Introducing Varnasrama in an Unfavourable World

Bhagavad-gītā 4.13 | September 2, 2016 |

English; Manchester, UK

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Question: 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?… Expand>

Question:

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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Give Your Life to Hare Krishna Movement

December 23, 2011 |

Question: As a neophyte devotee, who has recently taken interest in giving my life to serving Srila Prabhupada and The Hare Krishna Movement, the common question of how to do so has arisen freqeuntly in my recent months of trying to serve Srila Prabhupada. How can I give my life to Srila Prabhupada’s mission to serve Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu? Looking… Expand>

Question:

As a neophyte devotee, who has recently taken interest in giving my life to serving Srila Prabhupada and The Hare Krishna Movement, the common question of how to do so has arisen freqeuntly in my recent months of trying to serve Srila Prabhupada. How can I give my life to Srila Prabhupada’s mission to serve Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu?

Looking at the movement in general, in the first few 20/30 years of the movement, devotee’s were more detached to the material world and its activities and stayed more in the temple, many would not partake in the activities of daily materialistic life, such as, school, a job, having a household away from the temple, having friends away from the temple. Which are all very understandable, because for spiritual advancement, environment and association is very important. But looking at the general trend of devotee’s today, it is very rare that devotee’s become Brahmacari, or live at the temple, or spend more than just an average one or two evenings at the temple each week. Rather the general mass of Hare Krishna devotee’s today, are very inclined towards their material education, their material success as businessmen, as families part of the social environment they live in and so on.

As a neophyte, the greatest difficulty I am facing, which is now becoming quite problematic in my spiritual life, is seeing that there is actually no difference between serving Krishna directly by maybe cleaning the temple floor, or serving his devotee’s, compared to

indirectly by concentrating on being successful in their material education or business life.

More specifically, as a student who would like to give his life to serving Srila Prabhupada, being enthusiastic about serving by gaining a material education is something very difficult for me to understand. On one hand I’m reading Srila Prabhupada’s books on how the material education system in todays contemporary society is mundane as it skips the greatest question of life, that we are not these bodies and that we are the spirit soul, eternal part and parcel of Krishna. Rather material education concentrates on how we can use all the resources of the material world for our sense gratification. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains, Karma Yoga, we must not simply forget everything and practice vikarma by renouncing everything and sitting alone in a room, rather we should practice akarma by offering the fruits of our actions onto Krishna and accept Him as The Supreme Controller. My difficulty is seeing how I can do so with a material college degree. It is difficult for me to submit to professors in universities who try to invalidate Krishna as Supreme Personality of Godhead, rather they accredit atheism and such illogical theories.

The question arises in my mind, that, rather than spending time and money in college acquiring a degree I am not even sure with what I want to do, rather I can surrender my whole life in serving as a devotee in a temple where they hardly have any devotee’s to serve.

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