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Re: ISKCON vs. Visistadvaita: souls bondage issue

From: Greg Jay (gregjay_at_poi.net)
Date: Sat Oct 30 1999 - 11:26:29 PDT

Dear Krishna Kalale, namaskaram

Thanks for your insight on this issue. I think that we have corresponded
before. I have been a member of ISKCON for many years (since the early
70's) and my wife and I now own a house in Sri Rangam and actively study
and follow the tenets of Tengalai Sri Vaisnavism. I have studied Pancaratra
and had Chakrabja Mandala (Archaka) Diksha (including Pancasamskara) from
the Late Y. R. Vasudeva Bhattar, previous professor of Pancaratra at the
Maharaja's Sanskrit College, Mysore.

I would just like to mention some points that you may not be aware of
concerning ISKCON and this issue.

1. Hridyananda Goswami's opinion is not shared by all members of ISKCON.
Many persons in ISKCON agree with practically everything you have stated.
(Concerning the Jaya Vijaya example it is commonly understood even in
ISKCON that they are Nitya Siddhas or Nitya Suris as you state and that
they came to the material universe on the order of the Lord to engage in
Lila with Him. The curse of the sages being itself a Lila and just a
pretext for the Lord to have them come here. Even in ISKCON literature in
this regard Bhaktivedanta Swami states that "it is a fact that no one falls
from a Vaikuntha planet". He also states that it is impossible for there to
be envy in Vaikuntha but concedes that even if there were envy there, the
Lord would protect His associates in Vaikuntha from falldown due to it's
effects.)

2. There is no support for Hridayananda Goswamis opinion from any other
group in the "Chaitanya Sampradaya" (or any other sampradaya as you know
and have stated). In fact these opinions are laughed at by members of
ISKCON's Parent Organization, the Gaudiya Math. Actually it seems to me
that this idea is a Judeo-Christian influence (ie fall-down from paradise
due to original sin). This may have something to do with the fact that most
members of ISKCON come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds. Maybe they find
this more acceptable, than beginningless bondage.

3. Hridayananda's book was written in response to another book written by
Kundali das and Satyanarayana das entitled "Not even leaves fall in
Vaikuntha". Actually these are only the last in a long line of books and
papers that have argued this point back and forth in ISKCON.

4. There are several philosophical controversies like this that plague
ISKCON. This is due to the fact that the members don't read the works
written by their purva acharyas (but only read the writings of ISKCON's
founder/acharya A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami). Therefore no one seems to know
the exact position of their sampradaya on several points. However in recent
years some followers have made the effort to become more educated as to the
traditional views of their sampradaya. Sometimes this leads them to leaving
the organization for another "more traditional" branch of that sampradaya.

5. The "Chaitanya Sampradaya" itself is a very factional confederacy. As
you have noted Sri Chaitanya Himself (who left us only 8 Slokas) has
recommended Sridhara Swami's Bhagavatam commentary. The basic philosophy of
the sampradaya is found in the sanskrit works of the (6) Goswamis
(followers of Sri Chaitanya). However a large amount of literature in
Bengali (and other vernaculars) is also available. They had no commentary
on Prastana Trayi until a controversy in Jaipur concerning the authenticity
of their group prompted Baladeva to write one. And Baladeva himself (born
in Orissa, educated in Mysore) has his own (Madhva and other) influences in
his writings. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and his guru Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati (taking the idea from Baladeva's Premeya Ratnavali) have stressed
their lineage from the Madhva sampradaya however this is rejected by most
other Gaudiyas. Their philosophy is very different on many basic points
from Madhva's and it seems just to be a matter of show that they list their
guruparampara as coming from Madhva. If you see Prameya Ratnavali you will
see that Baladeva is convinced by a Puranic quote that there are only four
bonafide sampradayas. Therefore it is not surprising that he traces his
lineage to one of them (Madhva's) to gain authenticity. More information on
this can be found in BNK Sharma's History of Dvaita Vedanta and it's
Literature.


adiyen ramanuja dasan

Keshava das