the same about the deities from Rohinindranatha Mitra, who also refused to be my Guru, in the same way as SND. You have already admitted on RSD that it makes sense that the Deity is not a traffic light.....

  12. ..."You have already admitted on RSD that it makes sense that the Deity is not a traffic light".....

    I said, "thats a good one..." to be exact

    And you know sometimes Traffic Lights are yellow...