Tag Archives: #VedicWisdom

Vaishnava Etiquette

for Men by a Woman

Why? Because apparently all ladies are still only their bodies.

Dear Kind Souls and Wonderful Vaishnavas.
Dandavat pranams. Jaya Gauranga!

By a great blessing, I have been exposed to sweet Krsna (God) and ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) since 2002; so today, at the beginning of 2020, it’s been 18 years.

With all this time, it could be (and maybe should be) expected that I am now mature in the art of philosophy and versed in spiritual etiquette. Therefore, I also expect the same from others that have been within the culture and society of Krishna consciousness for this long, or much longer. I know many who were born into this beautiful culture, and yet, unfortunately, their immaturity is quite prominent; and often hypocritical in regards to Vaishnava etiquette. Many times it is like a one way road, where you’re expected to conduct yourself with perfect etiquette, while the one in front of you is not. This has left me stupefied every time.

No need to say, I’ll likely be criticized for speaking of this unacceptable trend; often, you’re an offender for noticing and speaking up about anomalies in the behavior of ‘spiritual’ people.

Over the years, much criticism has been given in regards to my frankness (trying to keep things real) and upfront ways; way too often in fact. So much so, that I’m quite infamous (especially in the UK Yatra). Many today seem to enjoy saying that I am ‘very offensive’. Others, that know me well, will say that it’s mostly because of my constant refusal to just ‘go along’ with absorbing so many irregularities and unacceptable behaviors; especially from Men.

Why specially from men?

First, I would like to acknowledge and express my appreciation for men of steady and great character, as this does not apply to them; and most ladies, because ladies are more straightforward with me; they simply like me or dislike me – usually strongly – and that is just fine. With ladies, once the relationship is established, we then get closer or just move on. But with men it has been quite a different story.

For a start, Vaishanva men (or so they think) are constantly attempting to contact me on facebook, to be their ‘friend’. Many times getting very upset if their intentions are questioned, or when I mention my husband; which they should already know, being that my status says: MARRIED!

When they try to engage me in conversation – if not for a specific service or question – it more often then not, goes like this:
Devotee Man: Hare Krsna Mataji…
Me: Hare Krsna prabhu, How can we serve you?
Devotee Man: Where are you? or …. Where do you live?
Me: How can my husband serve you?

It usually stops there, but if the conversation continues a little further, there are usually two outcomes:

1) They get insulted and try to shame me, sometimes even insulting me for asking what it is that they want, or
2) They just get upset, insult me and go away.

I have roughly three men per day (friend of a friend, or a complete stranger from within the devotee community) asking to connect on FB, most strangers are declined, of course. Only once in a blue moon will a lady seek my attention, and when they do, I am so very glad.

Secondly, after I meet an aspiring devotee in a male body, in person at a temple, an event or kirtan, or even online, more often then not – and especially if they are a little older – there is quickly, a clear undermining of my capacities. This is followed, way too soon, with the preaching of personal philosophy with a hard and clear attempt to control who I am, what I do and how; as if my prana (life force) is now theirs to control, to use to their advantage, rather than mine to use in the mission of spiritualizing the whole planet.

In the event we do begin serving together in some way (apart from a very few cases up to today), a very clear competition is soon established, usually ending badly. Because, when it comes to articulating reason, common sense and expressing their clear capacity to prove themselves worthy of either being followed and/or adored (as some work so hard to do) they fall short, and are at a loss. The only thing for them after that is to engage in a ‘correcting Aradhana campaign’. (Some women have also tried this, but again, it is rare.)

What most are not considering is a bigger and more complicated problem. Our spiritual intelligence is granted by Krsna Himself, and only because of our sincere love, dedication and honesty. This intuitive knowledge facilitates the complete understanding of anyone’s ‘hidden agenda’, and that has been priceless.

Akrura (great scholar) visits the cowherd ladies to learn about Love of God.

Most of the time, in this material world, when someone sees the great potential of another – especially if there is a ‘seniority complex’ – there is an absolute and pointed desire to conquer; the urge to control and utilize others’ amazing energy, only to achieve one’s own desires, being whatever they are. And when this ‘how to control others’ is thought out and strategized, it’s commonly done while fully disregarding any of the spiritual etiquette instilled in us by Srila Prabhupada. So, depending on the sincerity level, which may be low in many cases, defeating a soul in a ‘female body’ becomes more important than the service.

Srila Prabhupada explained many times this important fact, that must be understood: we’re all gurus (with different levels of knowledge, of course) and bodily designations are to be disregarded.

“We are not this body” is indeed the very first lesson.

This being so, why is it that I have been reminded again and again that I am a ‘female’, especially when it comes to ISKCON’S authorities; big and small alike. It has been the case that when positions of responsibility are sought (by me, or other ladies), bodily designation remarks are there every time. Even if just to avoid the consideration of a ‘woman’ filling such positions.

Most positions of authority, and 95% of the time, have been given openly and irresponsibly to men demonstrating a pronounced lack of: spiritual (or even mundane) etiquette, Krsna consciousness, and even a basic understanding of the true value of all souls. Just see what is actually being done to the Hare Krsna movement today!

Hindu Temples everywhere? Unimportant and irrelevant rituals, such as burning Ravana outside a temple? Is that really the goal?

My deepest concern is that for so long now, this distasteful approach has become quite clear. Where do I send sincere souls to enjoy Krsna’s presence in a temple, where nobody will prey upon them!

And these prominent issues are not only noticed by me – of course – but by so many that love Srila Prabhupada and his lovely temples (as they were), who also face the same predicament. Today, it’s very difficult to have authentic transcendental interactions with others; so many are not even nice people. It’s my feeling that this is due to a lack of proper Vaishnava etiquette and a minimum level of sincerity.

Certainly I have here only touched the tip of this iceberg so it may be that this will become a series of short articles, because this is a serious matter that needs expression.

I feel strongly that the younger generation needs guidance, and as they much prefer short and pointed information, here we are; simple, and without a great need for dropping slokas or long convoluted exposés. It is about loving God (Krsna) and His creation which includes every amazing living entity in this realm and beyond. Simple really! Right?

The Vedic Times is here to stay, and we remain keen to serve true Vaishnavas, spiritual seekers and all darling souls. We do prefer the ones that are willing to stay level headed, kind and reasonable, regarding all matters; of course!

To be continued…

An Introduction to Achintya-Bheda-Abheda Tattva

The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabeda Tattva embodies the quintessence of all systems of Indian philosophy. Indian philosophy, embodied in the Vedic literatures, is over 5000 years old and inspired the birth of the two great Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. It has also greatly influenced the western world, particularly over the last 200 years. Most systems of Indian philosophy propound the view that the universe is fundamentally one, part of and pervaded by the Supreme Being, from whom it has emanated. As such, they maintain that the universe is not the outcome of blind chance, but that it is the result of intelligent design and that it has meaning and purpose. Furthermore, according to most systems of Indian philosophy the material universe, in which we live, is only part of an infinite and spiritual universe. Both the material and spiritual universe are considered energies of God, the Supreme Spiritual Being. The spiritual universe is defined as God’s internal energy, and the material universe His external energy. All living beings in the material world are essentially spiritual, and part of His internal energy. Finally, according to most systems of Indian philosophy, God is defined as a transcendental Person, endowed with consciousness, attributes and form, and who stands at the center and source of his infinite energies and emanations.

At the cornerstone of this world view is the notion that God, and the universe emanating from Him, are essentially one and different. He is one, in that He is the origin of, and pervades all beings, and He is different, in that His energies have their own independent existence and identity. This independent existence and individual identity accounts for the world of many-ness and variegatedness.. The problem is, that the principles of oneness and many-ness contain a logical paradox, and appear to be mutually exclusive. On the bases of logic it is indeed hard to reconcile how one entity can be one and many at the same time. Within the different schools of Indian thought, philosophers and mystics have attempted to resolve this paradox by emphasizing one principle over the other, thereby reducing e.g. many-ness to a by product of oneness. Some schools of thought, taking a more extreme position, have even postulated that only oneness is real, and that the many-ness constitutes an illusion. Throughout the history of Indian philosophy this theme, and its implicit paradox, has been at the center of philosophical discussions.

Thereby the oneness and many-ness principles do not just confine themselves to the relationship between God and His creation. The principle extends to virtually all areas of philosophy and science, such as the relation between matter and consciousness, between qualities and substance, between particles and fields, between energy and matter, and the personal and the impersonal. Interestingly, therefore, it appears that the principle of oneness and many-ness, with its inherent paradox, extends to all areas of reality.

Within the history of western philosophy we also find the constant recurrence of the oneness versus many-ness theme, resulting in different schools of opposing thought. Thereby the parallels between Indian and western thinking are striking. Most notable is e.g. the discussion and debates that have flourished on the issue of realism and idealism, or the relation between matter and consciousness, during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe.

The great 16th century Indian philosopher and mystic Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu formulated a new principle, shedding light on the paradox, and making explicit what was already acknowledged implicitly by many great Indian thinkers. Caitanya stated that the principles of oneness and difference are inherently inseparable, that they always exist simultaneously, and that their simultaneous existence lies at the core of all metaphysics. He furthermore stated that the simultaneous existence of oneness and many-ness is called Acintya in Sanskrit, which means “inconceivable”. Inconceivability implies that this aspect of reality is inconceivable to the human and finite mind, and transcends the principles of logic. The philosophy of Caitanya has been formulated in Sanskrit as “Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva”. Acintya means inconceivable, Bhedabheda means simultaneous oneness and many-ness, and Tattva means principle or truth.

The problem is, of course, that if we abandon and ignore the principles of logic, then we may be forced to accept any irrational worldview, and loose our ability to analyze and verify scientific and philosophical theories. For logic lies at the core of all philosophy and science. The principle of Caitanya however, makes a noticeable difference, in that Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva should not be considered ‘illogical’, but rather it should be considered ‘supralogical’. The difference is that while a supralogical principle may appear to defy the laws of logic, the principle itself can be perceived and verified by means of direct perception, and has an empirical foundation. As such the principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva can be observed in many phenomenon and occurrences in this world.

A good example is the perception of a red rose. As mentioned before, the discussion on one-ness versus many-ness has extended itself to all aspects of philosophy and science. In the western tradition, two schools of thought emerged on the issue of the relation between substance and its qualities. One school, called the realists, founded by the Greek philosopher Plato, stated that qualities and substance are in fact two different realities. E.g. Plato postulated that there is such a thing as universal ‘redness’, that becomes superimposed along with other universal qualities, on a particular material substance, thereby creating a red rose. Plato therefore viewed qualities and substance as being different. Many centuries later another school of thought emerged, called the nominalists, that disagreed with Plato, and postulated that a quality can never be separated from its substance, and that quality and substance are in fact one and the same. This discussion is a very good example of the paradox inherent in the relation between a substance and its qualities. The fact is, that they are simultaneously one and different, and that while this may transcend, or defy, the laws of logic, our perception of the red rose confirms the principle.

Another example is the spatial perception of an object, say a coin. While the coin is one, it has many sides, an inside as well as an outside, an upside and down side. These different sides establish an element of many-ness within the object, that is simultaneously perceived as one object.

In modern physics the relation between particles and fields has been a subject of many discussions. Scientists have observed that a field, or wave, sometimes behaves like a continuum of energy (oneness), and other times behaves like a stream of finite particles (many-ness). The phenomena has in fact been named “wavicles” clearly establishing the simultaneous oneness and many-ness of these manifestations of energy. The discussion reflects the underlying principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva. Following this theme, modern physics leans towards a worldview whereby the universe is seen as a unified field of energy, from which finite particles, in the shape of matter, emerge as a continuous process of creation. These finite particles can at any time revert back to their non-finite energetic state, which paints a picture of oneness (the field) and many-ness (particles) continually interchanging, and in fact simultaneously coexisting.

There are in fact many more examples that could be adduced to illustrate the principle of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva, and that confirm the principle by means of direct perception. As such the principle is not illogical, but should be defined as ‘supra-logical’, transcending the limitations of the finite human mind.

Ultimately the philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva explains the relationship between God and His creation, and more specifically, it also explains the relationship between God and living entities, such as ourselves. The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva states that this relationship too, is characterized by simultaneous oneness and difference. We are one with God in a qualitative sense, however we are different quantitatively. In quantity God is infinite and we are finite. It is therefore a mistake to assume, as some Indian schools of thought have advocated, that man is identical to God, and fundamentally one with Him in every respect. We are not God, merely small parts of God, with a limited degree of independence.

Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva also sheds light on the identity of God Himself. It maintains that while God is a transcendental Person, he is simultaneously impersonal as well. The relationship between the personal and impersonal too has been the subject of many philosophical arguments. While consciousness and form represent the personal aspect of God, infinity and all-pervasiveness represent the impersonal aspect, which attributes appear contradictory. Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva maintains that they both exist simultaneously, and that they complement each other. God is simultaneously full of form and formless, finite and infinite, personal and impersonal.

The philosophy of Acintya Bhedabheda Tattva, as expounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore represents a revolutionary new paradigm in our ability to understand reality, and it in fact resolves many of the apparently irresolvable paradoxes that have dominated philosophy and metaphysics in the east and the west for thousands of years.


Experience it for yourself !
Chanting Yoga Retreats