The Dangerous Apasampradāya of Identifying as a Westerner

Prabhu: Some time ago we were meeting with the Mayor and the District Magistrate here, waiting the President to come, and we had some time to chat there. I asked from the Mayor, I said, 'What do you think is like your... What is your real job?' And he said, 'To serve citizens in four ways,' he said, 'Education first, healthcare, transportation and social things like, you know, all this.' Then I asked from the District Magistrate, he said, 'I don't have any power,' he said. He has area of 300,000 people, he said, 'I just, I can just cooperate and inspire the others.' They actually, they are very successful persons of whom I speak. I don't mention the name, but kind-of, you know, it seems that they get it together, although without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But I am a little like kind-of a... How would I say? What did we lose, or am I just subjective? I think we lost a little bit this service attitude in the long run. I don't see the same ISKCON anymore that, you know, the service is almost like a competition or something. It's... Something has changed, and not to the positive. I don't know what it...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: You are only dealing with consciousness, that's all. Consciousness will change because details is that the facility that we have, this, that, is, you know, ten times greater than what we had before, sometimes more. And so, being established, being all this and that, you know, we have, we are very much part of the scene. But the point is is, what we always have to see is consciousness. Because consciousness is that thing that if we are not careful it can get distracted. But by proper association it can come back to the  natural position in a moment. Like we see, Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga, it only takes a moment to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. So the point is is, if we are coming up through these modes of nature, and we have to be very very... And we come up, we have to be very careful to give up any attachments we have to lower positions, right? Because a lot of times you see, is devotees can get distracted by these things of equality and social status and all that, and justice, you know, justice becomes a very important part that someone has done something wrong, then there has to be a... How you say? A social reaction for that, and these kind-of things. Or, if I am doing good, you know, everybody should be getting good facilities and good this, and, you know, everybody should have a very nice material arrangement and that. Or, the material world is very difficult, so you want to keep away from that and not get involved, and so you don't want to do anything to do that will entangle us anymore or anything like that. So these kind-of attachments that we have arta, arthārthī, jijñāsur and that, these things we have to move on because it's out of fear, or about a material attachment. That material attachment means karma and beyond here, because... Yeah.

So we have to be able to move on from that and be aware. Because otherwise, if we are not aware, then Māyā will just let it... Means, Māyā will poke its head up, and we won't even notice, and then we will be worried about equality and seeing that all the different people will have the same opportunity, that's great. But the point is is that, is it a matter of anybody can do it? Or is it a matter of those who qualify, anybody who qualifies could do it? What you want to be careful of, someone who is qualified is not allowed to do something because of politics or somebody else's material desire, this or that, envy and that - that shouldn't be there. But to say everybody can do, then that means then everybody could be the president, now why not just have... Like that, how many devotees do you have in the temple? Okay, let's say, we have 30 devotees. Okay, so that means, let everybody be a president for the day! Or if we want to say, 'Okay, baby, that's not enough,' okay, 12 days. Everybody could be president for 12 days, and then that way then in a year everyone's got to be president, like that, and so it's just like, let everybody! That's equality, you know, like that. And then the lady sitting there says, 'My 10-year-old kid here, they also want to be president, they want their 12 days! They are just as much part of this as anybody else.' So that's the whole thing, is that one has to understand, no, guna and karma: you have the ability to do something and you have the nature to do it. Just because I can do it doesn't mean I have the nature to do it, right? Like somebody can manage, but they don't have the nature to manage. So, therefore, in managing they are always getting grumpy or upset and it disturbs them, it disturbs others, but they can manage nicely, technically. Just like, let's say, someone can cook, but they hate cooking. So they have the karma, but not the guna. So like that, you have to see that both of them are there. And when both are there then, yes, then if they are qualified, why not?

So these kind-of things. But we get distracted by that, you know, this and that, whatever it is, and then... Otherwise you get distracted. And then it gets, you miss the point of pure devotional service. So one has to see, is no, pure devotional service is the main thing. And that's the thing: pure devotional service is the richest of all things. It's the thing that all people can be involved in. See, the particular political level that you are into, only certain people can be into. Like I mentioned yesterday about the woke and all these different things. and there is a good chance that basically nobody listening even knew what I was talking about, right? And your devotional service is going on perfectly fine without it. But there is other parts of the world where all these things are so important, you have to be really involved in this and that, and so many things, no. It is a matter of, we do these things to please Kṛṣṇa, and if they are useful we consider them, and if they are not useful we don't. But they themselves don't have a value on its own. Just having money, it's not valued on its own. If the person has a lot of money and they don't spend it for anything, they are called a miser, right? Guy is rich, but won't spend anything on maintaining his house or himself, or his health, or take care of his family members, or give in charity, he won't give. Just money itself is valuable. They even made a whole, there is a whole story about that, you know, Scrooge, it's just about that point.

So, we have to be careful that what is our conditioning we don't get distracted by and that in itself is important. We have to see is that's what we have, that's what we use. So what is useful from it, we use. Every position has something useful, and every position has a weakness. So we engage the thing that is strong and we avoid the weak part. Just like, let's say, the brahminical nature. They are situated in goodness, right? That's a good thing. But the weakness of that is, being situated in goodness they don't want any trouble, therefore they may not take up any services that will cause any trouble for them. You know, every day they do the same thing and that, and so, therefore, to go out preaching is a trouble for them. So they won't do it - that's a problem. Right, so their weakness is going to be liberation. So each one has their weakness, and so then one has to be careful about that. And as long as one is careful and engaging oneself in Kṛṣṇa's service, one moves forward very nicely. So the whole point is is, yes, we want to be encouraging, but know what we are encouraging. We are encouraging prema, right? We are encouraging going to... Means, the Spiritual World is so full of all these wonderful personalities, that these are the nicest people in the Cosmos, you know, Nanda Bābā and Mother Yaśodā, and all the other, the gopīs and the cowherd boys, like that, they are the nicest. Even the cows are going to be the nicest. They are all wonderful, and so these are people you could spend eternity with. And so that is what is being offered, and what is the difference? We have to stop identifying with the body and identify as servant of Kṛṣṇa, then we can go there. As long as we identify with these upādis... So that's why you see that this philosophy of 'We are Westerners and so we can't follow all this Indian culture' - extremely dangerous apasampradāya, extremely dangerous. Because it makes one think that my upādi, defining myself as a Westerner, is a valuable element in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, instead of it just being, 'Okay, as a Westerner, let's say, I am not so much into rice, I am into cāpātīs, so I eat cāpātīs,' haribol, that's it, that's all the more it has a value. But to try to take it beyond that, then 'Oh, it's Indian,' and then the Vedic culture you say is Indian, that's just xenophobia. These are really, really, really dangerous, even though it's presented that it is very liberal, it's very, very dangerous philosophy. Because then with this philosophy, then we see is that then one reduces, and the culture and tradition is of no value, and it's just whatever we do, that's the value. But what we do as a lifestyle, is it regulated? Does it bring one to goodness? Is it going to, is it in line with the activities that Kṛṣṇa does with His devotees? And we see is that it is not necessarily. But because we are putting the upādi as the defining factor, not śāstra, not Prabhupāda, and then what do we use as our source? Logic and modern academia, and whatever the social platitudes that are going on today, we use those as evidence, and so that's the problem, we use these things there and then try to say is, 'Oh, but people are happy.' Okay, happy, but then the point is is, they are happy with their false ego. See, is because you have the problem, is, 'Okay, I am not so advanced, I am very attached, I can't do all those different things. Let's say I am having trouble chanting 16 rounds. I am so attached to just my looks, I hate going out on the street and not looking like everybody else, and so people look at me different, I just can't tolerate that.' So that, so then fine! Don't do that! Don't shave your head, don't do these things, how much you can do, chant a little bit if you can, offer your food to Kṛṣṇa, try to read some śāstra, read some Kṛṣṇa book, go to the temple when you can, associate with devotees, you know, try to do what you can. But be humble! And so you think, 'I am not so advanced, but this is the best I can do for right now,' and then you with that attitude you will advance. And from doing devotion, knowledge and detachment naturally come. So with time, after, maybe not today, but after five years, ten years, something, you'll start to be able to get into chanting and get into this, 'Oh, I don't mind this or that.'

But if we take it, 'No, we are Westerners, we don't have to do, that's Indian stuff,' then they are maintaining their upādis, and with pride they are saying, 'Oh, we don't need to do all that because we are Westerners, it is not for us.' And with that pride you can't advance in devotional service. So, therefore, those attachments won't go away, and so therefore all you are doing is guaranteeing yourself another birth in the material world, that's all. So if you are looking for stability, there you got it -  in the material world. You want to go back to Godhead - that is another discussion.

So we have to be able to tell the difference between what is sampradāya and what is apsampradāya, right? We have to be able to tell the difference. So that is the whole point of knowing the philosophy, knowing the culture and everything like that. Because Prabhupāda points out, the Vedic culture is for humans. So if they want to say 'We are Westerners, we are not humans, we are subhuman, therefore we can't follow these human things,' then do that. But then there has to be some humility: 'I am subhuman.' Like you see in Bhāgavatam, the kinnaras and kimpuruṣas, they say, they offer their prayers to the Lord and they say, 'We are just forest people, we are not even humans, technically.' You know, they got a human body, a head of a horse, or a head of a bear, this kind-of stuff. That's why they are called 'ki-nara' -  'what kind of man is this?', 'ki nara' or 'kim puruṣa' is like 'what kind of person is that?' 'Did you gig on the guy with a horse head? Man, wow! How does he brush his teeth?' It's like, you know, stuff like that. So it's... They are humble. But this whole thing is that, 'No, we are Westerners and proud to be Westerners.' The point is is, but that, it is a fallen position. Being in the  society of cow killers is not an elevated position. You can say, 'No, no, but we are vegans.' But you are still living the lifestyle of them. You are still in their cities, doing their work, and where is the regulation? You do whatever you want because we are Westerners, you do anything you want any time you want. So how is there going to be elevation? So we have to see, is that these kind-of things that come in from these intellectual, liberal, so-called liberal platforms are not progressive. They will, they are destructive because they break down any tradition.

So Prabhupāda made the point, is that what he is  speaking, that is universal. So this idea that, 'No, this is, we are Westerners, this is Indian,' what Prabhupāda is talking about - this is not theistic, it is not devotional, it is of no value for a human being. Human life starts at following Varṇāśrama. We follow it as guide, Varṇāśrama, it is very simple. It is not a major, it is not an upādi. But they are making it that 'Being below the Varṇāśrama system, being outcast, you know, this is our right, outcast and proud.' So  what's the point? And so we get distracted by these things and think these are important, 'Oh, yeah, the latest political things and all that, and  we are going with that,' but they change moment to moment. And the point is, as you see it in the news, that doesn't mean that's what very many people are doing. In the news, the news generally tends to be more leftist, and so they present all these kind-of anti-tradition and kind-of aspects. And so, it will look like everybody is doing it, but it is not. There is a huge backlash from from people who are opposed to all this nonsense. And then that's the whole thing, then you limit who you can talk to. And then you think these guys are everything. 'Oh no, but if we please the professors at the university, then that's pleasing everybody,' no, that just pleases those professors. But the point is is, when you speak  logic and these things and show Kṛṣṇa consciousness beyond, then those who are intelligent will see it, and those who don't won't. It's simple. If they are interested in knowing something beyond themselves, they want to know who they are, who God is, or they don't. And the innocent just means, they haven't necessarily thought about it, but they are open to it. They would like to know, but who is going to tell them? So they just go on the rat race. But then those who can explain they are willing to listen. But there are those who, no, they are opposed, no, they don't want these things, because then 'My speculation is finished, my position as an authority is finished.'

So we have to be very very careful about these kind-of distractions. That's why it opens, what was the...? This opens with that point, what is it? Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam. So it's about engaging in the service. So one has to be convinced that what Prabhupāda has given: the lifestyle, the philosophy, the understanding  - that's for everybody. It's not, 'Oh no, that's only for Indians.' No, Indians are pious enough, they have enough the mode of goodness, they appreciate it, and then in the West they have basically just ignorance and a little touch of passion, like that, or if they are New Agey, a little touch of goodness here or there. But their  interest in New Age is still in passion, it is for their benefit. They are into yoga not because of that ... consciousness, [but] because their health will be better or their mind will be more peaceful, so they don't get distracted at work. So even they are following this lifestyle of so-called goodness that people say, but their whole motive for doing that is purely passion. And why? Because they think they are the body, so that's ignorance.

So we have to be very, very careful. But it is important that who you are talking to you talk in a way that they appreciate. But you have... That's where you use your intelligence, how do you get that through. I was just looking at something, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura is just starting off and saying, 'Okay, in this material world there are three things: there is matter, there is consciousness, the living entity, and there is the Supreme who is controlling that.' Right? In matter you have rocks and stone, I mean, what it is? Air, earth, you know, this and that, that's non-sentient. Then you have the living entities, you have all that, and then there is the Supreme who is controlling all that. He starts, that is in the first paragraph. Right? And then he goes on saying that this Supreme is beyond, so that's why you can't see Him with the senses. But those who demand that they must see everything with their senses, and if they can't see it it doesn't exist, they will not know that God is there. They will say there is no God. And because they think like that, they are the one that loses out, not God. God knows who He is, He is still there. Right? And so, he is saying about that the living entity can't therefore see beyond who they are as the soul. But he is just... So nicely, just very pleasantly, just throws out something, just keeps going, and then just builds. Like that. So that's the thing, is that there is a structure, and then you follow, it works so nicely.

Excerpt from Vedic Leadership and Management Summer Seminar Part 3, given as Zoom Conference with ISKCON leaders

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