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Switch to Forum Live View Hinduism? ISKCON? Personal integrity?
7 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2008 - 2:21PM #1
devadasi_gn
Posts: 4
Hello everyone,

I have recently become involved in the ISKCON community  after spending time with the Bramaccharis and the Sanyasis. I was impressed  not only by their knowledge and aura but I felt welcomed even as a non-Indian and decided to stick around. However the more I spent time with some congregation  members the more I get an "uh I don't know about this"   feeling from time to time.

To give you a back story, I was rasied as a Smarta Hindu but I was raised to be tolerant and respectful to other people's beliefs and cultures. Calling people heathens, deamons, unbelievers, etc was not supported. Instead I was  taught to appreciate our differences and that idea has shaped my world perspective.

I would say that I started taking my faith seriously after having a particular religious experience involving Mother Laxshmi in my late teens.  I adore Radha and Krishna on a personal level. I've studied the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Gita from both a religious and academic perspective, and although I live a modern western lifstyle I turn to the Vedic teachings for guidance.  However, in being a non-Indian or rather a non ethnic-Indian Hindu, I felt unwelcomed and discriminated against in many  temples.

While I admire how welcoming the members of ISKCON are inregards to gender and ethnicity, I am uneasy about other areas. Please do not see the following as ISKCON bashing -it is only a list of things that I find personally challenging.

1. I have read the ISKCON Gita, and while I appreciate its scriptural translations, I am a bit turned off by its flavor of intolerance in the proports.

2. I find that a number of the congragation members that I have come into contact with choose to immitate ACBVSP's manner of speaking. I often have to make a conscious effort of  minimizing my internal reaction to hearing people being called "non-believers",  "non-devotees", "karmi", etc.

3. I feel at times that I am being pushed  to adapt to their way of  life. I must admit that since getting involved in ISKON that my life has improved in that I gave up alcohol, and became a full vegetarian rather than just not eating beef. Kirtan is also an entirely new experience for me which I really enjoy, however, I am turned off when people ask  me how many rounds I am chanting and if/when I am going to approach a guru for initiation.

4. I really enjoy reading the works of other Hindu writers from other sects and philosophical traditions. For example putting aside, philosophical differences, I really enjoy reading Paramahansa's books and how he cross references the Gita with the Bible in discussing how to intergrate god-consciouness in our everyday modern western lives. The diversity of Hindu thought is the #1 thing I love about my faith.

Once again, I will say that I really appreciate some of the work that ISKCON is doing, and I reall appreciate how welcoming they are to non-Indian Hindus. However, I do not want to feel as though I have to change who I am to be accepted. My faith is very important to me but it is not the only thing that is important to me. In the Gita, Krishna says that it better to do your duty imperfectly than to do another's perfectly. My interpretation of that is that he's speaking about personal integrity. Taking part in the Hindu community, performing puja, etc are just as important to me as my personal practices and the other non religious parts of my life. I just don't see the world from an either/or  point of view  and I don't like feeling as though I am being put in such a situation. 

I really do enjoy going to the temples for arti and festivals   and very much due to my own fears of being rejected and/or "blacklisted", I do not feel comfortable bringing this up to many of the people who I have become close to through ISKCON.

Comment or suggestions from member or affilates of ISKCON?
Comments or suggestions from other Vaishnava schools or Hindus from other sects?

Also I would really appreciate it we could try and not blatantly bash each other as I have seen being done in the old forum.


Thanks,

devadasi_gn
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 21, 2008 - 6:38PM #2
Maya3
Posts: 928
Hi Devadasi,
First I want to thank you for being so welcoming to Hindus who are not of Indian decent.

I am a western Hindu as well and there has been a pretty intense debate on the hindu boards about this. You have probably seen it by now.

Anyway, honestly I don´t really like ISKCON either. I don´t need to go into it here.

Where do you live? If you live in the US there are a lot of options.
Some yoga studios are teaching much more than hatha yoga.
Integral yoga for example have satsangs, arti and wonderful Kirtan.

There are also ashrams who do this. Mine is amazing, we chant every day before and after meditation and celebrate all the holidays not only Hindu ones.

Maya
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2008 - 12:27PM #3
devadasi_gn
Posts: 4
Maya3,

Thank you for your reply.

I am indeed in the US and I will continue to look into the offerings in my area.
I ideally would like to inncorporate all three types of yoga - karma, jnana, and bhakti.

If you are willing, I would like to hear about your ashram and also your  experiences with ISKCON - (your likes as well as your dislikes), off the record.

Thanks,

Devadasi_gn
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2008 - 1:54AM #4
jennieblue22
Posts: 23
1) Great job toward commiting to a better life and to a belief of your choice - I applaud you
2) I'm not with ISKCON either - but know that Hinduism is ultimately about your personal view on it all, not how someone defines it for you, adn how you live your life, and you should use the knowledge at your disposal to do so
3) know that in the BG - your "duty" includes EVERYTHING - spiritual and material - because it's impossible to do nothing - and your duty is to do the right thing, so Krishna is basically explaining that you should do the right thing, or at least try, rather than abandoning your need to do so for any reason.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2008 - 11:09AM #5
Pradyumna-ji
Posts: 1
I think it is matter choice, for if your faith is strong it won't matter what others say because you'll see it for the maya that it is, for even within iskon maya exist and only lord krsna knows if your actions are sincere, the whole purpose of duality is to rise above it not to sink into the meshes of attachment and the bonds of karma, tho i agree with your statements. JAI SHRI KRSNA
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2008 - 6:38PM #6
sunbeamuk1
Posts: 10
i started off in a bhramin household and naturally I not my family visited the iskon temple where i lived regularly. i've jumped in and out of iskon with my husband- it was where we met - at a gita class.
we went to the 4 oclock arti and became  entrenched there.
i too did not like the karmi outlook and that "all other pople were dogs" - by a temple president.
my hubby found it hard to continue with hinduism when his guru told  him that all people who are abused deserved it cos of their past lives.- he quickly changed faith.
i have a huge affinity with Radha -Krishna . i like to chant and sing kirtan in the car.  Their names vibrate in my soul.

i never go to temple these days
i like to read a mixture of works- ramakrishna, sufi stuff, stuff written by Tagore.
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7 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2008 - 5:27AM #7
Jm8
Posts: 784
Devadasi_gn,

how is a non ethnic-Indian Hindu brought up as a Smarta? Quite unusual.

> While I admire how welcoming the members of ISKCON are inregards to gender and ethnicity,

Yes, since Krishna teaches us to transcend these upadhis.

> 1. I have read the ISKCON Gita, and while I appreciate its scriptural translations, I am a bit turned off by its flavor of intolerance in the proports.

Can you give an example, please, so I can try to give a comment?

> 2. I find that a number of the congragation members that I have come into contact with choose to immitate ACBVSP's manner of speaking. I often have to make a conscious effort of
minimizing my internal reaction to hearing people being called "non-believers",  "non-devotees", "karmi", etc.

Nonbeliever is a usual translation of 'pasandi', non devotee of 'avaishnava' or 'abhakta', and karmi doesn't need a translation - i.e. these terms are not our invention but appear in original texts.

> 3. ...I am turned off when people ask me how many rounds I am chanting and if/when I am going to approach a guru for initiation.

This is usually asked by younger enthusiastic devotees when they see someone more serious. They don't mean to disturb you. You may answer e.g. 'I chant as per circumstances/as much as I can' and 'Not yet decided.'

> 4. I really enjoy reading the works of other Hindu writers from other sects and philosophical traditions. For example putting aside, philosophical differences, I really enjoy reading Paramahansa's books and how he cross references the Gita with the Bible in discussing how to intergrate god-consciouness in our everyday modern western lives. The diversity of Hindu thought is the #1 thing I love about my faith.

Do you mean Yogananda? He writes well, from the little I read from him.


sunbeamuk1,

> i too did not like the karmi outlook and that "all other pople were dogs" - by a temple president.

This dog reference is Bh.P. 2.3.19: http://vedabase.net/sb/2/3/19/en
spoken by rishi Shaunaka.

> my hubby found it hard to continue with hinduism when his guru told him that all people who are abused deserved it cos of their past lives.- he quickly changed faith.

What other cause does your husband propose? A revenging God? A chance? Imho, these are much worse alternatives than karma. But this doesn't mean that we shouldn't care. It's a part of dharma to protect weak and abused ones.


Hope this helps. Hare Krishna

"This Krishna Consciousness is a science to understand what is the difference between a dead body and a living body". (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Your servant, bh. Jan

http://www.vrindavan-dham.com
http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz
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6 years ago  ::  May 27, 2008 - 12:04PM #8
urantia6
Posts: 8
Hi Devadasi and friends:

I have had the exact same experience you did.

Always remember that the people that go to Temple are just ordinary people on a spiritual journey and are NOT perfect (although they like to pretend they are.;).

Go to Temple with love in your heart and you'll always have a great time. Don't worry about all the other people there.

Devak

PS:......... A.C.BDV was a very conservative elderly man from West Bengal,  India.  A lot of what he wrote and said comes from that perspective. At least he did try to bring God Consciousness to America/Western world and the hippies of that era.  He did the best he could. He was not perfect. But then who is!
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6 years ago  ::  May 28, 2008 - 4:55AM #9
Jm8
Posts: 784
Haribolo Devak,

> Go to Temple with love in your heart and you'll always have a great time. Don't worry about all the other people there.

this is a very good advice to avoid distraction. However, in a holy place one shouldn't avoid devotees as per Bh.P. 10.84.13.

Srila Prabhupada was conservative in the best sense of this word, perfectly transferring an ageless knowledge conserved within guru parampara for us to benefit from it. That's what a perfection of a guru is about. Guru is not Superman or God. He also made a lot of adjustments for the Westerners at the same time without changing the essence.

ys Jan
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 17, 2008 - 7:02PM #10
radhe-govinda
Posts: 52
Namaste,

i don't mean to be rude by piggy backing on this thread but it seemed like a good place to ask instead of starting a whole new thread and clogging things up. 

anyway maybe some devotees can answer,  i have had some contact with iskcon through ratha yatra and i really enjoy kirtan.  i would like to go to temple but i have some reservations.  is it a requirement to chant 16 rounds a day?  will i be viewed negatively if i can't because of work?  also is there alot of pressure to initiate?  i would like to associate with lovers of Krishna but am not at a point in my life where i am ready to approach a guru. 

thank you for taking the time to read :)

Jai Sri Krishna!
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