The Value of Real Knowledge

January 6, 2014 in Articles, Narasimha Dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

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The Value of Real Knowledge

By Narasimha das

My next door neighbor came over the other day and gave me his latest National Geographic magazine. Just the day before, I had seen it on a magazine stand and resisted the urge to buy it. Normally I have no interest in this atheist rag, but this issue was about the May 31st F5 monster tornado in Oklahoma this year (2013) and the death of Discovery Channel’s famous “storm chaser,” Tim Samaras, and his crew, which included his son Paul Samaras. I was born and raised in “Tornado Alley” and as a boy was fascinated to see tornadoes at a distance.

Tim Samaras had a cult following of storm chasers and was working for National Geographic on a grant for studying tornadoes and lightning. While he and his crew were gathering data on tornadoes with equipment invented by Samaras, they got sucked into a vortex with 300 mph winds. Their car was found the next day in a crumpled ball. It had been dropped like a ball of trash half a mile away. Witnesses saw it falling out of the sky.

The story mentioned other cases illustrating the power of large tornadoes. It is often noted that these storms seem to have a mind of their own and are unpredictable. I learned that India has tornadoes but they are rare everywhere in the world except Tornado Alley, or the US Midwest and Texas. This issue of NG glorified Samaras as a great researcher, explorer, investigator and inventor who devoted his life, at great risk, to unlocking the mystery of these great storms. Yet scientists are still perplexed how they form and how they operate. As usual, this magazine–its writers and editors– glamorize the search for mundane knowledge and completely rule out any idea of God, the soul, metaphysics, or the spiritual dimension of reality.  As such, they are always bewildered and perplexed about the gross and subtle workings of Nature. As described in the Mahabharata, the great emperor and mahajana Yudhisthira Maharaja was asked by Lord Yamaraja, “What man should be regarded as learned? Who is an atheist? And who is ignorant?” Maharaja Yudhisthira succinctly replied, “A learned man is one who knows the science of the self. An atheist is he who is ignorant; and he is ignorant who is an atheist.”

Tim Samaras prided himself on being a scientist first and foremost, yet he had a superstition. He would “religiously” carry a McDonalds cheeseburger on the dash of his car whenever he was out chasing storms. He thought this would bring him good luck. At his funeral, the pastor kept a cheeseburger on the podium as a tribute to Samaras and his strange belief.

The story detailed reports illustrating the power of these storms, many of which seem to love destroying trailer parks and RV parks—easy kills. But they can also lift large barns and homes off their foundations and shread them like cardboard. A county coroner in Oklahoma described how these storms can act like giant meat grinders. Corpses are sometimes so destroyed that they are unrecognizable as former human beings. This issue of NG reported an incident that happened just moments before the demise of Samaras and his crew: A 32-foot trailer with 7 cows inside was picked up and deposited nearly half a mile away. Although trailer was destroyed, none of the cows inside were injured. The atheists reporting this story were totally perplexed how this could be possible. Apparently, the demon inhabiting the body of this tornado had better morals than Samaras, who was addicted to hamburgers.

When He was still a baby, the powerful demon Trinavarta, who took the form of great tornado, picked up baby Krishna and carried Him high into the sky. Krishna at first let the demon carry Him, but then Krishna made His body extremely heavy and grabbed the demon around the neck, causing him to fall violently to the ground. The demon was instantly killed and, of course, Lord Krishna was unhurt. Read the rest of this entry →

Srila Prabhupada and Prahlada Maharaja

January 6, 2014 in Articles, Narasimha Dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

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Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept millions of my prostrated obeisances at your most divine lotus feet. Please forgive my millions of offenses at your feet. My mind remains attached to matter in spite of all your good instructions.

You once wrote me and said, “Please study all of my books very thoroughly.”  I have tried to do that, although insufficiently to fully control my turbulent mind, which is harder to control than the wind. The only hope for me is full engagement in your transcendental service. Your mercy is the only hope for all conditioned souls. You are the real acharya for this age. You once wrote to leading preachers in ISKCON and asked, “What is the use of so many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?” I hope to one day become your useful disciple.

The only way of success for all devotees is to hear from you constantly and understand your glories. Unfortunately, most ISKCON leaders have been neglecting to thoroughly teach new devotees that you are still present in your books, recordings, pictures, and murtis and thus as much available now as you were before. Many devotees who have joined ISKCON in recent years have been told they cannot accept you as their guru. There has been much confusion and chaos due to false ambitions to tap an influx of money and devotees who are attracted to you but not properly engaged in hearing you with rapt attention.  The so-called “guru issue” and other issues such as the “book changes issue”, could be immediately resolved if ISKCON leaders and all devotee would agree to hear from you with rapt attention and without ulterior motives. In fact, this is may be the only way human society can avoid world war three.

In studying your books over the years, I have found much evidence that indicates that you are just like Prahlada Maharaja, who, like you, was the leader and savior of low-born, materialistic persons. Like you, Prahlada Maharaja was always thinking of how to liberate all conditioned souls all over the world and all over the universe. Like you, he was also the disciple of a Ray of Vishnu, namely Sri Narada Muni. Like you, he caused the advent of Lord Narasimha Deva and showed us the way to pray to Sri Narasimha Deva. Like you, Prahlada was known as Abhaya Charan, one who is always fearless at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. Like you, Prahlada was a great devotee from his birth, and he engaged his playmates in devotional service. He was always thinking of the welfare of others, even as a child. Like you, Prahlada was the indestructible “axe handle” on the blade meant for cutting to pieces demoniac civilization. As you did, Prahlada feelingly thanked his Ray of Vishnu spiritual master for saving him from rotting in the “dark well” of household life, although everyone knows that he, like you, is always transcendental. Read the rest of this entry →

FROM ARATIS TO BOLLYWOOD TUNES!

January 6, 2014 in Articles, Srivas Thakur Dasa by Nityananda Rama dasa

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FROM ARATIS TO BOLLYWOOD TUNES!

Arati Changes in ISKCON 
BY:    SRIVAS THAKUR DASA
Sampradaya Sun
Jun 01, INDIA (SUN) —
It was interesting to read Locanananda prabhu’s article, “Kirtana Guidelines“, about the changes in kirtan in ISKCON. Often times when we go to visit ISKCON temples in India, I am just amazed how devotees sing the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra in all different Bollywood Hindi tunes – so much so that instead of remembering Krishna, we are remembering the Hindi songs of yesteryear before we came to Krishna consciousness.
Apart from kirtan tunes, book changes and a whole lot of other changes since 1977, let’s now add a new change—that is in the way arati is performed in ISKCON temples. At present, pujaris seek the permission of their gurus on the altar and then go to offer it to Radha Krishna, Gaur Nitai, then to the Guru parampara, and then to Srila Prabhupada and their respective guru.
This was not the system taught by Srila Prabhupada, and represents a whole concoction made cleverly after 1977. 
Srila Prabhupada taught us how to offer aratis. We are to offer aratis first to Srila Prabhupada and then all the way up to Gaur Nitai and Radha Krishna. Srila Prabhupada emphatically warned us not to make changes after his physical disappearance, but we have boldly made all the changes disregarding His Divine Grace, and are on the threshold to make more changes.
Here are citations from Srila Prabhupada’s letters and lectures, showing what he taught:
Letter to Tamal Krsna, Los Angeles, 15 May 1970:
“So Krsna when He is with His brother and sister, He is Jagannatha, and when He is with His village girl-friends that is Radha-Krsna with Gopis. So Whomever you worship, it is the same, but if you like to worship Jagannanth you can continue it and it is as good as worshiping Radha-Krsna. Krsna has so many forms, and which ever form you worship it is all the same, but you should worship that form which you like most. Regarding the means of worship, our Vaisnava process is first offer respects to the Spiritual Master, then Lord Caitanya, and then Lord Krsna. Vyasa is the Spiritual Master, therefore the Spiritual Master is the representative of Vyasa. Therefore the Spiritual Master’s seat is called “Vyasasana.”
Letter to Himavati, Los Angeles, 1 April 1970:
“Regarding taking Lord Jagannatha to your next center, that will not be very good because you already do not have enough devotees to engage in Arcana. Unless there is a Deity worshipper available, we may worship Panca-tattva and Guru. That can be done by all initiated students whether they are once or twice initiated. Before an altar with pictures of Lord Caitanya, Pancatattva and Acaryas, everyone can offer Aratrik and Bhoga.
Yes, it is nice that you are worshiping Lord Caitanya along with Radha Krsna. That is alright. Lord Caitanya should be placed to the right side of Krsna. There is nothing special for His worship, but you may continue as you are doing now. The order of worshiping is first Spiritual Master, and then Lord Caitanya, then Radha Krsna (as in the mantras or Bunde aham prayer).
Your confidence to do whatever you are instructed by the Spiritual Master is very encouraging. Yes, this is the method of the Vedic injunction, staunch faith in Spiritual Master and Krsna makes one perfect in spiritual understanding.”
Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.10, Los Angeles, Jun 23, 1975:
“Therefore our first duty is to worship Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We keep the Deity. In the first we offer our obeisances to Caitanya Mahaprabhu along with His associate, and then, Guru-Gauranga, then we offer Radha-Krishna or Jagannatha.”
Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.2, London, Aug 10, 1971:
“We begin from our first disciplic succession. Vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaishnavamsh cha. Vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam. “I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my guru, spiritual master.” Vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaishnavamsh cha. And then, his guru, his guru, his guru, they’re all Vaishnavas. Vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaishnavamsh cha. Sri-rupam. Then we offer respect to Sri Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami. Vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau. All the Gosvamis, six Gosvamins. Vande rupa-sanatana… Sagraja. Sa agraja. Agraja means elder brother. Sanatana Gosvami was the elder brother of Rupa Gosvami, and Rupa Gosvami accepted him as his spiritual master. Sri-rupam sagrajatam saha-gana-raghunathanvitam. Associated by Raghunatha. There are two Raghunathas: Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami. Sa-jivam, with Jiva Gosvami. This is the process. Vande ‘ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaishnavamsh cha sri-rupam sagrajatam saha-gana-raghunathanvitam tam sa-jivam. Then we go to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s status: sadvaitam savadhutam. That is also… First of all, Advaita Gosañi, then Nityananda Mahaprabhu, Prabhu. Mahaprabhu is applicable only to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Others, all prabhus. Ekale ishvara krishna ara saba bhritya [Chaitanya-charitamrita Adi 5.142]. Krishna, and He has got innumerable servants. Krishna is Mahaprabhu, and all others, they are prabhus. And the spiritual master who has got many prabhus to abide by his order, he is addressed as Prabhupada. This is the system. So sadvaitam savadhutam parijana-sahitam krishna-chaitanya-devam. After offering all these obeisances to Gosvamis, to guru, and Advaita, Nityananda, then you come to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Then Sri Radha. Not Krishna directly. Sri-radha-krishna-padan saha-gana-lalita-sri-vishakhanvitamsh cha. Radha-Krishna means they are always associated by the gopis, of whom Lalita-Vishakha are the chief out of the ashta-sakhis. So this is the parampara system.” Read the rest of this entry →