FALL DOWN – Where have we fallen from?

This essay was originally an answer of Suhotra Swami to a question about the “fairness” of our fall down to the material world.

First of all we strongly suggest those who have a specific interest in the falldown of the spirit soul from the spiritual world to acquire the book entitled “Our Original Position”, which is available from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. It is a very elaborate treatment with much quotation from sastra. read more

An analysis of the paper “Some Evidence Regarding Education and Guruship for Vaishnavis”

Among scholars, the position of women in the Vedic culture is a cause for controversy and debate because of different, sometimes contradictory statements found in Vedic literature. As we know from the Mahābhārata, nāsau ṛṣir yasya matam na bhinnam—sages have their own opinions and often contradict other sages. Thus the only path to the truth is mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthaḥ—the path traversed by great authorities. That is why we would like to analyze through the teachings of Śrīla Prabhupāda and our previous ācāryas some of the different quotes and arguments presented in the paper “Some Evidence Regarding Education and Guruship for Vaishnavis,” authored by Bhaktarupa Prabhu and Madhavananda Prabhu.*  Since their paper substantially relies on the authority of lesser-known scriptures and commentators, we will examine their evidence within the broader context of the sources they quote. That is, we want to determine whether their translations of these scriptures and commentators can be legitimately inferred from the context of these same sources. Also, the wide use of exotic sources by the authors raises the question as to whether they are introducing opposing scriptures. “One should not introduce any opposing scripture” (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 8, “Offenses to be avoided”). We will therefore also weigh the authority of these statements within our Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava tradition. As fidelity to the conclusions of our sampradāya is essential for the propagation of the Krishna consciousness movement, this is a serious issue that must be deeply deliberated upon. That is why we decided to produce this analysis.

The authors of the paper have done otherwise wonderful service to the society of devotees. They are sincere and have given their lives for the service of Śrīla Prabhupāda. And although it is certain their intent is not malicious, it nonetheless seems that in their research they sometimes relied on someone’s incomplete research, since some of the arguments are extrapolated, misleading, taken out of context or even fallacious. Falling to their feet, we heartily apologize before them for our impudence in trying to analyze their arguments. We sincerely hope and pray to them and to all the devotees that they will not take this friendly analysis as a personal attack and will not be offended by our presentation. The reason for this analysis was our apprehension that someone in the position of authority or leadership may base their decisions on such in many ways imbalanced evidence.

“All the quotes from the paper will be marked by red font:”

The present paper is primarily an exploration into śāstra regarding the roles and responsibilities of vaiṣṇavīs. read more

Astrology

(This is the first of a series of essays meant for eventual publication in a book about Vaiṣṇava culture and etiquette.)

Astrology (jyotiṣa) is described as “the eye of the Vedas.” It (the Vedic version, not the Western type) is a bona fide science considered essential in Vedic society, so much so that even the Supreme Lord, although beyond all astrological considerations, nonetheless adheres to them while performing His human-like pastimes. For example:

The supremely auspicious Lord then married Kālindī on a day when the season, the lunar asterism, and the configurations of the sun and other heavenly bodies were all propitious.[i] read more

ISKCON, WITH ALL THY FAULTS, I LOVE THEE

In May of 2006, a young man who had been born into a family of devotees, who had gone to and been abused at different ISKCON gurukulas in the 70’s and 80’s, committed suicide.  A huge outpouring of emotion surged through the Vaishnava community, especially on the internet.  On the Chakra website, in addressing abuse in ISKCON, someone wrote:

“How can somebody take disksha from Prabhupada, chant for many years, study the shastra for many years, and end up abusing their power like this?  How can somebody who associated with Prabhupada personally so much, who was personally given sannyas by Prabhupada and who was glorified by Prabhupada, end up abusing his power so much? (I’m referring to ‘Kirtanananda Swami’ in particular.)  How can I have faith anymore that Prabhupada was a pure devotee?  I don’t want to offend anybody, but this is how I am really thinking and feeling right now. My faith in ISKCON is almost finished, and my faith in Prabhupada and Krishna is slipping.”

In a response, another devotee wrote: read more

The Need For Protection Of The Women In Society

Even in a society which freely allows men to take more than one wife legally, not all men will do so. Rather, only a few should and only a few do. Two factors weigh most in this regard. The qualification of the men, and the number of women in society in need of protection. There are two types of men who are qualified to take more then one wife. One are those who are very wealthy and can financially take many wives, as in the case of kings or very wealthy businessmen. The other are those who are qualified in the spiritual sense, the brahmincal sages, who are able to lead their dependents out of the cycle of birth and death. A Vaishnava who can take his dependents to the Lotus Feet of Sri Krsna is qualified to take on a larger number of dependents, if he so desires. But, he must also be able to maintain his wife or wives to the standard of his ashram. At least the wives must not be forced to work out side the home, working as sudras or servants of others, they must have food, shelter and clothes, at least to the standard of the ashram of the husband. Not that if a brahmana marries more then one wife the wives must be cared for to the standard of ksatriya queens. Brahmana may live very simply, still, each wife must be taken care of respectfully and not be in want of basic needs.

Brahmanas, especially Vaishnava Brahmanas, are generally not at all wealthy, so if they take more than one wife, they generally can take only 2 or 3 wives or so. More worldly men who have great wealth can materially accommodate a large number of wives and offspring. It was not uncommon for kings to take a 100 wives or even 100’s.

The society benefits when a wealthy man takes many wives, and also so do the wives. These women will be materially well taken care of in this life. The society benefits because these women be protected from falling into a life of illicit sex and prostitution, which keeps society focused in the mood of mundane goodness. The children these women will have will be provided for. They will be wanted children, and come into a loving and caring environment. read more

European Misappropriation of Sanskrit led to the Aryan Race Theory

It is not widely known that the European quest to appropriate the highly prized library of Sanskrit’s ancient spiritual texts motivated the construction of the “Aryan” race identity, one of the ideological roots of Nazism. The Sanskrit word “arya” is an adjective that means noble or pure. For example, the famous Buddhist Four Noble Truths are described as the Four Arya Truths or catvari aryasatyani in Sanskrit. Arya does not refer to a race, but a cultural quality venerated in Sanskrit texts.

German nationalism turned this word into a noun, “Aryan,” and capitalized it to refer to an imagined race of people that were the original Sanskrit speakers who had composed its great texts. Early romantic claims that Indians were the ancestors of the Europeans were gradually replaced by the new myth that a race called “Indo-Aryans” was the common ancestors to both. Their origin was thought to be in the Caucasus Mountains, hence the term “Caucasian.” Later, the “Indo” was dropped and the white Aryan Race Theory emerged. Thus, from the European desire to be seen as the inheritors of the Sanskrit civilization, the notion of a European super-race was born, with Germany as its highest manifestation.

How did this come about? In the late 1700s, European identity was shaken when scholars discovered that Sanskrit was closely related to the European languages, though much older and more sophisticated. At first, this discovery fed European Romantic imagination, in which India was glorified as the perfect past. Herder, a German Romanticist, saw Europe’s “discovery” of India as a “re-discovery” of its own foundation. India was viewed as Europe’s mother civilization by Frederick Schlegel in Germany and by Voltaire in France. William Jones, a British colonial administrator, considered Sanskrit the most marvelous product of the human mind. Sanskrit and Indology entered most major European universities between 1800 and 1850, challenging if not replacing Latin and Greek texts as a source for “new” ideas. Many new disciplines were shaped by the ensuing intellectual activity, including linguistics, comparative religion, modern philosophy and sociology. read more

Mayapur – The Land – The Vision – 1969 to 1977 part 2

Value of the Land

Land in the dham should not be measured in terms of mundane monetary value. It is much more valuable than that. It is actually considered to be chintamani. Yet we are sometimes scolded that the land in Mayapur has so much monetary value that we cannot afford the luxury of creating simple housing, or dedicating some land to demonstrate simple living. This contention is not born out by Srila Prabhupada’s teaching however. When it comes to principles, he saw things from a completely different perspective.

In a BTG issue from 1952 Srila Prabhupada describes the birth right of each individual: read more

Mayapur – The Land – The Vision – 1969 to 1977 part 1

Acquiring the Land

In 1969/70 Srila Prabhupada attempted to purchase land in Mayapur, but there were some difficulties.

Tamal Krsna Maharaja relates one incident: “Prabhupada was searching for land in Mayapur. We had tried to go to look for land when we first came to Calcutta, but we couldn’t; the flood waters stopped us from crossing the Ganges to go. So Prabhupada said, “Maybe Lord Caitanya doesn’t want me to establish a temple in Mayapur.” read more

Moonshadows by Ameyatma das (James Beals)

Did We Really Go To The Moon In The Late 1960’s and Early 70’s? Many people would have a real hard time believing or even entertaining the idea that we did not go to the moon. After all, it has been over 40 years since we, supposedly, sent our fist unmanned space missions to the moon. Having been so long, it would be unthinkable, improbable, that so many people could keep this a secret for so long. Even other governments would have to be involved. And it would raise innumerable questions as to how and why it was faked.

Note: I have not had time lately to do the research necessary to complete this page. All that I have time to do right now is to put out a rambling writing from memory of my previous research as food for thought to those who maybe interested or concerned about such things. As I have time I will be adding and updating this page.

Since much of the information I am writing here is from memory not all the facts and figures (especially the numbers) may be correct, but, the basic ideas they are used to show are still valid. read more