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ScottMalaysia
02 December 2007, 10:26 PM
A few years ago, I was involved with the local ISKCON group in Dunedin, New Zealand, attending weekly Sunday meetings at the university Clubs and Societies centre. I learnt quite a lot about it, and I visited an ISKCON temple in Christchurch. Not long after, I left ISKCON and investigated Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. Since then I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church and back to Islam. However, my girlfriend's father, who is a Hindu, would never let his daughter marry a Muslim. He agreed to give me a chance if I became a Hindu. I agreed. I've been visting temples here in Malaysia, and they are lovely. They are quite different from the ISKCON temples, My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are. I have a few questions.

1. The murtis (deities) in the temples here are usually made out of black stone or brass, and the facial features are very hard to see. There is usually one deity per shrine. The murtis in the ISKCON temples are made of marble, and you can easily see their facial features. There are usually two or three deities on the shrine (Caitanya-Nityananda, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Seeta-Lakshmana, Jaganatha, Subhadara and the other one). Is this an ISKCON innovation, or are there mainstream Vaishnava temples like this in West Bengal? The temples here are all South Indian ones.

2. The ISKCON puja or arati is quite different to the puja in the Malaysian temples (which are usually dedicated to Sri Maha Mariamman or Lord Shiva). The ISKCON puja involves incense sticks, a five-wick ghee lamp, water in a conch that is sprinkled, a handkerchief, flowers on a plate, and a camara whisk. The puja here involves cone-like incense burnt in a round bowl with a handle, a one-wick oil lamp, a conical camphor lamp, flower petals, a pot of water with a spoon used to feed the deity. Is the ISKCON puja practiced by any mainstream Hindu temples?

3. ISKCON follows the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Are there any mainstream Hindus who follow his teachings and worship him as an incarnation of Vishnu?

4. Is it all right to sing bhajans composed by Caitanya's disciples, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan? I love the bhajan Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite. What about if they have verses expressing worship of Caitanya?

5. The ISKCON devotees talk about Krishnaloka, the celestial abode of Lord Krishna. Is this the same as Vaikuntha, or is Krishnaloka the highest level of Vaikuntha?

6. I know that the Maha-Mantra comes from the Kali Santarana Upanishad, and I chant it quite often. However, does it actually have the effect that ISKCON says it does, that chanting it cleanses you from karma?

ScottMalaysia
02 December 2007, 11:17 PM
Oh, and also, is Prabhupada's translation of the Bhagavad-Gita reliable? It seems easier to read than the one I have now.

sm78
03 December 2007, 02:28 AM
A few years ago, I was involved with the local ISKCON group in Dunedin, New Zealand, attending weekly Sunday meetings at the university Clubs and Societies centre. I learnt quite a lot about it, and I visited an ISKCON temple in Christchurch. Not long after, I left ISKCON and investigated Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. Since then I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church and back to Islam. However, my girlfriend's father, who is a Hindu, would never let his daughter marry a Muslim. He agreed to give me a chance if I became a Hindu. I agreed. I've been visting temples here in Malaysia, and they are lovely. They are quite different from the ISKCON temples, My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are. I have a few questions.

Make sure your local mullah doesn't hear about your plans to covert from Islam...ow it may be the hindu girl who may need converting.

Staying in an Islamic country, what u propose should be against the LAW??
Don't about malaysia (think they have diff laws for diff ethnic grps)...in Saudi, surely your head wud be in the basket if police came to know.

Best Wishes!

sm78
03 December 2007, 02:39 AM
1. The murtis (deities) in the temples here are usually made out of black stone or brass, and the facial features are very hard to see. There is usually one deity per shrine. The murtis in the ISKCON temples are made of marble, and you can easily see their facial features. There are usually two or three deities on the shrine (Caitanya-Nityananda, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Seeta-Lakshmana, Jaganatha, Subhadara and the other one). Is this an ISKCON innovation, or are there mainstream Vaishnava temples like this in West Bengal? The temples here are all South Indian ones.

2. The ISKCON puja or arati is quite different to the puja in the Malaysian temples (which are usually dedicated to Sri Maha Mariamman or Lord Shiva). The ISKCON puja involves incense sticks, a five-wick ghee lamp, water in a conch that is sprinkled, a handkerchief, flowers on a plate, and a camara whisk. The puja here involves cone-like incense burnt in a round bowl with a handle, a one-wick oil lamp, a conical camphor lamp, flower petals, a pot of water with a spoon used to feed the deity. Is the ISKCON puja practiced by any mainstream Hindu temples?

3. ISKCON follows the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Are there any mainstream Hindus who follow his teachings and worship him as an incarnation of Vishnu?

4. Is it all right to sing bhajans composed by Caitanya's disciples, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan? I love the bhajan Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite. What about if they have verses expressing worship of Caitanya?

5. The ISKCON devotees talk about Krishnaloka, the celestial abode of Lord Krishna. Is this the same as Vaikuntha, or is Krishnaloka the highest level of Vaikuntha?

6. I know that the Maha-Mantra comes from the Kali Santarana Upanishad, and I chant it quite often. However, does it actually have the effect that ISKCON says it does, that chanting it cleanses you from karma?


All these questions boils down to differences in philosophy and practice / rituals of 2 entirely different Hindu sects. There is nothing like Mainstream Hinduism Vs Non Mainstream Hinduism. I suspect hinduism as practiced in Malaysia comes from the south indian saiva community. A good place to explore this variety of savism is :- www.himalayanacademy.com

ISKCON is an offshoot of Gaudiya Vaishnavism (founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ~ who is indeed worshiped by many non-ISKCON vaishnavas as incarnation of Krishna is Kali Yuga).

Some people may question validity of ISKCON as a Hindu organization (I do so because they themselves want to be classified outside Hinduism, reason is mainly political), there cud be no such doubt about Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

To understand the difference in iconography and practices one has to dive deep into the philosophy, culture and practices of these 2 different sects. But the key is they are both "mainstream" hinduism, at least in terms of religion (not politics).

ScottMalaysia
03 December 2007, 10:56 AM
All these questions boils down to differences in philosophy and practice / rituals of 2 entirely different Hindu sects.

So non-ISKCON Vaishnavas would have many of the ISKCON practices?

My girlfriend's great uncle died last night. At his funeral today, I met a friend of her mother, who is a devotee of Lord Krishna. She gave me the address of a Krishna temple in Petaling Jaya, and she said that she would take me there when the funeral rites are over (apparently they go for 3 days).


There is nothing like Mainstream Hinduism Vs Non Mainstream Hinduism. I suspect hinduism as practiced in Malaysia comes from the south indian saiva community.

Much of it does. Many of the temples are Shiva temples or Mariamman temples.


Some people may question validity of ISKCON as a Hindu organization (I do so because they themselves want to be classified outside Hinduism, reason is mainly political), there cud be no such doubt about Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

The lady that I studied with in ISKCON said that 'Hindu' was a term created by the Persians for the people who lived east of the Indus River. It does not occur in the Vedas. That is why ISKCON rejects the label 'Hindu', or so I'm told.

Haridas
03 December 2007, 03:01 PM
Namaste.

So non-ISKCON Vaishnavas would have many of the ISKCON practices?

Yes. ISKCON is a matha (Hindu religious organization) of Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism. So, the Vaishnavism practiced by ISKCON is similar to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. However, ISKCON is more strict. Note that ISKCON devotees are commanded to do japa of the Hare Krishna mantra a certain number of times. Caitanya Mahaprabhu (the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism), however, recommended the number of times one is to chant japa and he never set a specific commandment.



The lady that I studied with in ISKCON said that 'Hindu' was a term created by the Persians for the people who lived east of the Indus River. It does not occur in the Vedas. That is why ISKCON rejects the label 'Hindu', or so I'm told.What she said is true.

"Hindu" was how the Persians mispronounced "Sindhu". "Sindhu" is a term that refers to the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Indians themselves referred to their land as "Bharata" and called their religion "Sanatana Dharma" (meaning "[The] Eternal Law"). Sanatana Dharma included Buddhism and Jainism, but these two religions were later deemed "heterodox" and were rejected from the religion today known as "Hinduism". The word "Hinduism" is made from the word "Hindu" meaning "One of the Indus Valley" and the English suffix "-ism" meaning "to belong to".

Please note that I myself follow the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya (Vishishtadvaita).

sarabhanga
03 December 2007, 05:13 PM
"Hindu" was how the Persians mispronounced "Sindhu".
The word "Hinduism" is made from the word "Hindu" meaning "One of the Indus Valley".

Namaste Haridas,

The English word Hinduism is based on the Persian word Hindu, but the Persian word is taken directly from Sanskrit ~ just as “Arabic” numerals and the decimal system actually arose in India and were passed second-hand to Europeans (who had no idea of the original source).

Consider: sindhu is “the heavenly waters”, indra is “the divine dropper”, and an indu is “a sacred drop”. (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=14767&postcount=3)

yajvan
03 December 2007, 07:22 PM
Hari Om
~~~~~

Namaste Haridas,

The English word Hinduism is based on the Persian word Hindu, but the Persian word is taken directly from Sanskrit ~ just as “Arabic” numerals and the decimal system actually arose in India and were passed second-hand to Europeans (who had no idea of the original source).

Consider: sindhu is “the heavenly waters”, indra is “the divine dropper”, and an indu is “a sacred drop”. (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=14767&postcount=3)


Namaste sarabhanga/haridas (et.al)

It seems to me you also outlined hindu हिन्दु ( a Hindu more properly Hindo) in a past post if my memory serves me correctly? This was more of a conversation of being born in India then of belief...


just a thought.


pranams,

sarabhanga
04 December 2007, 02:35 AM
Namaste Yajvan,

The word Hindu first appeared in English as Hindoo, but that is merely a matter of archaic transliteration. Is avadhUta (for example) “more properly” spelled avadhoota or avadhuta?

The normal pronunciation would be hiNDU or hindU, and the closest Sanskrit terms are hiNDuka (shiva, the lord of the hiNDU and of the sindhu) and hiNDI (durgA) and indu (the moon, a drop of soma, a spark of agni, a wandering jIva) and indus (vAstoSpati, the lord of the sacred hearth, indra or rudra shiva).

Note that the underlined line above (sindhu is “the heavenly waters”, indra is “the divine dropper”, and an indu is “a sacred drop”) is actually a link to further discussion ~ the same as http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=14767&postcount=3

Kaos
04 December 2007, 03:37 PM
My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are.




Namaste,

Are ISKCON's extremists??? Um, compared to certain sects, of which, I will not mention, I would say, no, not at all...

ScottMalaysia
05 December 2007, 12:21 PM
Namaste,

Are ISKCON's extremists??? Um, compared to certain sects, of which, I will not mention, I would say, no, not at all...

They seem so to me. For a start, they require a strict vegetarian diet, which also forbids eggs, onions and garlic. My girlfriend's family are Hindus, and they aren't vegetarian most of the time(they are now, because their uncle died and they have to be vegetarian for 16 days). I've heard of many Hindus being vegetarian, but what's with the onions and garlic?

Secondly, ISKCON requires their devotees to chant 16 rounds of japa meditation of the Hare Krishna mantra each day. While Lord Caitanya encouraged chanting, he never specified the exact amount that must be done each day. This is a bit extreme for working people. ISKCON also discourages its followers from accumulating wealth.

Thirdly, and this is the most extreme thing I have come across, ISKCON prohibits sexual relations between a husband and wife except for procreation on one night a month, after chanting the mantra for a few hours. Sex for pleasure or growing closer to your spouse is forbidden.

yajvan
05 December 2007, 05:42 PM
Hari Om
~~~~~


They seem so to me. For a start, they require a strict vegetarian diet, which also forbids eggs, onions and garlic. My girlfriend's family are Hindus, and they aren't vegetarian most of the time(they are now, because their uncle died and they have to be vegetarian for 16 days). I've heard of many Hindus being vegetarian, but what's with the onions and garlic?

Secondly, ISKCON requires their devotees to chant 16 rounds of japa meditation of the Hare Krishna mantra each day. While Lord Caitanya encouraged chanting, he never specified the exact amount that must be done each day. This is a bit extreme for working people. ISKCON also discourages its followers from accumulating wealth.

Thirdly, and this is the most extreme thing I have come across, ISKCON prohibits sexual relations between a husband and wife except for procreation on one night a month, after chanting the mantra for a few hours. Sex for pleasure or growing closer to your spouse is forbidden.

Namaste SM (ScottMalaysia)
IMHO opinion a few points offered does not sound extreme to me, again my eyes and my experiences.

Veggie diet - onions and garlic in many circles are considered rajasic and some say tamasic in nature. Too over stimulating or dulling depending how you look at it. Yet the the onion and garlic thing is not veggie related but has to do with a certain school, belief or philosophy one may be following. Some do not eat mushrooms and turnips also. So whats the deal? It boils down to the following:
Sattvic foods are thought to contribute to making a person serene, enlightened, healthy, and long-lived.. Sattvic foods include rice, wheat, ghee, most legumes, some other vegetables, milk and milk products (except cheeses made from rennet). Rennet comes from the stomach of animals.
Rajasic foods are believed to contribute to a person becoming aggressive, greedy, passionate and desiring of power. Warriors were encouraged to eat these foods. Rajasic foods are some meats, eggs, and foods that are very bitter, sour, salty, rich and/or spicy.
Tamasic foods when used for pleasure and in excess can contribute to lust, malice, confusion, slothfulness, and dullness. These foods are garlic, pickled, preserved, stale, or rotten foods and alcohol or drugs.

Eggs is the beginning of life, so one avoids eggs as a veggie.

Chanting 16 rounds - I cannot say if it is or is not excessive - I would ask what is the final result? How does the ISKCON sadhu act afterwords? Uplifting, closer to his Lord, etc? if this is the case 16 rounds may be the magic number for this to occur. The sadhu should graviate to this naturally as a joy to do ... if it is drudgery as if one has to do this a chore, then it needs to be reconsidered.

Regarding "discourages its followers from accumulating wealth" - I can see the logic here. Yet for me I do not see this making the person extreme of a zealot... I think of the sannyasin as an example - is it for every one? nope. Is this what the ISKCON group is trying to produce? I am not sure.

Sex for pleasure vs. procreation. My thought on this is , its the choice of the people involved.

So what is 'extreme' or over-zealous (for me)? I think of those sects that induce pain ( physical or mental) on themselves - this can be in our outside Sanatana Dharma. The logic of 'I am not this body' makes sense, yet self-abuse to me is not conducive to spiritual unfoldment why? Your attention is on the pain, or pain avoidance, or time taping and bandaging oneself :banghead: after the self-conflagration occurs!. Actions that are extreme, and over-doing it from that standpoint ( hot coal walking, barbs into the skin, etc etc).

So where does one turn to say what is balanced or not? I would look to the Bhagavad Gita, Chapt 6.17-18, Krsna says the following:
Yoga indeed is not for him who eats too much nor for him who does not eat at all, O Arjuna; it is not for him who is too much given to sleep not yet for him who keeps awake.

For him who is moderate in food and recreation, moderate of effort of actions, moderate in sleep and waking, for him is the Yoga which destroys sorrow.


...just some thoughts.




pranams,

Haridas
05 December 2007, 07:10 PM
They seem so to me. For a start, they require a strict vegetarian diet, which also forbids eggs, onions and garlic. My girlfriend's family are Hindus, and they aren't vegetarian most of the time(they are now, because their uncle died and they have to be vegetarian for 16 days). I've heard of many Hindus being vegetarian, but what's with the onions and garlic?

Secondly, ISKCON requires their devotees to chant 16 rounds of japa meditation of the Hare Krishna mantra each day. While Lord Caitanya encouraged chanting, he never specified the exact amount that must be done each day. This is a bit extreme for working people. ISKCON also discourages its followers from accumulating wealth.

Thirdly, and this is the most extreme thing I have come across, ISKCON prohibits sexual relations between a husband and wife except for procreation on one night a month, after chanting the mantra for a few hours. Sex for pleasure or growing closer to your spouse is forbidden.


Some sects in Hinduism practice extreme casteism and there are stories of funeral rights being performed for 2 Brahmana girls who married 2 Harijans.

Kaos
07 December 2007, 02:01 PM
ISKCON requires their devotees to chant 16 rounds of japa meditation of the Hare Krishna mantra each day. While Lord Caitanya encouraged chanting, he never specified the exact amount that must be done each day. This is a bit extreme for working people. ISKCON also discourages its followers from accumulating wealth.




Namaste,

I think, this can be approached from one's angle of vision.

How much time do you spend working? How much time do you spend accumulating wealth? How much time do you spend sleeping? Or even, how much time do you spend watching t.v., or reading the news?
How much time do you spend socializing or surfing the Internet?

Perhaps, to the ISKON devotee, the above examples are relatively "extreme" as opposed to the amount of time spent performing japa.

There are more "extreme" activities that people engage into. I don't think performing 16 rounds of chanting is extreme enough.

ardhanari
08 December 2007, 03:41 AM
Hare Krishna!

Kaos, 16 rounds of Hare Krishna mantra japa is not extreme enough? I did hear of a story with Srila Prabhupada who originally wished for his followers to do 64 rounds... until his disciples kept complaining and 16 was the final result, lol. I do literally believe though that even mentioning the name of Krishna once with faith will alleviate one's sins, and japa is a mere discipline to clear one's consciousness. I think that even one round is sufficient each day, although I personally do 16 rounds minimum, 20 rounds maximum. I find that sankirtan is much more important, and the Names are clearly sung.

I do give them a break though, because originally Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu began his sect as a sannyasi one; only in this age where one needs to take into account householders, grhasthas who need the money to maintain families.


Studying the Pushtimargiya Sampradaya, I find that Pushtimarg a little more extreme in their religion socially. Traditionally, pushtimargis and those initiated into their sampradaya must do seva to Sri Thakur ji eight times a day with specific acts (purifying the salt, for example). They also believe that only those within the sampradaya are assured of salvation, and mixing with even other non-Pushtimargiya Vaishnavites is spiritually polluting.

I find it odd that I am attracted to Pushtimarg, the Path of Grace, despite its seemingly public exclusivism. If only Gaudiya Vaishnavites and Pushtimargis weren't so exclusive to each other, and I could combine the two and lessen the whole non-association with other Vaishnavites (Pushtimargis), mayavadis and impersonalists (these two ISKCON says one should avoid), I would think that such would be a perfect religion, lol.


What I do find extreme in ISKCON is the great literalism they have with the Pastimes of Lord Krishna, wearing a sari or dhoti and kurta are the most appropriate ways for the layperson to 'feel' more like a Vaishnavite, the inauspiciousness of the left hand, pointing finger and pinky, and its continuing push to bring others to their perception of philosophy. Even the other Gaudiya Vaishnavite groups, mathas, organisations, etc. seem less scary and more open to individuals than ISKCON. I really don't believe that eating meat will make one go to a hellish condition like the ISKCONites believe. I also have a hard time with its strict segregation of the sexes, but it is not too bad anymore... I am still trying to get used to boys' and men's machismo attitudes and their 'buddy-buddy' behaviours, lol.

But I think, despite organisational problems and the political problems with ISKCON and other Gaudiya Vaishnavite organisations, it does well in presenting a standard form of Gaudiya Vaishnavism for the West. But having studied Gaudiya Vaishnavism from ISKCON's side, it is not too extreme as other people argue. They are just continuing their sampradaya and orthodoxy.

But even with these beliefs, I do my 16 round japa, I wear tilak time to time, I do sankirtan on Sundays, and try to do puja at least once a day. It is just too beautiful a tradition to just associate the whole of it to ISKCON only.

~ Ardhanari

Kaos
08 December 2007, 01:04 PM
Secondly, ISKCON requires their devotees to chant 16 rounds of japa meditation of the Hare Krishna mantra each day. While Lord Caitanya encouraged chanting, he never specified the exact amount that must be done each day. This is a bit extreme for working people. ISKCON also discourages its followers from accumulating wealth.




Namaste,

Yes, you're views are quite understandable. But please remember that for the devotee, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is part of bhakti."Bhakti" is devotional service, is transcendental dharma, it is not material dharma." , therefore, it has less to do with the accumulation of wealth.

Perhaps, if someone who is "mainstream" wants to seriously try to attempt to accumulate wealth, maybe he/she would be better off spending time getting into the stock market, rather than spend time on spiritual stuff.


Also, for the devotee, bhakti, or devotional service is natural. Just like the love of a father to his son. The love is already there. It is natural, it cannot be extinguished, even if father and son are separated after so many years. Devotees, are by nature lovers of Krishna. Therefore, what is extreme about something as natural as bhakti, or devotional service?

bhargavsai
28 January 2008, 08:15 AM
When you sleep then there is no world. You feel nothing. In deep sleep there is no ego, no thoughts, nothing is present. Although there may be Krishna Loka, or Vaikunta, these are not the Highest state or world. When there is complete dissolution of thought, then there comes realization of the true nature, The realization that we are formless Atman, that which is Bliss and Existence itself.

Why are you wandering from one religion to other like that? Do you like their doctrines and Dogmas? Doctrines and Dogmas give nothing, they never lead to Spirituality. If there is a God, then he is beyond Doctrines and Dogmas.

I am an Hindu, Idols are just a focus point of concentration. You concentrate on the Idols with faith, believing them to be God...

ardhanari
03 February 2008, 02:46 AM
carlosox,
Haribol!

I am not an ISKCON devotee, but I consider myself part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava fold through Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, which is part of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya of Vaishnavism.

ISKCON is probably a little more fundamentalist and preachy then other Gaudiya Vaishnavites, but they are not 'all out and out fanatics' like you claim. Mind you, their translation of the Bhagavad Gita is called "As It Is" because almost all Gaudiya Vaishnavites see the Gita and do not try to find too esoteric of meanings in the text, but read it via plain reading.

I disliked Paramahamsa Yogananda's translations because he pretty much tried to push the entire Gita into the scope of Kriya yoga, something I strongly disagree about. But then again, all translations of the Gita are coloured.

If you are interested in a nice translation with a few commentaries here and there on the edge of bhakti yoga, I recommend Srila Sridhar Maharaj's "Srimad Bhagavad-Gita: The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute" (http://vaisnava.com/bookstore/sbrsm_hiddentreasure.html) You should check out the centres in Malaysia! http://scsmath.com/centers.html#asia

Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a beautiful path to God, and probably the least strict of the main sampradayas of Vaishnavism anyways.

Bhargavsai, I am also a Hindu because I believe in Vaishnavism, but we do not believe in Advaita Vedanta. We do believe that we are qualitatively the same as God, but we are not God Himself. We are eternal servitors of Krishna, and by purification of our consciousness and transforming our material consciousness into God consciousness, we realise ourselves to be servants of Lord Krishna in Krishnaloka. :)

Krishna is beyond dogmas, doctrines and religions. Krishna is all, in all, and loves all. Don't forget what He says in Bhagavad Gita 18:65-66,

"Think of Me always, devote yourself to Me, worship Me and bow to Me, and surely you will come to Me. I promise you this, because you are dear to Me.

Give up all kinds of religion and surrender to Me alone. I will liberate you from all sins; do not despair."


There are five planes of experiences for the consciousness in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, as taught by Srila Sridhar Maharaj:

1) Pratyaksha - We experience our consciousness via our senses. This is a limited form of consciousness because it is highly dependent on the material world to understand.

2) Paroksha - This is the plane of experience when it comes from others. Now there is the beginning of dependency on a higher or external understanding other than our own senses.

3) Aparoksha - This is the plane of experience when the consciousness becomes blinded by the material world and searches deep within the self.

4) Adhokshaja - This is the plane of experience where the devotee lives in Vaikuntha, the abode of Krishna's luminescence, although ey does not know it at all. Ey is in supreme bliss and happiness, and has mentally created the material world into its pure shakti of Lord Krishna. There is no suffering, birth or death.

5) Apraakrta - This is the supreme abode of Krishna, Goloka, where the key to entrance is shuddha-krishna-prema, or pure love of God. Through jnana-shunya-bhakti, or devotional service devoid of calculation, this plane is for pure devotees who, with a sanctified heart, say "I am but Thine. I am only for Thee. I only serve Thee, and I love Thee completely from the very depths of my soul." This is Vrindavana, where Vraja-lila is performed.

As Gaudiya Vaishnavas, our true Home is with God, with Krishna in Vrindavana. We seek to remember ourselves and our original dispositions as servants and maidservants, chanting, dancing, laughing, and crying to His blissful Supremacy of Love and Joy. This is where we belong; this is our home, our home, sweet home.

:)

Forgive me for preaching, but Krishna is just wonderful to me. He makes me happy. :D

Hare Krishna,
ardhanari.

ardhanari
03 February 2008, 04:09 AM
Carolsox,
Hare Krishna, prabhu!

It is very unfortunate that you have had such negative an experience with ISKCON over there. Over here, the ISKCONites of Vancouver, although firm in their doctrine, are contrarily nice people. And of course, listening to the lecturers, I do warn you that some do have that certain shock factor... 'save people' 'hell' and other words that would most probably scare people, lol.

But I hope that you do not brand ISKCON totally... I strongly suggest your son associate with the other Gaudiya organisations and see if he may like them better. I have no idea how old your son is though. Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math (presently headed by His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj but based on the Gaudiya teachings of Srila Sridhar Maharaj) emphasises, instead of the four regulative principles, on developing Humility, Tolerance, and Giving Service/Respect/Honour for others (the last one seems to differ variously).

Here are some listings for Sri Chaitanya Math in Australia: http://scsmath.com/centers.html#southpacific

Here is Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Society headed by Guru Srila Narayana Maharaj (although some followers sometimes overdo their love for their gurudeva):
http://www.purebhakti.com/centers/index.shtml#AUSTRALIA

That's all I could find in regards to Australia. Some of these gatherings are in homes with only a few people because ISKCON is more well-known. But hey, give it a try! There are fundamentalist Christians who push doctrine down people's throats, and there are Christians who practice tolerance and love. Not all Christians are the same, although most believe in the supremacy of Jesus Christ as God Incarnate.

Same with Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Regardless of organisation, you will find Gaudiya devotees who are wonderful, peacekeeping people, and others who are quite firm and sometimes unknowingly impulsive. Yet they are all united in their regard for Krishna as Supreme God, and all others are incarnations (Vishnu, Rama, Maha-Vishnu, Buddha, Matsya, Nrsimhadeva, etc.) or demi-gods/servants (Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Ganesha, Shiva, Brahma, etc.) of God.

Jaya Radhe,
ardhanari.

devotee
03 February 2008, 04:36 AM
Namaste carlosox,


It seems that there was a person in Melbourne who was a great Rama devotee. The ISKON group there led by this monk went and convinced this person, after several days of preaching, that it is only Krishna that should be worshipped and not Rama. If that is not narrow mindedness, I don't know what is.

That is not Hinduism. I pity those who get misguided by misguided "teachers". Where would the leader, who is blind himself, lead his group to ?

I can only suggest you to read the scriptures yourself in original form, if possible. Even if Bhagwad Gita is understood well, there won't be any need for any further guidance.

Regards.

sarabhanga
03 February 2008, 05:37 AM
There are fundamentalist Christians who push doctrine down people's throats, and there are Christians who practice tolerance and love.

Same with Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Yet they are all united in their regard for Krishna as Supreme God, and all others are incarnations (Vishnu, Rama, Maha-Vishnu, Buddha, Matsya, Nrsimhadeva, etc.) or demi-gods/servants (Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Ganesha, Shiva, Brahma, etc.) of God.

Namaste Ardhanari,

Please reconsider your use of the term demi-god (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=14966&postcount=22).

ardhanari
05 February 2008, 03:44 AM
Hi Ardhanari, Nice chatting with you. You live in Vancover eh? That is a good place to stay. What is the coldest winter temperature you have experienced there? Does Vancover get sufficient rainfall? Reason I'm asking these questions is that I'm seriously considering moving to Canada. The main reason for this is the lower half of Australia is drying up. Many homes are forced to abandon their gardens because they cannot water them anymore. The time when we will drink recycled toilet water is almost upon us. I'm not waiting for that to happen though- I'll be in Canada by then. The ISKCON people frighten me a lot. They pray with such violence that I wonder if it is prayers they are carrying out or just an excuse to get rowdy. There is this new guy who just came from South Africa, who jumps around like an enraged gorilla, threatening to knock down book shelves etc. When I asked my son why these people behave in such a wild manner, he replied that Chaitanya did the same and therefore they must do likewise. I'm sure that cannot be true. They can never convince me that all this wild behavior is pleasing to God. It is lack of manners, really. Mainstream Hinduism never allows this. OM

Haribol, prabhuji!

I technically live in Surrey, which is a larger city near Vancouver (although the area in general and the surrounding cities are called Greater Vancouver), but it is an interesting place to live, lol.

Vancouver gets a lot of rain. Even in December, we get a lot of rain. Actually, I believe that Canada has the most water resources in the world, and it is a great pity that we use so much more water and electricity than the Americans, lol.

The ISKCONites here are actually quite nice, although some a little rough on the edges at a first glance. If you come here, I would be glad to be of any assistance whatsoever for you and your son. :) To act like gorillas and knock down bookshelves is not Vaishnava behaviour, and although Lord Chaitanya was certainly in ecstasy for His love of Krishna, He always checked Himself before other people who may not understand His deep attraction to Krishna and chanting His Holy Names.

It is one thing to desire for Chaitanya's mercy and blessings, but we must never imitate. Srila Prabhupada and the gurus of our lineage taught this. Especially when Lord Chaitanya is considered Radha-Krishna incarnated, imitation is most offensive, because our level of love of God is not to such a level.

Anyways, try not to get ISKCON ruin your experience with Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Vaishnavism is a religion/denomination of peace and love of God. Ever since I discovered that there were other organisations that preached Gaudiya philosophy but had a different flavour, a mellower one, I was instantly elated.

Oh, and sarabhanga, forgive me for the usage of 'demigod.' It is an ISKCON word, and in the translation of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's Gita, 'deva' is translated sometimes as 'god' and sometimes as 'demigod' (the understanding does not change, although the word may change). 'Demigod' is just easier to use to explain the subservience of the other gods to Vishnu/Krishna in a Vaishnava context.

devotee, I assure you, Gaudiya Vaishnavas read the Gita as it is, without allegorical or strongly metaphorical leanings. For example, we do not see the gods as differing facets of the Supreme Person (which is quite adwaitic), but as angels who minister and are servants of God. They are certainly worshippable (especially when one knows that Krishna eventually receives them all), but all prayers and sacrifices ultimately come to Krishna.

Although I do not agree on gang-on preaching. I find that a little offensive, since I believe that teaching something should come personally, not in a group against one person.


Bhagavad Gita 9:23-24

Srila Prabhupada: "Whatever a man may sacrifice to other gods, O son of Kunti, is really meant for Me alone, but it is offered without true understanding. For I am the only enjoyer and the only object of sacrifice. They fall down who do not recognize my true transcendental nature."

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: "O Kaunteya, the devotees of the demigods who have faith in worshipping them, are actually worshipping Me, but incorrectly. I alone am the enjoyer and rewarder of all sacrifices, but being ignorant of My position, the demigod worshippers fall to take birth again."

Tripurari Swami: "Even those who worship other gods with faith also worship only me, O son of Kunti, although they do so improperly. For I am the enjoyer and master of all sacrifices, but not knowing me in truth, they fall down."

Hare Krishna!
ardhanari.

Yogkriya
12 February 2008, 10:09 AM
Carolsox,
demi-gods/servants (Indra, Agni, Varuna, Mitra, Ganesha, Shiva, Brahma, etc.) of God.
ardhanari.

Hare Krsna Ardhanari!

Yes Lord Shiva in the category of "Demi-Gods / "Servants" is not correct. Even though it may be a Vaishnava philosophy. Shiva as a mere "Demi-Semi-God" is not acceptable. Krishna worshipped Shiva after seeking Maha Pashupat Diksha and becoming a staunch Shaiva standing on one leg for months without food or water! Lord Rama also accepted Virja Diksha from the great agastya Rishi and worshipped Lord Shiva on many instances. So did Sita mata. So did Kunti, Gandharai, Arjuna, Vashishtha, the Gopis, Nand Maharaj... the list is endless. So when Srila Prabhupada talks lightly of Lord Shiva dev-adidev Mahadev as a mere "Demi"-God, it is offensive and non acceptable.
Regards,
Namah Shivaya!
YogKriya.

ardhanari
19 February 2008, 07:00 PM
Hare Krsna Ardhanari!

Yes Lord Shiva in the category of "Demi-Gods / "Servants" is not correct. Even though it may be a Vaishnava philosophy. Shiva as a mere "Demi-Semi-God" is not acceptable. Krishna worshipped Shiva after seeking Maha Pashupat Diksha and becoming a staunch Shaiva standing on one leg for months without food or water! Lord Rama also accepted Virja Diksha from the great agastya Rishi and worshipped Lord Shiva on many instances. So did Sita mata. So did Kunti, Gandharai, Arjuna, Vashishtha, the Gopis, Nand Maharaj... the list is endless. So when Srila Prabhupada talks lightly of Lord Shiva dev-adidev Mahadev as a mere "Demi"-God, it is offensive and non acceptable.
Regards,
Namah Shivaya!
YogKriya.

Radhe Shyam, YogaKriya!

Yes, in our theology Lord Shiva is the greatest servant and devotee to Lord Vishnu/Krishna, especially since in our Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana) that Krishna/Vishnu is the Supreme Lord of all creation. In our matha (Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math), at our temples you will see that they always do a puja for Shiva before rendering seva to Lord Krishna. This is because we see Lord Shiva also as the gatekeeper of Vaikunthaloka. We have the greatest respect for Lord Shiva, I assure you.

atanu
19 February 2008, 07:33 PM
Radhe Shyam, YogaKriya!

----especially since in our Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana) that Krishna/Vishnu is the Supreme Lord of all creation. ----

Namaste Ardhanari,

our scripture? Oh, I see. Did your preceptor create original scripture or just wrote misleading purports?

Since there cannot be any creation but in Maya (i.e. creation is only possible by primeval indivisible ONE ATMAN cutting itself to pieces and call the biggest piece as the Lord), the Supreme Lord that you imagine is surely so.

The whole of ISKCON philosophy is divisive, and being built on lies and wrong purports, it will flourish (like Asuras do) and vanish.

Om

Yogkriya
20 February 2008, 02:26 AM
Radhe Shyam, YogaKriya!
Yes, in our theology Lord Shiva is the greatest servant and devotee to Lord Vishnu/Krishna, especially since in our Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana) that Krishna/Vishnu is the Supreme Lord of all creation. In our matha (Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math), at our temples you will see that they always do a puja for Shiva before rendering seva to Lord Krishna. This is because we see Lord Shiva also as the gatekeeper of Vaikunthaloka. We have the greatest respect for Lord Shiva, I assure you.

Jai Shri Krishna Ardhnari,
ALL glories to Lord Ardhnarishwara - Lord Shiva!

In Shaiva and other Vedic scriptures, Shiva is not considered as and has never been given a mere "Gatekeeper" designation. And there is certainly no one at all who can designate this position to Lord Shiva. No Prabhupada, or Bhaktisiddhanta or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gaudiyas have given a one of the dwarpal positions to Shiva. If that was not Lord Shiva's original position, how can someone in Kaliyuga change it? And who has the power to change the position of one in whom the whole universe disappears? To change Shri Mahadev's position and make him a mere "Gatekeeper" is nothing short of arrogance!! Its a different matter that Lord Shiva may have given his protection to Vaikuntha or Vrindavana.. etc. There are gazillions of souls in the universe under his protection. Our very existence is protected by Him. So do I call him my personal bodyguard? Do you see my point?

Of course I've heard that Iskcon and Gaudiyas respect Lord Shiva as a servant/devotee of Krsna. They also call him in the "mode of ignorance representing tamo guna".

There are double standards and hypocrisy in Gaudiya philosophies on every step. Nobody worships Lord Shiva as such in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, whereas the policy says - be the servant of the servant of the servant... as laid down by Shri Chaitanya. Yet even if we consider Lord Shiva to be a devotee of Krsna, why is he not on the Gaudiya altar??
On the contrary, as per my talk with senior Prabhupada disciples, its a "blasphemy" to put Shiva at the same level as Krsna on the altar!!! so they put him at the gates! Stand at the gates not inside. What can be more shocking than this?? Knowing that Krsna prostrated before Shiva and made dandvats to him and worshipped Shiva for long periods of time going through rigorous austerities! To this the Gaudiyas keep mum!!! They have no answers to it.
You belong to Chaitanya Saraswat Math, then there is the gaudiya math, iskcon and so on. If everyone is following the same philosophy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, why there are so many divisions and maths and separate branches sprouting out from it?? Where some believe in some aspects and other don't? There is separation of philosophy and beliefs and purports! And each separately formed math and organization tries to re-translate its own books n put its own purports, to do something different and is not friendly to each other. Iskcon and Gaudiya math are not too friendly to each other either. They have internal jealousies too. Over what? Power, fame, money and real estates? This is Maya!! So who is mayavadi? This is another double standard. The whole philosophy, purports and translations and organizational policies have double standards sadly. Gaudiyas don't accept any other scriptures accept their particular translated ones with own purports to original scriptures and there are many differences between original scriptures and Gaudiya colored scriptures. Padma Purana is quoted here or there, but Shiva Gita part of Padma Purana is rejected altogether!! You call yourself "Vedic culture" but you don't read the Vedas or Upanishads, except for a few with self made interpretations. Bhagvad Gita is accept and many things in Mahabharat rejected. Even though the same Krishna is the speaker of them. And so forth.. You preach that Bhakti is superior than scriptural discussions and explanations. But still you go around debating people quoting shloka numbers n purports. So there is double standard in everything. And then the divisive God positioning agenda which is huge! Hare Krsna devotee is a devotee and is considered so so exalted, whereas a Shaiva or other devotee is not even a devotee but just someone in the category of 'mayavadi', impersonalist, etc. n one who is not into religious scriptural bashing is a 'karmi'! Now this karmi thing is a lowcast in Hare Krsna definition too.
I feel that the Gaudiyas haven't understood Krishna properly. How can they understand His consciousness? I think it should be Krishna bhakti organization or Conscious of Krishna organization.
I hope i didn't offend anyone. But this is what it is.
Regards,
Namah Shivaya!

devotee
21 February 2008, 01:45 AM
Radhe Shyam, YogaKriya!

Yes, in our theology Lord Shiva is the greatest servant and devotee to Lord Vishnu/Krishna, especially since in our Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana) that Krishna/Vishnu is the Supreme Lord of all creation. In our matha (Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math), at our temples you will see that they always do a puja for Shiva before rendering seva to Lord Krishna. This is because we see Lord Shiva also as the gatekeeper of Vaikunthaloka. We have the greatest respect for Lord Shiva, I assure you.

Namaste Ardhanari,

As you are new to Hindu religion, I don't find fault with you. However, let me clarify that Shiva enjoys no less position in Hindu tradition than Vishnu. Don't get misguided by what anybody tells you about who is greater than the other.

This problem is sure to arise in duality. But the solution is given in Bhagwat Gita itself. Please read Gita verses, chapter-10 where Lord Krishna declares that He is Shankar (Shiva) among the 11 Rudras. In fact, if you read original version of Bhagwat Gita, you find strong indication towards Non-duality. If you are not able to see the Non-duality message in Bhagwat Gita loud & clear, I can only say that you need to read it again & again. Bhagwat Gita is a matchless book which gives clear insights into Bhakti-yoga ( Duality), Jnan Yoga ( Path of Knowledge, Non-duality) & Karma-yoga ( The path of action) all in one place. However, at some places, it becomes too obscure due to nature of the complexity involved .... there you need guidance of the Vedanta or a Jnani ( an enlightened being).

The Hinduism is the mother crucible where all experiments on spirituality has been done ... there is no path which has not been tried to its ultimate logical end. .... and it has been proved by many enlightened people in the past that all the paths lead to the same reality. If you tread on these paths of duality only to some extent you will find vast differences & you will be left utterly confused. The culmination of all these paths is finally to Non-duality. That is what you should know ... that is what each one of us has to know ... that is where we all have to reach. That is final knowledge ... there is nothing left to know after that ....

May Lord Krishna bless you with the True Knowledge !

Regards