Radharani—The Feminine Side of God
My sister Carol has become a radical feminist in recent years. I watched this develop. As she devoured book after book on the failures of patriarchy and male-made societies, she came to see me—her brother, who worships a “male” God—as a victim of sexist philosophers, duped by men with little regard for women. In other words, she knew that I worshiped Krishna, who is clearly male, and this was enough to put me in league with those who belittled women. It confused her, though, to see that I was not full of macho double-talk, that despite my worship of a male God, I was fair and even-minded—I didn’t speak down to women. She decided I was bright enough to confront directly.
Radhastami and Today's Political Climate
America is considered a progressive country, but unlike a number of other nations, thus far it has never elected a woman as head of state. Of course, there are many contributing social factors, but one of them should be considered: more than 90% of Americans profess to believe in God. Is it possible that the numerical disparity between males and females in positions of political leadership in the U.S. has been influenced by the major religious traditions, which portray the Supreme Being in predominantly masculine terms?
The Wonderful Hindu Invasion of ISKCON
Indian Hindus are populating ISKCON Temples in the West in a way never seen before over the last forty-two years. This is happening all over the world at a massive rate and is not a phenomenon, as some suggest. The fact is, as India becomes a wealthier nation, we can only expect more and more students to leave India and attend Western educational institutions as well as many more arriving from India to become citizens of other countries.
Addressing Concerns About the New Kirtan Book
Although the reaction to my newly published book on kirtan has been overwhelmingly positive, I have received several letters expressing an entirely predictable ISKCON concern. One letter in particular sums up the all-too-conservative reservation: “I love the new book but I wonder about ‘milk touched by the lips of a serpent.’ I refer, of course, to the non-ISKCON people represented in your book. Shouldn’t we only hear from authorized representatives who embody the mood of Lord Chaitanya?”
Editorial: In Reluctant Defense of the Love Guru
Over the years, I’ve met more than a few ABCDs who have stories of how Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – full of monkey-brain-eating Hindus and a murderous Kali-worshiping villain changed their lives. The stories differ in details (some were teased at school for a while, others so mortified that they hid their religion from their friends for years), but are all eerily similar in how traumatically the film affected how we looked at our faith. We’ve considered starting a support group for Temple of Doom survivors.
Liberating the Liberators
It is interesting that the US and UK style themselves as “liberators” of Iraq. Subtly implied in this euphemistic term is the assumption that we are ourselves already liberated, in a position to bestow our happy state on others. And that is surely a commonly held assumption in the West. We view ourselves as having the most progressive and free societies. But how true is this?
Eating Green from the Vedic Perspective
If you ever watch TV, read a newspaper, or listen to the radio, chances are you'll have heard of the term 'carbon footprint' by now. In our increasingly green conscious society, it's the buzzword of the minute, and refers to the impact human activities have on the environment.
Book Review: The Yoga of Kirtan
Steven Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa), prolific author and renowned expert on Gaudiya Vaishnavism, has hit new strides with his latest literary offering – a book about kirtan, the sonic form of yogic spirituality. The Yoga of Kirtan is truly a groundbreaking celebration of yogic practice, engaging 21 well-known kirtan singers in conversation – transcribed interviews. Their insights give readers a comprehensive understanding of what chanting actually means, both in terms of practical application and inner development.
"The Poison is Personal Ambition"
The highlight of my visit to Mayapur this year was Anuttama Prabhu's seminar on leadership and management—an extremely valuable course, which teaches so many important skills and principles of effective leadership and management.
'The Love Guru': Lessons for Hindus
As anyone who has ever told a "How many _____ does it take to change a light bulb?" joke knows, humor can be tricky. Attempting religious humor can be downright dangerous. On the one hand, we fear offending people's cherished beliefs; on the other, spiritual growth seems to necessitate that--from time to time, we all learn to not take ourselves quite so seriously.
Building Trust Within ISKCON
Srila Prabhupada wanted us to serve together based on love and trust. Here are some reflections on building trust and some ideas that may be helpful to our temples and projects. Most organizations are not aware of the enormous cost of low trust, and because they have no means of measuring its impact, they have little motivation to seriously address it. To compound the problem, many people feel like helpless victims of the problems in their organizations and see no clear way to influence their leaders.
Obama and Arjuna: the Hanuman connection
Barack Obama, Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America, has been compared to a number of great men before him. The charismatic young politician has been likened to president John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, as well as to civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. But here's one that the mainstream media is not likely to catch: it seems Barack Obama has something in common with Lord Krishna's dear friend and devotee Arjuna.
Endnotes and Appendices Needed
GBC Resolution 311*, which appears paraphrased at the end of this essay, strikes at the heart of the Hare Krishna movement, namely ISKCON with its chief ideologue, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT).
Some might think Resolution 311 is an unnecessary and unwanted interpretation of Srila Prabhupada's teachings, and a sneaky though well-intended way to relativize Srila Prabhupada's wisdom -- and, at worst, a power grabbing exercise on the part of the GBC.
Primitive Polytheism or Misunderstood Monotheism?
In today's culture war pitting secularism versus religion, Eastern religions usually get a free pass from atheist authors and other foes of faith. But that doesn't mean that Hindus can afford to rest on their laurels. Several new books from Hindu experts and advocates seek to dispel misconceptions, including negative ones, about the ancient Indian tradition.
GBC Resolution 311: Annotation Sets a Risky Precedent
GBC Resolution 311 is a watershed in ISKCON history. The resolution — to annotate and "explain" Srila Prabhupada's books — is an attempt to redefine the constitutional structure of ISKCON. Whether intended or not, Resolution 311 changes the established relationships and power balance between individuals, managerial authorities (such as temple presidents and the GBC), the Founder Acarya Srila Prabhupada, and his teachings.
When Karma Comes Knocking
The Sanskrit word “Karma” found its way into the English dictionary long ago so today even the most conservative American has a sense of what it means. Since then John Lennon sang: “Instant Karma Is Going To Get You,” and bumper stickers mock: “Don’t let your Karma Run Over My Dogma.“ But Karma is no joking matter.
Review: Ambitious Opera Slow on Action and Enlightenment
You know when people are drinking coffee at intermission that
something is wrong. The audience that attended the April 19
presentation of "SatyaGraha" sincerely wanted to understand and be
attentive to this opera but, like me, they found themselves fighting
off sleep while desperately trying to follow along with few and poor
tools to do so.
Is Your Temple Green?
Environmentalism has certainly been on people’s minds lately. Governments around the globe are teaching their constituents about the need to conserve resources. School children are taught the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle. And of course advertisers are keen to tout the environmental benefits of whatever product they are trying to peddle.
Simple Living - High Thinking
A couple from Chennai decided to live simply - by a stream in a one-room hut. The man, Magari, would forego his occupation of hunting while his wife Madhavi would cultivate Tulasi instead of selling baskets. Magari would also give up non-vegetarian food.
World of Warcraft : More Than Just a Game?
Those Denizens of Cyberspace who are either young, young at heart or have teenagers will undoubtedly have heard of World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment, or WoW as its commonly known amongst those initiated in its mysteries. WoW is not the latest of what is called MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) but it is certainly the most popular.
How Cow Dung Saved the Children of Miwani
I was invited to travel to Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, very far from the Kenyan coast on the Indian Ocean. Kisumu was from all the accounts I had heard a pretty disagreeable place. In the early years, I had read in advance of my journey, that apart from the endemic sleeping sickness, bilharzia, malaria and the nasty malarial complication known as "blackwater fever", the climate was sweltering and municipal hygiene primitive.
The Logistics of Multi-ISKCON Centres in the Same City
The 2008 Mayapur GBC annual meeting ratified as official ISKCON policy the presence of multiple ISKCON centres in the same city. Conceived in New Vrindavan, June 2007, at the special GBC meeting for strategic planning, the “urban proliferation proposal” earned unanimous support from the brainstorming GBCs, hungry for greater ISKCON effectiveness.
The Myth of the Rising Cost of Food
The BBC has a feature on “the cost of food“. It shows how almost all types of food are getting more and more expensive. Drastically so!
What is happening here? Shouldn’t high-tech farming with its nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides and specially bred (often genetically modified) high-yield crop varieties allow humanity to easy feed everyone on the planet?
What Price for Freedom?
We all want our freedoms, but it seems they are not so free. Recent figures reveal that the cost of freeing Iraq and hopefully the rest of us from tyrants and terrorists is well over one trillion dollars and rising. Then there is the grisly cost of casualties, over ninety thousand dead and innumerable others injured.
Shiva: The Auspicious One
Shiva is among the most widely worshiped deities in India. With names such as Mahadeva ("the great god") and Nataraja ("the king of dancers"), he is venerated in ancient holy cities like Benares, where Saivites (as his worshipers are called) devote their lives to him, viewing him as the Supreme Lord.