Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quiet Times

My usual hangout like Vilasa Kunja has been extraordinarily quiet lately. Hardly surprising when nobody has anything to post. This seems a bit like an oxymoron: Out of 87 members supposedly engaging in spiritual activities daily, no one has anything to say or share about it? Maybe I had better start posting verses from Gaura-centric shastras again, just as I did before. That revived the forum a bit, didn't it?

But anyway, one would think that if one forum is quiet, the best thing is to go and hang out somewhere else? Well, no, because quite a few of the existing forums or news websites are rather disputative and political to various extents. Now I'm being slightly hypocritical about this since I used to be a bit political myself in days gone by, whether the topic of the day was institutional or theological, but I can say that it has been quite a while since I engaged in disputation about such topics. One reason for this is because I am leaning towards the idea that sacred subjects are sanctified enough to be held above our heads in a mood of respect, not to be used as weapons of disputation in a debate that will ultimately have little substantive meaning. So I'm not really interested in nitpicky debates over tiny things on subjects such as the "fall" of the jiva, siddha-deha, raganuga-bhakti, or whatever. Sometimes it is also in the nature of people never to admit when they are wrong, so it also becomes exhausting to talk about something when your fellow disputant is resistant to new knowledge or a different way of looking at things.

Not that I have been doing any of this lately! These are just collected thoughts spanning a period of the last few months or so. Personally I have no wish to engage in discussions at Audarya. I only go there sometimes to ask a question or post a Gaura-centric shloka, but going there sometimes brings a temptation to check out the other sections and lo! You are sucked into the disputative whirlpool if your sense of self-contrl is not as developed as you would like it to be.

The other thing refers to websites such as Chakra, Dandavats, Sampradaya Sun, etc. In my day when I was curious about all these controversies, I noted even then that the discussions and articles posted on these websites fell far short of proper etiquette and behaviour. This is true even today of some articles on the above-mentioned sites. Sometimes when I input the first or second line of a shloka into Google to find a proper English translation, I am led to one of these sites where the shloka is quoted and can't help noticing a salacious political headline. I sometimes think to myself, how can Vaishnavas spend their time criticising and finding fault with others? And if that wasn't bad enough, shastras are employed in this endeavour too?

I remember reading an article by the late Tamal Krishna Gosvami (back when the ritviks were trying to take over the place) in which he made a casual yet profound observation: In this day of the Internet, one's offences may multiply at the click of a mouse.

How true! And this is why it shouldn't matter if one's favourite forum is quiet. If someone has said something, read it and reply if necessary. If nobody has said anything, no problem. Just get back to chanting or reading some shastras. This is the "real business of life."

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  • At 15 September, 2007 10:37, Anonymous Malati dasi said…

    Radhe Radhe

    I also have noticed that Vilaskunja has been very quiet in the last few months.

    You said it should not matter if Vilaskunja had been quiet. I see it differently. As someone who practically has no sanga with anyone except via the internet, I feel sad about VK's state.


    Happy birthday, Gaura! for tomorrow, Sept 16, Sunday here in Australia.

  • At 16 September, 2007 03:45, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    Thank you very much for birthday wishes! :)

    Ah yes, I should have figured that some people have no sanga except via the Net, including myself. It's a sad state of affairs. Perhaps the forum is what we make it; if we write something about what we are doing then maybe people will respond.

    Madhava's hardly around to write anything of Vraja despite living there.

  • At 17 September, 2007 01:24, Blogger The Truth said…

    just came to know
    today is your birthday.
    i am happy to see person like you in this world where one is thirsty of good devotees of Radha-Krishn

    Many many happy returns of the day!! Gaura.

  • At 17 September, 2007 12:19, Anonymous anuradha said…

    I have to compliment you. The attitude you have towards internet forums, is one I share. In theory that is, in practice I am one of those that sometimes lacks self control and thus gets involved in "nitpicky debates over tiny things on subjects such as the "fall" of the jiva, siddha-deha, raganuga-bhakti, or whatever."

    It may be quiter on VK, but most of its members have outgrown the mud throwing mentality and are thus quiter and post modestly. This is a good sign.

    Controversies are just as addictive as drugs, sex and rock and roll. Many so called 'devotional' forums are used to facilitate this addiction.

    Forums where you can disagree with one another and still be constructive are rare and there is always someone that comes to disturb one way or the other.

    I do sympatize with Malati also considering the fact she depends on sanga through internet. But the strong longing for sangha will make it happen. So maybe uncomfortably silent for now, quality will increase.

    One little anecdote. Just because I can't help myself. I recently read on one of the forums you mentioned the following......

    "So I have to agree with members of the Shridar Maharaja camp that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Rathyatra organized by the Devananda Gaudiya Math. Not that I am a fan of that group though. They are the root cause of the Iskcon regional guru fiasco, that led many to take shelter of malafide groups such as ...(bla bla). The dictatorial remaining from the chosen eleven are now desparately trying to affirm their position by any means possible..... ."

    This person is against almost everybody and needs professional help.......

    Just like me by the way ;-)

  • At 18 September, 2007 03:41, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    Thank you very much for your comments Anuradha. I think it is true when you observe that many people have simply outgrown the mentality of debate, etc. Of course it helps when the same issue comes up again and again, the same question asked and the same replies are given, it all gets a little bit boring after a while.

    I think the anecdote you posted is a typical example of what is going on. One group doesn't agree with what another group is doing and they criticise it and find fault; this is like a cult mentality that harms the fragile bhakti-lata. In my humble opinion, one should never underestimate the fragility of the bhakti-lata. That's a tough leson I've had to learn repeatedly.

    So these people who are finding fault, they obviously have nothing better to do than play around with their bhakti-lata and then complain when it doesn't grow. Whoops! There I go again, criticising and finding fault...

    Two things are very true:

    1 - Material proverb - "Pride goeth before a fall."

    2- From the Upanishads - "Walking along the spiritual path is like walking along a razor's edge."

  • At 21 September, 2007 07:06, Anonymous anuradha said…

    Indeed. The mechanisms of propaganda and aparadha put blame on devotees of the Lord where they do not belong. Certain controversies are long gone history for the persons involved, but are kept alive by followers to continue on the path of aparadha, sometimes sublte and sometimes blatent.
    Frequently, due to lack of available controversies, controversies are simply made up, facts distorted, so that the unpleasant mud throwing can continue, made-up-mud.
    It all complicates the search for guru and the growth of our bhakti-lata. As if it isn't hard enough !
    I love BR Shridar Swami, BP Puri Swami, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami and many others. I also draw inspiration from books by Satya Narayan Das and the lives of some Babas. I hope that many I do not know yet will also cross my path so that I can benefit from them without being prejudiced by aparadha and propaganda.

    To stay a bit on topic. I have heard a devotee uses his speech selectively. He either glorifies the Lord and his devotees or he is.... quiet. So no worries.

    (PS. I do not refer to critique amongst sincere and well-wishing friends which is meant to help and uplift. Ofcourse this is a good thing)

  • At 08 February, 2008 01:25, Anonymous Bhakta said…

    I think part of the reason Vilasa Kunja is so dead, has to do with the fact that the amount of traditional Gaudiya Vaishnavas in the western world is relatively small, and that you can't even join the forums unless you're recommended by another member on the forum, which turns away a lot of people curious about the tradition. Just my own two cents, but as you have said one can always simply chant, do puja, read shastras etc.

  • At 09 February, 2008 15:34, Blogger "Gaurasundara das" said…

    I agree with your comments, Bhakta. I think that there have been moves recently to open up the forums a bit more to "outsiders" as it were.

    It is indeed a disappointment that there is little substantial activity going on, unlike the old days of great discussion and so on.


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