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Friday, September 21, 2007

Phone Sanga (8)

Bhakta: "Are you sure that westerners are not qualified for sannyāsa?"

Advaitadas: "In Mādhurya Kādambini a symptom of a beginner is called utsāha, enthusiasm. This is not the same enthusiasm which is hailed by Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Upadeśāmṛta, because the latter is connected with dhairya, patience, and niścaya, determination. That is a much higher level. In the scale of reincarnation westerners are totally new to this Vedic culture. You see they are much more enthusiastic than an average Indian Vaiṣṇava, but this wears off, and it may not wear off in a few minutes, but it can take 10-15 years. We are so new to this that we think 15 years is an 'old' devotee, so we give such an 'old' western devotee sannyāsa and within a few years he is back out on the street again, because his was, still, merely utsāha. There is purity but it does not have deep roots. There is no saṁskāra of this life, what to speak of the previous life. That is why the Vedas only allow born brahmins to take sannyāsa - even low caste Indians are a risk, let alone a westerner."

Bhakta: "The Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta (1.54) says "The entire festival of the Lord's bliss is only a drop compared to the joy the sakhīs experience when they stare at the ocean of pastimes of Rādhā's hero (Kṛṣṇa)." So their joy is greater than the Lord's and everyone else's together?"

Advaitadas: "This is a glorification. The very name of this book says it all -mahimāmṛta - glorification. In the same book (2.15) it is said that "If someone will tell me to leave Vraja I will certainly kill him (hanmyavaśya), and if my Guru tells me to leave Vṛndāvan I will reject my Guru." Well, Narottama was told by his Guru to leave Vraja and he submissively left Vraja. Can you imagine? There are so many people - your relatives or the Indian Govt - who may tell you to leave Vraja - would you kill them for it? Some verses must be read with the heart rather than with the brain. They are cries of love. These are super-subjective statements and interpretations of love - AbsoluteTruth vs Absolute Fact. Rational analysis of this is like pushing a square peg into a round hole. In understanding these statements, change just one letter in the word 'literal' and come to 'liberal'. This is not undevotional or anti-devotional."

Bhakta: "How does the holy name enter the ears?"

Advaitadas: "The holy name is the sound form of the Lord. You associate with Kṛṣṇa in a sound form."

Bhakta: "So I associate with Rādhā when I chant Hare and with Kṛṣṇa when I chant Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "In our concept (the one of Śrīla Raghunātha Dās Gosvāmī) the whole mantra is about Kṛṣṇa, but even if Hare meant Rādhā, there is the verse 'rādhā pūrṇa śakti - kṛṣṇa pūrṇa śaktimān; dui vastu bheda nāi' (CC) 'Rādhā is the supreme energy and Kṛṣṇa the supreme energetic. There is no difference between the two." Your conception will depend on the explanation the Guru gives of the mantra, but the presence of the Lord will always be there, regardless of the angle of vision. Nectar appears in the mouth while chanting, that is the proof - abhinna nāma nāmino -there is no difference between the Name and the Named. Only on the level of bhāva-bhakti you can see Them in the Names, but otherwise you can taste Them still. Even ordinary devotees often have the experience that they cannot stop chanting because it is so nice. A Guru-given interpretation of the words of the mahā mantra is required, as well as a peaceful concentrated mind. We chant in mañjarī bhāva, trying to save Śrī Swāminījī's life by chanting the names of Kṛṣṇa,  lest She dies of separation."

Bhakta: "Is relishing Kṛṣṇa's sweetness a side-effect of devotional service?"

Advaitadas: "We have to analyse the meaning of the word bhakti. It is sometimes translated as 'devotional service', implying that it needs to be some hard labour. Actually it means 'devotion', and Rūpa Gosvāmī has listed 64 items of it, of which just some of them are hard labour. Many items, like tasting (actually honouring) prasāda, seeing the deities, tasting Tulasī-leaves, smelling incense, are certainly not hard labor, but they are acts of worship just as well."

Bhakta: "Yes, but what about the verse hṛśīkena hṛśīkeśa sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate? (Serving Kṛṣṇa with the senses is called bhakti)?"

Advaitadas: "There are jñānendriya (knowledge-acquiring senses) and karmendriya (active senses). It is not that Kṛṣṇa can only be served with the active senses, and bhakti consists only of loading sankīrtan-vans and mopping the floor of the temple-building. Maharaja Ambarīṣa served Kṛṣṇa with his eyes by seeing the deity, through his nose by smelling offered Tulasī-leaves and through his tongue by tasting prasāda, na tu kāma kāmyaya - 'But not for his own gratification'. (SB 9.4.18-20). In Vilāpa Kusumāñjali (76) Tulasī Mañjarī prays just for the vision of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's pastimes. In his explanations, Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī quotes Swāminījī saying: “Tulasi! Aren’t you doing anything?” Tulasī – “Do we have to serve all the time? Now we cannot serve – You found Yourself a good decorator now! (In this verse Kṛṣṇa decorates Rādhikā) Let the ocean of our bliss surge as we watch Him perform this service!” Watching is an act of dedication. A non-devotee would not bother watching it, but a devotee is interested, and that is pleasing to Kṛṣṇa - anukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā. In the material context it is the same - if someone gazes at you with love and admiration, that will certainly please you. The only thing that counts is dedication."

Bhakta: "In Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta trees of wine are mentioned. Is this poetry, glorification or real time?"

Advaitadas: "I think it is all of this. Wine is liquid, not solid, but in the spiritual world that should not be impossible. Jesus walked over water in the material world, and when you freeze water it becomes solid (ice), too. Vai-kuṇṭha means there is no limitation."

Bhakta: "Are the assistents of the 8 sakhīs like Lalitā also celibate, like Rādhā's maidservants, or do they indulge with Kṛṣṇa?"

Advaitadas: "I don't know, and the identity of these sakhīs or mañjarīs is also not really clear to me. Some devotees have elaborated on the eight sakhīs' kuñjas at Rādhākuṇḍa and have ascribed eight assistants to each of the eight sakhīs and then these 64 assistants may have again 8 assistants. Such assistants are called upasakhīs, though, not mañjarīs. I once joked about it that such coronas of lotus-like kuñjas may extend up to Sūryakund or Kośī."

Bhakta: "Well, it is said in śāstra that all the universes fit into a single corner of Vrajamaṇḍala, so why not?"

Advaitadas: "Just joking. The point is that my Guru emphasised simplicity. Such endless coronas may be there, but we don't spy on the neighbors. We have enough to do ourselves - 8 - 64 - 512 - 4096 kuñjas, and so it may go on. Let it go on."

Bhakta: "Mañjarī bhāva is directly taught by Mahāprabhu?'

Advaitadas: "It is briefly described by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and more elaborately by Śrīla Raghunāth Dās Gosvāmī, who had Mahāprabhu's Personal association for 16 long years in Puri. What actually took place in these years we don't know, but the Caitanya Caritāmṛta speaks of antaraṅga sevā, Raghunātha rendering intimate services to Svarūpa Dāmodāra there. Since Svarūpa Dāmodara's notebooks are lost we may never know what that actually means. But the Gosvāmīs are of course totally empowered and endorsed by Mahāprabhu, so we see Mañjarī Bhāva as His personal gift to us."

Bhakta: "If Kṛṣṇa's ornaments are beautified by His limbs then why should He wear ornaments at all?"

Advaitadas: "In Śrīla Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī's comments on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali Rādhikā asks Tulasī Mañjarī: "Why put lipstick on My lips if they are anyway so beautiful?' Tulasī replies that the lipstick will look good on an indigo background (Kṛṣṇa's cheeks). Similarly the red lac on Her feet looks good on Kṛṣṇa's head, etc. I do believe that the ornaments have some decorating effect in themselves, though. Besides, we must remember that these are not ordinary metals, stones and flowers -they are manifestations of the internal potency's sandhinī śakti, transcendental items. Just as the love of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs constantly enhance each other (hurāhurī), so it is with the beauty of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa's limbs and Their ornaments. It is not that the ornaments will dim the splendour of Their limbs either.

43 comments:

  1. Your comments that Westerners are categorically unfit for sannyasa is an over generalization. These comments have some truth to them, but ignores the fact that, while many Western sannyasis have abandoned their vows, several others are living like very good sannyasis. It is true that many Western devotees end up back "on the street" after some years of devotional practice, but not all. Some Westerners seem to have better samskaras for practicing krishna bhakti than even high class Indians. Real life is more complex than you are admitting.

    Unless you have scriptural support for your unkind opinion, your comments are just an unfair oversimplification of the actual situation.

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  2. Anon,
    Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti comments on the famous Bhagavad Gita verse sarva dharman parityajya (18.66), refuting Shankaracarya’s explanation that ‘giving up all dharma’ means that Arjuna should have taken Sannyasa: parityajya sannyasyeti na vyakhyeyam arjunasya ksatriyatvena sannyasanadhikaran…”Completely giving up dharma cannot mean sannyasa for Arjuna, for as a ksatriya he had no right to take sannyasa.” This confirms the Vedic teaching that only brahmanas are eligible for sannyasa, what to speak of shudras or mlecchas? We are talking of a Ksatriya from Dvapara Yuga, what to speak of a 21st Century American, raised on sex drugs and rock n roll?

    "Some Westerners seem to have better samskaras for practicing krishna bhakti than even high class Indians."

    Remember the issue was sannyasa, not being a bhakta. Surely every human being, even animals, have adhikara for bhakti. That is not the issue. I have already discussed this in the blog by saying westerners can be temporarily more pure, but it rarely lasts.

    And yes, of course, some Western devotees do stick around, but of ACBS' sisyas perhaps 2-3% are still fulltimers.....

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  3. Yes indeed Advaitadas might need to update a bit his lines on westerners being new to vedic. I mean, lots of the westerners bhaktas have already died naturally from age, while a great other number still alive have been practicing for nearly 40 years. So how old one needs to get to be considered familiar with vedic ways? Advaitadas says: "There is no samskara from this life, what to speak of previous life". Huh!? Advaitadas: You mean to say that because one is in a westerner body this necessarily mean he was never an Indian in previous lives?
    BTW, Indian sannyasis are just as bad or worse, vedic culture and all. They just don't let the cats out of the bags as westerners tend to do. And as far as enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of the westerners can be said to be more genuine - it springs from considered choice and uncumbered attraction, while the heavily cultural set up of Indian environment makes their perseverance more of a habit.

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  4. "I mean, lots of the westerners bhaktas have already died naturally from age, while a great other number still alive have been practicing for nearly 40 years."

    Anon, the worst type of deceit is self deceit. Who do you think you are fooling? If 4,500 of ACBS 4.750 sisyas have disappeared maybe 200 have died, often of AIDS or OD, not aged 80 but 45. What happened with the other 4.300? And I know of about 40 that are practising 40 years nonstop, of a movement of about 20,000 members.

    "BTW, Indian sannyasis are just as bad or worse, vedic culture and all. They just don't let the cats out of the bags as westerners tend to do."

    These things indeed happen and that is equally condemned. However, their numbers in percentage points would never reach up to the westerners' score. And what about all the cover-ups of fallen sannyasis by GBC cronies throughout the decades? How do you know what is the status of the 70-odd current western sannyasis if such cover-ups are so systematic and comprehensive?

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  5. "Advaitadas: You mean to say that because one is in a westerner body this necessarily mean he was never an Indian in previous lives?
    ........... And as far as enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of the westerners can be said to be more genuine - it springs from considered choice and uncumbered attraction, while the heavily cultural set up of Indian environment makes their perseverance more of a habit."

    1. Bhakti is never a result of punya (piety) because it is a transcendental thing. It has nothing to do with culture.
    2. A person is a 'born' bhakta in this life because he/she was a bhakta in the previous life. Ref: Bh. Gita 6.40-45, partially quoted in the blog.

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  6. Well Adavitadas, you did say "there is no samskara in this life what to speak of the previous life." What you are saying here is that westerners not only have no impression of vedic ways in this life but their very birth as westerners indicates that they were not bhamins/bhaktas in previous lives. This is incorrect. Westerners may have been Indians, bhamins and yes, bhaktas. Bhaktas are not restricted to Indian territory, otherwise bhakti itself would be restricted.
    If bhakti has nothing to do with culture then bhamin birth has nothing to do with bhakti. Brahmin birth is a cultural thing. Same for sannyasa.

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  7. "This is incorrect. Westerners may have been Indians, bhamins and yes, bhaktas."

    You are saying with conviction 'this is incorrect', then you are saying with assumption 'may have been....'

    "Bhaktas are not restricted to Indian territory, otherwise bhakti itself would be restricted."

    That is correct. When have I ever claimed that? What are you reading then? Not my blog at least.

    "If bhakti has nothing to do with culture then bhamin birth has nothing to do with bhakti."

    It doesnt. When did I ever say that?

    "Brahmin birth is a cultural thing."

    No it is a result of guna and karma.

    "Same for sannyasa."

    Sannyasa is a part of ashram dharma. I have already proven, on top of this page, that it is reserved for born brahmanas.

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  8. Advaitadas: "Nectar appears in the mouth while chanting, that is the proof - abhinna nama namino -there is no difference between the Name and the Named. Only on the level of bhava-bhakti you can see Them in the Names, but otherwise you can taste Them still. Even ordinary devotees often have the experience that they cannot stop chanting because it is so nice."

    Advaita das, can you elaborate on the statement, please: "Only on the level of bhava-bhakti you can see Them in the Names, but otherwise you can taste Them still."

    Thank you.

    With respect,
    nityananda

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  9. It seems some westerners-traditional-gaudiyas think it is ok to speak sweet madhurya katha in the same breath they bash and ridicule Iskcon/GM. In fact, showing Iskcon/GM's failures seem to be their golden formula of displaying the tradition's great achievements. Of course missing the sweet madhurya katha of these trads so to defend western Iskon/GM may be just be the kanistha thing to do. But for some reason I get uneasy if I don't.

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  10. Anon, I have not mentioned Iskcon or the GM at all here. I was asked a question by someone about westerners taking sannyasa, now what should I do - hush up? Lie? I have just given an honest answer. You have neither understood that answer nor are you being fair - sannyasa includes vesh, or babaji-dress, and in my reply to the bhakta's question I include here those westerners who have taken babaji dress. Only three westerners have done so and all three fell down - a 100% dropout rate. Does this satisfy you as me being even-handed?

    "it is ok to speak sweet madhurya katha in the same breath they bash and ridicule Iskcon/GM."

    Again, I am not here to bash/ridicule anyone, but in principle 'siddhanta boliya ihate na koro alas' (C.C.) - 'Don't be lazy, thinking this is just philosophy'- my blog is actually mostly philosophical, not so much about sweet lila, because I dont consider that a fit topic for a mass media outlet like the internet to start with.

    Finally, if you are the same anon as the one who posted the first comment - consider if you are not also generalising with this your latest comment.

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  11. Nitya, forgive me for not going through the trouble of digging up the exact quotes in shastra here, but all the acaryas say that one comes face to face with Krishna at the stage of bhava bhakti. It is in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, Madhurya Kadambini and in the comment on Krishna Karnamrita.

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  12. Advaita das, it is ok. I just wanted to make sure you are in fact talking about direct darshan (Vidya, as explained in VS).

    Thank you.

    Kind regards.
    n.

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  13. If I understood scriptures correctly we are born either as a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, that is our nature according to which we act. It is also said that without all four varnas society will crumble for it will not have all the parts of the body.
    The problem is that certain societies are trying to make everybody a brahmana even though their nature by birth is not of a brahmana and that's when problems arise. I feel much better in my life and practicing bhakti yoga as a sudra then artificialy trying to be a brahmana. It is instruction to follow our nature even with mistakes than to perform somebody else's nature perfectly.
    The only question I can not get answered is why devotees who are practicing bhakti are not beyond that bodily platform and do not accept all the varnas as Krishna's desire for functional society in this material manifestation. Varnashrama is already there created by Sri Krishna, we only have to start practicing bhakti as described in Bhakti Rasmrta Sindhu. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong in my understanding and I apologize if this comment is too long.
    My conclusions are based on the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.

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  14. Igy, thank you for your reaction. varnashrama is a controversial subject and I am reluctant to get drawn into it. Let me just briefly say that this is not the conclusion from the Gita nor the Bhagavata. The Bhagavata (7.11.13) declares that a brahmana must first be born in a family that has always, throughout the generations, followed all the samskaras for the brahmanas—
    samskara yad avichinnah sa dvijo'jo jagada yam
    "A twice born brahmana is he in whose family the (16) purificatory rites have been performed in unbroken succession and whom Lord Brahma has denominated as such." Sripada Sridhara Svami comments on this verse: sudram tu na mantravat samskara yuktam jagada na copanayanavantam ato nasau dvijah....ato vivaha vyatirikta samskaranavasyakatvat upanayanasya tu sarvatha nisedhat na tasya dvijatvam "The sudra is not to be invested with mantras nor with the sacred thread, hence he is not a dvija." "Other than marriage there is no samskara for the sudra, therefore the sacred thread ceremony is forbidden for him in all respects and he cannot be a dvija."
    Only in the 20th century persons like Bhaktivinoda and his son Bhaktisiddhanta began to ascribe the 4 classic caste-models to non-Indians in a global varnashrama model. Later, certain missions have made, as you indicated, each and every member a brahmana, which makes it even less credible a project, if it ever was anyway. One needs a Rishi-gotra, descendence from one of the Seven Rishis, like Gautam, Bhrigu or Atri, to be a brahmin first, etc. etc.
    Yes, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu is more sensible to follow as it gives a blueprint for pure bhakti without all the false bodily designations - sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmalam

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  15. Advaitadas - Only in the 20th century persons like Bhaktivinoda and his son Bhaktisiddhanta began to ascribe the 4 classic caste-models to non-Indians in a global varnashrama model. Later, certain missions have made, as you indicated, each and every member a brahmana, which makes it even less credible a project, if it ever was anyway. One needs a Rishi-gotra, descendence from one of the Seven Rishis, like Gautam, Bhrigu or Atri, to be a brahmin first, etc. etc.

    Certainly you understand that Bhaktivinoda's and Bhaktisidhanta's intention was precisely to reform the principle of bhramin which went corrupt. Rather than not being credible, it was a revolutionary idea. It was designed to check human society from further descent into bodily designations and the loss of higher consciousness.

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  16. Certainly you understand that Bhaktivinoda's and Bhaktisidhanta's intention was precisely to reform the principle of bhramin which went corrupt."

    I understand that, but you cannot reform the law of karma and guna, which cause a person to take a birth in some species. You can pass legislation in a parliament saying that penguins are now Eskimos but does that make them Eskimos?

    "Rather than not being credible, it was a revolutionary idea."

    Ideas have no effect on the timeless laws of nature. BTW I said that making every member of your society into a brahmin, lock stock n barrell, even more so if they are westerners, is not credible.

    "It was designed to check human society from further descent into bodily designations and the loss of higher consciousness."

    Higher consciousness is for everyone, brahmin or Yankee, by simply chanting Hare Krishna, that is the only way, the only way, the only way, in the age of Kali. Artificially creating more designations for non Indians who did not have them in the first place is just taking them into the opposite direction (i.o.w you contradict yourself). A practical example: If you have a certain skill, as a musician, why you have to call yourself a sudra? Just rock 'n roll it out! If you are a great administrator, take a job as an accountant, why it has to be called ksatriya? It is totally unnecessary.

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  17. The point you still neglect here is that the new brahminical model wasn't to mimic the original but to precisely subvert it. This is not artificially legislating nature but putting free will to a good use. Guna and karma are indeed result of choices individuals make at every moment of their many existences. The new model is to inspire individuals, spiritual sparks as we are, to understand our choices and become rulers of our nature instead of the other way around, i.e., ruled by material nature. This is a very progressive idea, and the obvious lead to a short cut to higher consciousness. Ultimately brahmin means serving God proper. No need to wait for another birth, just chose to do so now. By chanting Hare Krsna of course, everyone can become Brahmin.

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  18. I am sorry Anon, I dont know where to start unravelling all these warped theories. None of these ideas you propose are in shastra and the Gita warns (16.23) that acting whimsically (vartate kama karatah) by deviating from shastra (yah shastra vidhim utsrijya) will never yield perfection (na sa siddhim avapnoti) will not make anyone happy (na sukham) and will not bring you to the Supreme Abode (na param gatim). Let me close by saying that if you book a flight from LA to New York you cannot change destination halfway the flight. Once you arrive in New York you can book a new flight. Similarly, once you finished the mleccha birth and you behaved well you can take your next birth as a brahmin. Warning: such action brings you not one iota closer to Krishna.

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  19. The analogy of the flight is not necessary. I already said that the new model wasn't to artificially copy the original but to subvert it. So there is brahmin by birth and there is brahmin by choice. If the provision of sastra is for material life, there you have it, its not inauspicious to rearrange it so to serve a higher spiritual purpose. A well bahaved mleccha, i.e., a mleccha who choses to dedicate his life to Krsna is automatically closer to God.

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  20. Anon (if you are still the same anon that debated me throughout this page), you are constantly mixing the material (varnashram) with the spiritual (pure bhakti). These two basically are not connected with each other. Bhakti doesnt make one into a brahmin and vice versa. Please try to understand this. To avoid giving me a lot of work providing all the arguments and shastric evidence, just let me know right now if you are open to understanding the proper scriptural Vaishnava understanding of varnashram. If not, then let us cease the debate here.

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  21. You mean your proper understanding of varnashram?

    Lets suspend the debate for the time being I think.

    But you did start your argument on this page by making assumptions on the nature of westerners.

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  22. "You mean your proper understanding of varnashram?"

    No, I mean the understanding of Sanatan Goswami (Haribhakti Vilasa), Rupa Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu and its tikas + Bhakti Sandarbha), Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami (Caitanya Caritamrita), Vyasa Muni (Bhagavata Purana), Sridhara Swami (Bhagavat tikas) etc.

    If you like to make life easy on me you may like to peruse my essay 'Who is a brahmana, Guru, Sannyasi?' on my website. The link is on the main page of this blog. On the site, click on Opinions - there you will find the essay.

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  23. But you did start your argument on this page by making assumptions on the nature of westerners.

    ...assumptions and generalizations. Not only on weserners but Indians. Advaita's generalized line of argument argument is as follows: most Iskcon sannyasis fell down therefore all westerners, at all times are unquilified for sannyasa. On the other hand, all Indians qualify even when some show incompatible behavior because there are a larger number of Indians in this tradition and because they are, well, Indians anyway, which automatically qualifies one to higher standards of human consciousness. What about a brahmin who was born in Pakistani territoty before that country was separated from India? Has that brahmin lost his caste?

    Advaitadas, it seems you need to consult with other vaisnavas, PRESENT DAY vaisnavas, on these matters, so to get your perspective right. Sometimes one needs suplemental help with interpreting sastra.

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  24. "Advaita's generalized line of argument argument is as follows: most Iskcon sannyasis fell down therefore all westerners, at all times are unquilified for sannyasa."

    You need to accept the verdict of the acaryas like Visvanatha Cakravarti whose statement I quoted before, in my first comment on this page. I did not make this up myself.

    "On the other hand, all Indians qualify even when some show incompatible behavior because there are a larger number of Indians in this tradition and because they are, well, Indians anyway, which automatically qualifies one to higher standards of human consciousness."

    1. Do not put words in my mouth, I have never said these things. If you cannot quote me on this then retract and apologise.
    2. I never said that all Indians qualify for sannyasa. Many low caste Indians become babajis and have dreadful lifestyles. Nor do I believe that all brahmins even qualify. Nevertheless, the risk with a highborn person is simply less than with a lowborn person. That is being proven to this very day in practical life. I am sorry that you are unable to see that, though it is going on in front of your eyes for some 40 years now. pasyann api na pasyati

    "Advaitadas, it seems you need to consult with other vaisnavas, PRESENT DAY vaisnavas, on these matters, so to get your perspective right."

    I was not born in the 14th century. I associated with many marvellous brahmins in the 1980s and that is quite recent. I agree that in Kali yuga there is quick decay, though. I would of course not take diksa from just any old born brahmin nowadays.

    "Sometimes one needs suplemental help with interpreting sastra."

    The scriptural evidence I quoted in my essay on varnashram is overwhelming and compelling, and I had my conclusions confirmed by many leading Vaishnavas in Vraja and Bengal. I am not an armchair bookworm. I was out there for 9 long years, and not in a comfy MVT suite.

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  25. "The analogy of the flight is not necessary. I already said that the new model wasn't to artificially copy the original but to subvert it."

    History has proven that it hasn't worked. Good intentions aside the sheer number of those awarded brahmana who simply don't possess or develop the qualities attributed to a brahmana, even by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, proves such.

    Do not, ever, confuse being a brahmana with eligibility for bhakti. Advaita put it best "Higher consciousness is for everyone, brahmin or Yankee, by simply chanting Hare Krishna, that is the only way, the only way, the only way, in the age of Kali. Artificially creating more designations for non Indians who did not have them in the first place is just taking them into the opposite direction (i.o.w you contradict yourself). A practical example: If you have a certain skill, as a musician, why you have to call yourself a sudra? Just rock 'n roll it out! If you are a great administrator, take a job as an accountant, why it has to be called ksatriya? It is totally unnecessary."

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  26. "History has proven that it hasn't worked. Good intentions aside the sheer number of those awarded brahmana who simply don't possess or develop the qualities attributed to a brahmana, even by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, proves such. "

    That bit of history does not diprove Bhaktisidhanta's argument. A brahmana is primarily qualified by guna. There are enough examples in history proving that birth alone does not uphold the status of brahmins. Rupa's and Sanatana's example are cases in point. Their status as brahmanas wasn't removed by outcasts but by judgement from within the very brahminical order. If guna can disqualify an born brahmana, conversely it can also qualify a non-born one. Bhaktisidhanta's point wasn't that being a brahmana alone qualifies one for bhakti. His point was that if brahmana is to be considered the highest rank in society, then it should be so because it serves the cause of bhakti. He brought the focus back on bhakti. It is indeed surprising that, after all these years of learning, you guys miss this very simple and obvious meaning of Bhaktisidhanta's reasoning.

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  27. "Rupa's and Sanatana's example are cases in point. Their status as brahmanas wasn't removed by outcasts but by judgement from within the very brahminical order."

    It was not a lack of guna, but a loss of acara that caused Rupa Sanatan to be outcast. They were never reinstalled as brahmanas either, after they surrendered to Mahaprabhu.

    "If guna can disqualify an born brahmana, conversely it can also qualify a non-born one."

    If you had finally read my essay you wouldnt say that anymore. One can be a brahmana by quality but one cannot wear the thread, nor does it create any devotional or spiritual advantage, because social status has nothing to do with spirituality.

    "Bhaktisidhanta's point wasn't that being a brahmana alone qualifies one for bhakti."

    If you are the still the same anon you contradict your statement of September 25, "Ultimately brahmin means serving God proper. No need to wait for another birth, just chose to do so now. By chanting Hare Krsna of course, everyone can become Brahmin."

    "His point was that if brahmana is to be considered the highest rank in society, then it should be so because it serves the cause of bhakti. He brought the focus back on bhakti. It is indeed surprising that, after all these years of learning, you guys miss this very simple and obvious meaning of Bhaktisidhanta's reasoning."

    It is surprising that you have not read my essay, with ample quotations from the Haribhakti Vilasa, the Bhagavata and Jiva Gosvamis and Sridhara Swami's tikas to it.

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  28. You are still confusing the brahminical status envisioned by Bhaktisidhanta with the other kind. Obviously by birth westerners are not qualified for brahmin. Obviously. However, on the same token if the traditional Hindu brahminical order was to showcase and promote higher states of consciousness, historically it has failed to do so. Or at least it it has not held the monopoly on such. Westerners failed to facsimile certain traits of the traditional brahminical culture, but have not failed to take up bhakti.
    There is no contradition in my two statements. It was implied that if one is to be considered a brahmana proper it is because his goal is bhakti. Don't forget that Bhaktisidhanta has always amphasised that a Vaisnava is superior in status to any other human order, existend or yet to emerge.
    Assuming that the precedures in brahminical culture have a meaning, then the obvious meaning of loss of acara is that it is caused by the change in one's predominating guna.

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  29. "You are still confusing the brahminical status envisioned by Bhaktisidhanta with the other kind."

    The problem here is that there is only one kind of varnashram and a human being, even if he is a prominent Vaishnava Guru, cannot change this. catur varnyam maya srstam - "The four castes are created by Me." And that Me is God Himself. This is not a political game, like socialism or communism. We are speaking here about the birds and the bees, the law of nature. When you are an Eskimo you cannot take initiation into becoming a Negro or Latino. You must wait for that.

    "Obviously by birth westerners are not qualified for brahmin. Obviously."

    As I said before, temporarily westerners can be far purer than regular brahmins but it does not last because of their lack of background, environment and upbringing.

    "However, on the same token if the traditional Hindu brahminical order was to showcase and promote higher states of consciousness, historically it has failed to do so. Or at least it it has not held the monopoly on such."

    That may be true, but that has always been like that. Jagai and Madhai were brahmins too, and Shanda and Amarka. But no-one saw that as a reason to take the law into one's own hands and create brahmins artificially. I mean, you cannot become twice born without the first birth, huh?

    "Westerners failed to facsimile certain traits of the traditional brahminical culture, but have not failed to take up bhakti."

    Ultimately that is all that matters. That is why Krishna said sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja

    "There is no contradition in my two statements. It was implied that if one is to be considered a brahmana proper it is because his goal is bhakti. Don't forget that Bhaktisidhanta has always amphasised that a Vaisnava is superior in status to any other human order, existend or yet to emerge."

    And that includes brahmin. So if Vaishnava is higher than brahmin, why get involved in the brahmin-making project at all? Why take a dime if you got a grand already?

    "Assuming that the precedures in brahminical culture have a meaning, then the obvious meaning of loss of acara is that it is caused by the change in one's predominating guna."

    Yes that is true, but the guna mentioned in the catur varnyam verse refers to guna accrued in the previous birth, not in the present birth.

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  30. "The problem here is that there is only one kind of varnashram and a human being, even if he is a prominent Vaishnava Guru, cannot change this. catur varnyam maya srstam - "The four castes are created by Me." And that Me is God Himself. This is not a political game, like socialism or communism. We are speaking here about the birds and the bees, the law of nature. When you are an Eskimo you cannot take initiation into becoming a Negro or Latino. You must wait for that."

    'The four castes are creted by Me' for a reason.

    A human being who can get that larger picture may see it fit to make adjustments. Indeed, that is the meaning of Acarya.

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  31. "Yes that is true, but the guna mentioned in the catur varnyam verse refers to guna accrued in the previous birth, not in the present birth."

    Then naturally incidental guna shift occured in the present birth would not be cause of loss of acara. No brahmin would be disquaified by his actions, ever. Birth alone would garantee his status for life.

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  32. Acarya means someone who teaches by example, and therefore leads society. It does not look good therefore if an acarya deviates from shastra, that is the problem.

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  33. "No brahmin would be disquaified by his actions, ever. Birth alone would garantee his status for life."

    I am sorry, I am not expert in dharma shastra, but the Bhagavata (5.26) does mete out the severest punishments for brahmins, because they have the highest responsibility. The demands and social expectations were huge. Again, I dont know all the scriptural references for that, but I am sure that society managed to deal with transgressions by brahmins based on scriptural rules. I am not idealising medieval Hinduism, though.

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  34. "Acarya means someone who teaches by example, and therefore leads society. It does not look good therefore if an acarya deviates from shastra, that is the problem."

    Everyone has the right to an opinion, one's "deviation" may be someone else's interpretation. It is a fact however that shastra is not alone in a vacuum. The habits of leaders include consultation, sometimes with his own inspired side.

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  35. "Everyone has the right to an opinion, one's "deviation" may be someone else's interpretation."

    If one person comes with an entirely new practise which was not practised or taught by any preceding acarya, then we cannot speak of the right to an opinion, nor can we speak about a disciplic succession. Besides, opinions are on the relative, mental or intellectual platform, not on the level of transcendental revelations.

    "It is a fact however that shastra is not alone in a vacuum. The habits of leaders include consultation, sometimes with his own inspired side."

    That is why Narottam Das Thakur says sadhu shastra guru vakya - "the words of sadhu, shastra and guru must be mutually compatible", not that one acarya differs from all other acaryas, as well as from shastra and sadhu.

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  36. "If one person comes with an entirely new practise which was not practised or taught by any preceding acarya, then we cannot speak of the right to an opinion, nor can we speak about a disciplic succession."

    Actually I was speaking of you having an opinion about Bhaktisidhanta. Who else complains about his "deviation"? What is his 'entirely' new practice? There are some inovations, but its not entirely new. Scientology may be entirely new in many ways, but not Saraswati's practices and teachings. Besides, because the acaryas did not speak in a certain way at their time, it doesn't mean they disaprove of what sucessors may say presently.

    "Besides, opinions are on the relative, mental or intellectual platform, not on the level of transcendental revelations."

    In Bhagavad-gita Krsna expresses His opinion about knowledge. 13.3

    "That is why Narottam Das Thakur says sadhu shastra guru vakya - "the words of sadhu, shastra and guru must be mutually compatible", not that one acarya differs from all other acaryas, as well as from shastra and sadhu."

    So far you have quoted shastra to sustain your opinion that there was "deviation" from the part of Bhaktisidhanta. Can you supply the names of sadhus who have that same opinion?

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  37. "Actually I was speaking of you having an opinion about Bhaktisidhanta. Who else complains about his "deviation"? What is his 'entirely' new practice? There are some inovations, but its not entirely new."

    I did not refer to his entire corpus of teachings, but to some of them, particularly regarding raganuga bhakti and varnashram.

    "Besides, because the acaryas did not speak in a certain way at their time, it doesn't mean they disaprove of what sucessors may say presently."

    Adjustment to time place and circumstances can be technical and external, like the use of airplanes and the internet, but not in changes of the theology. Then there is a breach of parampara, because the teachings of the disciple are no longer echoes of the Guru's.

    "In Bhagavad-gita Krsna expresses His opinion about knowledge. 13.3"

    Yes, but His opinion is the Absolute Truth. That cannot be compared to our opinions. He is God and we are not.

    "So far you have quoted shastra to sustain your opinion that there was "deviation" from the part of Bhaktisidhanta. Can you supply the names of sadhus who have that same opinion?"

    I have had sanga with a wide array of Vaishnava acaryas in the 25 years since I left Iskcon. Not a single one has approved of the daivi varnashram theory of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.

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  38. "I have had sanga with a wide array of Vaishnava acaryas in the 25 years since I left Iskcon. Not a single one has approved of the daivi varnashram theory of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati."

    If the especific names of these acaryas and their related statements are not made to the large community of devotees, how is this alleged oposition to not be seen as political and relative to this world? Acaryas are always welcome to speak up. Bhaktisidhanta has taught his followers the value of sadhu-sanga.

    "Yes, but His opinion is the Absolute Truth. That cannot be compared to our opinions. He is God and we are not."

    Its the Absolute Truth but still an opinion. Krsna could have imposed but still offers it as an opinion. That is the meaning of opinion: it is given as a choice. And of course our acaryas show us the path of good fortune by teaching us to reciprocate with Krsna's grace, which sometimes He calls His opinion.

    So no names, eh?

    It seems in this too you're still on a mission of one.

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  39. "Acaryas are always welcome to speak up."

    Anon, you strike me as a civil and reasonable person, however my experience with some of your faith-fellows was not so good, so indeed no names. Many of them are anyway no more with us.

    "So no names, eh?"

    You havent even given me time to respond, so you are rushing to conclusions.

    "It seems in this too you're still on a mission of one."

    On this webpage there is two of us, for another anon supported me yesterday. On the ground, though, I have about 1,000,000,000 supporters and that makes you 20,000 heavily outgunned. Not counting the consensus of the shastras in my favor.

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  40. You are still the only one with a name attached to his opinion on one side, and Saraswati with his on the other.

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  41. In that case I will also ignore your supporters and consider it a one on one debate. Fortunately the shastras and the previous acaryas are on my side, as you might have read in my essay, so the balance tilts in my favor.

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  42. Your understanding of shastra and Saraswati's understanding of shastra. Still need a third opinion.

    And since Saraswati himself is no more, you are actually left arguing with no one.

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  43. Anon, this is my last response to you. You clearly refuse to read my essay, which is packed with evidence from both shastra and all the leading acaryas, so this dialogue is going nowhere. Also, I find your argumentation is increasingly descending into silliness. Unless you come with sound evidence from shastra and/or show signs of having read my essay your future comments will be blocked.

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