Exchange of Views
Posted February 23, 2004
A devotee has taken a great deal of time and trouble to write a critical article called "The Hinduization of ISKCON" citing the Spanish Fork temple's observance of Shiva Ratri. Anticipating the inevitable criticism, we already wrote a reply. This is not point for point to the article in question, but does generally cover the issues.
- Lord Shiva is number one devotee of Lord Krishna (Vaishnavanam Yatha Sambhu) We observe the festivals of so many other devotees of Krishna. Is Shiva less than any of them?
- The main story we told, that of Shiva's drinking the ocean of poison, involves no less than 8 interventions of Vishnu (Krishna) from the idea of churning itself to the Mohini incarnation. Please pick up your Bhagavatam and read the story. Count the times. So If we are narrating the story of Lord Shiva's saving the universe 1 time, the SAME STORY contains the information that Vishnu intervened to save the universe and/or the demigods 8 times.
- We did a power point presentation on Lord Shiva the main section of which is entitled "Devotee of Lord Krishna". This includes many quotes from Lord Shiva1s prayers to the Pracetas and beautiful photos of Krishna, his worshipful Lord. You have to explain how great Shiva is first, then when people understand that this great personality is himself a devotee of Lord Krishna it helps them appreciate Krishna more (the moon through some nearby trees). Thus we don't have any problem elaborating on the glories and greatness of Lord Shiva, even one hour or two, as long as at the end everybody understands that the name he is chanting on his rudraksha beads is that of Krishna.
- There was lots of ecstatic chanting of Hare Krishna.
- The standard bathing ceremony we did to Lord Shiva contained a huge percentage of slokas praising Krishna or Vishnu which (you can trust me) I did not fail to explain.
- We want to get Lord Shiva's blessings because we are "das anudasa" (servants of the servants of the servants...).
- Some young people who come to this particular festival have the misconception that Lord Shiva condones the taking of mind altering substances, which we quickly disabuse them of. In that sense the annual festival accomplishes a little bit of positive social work.
- If the Hindus, who are our biggest natural supporters all over the world, are going to worship Lord Shiva anyway, isn't it better we bring them to do it gorgeously in the Krishna temple, rather than someplace else where they will not get the Krishna overview? By the way, there are only 400 Hindu families in all of Utah, and the vast majority of attendees at our events are Westerners, most of whom are college students.
- Grant that what we do here is best for our own assessment of what is effective in our area. I would not question the tactics of others to preach in their areas, because they have been there for many years and know their constituency. What might work for one might not work here, and vice versa, and thus I think preachers have to give each other the benefit of the doubt. We are a rural center fifty miles from Salt Lake City. To draw the large crowds, we put a lot of thought into what it will take to get visitors here.
- Finally, we chose to market the Appearance Day of Lord Chaitanya on March 6th as Holi/Gaura Purnima rather than Gaura Purnima/Holi, or just Gaura Purnima. We may be going straight to hell for this, but there will be 800 people here seeing an elaborate power point presentation on Lord Chaitanya, participating in the gala abhisheka ceremony of Lord Chaitanya's deity, and chanting Hare Krishna for hours. Without the element of the colors, I doubt there would even be a fraction of that number.
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Caru das and Vaibhavi