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  1. Hmmm, and what does maharaja know about relationships?

    • Hmmmm, I think that’s the point–he knows very little.

    • I actually do think that renunciates can have a perspective on devotees’ relationships that most devotees can’t because they are attached to those relationships. I’d say it’s pretty common knowledge that detachment brings objectivity. The comic was more making fun of certain misogynistic tendencies than anything else.

      • More than dettachment, it is experience which brings objectivity.

        • But is it not said that the wise learn from hearing and only the less wise must experience something to learn, and even less wise must experience again and again. My only point is that experience only brings objectivity because it brings detachment. You can experience something over and over and remain biased (like an addiction) but you cant be detached from something and biased (attached) at the same time.

  2. Don’t give him any ideas! 😉

  3. Good question, Bhaktikanda. Perhaps it’s time we had some sannyasis who have experience with good relationships. From the “staunch swami” look on his face, I’d guess this one has no such experience.

    • Better yet, perhaps the Swamis should leave the preaching on relationships to those with experience in the field, i.e., the householder vaisnavas.

      • What about sannyasis who have considerable experience as householders? I believe I was suggesting that society may benefit from such teachers. Besides, Gaudiya vaishnavism is all about relationships? Is there anything else going on in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita?

        • Absolutely, Gaudiya Vaishnavism is all about relationship, sambandha. The association of fellow bhaktas overrules even that of Krishna Caitanya and all the other forms of God.

    • From what I understand, traditionally sannyasa was accepted in old age presumably for most after an experience of married life. This would at least in theory produce sannyasis who have at least some experience with relationships. Otherwise, I don’t think it is necessarily an area a sannyasi should get involved in anyway. Of course, that doesn’t mean he should be misogynistic.

      I think we need some goswaminis to help balance all this out. 🙂

      I also appreciate the clever commentary here on “preaching”.

  4. That is actually pretty typical: those who can’t make their own relationships work (besides the easy master-servant relationship) feel like they have the best experience to advise others in such matters. 😉

    I like the spoof of the ‘men are from Mars’ slogan! 🙂

    • Exactly what is easy about the master-servant relationship? The guru is a master by way of being a highly developed servant. Taking on the responsibility to guide another to perfection is not an easy job by any account.

      • Exactly what is easy about the master-servant relationship? The guru is a master by way of being a highly developed servant. Taking on the responsibility to guide another to perfection is not an easy job by any account.

        I agree Cittster… The Master-Servant relationship is not only a very heavy one as you mention above… any relationship that has implicit or explicit hierarchy brings up the most vicious kind of parental issues. These are (as we have all undoubtedly witnessed): utter dependence and need for care, disappointment, idealizations followed by profound devaluation, hurts, envy, shame, expectations of a nurturing type... all in relation to a sadhu who has spent his/her life cultivating detachment!!! It makes for a fiery collapse or conflict. If you find this to be true, there is massive research on this.

        This is why, in my opinion, the scriptures exhibit models in which the guru comes from different walks of life. Some devotees take initiation from a sannyasi or babaji that they may never or rarely see again… this takes a particular independent streak and fortitude in the initiate. Others, surrender and get initiated by a householder guru such as Advaita Acharya or Sita Devi who take the disciples in as if they were family, feeding them and putting them to work in the household. This is probably a better idea for those that are more vulnerable to the need for attentiveness and active nurturing.

        Personally, I find more and more truth in what Gurumaharaja Swami Tripurari says about marriage helping us cultivate the capacity for sacrifice. It is a very valuable lesson… but if I wanted marriage advise beyond this… I would go to a householder sadhu who knows firsthand the particulars of this marital type of sacrifice, who has had some success for in it while remaining a sadhaka. I would not go to Vishvambara Maharaja pictured above.

        It seems that there are two different aims here: the cultivation of detachment (monastic ideal) an ideal that includes self-sacrifice, and the cultivation of attachment (householder ideal) that is colored by the capacity for sacrifice and service (a variation of detachment; it is about selflessness in relation to important others.)

      • Citta Hari asks: Exactly what is easy about the master-servant relationship?
        Since this is a discussion centered on a cartoon sannyasi we could have kept it on the light side, but if you insist…

        I don’t know about you, but in my over 30 years of experience as a devotee I have not met very many sannyasis that impressed me as true servants of those who surrender unto them. Yet, in general, they all managed to thoroughly enjoy their role as masters and performed that role with the greatest ease.

        • Misrepresentation is a given in any field. Why dwell on that instead of on the few that you imply that you have met that “impressed you as true servants of those who surrender unto them?”

          • That is a good advice.

            However, as we move through life we are faced with various situations that demand our reaction. Sometimes not reacting to something we see as being wrong amounts to complicity.

          • Personally I feel that there is plenty if not too much reaction to the many wrongs and that the reaction often ends up being counterproductive because it becomes and excuse for not setting a better example. Better to move on and set an example or work with someone who can guide us in this regard.

    • I think you both make good points although the dynamics of either relationship is not exactly comparable.

      Married life is hard because it requires compromise and a lot of negotiation while the guru disciple relationship no matter how close it is always has the dynamic of superior and subordinate.

      That said though, I think we can all agree that relationships can be difficult.

  5. Honestly, I think Srila Prabhupada would say that the cartoon is frivolous. Probably not something that should be showing up on the web site of a prominent Hare Krishna Swami.
    It’s cute, but let’s not show it to the predecessor acharyas.
    The world situation is such that nowadays this form of humor is a bit irreverent.

    • I hear you KB, I can see now why you would feel the way you feel. But I feel that the comic’s apparent irreverence loses it’s bite due to the fact that I have dedicated my whole life to serve a sannyasi and a preacher who I respect and venerate more than anything else in life.

      I have the highest regard for people who have done such a huge sacrifice as to serve in the capacity of a sannyasi, even if I can’t relate to their approach or personal opinions.

    • KB, you would probably be a great editor of a different kind of website. It seems that you truly have a talent for regulating and discriminating what is or is not appropriate for publication… however, I think your personal values and interpretations of Srila Prabhupada are not quite broad enough for the job of editor for this particular publication. Can you please stop suggesting what you think is or is not appropriate for this website? There are already people doing so… we are guests here.

  6. I like Gopakumar’s comments on the relationship counseling issue. There certainly are two different ways of looking at the issue and they can either compliment each other or turn against each other. My objection was not meant to discredit the practical experience of householder devotees but to make the point that renunciates do have something profound to say about relationships and it doesn’t have to spring from personal experience but from understanding and realizing vedanta.

    I’m aware that there seems to be a kind of a counter-reaction to the vedanta side from too much unfounded fanaticism against marriage in the past, but I’d be cautious not to go to the other extreme either where vedanta starts getting watered down in the name of being “balanced”.

  7. Audarya-lila dasa

    I thought the comic was rather funny – thank you Gurunistha for your insightful humor.

    As far as who a person should take advice from and all that goes – I think it simple if you keep it simple.

    For relationships – A marriage, family and child counselor is a good bet. You will find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are single and have never been married, others have been married multiple times – but the one thing they all have in common though is that they are trained in relationship counseling. They all have a bachelor’s degree and a masters degree at a minimum. The master’s program has to be certified for a person to become a liscensed therapist and the individual will also need to log 3,000 hours of clinical case work under direct supervision of a liscenced psychologist if they want to obtain a liscence for themselves. What does all that mean? It simply means that if you need relationship advice it would be a safe bet to go to someone who is trained to help you.

    For spiritual guidance – whether a person is single, married, divorced or anything else – a spiritual guide is a good bet. They also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are married, some single etc. But the one thing they all have in common is that they have a spiritual guide under whom they have studied the scriptures and learned the science/art of spiritual practice. If you want to progress spiritually, they can help you regardless of the ashrama they are in.

    In all human endeavors you will find that there are gradations in terms of ability. Some counselors are much better than others. Some counselors may be quite good, but they can’t help everyone and many times it is a counselor of lower status or ability that gives help to those who can’t seem to get it from the ‘master’. Life if funny like that.

    In the spiritual ‘market place’ it isn’t any different really. My personal feeling is that whatever help you get from anyone should be taken with great care and appreciation and if you don’t feel that person can help you any longer, then time to find someone who can. Appreciate whatever progress you made under such a persons guidance and move on.

    I agree with the idea of ‘sins of omission’ that Kula Pavana raised – however I also resonate very deeply with the wisdom offered by Tripurari Swami – that moving on and setting a good example yourself is the best course in almost all circumstances.

  8. “Hmm. The relationship between devotees constitutes a sancari-bhava, whereas the devotee’s relationship with Bhagavan constitutes a sthayi-bhava.”
    -Tripurari Swami-

    Excellent point to bring up, thank you Swami, especially as a prophylactic for guru-tattva misconceptions.

    Still the catch 22, so to speak, of spiritual developments is that Krishna says, “I consider worship of my devotees to be better than direct worship of me. If someone attempts to worship me directly without worshipping my devotees, I do not accept such worship, even though it may be presented with great opulence.”

    Stayi-bhava is no doubt perhaps the greatest opulence achieavable. But it does not come about without the fundantional sancari-bhavs, the many distinct moments constituting eternity. So they remain a simultaneous phenomena, the basis of acintya-bhedabedha.

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