Real Realism

Bhagavad-gītā 8.16 | June 24, 2011 |

English; Chicago, Illinois, USA

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Question: I have experienced that there is conflict between devotees serving under different leaders: many devotees consider their own service or approach to bhakti as the most authentic, and associating with different genres of devotees sometimes creates confusion in my mind. Why does this conflict emerge although all devotees are engaged in service of Krishna? How can we overcome conflict and instead cooperate to fight against our common enemies, impersonalism and materialism.

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Question: In the Nectar of Devotion, Part 1 Chapter 8, {Offenses to be avoided} Srila Prabhupada writes and I qoute"One should begin the worship of Demigod Ganapati, who drives away all impediments in execution of devotional service.In the Brahma samhita, it is stated that Ganapati worships the lotus feet of Lord Nrsimhadeva,and in that way he has become auspicious… Expand>

Question:

In the Nectar of Devotion, Part 1 Chapter 8, {Offenses to be avoided} Srila Prabhupada writes and I qoute"One should begin the worship of Demigod Ganapati, who drives away all impediments in execution of devotional service.In the Brahma samhita, it is stated that Ganapati worships the lotus feet of Lord Nrsimhadeva,and in that way he has become auspicious for the devotees in clearing out all impediments. Therefore all devotees should worship Ganapati". Lord Sri Krishna has of course discouraged us from engaging in worship of demigods in the Bhagavad Gita. I presume that the contradiction may be explained from the example of the Gopis who engaged in the worship of Lord Shiva for purely devotional reasons.

But I have also heard in one of your lectures where you had not agreed with the tendency of some Iskcon temples in North America having the deity of Lord Ganesha in the altar. Also else where in a letter conversation also Srila Prabhupada disagreed with the idea of Lord Ganesh worship, asking his disciple to pay him a hefty amount before they want to do that? How do I resolve these apparent contradictions? Is it an acceptable tendency to allow demigod worship in our temples?

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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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Following on this topic, there is a very unusual but common understanding among devotees which prevents them from understanding and thinking about the points that you have discussed in your lecture on this topic.

Their understanding is that "Every Guru in ISKCON has a different mood and thus a different way of pleasing Srila Prabhupada. So all of them are right in their own capacity" For eg: H H Indradyumna Swami preaches by telling stories, H H Bhakti Marg Swami preaches by walking around Canada, H H Jayapataka Swami preaches by travelling extensively throughout the world, likewise every Guru has a different way of preaching. This thought is more prevalent in a multi guru scenario where disciples of various gurus are in the same congregation. One example, could be Damodardesh. If all devotees start thinking like this, there will be a day when there won't be any difference between right and wrong.

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There are many examples given in the Bhagavatam about personalities who leave their homes in pursuit of self realization. So my question is; do we get the karma if we leave our families to take up the practise Krishna consciousness seriously? There are many examples given in the Bhagavatam about personalities who leave their homes in pursuit of self realization. So my question is; do we get the karma if we leave our families to take up the practise Krishna consciousness seriously?

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