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  #21  
Old 03-19-2007, 02:16 AM
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Richard Parker Richard Parker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bardamu
No, Keystone. I don't know if that would even be possible as Hinduism is, so far as I can tell, irreducibly dependent upon genealogical relationships. What caste would I belong to?
No, it is not dependent on genealogical relationships.

If you are in the SF Bay area there are surely several Hindu mandhirs (temples) you can visit. You will be made more than welcome there and they are usually very happy to discuss any aspect of the religion. And I can pretty much guarantee that caste wouldn't come up as an issue.

(Also, if you want to discourse with intelligent people on the religion, find a mandhir near Berkeley or Stanford, lots of Indian profs and grad students, and many are devout, particularly the South Indians).

BTW, sorry to hear about what happened to you, and it good that you were able to recover.
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  #22  
Old 03-19-2007, 02:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bardamu
Julian, I could research it but it is easier to ask you. What was the name of the yogi who founded the Krisha Consciousness movement? You know the airport mendicant gadflies. Didn't he translate a Gita? And what do you think of that movement in general? They were out there but he was supposedly charismatic.

Once again, I'm not Julian Lee, but the man's name was A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

I'm not a fan of his Gita. Aside from (obviously) being translated and edited from a Bhakti perspective, I don't remember this edition actually being "as it is." Prabhupada included the Sanskrit, transliteration, literal translation, etc, but I don't think the whole Bhagavad is actually there. I may be mistaken, though. It's been years since I looked at a copy.
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  #23  
Old 03-19-2007, 03:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bardamu
Julian, I could research it but it is easier to ask you. What was the name of the yogi who founded the Krisha Consciousness movement? You know the airport mendicant gadflies. Didn't he translate a Gita? And what do you think of that movement in general? They were out there but he was supposedly charismatic.
That was swami Srila Prabhupada. I would avoid that translation unless you get curious about the peculiarities of a strict bhakti view. The Hare Krsnas were pretty good at the idea of bhakti yoga, but they also had some of the faults typical to "bhaktas." Such faults are actually pointed out in the ancient text extolling bhakti by the Indian saint Narada in his "Bhakti Sutras." One of these is the tendency to say "our guy is the only way." The Christians, as a basically bhakti religion, certainly sit as an example of this always. This is described by Narada in the Bhakti-Sutra and called a tendency of the "immature bhakta." It is natural to them and you have to just let them have their tunnell vision, because that's how they get somewhere. In mature bhakti they overcome this and become more capable of the abstract.

The heavy bhakta -- and this is an issue with all of the Hare Krsna types -- will also tend to invalidate all other techniques but their "bhakti" technique. They'll tend to put down many other facets of yogic meditation and discipline, including many of those listed and validated by Krsna himself in the Bhagavad-Gita (which is a little bizarre if you think about it).

So Prabhupada does this in his trans/commentary on the Bhaghavad-Gita. From an objective point of view, he truly does distort things there in the name of his "bhakti is the only way" view. In particular I have the beef that he, and the Hare Krsnas, always try to diss meditation. Prabhupada tries to do this in his translation even after Krsna gives lessons on it and extolls it. The crazy thing about that is that their Hare Krsna mantra is certainly a meditation technique. It's a mantra, and can be called meditation. So they are a really goofy bunch in the big picture. It gets even worse when you see them put down meditation, put down pranayama, dismiss yogic austerites, say "chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is the only way" -- then they don't chant the mantra. They only do it at their big public displays. I've been around a lot of Hare Krsnas and I've never met one with a proclivity for chanting the mantra (and it must be done out loud according to them). If you're going to be dismissing all spiritual techniques save that one, then you'd darned well be better be doing it, if you ask me. A mantra has really not been tried adequately until one becomes addicted to it; until it becomes like nectar/bliss and you're restless not saying it. The Hare Krsna's I've seen are lukewarm "Nowhere Men."

That Hare Krsna gita by Prabhupada is everywhere, easy to find. But it's best for a skewed view and good old fashioned bhakti propaganda, IMO. I'm sure it has some other interesting nuggets in it, but it pissed me off whenever I read it.

By the way, I really miss those "medicant gadfly" Hare Krsna teams we used to see around America, at airports, etc. It gave me hope for America.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasily Zaitsev
Once again, I'm not Julian Lee, but the man's name was A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I'm not a fan of his Gita. Aside from (obviously) being translated and edited from a Bhakti perspective, I don't remember this edition actually being "as it is." Prabhupada included the Sanskrit, transliteration, literal translation, etc, but I don't think the whole Bhagavad is actually there. I may be mistaken, though. It's been years since I looked at a copy.
Exactly. I just saw this post. You're not me and I'm not thee, but we think alike I see. Yes, his "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is" is definitely not "as it is," is it. You seem to have gotten around. Only somebody pretty familiar with the text would see this about Prabhupada. You must be over 40?

Last edited by Mentious : 03-19-2007 at 05:06 AM.
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  #24  
Old 03-19-2007, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian Lee
Hello --
Sorry my in-box is full. I will respond better to this post over the next 2-3 days. No time right now. Briefly for the moment: Those two chapters are rich in meaning. Part of the message is that every man has a duty, dictated by society, dharma, religion. To get out of "samsara" and to reduce the conditioning that leads to repeated unsatisfactory births, one needs to learn to do his his true duty -- whatever it is -- in a detached manner without having a lot of emotional reactions to it. This gives him less "samskaras" (impressions) related to the action, thus reducing his conditioning, his sense of "I am this, I did this" and leads to freedom from unsatisfactory dualistic existences.


It is you who is deciding to call land a "scrap" here. People live and die by land. Families, women and children are fed and harbored by land. Most human warfare develops over matters of land and territory. So please don't tell me that "land" is an insignificant matter to human beings. Certainly they did not view it as just a "scap" in their context.

Next answer this: Do you believe there is never any justification for men to kill other men? As the U.S. is doing presently in Iraq, or as fathers and husbands do when invaded in an invasion burglary, or as policemen do in firefights, etc. etc.

I don't know your view on this, but let me give you a hypothetical just for your mind: Let's say you personally owned a "little scrap of land" and had built up a farm there. Let's say you had developed it over 50 years and had three generations of progeny and extended family living happily there. Many of your kids and relations are brilliant, productive, creative, virtuous and beautiful. Let's say five different villages down the road survived and were fed by the labors of your family and estate. Now let's say ten lowlife pirates -- all of them criminals who have caused harm to innumerable beings -- want to come to your place, skin all the men alive, rape all the women, and torture all the children, then turn your farm into a parking lot for a new gambling casino and gay brothel. Besides the devastation of your family and life, the five towns down the road will all starve. You would not feel justified in shooting these 10 men as they climb over the wall? (To defend your scrap of land?)

In Arjuna's context, in the context of their family and monarchial government, in the context of land, as well as "right and wrong," they were involved in a just war and not a trivial one. What I'm saying is there's not much room in the Gita to question the concept of war or killing. It's just assumed there is such a thing as justified killing and justified war. In fact, the Gita draws a picture of a just war as opposed to a spurious one. This is to set up the necessary tension and picture of life in samsara. The suffering of Arjuna -- in seeing beloved relatives on the other side yet being caught in the bind of duty -- is intended as a portrayal of the very crux of samsaric conditions; i.e. human suffering. The difficulty of the situation is part of the point. The Gita would not portray a minor suffering event, but a major one -- the worst possible one. (Having to kill beloved relatives.) Then the rest of the scripture is devoted to how we get out of ALL suffering and conflicted situations. Doing his duty without personal involvement is part of that answer, and there is more.

Now, the various other feelings of Arjuna -- the feelings that all intelligent men encounter when involved in a war -- are another subject which I will respond to later. But please don't tell me war and killing are never justified or that it was "just a scrap of land." If we get bogged down in that non-issue, it's just a distraction from the more important things found in the Gita.

There are more dimensions and issues connected to those chapters, and you raise some of them. But this is one of the prime purposes of those chapters. More later.

By the way, those first two chapters are the least interesting of the Gita chapters in my view. As soon as you get out of the battlefield scene the verses roam widely and deal in philosophy and meditation practice. Hurry along to Chapter Six.

I am not going to peruse through the whole thread right now - since my time on the boards is limited and I have to get going in a bit. I will later though.

Let me just add to the above. The kingdom was rightfully theirs (Yudhistira was supposed to become King, being the eldest son of the half-brother of the current King who was was blind). Everyone loved Yudhistir, the eldest Pandava for his righteousness and fairness. Duryodhan tried to strip Draupadi (the wife of Arjuna) in front of everyone in the assembly (The Pandavas foolishly gambled everything they had, including their wife during a dice game). No one tried to intervene and Draupadi wept and cried for Krishna. He appeared and put a stop to it. In addition to this incident, there were instances where The Pandavas were wronged in many ways. Their dwelling places were set on fire and those were attempts by Duryodhan to get rid of them after they were exiled.

The Pandavas are Kshatriyas (warrior caste) and they needed a kingdom to rule. They tried to compromise with Duryodhana and asked for only a few villages - they lost everything to Duryodhan. Duryodhan was greedy and told them he wouldn't even give them enough land to drive a pin in when they came back from their exile. Imagine. How were they supposed to cater for their wives and descendants? They were forced out and by very unfair means and the Mahabharata war was a justified one.

Quote:
Justice and Peace

The Pandavas and their common wife, defeated in a game of dice, were driven out of Indraprastha. "You can claim your kingdom only after you live in the forests, without home or identity, for thirteen years," said the Kauravas, shutting the doors of civilisation on their face. At first the Pandavas wished to attack and reclaim their lands immediately. "No, that will be against dharma. You lost the wager and so must suffer the exile," advised Krishna. Thirteen years later, after much hardship, when the Pandavas returned from exile and asked for their kingdom, the Kauravas refused to part with it. "This is against dharma," said Krishna. "The Pandavas kept their word. You must too." "No," said the Kauravas. "Give them at least five villages for the sake of peace," pleaded Krishna, willing to compromise to avoid bloodshed. "No," said Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava. "Then you will get what you deserve - a war," declared Krishna, "And none will prevent the slaughter of the unrighteous Kauravas."

As the Pandavas and Kauravas prepared for war, Balarama said, "Spilling blood for land or law makes no sense." He refused to fight for either side. "If this war does not take place, adharma will reign supreme, and pralaya will destroy the world before its time is up," argued Krishna. Krishna took up the reins of Arjuna's chariot. "Come Arjuna, help me establish dharma on earth."

http://www.crystallotus.com/vishnu/12.htm

^ The Pandavas kept their word but Duryodhan didn't.
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  #25  
Old 03-19-2007, 09:07 PM
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Thank you for that summary of the background of the situation in the Gita.
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  #26  
Old 03-19-2007, 09:13 PM
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Mr. Lee please do clean up your PM's so people may send you some more
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  #27  
Old 03-19-2007, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bardamu
No, Keystone. I don't know if that would even be possible as Hinduism is, so far as I can tell, irreducibly dependent upon genealogical relationships. What caste would I belong to?



Varnas -The four classes of society

Hindu society has traditionally been divided into four classes, based on profession:

the Brāhmanas (also anglicised as Brahmins): teachers and priests;

the Kshatriyas: warriors, kings and administrators;

the Vaishyas: farmers, merchants, herdsmen and businessmen; and

the Shūdras: servants and labourers.

Each of these classes was called a varna, and the system was called Varna Vyavasthā. Some say it is debatable whether the Varna Vyavasthā system is an integral part of Hinduism or not and whether or not it is strictly sanctioned by the scriptures. The Shruti texts make very rare mentions of this system, without providing explicit definitions. But the Bhagavad Gītā (4.13) explicitly mentions that the four varna divisions are created by Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord. And the Smṛiti texts (including the Manusmriti) are more explicit in their categorisation of the classes and framing rather strict rules about this system. During its early development, the social structure was based upon the profession. The Gītā (4.13) explicitly says that one's varna is to be understood from one's qualities and one's work, not one's birth. It is noteworthy that many great sages became Brahmins. Vishvāmitra was a Kshatriya king before he became recognized as a great Brahmin sage. Vālmiki, once a robber, became a great sage while Veda Vyāsa was the son of a fisherwoman. A hymn from the Rig Veda says :


"I am a bard, my father is a physician, my mother's job is to grind the corn......"

(Rig Veda 9.112.3).


Though historians do not agree on the specific period, the social system later became hierarchical and based upon birth, leading to the evolution of several sub-castes (along with a class of outcastes — now known as Dalits — outside the Varṇa Vyavasthā) and the practice of social discrimination of the Shūdra and Dalit classes, eventually forming the caste system as we know of today.

http://www.hinduwiki.com/index.php?t...ashrama_Dharma

The religious institution of Varna-ashrama Dharma is followed in most Vaishnava Sects of Hinduism. Varna is simply an occupational structure for society. In varna there are four tiers Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras. All are important for a functioning society. You determine your varna by your skills and ability. Not by birth or race.

Brahmins are all religious clergy, gurus, saints, sadhus and the intellectual class(anyone with a Ph.D or graduates degree) etc......Kshatriya are the politicians, officers, soldiers etc....Vaishya are the business men, farmers, artists/painters/photographers etc... Shudras are the working class people to poor people. Those are the only four stations in varna ashrama dharma, there is nothing higher or lower. Whether a society labels these position the same or not , they still exist. Every functioning society must have these positions. In hinduism being in one of these stations doesn't carry any negative connotations. It's just something that exist. It's not race based or birth based, it's based on your skill/ability. That's not only fair it's practical, IMO.

In Hinduism there is no Caste, but there is Varna, which is very different system. There is more mobility and evolution with varna ashrama dharma then there is with the static cultural implementation of caste system, which evolved from varna. But it's not the same system.


The word caste is Portuguese and it's not found in Hinduism.
Quote:

http://www.britishempire.co.uk/article/castesystem.htm

The word caste is not a word that is indigenous to India. It originates in the Portuguese word casta which means race,breed, race or lineage. However, during the 19th century, the term caste increasingly took on the connotations of the word race. Thus, from the very beginning of western contact with the subcontinent European constructions have been imposed on Indian systems and institutions. To fully appreciate the caste system one must step away from the definitions imposed by Europeans and look at the system as a whole, including the religious beliefs that are an integral part of it. To the British, viewing the caste system from the outside and on a very superficial level, it appeared to be a static system of social ordering that allowed the ruling class or Brahmins, to maintain their power over the other classes. What the British failed to realize was that Hindus existed in a different cosmological frame than did the British. The concern of the true Hindu was not his ranking economically within society but rather his ability to regenerate on a higher plane of existence during each successive life. Perhaps the plainest verbalization of this attitude was stated by a 20th century Hindu of one of the lower castes who stated: "Everything lies in the hands of God. We hope to go to the top, but our Karma (Action) binds us to this level." If not for the concept of reincarnation, this would be a totally fatalistic attitude but if one takes into account the notion that one's present life is simply one of many, then this fatalistic component is limited if not eliminated. Therefore, for the Hindu, acceptance of present status and the taking of ritual actions to improve status in the next life is not terribly different in theory to the attitudes of the poor in western society. The aim of the poor in the west is to improve their lot in the space of a single life time. The aim of the lower castes in India is to improve their position over the space of many lifetimes. It should also be borne in mind that an entire caste could rise through the use of conquest or through service to rulers.Thus, it may be seen that within traditional Indian society the caste system was not static either within the material or metaphysical plane of existence. With the introduction of European and particulary British systems to India, the caste system began to modify. This was a natural reaction of Indians attempting to adjust to the new regime and to make the most of whatever opportunities may have been presented to them. Moreover, with the apparent dominance exhibited by British science and medicine there were movements that attempted to adapt traditional social systems to fit with the new technology. Men such as Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Dayananda, and Ramkrishna started movements that, to one degree or another, attempted to explore new paths that would allow them and their people to live more equitably within British India. Roy in particular sits this description with his notion that the recognition of human rights was consistent with Hindu thought and the Hinduism could welcome external influences so long as they were not contrary to reason. While it is granted that the present paper is not the appropriate venue to explore such movements, they must be noted so that an impression of Indian submissiveness in the face of British intrusion may be avoided. There was a dynamic interplay between the British and Indians that had a profound effect on both societies. More appropriate to the task at hand, however, are the reactions of various groups within India to the census itself.



found this on another forum reguarding caste/varna.
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  #28  
Old 03-19-2007, 11:50 PM
Lieutenant William Bligh Lieutenant William Bligh is offline
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I just finished reading it Julian. Here are some quotes which struck me most.

Chapter 12: Bhakti -Yogo The Path of Love

Quote:
Arjuna: My Lord! Which are the better devotees who worship Thee, those who try to know Thee as a Personal God, or those who worship Thee as Impersonal and Indestructible?

Krishna: Those who keep their minds fixed on Me, who worship Me always with unwavering faith and concentration; these are the very best.

Those who worship Me as the Indestructible, the Undefinable, the Omnipresent, the Unthinkable, the Primeval, the Immutable and the Eternal;

Subduing their senses, viewing all conditions of life with the same eye, and working for the welfare of all beings, assuredly they come to Me.

But they who surrender their actions to Me, who muse on Me, worship Me and meditate on Me alone, with no thought save of Me,

O Arjuna! I rescue them from the ocean of life and death, for their minds are fixed on Me.

--
Quote:
Krishna: He who expects nothing, who is pure, watchful, indifferent, unruffled, and who renounces all initiative, such a one is Me beloved.

He who is beyond joy and hate, who neither laments nor desires, to whom good and evil fortunes are the same, such a one is My beloved.

The Story of Job?
Quote:
He to whom friend and for are alike, who welcomes equally honour and dishonour, heat and cold, pleasure and pain, who is enamoured of nothing,

Who is indifferent to praise and censure, who enjoys silence, who is contented with every fate, who has no fixed abode, who is steadfast in mind and filled with devotion, such a one is My beloved.


Chapter 13: Spirit and Matter
Quote:
Krishna:

“O illustrious son of Kunti! Through whatever wombs men are born, it is the Spirit Itself that conceives, and I am their Father.”


Chapter 15:

Quote:
“ There are two aspects in Nature: the perishable and the imperishable. All life in this world belongs to the former, the unchanging element belongs to the latter.

But higher than all am I, the Supreme God, the Absolute Self, the Eternal Lord, Who pervades the worlds and upholds them all.”

Chapter 16: Divine and Demonic Civilization

Quote:
“Godly qualities lead to liberation; godless to bondage. Do not be anxious, Prince! Thou hast the Godly qualities.

All beings are of two classes: Godly and godless.”

“The godless do not know how to act or how to renounce. They have neither purity nor truth. They do not understand the right principles of conduct.

They say the universe is an accident with no purpose and no God. Life is created by sexual union, a product of lust and nothing else.

Thinking this, these degrades souls, these enemies of mankind – whose intelligence is negligible and whose deeds are monstrous – come into the world only to destroy. “


Quote:
“Caught in the toils of a hundred vain hopes, the slaves of passion and wrath, they accumulate hoards of unjust wealth, only to pander to their sensual desire.

This I have gained today; tomorrow I will gratify another desire; with wealth is mine now, the rest shall be mine ere long;

I have slain one enemy, I will slay the others also; I am worthy to enjoy, I am the Almighty, I am perfect, powerful and happy;

I am rich, I am well-bred; who is there to compare with me? I will sacrifice, I will give, I will pay – and I will enjoy.

Thus blinded by Ignorance, Perplexed by discordant thoughts, entangled in the snares of desire, infatuated by passion, they sink into the horrors of hell.”

Chapter 17:
Quote:

“The Faith of every man conforms to his nature. By nature he is full of faith. He is in fact what his faith makes him.”

“Sacrifice which is performed for the sake of its results, or for self-glorification – that, O best of Aryans, is the product of Passion.”


Chapter 18: Renunciation

Quote:

“Fix but thy mind on Me, and by My grace thou shalt overcome the obstacles in thy path. But if, misled by pride, thou wilt not listen, then indeed thou shalt be lost.

If thou in thy vanity thinkest of avoiding this fight, thy will shall not be fulfilled, for Nature herself will compel thee.”




What can I say. He's right. There is going to be a fight whether I like it or not.

But, why accuse, Arjuna of vanity? Is this the vanity of perfection?
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  #29  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:14 AM
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Vasily Zaitsev Vasily Zaitsev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian Lee
...Exactly. I just saw this post. You're not me and I'm not thee, but we think alike I see. Yes, his "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is" is definitely not "as it is," is it. You seem to have gotten around. Only somebody pretty familiar with the text would see this about Prabhupada. You must be over 40?

Excellent insights on the Bhagavad.

And thank you for the compliment, but I'm only 27.
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Old 03-20-2007, 01:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasily Zaitsev
Excellent insights on the Bhagavad.

And thank you for the compliment, but I'm only 27.
Are you not an Atheist Vasily?
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