Seminar on Vaisnava Etiquette and Culture given by HH. Bhaktividya Purna Swami given at ISKCON Radhadesa in 1998.
So basically if we want to look at applying these principles, we should study very nicely what Krishna is advising in the Bhagavat-Gita, that of being able to do work in the proper mood. Basically that is the essential point. It’s not so much what you’re doing but in what’s your mood in which you’re doing it. Of course there are certain prescribed activities that Krishna has chosen that this is the best sphere of activities to do that. So if one can do proper activities in the proper mood, then this is pleasing to Krishna. So this idea to understand is very important.
When we’re young or when we don’t know so much, then of course we do whatever others are doing. That is natural, like children, they just follow what the adults do. But when they start to think for themselves, then they can either follow that good example now by studying and understanding it or they can speculate and make their own idea. This is an essential point, we have this choice. We can either follow that which we’ve been thought and shown or we can make up our own. These are what we have. So the living entity must be very careful to understand that the freedom of choice, the intellectual freedoms to understand and to be able to apply these things in our life. This is very much what the Lord desires. The Lord wants us to be intelligent.
But how you use the intelligence is also very important. That is of great importance because we can use intelligence to do our own kind of activity, our own thing, make up our own process or we use our intelligence to see and understand what the Supreme Lord has given us, what the Acaryas has given us and then use our intelligence to do it in a very wonderful way. Just like we see. Lord Caitanya wants the preaching’s spread all over the world. And then we see that the Acaryas then take this instruction in a very amazing and special ways and apply it. And many times it’s very diverse. Narottama dasa Thakura is known for his songs, Bhaktivinoda Thakura is known for his particular work of re-establishing the credence of the Vaishnava tradition, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is known for establishing this preaching machinery of the Gaudiya mission. And Srila Prabhupada has taken so many of his teachings and spread them all over the world. And it’s in a very special way in which the mood and the flavor of the Vedic culture is kept intact. Though it is implanted in a different culture with different values and different everything. Once Srila Prabhupada was speaking with one of the godbrothers who had gone to the west and they were talking about: “When you go there you have to learn how to dress in a suit and tie and eat with a fork and knife and all these different things.” But Prabhupada’s mood was: “No, I go there to teach them how to wear dhotis and saris and how to eat with their fingers”. So this is very special contribution.
So this is intelligence . And you see the unique identity of each person is very nicely manifest. So it’s just a matter what is the sphere. In any situation you see that there is always restriction. That’s always there. It doesn’t matter even the materialist who are very proud of their independence and free thinking still they have certain realms in which they can work. Like if you want to be accepted in an academic world as a free thinker. Still you have to use the academic language. You have to go to academic conferences. You have to write your papers the way other academics will accept them. It must be done in that way. So there is a basic restriction and then you’re called an academic. And if you don’t follow that you’re not called an academic. But you may be very unique in that field for your thoughts and abilities of application and that. Or in architecture then you have to work with your line drawings and these things and make your blue print and you have to have your little box in the corner that gives details and you have to put buildings up they can’t be upside down. In so many things you’re restricted. But within that you can be very unique. So the whole communications, the whole interactions between living entities are based on this principle of restricting yourself within a field of activities. And then within that field of activities then you can function very nicely. We’re already restricted by our specific senses that we have. Our eyes can only see so much, our ears can only see so much, nose can only smell so much and the mind, the intelligence it has its sphere and dealing. So by nature we’re already restricted.
So the whole idea in the Vedic culture is to figured out how to best use this restrictions that you have, in the field that you have to serve Krishna. We go beyond this field. Like dogs can hear things we can’t hear or can see things we can’t see. And these animals can see in the night but we are not and so many things they can do, things beyond this but it’s meant for the animals. Because in the spiritual realm Krishna is inviting us to take part in His world. And in His world He just likes to see these particular colors. He’s not interested in everything will be like ultraviolet, all kinds of strange things or sounds that no one can hear. Within this sphere everything is done very nicely. He finds that this is the best within the field of activities of a human. We see that in Vrindavan, that so many interesting things happen but Krishna still takes care of them in a human way. Just like Indra comes and he sends so much rain, thunder and so many disturbances. But Krishna is the Supreme Lord. If He has the will, then all will go away. And it will be very mystic. He shows His powers and potency but instead just like a human being when it starts to rain you use an umbrella. You don’t use your mystic powers to get rid of the rain, you just makes some adjustments within the rain within your power. So Krishna used an umbrella. But he does it in such a way that it serves His purpose and Indra is humbled and all the residence of Vrindavan are protected. Of course they are thinking that different people are thinking different things because of Nandababa and because they are also putting their sticks on there. They are all holding it up. And others were thinking it’s because of the affection of Mother Yasoda for Krishna. Therefore the mountain was being held up. So many different reasons that they were all thinking. The cowherd boys are thinking ah it wasn’t Krishna we were doing it actually. Like kids. So like this everybody had their different visions but would still be within that human realm.
So this is a very tasty and sweet realm in which to work, a field of activities to work in. So Krishna has chosen those activities within that field that He considers the best. He divides the field up into the mode of goodness, mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. And you can get various results by working in those ways within the field. But He recommends that you work within the mode of goodness because the mode of goodness is elevating. That is a very important principle that the mode of goodness by doing that you’re elevated. We have to be very careful that many things are happening at once. It was so simple and straightforward. We would have worked it out long time ago. But because it’s very complex, we find difficulty in understanding. Because here we’re recommended, Krishna’s recommending that everyone work in the mode of goodness. But that doesn’t mean that a particular activity that you’re doing, the activity itself maybe controlled by different modes. But the way in which we do that activity is controlled by the mode of goodness, is done in the mode of goodness.
So this is what is very special about our philosophy. It’s the ability to see two contradictory things balanced. “achintya bheta bheta tatvam”, simultaneously one and different. So that is what is unique in our philosophy. You don’t find this in the other Vaishnava philosophies. This is just very direct, much more easily understood. You one doesn’t have to be so fine in the perception. It’s either one or it’s two or it’s one and two. Not simultaneously or it’s kind of one. It’s a very pure form of one, a special way of describing one. So these are the different ways that it’s there but you don’t have one end. It’s two both at the same time.
So with this understanding we have to be able to see that there’s many things happening at once. You have a body which is best situated in a particular acts, particular activities. Those activities maybe controlled by different modes. But you are going to do those modes in the mode of goodness. I mean you could do those activities in the mode of goodness. And not only that we’re going to try to perform, bring that, that’s not even good enough we’re going to try to bring that to pure goodness. By proper desire not being attached to results, not having ego that I’m doing it.
So this is what we’re trying to get and then that gets the devotee. That why a devotee is so unique. And it is not easy to understand. So they perform their duties they go along with the body where one’s into comfortably situated when performs those activities under the guidance of authority. But at the same time we have to do those for Krishna. So this is very important, that there’s our devotional life, our devotional consciousness and then a particular activity that we perform for Krishna. So when one can see all these at once, our desires to surrender, in other words three things that are happening at once. See if we just surrender to Krishna only one thing is happening at once. if that is not there then that has to be there, that desire plus the sadhana has to be there, the life of sadhana. And if that will not fully take care of all your activities then you had a third of working then for Krishna.
So we’re dealing with pure spiritual nature or the conditional nature but fully in contact, directly in contact with the spiritual nature or we’re dealing with our conditional nature, working within the sphere of our conditional nature but surcharged with the Krishna consciousness. So you have to be able to balance all those three at once. So this is what Krishna’s recommending. If you do that work according to your nature but do it for Him.
So that becomes part of your sadhana. And that sadhana is for surrender to Krishna. So when we talk about our Sadhana that includes our service. Make part in the pancharatra is that you are doing all these activities, the culture that is there but you also have particular service you’re going to do for the deity. The whole point of pancharatra is you’re going to work for the deity. So you either work directly as a pujari or you’re taking care of this grounds, you’re taking care of the devotees, you’re raising funds. Whatever your doing but it’s being done for the deities. And if you have a house then you think that this is also Krishna’s house and we’re taking care of that for Krishna. And then in that mood one can perform the activities nicely. Then it becomes very practically engaged.
So these are important considerations in which when we apply our activity. So we should study. Now we’ve come to consciousness, then we should study. We should try to understand and deepen our realization on this matter. Chaitanya Charitamrita recommends this by working in devotion then one gets realization. That is Krishna’s Kaviraj Goswami points how one gets realization. One can get knowledge by studying. One gets realization by working in devotion. You take that knowledge you heard and you perform devotional activities with the purpose of trying to please Krishna, then you get realization. It’s a very practical thing. It’s tangible but it’s a very direct process. You serve Krishna with realization, I mean with understanding you get realization. It means if you just work of course the heart becomes purified and then we have realization but it’s still based on what we’ve heard. But if we’re able to study more and serve more, the realization is also very great. Any questions on this point?
Female: Maybe I was just… This was also saying from yesterday. I’m wondering, how you see that many cultures are influence by the local culture like when I was a child in … There’s a lot of say, there’s a lot of devotions in Africa so it appears that they have an African flavor or in other countries the food..you have pastas and pizzas..so is that alright or how do you .. traditional should be..?
There are two aspects of this. If the main principle is still whatever is supposed to do. Like one should always hear in chanting for Krishna, one should always offer one’s food stuffs to Krishna and take the remnants. One should do one’s activity for Krishna. So that’s the main central principle. So as long as that is being fulfilled then advancement is there. So even though one may dance in any traditional tribal African way or when you cook more than the local cuisines then as long as it’s done in that mood then advancement is there. So it’s not bad but generally one would find it being more of a situation you would find with those living outside the temple. Because outside the temple then you basically have to move more with your own conditioned nature, with the surroundings that are with you. And then it’s up to much of the individual on where they are able to situate themselves. At least they start from taking whatever they know and do purify it and offer it for Krishna. So this while the temple is ideally was set a more , clear example that is always good.
This is explained by Satyabhama in Karuna Leela. Jagananda Pandit explains this point. In the beginning we may do our activities for Krishna. But we don’t necessarily choose something that is definitely come from that’s directed by Krishna. We choose something that we like to do. Like in the beginning, we like to eat certain things, so we offer those to Krishna. Because the principle is that you offer the best. So in our mind maybe pizza and pasta are the best. In Africa there are varieties of beans are the best or whatever it maybe but we offer the best to Krishna, what we think is the best. So that’s a principle. Sanatana Goswami mentioned that. One can offer the best of the local cuisine and these things to the deities. So that’s what everybody values. Because everyone excites it and thinks yes this is very high worship. But that stage is called aropya bhakti. It means when you super impose your ideas on the devotional process. I like pasta, so I think it’s the best. I should offer the best to Krishna so I offer that to Krishna. So Krishna accepts that. Because that is we’re making that endeavor to do something nice for Krishna. But then with time as when we become purified then one comes to a point to understand that Krishna is also a person. So now I’m serving Him. So now it’s better to find out what He likes to eat and offer that to Him, rather than just offering what I like to eat.
Then one comes to the next stage when you start taking more the traditional line because the traditional line means how Krishna likes it. So basically what we’re saying many times: “It’s not practical or don’t be fanatic” means that we would rather offer what we want to Krishna than what Krishna is specifically accustomed to. Krishna of course is eating the devotion. So whether you cook rice or sabja, you cook pasta it’s the devotion that is offered. So ultimately on that point it doesn’t matter. But as far as the culture goes, Krishna prefers to see that devotion offer to him through this particular kinds of medium, particular medium, dress, ways of doing things, ways of singing or dancing or all of these different activities. Because He has picked the best culture and whatever is the best topmost, most wonderful culture He has chosen that for Vrindavan. So you see that Vrindavan or His Gauranga Leela, these manifestations are what He thinks are the best. So the point is offering that love to Krishna. But also if you have to offer that love through something, some medium must be there. So Krishna has picked the best mediums that He considers the best. And we’re given that opportunity. It’s actually amazing what we’re being given.
Generally you’ll find all in other Acaryas. In other words in one day of Brahma you have a thousand divya-yugas. So that means four thousand yugas are happening every day of Brahma. And each one has their avatar, specific avatar, that means four thousand avatars. Out of that there’re all different doors to Vaikuntha. But now out of four thousand, two avatars open the doors to Vrindavan. And that’s two out of four thousand. So that’s very special. That’s why Krishna comes and that’s why Krishna comes as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So the fortune that is there to have come back to time for that two out of four thousand that is happening is very unique. And what’s being offered is different. It’s been offered the Vrindavan culture. All the other times the Vaikuntha culture is being offered. This the Vrindavan culture is being offered. What they do there the acaryas are giving us. It’s so nice. It’s just like we’re beggars in the street and we are brought into the palace and being offered the culture and all that of the royalty that is going on. But somehow we’re very attached to our street culture, our street culture, our street language. We like taking our spray cans and our style of writing on the walls and the way we dress and all these different things. But we’re being offered this other, like the simple things which we just saw the other day. When Radharani cooks for Krishna then what she cooks, all these special kinds of sweets , are put on a big gold plate. And then it’s covered with a very fine silk cloth. And then one of her assistants carries that to Nana-Maharaja’s house and then it’s offered and served to Krishna. So you cook in one place and it’s taken to another. So we’ve been given that. That we cook and after that we make the plate and then we cover it with a fine cloth and take it to the deities.
Many times you see devotees think that it’s not so practical: “ Why do we have to cover it? or “We use all kinds of strange things to cover it.” But it’s the culture. What they’re doing is Vrindavan is being offered to us. We can do it right here. We make the plate nicely, cover it with a fine cloth and take it to Krishna. And when we put it to the altar we take the cloth off. But it’s not understood what we’re being given. We’re being given the topmost thing that Radharani and her personal assistants they are doing these things.
But we have our own idea, our own attachments. So then we impose upon the pure spiritual culture, our own method of application which is as long as we’re doing it for Krishna, Krishna accepts it. Just like a small child may do things in its own way but it’s accepted. So when that child grows and he’s attached to his own thing then it’s considered a disturbance. So if the devotees are very enthusiastic, they may have a particular background, they perform it in a particular way and they’re very ecstatic and thinking of Krishna and chanting in this way, Krishna accepts it. But if they actually think “ this is a better way of dancing”, then there’s a problem. It means if one thinks “I only know how to cook this pasta. I’m cooking this pasta. I’m offering to Krishna.” Then that’s ok. But if we actually think “pasta is a superior food stuff than rice and subji and all these other things”, then there’s a problem. Because then we’re accepting a lower culture and we’re attached to it. That means whatever we’re doing we’re attached. So the aropya bhakti drops even from there. It’s just aropia, not even bhakti. Because instead of Krishna I am choosing the different things and I fully don’t understand that. I’m not mature enough to understand. Krishna is the one who chose rice and subji but I just understand the principle behind it that it’s not the rice and subji that’s important but it’s the devotion which is offered. I take that and I offer what I want to offer. But after a while I understand that not only is the principle important but Krishna has picked these ways of application. So then in other words Krishna with our understanding were expanding by Krishna. It’s not just knowledge.
In other words you go from the principle and you’re doing whatever in detail and you’re getting the principle but then there’s also details that Krishna has chosen and if I can do them it’s fine. If I can’t get rice or I can’t get these things –okay, we cook whatever we can get our hands on. But if we can get and it’s not an over endeavor and it’s not beyond our abilities or expenses, then we try for that. That’s the better principle. We’ll settle for what’s practical but we know what the standard is. And it’s also reflects and that’s what we discussed yesterday. Everyone knows that one has to become detached and everything “ akinchana gochara”. One has to be completely detached to the material world and then one can go back to GodHead. It means that at the time of death you have to be not attached to anything here. Prabhupad said if you’re attached to one gulabjamun, you’ll have to come back and take a birth. So that you can get plenty of gulabjmuns.
So we all understand that. So one can only get to that platform if you respect that platform. That’s essential. You can get to a platform of that you respect. Like if you respect someone who is very intelligent or very well read, or good in sadhana , you respect that activity, you respect the person who is doing that activity. You can get to that activity. But if you don’t respect that activity and you don’t respect the person, you can’t get there. So one must respect that is the proper standard. Then maybe I don’t have the facilities. I read about all these nice things and bitter melon and spinach and all these things being offered to Krishna. But I’m out in the middle of center Asia and the only thing available is potatoes. So I do the best I can. But you respect that higher form. May be in the beginning we don’t understand it. That’s not a problem. But once we start to understand, as we start to mature all that, then we can’t remain attached to our what laying on the top of our devotional service. It means our interest and all that we liked, kind of putting over and overlay over the devotional process. In the beginning that’s alright. But when we start to discriminate, then we discriminate in between what Krishna has chosen or what we choose. So it’s always advisable to take what Krishna chooses and if one can’t do it then, as Maharaja was pointing out, best if someone comes you sit them down, give them some water, maybe a little sweets, some nice words, comfort them and wash their feet- so many things. But if you can’t do that , then something less- at least at the mat on the floor. If you can’t do that then at least you stand there and say “welcome”. If you can’t do that, then you better roll on the ground and start crying.
So the Vedas are always very practical. That’s the thing. We study them and see that they’re the most practical. That means this point of reception can be there from the king. How he will receive somebody down to the poorest person and even to the person who is living under a tree and has nothing. It means they can all receive somebody. And follow the principle. So the Vedic culture is very broad. Because Krishna is very practical. He made the place, so He’s quite expert. So therefore we can follow all these different directions that Krishna has given and be happy. But we must always maintain the principle that’s behind those different choices of Krishna.
Male: …european culture but sometimes we see that, for example, south…cultural practices forms of worship are becoming institutionalized. Various ISCKON temples outside of South Indian…outside of India or even in Mayapur. How are we doing with that?
It depends upon whether they were talking about a cultural practice or a particular ritual. Because the cultural practices how the local people apply a particular rule and the ritual then is Shastric rituals that the one chooses from. So it’s recommended that among the rituals you take what the acaryas give us. They give explicit areas for which to take it. And then one has to be expert enough or wise enough to apply them to your circumstance how they fit. Then it’s all right . And you’ll see in some of them they give, they don’t. It doesn’t matter. Just Rupa Goswami says when you install a pot, the cumba with a coconut and everything. He doesn’t say how to do it. Because everyone’s coming from different backgrounds, different Vedas they use ,different pancharatras or different tantras. Point is the pot should be installed. And what you to do with it after installing then he tells you. Because that is important for the Vaishnava’s line. How you worship, what is your mood towards the dealing with the pot. But how you technically get with the pot it doesn’t care. So you will find even with the Gaudia Vaishnava tradition is given by Sanatana Goswami, Gopa Bhatta Goswami and Rupa Goswami. Then there is some scopper, a little variation but the main principles will always be the same. Because it’s more the mood by which you do the ritual that’s important than the ritual itself. So one has to be careful of this. We may take a ritual that is he gives something, he just says he install the pot like a southern ritual or a northen ritual.This that doesn’t matter. But how much emphasis we give to that pot and how much that draw everyone’s attention in the worship that we have to take the mood of the acaryas. That we should induce the south Indian mood or Bengal. We should induce the mood.
We were discussing yesterday something- this principle of yukta vairagya.That means that you may use something in Krishna’s service. But you use it according to our culture and our balance, just like this microphone. This is a material thing . It’s a modern thing. We use them but we don’t use them with the culture that you’ll find necessary that those who are used to these things use it. It’s processes just something that makes them a sound and increases the sound. Like in Mayapur. It was a very big temple and there was never any microphones or anything cause generally there was never any electricity. So they didn’t bother with such trivial things like microphone. So at one point someone got very enthusiastic and hung a mic from the ceiling. Then made this whole contraction where they had this mechanical sliding thing on the microphone could come down to leave where you sing so there’s nothing on the ground. So no wires and all they thought it was very nice. So when the first morning Mangala-arati started one of the devotees came up and started using the microphone. And they were using it more in the western style and they got very close and so everything’s heard. And Prabhupada from upstairs sent someone down and said that that sound was demoniac. They were singing Mangala-arati, singing Hare Krishna but they said the sound was demoniac. Because the person was not using it within our culture. They were using within the western cultural context . So the whole point was lots of noise, a little distortion. It’s like overbearing, overpowering and everybody thought it was normal cause that was the way when you were a kid you listened to music. You turn it up so that halfway down the block people can hear it and then you feel satisfied what they’re saying. But Prabhupada just said this is demoniac.
So you have to use the thing, means “yukta-vairagya”, means using it how we use it. Like you have a car. You may have a nice car. But now we will drive it how we would drive like a gentleman in Krishna’s car. You have to be careful. We drive nicely. We don’t get into trouble because there’s a speedometer says 240 that we do that. Because that’s what someone else would do. You are in Germany, you have a big car, the speedometer says 240 then at least you should be doing 200, 190, whatever you can , because that’s what it’s for. That was the car was built for. But we will use it just we want to get from this temple to that temple but we don’t follow that culture , the car culture. We follow our own culture we use the car. So the same way we can use everything in Krishna service but we must bring into the context of our own culture. So that is very important.
Otherwise, we don’t do that then I’ve seen nowadays “yukta-vairagya”, I mean before was a very general term use- anything in Krishna’s service with this principle. But the modern term is used anything modern in Krishna’s service and nothing Vedic. Vedic cannot be Vedic, that’s off, that’s bogus. You can’t engage anything Vedic in Krishna’s service. You can only engage western thing in Krishna’s service. You can only engage western things in Krishna’s service. It was very common. If you suggest it then you’re fanatic. So one must understand it doesn’t matter if it’s Vedic or what’s going on in India now that’s coming down from the Vedic tradition or in the west you can take it, use it in Krishna’s service as long as you’ll remove that local mood that goes with it. Because someone is doing that in that particular way because of the covering, of a particular consciousness, or particular activity, means their mentality. You have to remove that and inside our mentality, our consciousness and if it’s useful either it’s recommended in the scriptures. And it’s just like now what we have- we have the raiser’s edge. How many people are on the raiser’s edge? Not so many. So that means all of the culture that is there that we want to reclaim is either with the mayavadies or with the sahagies. That’s all. Are we the smartest or just the sentimental people so you have to go out and get it back.Just like we want to learn mridanga. How many of our Gaudia Vaishnavas who are full of sampradiac practicing and know nice in mridanga? So you may have to go outside and catch one of these people from these various sahajias Nityananda vamsa in this line cause they know the Madanga well. We take that but we don’t take their mood. We don’t play our Jarman shake our head with a shake their head and the hair back and all these different things, we leave all that. We just take the style how they use it. They know that you hit it like this and bit is used for this kind of tune and that bit is used for another tune. We take that and we leave the rest of it. The impersonalists may have systems of how we perform the worship. We take those things but leave their mood in which their worship. Like all these different things. Many of them are arts or techniques of application. They know it. Shastras say how it has to be done but we don’t know the technique.We get it from wherever but we can’t take their mood. That is very important. You see that anyone who has taken the mood then they disappear, they go out with them. You go to learn Sanskrit. You take that mood of the Sanskrit professor, then you become one of them. You go out to learn the academics. You take the mood of those academics. You become one of them. Whatever it is. You take the music and if you take more than the music, their mood ,then you become one of them. You learn aurveda but you take on their mood. You become like that.
Point is that those are all originally Krishna’s subjects. Krishna’s arts, Krishna’s techniques but now they’re all in the hands of everybody else. Before the majority was devotees, so sciences were there. But then as people become less and less devotees the sciences are still there but then they are in the hands of those who are not. So if you’d be able, get them back. This is the principle of the swan. Take the milk and leave the water. So you go in, take what you need and come out and that’s it. Just because someone is expert in one thing, it doesn’t mean he’s expert in everything. Like you go to somebody who is expert in techniques of worship. So we may ask him specific things. But we don’t know because you saw expert than actually we think , the western mess or the western especially the American. If you’re good, you’re good at everything and if you’re bad you’re bad at everything. it’s all or nothing. There’s nothing in between. So he knows this. Now I start asking about other things and how we do our things and all these and he gives his points- this is wrong or that’s this or that’s that. And then we become bewildered and then we become one of them.
So we very much have to be very careful that we just take what we need and that’s it. Nothing more. They are expert in their field but the real experts know how to use that in Krishna’s service. Otherwise we know so much, we can’t use it for Krishna. It doesn’t really have any meaning. So at the beginning stage that’s all right but ideally if one wants to dance with Lord Caitanya, he dances in a certain way. Of course in ecstasy his ways may manifest in so many functions, so it’s just reading on the bulleting board up there. There are some discussions going on back and forth on the all glorious email. The point has come up that Prabhupada didn’t appreciate wild crazy dancing .Where is that from? And then somebody gives some discussions that are there. But the devotees changed their dancing style from when Prabhupada showed them – the swamy’s step and all these kinds of things. And then when they’re discussing with Prabhupada , they’re pointing out the how these symptoms of this new style of dance and he’s not really approving certain parts this and that. At the same time Prabhupada didn’t want to discourage them. Because at least they were enthusiastic to dance for Krishna, even though they may have kind of had their own ways of doing it and that it may not necessarily been truly done for the deities. But at least they were dancing for Krishna, they went into some discos somewhere. So Prabhupad’s appreciating that. So he is trying to say is- that okay, you can engage whatever is your wild nature but better is to come to a standard, that is our tradition.
So the idea is that the temple should be more of a place of the culture and all that ,so the temple itself and those devotees and that and then those who are not fully able to take advantage of that , then they can follow that and it’s fine. Just like Brahmananda. He was preaching in Africa. So when they would go down and do kirtan then the African Tribesman would come and dance in their own style. But they were chanting Hare Krishna and Prabhupada is appreciating very much. But when you come into the temple then those in the temple should show what is our old tradition and then it’s up to the individual to dance how they like . But those who are representing the culture should show the old culture. As close as they can. And everybody else should just pick up on how they can take part and engage themselves. Then that’s fine. Does that make any sense? Some comments on that?
M: We’ve seen bhakta in temple like sadhana temple but there are slums when no varna and no ashrams but on the other hand we see that right now at least in some countries ……the socialization institution like .. I mean we take people from …. other culture and invite them to join the temple and it’s really difficult for them to take that out..at least in the beginning and they are asked to represent but they don’t know how to do it. So doesn’t mean that temple should serve for the rest school or ah…
Prabhupada expected that the society was an educational institution. He always talks about the society is for training people, specifically the first thing Maharaja pointed out yesterday. First thing is to train brahmans. Once you have the head you have everything else. The head knows how to train kshatrias or leaders and then they’ll get it done. That’s the whole point. So the first point is to train the leaders. So, it’s not that within the temple people don’t have their nature and don’t do it according to their nature. It means those who have managerial abilities may do that, those who have other abilities do those. But the point is it’s more on the aspect of sadhana and it’s very closely engaged. But the same thing is when you take that and then you must address your nature more it’s like you can always do this kind of thing. Like the manager can manage, at the same time he can wash the pots, at the same time you can go out like in early days. Like I remember it was in Colorado temple. The president there and his wife at night used to go down to the Boulder. They used to go to the Boulder University and they cleaned the toilets at night. And that’s how they got the money to support the temple. The point is that you do anything for Krishna. It means you’re managing for Krishna, so you’re doing a kshatria activity. But you have to do it according to the qualities of that. At the same time if they go out and do shudra activity and clean. It’s a higher job. But they would do it properly in that way. Then they go back to the temple and do puja and things like that. One may have an area that he maybe the central focus but he can like do anything for Krishna because of the mood. When you come to the next level then you must do according to your nature. You can do temporary your side things or you can do things in the sadhana but that won’t be regular.
M: …Invite to join the temple? For example if they won’t to join but it’s obvious that they won’t be able to do that. If you allow them to join them that’s their mood would be like visible in the temple. The temple will no longer be represent the culture …
Prabhupada mentioned that we should not expect. If want to expand this mission to the whole world, we have to expect that not everyone is going to live in the temple. The whole idea is the mission is bigger than the temple. You may be defined the legal entity ISCKON – is the temple and those who are living in the temple, temple has to take care, legally responsible, all these things. But ISCKON is the mission, it’s is bigger. That includes everybody, whose living in the community and everything. Difficulties have been in the past are those in the temple who considers only if you’re in the temple as the mission. So therefore if you move out then you kind of like give up being properly situated and your thought is not doing nicely. So in that case, those even who temple life isn’t the life that they are best suited for. We’ll try to stay there until they can’t hold on anymore and they just go out. When they go out, they know everybody inside. And they say, “Why are you to be honest?” and all this stuff. So it’s just goes back and forth. But the point is that we have to be broad minded. Someone asked a question yesterday, “Is this point of being liberal or conservative?” But we’re both.
That’s the point of the razor’s edge. It’s always in the middle. Dichonomies means you’re off the razor’s edge. The razor’s edge is the perfect balance in the middle. So the dichonomy means that you’re going out from there. Well, we’re either liberal or we’re conservative. But no, we’re broad minded. And we follow the acaryas. So broad minded means we understand the principle. So we see anybody. Whatever what they’re doing and that’s nice. Bhakti Vinoda Thakur says that person who chants Hare Krishna is the best man in the crowd. So if there’s a crowd of people and you see one who chants Hare Krishna then one who does it is the best person. Everybody else is just another face.
M: It’s easier to be either conservative or liberal than to be..
Because conservative or liberal means I’m involved, my ego’s involved. My attachments are there. While being in the middle means not compromising. That’s the thing. Then when you have the dichonomy then you compromise it to bring it to the middle. No. Our tradition is to resolve it. Because they’re both based on the same principle. The conservative means there are certain principles and we follow the details, the traditional details with that principle. But we’re broad minded and that someone else is able to follow the principle even though they don’t follow the tradition. We accept that. We may not do that but it’s accepted. Like those early kirtans. Prabhupada encouraged everyone to come and bring anything to participate. They brought all the strangest weird instruments and Hayagriva even brought a broken piano that couldn’t play. But he put it inside of the temple because there were some strings and he rang something down on strings. People brought a little bango, different kinds of weird things and bells. Mukunda had atimpani. Prabhupada encouraged us. That’s broad minded. But the principle is chanting, glorify the Lord. So these people if they bring something, they get more involved. They get more enthusiastic . Because they identify with their thing. This is me, my kalpohn- my identity. So I engaged my identity in Krishna’s service. If you’re doing that ,you’re purify and when you don’t think you’re the kalpohn anymore, so now you can use some caratals or something. But as long as you think you’re the kelpohn then you should play it for Krishna. I think I’m the body and mind. So therefore I think I’m an intellectual, I’m a manager, I’m a businessman, I’m this, I am a Brahmachari. So engage that in Krishna’s service and when you don’t think that anymore, then you can just perform the Sadhana. When you don’t think at all the body then I just serve Krishna in my original Rasa.
M: You may think of the culture under in that direction …how do you choose the people who can be the best?
This is an educational institution. That means that anyone, who qualified should be able to come to the temple. Anyone can come to the temple to take part in the programs. But to live in the temple, then should be those who actually will take advantage either full time or just part time. You make facility that during summer vacations or other vacations, students and other people could come. Get some experience. It’s understood you’re here for three months and then after 3 months it’s back to school unless we have understood that you actually temple material and you’re willing to be in the temple. Otherwise you should continue in your own line because you’ll be happy. You’ll be satisfied and then you won’t find that sudden change from have been in the temple for 10 years and move out then out of shock of hitting the material nature. That you’re already in the material nature engaging it, you’ll learn more and more how to engage it. Then it comes more natural. So the temple should be very careful. No laziest, no craziest in the temple. Prabhupada mentioned about it.
I know one temple in India that works very well and they take total care of their whole community and the temple devotees. They see that they’re educated. They see that their medical things are taken care of that, they get married, they get counseling, they get personal spiritual counseling. Totally they take care. But for brahmacharies in the temple, they assess them, the community assess if this person fits living in the temple. Then after assessing when they’re in the temple then when they’re asked to do a service and if they say no, that’s the day they pack their bags and go back home. There is no way of saying your buts’. It’s just you move into this temple that means if their service you’re supposed to do, you’re asked to do it, you do it and if you say “no” and if you don’t have a reason, “Can you do this prabhu?” You have another service okay but if you don’t have another service and you just don’t want to do it then why are you in the temple because you won’t inspire anybody. You’re not going to get this good association to anybody . So the temple’s too strict for you. Too much for you. Move into a situation of which when you want you come to the temple be fully engaged and then go back. That’ll be more honest. That’ll be more beneficial for the individual and that temple it’s like nobody has anything. They have a little cupboard that out on the veranda somewhere. They sleep anywhere in the temple, in the room, in the hallways, in the temple room, get up in the morning. Whenever you see them, they’re chanting, they’re reading, they’re studying. You never see any prajalpa- nothing. And if you go there, they’re so nice, calm and always help. Because they only have people belong in the temple in the temple. The community members in that temple, they respect the brahmacharies in the temple practically on the same level as the sannyasies. There’s a formal difference but as far as relationship and ability to hear from them, they don’t see any difference. They see in the full dedication. Just some are more mature and some are less but for them it’s the same tattva and it’s a perfect example that it works. The community is happy and the temple is happy. When now you mix it, the community thinks that wall is in the temple aren’t very together and think all the rift raft of the outside and we end up with nothing. There’s no mission. You just have a building that has a liability rather than asset.
F: Why is called Buddhi-yoga the same as bhakti-yoga?
Because Buddhi means you use your intelligence. It means I’m doing it because I want to do it. I understand why I’m doing it. In the beginning I may come in and just like kirtan, like halava there. Just very eccentric and esoteric that I’m attracted. After a while you get to know, you learn. Then you understand. I’m chanting because of this reason. I’m rendering me service because of this reason. I’m listening to authorities because of this reason. I get up in the morning, attend classes because of this reason. I serve because of this reason. So the intelligence is there. The best use of intelligence is understanding that Krishna’s the Lord. We’re his servant and we engage in this service. That’s the best intelligence. So the devotees have learned that the Lord is the most intelligent.
Then another aspect is that because Krishna says that the whole path is His path. We’ve discussed this before. That whole path is His path. So anything on the path if the purpose of doing it is to get to the goal of pure love it’s counted within the path of Bhakti. Therefore, Buddhi Yoga where we’re using our intelligence means our intelligence were doing it that’s Sadhana then we’re doing it for Krishna. So therefore it’s counted as a path for Bhakti. So Krishna is accepting whatever we’re offering that was done in pure love. Occasionally we have some good feeling or we have always some feeling but it’s not so developed. But Krishna is taking whatever it is because the whole point of Bhakti is that with love we serve Krishna and he reciprocates, so that Rasa is there.
But our Rasa, our relationship may be very small. Krishna accepts whatever that is. So He is broadminded. He’s not liberal. He’s broadminded. Liberal means I give up the rules. Broadminded means I understand how those rules apply in a broader sense. Prabhupada can engage everyone because he is broadminded. We’re having trouble now because we’re liberal. Like we’re liberal in America but how we’re liberal only applies to America. If you take that liberality to India it just creates hell. It may be fabulous in India but people spit on this. I mean may be fabulous in America people spit on us in India.
I know one devotee that his mother tried to have him taken out of the temple and so much pressured because she found out that one boy and girl actually arranged their own marriage. She just said to the community that these people are uncultured, mlechha-yavanas, rascals and I don’t want my son with good some outstanding family. We can say our lineages back to the sons of Lord Brahma. We’ve been vegetarian for that long. It’s not that we don’t know who and what’s your lineages, what of species you are and I don’t like my son involved in such a movement. Because they say they’re Vedic, they’re not Vedic.
This is reality, reactions of millions of people like that. So liberal in the modern sense means America. That’s basically what it means. Liberality means that. That culture which went from Barbaras into degradation without the interim of civilization. That culture goes everywhere. So we have to be very careful because when we talk into national then that means there must be an identity. If we want to get into details it means it’s something that everybody has to go with, so we have to pick the lowest common denominator. So if you’re on a lower level, you can’t go up to a higher level and to work someone in the higher level, you will have to come down. So broadminded means we maintain the principles. We have international principles and we will apply them as people surrender, we will bring them in and bring them up. So there’s a difference. That’s why liberality is a problem because liberality is dealing with the ritual and taking that as the important thing. While broadminded is taking the principle as the important and detail is adjustable to the time place and circumstances. So there’s a major difference between liberality and broadminded. Sometimes the Acaryas may use the word liberal but it means broadminded. In other words, they’re interpreting the principle not interpreting the detail or the ritual. So you have to be very careful.
F: Sometimes the society introduces some aspect of Vedic culture …and this supporting culture doesn’t seem to work. So how can you understand what is that?
Basically we have to understand the principle. See it always go back to that. That is a very important principle. You have to understand what is going on there. That is the main thing. The ritual is a way of maintaining like I have a particular mood. So there’s ways I’d like to do things. So if I don’t have the mood then I want to train somebody else. I have the mood, I do the activity. I want to train somebody else, the mood is a difficult thing to understand. I can teach them the activity then once they have the activity and adjusted to it then I can start pointing the mood. Like Arjuna. Krishna first talks about activity. In the second chapter He told “you are kshatria, you don’t do it, others will laugh at you and humiliation is worse than that”. So many different things. You’re dealing on that level. Then He goes into all the activities, engaging the body, engaging the mind. How you must do all these things? All the activities- the karma yoga, the jyana yoga, buddhi yoga-all these different aspects. Once it’s all in place then He gets down to- okay, now you understand activity, you understand the technique, the field of activity. Now you have to understand the mood behind that. Now do all these things without attachment, thinking of Me, without desiring result and without thinking you’re the doer and with the purpose of becoming My devotee. “Man mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru”. The whole idea is you’re giving up all these attachments to religious activities because they are to be done. No, they are to be done because I said so. And you’re doing it for Me. Then He goes back to “man mana bhava mad-bhakto”. Because Krishna says – offer obeisances, Krishna says – worship. He gives the system of worship. So Krishna gives all that and I do it for Him. So anything that’s a ritual that’s not connected to Him, I throw out. That’s “sarva –dharman parityajya”. I reject religious activities being done for the purpose of religion or material motive. And that’s the end. That’s the final teaching. After that it closes “The Bhagavad-Gita”, then we open Bhagavatam. Then we have the invocation and then next verse would actually giving direction says: “ All religions, religious activities that are being done from material motive are kicked out.” So we see this is where the Bhagavad-Gita and the Bhagavatam starts.
On this principles of religious activities being done for material motive is thrown out. I do religious activities for Krishna. So when we go into this if we want to introduce these, we shouldn’t be going into the material motive. We have to see what it is that’s going on there and take the whole picture, then you see this is not a problem.
In the Vedic culture, one has to understand, very broad feel to understand these things. There’s a vast difference between the boys and the girls when they’re growing up. Basically the basic principles of what kind of mentality they had at what age will be there. When they are more active, when they’re more gentle, when all those different things are there. But you will find that the girls take material life seriously from the age of 12. The boys don’t start taking it seriously till 18 or 20. It means you put a girl and a boy together in their teens. The girl is thinking this is some substance. We’ll get married, have a house, children, all these things making these plans. The boys are thinking I’ve had a real great time. It’s nice to be with a girl, that’s so nice. I like it. That’s all. They’re not thinking anyway of any seriousness, a maturity in the relationship. It’s just “it’s nice”. So therefore the Vedic culture says it should be 6 to 8 years difference between a boy and a girl. So you should have the same platform of maturity. A girl starts at 12 taking grihastha life seriously and a boy at 18, 20, 21or 22 he starts taking it seriously. So if you marry these two, then you have a serious match. Because then they’ll have the same sophistication and material desires. Otherwise you’re marrying an 18 year old girl to an 18 year old boy. She’s way ahead of him. He can’t keep up with it. He just starts thinking “ I’ll look at the paper to find a job.” She’s already thinking of 4 bedrooms, a house and 2 cars and all these kind of stuff and it just doesn’t match. He can’t keep up with it. So the whole idea is that that must be there.
There are so many aspects in that. You have the aspect of it should be a natural relationship of the wife as the dharmapatni. It means that she’s fixed in dharma performing the religious activities. And the husband is the guru patni or the leader in the spiritual direction. So if they’re the same age, then we see by the maturity and all that. She looks is more together. So that won’t come naturally. She’ll have to guide him on how to run things. And it’ll be very hard for him to then be guided on the material things but to be the guide in the spiritual. So if you give this age difference, then you also get this very natural thing. He feels “I can guide because the wife is younger “especially if they marry at that age. He’ll see her as a young girl. So then he knows her from that age. And then he deals with her like Prabhupada of his 21 when his wife was just 11. So he would deal with her as a young girl. It means having the maturity and all that. And then as they grow up, then that relationship is established. You’ll always be kind to her. So Maharaja’s pointed, the women must always be protected. But that’s supposed to be a natural thing. Because you just naturally protects someone, who is in the position of vulnerability. So then you take care. So that age difference creates that.
You can see the life of Swayubhuva Manu. He’s marrying his daughter to Kardama. He cares. And he shows that care by getting her as a wife and a daughter to go see what is the arrangement. He’s got the hand of his daughter over. It means that he’s taking care of her. He’s giving her a full shelter.Then when he sees a boy qualified her hands over to his care then it’s nice. Otherwise if he’s here and he’s there –great, okay, she’s unsheltered.. It’s like the father doesn’t care that much. He only took it that far. He didn’t bring it all the way to see that it actually was good. And so that mood is also there.
So when we’re talking about these engagements, that’s there. So that means that the girl is still under the care of the family. So they will see that she was taken care of. They won’t let the boy and girl associate and do anything weird. Because that means that the family or community is not protecting the girls. It’s a very important aspect. So when it’s allowed like that means that there’s no protection. And then when something goes wrong with those individuals that they’re blamed but it’s actually the community’s to blame. The whole point is to protect women means you have to have men who have the character be able to help them, to take care of them. So if you don’t have that, then the women feel alone. You got to take care of yourself, because you got to be practical. They’ve been thinking about it since 12. So it’s like you got to get it together. If no one else is going to do it, you’re going to do it yourself.
So that situation when men are weak for that to come up means you’re not giving the thing. It’s hard for the men to become strong . Just like you see a child who lives in the house with the mother is not very strong in his very own initiative because the mother will take care. Or when they go to the Gurukula, they’re working with the teacher, they become strong. Then they’re qualified to come back and work properly with the woman to maintain a relationship. While if they always stay with the women , then they won’t be strong enough to take care. So they become strong outside of the house. While the woman become strong in the house. So that it’s difficult for them to care of and it’s expected that the men will take care of them. So the men are such whims, they can’t take care of it. Women have to take care of themselves. Because it’s very painful .
So when you look at the point like this, you have to look at the whole community. What is the community doing to take care of our members? We have boys, we have girls growing up. What are we doing to see that they are properly trained and married? It’s not an individual thing. We won’t see Indian’s individual because there’s a community already there. We have to establish community. That means that all the members of the community are worried about that. Otherwise why have the children if you won’t take care of them ? Having children means at least for the boys seeing them to be trained nicely in devotional service, so they to able to go off into their own way and perform their activities. Then having a girl means bringing her to the point of marriage. That’s the responsibility.
Then vanaprastha’s there. That’s a natural thing. Now the next generation, it’s their turn. I should leave it to them. Give them a head space, then don’t get in their way and I will move on to more studying, more reading and all these preaching and helping train others who are newers. I may still work in the grihastha field but now from a teaching point of view. I mean these is only part.
We didn’t really get down to the point of lineage but what I’m saying is that if you want to understand that, you have to understand so many things behind it. Because the maximum rules are when you have the situation of grihastha asham. We have very few rules for brahmachari , vanaprastha and sannyasi and you don’t need all the varnas just for them. So all the main body of rules is grihasta asham. It takes the greatest study to understand. So just to take it while we won’t get rid of the daughters , arrange something at 12 and have it turned into a fiasco. That’s not mature. One has to study the whole field then it makes sense and then it becomes very nice.