Saving the Yamuna In Vrindavan
The article “The Save Yamuna Campaign” (BTG June 2012) was great but did not address the specific problems in Vrindavan or the efforts to solve them. I feel strongly that Mr. K. P. S. Gill and Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Candi Devi Dasi should be sincerely acknowledged. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and two and a half months diverting the river back toward Vrindavan and cleaning its contaminated water.
During the last few years, an illegal landfill was created next to the Yamuna canal by the parikrama-marg, the path pilgrims walk around Vrindavan. (The Yamuna canal consists of black-water sewage runoff from homes and apartments all over Vrindavan.) Sand was dredged from the opposite side of the river and shore and brought to create the landfill. This caused the Yamuna’s flow to slow down, as she became shallow where the canal met the river near Keshi Ghat.
The filthy water from the Yamuna canal had been pouring swiftly into the Yamuna, but the illegal landfill bogged down the flow and caused standing black water to seep into well water. Consequently the ground and well water in Old Vrindavan Town was becoming more and more contaminated. Both humans and animals were getting sick by drinking the polluted water.
Through a monumental project of dredging and redistribution of sand using two gigantic backhoes and an average of five hundred workers a day over the course of two and a half months, Mr. K. P. S. Gill and Candi Duke Heffner diverted the Yamuna’s flow back to her original position using an ancient sandbag diversion technique. Building the last part of the diversion was the hardest due to the powerful flow of the Yamuna.
Because individual sandbags were being swept away by the Yamuna’s strong current, Candi taught workmen how to weave nets and fill them with sandbags. After they completed the several-kilometer sandbag bridge, Candi stocked the clean water with healthy fish and turtles, pollution having killed the former aquatics.
Anyone can see the change by walking down to the Yamuna at Keshi Ghat. Consequently, ISKCON Vrindavan held its annual boat festival in this calm, clean area of the Yamuna.
Mr. K. P. S. Gill and Candi Devi are meeting with heads of temples in Vrindavan to continue their plans and efforts to clean up the Yamuna. Their heroic endeavor deserves a huge applause.- Kusa Devi Dasi,Vrindavan, India
Hanuman and ISKCON
Hanuman is a great devotee of the Supreme Lord Sri Rama, yet he is never celebrated in ISKCON’s Vaishnava events and calendar. Why is this? – Jagannatha Dasa Adhikari,Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Our reply: Your assertion that Hanuman “is never celebrated in our Vaishnava events and calendar” is incorrect.
For example, many ISKCON temples have a special class about Hanuman on his appearance day. Also, some ISKCON temples have deities of Sita-Rama-Lakshmana-Hanuman.
We in ISKCON follow Prabhupada’s lead in where to put our emphasis, and Prabhupada, being primarily a devotee of Radha-Krishna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, emphasized the worship of Them and Their devotees. They are the central focus of our parampara, or spiritual lineage. As far as we know, Prabhupada never observed Hanuman Jayanti in any special way. If we were primarily Rama-bhaktas, his example would have been different.
We know that Hanumanji is very popular in India, but most Indian people are unaware of the spiritual status of the followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. For Gaudiya Vaishnavas like Srila Prabhupada, the worship of the Six Gosvamis, for example, is more important than the worship of Hanuman. Our acaryas tell us that only by worshiping the Six Gosvamis can we attain Radha-Krishna prema, and that is our goal in life. All the associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu are nitya-siddhas, eternal associates of Lord Krishna gopas, gopis, and so on. We offer full respect to Hanuman, and our acaryas point to him as an emblem of pure service to the Lord, but we mainly focus our attention on the devotees of Radha-Krishna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
In your own spiritual practice, you (or any ISKCON devotee) can certainly worship and pray to Hanuman, but for reasons given here, he is not likely to have a prominent place in the liturgy of ISKCON.
Jiva Falldown Issue
Why was the soul (jiva) put into this material world? I want an answer with reference of Vedic Sanskrit verses.- Jagdish Soni
Reply by Nanda Dulal Dasa: Lord Krishna as our ever well-wisher (Gita 5.29) chooses to not discuss directly much about the origin of our fall down into the material world for reasons best known to Him. Yet, we can observe that an expert physician in offering hope and cure to a suffering patient, tries to shift the focus of the patient away from the disease and its concomitant suffering by laying great stress on the remedy of the disease rather than on its origin.
As mentioned in Gita (15.16), the living entities are of two types: fallible (ksara) and infallible (aksara). Those who are in agreement with the Lord’s desires in the spiritual world are aksara whereas those who disagree with the Lord change to the ksara category.
Lord Krishna mentions in the Gita (7.27) that “…all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate.” The two reasons mentioned here are powerful options for the answers that you seek. We can simply desire to come to the material world out of an innocent curiosity (desire) or we can choose to come to the material world out of plain envy for the Lord (hate) or anything in between these two emotions. To understand this, we may refer Bg. (9.24) where Lord Krishna mentions that “I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down.” This indicates that those who choose to go against the Supreme Lord in any way, big or small, fall down from their position.
To solve this problem, Lord Krishna recommends a solution in Gita (4.34), “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” A bona fide spiritual master is one who fits into the qualification of appearing in parampara (authorized chain of spiritual masters starting from Lord Krishna Himself) as mentioned in Gita (4.2). If we have come to the material world by our will then we can escape from this material world also by our will. The bona fide spiritual masters exhort us and train us to become strong to change our will from being a rebel to a loving servant.
Although you have mentioned that you want reference of “Vedic Sanskrit verses” it is important to understand that we will benefit tremendously by taking help of bonafide representatives of the Lord who can enlighten us on the different nuances of Vedic understanding. Indeed, this is a path recommended by the Lord Himself.
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