Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Shock Over Dhruva Maharaja (das)

Today I found out some shocking news about someone who I considered to be a good friend, Dhruva Maharaja das. I hardly ever read that Yahoogroup, so guess how I found out? Through the IRM magazine that is mailed to me and devotees everywhere and which constitutes a plague in the life of many sincere and practising devotees.

Typical of me to be the last to know everything eh? But that doesn't make the news any less shocking. No wonder I haven't seen him around much at the Manor, but then again I haven't been attending the Manor as regularly. Still, this happened in November and I have seen him around since then! I think? Very shocking, I'm writing this out of shock. Dhruva, I attended his initiation ceremony, I was so happy for him and he seemed to me to be one of the most serious devotees around.

He used to attend every Pandava Sena meeting that I was at, and he shed tears at the funeral of Tribhuvanath Prabhu. Also, after that funeral I think he was the only one I saw who went and had a bath afterwards, as that is the correct thing to do after seeing a dead body/attending a crematorium (according to BRS). Also, one time as I sat next to him at a donation stall, I happened to be drumming on the table with my fingers and, without my knowing it, I was druming on apicture of Prabhupada's face. Dhruva told me that I should stop doing that as it constitutes an offence against the spiritual master. I was so surprised because, I myself am "orthodox" enough not to have done it in the first place if I hadn't been doing it absent-mindedly, but I was also very proud that he was someone who knew enough to point out my fault to me.

Seriously, he seemed to me to be one of the most serious devotees. I used to speak highly of him and wished him all the best in his deovtional career even though he could be a bit fanatical sometimes. Sometimes a tiny bit of fanaticism can be good if it is channelled in a proper way to help one to follow the principles properly.

The IRM presented that Yahoogroup posting in an abridged manner in the middle of an article dealing with bannings of devotees from Bhaktivedanta Manor. I could only see this message in full when I visited the PS Yahoogroup. What can I say? Utter shock.

Then again I wasn't that close to him and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be even more shocked than I. Hmm, I wonder what my friend Devesh makes of it all? I should ask him. I haven't spoken to Devesh in a very long time. I notice that my friends Navina Krishna, Bhuta-bhavana and Sandipan Krishna are behind the writing of that posting. Wow, I guess they must be ultra-shocked since they knew him for so many years. After all, Dhruva Maharaja has been connected with PS since a very long time and I still sometimes remember him as 'Dhaval'.

Dhruva also asked me for money at his initiation ceremony, but if I remember correctly I couldn't give him much as I didn't have much money on me at the time. I didn't consider anything wrong as such on that occasion because it is customary to collect money at one's initiaiton ceremony in order to present it to the guru as 'dakshina'.

Oh well, what more is there to say. This world is filled with dualities. It is sad to see that even the devotee community is not exempt from fraud and the like, and I don't particularly relish the gossip over devotees' faults and falldowns as I used to do before. As a matter of fact if I am truly honest I have always been disgusted by it. I got serious in ISKCON around the time Harikesa fell down and it was a big issue when it happened. When I used to go on the Internet and see all the Vaishnavas bite on Harikesa like sharks in a feeding frenzy, I was appalled. I thought, "whatever he may have done, he has fallen down from his devotion. How about a little sympathy or compassion?"

I still think like that whenever I hear of a falldown or such. Just like the recent Jagat affair. Some people misunderstood my position, that I was defending Jagat out of some blind idea that he is some respectable guy. NO! As a matter of fact I have plenty of diagreements with him on various philosophical/practical issues even though I may not voice them, but if I see Jagat getting unnecessary castigation from people who appear to have no respect for common courtesy or oeven common decency, I wouldn't mind standing up in their defence. Everyone, at the very least, deserves common courtesy and decency. And especially in the case of Jagat (why not?) considering that he has been a mentor of sorts to several people for so many years. Biting the hand that fed you once upon a time is not a mark of good manners.

So what can we say? I believe that there is a verse in the Gita about how some people are carried away by their delusion? Perhaps that is apt.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Reworking Kanupriya Goswami's text

The recent Gaura Purnima festival led me to recall how I typed up a 'first edition' of Srimat Kanupriya Goswami's excellent text on Sriman Mahaprabhu. I had intended to come out with a 'second edition' soon after that - with modernised spellings and corrections, as well as some aesthetic bolsterings - but I guess I got caught up with a lot of other projects.

In any case I should get back around to doing that when I get some free time. I basically need to compile a list of the words which I think are spelling errors, and clarify their spellings (according to HK encoding) with people who are 'in the know' about it. That's one of the main obstacles.

The second thing is to look up the shastric verses and quote them properly, and then last of all I can worry about reformatting the text as a whole with regards to fancy fonts and all. I need a better PDF creation tool than the one I have now, that's for sure!

And people should know what Srimat Kanupriya Goswami had to say!

I find his ideas about Mahaprabhu's Golden Age to be interesting and exciting. But most of all it is reasonable, as opposed to the unreasonable Golden Age theories of some other teachers out there. Unlike the wishy-washy overnight sensations I keep hearing about, Kanupriya Goswami gives solid logic and reasonings as to why the Golden Age will appear, why it hasn't appeared yet, and most of all, the shastric evidences he presnts are astounding.

That's the clincher for me: shastra. Whatever you have to say, it don't mean a thing if you don't got the shastric backup.

This ain't gonna sit well with a few people out there, such as the Advaitins and so on, but I guess they'll just have to come to terms with the fact that they don't know much. The time comes when the child has to leave his daydream fantasies to go and be schooled.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gaura Purnima 2006

Upon reflecting on the significance of this year's Gaura Purnima festival, I was also surprised to note that it is exactly 520 years since the Golden Lord appeared. 1486-2006. The great flood of His supremely sweet Krishna-prema continues to wash over the world with wave after wave of honey-sweet love that testifies to His great divinity and His overflowing mercy and compassion for all living beings.

This verse from the Chaitanya Bhagavata attracted my attention:

kon hetu kRSNacandra kare avatAra
kA'ra zakti Ache tattva jAnite tAhAra?

Who has the ability to know why Krishnachandra incarnates?
(CB 2.15)

What a great progression from what was stated in Bhagavad Gita! For the protection of the virtuous and for the vanquishing of the demons, and not forgetting the re-establishment of religious principles, it is amazing that this verse posits a query!

Although there are plenty of sections and verses in the Chaitanya Bhagavata and the Chaitanya Charitamrita that detail the reasons for His advent, I found the above-quoted verse to be most intriguing. For the great and glorious avatar of Mahaprabhu who deigned to establish the dharma of Kali-yuga as well as to fulfill His own three internal desires, could there be another reason?

The verse clearly reveals the mystery and predicament that mortals face; who has the ability to know why Krishnacandra incarnates? Clearly this is not a question of God's own unknowing รก la the Rig Veda. The reason is probably that since so many reasons have been given for the appearance of this avatar - as well as for all other avatars - who has the capacity to understand exactly why avatars take place?

On the other hand it can be seen as a testament to human folly; whereas there are many pundits who gain immense pleasure from a scholarly reputation and the ability to 'know it all', this verse serves as the blade that undercuts their assumptions at the very root. Who has the ability to know? The human mind cannot know it, but can only revel in the bliss of it all. When Mahaprabhu was pleased to appear, He brought with Him a huge flood of prema that completely washed away all the slime and filth of this world. Those who are wise can see it, whereas it's material results will appear in due course.

How we should wait for that day! We want every town to reverberate with the sound of 'Shri Krishna Chaitanya Prabhu Nityananda'. How he overlooks the world with His wide eyes and slight smiling, observing the worldwide celebrations of His holy appearance day and granting his blessings to all. His hair falls down to his shoulders and is slightly blown back by a cool breeze. The beautiful golden hue of His body perfectly complements his brightly-shining yellow garments and the jewels that adorn Him pale in comparison to the gleaming rays that emanate from His toenails.

Watch Him dance in utter and causeless joy with Nityananda! The Sun and the Moon frolic gaily to the roaring sound of the Sri Harinam-sankirtan that arises at dawn and continues into the small hours of the night. What more is there to say? Who has the ability to know why Krishnachandra incarnates?

And as a delightful tidbit, my deities are two years old. :-)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lunch at the Temple

I went to the temple for lunch today. As it was my day off I woke up quite late, around 10.30am, and wanted to have a nice lie-in but I was woken up and asked to come along to the temple. I was initially reluctant but as I hadn't been there since Nityananda Trayodashi, I thought this would be too good an opportunity to miss.

I enjoy going there at that time since the Raj-bhog arati takes place ant 12.30pm and if there is not many devotees around, I get the chance to take the arati-trays, water things (gee, I must find out the name of that!) and the flowers around the crowd, but unfortunately today it wa snot to be as the car got delayed by roadworks. I felt pretty bad about missing arati and darshan because I feel that visits to the temple are incomplete if darshan is not gained, and it feels like I am only there to eat food. By way of compensation, I had decided to forego a breakfast snack because I wanted the chance to have maha-prasad to be the first thing I eat.

This is what I refer to as grace: Before I left the house, my mother insisted that I should have something to eat as I shouldn't go out on an empty stomach. She offered me a scone which, in usual circumstances, I might have eaten but like I said - I'm much more impressed with the idea of having maha-prasad as the first thing to eat all day! :-)

So as I arrived at the temple and learned that darshan was over, I disappointedly joined the line to get a portion of the day's Raj-bhog maha-prasad. Something that cheered me up was the fact that there didn't seem to have been many people at the day's arati, which means a smaller crowd, which means more maha-prasad! And funnily enough, today they had decided to make a nice cake and offer it to Their Lordships. It was a beautiful creamy chocolate cake, I couldn't believe it when the serving devotee put it on my plate. And of course, it was lovely to eat! Can you just believe that? I refused a SCONE and received a CHOCOLATE CAKE by Krishna's mercy!

It was so strange, because they almost never make those things at that time of day. In my heart I thanked Krishna for His little gift. It impressed upon me the ralisation that litle acts of sacrifice that are performed in a mood of piety may inveitably attract the blessings of the Lord. The only reason I refused that scone is because I had the opportunity to break-fast with maha-prasad, which in their terms is a small piece of chapati with a little bit of bhaji and something soft and sweet. Perhaps a little salad, but on tiny - TINY! - plates.

And as my mother doesn't like sweets much, she gave me half of her piece of chocolate cake so I ended up having one and a half pieces, haha!

The lunch itself wasn't that bad either. Rice with a channa-bhaji, a vegetable mix, salad, chapatis. I liked the channa-bhaji so much that I went and got a second helping! And after I had finished and spent some time looking around, I went back into the dining room to discover that my mother was left as the only serving person and hadn't had her lunch yet. That's not big deal because she tends to eat in her own time anyway, but I thought it was unfair that she was lef to serve everything. So as some other devotees lind up to take their food, I immediately stepped forward to help in the serving of food, so I got to do a bit of Vaishnava-seva as well!

All in all a pretty good day, and to think I was reluctant to go when I got up this morning! :-)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Dark Night Part 3

I think I'm going through another dark night of the soul, although it doesn't seem to have lasted as long as the previous ones.

But yes, certain things are extremely dangerous and vigilance is necessary.