Dharma-yupah

Viṣṇu-sahasranāma 439 | October 21, 2015 |

English; Nanda Gokulam, Telangana, India

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Accepting a Service in Which the Guru Doesn't Engage

March 11, 2012 |

Question: Can a devotee accept service that his guru doesn't directly engage in? For instance, I am very much inspired by Indradyumna's Maharaj's festivals. I think such festivals have a broad reach to masses. I don't like the cultural part of these festivals, but the philosophy and prasadam and kirtan can really get people intrigued. Some time in the… Expand>

Question:

Can a devotee accept service that his guru doesn't directly engage in? For instance, I am very much inspired by Indradyumna's Maharaj's festivals. I think such festivals have a broad reach to masses. I don't like the cultural part of these festivals, but the philosophy and prasadam and kirtan can really get people intrigued.

Some time in the future I would like to organize such festivals and do mass book distributions. However, for that I would need a lot of training from Indradyumna Maharaj even though I am aspiring to serve you.

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

We are all supposed to be servants of Śrīla Prabhupāda in the saṅkīrtana movement. So, if you are inspired to help with some particular service which pushes forward the saṅkīrtana movement, that’s not against what I’m doing. And if at all I’m to guide you, I’m to guide you to serve in the association of devotees the bona fide activities of the saṅkīrtana movement. 

So by all means: 
nāca, gāo, bhakta-saṅge kara saṅkīrtana
kṛṣṇa-nāma upadeśi’ tāra’ sarva-jana (CC Ādi 7.92)

[‘My dear child, continue dancing, chanting and performing saṅkīrtana in association with devotees. Furthermore, go out and preach the value of chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma, for by this process You will be able to deliver all fallen souls.’]

Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself received the order to sing and dance, perform saṅkīrtana in the association of devotees and by instructing the holy name to everyone to deliver the whole world. 

So that order is coming in the paramparā, and wherever and however you get the opportunity to help the devotees in, and join with the devotees in spreading the saṅkīrtana movement, do it. It’s not that if you become my disciple, you have to be locked into a little bubble in a little corner. Let’s all be part of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s big family.

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Question: Recently I was shocked to learn that few of ISKCON temples around the globe celebrated Christmas by dressing Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities Santa Claus styled outfits. Is it acceptable to dress the Lord in such a non-traditional style or it is just a speculation?… Expand>

Question:

Recently I was shocked to learn that few of ISKCON temples around the globe celebrated Christmas by dressing Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities Santa Claus styled outfits. Is it acceptable to dress the Lord in such a non-traditional style or it is just a speculation?

 

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

So, I’ve been informed that some temples in Europe in the Christmas season dress Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus, and that one temple, ISKCON temple (we are talking about ISKCON temples here), is dressing Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus. And one temple in India also did this. And what do I think about this? 

Unfortunate…is one word I could use. Nonsense is another.

In one letter Śrīla Prabhupāda was informed that devotees sent some Christmas cards with a picture of Krsna. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote that we are not for Christmas greetings. In another or several times, Śrīla Prabhupāda also spoke about speculation in Deity worship… So, there may be various reasons given. In India, the reason was given that Christians come to our temple. Well, in that case you can dress Kṛṣṇa as cricket star, maybe the cricket fans would come. Or you can dress Kṛṣṇa like some famous film star, then maybe people interested in movies, they would come. 

But the whole idea…Deity worship is to dress Kṛṣṇa as Rādhā likes Him, and dress Rādhā as Kṛṣṇa likes Her, according to the directions of great ācāryas. Getting mixed up with this Western culture…as far as possible we should try to avoid that. We have our own festivals. Why adopt this Christmas, which is supposed to be a birth of Christ, although they don’t actually know when Christ was born? The main feature of Christmas in the modern world is killing lots of birds, especially turkeys in England, drinking lots of alcohol…

Especially, dressing Deities like this, all I can say is- unfortunate. My saying so won’t stop it going on. There are so many great ācāryas in our movement who are introducing things that none of our previous ācāryas was doing…So, what to say? Whether to laugh or to cry?

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Question: 1. Why does Krishna say here that one cannot repay his debt to his parents even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years when in S.B 11.5.4 Narada muni says to Vasudeva–“One who has taken shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, is not indebted to demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away.” So how are we to understand this statement and how should we take this comment in SB 10.45.5?… Expand>

Question:

sarvārtha-sambhavodeho

janitaḥpoṣitoyataḥ

natayoryātinirveśaṁ

pitrormartyaḥśatāyuṣā

Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. (S.B.10.45.5).

Questions:

1. Why does Krishna say here that one cannot repay his debt to his parents even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years when in S.B 11.5.4 Narada muni says to Vasudeva–“One who has taken shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, is not indebted to demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away.” So how are we to understand this statement and how should we take this comment in SB 10.45.5?

2. Is this comment applicable to only a Krishna conscious father and mother or a materialistic father & mother also?

 

ANSWER BY HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

"All right. Karttik Kumar form Bangalore is quoting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.45.5, spoken by Kṛṣṇa.

sarvārtha-sambhavo deho
janitaḥ poṣito yataḥ
na tayor yāti nirveśaṁ
pitror martyaḥ śatāyuṣā

Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years.

So there’s that verse which Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes three times, I believe, in Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Because Arjuna’s whole proposition was not to go against the family.

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam

O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one's forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord's service has no need to serve such persons separately. (SB 11.5.41.)

So this appears to be contradictory because Kṛṣṇa says you can’t repay your debt to your parents, even if you serve them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. But then Kṛṣṇa says: “If you take shelter of Me, then you are not indebted.”

Well, one statement is qualified by another. This is common – that (there is a) general truth, (and) there are exceptions. Sri Lankans are good people. OK, we can accept that as a general proposition. Well, this one is not good - some of them are not good. So it’s a general case, but it’s qualified.

Actually, one can repay the debts. One repays the debts to the parents by having children. That’s the understanding. So the children, they will offer pinda to the Pitris.

DEBT TO THE PARENTS
What is the debt to the parent? - That you were given a body by them. So you can’t exactly repay, but you create more bodies. So there is a way to repay, but the mood of this is that what you were given is so valuable that we feel we can’t repay. We shouldn’t think: “OK, I repaid them, and then leave them alone, forget them.” That’s the idea. Gratefulness should be there.

sarvārtha-sambhavo deho
Everything we want to do, that can be done through the body. If you don’t have a body, you can’t do anything. If you are a ghost, for instance. If you are born in a subhuman body, then one cannot achieve the goal of life. So therefore, the human form of life is very valuable. But, if we fully dedicate to Kṛṣṇa, then we become free from the ordinary method of repaying the debt to the parents because we actually benefit not only the parents but even previous generation and even forthcoming generations. Kṛṣṇa delivers them all.

So therefore, one is not a debtor if he takes full shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa takes care of all, the parents and everyone else. So the general case is that one cannot repay the debt to the parents. And of course, that’s very much part of Indian culture, especially in North India very well-known this story… What’s his name? Kumara Sampat, Sampat Kumar; what is it? Śravan Kumar. Very common picture to see him carrying, on his shoulder, the father and mother.

MATERIALISTIC PARENTS
So, question number two. In one sense it is more applicable to materialistic father and mother. Inasmuch as, by Kṛṣṇa consciousness you repay the debt. Of course, you shouldn’t think that: “Well, (it) doesn’t matter about my parents.” A child in Kṛṣṇa consciousness shouldn’t be neglectful of parents. But, (one) may also, if one is fully engaged in preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then (he) may not marry and look after the parents in old age. But it should be seen that someone looks after them - some arrangement is made - something is done. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness we shouldn’t take it as an excuse to neglect our parents."

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