Questions About Varnasrama – Session 1

January 1, 2011 |

English; Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

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Question: I remember from your previous recorded lectures where you mentioned you observed that devotees are increasingly basing their krishna conscious activities on hearing kirtans, taking prasadam, being part of social groups and social networking sites and other related things like festivals etc. and not much on philosophical study and/ or intellectual application on the message being presented.… Expand>

Question:

I remember from your previous recorded lectures where you mentioned you observed that devotees are increasingly basing their krishna conscious activities on hearing kirtans, taking prasadam, being part of social groups and social networking sites and other related things like festivals etc. and not much on philosophical study and/ or intellectual application on the message being presented.

May I say that the repercussions of this, I believe, are being reflected in the general degradation of the standards of service being organised and conducted in our temples?(I am not sure if this is the only valid hypothesis for the observation on degradation of services).

Also I feel that we have failed as an organisation to collectively stand against the intellectual bastions like universities, research organisations in presenting Krishna Consciousness as a logical and completely sensible philosophy/way of life.(Except for a few bright spots like BV Institute, Michael Cremo, Sadaputa Prabhu etc.)

I believe these are very/ most important as Srila Prabhupada himself set an example by encouraging to study his books closely and ask questions as well as leave no stone unturned in challenging the faulty hypotheses presented by the scientists. As I understand ,as the scientists are very organised in their activities, one of the purposes ISKCON was created (As detailed in ISKCON'S Mission statement) was to organize the devotees globally to take on this global challenge and influence the policy makers towards good governance etc.(Ex. of SP
writing to Indira Gandhi, MK Gandhi etc.)

From the perspective of lofty goals entrusted to us by His Divine Grace, my estimation is that we are not even close to challenging the might of scientific or governmental establishment.OR we have lost that vigorous spirit when His Divine Grace was personally present alongside us. I have observed that in a recent meeting at Mayapur, the GBC members have listed the above as challenges facing us as an organisation.

My question is that How do I, as a grassroots aspirant member of this organisation reconcile with this issue and contribute positively to the organisation? 

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Question: If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to the process of pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds, how can I remove these weeds I suffer from like adoration, prestige, sense enjoyment, emancipation and so many others?… Expand>

Question:

If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to the process of pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds, how can I remove these weeds I suffer from like adoration, prestige, sense enjoyment, emancipation and so many others?

ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

“A question in reference to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.2.30.
In purport toward the end, Prabhupāda says… This is quoting from, Śrīla Prabhupāda is quoting from and paraphrasing from, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī as stated in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta about the creeper of devotional service.
By the mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa one receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service. One has to water that creeper by giving water, figurative water, of hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, then the creeper grows. Then Śrīla Prabhupāda writes:
3) “It so happens that by the watering process some weeds are also grown, and unless such weeds are uprooted, the nurturing of the main creeper, or the creeper of bhakti-yoga, may be hampered.
4) Actually these weeds are material enjoyment, merging of the self in the Absolute without separate individuality, and many other desires in the field of religion, economic development, sense enjoyment and emancipation.
5) There are many other weeds, like disobedience to the tenets of the revered scriptures, unnecessary engagements, killing animals, and hankering after material gain, prestige and adoration.”
So that is, more or less, a direct translation of a passage from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. 

PERENNIAL KIND OF QUESTION 
Then the question from Kalki dāsa:
“If we are chanting the holy name of the Lord and reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam daily, then why are desires arising that are completely contrary to pure devotional service? I know for a fact that I am suffering from weeds. How can I remove these weeds?”
Why do the desires arise? Well, arise is just the right term because they are there, deep in the heart. They arise. It may be just like in a lake. At the bottom of the lake there is mud, and sometimes some bubble just comes up. There is some air trapped deep in the lake, or it may not even be a bubble. The air may form at the bottom of the lake and come up.
So the reason is we’ve been in this material world since time immemorial and we have so many material desires; and hearing and chanting is the cleansing process. It doesn’t mean that everyone immediately becomes clean. If we are chanting the holy name, the question is how do the desires arise. But how are we chanting? Are we chanting with full purity? So it’s a process. Therefore we have the process of sādhana-bhakti.
Actually, this kind of question I’ve answered dozens of times. Maybe hundreds of times in varieties of ways. It’s a perennial kind of question. So it’s a process.
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt
tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt
saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ
ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati (Upadeśāmṛta 3)
By enthusiasm, determination, patience, following the proper process, giving up bad association, and following in the footsteps of great devotees, success in devotional service is guaranteed. 

PATIENCE IS REQUIRED 
So in purport to this verse from Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, Śrīla Prabhupāda states that patience is required also. We shouldn’t think that immediately we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and then we become totally cleansed of all material contamination. 
He gives the example that after a girl gets married, she expects to get a child, but she has to wait a little time. Once she is married, it is expected that she will have a child. Of course, nowadays they don’t bother getting married. They just get a child without marriage in many cases also. That’s the normal process – marriage and then the child will come, because only after the marriage do the boy and girl unite in a manner that can produce children.
So some patience is required also. And that patience is part of the process of devotional service. If we become impatient and think that “Well, oh, too much! I want immediate Kṛṣṇa prema!” Then we become disqualified from getting it. We may say: “Why do material desires arise?” Those desires are there in the heart. They come out. See them, drop them. Don’t meditate on it. Then we can become free from it.
How can I remove these weeds?
Again, it’s by the process of sādhana. We go on with the process, with faith. rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso – with faith that Kṛṣṇa will protect me. If I stay on this path, Kṛṣṇa will help. 

CONCLUSION
So what’s the answer? How do I get free from these weeds?
Go on with the process of sādhana and be careful. 
ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ
prātikūlyasya varjanam
Accept everything which is favorable for devotional service and reject everything that is unfavorable. We can’t expect to advance unless we do this. That means we have to have plenty of hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa in our life.
And things which are unfavorable like, so many times I say this, but it’s a common anartha, watching all kinds of nonsense things on TV, not turning off our cell phone when we come to the temple, even though we are asked to so many times; so many things. This will impede our devotional advancement. If we follow the process, then Kṛṣṇa will help. To the extent we follow, Kṛṣṇa will reciprocate.

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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… Expand>

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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