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Thread: ISKCON and Upanayana

  1. #1

    ISKCON and Upanayana

    Pranams ,

    I have some doubt regarding the acceptance and interpretation of Upanayana in ISKCON temples . I have observed that in most of the ISKCON temples the prasadam is cooked by initiated devotees only . Now as far as initiation is concerned , Upanayana is a Vedic initiation ritual . I saw that in ISKCON temples they don't allow a person initiated in this vedic ritual to prepare prasadam . Why this discrimination ? I believe ISKCON is an organisation that follows Vedic principles . Please share your views .


    Jai SHri Krishna .

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    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Namaste

    Sometimes when I travel and lonely to visit a Hindu temple, there seems to be an ISKCON Temple within a 50 mile radius drive even when there are no other temple, and most every large city has one. So I enjoy going to the ISKCON Temple on a lonely fleld trip, and especially to find clean, pure vegetarian Sunday feast prashadam.

    I didn't know only initiated devotees can cook or prepare prashad, and I am very happy to hear that! I would be worried about the purity of the prashad! Actually, I am not initiated by ISKCON however I have been personally invited to help cook halva and also sweet rice by a head pujari of an ISKCON temple. So actually, I am not so sure what you say is true, though I know they are VERY strict and they consider me perhaps the exception as I have known many of the top personalities and pujaris and Gurus and such so they perhaps consider me "pure enough" to cook prashad. But personally, I would prefer that only initiated members cook.

    Om Namah Sivaya

  3. #3

    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Pranams ShivaFan,

    You are right . They are flexible in their approach sometimes . This depends on the avaiability of devotees, temple authorities etc . But the guideline is that only ISKCON initiated devotees can cook prasadam specially for Guru's and Maharaj's . This is my query .What is the idea behind this ?

    Jai Shri Krishna

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    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Namaste Ji,

    I do not know about ISKCON but according to Vaishnava Aachara,only initiated Vaishnavas are eligible to cook Naivedya in temples.

    Its not discrimination,its more like a qualification.Any one can offer food to the Lord but when it is prepared in a temple for Sri Narayana and later offered to the devotees as prasad,certain standards should be maintained.It is quality control.

    The Vaishnava cook is a knowledgeable devotee.He knows which items can be used,which must not be used,what quantity of each item to use.You would be surprised to know that different substances are used during different times/seasons in varying quantities.Different forms of Sri Vishnu are offered different kinds of Naivedya.For ex,in some Vaishnava temples of baby Krishna too spicy substances like chilles are not used instead sweet and easily digestible foods are given.
    The Vaishnava chef cooks with devotion,care and joy,like a mother would for her baby.Cooking in temples is a very complex subject that requires dedicated study,which only an initiated 'Vaishnava' would know.

    So please don't feel it is discrimination but see it as an attempt to prepare the best Naivedya for the Lord and tasty prasad for the devotees.
    Last edited by Ram11; 28 May 2014 at 07:57 AM.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

  5. #5

    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Dandavats caitanya Prabhu,

    Within Guadiya Vaishnavism there are two types of prasadam, regular prasadam and maha prasadam.

    Regular prasadam can be cooked and offered by anyone who attempts to offer prepared foods in the right way to the spiritual masters and Krsna in the form of a picture or even in the mind, visualizing the divine forms, this is usually done with incense and prayers. So even if one is not an initiated devotee one can offer the right types of food as an offering to purify the karma from the food and as an act of devotion.

    Gita Says 9.26

    If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.

    So what Krsna and the paramapara is looking for is the mood of love of devotion in the offering.

    Then we have maha prasadam, as you know maha means great. This type of prasadam is food offered directly to the installed deities or murtis of the Lord and His associates. All of the preparations of these foodstuffs can only be prepared and cooked by Brahmin initiated devotees, this maintains the purity of the food and the way it was prepared.

    Mostly in all temples they invite the guests to help prepare regular prasadam, and everyone is welcome. But the actual offering of prasdam should be done by one who has faith in Krsna and the process or is at least sincere in this act of worship and devotion.

    Many times ISKCON has been called a kitchen religion and is world famous for exotic prasdam and many types of free food distribution all around the world to all types of people. prasadam is a blessing, karma free food and can help purify consciousness to understand spirtual topics better, the preparation, cooking, offering and eating (honouring) of prasdam are all acts of practicing Bhakti Yoga.

    I hope this helps

    Ys

    Md

  6. #6

    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Pranams,

    Thanks Ram ji and Markandeya Prabhu .

    I understood your point as far as a devotee's consciousness or bhakti bhava is concerned. But I want to understand this. A person who has done Upanayana is Brahmin initiated as per the vedic principles .He is fit to study vedas. He can as well have all the qualities of Krishna Bhakta . So he is fit to cook for and serve Lord Krishna . Now if ISKCON says that he they want to follow their parampara and allow only ISKCON initiated devotees to do certain services , that is fine . But, when they say that they follow vedic principles then they cannot be selective . This is what I want to understand .


    Jai Shri Krishna

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    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Namaate

    Actually, what was said in a previous reply is correct. I was confusing the matter. There is prashadam, and then there is mahaprashad.

    Actually, I see 3 types of food offerings, prashadam (which some, but not just anybody, can participate in), bhoga (special families who cook for the temple make this food), and mahaprashad (only initiated cook this).

    I think ISKCON does a great job as far as food offering and distribution. I recall actually a "Western" initiate who was wearing the sacred thread. He was an initiate since a teenager. He would cook the mahaprashad. So it seems only brahmins or those wearing the sacred thread cook mahaprashad. I don't have a problem with that, I am not sure why someone would. Yes, they call it Vedic because these brahmin initiates in ISKCON chant the gayatri mantra holding the thread out. I have also seen such initiate have a special book or scripture on temple activity and I think this includes cooking and the "guests" and lay people cannot get this book, it is not published by ISKCON for general people.

    Om Namah Sivaya

  8. #8

    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Dandavats caitanya Prabhu,

    I understand your point, Shivafan and Ram Ji answered sufficient.

    One thing i would like you to clarify is this, as i am not sure of the context.

    But, when they say that they follow vedic principles then they cannot be selective
    As with most religions and spiritual schools everyone is welcome, no caste, no creed or any form of social status is disallowed within gaudiya vaishnavism, each and every person is welcome and can advance as much as they like.

    But its not a system where each person can have the same responsibility, all places are like posts, the post should be by qualification.

    Its not allowed that one can cook food and offer to the Lord unless he is educated and qualified through training, especially and exclusively more important for Deity Worship, which is considered no different from worship of the Lord Himself. This is part of the discipline and cultural structure of gaudiya vaishnavism, it is not dependent on birth and previous qualifications, but on the knowledge and practice of particular ways to prepare and make offerings to the Deity.

    I do know in the past, Brahmins from other sampradayas did help out with devotees for many things as there were so few with the right knowledge or experience, this included prasadam and many other things that Brahmins are used for in Vedic culture and rituals.

    The door is open to anyone, that was how Srila Prabhupada wanted it. One point of study that is taken very seriously is consciousness and how that effects food, guadiya vaishnavas take this very seriously, its within that culture and also part of ayurveda.

    Just a note, Sri Gaudiya Math is far more strict than ISKCON with the rules of prasadam and Deity Worship.

    ShivaFan Prabhu Ji,

    Archana Paddhati is the book used by ISKCON for ritual observance. It must be derived somehow from Haribhaktivilasa, which ultimately (and ironically) is derived, I believe, from the Sri sampradaya! For all the talk of the Gaudiya connection with the Madhva sampradaya, there is far more relationship to the Sri sampradaya, in ritual as well as doctrine

    Ys

    Md

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    Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Namaste

    Actually, I have a funny story I want to share with the HK's on this forum which demonstrates the manhood of Prabhupad and how some bad devotees "got the whip" they deserved. It is also related to this post to demonstrate:

    (1) Everything in the Krishna temple, mandir or ashram, belongs to Krishna and not the servants and devotees of the residence ...

    (2) The importance of purity ...

    This is a true story, but it was told to me decades ago, so I cannot recall the names of the "temple president" and his wife involved. But I do recall the basic facts.

    So here it is.

    Once there was a Temple President, who was a good person but perhaps became puffed up due to his position. His mataji wife also liked to think she was a "queen" being the wife of a leader in charge of a temple. She was the actual problem.

    In fact, other devotees started to complain about her. They went directly to Prabhupad to complain.

    Now this temple president had his own "personal" refrigerator. But really, it was mostly used by the mataji wife of his. No one complained about this refrigerator, it was other things they complained about.

    Prabhupad showed up at this temple right away after hearing the complaints.

    He went directly to where this refrigerator was, with the "temple president" escorting with him.

    Prabhulad said tp him, "So, this is YOUR refrigerator?"

    Apparently, the "temple president" mumbled something back, but acknowledged it was his.

    "So, open this and let me see," said Prabhupad.

    Now keep in mind, this was in the very early days of ISKCON in America. There were other bhakta boys there near Prabhupad watching. These were young, strong boys. The "president" was also young and strong. Prabhupad was shorter in stature, and of course much older than them.

    So the "president" opened the door to the "fridge".

    Prabhupad spots right away in the back corner an open tin of some fish product.

    Prabhupad's muscles immediately showed strong.

    Suddenly, he was literally Narasingha. In a loud, strong voice, he shouted at the "president", "NOTHING BELONGS TO YOU! Everything in His House belongs to HIM!"

    The boy starts to mumble something like, "Yes, Prabhupad .... ah ..."

    "WHAT IS THIS!" Prabhupad shouts like a lion pointing inside the "fridge".

    The boy looks in. "Oh, she ... oh, ...."

    "TELL HER TO COME NOW!" Prabhupad shouts. His muscles are showing, everyone is shocked and frankly scared. The mataji shows up instantly.

    Prabhupad again shouts NOTHING belongs to YOU. NOT this (fridge), nothing. All the boys are now literally shaking in fear. He turns to the mataji, yelling "You" have made Krishna's house impure!" She starts crying, mumbling something but also admitting and "sorry!" and the normal stuff folks say when they get caught.

    "Get OUT!" he shouts, that both of them must GET OUT of Krishna's residence that very moment, he chases both of them out and into the street.

    Later, after things calmned down, and after extended purification rites were done, some of the other boys quietly laughed to each other.

    No, not laughed at Prabhupad, but laughed with joy at what a lion Prabhupad was. They were very impressed. And apparently this was not the first time Prabhupad gave a good "slap" and boot to bad characters.

    Om Namah Sivaya

  10. Re: ISKCON and Upanayana

    Pranams,

    Thanks Everyone for their views .

    Jai Shri Krishna

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