Sunday, 20 January 2013

Advantages of being part of a Worldwide Society

Nimai Pandit dasa

1.  Srila Prabhupada says keep society together if you want to show you love me.

The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master will be in this mutual cooperative spirit to push on this Movement and not make factions and deviate.
(Letter to Babhru, 9 Dec 1973.)

“You are all my limbs of my body. Unless you cooperate, my life will be useless. The senses and life are correlative. Without life the senses cannot act and without sense, life is inactive.”
(Letter to: Brahmananda -- Montreal 17 July, 1968)

Now all my disciples must work combinedly and with cooperation to spread this Sankirtana Movement. If you cannot work togetherthen my work is stopped up. Our Society is like one big family and our relationships should be based on love and trust. We must give up the fighting spirit and use our intelligence to push ahead.”
Letter to: Upendra -- Los Angeles 6 August, 1970

“You can take good advantage of the association of devotees and be guided progressively by your elder Godbrothers and sisters in the matter of executing your Krsna consciousness without difficulty.” 
Letter to: Devi -- Gorakhpur 15 February, 1971

“It would not be possible for me to preach all over the world except for your cooperation, you and your Godbrothers and sisters who are maintaining centers all over the world.”  
Letter to: Sukadeva 1 -- Los Angeles 9 January, 1974

2.  A Society of Devotees to advance in Krishna Consciousness

“The purport is that one cannot live outside the society of devotees; one must live in the association of devotees, where there is constant chanting and hearing of the glories of the Lord. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is started for this purpose, so that hundreds of ISKCON centers may give people a chance to hear and chant, to accept the spiritual master and to disassociate themselves from persons who are materially interested, for in this way one can make solid advancement in going back home, back to Godhead.” (SB 4.22.23 : P)

“Such qualities develop only in the association of devotees. Without the association of devotees, one cannot advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.”
(SB 4.12.37 : P)

“We have to seek the association of such devotees. For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There are many mercantile, scientific and other associations in human society to develop a particular type of education or consciousness, but there is no association which helps one to get free from all material association. If anyone has reached the stage where he must become free from this material contamination, then he has to seek the association of devotees, wherein Kṛṣṇa consciousness is exclusively cultured. One can thereby become freed from all material association. “ 3.25.24 : P

“One should especially seek the society of brāhmaṇas who are elevated to the position of Vaiṣṇavas. Thus discussion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which describes the character and pastimes of devotees and the Lord, is very quickly effective. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been organized for this purpose. In every center of this Society—not only in the morning, evening or noon, but practically twenty-four hours a day—there is continuous devotional service going on. Anyone who comes in contact with the Society automatically becomes a devotee. We have actual experience that many karmīs and others come to the Society and find a very pleasing and peaceful atmosphere in the temples of ISKCON. In this verse the word dvijanmanām means “of the twice-born.” Anyone can join the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and be initiated to become twice-born. As recommended by Sanātana Gosvāmī, by the process of initiation and authorized training, any man can become twice-born”.
SB 4.12.48 : P

“Jana-saṅga refers to associating with persons not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should strictly avoid such association.ŚrīlaNarottamadāsaṬhākura has therefore advised us to live only in the association of Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees (bhakta-sane vāsa). One should always engage in the service of the Lord in the association of the Lord’s devotees. Association with those engaged in a similar line of business is very conducive to advancement in that business. Consequently materialistic persons form various associations and clubs to enhance their endeavors. For example, in the business world we find such institutions as the stock exchange and chamber of commerce. Similarly, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to give people an opportunity to associate with those who have not forgotten Kṛṣṇa. This spiritual association offered by our ISKCON movement is increasing day by day. Many people from different parts of the world are joining this Society to awaken their dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. “ 
The Nectar of Instruction :Mantra 2 : PURPORT :

“In the previous verse, ŚrīlaRūpa Gosvāmī advised that one should renounce worldly association and keep company with the devotees (saṅga-tyāgātsatovṛtteḥ). The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been established to facilitate these six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees….The life of the Kṛṣṇa conscious society is nourished by these six types of loving exchange among the members; therefore people must be given the chance to associate with the devotees of ISKCON because simply by reciprocating in the six ways mentioned above an ordinary man can fully revive his dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”

3.  Three kinds of association- senior, equal, junior. All are required for healthy development and to protect against anarthas.

"The gardener must defend the creeper by fencing it all around so that the powerful elephant of offenses may not enter.
  While the bhakti-latā creeper is growing, the devotee must protect it by fencing it all around. The neophyte devotee must be protected by being surrounded by pure devotees. In this way he will not give the maddened elephant a chance to uproot his bhakti-latā creeper. When one associates with nondevotees, the maddened elephant is set loose. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said: asat-saṅga-tyāga,-eivaiṣṇava-ācāra. The first business of a Vaiṣṇava is to give up the company of nondevotees. A so-called mature devotee, however, commits a great offense by giving up the company of pure devotees. The living entity is a social animal, and if one gives up the society of pure devotees, he must associate with nondevotees (asat-saṅga). By contacting nondevotees and engaging in nondevotional activities, a so-called mature devotee will fall victim to the mad elephant offense. Whatever growth has taken place is quickly uprooted by such an offense. One should therefore be very careful to defend the creeper by fencing it in-that is, by following the regulative principles and associating with pure devotees.
(Cc. Madhya 19.157p)

In ones region one generally has association of junior devotees-as a local Siksha guru. But what about Association of like-minded equal devotees, what about association with seniors?

“Every man should act like this: when he meets a person more qualified than himself, he should be very pleased; when he meets someone less qualified than himself, he should be compassionate toward him; and when he meets someone equal to himself, he should make friendship with him. In this way one is never affected by the threefold miseries of this material world.
  Generally when we find someone more qualified than ourselves, we become envious of him; when we find someone less qualified, we deride him; and when we find someone equal we become very proud of our activities. These are the causes of all material tribulations. The great sage Nārada therefore advised that a devotee should act perfectly. Instead of being envious of a more qualified man, one should be jolly to receive him. Instead of being oppressive to a less qualified man, one should be compassionate toward him just to raise him to the proper standard. And when one meets an equal, instead of being proud of one’s own activities before him, one should treat him as a friend. One should also have compassion for the people in general, who are suffering due to forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa. These important functions will make one happy within this material world.
(SB 4.8.34)

4.  Srila Prabhupada says we should discuss the philosophy from different points of vision.
When one is associating with devotees only from one region or background the viewpoints are similar. Around the world devotees have been developing different viewpoints. We need those associations to develop better spiritual perspective and maturity.

5.  New persons can see a list of centers around the world and can go to authorized centers where they are; through the internet or from the back of the books.

6.  Junior devotees would feel more secure that they are joining or a part of a worldwide society of devotees, as is described by Srila Prabhupada in his books, and not 1-2 devotees struggling alone that they meet at the local center.

7.  Book Distributors and preachers will feel more enthusiastic to preach when they know they can direct the interested people to these authorized centers, around the region or even the world.

8.  Regular Regional and international festivals will bring much needed boost of enthusiasm, cooperation and happiness.

9.  Regularly elected leaders as GBCs, will feel responsible to travel and take care to guide individual leaders and devotees, in their spiritual lives and also in the local preaching so that there could be a common improvement in the standard all around the movement.

10.      GBCs can also take up many other regional/global duties that are either not being done, or not being done properly, without an organized society to lead.

11.      Coordination and cooperation among devotees and leaders could create synergy to advance each one’s cause.

“Whatever imperfections and discrepancies may exist, if you all agree to my directions and cooperate in the right spirit then everything will turn out, but it will require everyone involved to be responsible and cooperate in executing and following the instructions of the Spiritual Master.”
(Letter to: Gurukrpa ,Yasodanandana 25 December, 1973)

“If you all leaders cannot work together, then how can you expect the others to cooperate with you? Differences may be there, but still you have to cooperate together, otherwise where is the question of my being relieved of so many problems and decisions?”  
(Letter to Ramesvara,15 September, 1975)

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