Bhakti in Isolation


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 35, Spring 2012, Interactive

"Hari Bol. OM SHANTI, Dhanyawaad, thank you so very much for sending me the September issue of BTP. I just finished home puja when the post arrived. I immediately returned to my temple room to offer thanks for your publication and pray for the further success of your mission. Indeed, synonymous with Srila Prabhupada's mission of truth, honesty, integrity, love, as we live with the energy which the Lord has blessed us with in Hari Nama. May you continue to spread the truth of the glories of Lord Krishna, and perhaps could include a little few words on the practice of bhakti and so forth, for those of us who are living isolated from temples of any kind.
Thank you sincerely."
- Alex O'Gorman, County Wicklow, Ireland

Editor replies:

You are correct that the Lord has blessed us with Hari Nama (the Lord's Holy Names). Even if we are not situated in a temple, we can just as easily chant Hare Krishna and practise bhakti-yoga in our own homes. In our last issue we quoted Srila Prabhupada explaining that the biggest obstacle to advancing in bhakti-yoga is to disobey Srila Prabhupada:

"First offense is guror avajna, defying the authority of guru. This is the first offense. So one who is offensive, how he can make advance in chanting? He cannot make. Then everything is finished in the beginning. [...] can become advanced by chanting? That is also not possible."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 4/7/1974)

Therefore, BTP is endeavouring to provide the most practical assistance in the practice of bhakti-yoga by ensuring that Srila Prabhupada's authority and orders are obeyed. In that way we are ensuring that our attempts at practising bhakti-yoga will bear fruit. Otherwise "everything is finished in the beginning".

Back To Prabhupada, Issue 63, Vol 3, 2019, Interactive

"Dear Sir,
I refer to my previous devotee association. I tried it both with ISKCON and the Gaudiya Matha. In Rio de Janeiro where I live, even to mention one group to the other is perceived as showing sympathy to the enemy, and both groups have a very exclusivist attitude. I have found that one cannot develop sangha association in such toxic conditions. My doubts about both groups have grown and now after reading your magazines I have understood why. I have heard about the changes made to Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and the Gaudiya Matha's translation of Bhagavad-gita is completely different to Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita.
Considering the above, I have one question. How can one follow one's sadhana [spiritual practices - Ed.] without a centralized religious structure as ISKCON?
Thank you for your kindness."
- Luís Cisar Nunes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Editor replies:

Srila Prabhupada has not taught that sadhana can only be performed within a "centralized religious structure". Rather, in the purport to one of the Caitanya-caritamrta verses most often quoted by Srila Prabhupada, it states:

"This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 7.128, purport)

Srila Prabhupada then continues to explain the same point:

"The cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explained here very nicely. One who surrenders to Him and is ready to follow Him with heart and soul does not need to change his location. Nor is it necessary for one to change status. One may remain a householder, a medical practitioner, an engineer or whatever. It doesn't matter. One only has to follow the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. One has to learn humility and meekness at home, following the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and in that way one's life will be spiritually successful. [...] One has to become purified at home by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra".
(Cc., Madhya-lila, 7.130, purport)

Even for those who formally join the Society, Srila Prabhupada states:

Reporter: "But suppose I were to become an initiate. Wouldn't I have to come and live in the temple?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Not necessarily."
Reporter: "I can stay at home?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Oh, yes."
Reporter: "What about work? Would I have to give up my job?"
Srila Prabhupada: "No, you'd simply have to give up your bad habits and chant the Hare Krsna mantra on these beads – that's all."
(The Science of Self Realization, 2b)

"Grhe thako vane thako, ‘ha gauranga' bo'le dako. Not that everyone has to live in the temple. [...] he can live separately. But he must follow the rules and regulation."
(Srila Prabhupada, Morning Walk, 3/2/75)

In addition, the key to sadhana-bhakti is to follow the spiritual master's instructions:

"We cannot follow an upstart, manufacturing some song, manufacturing some ideas. [...] So this is sadhana-bhakti. We must take instruction from the spiritual master."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 13/11/72)

Therefore, since the current ISKCON is deviating from Srila Prabhupada's instructions and "manufacturing some ideas" (as we have proved time and time again in BTP), associating with it will not be conducive to one's sadhana. Thus, when Srila Prabhupada also states that it is beneficial to associate with devotees by living in a temple, this refers to bona fide association from his bona fide ISKCON.

*All emphases in quotes added.


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Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
And be Happy!