Friday, February 24, 2017

Radhanath Swami's Impersonal Leanings

[PADA: It seems like a lot of people, including the GBC, forget that Radhanatha was Kirtanananda's right hand man when all the crimes were going on at New Vrndavana? And he was a leader of having the Jesus deity program, concocted Western songs, dressing devotees in brown monk robes, making women sannyasas, and so on and so forth? Why is this type of person made -- the biggest leader of ISKCON? ys pd]

Radhanath Swami Shares Teachings of the Mayavadis and Sahajiyas He Associated With


"In 1970, at the age of only nineteen, Radhanath Swami left his home in America seeking adventure and spiritual knowledge. After trekking across Europe for months, he reached his long hoped for destination: India. After living there for many years as a Sadhu or wandering monk, he returned to America in order to share the sacred knowledge and wisdom he had learned from the many holy men and women he had met there. He is a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder Acarya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness."

Radhanath Swami associated with bogus mayavadis and sahajiyas, yet he is going to share their teachings, Prabhupada just being one among many of his teachers.

On the Internet, I just saw someone had posed a platitude attributed to Radhanath Swami, which uses a background picture of the Ganga at Rsikesh as its watermark. In and of itself, that's no problem, but added to all the mixed messages Radhanath Swami tends to communicate (see below), it creates an impression one simply doesn't get from Srila Prabhupada, his books, or his followers.

At, one is hard-pressed to find any explicit mention of the five practices Rupa Gosvami lists as the mukhya-angas of bhakti (Deity worship, sankirtana, residence in the dhama, hearing Bhagavatam, and associating with pure devotees)—which Srila Prabhupada also instituted as the daily practices of ISKCON temples for good reasons.

To be sure, the website mentions ISKCON, Krishna, and Srila Prabhupada at least once, but such passing reference hardly balances the much greater emphasis given to yoga, yoga teacher traning, and the two-dozen mundane initiatives and outreach projects that actually form the bulk of the website's core content. It also doesn't appear to mention Lord Caitanya. Neither does it ever explain Srila Prabhupada's teachings in any detail—at all—what to speak of urging viewers to read (or buy) his books.

So the Govardhana Eco-village website's approach rather reminds me of what Sri Govinda dasa did to BTG when he was editor for brief period around 1977--when Srila Prabhupada replaced Sri Govinda because he didn't like the quasi-secular trajectory Sri Govinda was taking ISKCON's "backbone."

Quotes attributed to Radhanatha Swami very often have an unclear referent—especially when talking about "love." We don't always get the understanding Srila Prabhupada most often emphasized--that love is exclusively for Krsna, who is the Supreme Person. So what exactly is "divine love," and who is it ultimately directed to?

Often, Radhanatha Swami quotes don't even clearly address spiritual life at all.
Many of them appeal chiefly to the emotions. Most of them are distinctly impersonal and vague.

Here are several examples of these characteristics (each quoted without its original context) taken from

"God loves each of us whoever we are or are not, whatever we've done or not, nothing can change this ok eternal truth: The Supreme loves us unconditionally and eternally."

"Even our greatest achievements are hollow unless we've achieved a measure of inner satisfaction."

"When spiritual ideals form the foundation of a relationship, the relationship can survive whatever challenges may arise."

"Hope can nourish, sustain, and inspire us to grow even in challenging circumstances."

"Caring for each other with patience, tolerance, and humility is part of what it means to walk a spiritual path." (This one has a picture two people holding hands.)"

"The will to grow despite the heat of adversity is necessary if one wants to thrive."

"Every moment is perfect and sacred, and a divine power has engineered it in some imperceptible way and woven it into our intricate tapestry of life for our spiritual progress."

"Replace behaviors that impede growth with behaviors that nourish it, and the flower of self-realization will bloom." (What specific behaviors does Radhanath Swami have in mind here—or more importantly, what specific behaviors do various readers have in mind?)

"If you really care about somebody, then there is a force beyond our own that can empower us to actually inspire them."

Those who carefully study Srila Prabhupada's books every day and are familiar with his activities, and the policies he established for ISKCON, already understand the significance of this. It seems reasonable to wonder how much of Radhanatha Swami's popularity actually derives from the fact the one can more easily derive whatever one desires to hear from so much of what he says.

Srila Prabhupada wasn't so ambiguous; he made his intended message inescapably clear. For one example, Prabhupada deliberately chose not to name ISKCON the "International Society for God Consciousness" because he wanted to obviate any potential misunderstanding about who God actually is. Thus Srila Prabhupada carefully prevented the kind of misunderstanding that characterizes so much of what is publicized in Radhanatha Swami's name, as seen above. God has a name—Krsna—and Srila Prabhupada attentively insured that everyone knew this.

Comparatively speaking, Srila Prabhupada similarly avoided using the general terms "devotion" and "love." Throughout his books, lectures, letters, and conversations, any mention of "divine love" is by far surpassed by his use of more specific and descriptive phrases like, "pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna;" "transcendental loving service to Lord Krsna;" "surrender to Krsna," "Krsna-prema," and so on. He didn't avoid these explicit terms or refer to the surrendering process merely as "a wisdom tradition," for he was too faithful to both the spirit and example of his own guru, whose unambiguous and unsparing "chopping technique" earned him the moniker, "lion-guru."

Even when Srila Prabhupada necessarily spoke of material life in order to direct his disciples (particularly grhasthas), his books especially endorsed the traditional and standard authorities for such affairs, including Canakya-niti, Hitopadesa, and codes by Yajnavalkya, Patrasara, and of course Manu (e.g., See the purport to Bhagavad-gita 16.7, and many similar references).

Srila Prabhupada also made it clear that real love for anyone in this world extends only from Krsna-prema, as its natural concomitant; he was consistently clear that no love otherwise exists in the material world. His purport to the song, "Gaurangera duti pada" represents this nicely, but other such references are legion.

Far from publicly appreciating (or allowing himself to be identified with) various Indian "gurus" of dubious persuasions, Srila Prabhupada (like his own guru) adamantly distinguished his movement from any scent of nondevotional affiliation—especially any hint of mayavada or impersonalism. Toward this end, he directly instructed his disciples to avoid even bona fide slokas such as "gurur brahma gurur visnuh" and "sri-krsna govinda hare murare," largely because these were commonly sung by impersonalists. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada even changed the Panca-tattva mahamantra from "bhaja sri krsna-caitanya" (which was sung also by sahajiyas and others) to "jaya sri-krsna-caitanya," etc. Like his books, Srila Prabhupada personally always prohibited ISKCON devotees from intimately mixing with such persons.

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