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Re: superstitions

> My apologies for the late reply.  I've been very busy this week.
> On Tue, 18 Oct 1994, H. Krishna Susarla wrote:
> > So, what's the difference between Chimaya mission and Advaita? That is, what
> > beliefs do they hold that are inconsistent with Shankaracharya's philosophy?
> > 
> They believe that merely by hearing "lectures" on Vedanta, they are 
> released from the duties commanded by the Shastras.  Shankaracharya 
> teaches that Jnana requires _total_ renunciation from karma i.e. 
> Sannyasa.  Until the moment one takes Sannyasa, one is completely bound 
> by the vidhis and nishedhas of the Shastras.

Well, yes, you may be right in the sense that these new Hindu groups are
definitely not as strict as the original advaitists. However, the point I
want to make is that they, too, believe God to be impersonal, and thus, their
philosophy agrees more with Advaita than any other school of thought.
> > Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga have both been sanctioned by the Lord, and 
> > Swami Prabhupad believe these two paths to be the most appropriate for
> > devotees living in Kali Yuga. 
> Karma yoga as interpreted by the modern Hindus means doing your job 
> well.  In other words, if some is an accountant and they do their job 
> well, this is supposed to be some kind of yoga.  This is what I am 
> calling silly.  It is just a justification for greed and is not 
> sanctioned by anyone.  Karma yoga as taught in the Gita is that one 
> should perform the duties appropriate to ones caste as taught in the 
> shastras.

This is a misunderstanding. Karma yoga is not about "doing your job well" 
although this is one consequence of karma yoga. Karma yoga literally means
performing you duties as a sacrifice to the Supreme Lord. Only when the
duty is performed as sacrifice does the yogin remain free of sin. Because
the work is being performed for Krishna's pleasure, the karma yogin must
do his best at what he is doing, since he is doing it out of devotion to
Krishna. It's not the result that counts, but the devotion and the resulting
seriousness with which the yogin carries out his duties. 

> Bhakti simply means fixing the heart and mind on Ishwar.  It is not 
> seperate from karma but complementary to it.  (Note there is a Karma 
> Kanda in the Veda and a Jnana Kanda, but no bhakti kanda.)  Karma as we have 

You are of course, referring to the Rig, Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Vedas. 
Remember that these texts are primarily for people at lower levels of
spiritual realization than those who study the Gita and Upanishads. This
is because many of the sacrifices prescribed within these four vedas are
meant for regulation of materialistic practices, and the bhakta who comes
to understand Krishna transcends the need for this type of materialistic
regulation. This is actually stated in the Gita itself. The purpose of
such vedic sacrifices is to regulate material practices so that the practitioner
will eventually develop Krishna-consciousness. 

> established, is enjoined in the shastras.  While a conventional person 
> performs these actions from a sense of duty, a Bhakta performs them from 
> a sense of duty and love of God.  Why was Bhakti recommended for the Kali 
> yuga?  Because most people of this era are weak and they need it's 
> support.  Those who are strong in intellect and knowledge of the shastras 
> have no need for it, which is why Karma yoga is mentioned seperately.   

No! This is exactly what i find so offensive about advaitist philosophy! 
According to advaitists, bhakti is for weaker or less intelligent people.
Thus, those who are devoted to a personal God are supposedly less ignorant
of the shastras! Nothing can be further from the truth! All of the great
devotees of Krishna were bhaktas, not impersonalists. If we are to interpret
the scriptures literally, then we have to believe that God is personal. This
is a conclusion that is easily evident from reading Srimad Bhagavatam or
Bhagavad Gita. If you call yourself a follower of the Vedic shastras, then
where do you get off expressing an idea that is so obviously in conflict with
them? In the Gita, Krishna very clearly tells Arjuna "Worship Me, Be completely
absorbed in Me, and then you will reach my abode." (paraphrase, I don't have
my Gita with me, but I can look up the exact verse later if you want) He 
doesn't tell Arjuna that devotion will get him to merge into impersonal 

Furthermore, the great sages like Narada Muni are all devotees engaged in
transcendental loving service, or bhakti. Am I to believe that great
personalities like Narada Muni are less intellectual or less learned in the
shashtras? Come on. The conclusion that bhakti is the best is reached by
all of the devotees, intelligent or otherwise. Even Lord Krishna, the
Supreme God confirms this in the Gita. Why would you want any other opinion
than God's opinion?

> Well if they renounced everything, they are Sannyasis aren't they?  And 
> you'll note they took Sannyasa _after_ fulfilling their duties which 
> proves the Advaita view, that karma and jnana are completely distinct.

One additional point that shoots down your "bhakti is for ignorant people"
theory. The Pandavas became renounced (maybe this makes them official
sannyasins, i don't know) only because their only desire was to go to Krishna.
It is confirmed in the Bhagavatam that they do indeed, go to Krishna's abode.
The Bhagavatam does not say that they went to an impersonal God. So the
impersonalist theory is not supported by Srimad Bhagavatam.
> Of course the Saguna Brahman has qualities.  Even the Nirguna Brahman has 
> the attributes of Sat, Chit, and Ananda.  But the Vaishnavas would have 
> us believe that God has attributes such as the Kaustubha Mani, Sudarshan 
> chakra etc.  These are merely attributes of the, lower, saguna brahman.

No, look back at the point I made about the word nirguna, which means 
"without estimation of qualities" (having all unlimited qualities). God
does indeed have those qualities. Brahman is merely the bodily effulgence
of the Lord, or the spirit-sky between the Vaikuntha planets. Impersonalists
aspire to reach Brahman, but why bask in the rays of the Lord when you can
go to the source of those rays, or the Lord himself?
> > This is completely incorrect. In Bhagavad-Gita (verse 3.13, if I'm not 
> > mistaken) Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: "The devotees of the Lord are saved by
> > eating food that has first been offered. Those who prepare food for sense
> > enjoyment eat only sin." 
> And what makes you think meat is only eaten for sense-enjoyment?  Or that 
> vegetarian food is never eaten for enjoyment?  There is a famous 
> stereotype among Gujaratis of the man who only goes to Vaishnava mandirs 
> so he can eat a good meal.

Again, you have failed to understand the importance of my argument. Yes,
vegetarian food can be eaten for sense enjoyment. This is why it should be
offered first to Lord Krishna, thus making it prasadam. Despite the fact
that eating prasadam is sense-enjoyment, no sin is incurred because the
process of offering purifies the food (assuming you prepared it properly and
offered only foods which Krishna will accept).

> > This means that food should be offered to Lord Krishna
> > first before eating. 
> >In Srimad Bhagavatam, it is described what kinds of things
> > Lord Krishna will eat, and meat and eggs are not accepted by Him. Therefore
> > we have to take this to mean that meat-eating is forbidden, not just for
> > sannyasins but for everyone. 
> > 
> But the Bengalis who eat meat worship Devi who doesn't have such 
> scruples.  So there is nothing wrong with it unless you are saying there 
> is something wrong with worshipping Devi in which case how do you explain 
> Gita 17:4 Note it says Devan not Krshnan.
> > 

According to Swami Prabhupada, meat eaters are supposed to offer their food
to Kali. This supposed to be a regulatory practice for people who are too
ignorant to give up meat. Krishna would never accept such an offering. And
the conclusion of the Gita is that Krishna is the Supreme God. 

I don't have my Gita with me, but i will check on what Swami Prabhupada says
about 17:4 in my next reply. 

> > If vegetarianism is "dharmically superior," then you have to acknowledge that
> > the Vedas declare meat-eating to be sinful and vegetarianism to be the norm. 
> > 
> Actually I should have said "mokshically" (ugh! <G>) superior.  Moksha is 
> seperate from dharma.  It is sinful for one who desires Moksha.  For a 
> Grhastha, whether it is sinful or not depends on the traditions of his 
> caste and region.

This is merely mental speculation. Nowhere in the Vedic literature does it
say that meat-eating is sinful for one ethnic group and not another. Refer
back to BG 3.13. If eating food that has not been offered to Krishna is
sinful (and Krishna won't accept meat), then where did you get this wild
interpretation? Simply because there are many Hindus today who eat meat? 
Remember that we are in Kali Yuga, the age of moral decay. You cannot say
what is right or wrong on the basis of what most people do today and expect
me to take you seriously. Most people in this age are irreligious, and thus
if you see meat-eating, it should be understood that this is part of the
aformentioned moral degeneration. 

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