Balarama – Beauty, Srength, and Service

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.20 | August 10, 2014 |

English; Lika, Croatia

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Question:

Recently one congregation devotee asked me "I am having some material problem for a long time and my father suggested/forced me to show to an astrologer who suggested me to worship some demigod and my problems will be solved. He gave 100% guarantee. This will cost Rs.35,000 but if result is not there he will return all money". So his father is forcing him but he doesn't want to take shelter of someone else than Krsna. But he asked me "when a devotee becomes sick he also goes to see doctor which is like taking shelter of a demigod for curing some material problem. So why this is allowed while demigod worship for solving material problems is not? What is the difference? In Ayurveda also worship of demigods is sometimes recommended to cure some disease. It seems logical that we worship demigods to solve material problems that are posing hindrance in our service to Krsna".

So I request Your Holiness to reveal answer to this.

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I am writing to Your Holiness to ask a question about a discussion that I had with a person who knows both ISKCON and eastern paths of philosophy and metaphysics. He was making comparison and criticism. He said for instance that ISKCON temples are a mess, dirty, noisy with lots of fighting amongst devotees and budhist, taoist temples are very clean, organized, quiet, peaceful, sattvic. He said that many ISKCON devotees don’t have basic manners, culture, education, etiquette whereas budhist, taoist, astanga yoga practioners are educated, well mannered people. He also said that these people seems to have much more sense control than the devotees. He said that ISKCON doesn’t have organization, planning, structure, stability whereas these groups are very well organized, structured with years, decades, centuries or more of work and tradition. His point is that you judge something or someone by the results and symptoms, so if the devotees are the topmost transcendentalists and if ISKCON and the Sankirtana movement is the most elevated spiritual movement than there should be example, results and symptoms of such superior position. His reasoning is that these eastern paths and their followers seems to be more advanced,self controlled etc. than the devotees. I know his thinking comes from a neophyte understanding but I want to know what I could say to him. Could Your Holiness, tell me what I can say to him?

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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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