[Advaita-l] In praise of ISKCON?!

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed May 16 22:24:15 EDT 2018

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a satsang organized by a friend at his home.
I went there with no idea who the chief speaker might be, but seeing that he was from
ISKCON, I unwillingly sat down expecting an hour or more of the "usual propaganda"
that the organization's followers routinely release online.
I could not have been more wrong, or more pleasantly surprised! The speaker touched upon
some verses of the Gita in such a way that it was truly inspirational! Everyone present
was left with admiration for his superb oration.
Example, Gita 8.15:
  mAmupetya punarjanma duHkhAlayamashAshvatam.h .
  nApnuvanti mahAtmAnaH sa.nsiddhiM paramA.n gatAH ..
The explanation given by the revered speaker was simple, yet profound. The second half
of the first line lays the foundation for all spiritual practice: it starts with the
observation that the world we live in is TRANSIENT and MISERABLE - the pleasures that
we seek eventually come to an end (i.e. are transient), leaving us with something
distasteful (i.e. misery). Even Steve Jobs, who once created the iPhone, has now been
born into a poor family where he can barely afford an iPhone :-)
The rest of the verse says that the ONLY way out of this plane of misery is by reaching
the Lord's abode. Here, the speaker recalled the verse from Adi Sankara's "Bhaja Govindam"
about "punarapi jananam punarapi maraNam" being analogous to "punarjanma" of the Gita, and
"Govindam Bhaja" being the path to "mAmupetya" of the Gita.
I'm convinced that if ISKCON does not indulge in advaita-bashing or Shiva-belittling,
they are capable of good Wisdom!

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