Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Secret GBC Resolution Revealed

A secret GBC Resolution --No.57.08, passed at this year's Mayapur meetings-- has just come to my attention. An insider sent me the unpublished resolution on condition of anonymity. It deals with the coming wave of devotees, especially first generation Prabhupada disciples, who will be leaving their bodies in the next 10-20-30 years. The GBC decided it was timely to make preparations to properly enshrine their remains within the holy grounds of Iskcon Mayapur.

The GBC body came up with a new program to accomodate and honor the final remains of all members in good standing. Thus, the Mayapur Perpetual Worship Scheme (henceforward known as MAWS) was created by secret resolution at this year's GBC meeting. Till now, has not mentioned it, so the readers of this post are getting a real "scoop."

The purpose of MAWS is to perpetuate the memory and the worship of those great souls whose vision transformed Iskcon from a small spiritual movement into the wildly popular Hindu institution that it is today.

MAWS takes into account the position of the deceased disciples to determine the level of their posthumous worship. For example, Gurus (e.g. those who are officially rubber-stamped to initiate disciples and freely distribute divine grace), will be offered "VIP" Samadhi Worship as part of the scheme. This will be a "pukkha standard" of worship that no guru will want to be without. Not everyone has disciples who can sit around all year in Mayapur to attend their samadhis. This package allows for elegant worship to continue year-round without burdening any disciples. It comes complete with marble and gold leaf engraved worship paraphernalia, morning arotiks, and a daily 7 course lunch feast. (Originally the GBC wanted Bengali pujaris to do the puja and seva, but the locals demanded iPhones, expensive watches, laptops and visas to the US.) To keep costs down and make the scheme affordable, the GBC decided to import brahmacaris from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The annual fee for the VIP Samadhi worship will be $8001, an amount that one sankirtan devotee or a wealthy disciple can easily come up with in no time. (Monthly installment plans are also available.)

The next level down in the MAWS scheme is for those gurus, sannyasis and vanaprasthas who unfortunately had a minor falldown. MINOR falldowns as defined by the GBC in this resolution include such things as: getting laid, snorting a line of cocaine, seducing your godbrother's wife, or becoming a transexual drag queen. The list is quite long, but basically doing anything illicit can be taken as a minor falldown. The GBC feels that such accidental falldowns should be forgiven. MAWS offers these devotees a simple way out of their embarrasing situation with a "Redemption Clearance Certificate."

Minor falldown gurus and sannyasis can easily purchase their Redemption Clearance Certificate. The pre-paid cost is a modest $501-- that's a really good deal-- for what is essentially falldown insurance. It's still affordable at $1008 for the postpaid plan. After an official certificate is issued, the redeemed late gurus and sannyasis can start to receive Budget Samadhi Worship immediately. The Budget Samadhi scheme features a handsome brass arotik tray, bi-monthly arotiks on the purnima and amavasya, and feast prasad on holy days (as much as you can eat those days, since you will not receive daily prasadam). The annual fee for Budget Samadhi Worship in the MAWS scheme is $3333.

The GBC MAWS resolution has a caveat in it which states: "Any guru, sannyasi or vanaprastha who publishes anything critical of the GBC, regardless of the truth behind their accusations, will be considered an unredeemable sinner." Such heretics are considered victims of MAJOR falldowns. Major falldown disciples can never atone for their mistakes nor will they be allowed to purchase a Redemption Clearance Certificate. (There may be a few exceptions for exceptionally wealthy sinners who can ante upwards of $100,000 baksheesh to the right persons, but this isn't explicitly stated in the resolution.)

Finally, the GBC did not forget the rank-and-file disciples, those pathetic godbrothers, godsisters and grand disciples who never had enough ambition to climb the corporate ladder in Iskcon, who rarely got the best maha prasad due to not having a position, who could not enjoy free business class world travel or have their expenses reimbursed by disciples, and who were never surrounded by fawning sycophants. The GBC wants to thank all such sincere servants and graciously offers them their own perpetual worship. Their ashes will be respectfully placed in a small slot in a wall within walking distance of the men's and women's toilets, just a kilometer from the Guru/Sannyasi samadhi area. The wall will be nicely decorated with cow dung year-round, and once a year, a pujari will sprinkle buffalo milk on the wall to commemorate the wonderful sacrifices of these less important devotees. An annual fee of $101 for the ordinary devotee "Hole in the Wall" worship will be waived. According to our sources, the popular sannyasi, His Holiness Maha Kripa Sindhu Bindhu Maharaj, offered this as an amendment to the MAWS resolution, and it unanimously passed.

Unfortunately, a restrictive amendment, proposed by the hard-liner, Swami Rudra Tapasvi Maharaj, also passed. It states that any disciple or grand disciple who ever had the shameless audacity or sheer chutzpah to openly question the authority of the GBC, BBT, a regional secretary, vice president or even a local temple commander, will be ineligible for the MAWS scheme. The GBC regrets that the ashes of such offenders cannot be placed anywhere within the sacred grounds of Iskcon Mayapur. They are to be blacklisted in perpetuity from the property. Their heirs will need to make other arrangements for their ashes.

"Try a small, local Gaudiya Math...or in a pinch, there's always Mother Ganga....She'll take anyone," suggested a sympathetic GBC member, who spoke off the record on condition of anonymity.

That's all we know so far about this still-secret resolution. We'll update you as soon as more details become available. Stay tuned. And stay loyal. It's never been easier to attain samadhi!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On Purity & Pollution

In London, on July 26,1973, Srila Prabhupada gave a class on Bhagavad-gita. In the class, Prabhupada gives a very clear argument against animal killing:

"So we should not think like that, that animals or trees or birds and beasts, they are other than ourself. They are our brothers. Because the seed-giving father is Krsna, and the mother is material nature. So we have got the same father and same mother. So if we have got the same father and mother, they are all our brothers.

"So unless one is advanced in spiritual consciousness, how he can think of universal brotherhood? This is nonsense. There is no possibility. The so-called universal brotherhood is possible when he is Krsna conscious, when one knows that Krsna is the common father of everyone. The father will not tolerate. Suppose father has got ten sons. Out of them one or two sons are useless. So those who are very capable sons, if they say to the father, "My dear father, these two sons of yours, they are useless. So let us cut their throat and eat." So father will say, "Yes, you do that"? No. Father will never say. The father will say, "Let them be useless, but let them live at my cost. Why...? You have no right to infringe on their rights." This is common sense.

"But these rascals, they think that animals are to be killed for the satisfaction of the tongue of the human being. No sense. No sense. And still they are passing on as religious heads. Such type of cheating religion is completely kicked out from this Bhagavata religion. Dharmah projjhita-kaitavo atra paramo nirmatsaranam vastavah vastu vedyam atra [SB 1.1.2]. It is meant for, this Bhagavat-dharma. Krsna consciousness movement is meant for the paramo nirmatsaranam those who are not envious. How they can be envious? Paramahamsa, one who has understood what is this creation, who is the creator, what are these living entities, one who has got this knowledge, he is called paramahamsa."

Later that afternoon, a world renowned economist, Dr. E.F. Shumacher, visited with Srila Prabhupada. Schumacher was a respected economist who worked with J.M. Keynes and J.K. Galbraith. He was one of the intellectual fathers of the environmental and ecology movements. He wrote that single-minded concentration on technology was dehumanizing. Schumacher proposed the idea of "smallness within bigness." He had spent time in Burmese villages, and developed what he called "Buddhist economics." He wrote a book titled "Small is Beautiful" in 1973 that made him famous. A few quotes from his book:

"The less toil there is, the more time and strength is left for artistic creativity. Modern economics, on the other hand, considers consumption to be the sole end and purpose of all economic activity."

"It is clear, therefore, that Buddhist economics must be very different from the economics of modern materialism, since the Buddhist sees the essence of civilisation not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Character, at the same time, is formed primarily by a man's work. And work, properly conducted in conditions of human dignity and freedom, blesses those who do it and equally their products."

"Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful."

Shumacher was one of the first economists to recognize that dependence on oil would become self-destructive, as it's a finite resource and is also highly polluting. In his way, he foretold the dangers of global warming before science had identified it.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation between Shumacher and Prabhupada.

Prabhupada: Thank you very much for your coming. I have read some of your ideas. So from your writing it appears you are nice, thoughtful man. Muni, the Sanskrit word is muni. Just like Narada Muni. They are very thoughtful....I was just reading this article, "Cars, Profits and Pollution." So this one side, we make profit, another side, we make pollution. This is the material, result of material activities. Whatever you do. Anything you do material, it is same. In one side, you see, "Oh, there is so much profit," and another side, you'll see so much pollution. Therefore the remedy is to act for spiritual realization. Then you will avoid pollution.

Just for example, that in the Ten Commandments, the first Commandment is "Thou shall not kill." So when I ask any Christian gentleman, "Then why you are killing?" they cannot give me any satisfactory answer.

Revatinandana: How does the, how does the process of animal slaughter in the slaughterhouse as we find it today, how does it fit in your philosophy for, say, changing the society? Where do you put that in your philosophy?

Schumacher: Well, I think one should try and do without it. You can't everywhere do without it. It's like all nonviolence. It's a direction of movement, to try to do your utmost to go as far as...

Revatinandana: So wherever possible, the slaughtering business should not go on.

Schumacher: That's right. But the Eskimos, for instance...

Prabhupada: That is another thing.

Schumacher: That's what I was saying, you see.

Prabhupada: When there is no food, so human life is more important than animal life. So the human life should be saved at the sacrifice of animals. That is another question. But where there is complete facilities to get very nice, nutritious food, why these poor animals should be killed?

Revatinandana: But in the last week we've had a Jesuit priest, a Black Friar's monk, several other theologically inclined Christian gentlemen have been here, and not one of them has assented to that statement. They do not agree. They think that...

Prabhupada: They do not agree that animal killing is sinful. They do not agree.

Schumacher: It's a very long question, isn't it. I mean...

Prabhupada: No, it is a simple question. Killing, do you think killing is very good business? Then why it is forbidden, "Thou shall not kill."

Schumacher: No, but sometimes protection is necessary.

Prabhupada: That is another thing. Generally, you should not kill. But when there is absolute necessity, that is another thing. But generally, this killing process you cannot support, and at the same time, you want to make the society purified. You commit sinful activities; at the same time, you want to purify. How it is possible?

Schumacher: I think a society can survive, and spirituality can survive, even among meat-eaters. It's much more difficult, I imagine, that a society can survive which has animal factories.....I mean there is the ruling assumption that you need it, which I challenge and you challenge....
The Buddhists have got a good, a good formula on this, and...

Prabhupada: It is not the question of Buddhist, Christian or Hindu. It is common sense philosophy.

Schumacher: The Buddhists have a good compromise on this. They say you can eat meat...

Prabhupada: No, no strict Buddhist will say.

Schumacher: ...but because you're not allowed to kill animals for eating meat.

Prabhupada: What is this?

Schumacher: So they let the Muslims kill the animals.

Prabhupada: Eight kinds of criminals. In killing animals, there are eight kinds of criminals. One who is killing, one who is ordering, one who is purchasing, one who is eating, one who is cooking, in this way... Just like if a man is killed. If a man is killed and there are so many persons implicated, it does not mean that only one who has killed, he becomes criminal. All others who are implicated in that killing business, they are criminals. This is pollution....

God consciousness cannot be achieved without being pure. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan [Bg. 10.12]. God is the supreme pure. You cannot approach God, you cannot understand God, in impure condition. And without God consciousness, there cannot be any purification. You try to understand this simple fact, that without God consciousness, you may prescribe so many things -- they will be all failure, all failure. And God consciousness cannot be achieved without being pure. This is the problem. Now you can think over it.

Schumacher: I agree with that.

Prabhupada: Yes. You can defend your theory but that will not help purification of the society. That will not help. Take it for granted. You can make so many theories but if you remain impure, if you are not God conscious, all these theories will be useless. Harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathe... [SB 5.18.12]. This is simply mental speculation. Mano-rathena, hovering on the mental plane, you can jump from this to that, but that will not solve the problem. Mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih. So we do not act on mental speculation. It may be our credit or discredit. That is different thing. We simply follow the standard policy. That is Krsna consciousness. Now, everything is described in the Bhagavad-gita, how to become a brahmana, how to become a ksatriya, how to become a vaisya, how to become a sudra, or how to remain less important than the sudras. The societies must be divided in different divisions. They should work conjointly...