Chakra Discussions

Response to "Change of Asrama is Not Guru Falldown"

by Gaurav Mittal

Posted February 13, 2012

Niscala DD brings interesting issues in her article "Change of Asrama is Not Guru Falldown". Before this issue is addressed, one needs to know the meaning of "falldown". Falldown refers to going down from high elevated state to lower state of spiritual advancement. To understand this, the spiritual advancement needs to be understood. The spiritual advancement is inner state of realization. In ISKCON, this is misunderstood. The spiritual advancement is judged by external material circumstances or rituals.

One common characteristics of advanced devotee accepted in Iskcon is the ability of the devotee to convert people to one's faith. If this is accepted, then the advancement is dependent on number of followers one has. The followers of Christianity and Islam have converted millions of people to their religion. That does not mean that the leaders of those conversion were spiritually advanced. Conversion as the quality of advancement is never mentioned in Vedic literature by Vyasa Deva. Advancement of person is independent of one's ability change other’s faith and make followers.

It is widely accepted that one who knows the science of Krishna is advanced or fit to be guru. “Knowing” is used quite loosely. This is from the verse - yei krsna tattva vetta sei guru hoya. “yei krishna tattva vetta” means one who realizes Krishna tattva. Realizing the principles of Gita and Bhagavatam is essential quality of guru. It is not just theoretical knowledge but it refers to the vision of the devotee. Another widely accepted qualification of the advanced devotee is that the person who repeats the words of scriptures or guru (transparent medium). Parrot can also repeat the scriptures. Just repeating the words, does not make one advanced. What makes one advanced is realizing and practicing them!

Niscala DD article points to confusion among devotees about the qualification of the advanced devotee. That is the reason of the problems in Iskcon. Due to lack of knowledge of the qualities of devotee, the devotee fail to progress in bhakti. Due to this failure, there are not many qualified people to become leaders and the unqualified people become leaders. Some people start criticizing the leaders and become angry over them. Will removing them solve the problem? Are there realized devotees who can take the position of leaders? Society will fail to develop these people if the members don't know who is advanced devotee and how to advance themselves.

Advancement of person is internal quality. It is quite difficult to judge advancement by external actions. Sometimes, people tend to judge themselves and others by ashrama they are in, the food they eat, the rituals they follow, the mantras they chant etc. All these is important. Still, one needs to follow very basic dharma as mentioned below in Padma Purana -

Shrooyataam dharmasarvasvam shrutvaa chaivaavadhaaryataam|
Aatmanah pratikoolaani pareshaan na samaacharet ||
(Padmapuraan, shrushti 19/357-358)

“Dharmasarvasva” meaning if the entire “Dharma” (spiritual and moral laws) can be said in a few words, then it is - that which is unfavorable to us, do not do that to others.

This is described as “the Golden rule” and it is accepted in all religions. Wikipedia states:

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or morality that essentially states either of the following:

(Positive form): One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.[2]

(Negative/prohibitive form, also called The Silver Rule): One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.

Any person who follows above golden rule is quite advanced person whatever situation (like gender, religion, ashrama) that person is in. Good news is that this is not something special. It is known to all people. Actions should be based on this principle. Don't complicate it and find excuse of not following it. Just follow it. If this is followed, then automatically actions will be right. Whatever bhajan or sadhana is performed from this level will bear fruit and result in advancement.

As one advances in spirituality (bhakti), then the realizations of the Absolute Truth develop. This starts with glimpse of these realizations and they continue to get more stronger and stronger. Advancement should be judged based on these realizations. Some examples of these realizations are as follows:

1) Self is not the body and self is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss.

2) Self is not the doer but prakriti (material nature) is the doer of actions.

3) Krishna is in everyone.

4) Krishna is everywhere.

5) This world and all living entities are His manifestation.

6) Sharangati (acceptance that Krishna is mine and I am Krishna's)

7) Everything belongs to Krishna.

8) Offering objects which belong to Krishna in Krishna's service. As everything belongs to Krishna, offering everything to Krishna.

9) Serving others with the vision that they are manifestation of Krishna.

These are just examples. Advancement happens when these are realized i.e. one develops above vision. Chanting of the holy names, following 4 regulative principles, diety worship etc lead to above vision. But the test is whether these realizations develop. Presence of these realizations should be the qualification of advanced devotee. This is independent of any material situation. Understanding these qualification of the devotee will help Iskcon members to develop them and will result in appointment of the leaders who have these qualifications.

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