Maha Tapa, Sarvagah, Sarvavit, Bhanuh, Vishvaksena

Viṣṇu-sahasranāma 123-127 | September 1, 2012 |

English; Denver, Colorado, USA

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Question: My question is as follows. How can we distinguish between these (what appear to my understanding) two different outlooks regarding the matter of rejecting a guru. One point of view is represented by the verse from Mahabharata (guror apy avaliptasya..) and another point of view could be find in CC Antya 3.11 in Srila Prabhupada´s purport where… Expand>

Question:

My question is as follows. How can we distinguish between these (what appear to my understanding) two different outlooks regarding the matter of rejecting a guru.

One point of view is represented by the verse from Mahabharata (guror apy avaliptasya..) and another point of view could be find in CC Antya 3.11 in Srila Prabhupada´s purport where he says:

"Damodara Pandita was a great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes, however, a person in such a position becomes impudent, being influenced by the external energy and material considerations. Thus a devotee mistakenly dares to criticize the activities of the spiritual master or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Despite the logic that "Ceaser´s wife must be above suspicion," a devotee should not be disturbed by the activities of his spiritual master and should not try to criticize him. A devotee should be fixed in the conclusion that the spiritual master cannot be subject to criticism and should never be considered equal to a common man. Even if there appears to be some discrepancy according to an imperfect devotee´s estimation, the devotee should be fixed in the conviction that even if his spiritual master goes to a liquor shop, he is not a drunkard, rather, he must have some purpose in going there. It is said in a Bengali poem:

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"Even if I see that Lord Nityananda has entered a liquor shop, I shall not be diverted from my conclusion that Nityananda Raya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

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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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Question: I have been wondering, (1) Why chanting the name of the Lord is considered to be service. How are you serving the Lord by just chanting His name? (2) Why chanting the name of the Lord is considered to be glorification of Him. When are we glorifying him while chanting?… Expand>

Question:

I have been wondering,

(1) Why chanting the name of the Lord is considered to be service. How are you serving the Lord by just chanting His name?

(2) Why chanting the name of the Lord is considered to be glorification of Him. When are we glorifying him while chanting?

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Why is it considered to be service to Kṛṣṇa to chant His names? Because He likes to hear His names chanted and He says to chant. This is His order. So if you follow the order you are doing service. Serving someone means to act, if it’s in the case of a subordinate or an equal, it means to act for their benefit and if for a superior, it means to act for their pleasure. So Kṛṣṇa likes to hear His own name. So chanting His name is His order. That’s mentioned in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, that Vallabha Bhaṭṭa came to Caitanya Mahāprabhu and made the objection that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, so in that sense He is like the husband of everyone, but according to śāstra the wife shouldn’t say the husband’s name, so you shouldn’t chant the holy name. Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied to this rather odd objection that the most important for the wife is to follow the order of the husband. So the order of Kṛṣṇa is to chant His name, so we should chant it.

Where is the glorification? How are we glorifying Him by chanting? It might not seem to be glorification if we just say the name, nāma kīrtana. If we say Kṛṣṇa is powerful, He is beautiful, we can say that’s glorification. That’s specifically called guṇa kīrtana – to speak on the qualities of Kṛṣṇa. But nāma kīrtana is also glorification in the sense that by repeatedly saying His name in an attitude of reverence that’s certainly glorifying Him. That means that we take Kṛṣṇa very seriously and we are asking others to do so also, bringing Kṛṣṇa to others’ attention. So that is also glorifying. We‘re not chanting the name of anyone else. You can go, someone living in the next building, his name might be, for instance, I don’t know the names of anyone living there, but there might be someone there theoretically called Piyush Caudhari. So we are not chanting Piyush Caudhari, Piyush Caudhari, Piyush Caudhari… If we did, it would be remarkable because no one living in the apartment here is so remarkable that we want to chant their names, especially not repeatedly. But Kṛṣṇa is so extraordinary and rememberable, worthy of thinking about – smaraṇīya - that we want to remember Him by chanting His holy name. The very fact we are chanting is glorification, we are chanting His names. It shows His importance.

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Question:

I am going through Srila Prabhupada's books, letters etc. and trying to properly understand His Divine Grace's attitude to 'welfare' activities, especially, hospitals, schools and feeding the poor. I came across a quote below and I would like to understand it properly as I thought of it as a potential quote for misinterpretation for presenting the idea that Srila Prabhupada wanted welfare activities;

"We may approach our government leaders with our simple formula and show to them by the practical result that we are accomplishing the reform work that they are trying to do by spending millions of dollars but not very successfully. We, on the other hand, are rescuing the most fallen members of society among the young people and giving them new life of spiritual or highly desirable qualities, such as honesty, cleanliness, truthfulness, morality, like that. Now you approach the government leaders and convince them in this way, and that will be the greatest achievement. They have got so much money for spending for human welfare activities, and practically we are demonstrating that they have given us foodstuffs in India and we are distributing them daily to not less than 500 men, and if they would give us more we could also increase more and more. Your government has got inclination to assist the unfortunate people of the world, and that is very nice idea, now they should understand also that we are very much anxious and capable to assist them in their great and noble endeavour by rendering our services amongst the unfortunate citizens. If they give us financial help in this matter of human welfare activities, we are prepared to save or rescue their entire population from the clutches of ruin and degradation of all sorts. As I think you have tried once before and you have met some important political leaders in your Washington, D.C., so I am requesting you especially should take up this task very seriously of convincing your nation's leaders to give us all cooperation, and we shall in turn volunteer our all services to help them. By our mutual combination I am certain that we can improve the entire humanity to the point of spiritual understanding and thus automatically eliminate the basis for wars, poverty, disease, inequality, insufficient supplies of foodstuffs, and so many other problems that plague our so-called civilized societies."

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Rupanuga  –  Los Angeles 1 July, 1970

My question is that I am trying to understand what Srila Prabhupada is trying to say here and my understanding is that he is trying to get the American, Indian and European governments to donate food stuffs and facilities so that they (ISKCON) can engage in their preaching activities en-mass  by holding massive sankirtan and preaching programs and then distributing huge quantities of Prasadam. I thought this opinion of the above supported by the following statements:

"We, on the other hand, are rescuing the most fallen members of society among the young people and giving them new life of spiritual or highly desirable qualities, such as honesty, cleanliness, truthfulness, morality, like that"

"If they give us financial help in this matter of human welfare activities, we are prepared to save or rescue their entire population from the clutches of ruin and degradation of all sorts"

"By our mutual combination I am certain that we can improve the entire humanity to the point of spiritual understanding and thus automatically eliminate the basis for wars, poverty, disease, inequality, insufficient supplies of foodstuffs, and so many other problems that plague our so-called civilized societies." [This would only be possible if everyone became Krishna conscious, so this statement probably supports the fact that Srila Prabhupada is asking for help and facilities for preaching Krishna consciousness and not for just distributing prasadam without any preaching]

1) Is my opinion correct about what I think Srila Prabhupada is trying to say in the above letter?

2) There is a statement above; "..and practically we are demonstrating that they have given us foodstuffs in India and we are distributing them daily to not less than 500 men, and if they would give us more we could also increase more and more." … This can be taken to mean that Srila Prabhupada wanted prasadam distribution. How are we to understand it? Or is it that Srila Prabhupada just wanted Prasadam distribution in some places eg. Mayapur. Or perhaps prasadam is being distributed but in the temples only as Srila Prabhupada wanted?

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