Answering Objections to Varnasrama

February 7, 2017 |

English; Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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In the verse quoted by Rupa Gosvami,

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Is varnasrama considered part of “sruti-smrti-puranadi-pancaratra-vidhim”? Speaking of myself, I really don’t fall in any asrama and of course varna is the lowest. Is any devotional service or other activities performed by me an unnecessary disturbance in society?

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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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I am currently listening to your lecture "Some Concerns About ISKCON." I also heard a lecture recently from my spritual master HH Tamal Krishna Goswami. He said, "originally, Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to consist solely of brahmacaris and sannyasis, but then Jadurani came, what was Srila Prabhupada to do? He couldn't reject her."

It seems that since we do not discriminate who joins ISKCON in terms of their varna or ashram, ISKCON will continue to face these sorts of issues (i.e. Ksatriya Initiative).

My question: Although I understand that we are ultimately only concerned with becoming Vaishnavas, but do you forsee that ISKCON as a society will gradually evolve into strictly a brahminical body as Srila Prabhupada wanted or will the brahminical class be forced to create a seperate body to offer guidance to society? Thank you for maintaining the standard. 

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