Guru Imitates Gopi Vow


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 19, Spring 2008

Below we see ISKCON GBC voted-in guru HH Sivarama Swami boasting how he is imitating almost in toto a vow which was performed to the demi-goddess Katyayani only by the gopis (the topmost, intimate cowherd girl associates of Krishna):

"Devotees ask what kind of vow I am doing and what is its purpose? This is my answer. In the wake of the vow the young gopis performed to have Krsna as their husband, I am following a kind of Katyayani vrata. I eat havisya once a day, bathe in cold water, don't shave, chant prayers to and worship Devi daily. [...] I have two purposes. One is that Katyayani devi make me the object of Radha-Syama's grace; kuru te namah, "Please do this!". The other purpose is that she protect the sankirtana devotees doing the marathon. I pray to Yogamaya, "The gopis accepted so many austerities so that you would bless them with Krsna's company. They hardly ate, they rose early, they bathed in the cold river, they worshipped you with devotion. And you fulfilled their desire." "
[Sivarama Swami, Marathon SMS #19, December 14th, 2007]

But Srila Prabhupada has never prescribed that one can imitate the vow made by the gopis, albeit for a different purpose, since their activities are transcendental, and such imitation is forbidden and condemned as sahajiya (cheap imitation of the advanced spiritual state):

"They did not go to Katyayani for begging: dhanam dehi, rupam dehi, yaso dehi -- no. "Give me Krsna. Give me Krsna." So there is no harm to worship the deity, I mean to say, other demigods. But that is not possible for anyone. That was possible only for the gopis, because they did not know anything except Krsna."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 17/9/1975)

"Because they are all devotees, they did not know except Krsna, and they prayed to the Katyayani, although they are married, they prayed to Katyayani before they were married, that "Let Krsna become our husband." [...] The gopis, Radharani, they are expansion of the spiritual energy of Krsna. Don't think they are ordinary women. They are Krsna. [...] It is not that to imitate gopis. That is sahajiya. That is sahajiya. [...] Don't try to imitate. That is sahajiya."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 11/6/1976)

Srila Prabhupada clearly states that only the gopis can engage in doing these things, and he says three times that to imitate them is sahajiya. Therefore, unless Sivarama Swami is actually a gopi himself, he is a sahajiya imitator. This latest "gopi bhava" activity of Sivarama Swami is continuing the trend of a long line of "gopi" activities by himself:

1) First from 1991-95, Sivarama Swami took "gopi training" from HH Narayana Maharaja, a member of the Gaudiya Matha, which led him to being temporarily banned by the GBC from both visiting Vrindavan and initiating.

2) Then a few years later he began writing books about the "pastimes" of the gopis, admitting that he was fabricating the stories via his imagination in the book Na paraye ‘ham, and being inspired by Narayana Maharaja's book Venu Gita, he wrote a book called...Venu Gita!

3) Now he is imitating the vow the gopis performed to obtain Krishna as their husband, simply changing the reason for performing the vow.

In addition, we can note this is another example of HH Sivarama Swami's promoting demigod worship, having seen in the last issue how he had already introduced the worship of Lord Shiva and Mother Durga in Hungary.

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