The Basis of Foolishness

Bhagavad-gītā 15.10 | November 22, 2013 |

English; Nanda Gokulam, Andhra Pradesh, India

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Question: I remember from your previous recorded lectures where you mentioned you observed that devotees are increasingly basing their krishna conscious activities on hearing kirtans, taking prasadam, being part of social groups and social networking sites and other related things like festivals etc. and not much on philosophical study and/ or intellectual application on the message being presented.… Expand>

Question:

I remember from your previous recorded lectures where you mentioned you observed that devotees are increasingly basing their krishna conscious activities on hearing kirtans, taking prasadam, being part of social groups and social networking sites and other related things like festivals etc. and not much on philosophical study and/ or intellectual application on the message being presented.

May I say that the repercussions of this, I believe, are being reflected in the general degradation of the standards of service being organised and conducted in our temples?(I am not sure if this is the only valid hypothesis for the observation on degradation of services).

Also I feel that we have failed as an organisation to collectively stand against the intellectual bastions like universities, research organisations in presenting Krishna Consciousness as a logical and completely sensible philosophy/way of life.(Except for a few bright spots like BV Institute, Michael Cremo, Sadaputa Prabhu etc.)

I believe these are very/ most important as Srila Prabhupada himself set an example by encouraging to study his books closely and ask questions as well as leave no stone unturned in challenging the faulty hypotheses presented by the scientists. As I understand ,as the scientists are very organised in their activities, one of the purposes ISKCON was created (As detailed in ISKCON'S Mission statement) was to organize the devotees globally to take on this global challenge and influence the policy makers towards good governance etc.(Ex. of SP
writing to Indira Gandhi, MK Gandhi etc.)

From the perspective of lofty goals entrusted to us by His Divine Grace, my estimation is that we are not even close to challenging the might of scientific or governmental establishment.OR we have lost that vigorous spirit when His Divine Grace was personally present alongside us. I have observed that in a recent meeting at Mayapur, the GBC members have listed the above as challenges facing us as an organisation.

My question is that How do I, as a grassroots aspirant member of this organisation reconcile with this issue and contribute positively to the organisation? 

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Recently I was shocked to learn that few of ISKCON temples around the globe celebrated Christmas by dressing Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities Santa Claus styled outfits. Is it acceptable to dress the Lord in such a non-traditional style or it is just a speculation?

 

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

So, I’ve been informed that some temples in Europe in the Christmas season dress Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus, and that one temple, ISKCON temple (we are talking about ISKCON temples here), is dressing Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus. And one temple in India also did this. And what do I think about this? 

Unfortunate…is one word I could use. Nonsense is another.

In one letter Śrīla Prabhupāda was informed that devotees sent some Christmas cards with a picture of Krsna. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote that we are not for Christmas greetings. In another or several times, Śrīla Prabhupāda also spoke about speculation in Deity worship… So, there may be various reasons given. In India, the reason was given that Christians come to our temple. Well, in that case you can dress Kṛṣṇa as cricket star, maybe the cricket fans would come. Or you can dress Kṛṣṇa like some famous film star, then maybe people interested in movies, they would come. 

But the whole idea…Deity worship is to dress Kṛṣṇa as Rādhā likes Him, and dress Rādhā as Kṛṣṇa likes Her, according to the directions of great ācāryas. Getting mixed up with this Western culture…as far as possible we should try to avoid that. We have our own festivals. Why adopt this Christmas, which is supposed to be a birth of Christ, although they don’t actually know when Christ was born? The main feature of Christmas in the modern world is killing lots of birds, especially turkeys in England, drinking lots of alcohol…

Especially, dressing Deities like this, all I can say is- unfortunate. My saying so won’t stop it going on. There are so many great ācāryas in our movement who are introducing things that none of our previous ācāryas was doing…So, what to say? Whether to laugh or to cry?

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For a very long time, I have felt very nervous about joining devotees on Harinama or book distribution. Honestly, I feel a bit embarrassed at the thought of my friends seeing me with devotees, or seeing me distributing books or seeing me in a Tilaka etc. I am worried people will think this guy is a nut or a fool! I am worried they will judge me and I will lose my so-called social standing.

Right from my childhood, I have been a very shy and lonely person and I am always easily embarrassed. I grew up with severe inferiority complex in my childhood. Both my parents were completely uneducated, not respected, not well off etc. They passed that over to me. That low self esteem has stayed with me. Hence I am very scared and nervous of doing anything public.

Maharaja, I am very much worried that this nature of mine will interfere with my future service to you. How do I fix this issue? I really really want to make progress and I will follow any order you give me here to correct this situation.

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