Sectarianism is “of the Devil”

By Nitaisundara dasa, originally published on July 31, 2010.

Recently, the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center has been appearing in the news for their campaign, “Islam is of the Devil”, a title shared by the recent book authored by the church’s pastor, Dr. Terry Jones.

The group feels that simply educating the public is insufficient, as they have declared September 11, 2010 “International Burn a Quran Day”, a rather self-explanatory event. Churchmember Wayne Sapp has even posted videos of a “warm-up” burning on Youtube, rallying the troops with convincing arguments such as, “Christ appeared to destroy the works of the devil,” and, “To call yourself Christian, you should be burning the Quran.”

Meanwhile, over on the Islam is of the Devil website, Pastor Jones offers his own pep rally, informing us that “the desire of all Muslims is to replace the Constitution of the United States with Sharia law.” Ridiculous, sweeping statements aside, I suspect Pastor Jones’ real fear is that he could be forbidden from marketing his truly American, fifteen dollar, Islam is of the Devil coffee mugs and T-shirts.

When asked in a CNN interview why he would want to burn the sacred book of 1.5 billion people, Jones responded, “Well, for one thing, to us, the book is not sacred.” This almost unfathomably egocentric statement begins to uncover what I think is often at the heart of fanaticism: a complete and utter lack of understanding and respect for any view or practice that is not one’s own. One shudders to think of the type of exposition that fills the pages of Islam is of the Devil.

Unfortunately, this casual and ill-informed disregard appears often within the Gaudiya community and, oddly, is mostly directed toward other Gaudiya groups. To illustrate, we can simply rephrase the above interview: “Why would you want to insult the teacher of x number of people?” and wait for the answer, “Well, for one thing, to us, he is not a bona fide teacher.” Such a discussion, especially online, hardly makes a stir; it has come to be expected and maybe even considered normal, a sign of just how bad the situation really is.

Like Jones, fanatics who deride the faith of others often claim to be doing so in hopes of helping the misguided who are on the receiving end of their inspired vomit. Despite this approach being an ill-reasoned one, it is not even the true motive of its perpetrators. The incessant drive to convert (especially to convert via attack) only reveals the rickety faith of the converter coupled with the oft-subscribed, subconscious misconception that the conversion of others will make one’s own adherence more substantial. Daniel Schultz of The Revealer describes the other purpose usually served in these scenarios in relation to Dove World’s Islam campaign: “If there is to be a conversion, then, it will be a movement of ‘weak’ Christians to ‘strong’ ones, believers who burn with the spirit of over-againstness.” And this is the fruit of such outreach: superficially strong devotees whose strength only exists when there is an opposing force to hold it up, an enemy to denigrate and feel superior to. Lucky for them (and unfortunate for those who are trained otherwise), the potential enemies all too often bear the same negative sentiments, ensuring the mutual propping up of each others’ faith for generations to come.

In the end, it is selfishness and the concomitant ego-assertion that are “of the devil.” To the extent that any religious or other group become vessels for these tendencies, we can consider them legitimate enemies. In which case, if we engage them at all, we are to do so in an appropriate way, knowing full well that we can expect to see little fruition, but also that such critiques will call our own progress, and not in the illusory way that fanatical tirades do.

Therefore I say, Dr. Jones, heal thyself.


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121 Responses to Sectarianism is “of the Devil”

  1. WoW!! This is brilliant!!

  2. Is the the spark that will ignite a wildfire of anti-Islamic sentiment around the USA? I foresee a time when being a Muslim in the USA is going to be a very uncomfortable position to be in.
    It’s kind of funny to see this preacher coming out against another Abrahamic religion despite the fact that the Hare Krishnas are very visible in Gainesville.
    The preacher is not concerned about the Hare Krishnas. He knows they are harmless. He is going after a fellow Abrahamic religion because he knows where the real conflict exists.
    None of them have a clue. Abraham actually had a real guru and higher knowledge of celestial worlds.
    These false descendants have no clue.

    • Oh KB, enlighten people with your revelations. People like you with their personal revelations live in every small nook and corner of the world. Who will know which one is correct? My Guru Maharaja criticized me for bringing Dawkins up, but he is much more reasonable than you KB.

  3. Citta Hari dasa

    Ditto Gaura-Vijaya’s statement. Well done!

  4. To a very large extent the anti-Islamic sentiment around the USA is generated by the pro-Israel lobby, which includes many evangelical churches salivating at the prospect of speeding up the ‘Second Coming’ (of Jesus) which is supposed to happen when the Jewish state has to defend itself against ‘the rest of the world’ – an idea planted in the minds of the evangelical Christians by the Jewish propaganda masters.

    I find it very strange that organizations calling themselves Dove World Outreach Center and the like promote massage of war and hate. But then again that is very much the pattern in Abrahamic religions, where deception, sectarianism, guilt-tripping, and fear mongering are preferred ways of conquest.

  5. Why so much of hate, I saw the video and its full of it. How is burning of the book will help this world?

  6. “Like Jones, fanatics who deride the faith of others often claim to be doing so in hopes of helping the misguided who are on the receiving end of their inspired vomit. Despite this approach being an ill-reasoned one, it is not even the true motive of its perpetrators. The incessant drive to convert (especially to convert via attack) only reveals the rickety faith of the converter coupled with the oft-subscribed, subconscious misconception that the conversion of others will make one’s own adherence more substantial.”

    That sounds a lot like the comics published here recently.

    • It is a site for discussing Gaudiya-siddhanta, sometimes with humor. That includes highlighting apasiddhanta, and this example has ben set by our previous acaryas very much including SP. What is faith without philosophy in Prabhupada’s vocabulary? Fanaticism. Back to avatara-tattva Paul, but let’s do it on the other thread.

    • PH: “That sounds a lot like the comics published here recently.”
      No it does not. Not even close. Comics are comics, and they are not even remotely similar to burning books deemed holy by some people.

      If your hero is Prabhupada, he was a master of ‘chopping technique’ in preaching, blasting just about anybody and anything that was not in line with his idea of spirituality, religion, and morality. This site is not really following that example, opting instead for a more nuanced approach.

      Yes, it hurts when your pet doctrine gets chopped up by others. But you know what they say: You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

      • Well said, Kula-pavana! Don’t know what more there is to say.

        While I am intrigued by the idea being espoused in another discussion here of the respectful, faith-honoring rtvik adherent, I have not seen them to be such, and ultimately the doctrine itself is mutually exclusive to any substantial faith-honoring (other than faith in Prabhupada that is). But I suppose this is not the place for such a discussion.

  7. If your hero is Prabhupada, he was a master of ‘chopping technique’ in preaching, blasting just about anybody and anything that was not in line with his idea of spirituality, religion, and morality. This site is not really following that example, opting instead for a more nuanced approach.

    YOu hit nail on its head. You can’t better than that.

    • I’m not so much aware of SP blasting or chopping anyone merely because they disagreed with his views. He would make very strong statements to his disciples, since they were liable to go tra-la-la-ing off to any teacher with a good shtick and/or a compelling apasiddhantic philosophy. That was his right and duty as guru. And he would put the occasional Hindologist or the I-am-knowing-all-about-Krishna Hindu in his place with a scathing remark, but that may partly be a tactic in the way Indians deal with each other. And he often baited reporters (especially those of the “girl” variety) with incendiary remarks, perhaps to increase the news value of those interviews. Who knows? SP was nothing if not a strategist. With co-religionists and others, however, he pretty much kept it civil and congenial, while pressing his point nonetheless.

      But even if he was combative, what’s wrong with a good fight? No blood was shed, and prasadam was always served.

      It’s easy to overlook Prabhupada’s talent for “nuance,” if we merely want to pigeon-hole him to fit our own prejudices. SP even once rebuked his disciples for criticizing Middle Eastern Muslims for eating meat, since (to paraphrase) “they live in the desert, and there is nothing else for them to eat.” That kind thinking (and there are other examples) goes far beyond “nuanced”; it’s the very soul of broad-mindedness and compassion. Hare Krishna.

      • Blood was not shed because HK were in minority. I am not sure if that would be the case if they are in majority. There is plenty of bloodshed for Savites and Vaisnavites etc.

        • Devotees’ lives have been occasionally threatened by non-devotees since the inception of this movement in the West: in New Vrindaban, in the former Soviet Union, in the suburbs of Boston. I haven’t heard of any Saivites attacking us lately. We’ve done our own share of bloodshed, of course, but that was strictly in-house, and arguably pathological, not ideological.

          Contrary to popular opinion, more blood has been shed in the course of the jivas’ trying to gratify their material desires than over genuine religious differences. Ideological conflict is usually a cover for more mundane interests.

          I’m not of the persuasion that this material world can be turned into a paradise. If my physical existence is threatened, I will fight back if I can. If my right to live as a devotee is denied, I will subvert the powers that be however I can. The question is not whether blood will be shed or conflict will predominate, but for what cause. I’m middle-aged, so I’m won’t be the one doing the actual shedding, but I think dying in a fight for what’s right is preferable to a enduring a repressive system. I’ll leave it for the ksatriyas, if there are any around, to decide.

          • I agree that bloodshed is not caused by genuine religious differences but mundane interests. Who denies that? Pathos is the most powerful tool used by the leaders of such movements. Poor logos but covered by pathos and exploiting unrest among masses.
            The above discussion though was to make the point that ritviks cannot expect that they should be not criticized at all because SP did criticise deviant philosophy and they follow him to the letter.

          • It’s one thing to point out that SP criticizes others, it’s another to exaggerate and say that he blasted or chopped anyone or anything that does not agree with him. Since it’s untrue, I objected to him being characterized that way. Whether such disparaging exaggeration effectively bolsters your point about ritviks is of no concern to me, although I’m not sure if it is even true. Just because my guru is (for the sake of argument) a world-class criticizer, it doesn’t follow that I must meekly accept criticism.

          • Tell this to Kula-Pavana and not to me. I did not make that comment. Secondly he never said that he chopped “everybody” off. Come one, I could see the essence of what Kula Pavana said.
            So now should everybody write 10 extra lines qualifying every statement that they make because obviously in essence you can’t be 100% certain of anything.
            You yourself seem to be so confident all the time, but will you like it when people demand tedious empirical evidence for each word you write?

  8. The fact that really seems to be lost upon liberal-minded devotees is that the goal of Islam IS to establish Sharia law not only in the U.S., but around the world, and to convert everyone to Islam. It is more a brotherhood than a religion, although there is some religious sentiment there, but more concern with mundane justice than mercy. “My brother and I are noble and good by virtue of the fact of being members of this brotherhood. You who are not are infidels and must convert or die.” “Everyone” would include liberal-minded Vaishnavas. Convert or die. Every last “Hindu” in Afghanistan was forced to convert, and those who refused were hunted down to the very last person. Is it any wonder that for these atrocities, Afghanistan was bombed to smithereens in Dec. 2001 ?
    Of course, for one fully established in his siddha-deha, there is really nothing to convert either to or from. But for those of us who are merely practitioners, looking for a peaceful world in which to perfect our practice, it would be more realistic to see Islam for what it is – a very real threat.

    • This comment is simplistic as well as overly generalized. The idea that the tenet of a religion is to progate that religion is a given in any tradition. Historically, Christians have gone all over the world, built churches and attempted to convert anyone and everyone to Christianity. Such progation is encouraged throughout the bible. The Christian Right has attempted to influence every aspect of society from education, to politics, as well as sex and sexuality, etc. To single out Islam as a” very real threat” is in the very least ignorant.

    • This might be simplistic of me, but when I heard that the Taliban had dynamited the Bamyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, my first thought was, “That offense will not go unpunished.” It took 9/11 to create proper conditions, but the Taliban got what they gave, with interest.

  9. Attempting to establish the brotherhood of man ( the Islamic Uma ) without a very concise and clear conception of the nature of Divinity, simply decays into a political movement, which is what the bulk of Islamic preaching is. “The West is evil, we are noble and good.” After all, their conception of Divinity barely extends to Brahman (“Allah” is derived from the Hebrew letter “Aleph,” which is a yantra which represents Brahman), and for the bulk of practitioners, Islam is merely a ritualistic practice.

  10. Attempting to establish the brotherhood of man ( the Islamic Uma ) without a very concise and clear conception of the nature of Divinity, simply decays into a political movement, which is what the bulk of Islamic preaching is. “The West is evil, we are noble and good.” After all, their conception of Divinity barely extends to Brahman (“Allah” is derived from the Hebrew letter “Aleph,” which is a yantra which represents Brahman), and for the bulk of practitioners, Islam is merely a ritualistic practice.

    Spot on. Thanks for calling a spade a spade.

  11. Propagation of a religion, or religious principles, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some Vaishnavas distribute books and go on Harinam. Christians also proselytize. But I feel it is safe to say that contemporary Vaishnavas, Christians and Buddhists stop short of violence if one doesn’t join their religion. Can you say that about Islam ? Their track record, over the centuries, from the very inception of the religion, speaks for itself.

    • Buddhism and Christianity also have violent pasts.

      I believe that the contemporary Islam you refer to is more a political Islam than a religious one. It is the political issues that are at the heart of Islamic terrorism. Remove the political issues and I doubt you would find suicide bombers exploding themselves in pursuit of converting others to their faith. If they were, they would have no sympathy from any quarter and few if any converts. Their liberal sympathizers of the day primarily sympathize with their political views, not their religious views.

    • I would not be so quick to assume that contemporary Christianity doesn’t employ violent means to propogate their agendas albeit in more covert ways. There is a very militant aspect to many fundamentalist Christian sects, for example in the documentary Jesus Camp, the Islamic mentality was repeatedly used as an example or prototype.

  12. Yes, I have no problem with any religion, including Islam, preaching their religious, or sub-religious principles, as long as they don’t step over the line with forced conversions, or want to take over the world. But there is still an element within Islam, apparently a large contingent, that wants to spread the Uma through any means possible, including violence. And that element remains regardless of the political issues.

    • I think you can find that element in other religious traditions as well. I have witnessed it even in Vaisnavism. As for this element being a larger constituent in Islam, again, I would attribute that to political concerns and lack of education/isolation from the modern world. That said, I do believe that Islam more overtly sanctions the use of the sword than other religions do.

    • Wanting to take over the world can be found in most current religions, ours included. Srila Prabhupada talked about it quite openly and at times alluded to less than peaceful methods that may be employed in such a quest. How much religious tolerance would there have been in a Hare Krishna controlled state? It is hard to tell but I am not nonvinced that an ‘old school’ Iskcon rule of the world would have better than those of the islamic variety from the present. I have seen plenty of ‘Taliban style’ devotees over the years… much more than I would have liked…

      • I hate to say this but if Iskcon had been in control of the world in the 1980’s like the Catholic Church was in control of the western world in The Middle Ages then I believe that we dissidents would have all been imprisoned or executed. We certainly were all banished and in many cases we are still being ‘shunned’.

        Indeed, I witnessed the very dark side of institutionalized religion (our own) and for one am grateful for the ideal of ‘freedom of religion’ and the secular state.

        • I agree with you Brahma. In this talk, the muslims defend their faith saying that majority of them are not literalists and they practice Islam peacefully. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LXFhktvGWE&feature=related Obviously, it is far from the truth. Majority of people in every religion are literalists (believe in literal interpretation of scripture) and therefore there is always a potential for the leaders of any religion to use the masses by invoking literal interpretations of the scripture. Secondly, the masses can sway to any side. The same Germany that was dancing to the tune of Hitler now cringes at even the mention of his name. Why? Because leaders are powerful enough to use pathos (appeal to emotions) of the masses and get anything done.
          I unlike the Muslims in the show would not say that majority of Muslims are liberal (because most Muslim leaders in limelight are not liberal and innocent masses follow their propaganda). Similarly, I will admit that most practitioners of GV are currently literalists if not fanatic (though it is very easy for literalists to become super fanatics at any moment) who can easily be used by leaders in the way Muslims leaders use the people to wipe out other people if need be. Right now because GV is in a small minority, only verbal intolerance is practiced by GV practitioners. Once they are in majority, then God knows what will happen. Perhaps that is the reason why Krsna is not allowing GV to spread too much now as it will be in wrong hands. I am always uncomfortable with the fact that SP used the literal interpretation of scripture. Literal interpretation of scripture has always created fanatics and it is always good only in the short run.

          • Gaura Vijay wrote,

            Majority of people in every religion are literalists (believe in literal interpretation of scripture). . .

            You must have conducted a very broad and deep survey to come up with such a conclusion. When writers make such broad claims, I find myself compelled, almost involuntarily, to ask them on what basis they make such assertions. I grew up in a few Protestant Christian demoninations, but I don’t remember anyone who really believed the earth was created in six calendar days. In fact, when I asked my Episcopal minister about this when I was a teenager preparing for confirmation, he looked me in the eye and said, “The important part here is that God created the heavens and the earth. How he did so will naturally remain something of a mystery to us.” Having met a great many people over the last 63 years, I would guess that a tremendous number of religious followers accept some, perhaps even most, of what their scriptures teach, leaving other things aside. However, since I have no statistics to support such I claim, I decline to say without reservation that most followers may not be very strict fundamentalists.

            I unlike the Muslims in the show would not say that majority of Muslims are liberal (because most Muslim leaders in limelight are not liberal and innocent masses follow their propaganda).

            I don’t think as many Muslims necessarily follow the fanatics we see highlighted in the media as you do. They no doubt have some following, but, at least in the US, most Muslims seem to just want to observe those principles that make sense to them and live a decent life. I’ve had many Muslim students who, although they stop to make their prayers, fast at Ramadan, wear hijab, etc., do not buy the misinterpretations of the fanatics who think destroying other cultures is the essence of Islam. In fact, in many parts of the world, the Muslim rulers presided over very pluralistic societies.

            With regard to the extent of Srila Prabhupada’s interpretation of scripture, I’m very grateful that he didn’t see as hyperbole Mahaprabhu’s prediction in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita that his name would be heard in every town and village of the world. Otherwise, some dopey surfer from Lompoc, California, who lived in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, would have had no chance to contact Mahaprabhu’s teachings.

            As far as less essential teachings are concerned, if you have found a guide who is not a fanatic, it seems to me the best thing you can do is become a fit student and properly represent him by your character. According to classical rhetoric, the best arguments are those made with the proper appeal on all fronts: logos (a reasonable assertion), ethos (good qualifications on the speaker or writer’s part), pathos (the right appeal to the audience’s emotional needs), and kairos (a clear understanding of the occasion, setting, time/place, etc.). Just calling everyone else a bunch of literalist fanatics is not likely to open many hearts. We may do better by setting a better example.

          • I have not conducted a broad survey of other groups, but I for sure have more experience than you having lived in Muslim majority Kashmir for one. Secondly living in India, which has second largest Muslim population. Islam in Europe and America is very different from the one in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Kashmir. You have no experience of the same. I do not want to play the cat and mouse game, but there is not much statistical evidence to show your claim that organic food is better than non-organic food. Empirical evidence for the same is weak, but you accept that fact without reservation.

            If I conduct a survey of GV practitioners, I am confident that 80% people can easily be categorized as literalists (not necessarily fanatics). This is my experience. In 12 years of being exposed to devotees I must have met at least 2000 devotees and I have some credentials to make this claim. If you want I can conduct a survey and ask the devotees whether they believe in scriptures literally or not. That an intelligent person like you cannot see the obvious fact that majority of devotees are literalists and demand proof for that is beyond my comprehension. I am not there to open any hearts. You can do that work.

            Also please give me examples of an Islamic state being pluralistic enough. Minorities were eliminated during any Islamic regime. But I would just say it will be the same if it was a hare krsna regime like brahma pointed out or it was a christian regime. Most religions don’t have a good history of tolerating each other and my aim was not to highlight one religion, but the fact that when one religion becomes dominant it also eliminates the other minorities by denying voting rights or omposing extra tax.

          • That an intelligent scientist like you can’t see how overgeneralization undermines an argument’s credibility is beyond me. If you were to conduct a survey, your prejudice would be likely to shape your questions. We see this all the time in political phone surveys (the poor folks who work in phone banks earn their $7 an hour when they get me on the line). The questions are shaped by whichever party commissions them allow only binary answers. They’re all fairly useless. A better question may be whether those GVs live as though every phrase in the scripture is literally true.

            Over the past ten years, I’ve read a great deal about how many nations ruled by Muslims were quite pluralistic. This is history, though not recent history, to be sure. The Islam that makes it into today’s news is not the only Islam there is. It’s not a monolith. I don’t have any citations for you, so I’ll just concede. You win.

          • No need to concede. Nobody really won. We have different opinions. First of all, I concede I don’t know much about the Christian world. I don’t have much experience with it. Second, I made the point above that I don’t blame the masses for the current crisis. General people really care about survival, food etc and I have plenty of experience of that. It is the leadership that is to blame because they use pathos (other things have less impact) to incite the masses. Lastly, there is a distinction between literalists and fanatics. While literalists believe in scriptures literally (like man did not land on the moon etc), they may not necessarily be people who will be intolerant of other opinions and also they may not execute each and every article of faith in practise (that is done by fanatics). Therefore, I said majority of HK people are literalists not fanatics. There is a difference.
            I agree that I have overgeneralized and I would have spoken differently in scientific circles, but I did not treat the material here like a scientific journal paper. I am sorry for that. Otherwise you will enter into debates like bias of the survey, correlation does not imply causation etc. For example, It is almost very difficult to prove statistically that the current global warming is a result of human factors alone.

            As far as examples of some Muslim ruler with good history, I will myself provide you good examples.There have been Muslim rulers like Akbar in India who were very tolerant of other faiths, if that helps. In fact Jiva Goswami praised him in his writings. Similarly there are instances in Egypt and even erstwhile Afghanistan where rulers have been pretty tolerant of other faiths. And there are too many examples to the contrary, especially in the recent past. What I should have stated is that the current leadership in Islamic countries is in the hand of fanatics and that is what matters. I have Muslims friends from Pakistan who will attest to this and the persecution of other Muslim sects like Ahmedias etc who are treated as second class citizens.
            I must concede that you have helped me fine tune by earlier statements for the better. Thank you for that.

        • So all those falldowns of those in power had a positive purpose—to humble false pride. Krishna is in charge.

  13. Agreed that there was/is fanatacism in Iskcon and possibly in other maths, as well. Ruling the world in a compassionate manner, as a rajarsi (saintly king) would do would be acceptable, although I agree that the situation would likely have been less tolerant than that. But numerically Iskcon, and the number of world-wide practitioners of Vaishnavism in general, is a drop in the bucket compared to the over 1 billion Muslims.
    The only antidote to the pervasive evil of Kali yuga is our continued preaching of the complete conception of Divinity found in Vaishnavism. Only through that complete conception and the spiritual sadhana encouraged in Vaishnavism is there any genuine relief for conditioned souls, and therein a cessation of their less than ideal political machinations.

    • Jeff, we should first strive to promote the mode of goodness – in our own sanga, and in general society. That is a much more tangible and less subjective goal than the “complete conception of Divinity found in Vaishnavism and the spiritual sadhana encouraged in Vaishnavism”. There is much controversy even among Vaishnavas as to what those high ideals are – mode of goodness is much less controversial and much less prone to abuse. In our private life we can and should pursue those ideals, but in the social sense we should limit ourselves to exclusively sattvic actions and goals. Sattva guna is an almost universally recognized concept, even if it may be called differently in different places. Even most atheists will respect sattvic actions and ideals.

      In the social sense, religions not adhering to sattvic ideals should be rejected.

      • Unless you are speaking Klingon, there really isn’t a way to implement mode of goodness without coming to the Gaudiya Vaishnava understanding. By definition mode of goodness means cultivation of knowledge, and cultivation of actual knowledge leads inevitably to inquires into the Absolute, transcendental knowledge. Mode of goodness without a goal is fantasy, an emotionally challenged being incorrectly declaring, “I am surrounded by illogical creatures..”

        • Tell me, friend, how is selling books by cheating people promoting mode of goodness? How about using money from criminal activities to build temples in India? Is that mode of goodness too? Do you want me to go on with other not-so-goodness-like things that went on back then (gurukulas, anyone?), even in the early or mid 1970’s? These were activities approved at the highest level of Iskcon by people who supposedly had all the transcendental knowledge you allude to.
          If anything is a fantasy my friend, it is believing that you can justify whatever you want and still be situated in the mode of goodness. Iskcon got a huge reality check directly from Krsna settling that issue.

          • I never said Iskcon is in the mode of goodness.

          • Or to the Nimbarki or Vallabhite conclusions for that matter, Maharaja. Heck, is there anyone here who would have the chutzpah to deny great Brahmavadis of the calibre of a Swami Sivananda or Ramana Maharsi to be solidly situated in sattva-guna?

            As for ISKCON, I don’t think that a truly thoughtful person would actually sublate an undeniable level of spiritual advancement for a fair number of its members. What many, myself included, object to in that society is common knowledge to most, and it would be pointless to repeat this stuff on here. Yet, there are many ecumenical-minded, admirable sadhakas whose level of service to the dhama, to the cows, the environment and so forth over the years can be matched only with great difficulty. Now, I do not wish to name individual devotees and their personal accomplishments in the Sankirtana movement, even in a positive sense, so I shall leave this comment at that.

            Besides, as I pointed out a while ago, for specific reasons, I’ve been distancing myself from mainstream Caitanyaite circles of late, but that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to harbour an abiding esteem for the achievements and standing of many a practitioner I’ve encountered along this path I’ve been exploring for the past more than fifteen years, be they from ISKCON, the Gaudiya Matha or the traditional Parivaras. To do otherwise would simply be an abnegation of truth, and for the life of me, I shall not be capable of bringing myself to such a stance ever.

        • There are plenty of things in the mode of goodness that are not Gaudiya. In fact all forms of Vedanta advocate a sattvic lifestyle, as does yoga sadhana.

          • But Swami, my point is that if consistently staying with the mode of goodness, eventually one will have to come to the Gaudiya conclusion. I said it is intrinsic to the mode of goodness that is has a culmination, a goal. Purpose and satva are almost synonyms.

          • Not really. One could come the Sri Vaisnava conclusion for example.

  14. Kula-pavana, Prabhu,
    Certainly promoting the mode of goodness is a good thing, and I agree that “religions not adhering to sattvic ideals should be rejected.” …At least for us. Yet perhaps different religions are formed and attract particular practitioners according to the modes of nature that predominate in their psycho-physical make-up. In other words, one religion attracts people in the mixed mode of passion and ignorance, a different religion attracts people in the mode of goodness.
    I don’t see anything controversial over the complete conception of Divinity as Bhagavan Shree Krishna, as we Vaishnavas can clearly demonstrate it, and I don’t see the practice of sadhana bhakti as being “a subjective goal.” Rather I see these as being something noble, concrete, tangible and transcendental that intelligent spiritual seekers can agree on and join forces over. This sublime practice of sadhnana bhakti should be promoted in a non-sectarian, universal way, as spiritual science, the essence of religious and spiritual practice. That was Prabhupad’s intention and example, as far as I can discern it.

  15. I in no way condone certain Iskcon activities, neither past nor present. However, attempting to reach the transcendental realm, even if the attempt is faulty, is vastly superior to remaining within the modes of nature, because 1.) the modes are temporary 2.) they are changeable, and 3) no one remains in one pure mode of nature, as the make-up of any particular jiva is of mixed modes, which is why they are called gunas, as a rope often has many individual strands.

  16. There are some western philosophers like Kant or Socrates that are more or less in mode of goodness. I don’t understand the insistence on Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

    • Many Buddhistic-based societies are, overall, much more sattvika in my observation than most of India, just as lots of Buddhists tend to be more mindful than large numbers of believing Hindus. I’m sure you’d be on the same wavelength as me on this one, Gaura-Vijaya.

  17. Why hang out in the modes of nature, when you can reach the plane of transcendence beyond the modes ?
    Also, the mode of goodness is defective, as per Bg 14:6, which states,
    “O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode develop knowledge, but they become conditioned by the concept of happiness.” “Become conditioned…” is the keyword here. Even though the mode of goodness is superior to the other two, one still remains conditioned.

    • I agree. The problem is word sattvika is exclusively linked to the diet by Gaudiya Vaisnavas. So though they will be sattvika in diet, many practitioners including myself are worse off than people who don’t have a sattvik diet, but exhibit some sattvika qualities.

    • Why hang out in the modes of nature, when you can reach the plane of transcendence beyond the modes?
      Lord Krsna explains that in the Gita. But those who act on the level of lower modes while claiming to be transcendental are just in illusion of transcendence. And the proof ot that is the results they get.

  18. Life on this vitiated material plane is really a mixed bag, then, isn’t it ? That is even more impetus to make the total solution, the transcendental solution.

  19. Swami, my point is that if consistently staying with the mode of goodness, eventually one will have to come to the Gaudiya conclusion. I said it is intrinsic to the mode of goodness that is has a culmination, a goal. Purpose and satva are almost synonyms.

    swami bv tripurari says:
    August 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm
    Not really. One could come the Sri Vaisnava conclusion for example.

    Not in this age. Kalau nasty eva, only one conclusion. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was an extraordinary logician, and in his brilliance he saw that in this age there aren’t many paths so all will amount to an equal state of bliss. No other way, he saw, and then He himself went mad with prema.

    • Mahaprabhu and his nama sankirtana are universal as well as highly internal and esoteric. Nama is the way for Kali-yuga, but nama is cintamani. It is not only for raga marg and the Vraja bhakti of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. One can recognize Mahaprabhu as the yuga avatara and ascend to Vaikuntha without becoming a Gaudiya Vaisnava. But maybe I do not understand your point.

      Gaudiya Vaisnavism is intrinsic to sattva guna?

  20. Bhaktikanda – Is there a sastric quote to back up your statement that
    “…the mode of goodness…has a culmination, a goal.”

    • In general I am quote challenged ;)… I could go look for one for you, and very likely find one that fits in the context. Our scriptures are unlimited in that even if one wants to contradict his own statements the scriptures can be resourced to so to serve such exercise. The point is to understand the essence. If you take mode of goodness to mean a state of consciousness which is not necessarily sustainable, then you are incurring in contradiction. It is in fact a matter of logic. Sustainability of a logic and then as a consequently, a spiritual state of consciousness, evidently has to have a purpose, a meaning as part of it – a culmination. This is why systems of philosophy which do not reach up to Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s very particular definition of prema eventually fall short of completeness. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was the most accurate logician known to men. There was a reason for his lila of being the most advanced logician that ever was. There is a reason for everything. Mode of goodness not excluded.

      • Sattva guna is characterized by knowledge and happiness. But this does not mean that Vraja prema is inherent in it. From sattva guna one can culture and attain Brahman, Vaikuntha, etc. with the help of bhakti. And sadhus are doing that today. I don’t see how sattva guna leads to Krsna prema. Even bhakti does not necessarily lead to Krsna prema. But perhaps I am misunderstanding your point.

        • What I am saying is that in this particular age of Kali the particular descent of Caitanya Mahaprabhu overrules all other types of knowldege so that Brahman, Vaikuntha, etc. are in fact dellusional and the age is appropriate exclusively for the highest state of consciousness ever available: Krishna prema. So sadhus who are doing “that” today, will come around tomorrow or the day after to Krishna prema. Kalau nasty eva. The only truth.

          • But “the only truth” is not Krsna prema. It’s Harinama, which is universal in that it lends itself to many conceptions. But I am glad to see you have so much conviction for Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

  21. I disagree with the author’s assertion about the motives of those who seek to convert others. He can’t possibly know, without claiming omniscience, the deep intentions of any individual who proselytizes for their faith. The drive to convert (unless by force) isn’t necessarily based on weak faith. It can well up out of enthusiasm, love, and compassion for those who have not yet been given the gift we ourselves have received. We seek to “convert” our friends and loved ones everyday to the things, ideas, and people who have captured our hearts and changed our lives—movies, restaurants, the iPhone, and Barack Obama. Is it because we’re simply weak in our enthusiasm for these?

    To dismiss the motives of those who seek conversions with unfounded assumptions about their psychological state is unneccessarily cynical, especially for a Vaisnava. Did Francis of Assisi have weak faith because he wanted to convert the Muslims? Right or wrong, the man was a sincere well-wisher of everyone, and no one could be stronger in faith.

    Employing psychological jargon* to paint such broad stripes is shaky at best and unjust at worst. People, even those like Dr. Jones (or perhaps especially) are usually more complex than we credit them for.

    It’s easy to criticize Dr. Jones, harder to tolerate him. Imagine if someone were to care enough about him as a spirit soul to try to convert him. That would take strong, true faith.

    *Just what does “oft-subscribed, subconscious misconception” mean, exactly? Who is doing the subscribing, and how can one “misconceive” something if it’s all subconscious? Please clarify.

    • The drive to convert (unless by force) isn’t necessarily based on weak faith. It can well up out of enthusiasm, love, and compassion for those who have not yet been given the gift we ourselves have received. We seek to “convert” our friends and loved ones everyday to the things, ideas, and people who have captured our hearts and changed our lives—movies, restaurants, the iPhone, and Barack Obama. Is it because we’re simply weak in our enthusiasm for these?

      To dismiss the motives of those who seek conversions with unfounded assumptions about their psychological state is unneccessarily cynical, especially for a Vaisnava. Did Francis of Assisi have weak faith because he wanted to convert the Muslims? Right or wrong, the man was a sincere well-wisher of everyone, and no one could be stronger in faith.

      Nonetheless the majority of those who feel the need to convert are not of St Francis’ character. They are not overflowing with divine realization. So while your points are valid, they merely address the fact that there is strong faith derived from realization and inner conversion that is different from weak faith lacking in the same. But it would seem that the general rule is that if any faith requires and enemy, it is weak faith, faith that lacks inner conversion and thus seeks it elsewhere. There seems to be a lot more of this weaker faith out and about than the strong faith you refer to.

      • I’m honored that you would reply to my comment, Maharaja.

        You’re right; we’re not all St. Francis. The article did not make a distinction. But I don’t believe we need to be on that level of faith to justify vigorous preaching and even conversion (which is really the “result” of preaching, not an activity, per se, is it not?). The notion of conversion, whether inner or outer, merits a thorough discussion in itself.

        But your point leads me to another question: does one who has strong faith de facto have no enemies? Sincere seekers have been threatened throughout history, whether by force of arms or deviant philosophies. Not to defend Dr. Jones, but how do we know he does not sincerely see Islam as a danger to people’s spiritual welfare, much in the same way Vaisnavas see Mayavada philosophy, as something to preach and guard against?

        If you are inclined to answer, I’d be happy to hear what you have to say, and then I beg leave to move on to other topics.

        • And I am honored by your presence here as well.

          Yes, vigorous preaching can come from less advanced devotees to be sure, and they may engage in it, for example, with a motive to please their guru. So we have a third category–kanistha, madhyama, uttama. Here I use the terms as they are used i nthe Bhagavatam as measures of realization and corresponding action.

          Do the madhyama and the uttama have enemies? The uttama sees no opposition (when in the consciousness of an uttama). The madhyama perceives opposition but deals with it differently than kanistha, in that he or she does not feel personally challenged by it. But here I am of course speaking of philosophical enemies. Still i think the same holds true to a large extent with regard to physical enemies as well, the uttama example being Thakura Haridasa.

          As for Dr. Jones, he may very well see Islam as a danger to other’s spiritual welfare, but I think his response to this perceived danger tells us something about the measure of his faith.

          Regarding conversion, Mahaprabhu emphasized conversion of others through example, which implies that one’s efforts in this direction will be successful relative to the measure of one’s own inner conversion.

        • I think if you analyze Dr. Jones campaign you will find his concern to be far less spiritual than political, social, and other types of material concerns. The only potentially spiritual point he made was simply a “Jesus said so.” Like Maharaja said, a true spiritual campaign would be more substantial than this.

          While great vaishnavas are hard to understand, Dr. Jones “Islam is of the Devil” coffee mugs and T-shirts (available on his website) definitely lend to my suspicion.

    • In the article I do not recall ever stating that everyone who preaches is wrongly motivated. After all, the article itself is a form of preaching. I wrote, “fanatics who deride the faith of others…” By calling one group fanatical, it is implied that there is a group that is not fanatical. Additionally, by saying “deride the faith of others” I am making another distinction between that sort of discourse and, for example, a Gaudiya’s critique of Advaita Vedanta, which, if done properly, will be philosophically substantial. Granted, many devotees will attack Advaita-vada emotionally and without strong understanding, but that does not disprove the premise of the article, it merely makes it more relevant. Great devotees will also sometimes criticize in seemingly inadequate ways, but their intense feeling for Krishna must be factored into our reaction. In his love for Mahaprabhu, Prabhodananda Saraswati began dismissing Kurma, Varaha, and so on.

      Later, in what I think is the statement you find most objectionable, I wrote, “The incessant drive to convert (especially to convert via attack) only reveals the rickety faith of the converter coupled with the oft-subscribed, subconscious misconception that the conversion of others will make one’s own adherence more substantial.” Seeing as this came in the context that it did, I think it is reasonable to assume I was speaking about a certain type of conversion. But perhaps a small qualifier would have been more appropriate. “Oft-subscribed, subconscious misconception” simply means it is a commonly adhered to misunderstanding, and while I don’t think “subconscious misconception” is necessarily an oxymoron, subconscious subscription probably is. I mis-wrote, oh well.

      Lastly it would not take strong, true faith to try to convert the good Dr. Jones. A madhyama Vaishnava, who has stronger faith than most, is said to be indifferent toward those who are envious (or antagonistic in this case) to Krishna. Sometimes the best you thing you can do for a spirit soul is minimize their opportunities to offend others and devotees and create a samskara for aggressive behavior. Besides, being in Gainesville, FL, Dr. Jones has probably encountered a good number of Gaudiya’s trying to convert him. 🙂

      • It’s easy enough to have one’s words misconstrued on the internet, considering the speed with which we’re able to publish them. I was of the impression that the context was broader than the Dr. Jones situation. I’m sure I could have given your words a closer reading before replying, so forgive me for jumping to comment. Thanks for clarifying and expanding. Though the original article was very well-written, the concreteness and specificity of expression in your last two comments were especially satisfying and enlightening to me.

      • But “the only truth” is not Krsna prema. It’s Harinama, which is universal in that it lends itself to many conceptions. But I am glad to see you have so much conviction for Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

        Thank you Swamiji for your patience again in responding on.

        But I will use your very words to reiterate even farther that conviction by stating this: In the form of Harinama the truth is still one, and it is universal in that it lends itself to the many conceptions in the world to converge to the highest gift available which is Krishna prema – the meaning of Kalau nasty eva. There is gradation in bhakti and the culmination is equally available to all, perhaps more so to the less likely among us to comprehend it, seek it, what to speak of deserve it. Such gift, compliments of Mahaprabhu!

        • I am aware that the gates to Goloka have been opened by Mahaprabhu and its wealth of prema made readily available. However, I never understood that this truth implied that the gates to Vaikuntha were closed. My impression was that at least in my lineage coming from BVT that Gaudiyas honored all Vaisnava sampradayas, even while differing from them on various theological and philosophical points.

          The venerable Krsnadas Kaviraja allowed for the vision of Mahaprabhu as an avatara of Mahavisnu after making his compelling argument for krsnas tu bhagavan svayam and then equating Gaura with Krsna. He simply added that such an understanding of Gaura was not very flattering, even while not untrue from one valid perspective. Thus while maintaining his own perspective he honors others as well: “Some say Krsna is Nara Narayana; others call him Vamana avatara; still others call him the avatara of Mahavisnu. It is not impossible that all of them are correct.”

          Of course only if Krsna is svayam bhagavan can all of these visions be correct. 🙂 Quite clever that Kaviraja!

          • Sometimes the excess regard for GV can go to the extent of saying that we should only have madhurya rasa. Hence, sakhya rasa is disrespected. I don’t know whether it is healthy.

  22. By the way, if still in doubt, this is Islam for you ladies and gentlemen:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100905/ap_on_re_eu/eu_vatican_iran_stoning

    • No one doubts this is inhuman. But this isn’t all of Islam, and, as I’ve pointed out before, Islam is not a monolith any more than any other religion.

      And as self evidently barbaric as this is (and the many other atrocities mentioned in these comments), they sure didn’t invent stoning adulteresses. Some Muslims, and some Muslim societies, do awful things. But I remember reading about stoning adulteresses was in the New Testament. Jesus stopped one incident, but it was apparently a common punishment among the Jews. And I’d guess it wasn’t limited to that society.

      Neither is barbaric treatment of those marginalized–or demonized–by any society. The German Christians didn’t exactly behave like gentlemen and ladies in the 1930s and ’40s. More recently, the US government has plenty to answer for in its treatment of those who would under any other circumstances be considered prisoners of war. Since many claim the US is a Christian nation, should Christianity similarly be condemned as a religion? And the violence between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir and other areas of India–can we prove that Muslims are the real initial cause? Not likely. As has been suggested before, the causes of most violence is more political than religious.

      To the extent they are religious, such conflicts can be attributed to the weakness of faith of the antagonists. Real spiritual values are taught, as we’ve read elsewhere, by example, not force.

      • I agree. Religion is made a tool by leaders for their political ambitions. Otherwise people can use the Gita also to actually commit inhuman acts because violence for dharma can be justified.

    • One could argue that spiritual violence is more harmful than bodily harm perpetrated by religious zealots. Unfortunately we see a lot of that in the ongoing misrepresentation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Those who look beyond the formal face of religion to its mystical and experiential heart are done immense disservice by misrepresentation of experiential spirituality. Such persons and their budding faith are much rarer. And to have come so far only to be turned back or caused to veer off course by misrepresentation is truly a travesty.

      The sin against faith is most egregious, and while both the religious believers interested in coloring their humanity with a God-colored brush and the deeper seekers interested in transcending the limitations of their humanity can be guilty of this sin, the former are arguably less harmful to the atma–the actual self.

      Personally I am more troubled by the rampant misrepresentation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism than I am the stoning by Muslim clerics. Atrocities such as this stoning are of course easier to deal with when living where I do, but they are also blatantly inhuman and thus easily detectable as religious misrepresentation. Few will give up religion because a woman is stoned by Muslim fanatics as the balance of the secular world and community of faith protests, while in much greater proportion seekers may turn back after encountering a guru with no goods.

      • Sometimes the excess regard for GV can go to the extent of saying that we should only have madhurya rasa. Hence, sakhya rasa is disrespected. I don’t know whether it is healthy.

        Of course the concept of “only madhurya rasa” is erroneous and hence spiritually unhealthy. Its then questionable that one who professes such stance has actual regard for GV. The regard very likely, and unfortuantely, is for one own’s misundertanding. The actual understanding of madhurya rasa is that it is inclusive of all other bhavas, and cannot in fact be experienced isolatedly.

      • Swamiji, undeniably there are all sorts of violence and trasngressions of rights in the world at all times. But in this day and age, the fact that the stoning in question, a practice which is direcly claimed to be spiritual, is carried on under our very eyes, is obviously a greater threat to us all than the negotiable dynamics of guru and disciple in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In Gaudiya Vaishnavism today, if someone gets cheated, thats clearly his/her choice. In Islam there is no question of choice. Look a bit deeper in the matter and see that the words of the Prophet are final and they are words of violence and intolerance, never negotioable. Thats Islam as it is. But because its human nature to seek truth, beauty, sweetness and charm, the many souls attempting to follow Islam throughout its history try and lend meaning to this otherwise impossible religion. And the struggle results in different degrees of adhrence or dissent, and corresponding battles around the world. Hard facts, but still facts.

        • Swamiji,
          I must concur with Bhaktikanda. Islam, as a brotherhood, is inherently political by nature. Yes, it may have some religious overtones, but it is ultimately bent only on establishing, at any cost, the worldwide uma, the brotherhood of Islam. “At any cost” includes the slaughter of innocents. And the slaughter of innocents leads me to term Islam as demonic. My definition of a demon is that to further their own ends, demons do not care how much pain and suffering they inflict on others.
          Vaishnava kanisthas may be somewhat ignorant, but ignorance is relative, and I have yet to see any Vaishnava kanisthas strap on a suicide belt and go into a busy market and blow up civilians. Islam, however, if it gets a large enough foothold here, will assuredly directly threaten your right to practice sadhana bhakti and may threaten your physical life as well. Fortunately only the body can be killed, so in a sense we can take the Islamic threat as a wake-up call to perfect our bhakti while we have the opportunity.

          • You are entitled to your opinion, but we are hardly under siege. Fundamentalist Islam getting foothold in the US? Sounds like those who think Obama is Muslim. I will continue to direct my concern toward misrepresentation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, which involves concern for all forms of religious fanaticism as a byproduct.

          • Has anyone defined fanaticism, with respect to devotional service, in writing somewhere? Charges of “fanatic” get thrown around like peanuts at the zoo, and I’m wondering if anyone has a handle on it. Or is it just one of those “I know it when I see it” kind of things? I’ve asked a few people, but no one seems to want to boil it down for me. I really appreciate it when terms are defined, so we all know what’s being talked about. One man’s exercise fanatic is another man’s Olympic hopeful.

          • Srila Prabhupada: “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism . . .”

            Sridhara Deva Goswami: Form over substance.

            Me: It is the embrace of the letter of the law in opposition to its spirit.

          • There was an attempt to assassinate Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. So it appears that it can go pretty far. Even just recently one group who call themselves followers of Srila Prabhupada started a campaign of slander against a devotee by contacting all the media outlets where his book was being promoted and making baseless accusations about criminal conduct against the devotee. There are also several instances of temples being completely overtaken and stolen by some so called followers of Srila Prabhupada, Bangalore is one example. The general apathy towards such events is quite astonishing. The apasiddhanta groups are practically given an equal footing with the true Vaisnava siddhanta by many many devotees. On the internet there is a huge amount of apasiddhanta content. Krishna forbid if someone were to google hare krishna or the name of a guru, they would find dozens of websites with every kind of outrageous aparadha and concocted idea of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. Of course this is all incredibly unfortunate but it is made possible in part by the apathy in the response to it. This is a real problem for Gaudiya Vaisnavas because there is a real solution within their reach.

  23. I agree with Maharaja. The misrepresentation of GV is a greater problem than Islam for the reason that genuine seekers of spiritual truth are turned away seeing the current representation of GV. Sincere seekers are always rare in the world.

  24. You are entitled to your opinion, but we are hardly under siege. Fundamentalist Islam getting foothold in the US? Sounds like those who think Obama is Muslim. I will continue to direct my concern toward misrepresentation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, which involves concern for all forms of religious fanaticism as a byproduct.

    Swami, your reply above wasn’t directed to me, but still just for the record I am going to go ahead and make my position in this very clear: I am not of the opinion that we, the United States, are under siege by Islam, nor am I concerned whether Mr. Obama is Muslim or not. My position is strictly in regard to Islam as a concept. I will reapeat that, regardless of current political agendas, if one looks objectively into Islam as a concept, one will find that that concept offers an impossible paradox in principle and in practice. Its self destructive in essence and hence its potential and at times de facto disruptive nature. Bhaktivinode Thakur addresses this point in his Jaiva Dharma. Gaudiya Vaisnavism by contrast can indeed be misrepresented but by its very nature can never be lost to an honest and sincere seeker.

    • Its [Islam] self destructive in essence . . .

      Then I will not bother to directly concern myself with it. I will follow in the footsteps of BVT, who addressed it indirectly in the context of establishing what Gaudiya Vaisnavism is.

      Gaudiya Vaisnavism by contrast can indeed be misrepresented but by its very nature can never be lost to an honest and sincere seeker.

      But its misrepresentation warrants considerable attention. Again, if one is to follow in the footsteps of BVT.

      • But its [Gaudiya Vaisnavism] misrepresentation warrants considerable attention. Again, if one is to follow in the footsteps of BVT.

        Indeed. We all want the same thing.

    • Bhaktikanda: My position is strictly in regard to Islam as a concept. I will reapeat that, regardless of current political agendas, if one looks objectively into Islam as a concept, one will find that that concept offers an impossible paradox in principle and in practice.

      Rejection of all religions whose aim is not pure devotion to Krishna is the first business of the Bhagavatam. If their aims are limited to dharma, artha, kama, and/or moksa, they are by definition self destructive. Our business is with the servants of Krishna.

      I have to point out that whatever religion this Dove (hah!) Outreach Fellowship represents is also full of hate for the Other (however it’s defined). And their publicity stunt simply fuels the distrust of the US, as evidenced by the upswell of anti-US demonstrations in Indonesia, Afghanistan, and other Muslim nations. More self-destructive “religion.” Why just Islam? The catalog of atrocities committed in the name of religion is immense, whether by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Shinto, Hindus, or whoever.

      • Why just Islam? Because its the only religion to date in the world which is self destructive by principle. The others are, when they are in practice, by misrepresentation.

  25. My concern was primarily the physical protection of devotees and their right to practice Vaishnavism. Perhaps I’m being overly concerned… It could never happen here, could it ?

    “Why just Islam ? The catalog of atrocities committed in the name of religion is immense…” But Islam leads the way, at least in modern times, in the enormity and extent of atrocities. Who else uses suicide bombers ?

    What is even more unfortunate is that so many people, in seeing poor examples of religious practitioners (of all religions), reject religious and spiritual practice altogether. Of course, this is often just a convenient excuse to justify unrestrained sense gratification. But it is clear that there are far more kanisthas and fundamentalists in the world than uttama or even madyama adhikaris. This is only natural, for the material world is filled with unrectified souls taking their first steps in spiritual life. Those who make it to the 2nd and 3rd stages are rare: sa mahatma sadurlaba.

    • My concern was primarily the physical protection of devotees and their right to practice Vaishnavism. Perhaps I’m being overly concerned… It could never happen here, could it ?

      No it could not. But it did happen in Nadia and Vrindavana and the Kazi and Akbar’s hearts melted. “No fear” belongs to the Harijanas and their Harinama.

  26. The way I look at Islam is that it represents the best practical religion for the people who adopted it as their faith. Barbarians need barbaric religions to keep them at least somewhat regulated and God conscious.
    The idea that all people can at any time embrace the topmost spirituality represented by Gaudiya Vaishnavism is very naive. People need a religion which appeals to their level of consciousness, and for over a billion people in the world that religion is Islam.
    No doubt, suicide bombers are a gruesome aberration on the face of any religion. We can only hope it is a passing phase of an otherwise positive form of faith.

    • Good comment.

      But it should also be acknowledged that it is not only barbarians that embrace Islam. Educated people from the US also embrace it. It also has a mystic side: Sufism. Rumi was no barbarian.

      • Nor Hafiz. Islam is not a monolith. Those who are inclined to condemn it as inherently evil have not studied it as well as they would like to think–certainly not as well as the many who have studied it thoroughly. There are definitely twisted people who espouse Islam, and there are sects that are destructive. But we see the same sort of thing in other religions as well. Witness the video circulating recently of the Hindu girl calling for nuclear war with Pakistan.

      • Sufism is not Islam proper. The words and example of the prophet Mohammad are the essence of Islam. Conversion or death were the prophet’s non negotiable legacy. Again, look carefully in the matter and see that there is no pristine Islam in which love and peace were taught. Sufism is an attempt from teh sides to make sense out of an otherwise utterly irrational and therefore self destructive proposition.

        The prophetic teachings of Mecca were one thing, but the political career of Mohammad in Medina is the real beginnings of Islam, and that is the same as the beginning of Jihad. Peace (dar al-islam) can only come when a country is 100% Muslim. Love is only for Muslim to Muslim. There is no equality of any kafir with a Muslim; the kafir is less than human. That is the teaching of Islam.

        Yes, Islam has a Sufi component that displays some of the characteristics of universalism and tolerance, but the dominant Islamic orthodoxy is one that is addicted to intolerance and feeds on the basest elements of the human psyche, and that attitude springs from the Prophet himself and nowhere else.

        The fact of the matter is that one can never expect to be a Muslim and at the same time repudiate the violence and intolerance of the Prophet himself.

        • Come on search on youtube. Many scientists, doctors from the west who are reasonable people have embraced Islam.

        • Bhaktikanda: “There is no equality of any kafir with a Muslim; the kafir is less than human. That is the teaching of Islam.”
          The same things are said by the orthodox Jews with plenty of Talmudic quotes to back up such absurd notions.
          All abrahamic religions share the same streaks of religious violence, intolerance, and hatred towards people of other faith. And the history bears it out. There is no religion with more blood on it’s hands than Christianity. As Christianity evolved into a less barbaric religion, so will Islam. What is required is a gradual change in the consciousness of the believers.

          • All religions share in some degree of tamas in their dynamics, but it is in Islam that the impossible proposition of hatred and intolerance has reached its zenith: self-destruction.

            Islam will evolve, you say. Thats the misreading of the situation. Evolution has a chance when there is some positive trait to develop from, however small. Islam strictly as a concept needs such a reform that it must alter itself one hundred per cent. It was a reactive religion from its inception.

          • Too bad the pastor backed off on burning the Koran. You live close enough to him in Florida to have joined his demonstration.

  27. Oh, that we had the same potency by which the Kazi was won over; and not only was the prostitute stopped from sin by Haridas Thakur, Namacharya, but became purified by his immense potency. Alas, we are not of that status. Only for up to 10,000 more years will there be room to openly be Vaishnavas. Hopefully, those of us reading this can become purified by then and return home. Then who is left as a Vaishnava will have to hide in the forest in order to practice. You are lucky in Philo, you are already in the forest.

    And the devious scourge is among us already, like a cancer, fooling the naive by its pleading need for religious tolerance, and appealing to our politically correct and liberal sentiments. And tolerant only when it is in the minority. And when the majority is gained it pushes hard to eliminate all the other religious practice. Their techniques have been well-documented Pluralism ? Is there any in Saudi Arabia?

    Just look at the real history of how Lord Ram’s birthplace was turned into a mosque. It is well-documented. I have a copy. Shall I post it ? Sufism is positive only because it borrows elements from Hinduism.

    Look at the conflicts around the world today. Why are over 95% Islamism-implicated ? Is it because of injustices against Muslims ? Or alleged injustices ? Or is it really due to fighting the infidel in Afghanistan, Thailand, Phillipines, etc.? Or Sunnis fighting Shia ? What about Darfur ? What about the Taliban? If there are moderates in Islam, let them speak out against the inhuman outrages continually perpetrated in the name of this “religion.” But they are silent. They are afraid, because they will be killed if they speak out. This is truly a brotherhood of bullies and thugs. And it is the future of the world in Kali yuga. Get your prayer rugs ready. We will have to go underground just as the early Hare Krishnas did in Russia.

    • Anandamaya: “Look at the conflicts around the world today. Why are over 95% Islamism-implicated?”
      For every conflict there are two sides. Who started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Who is now pushing for a war with Iran? US spends more on war than the next 25 countries COMBINED and most of it’s troops are overseas waging wars. Of course you can claim that this is all justified, but most people outside US are not so brainwashed.
      You may cheer the slick Western crooks in those conflicts while others may cheer the bearded barbarians. To me, both sides are more or less demonic and equally guilty. Suicide bombers are just as despicable as remote control drones packing high explosive rockets. Both sides have a lot of innocent blood on their hands.

      Jesus supposedly said: “Blessed are the peace makers”. Thus it can also be said: “Cursed are the warmongering Christians”.

    • And when the majority is gained it pushes hard to eliminate all the other religious practice.

      There are Hindus in Saudia Arabia that are not forbidden to practice. So too in Indonesia.

  28. Islam was a monotheistic advance over the pantheistic tribal gods and occult beliefs. All the Celestial and Spiritual authorities have applauded Muhammad’s accomplishment of establishing and spreading this monotheistic faith to such peoples.
    Srila Prabhupada has applauded Muhammad as an acharya and a devotee.
    Many of us western people have a hard time with that in light of the modern religious climate around the world, but Srila Prabhupada praised Mohammad for doing great work on behalf of the Lord.

    Islam has a bad history but it’s hope lies in western Muslims elevating the faith above and beyond the many prejudices and fanaticisms of it’s homelands that have blemished the reputation of the religion all over the world.

    Islam is now serving as an effective counterbalance to the rampant madness of materialism that is devouring the western world unobstructed but for the Muslims who are fighting against the horrible rot and corruption of western materialism.

    They are serving a purpose in the whole scheme of global civilization, much to the dislike of many western peoples.

    There are many beautiful aspects of Islamic culture and some rather unattractive features as well. We know western Muslims aren’t out to conquer the world for Allah, but many of the old school thinkers in the middle-east take the extremists interpretation which is not really all that hard to arrive at for a close student of the Quran.

  29. We can only hope for the best. I never said that I supported either the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iran. I consider both sides ignorant, and no good can come from ignorance.

    We went around and around on this topic on http://www.indiadivine.org when they had forums, and all it does to me is get me mentally agitated, so I will now sign off this topic. I know that Krishna does not want me criticizing his devotees, even fundamentalists.

    “There are Hindus in Saudia Arabia that are not forbidden to practice. And so too in Indonesia.” I stand corrected.

    Hare Krishna.

    • Saudi Arabia and the gulf states (Dubai-Bahrain-Kuwait etc.) have an immense number of foreign workers that are important to their economies. Indeed in some cities there are more foreign workers than there are Arab natives. Thus Hindus and members of other non-Moslem religions living in these countries are permitted to quietly practice their faith but they are not allowed to preach or promote it in any way. Preaching, especially to Moslems, would be grounds for immediate expulsion.

  30. Too bad the pastor backed off on burning the Koran. You live close enough to him in Florida to have joined his demonstration.

    I don’t think its too bad he backed off on burning the Koran. I think its a good sign, a sign that, in his ignorance and zealousness, he might have had a moment of sanity there, and that spark of sanity is where a true spiritual leader would see God and point it out to his followers.

    I attempt to follow Gaudiya Vaishnavism, so I am naturally not inclined to burn books, any books. But this doesn’t mean I will shy from calling a spade a spade. And that I will not recognize abuse, even the abuse coming from within my own religion; from those who profess to be concerned about my spiritual well being but who nonetheless use their postion to make unbecoming remarks about my particiation here, for example.

    • Islam will evolve, you say. Thats the misreading of the situation. Evolution has a chance when there is some positive trait to develop from, however small. Islam strictly as a concept needs such a reform that it must alter itself one hundred per cent. It was a reactive religion from its inception.

      I believe that your remarks deem you a religious fanatic by standards of the civilized, educated, religiously plural world. Imagine if you were asked as a Gaudiya Vaisnava to weigh in on Islam in a public forum. Your position above is no different than the Koran burning pastor. There is fire in your words, hell fire. Any well educated, faithful Muslim would be able to demonstrate to any objective third party that your remarks represent little more than your own ignorance and intolerance. Read BVT’s commentary on Gita 4.7-8. He is speaking about Mohamed among others when he acknowledges the divinity in non Vedic representations of Dharma outside of Bharata. However, you on the other hand cannot find a trace of divinity in the Kroan/Islam.

      It is not abusive to call a spade a spade.

      • You have not addressed my points in the discussion. So you are not calling a spade a spade. What you did you suggested that I go burn the Koran with the pastor when I clearly did not make one single comment that warranted such abusive treatment from you. I thought condemnation of the Pastor’s actions were a given, so I did not concern myself in making direct condemnation of his act in the discussion. I used the discussion however to mention that incidentally Islam as a concept happens to be even more intransigent than this unreasonable pastor.

        Read again and see that I repeatedly said that, strictly as a concept, Islam is self-destructive. Self-destructive means self-destructive, not destroyed from outside.

        You have not addressed my argument. Perhaps you are angry with me as a person. I am sorry if thats the case. Just please don’t go burning me at the stake. 🙂

        Intelligent Muslims indeed. Intelligent Muslims will chant Hare Krishna. 🙂

        • Your argument is that Islam is more unreasonable than the pastor: There is no divinity in Islam: That is the Pastor’s argument.

          Here is another pastor in Tennessee going forward with the book burning:

          “My plans for Saturday are to take a copy of the Quran and burn it,” said Old.
          “To the Muslim church I would say the reason I am doing on Saturday because I believe they worship a false god. They have a false text, a false prophet and a false scripture.”

          How is your position different? Merely that you don’t literally burn books, something that, contrary to your belief, is not beyond Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

          Am I angry with you as a person? I think you are foolish while thinking you are not.

          • My position is different than the pastor’s in that I never said the Koran merits burning, or that its followers are to be abused. My position is that the contents of the Koran as per the teachings of the Prophet offer an impossible proposition. This argument hasn’t been addressed by you or anyone in the discussion yet.

            It seems you prefer to dismiss myself rather than address the argument for itself. You sarcastically lump me in with the pastor clearly to ridicule and discredit my participation, even as I clearly explain that I by no means am in agreement with the type of reaction had by the pastor or people like him. When I point this out you continue to attack me by calling me foolish. What can be done?

            And I am sorry but I am going to disagree with your statement that Gaudiya Vaishnavas are “not beyond burning books”. When Gaudiya Vaishanavas burn books, if and when they do, this behavior is obviously a behavior outside of the context of Gudiya Vaishnavism, just as the pastor’s behavior is his own, never based on teachings and tradition of Christianity proper.

          • Now you want to say that your position is that the Koran offers an impossible proposition. This is more nuanced than the position you have taken thus far. That position has been that Islam is not even reformable because it does not have even 1% of divinity in it to begin with. From an Islamic standpoint, the vantage point of the religiously plural and tolerant civilized world we live in, and a saragarhi Vaisnava perspective this position is abusive, intransigent, and unreasonable. I maintain that your position voiced on CNN, for example, would be something people would expect to hear Ann Coulter. It is a position of differing from the pastor only in form. Again, now you are trying to move away from this position at least in language, but I still think that your present language in which you reframe your position, if voiced as representative of the Gaudiya position on Islam, would lead most reasonable, open minded people to lump the Gaudiyas in with the pastor in substance even while they differ in form.

            As for Gaudiyas burning books, you cannot say that those that do are not Gaudiyas. You can say that they are fundamentalist Gaudiyas or that they misrepresent the spirit of GV and so on. But that is what you are doing as well. Why? Because Islam does have divinity with it. It teaches us, however basically, to love God.

          • Good advice from Swami here.

          • quotes by Bhaktikanda:

            Why just Islam? Because its the only religion to date in the world which is self destructive by principle.

            In Islam there is no question of choice. Look a bit deeper in the matter and see that the words of the Prophet are final and they are words of violence and intolerance, never negotioable. Thats Islam as it is.

            By the way, if still in doubt, this is Islam for you ladies and gentlemen:

            http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100905/ap_on_re_eu/eu_vatican_iran_stoning

            Bhaktikanda, the complaint here is that you have repeatedly generalized Islam from the perspective of a person who practices a different religion/spiritual path. In doing so you imply that Islam has no value for the jiva progressing through material existence. #1 mistake here is in not considering whether all practicing muslims understand their religion the way you say they do. We all know from experience that not all muslims interpret the Koran or the teachings of their Prophet like you have generalized them to be. Islam “as it is” is not intolerance and non-negotiability. If it were that easy to generalize there would be no discussions about mosques at ground zero, imam’s negotiating with crazy fanatical pastors, muslims living peacefully in the U.S. or other western countries, muslims in U.S. government, muslims fighting in the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq, etc., etc. There would be a lot less words and a lot more war.
            If we flip this discussion to imagine a Christian in his own community railing against Vaisnava’s because they follow Bhagavad-gita and in the Gita Krsna promotes the killing of Arjuna’s family and teachers, “their god, prophet is a war monger” we would feel just as misunderstood. Although that interpretation might be valid for some fanatical Hindus with a political agenda, we would not want to be lumped in with the likes of them.
            So all the reasonable commentators here are asking of you Bhaktikanda is to separate your own faith out of the discussion and give up the bias which we all share towards our chosen path. This discussion did not really progress in the direction of the evils of sectarianism, but rather started some people on a sectarian spree. But truly, sectarianism is “of the devil”, while honoring the faith of others is divine.

      • Intelligent Muslims. Intelligent Muslims will chant Hare Krishna. 🙂

  31. Bhaktikanda: My position is that the contents of the Koran as per the teachings of the Prophet offer an impossible proposition.

    You’ve called Islam self destructive, and now you say it offers an impossible proposition. You seem to think these assertions are self evident because I don’t recal your explaning just how Islam is self destructive, or precisely what that impossible proposition is. If you have done so, and I’ve missed it, could you please state them here? I’d be grateful if you were to do so.

  32. Some devotees that are not unacquainted with the history of ancient India and the Vedic kings might not realize that in Vedic times the Vedic kings and Emperor were not any less fanatic about their religion and imposing it on everyone else.
    In fact, the duty of the Vedic king is to IMPOSE stringent laws upon the citizens and to punish severely anyone who disobeys.

    The Pandavas, in fact, after the battle of Kuruksetra went about conquering all settled lands and imposing the rule of the Vedic monarch forcibly with military might.

    Vedic civilization was nothing like our asuric democracy here in America where porn shops, gun running and human trafficking are being conducted right under the nose of the government without fear.
    Vedic civilization was more like Islam than like America, but most devotees have no real insight into the nature of Vedic times and think that it was something like our demoncrazy Democracy.
    It was not.
    Vedic civilization was a rigid, disciplinarian autocracy.
    If there was a country in the world practicing the Vedic monarchy most devotees would probably not want to move there, but prefer to stay comfy in the their American DREAM and all their worldly attachments.

    So, being a freedom loving American means that we really don’t want a real Vedic society. The two ideals are not equal concepts.
    The American dream is quickly becoming the American nightmare here in the 21st Century.

    • I think you err here in equating stringent laws with forced adherence to a particular religious belief in Vedic times. First of all the US also has strict laws of its own. But it does not force people to be of any particular religion. The Vedic world, from what little we know of it, also had strict laws of its own. But with regard to religion it also acknowledged a plurality, because Hinduism consists of a plurality of religious conceptions. Indeed Hinduism as one religion is a modern invention. Within the Bhagavatam we find Saivaites, Vaisnavas, Jains, Mimamsakas, Saktas, Sankhyites, etc. and moreover even Charvakas (atheists), none of which are sentenced to burning at the stake even while they are compared and it is concluded that Vaisnavism is the paro dharma. Indeed every religious conception of the time was assembled at the Ganga for the passing of Raja Pariksit. Thus they coexisted, even while Kings fought one another for different reasons and even religious reasons at times. The challenge horse of Raja Yuddhistira was not a religious challenge to neighboring kingdoms, but rather a political one. Indeed we find Raja Pariksit giving a place in his kingdom even to Kali (the yuga personified).

      But I agree it was not like our times and the US, European, etc. democracies. Nonetheless we are followers of Mahaprabhu, and outward conversion to his faith, if there is any, should be a result of inward conversion. This is the example he has given us. He is our Savior, the distilled essence of Vedic times and law, and his book—the Bhagavata—our new testament.

  33. Seems like the best thing one can do is to try our best to become a pure devotee, knowing that the pure devotee will be divinely inspired, rightly guided, and most effective as Krishna’s direct instrument. Time is so precious; a second lost cannot be reclaimed.

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