Srila Giri Maharaja – “Politics, parties, work, devotion.”

Dear Sriman Jagadananda dasa,

I do have one quick question. Yesterday I noticed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has announced that she will be going after the presidency in 2020. As I’m sure your Divine Grace is aware, she is a devotee. What are your thoughts on this?

I was not aware she is a devotee. Who is her guru?

I noted when we were preaching in South India, that whenever any gentleman who was a renowned devotee in a particular place approached our guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada, he used to ask such men, “Under whose guidance does your devotional service to Krsna go on?” Generally they used to say, “No, no, I am directly concerned with Lord Krsna, and Lord Rama.” Then, when they went away, we heard our guru maharaja say, “He has no devotion.” That person was dismissed as an imitation devotee. That is a vague kind of devotion. It has not taken any particular shape, because he is ignoring the asraya, the shelter-giving devotees in the positions surrounding the Lord. That is the great test of devotion.

Otherwise, without taking shelter of a devotee, if one shows great devotion, what is his motive? Generally they think, “We want liberation, not the service of Krsna. To earn liberation, we are accepting the devotion of Krsna.” That is a lower form of worship – worldly worship – not real worship in the transcendental plane. That is not eternal, but temporary. Devotion to the Lord must not be subservient to any other aim of life. The desire for liberation is one criterion of an imitation devotee, and another criterion is the neglect of elevated devotees. When the Lord alone is being worshiped, that is also false. These two kinds of apparent devotional practices which are generally seen in the world may be dismissed. But the world does not get any news of all these things.

—Srila Sridhara Maharaja, Sri Guru and His Grace

Referring to someone as a “devotee” first brings to my mind the pure devotees in our line, such as our predecessor acharyas and parshada devotees of Sriman Mahaprabhu, Sri Krishna, etc. After that we may think of “devotees” as those who are strict practitioners in the line of Sri Rupa. After that we might include bonafide devotees in the other four Vaishnava sampradayas (Brahma, Sri, Rudra, Kumara):

ŚB 4.17.

The great saintly King, Mahārāja Pṛthu, received knowledge from Sanat-kumāra, who was the greatest Vedic scholar. After receiving knowledge to be applied practically in his life, how did the saintly King attain his desired destination?

Purport

There are four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas (systems) of disciplic succession. One sampradāya comes from Lord Brahmā, one from the goddess of fortune, one from the Kumāras, headed by Sanat-kumāra, and one from Lord Śiva. These four systems of disciplic succession are still going on. As King Pṛthu has illustrated, one who is serious about receiving transcendental Vedic knowledge must accept a guru, or spiritual master, in one of these four disciplic successions. It is said that unless one accepts a mantra from one of these sampradāyas, the so-called mantra will not act in Kali-yuga. Many sampradāyas have sprung up without authority, and they are misleading the people by giving unauthorized mantras. The rascals of these so-called sampradāyas do not observe the Vedic rules and regulations. Although they are addicted to all kinds of sinful activities, they still offer the people mantras and thus mislead them. Intelligent persons, however, know that such mantras will never be successful, and as such they never patronize such upstart spiritual groups. People should be very careful of these nonsensical sampradāyas. To get some facility for sense gratification, unfortunate people in this age receive mantras from these so-called sampradāyas. Pṛthu Mahārāja, however, showed by his example that one should receive knowledge from a bona fide sampradāya. Therefore Mahārāja Pṛthu accepted Sanat-kumāra as his spiritual master.

Still further removed from my thinking of “devotee” are those who do not belong to any bonafide sampradaya but show some sort of faith in God; that is the broadest possible use of the term “devotee”, in this case referring to a general vaishnava, or one who believes in God. However, being so broad and inclusive, this usage is hardly meaningful.

I heard her name “Tulsi” in the news and wondered why she had such a beautiful name. But I haven’t heard of any ties she has that would make me think she is a practitioner of devotion to Sri Krishna. She has some connection to India and, like so many persons born there, is given a name we tend to associate with our Krishna, the Krishna of the Bhagavatam. In actuality the name may have been given, received and used without any intention of its being associated with our Krishna. The association may, in fact, be that of the sahajiya Krishna or even the mayavada Krishna, the enemy of devotion in our line.

So, if you say Tulasi Gabbard is “a devotee”, please explain in what sense she is a devotee and why I should consider it significant.

An abortion factory given the name “Tulasi House of Abortions” does not transform the practices therein from abominable to auspicious. In fact, the mere use of such an auspicious name to make the atrocious appear sanctified is an offense to the holy personage of Srimati Tulasi Devi.

In India it is common practice to use names like Rama, Krishna, Tulsi, etc. for all sorts of materialistic purposes. “Rama’s Waffle House” doesn’t mean they don’t use eggs to make their waffles or that they don’t serve bacon on the side. It is simply a common name used to attract customers. “Buyer beware” is the watch-phrase that should be applied before accepting a book based on its cover or a person based on their name. A name may mean something, or nothing; or anything. By itself it is not a reliable measure of anything.

I wonder what you mean by “devotee.” Everyone is a devotee of someone. I think this Tulsi Gabbard is a devotee of a socialist style political movement.

A member of the Democratic Party, she was a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee until February 28, 2016, when she resigned to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

— Wikipedia

Sanders is an out and out socialist and socialism is the precursor to communism. Sanders, like other “progressives”, socialists and, for the most part, Democrats, are communists that hide behind these other nomenclatures that are softer and less offensive to the Western ear than communism. But communism is where they will take their followers, given the chance to do so. Terms like “progressive” are the gateway drugs to communism, tyranny, etc.

Knowingly or unknowingly the followers of these movements are devotees of personalities like Marx, FDR, Hegel, Mao, Freud, Lenin, Stalin, Castro etc., etc. These are their real heroes, whom they worship and adore. All such “devotees” believe, or behave as if they believe (and therefore work towards) the natural outcome of a communistic government. That form of government is favored by sudras, who are ruled by the mode of ignorance and are the least intelligent and qualified of the four major varnas:

“At present, human society is specifically cultivating the mode of ignorance (tamo- guna), although there may also be some symptoms of passion (rajo-guna). Full of kama and lobha, lust and greed, the entire population of the world consists mostly of sudras and a few vaisyas, and gradually it is coming about that there are sudras only. Communism is a movement of sudras, and capitalism is meant for vaisyas. In the fighting between these two factions, the sudras and vaisyas, gradually, due to the abominable condition of society, the communists will emerge triumphant, and as soon as this takes place, whatever is left of society will be ruined. The only possible remedy that can counteract the tendency toward communism is the Krsna consciousness movement, which can give even communists the real idea of communist society. According to the doctrine of communism, the state should be the proprietor of everything. But the Krsna consciousness movement, expanding this same idea, accepts God as the proprietor of everything.”

Srila A.C. Bhaktivednata Swami, Chaitanya Caritamrita, Adi Lila 8.20

The only antidote to counteract the disease of communism is Krishna consciousness: “The only possible remedy that can counteract the tendency toward communism is the Krsna consciousness movement, which can give even communists the real idea of communist society.” (See also: “Communism is a Movement of Sudras”)

The communists, they’re dead against any conception of religion. Death of Indian civilisation and culture. They want to convert the Indian culture into Russian atheistic conception, most deplorable life. There not even the jurisdiction of senses, physical senses, nothing beyond and what’s to be, that are forcing, to push this populace opinion to anyone and everyone, injection, trying to, hopeless, the poorest conception of pluralising? (or humanising?) of ideal. Poor in culture, the poorest.

— Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 83.04.23-24 – Guru 9

Srila Sridhara Maharaja encouraged, and even directed, his disciples in his Math to vote against the communists. Here in the USA both of the principal political parties are sub- standard, with most of their members corrupt due to their greed for power, money and prestige. For this reason it is difficult for me to support either the Republicans (R’s) or the Democrats (D’s). However, I can still “vote against the communists”, and I do, by voting against the D’s.

Srila Prabhupada’s analysis:

“Communism is a movement of sudras, and capitalism is meant for vaisyas. In the fighting between these two factions, the sudras and vaisyas, gradually, due to the abominable condition of society, the communists will emerge triumphant, and as soon as this takes place, whatever is left of society will be ruined.”

explains clearly the differences I see between the Republican and the Democrat parties. Neither is the best (Kshatriya, following the advice of brahmanas) but the R’s are akin to vaishyas who, in the Vedic system were twice born, like the brahman and kshratriya classes, and vastly more qualified to manage societal affairs when compared to the sudras, for whom the D’s have great appeal.

She [Tulsi Gabbard] supports abortion rights, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has called for a restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act and changed her stance to support same-sex marriage in 2012.

— Wikipedia

No guru in our line will support abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, persecution of Christians, Jews, other religions and a myriad of other positions one must take to gain support from the Democrat party, her party.

Years ago one of my Godbrothers, Sriman Rshabhadeva tried to convince me abortion could be accepted by us as it would help to eliminate varna-sankara, unwanted children, which are a plague upon society:

utsīdeyur ime lokā
na kuryāṁ karma ced aham
saṅkarasya ca kartā syām
upahanyām imāḥ prajāḥ

Synonyms

utsīdeyuḥ — would be put into ruin; ime — all these; lokāḥ — worlds; na — not; kuryām — I perform; karma — prescribed duties; cet — if; aham — I; saṅkarasya — of unwanted population; ca — and; kartā — creator; syām — would be; upahanyām— would destroy; imāḥ — all these; prajāḥ — living entities.

Translation

If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put to ruination. I would be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all living beings. — Bhaktivedanta Swami, Bhagavad Gita As It Is 3.24

Even if one is born in a family of dvijas, or twice-born, if they have not followed the reformatory process he is called a dvija-bandhu — not one of the twice-born, but a friend of the twice-born. The whole purpose of this system is to create good population. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, when women are polluted the populace is varṇa-saṅkara, and when the varṇa-saṅkara population increases, the situation of the entire world becomes hellish. Therefore, all the Vedic literatures strongly warn against creating varṇa-saṅkara population. When there is varṇa-saṅkara population, the people cannot be properly controlled for peace and prosperity, regardless of great legislative assemblies, parliaments and similar bodies.

— Bhaktivedanta Swami, ŚB 7.11.13, Purport

There are many places in our scriptures that decry the production of varṇa-saṅkara (unwanted children) and offer the preventive and remedial measures needed, none of which include killing children within the wombs of their mothers:

duhitṝr daśottara-śataṁ
pitṛ-mātṛ-yaśaskarīḥ
śīlaudārya-guṇopetāḥ
pauranjanyaḥ prajā-pate

Synonyms

duhitṝḥ — daughters; daśa-uttara — ten more than; śatam — one hundred; pitṛ — like the father; mātṛ — and mother; yaśaskarīḥ — glorified; śīla — good behavior; audārya — magnanimity; guṇa — good qualities; upetāḥ — possessed of; pauranjanyaḥ — daughters of Puranjana; prajā-pate — O Prajāpati.

Translation

O Prajāpati, King Prācīnabarhiṣat, in this way King Puranjana also begot 110 daughters. All of these were equally glorified like the father and mother. Their behavior was gentle, and they possessed magnanimity and other good qualities.

Purport

Children begotten under the rules and regulations of the scriptures generally become as good as the father and mother, but children born illegitimately mainly become varṇa-saṅkara. The varṇa-saṅkara population is irresponsible to the family, community and even to themselves. Formerly the varṇa-saṅkara population was checked by the observation of the reformatory method called garbhādhānasaṁskāra, a child-begetting religious ceremony. In this verse we find that although King Puranjana had begotten so many children, they were not varṇa-saṅkara. All of them were good, well-behaved children, and they had good qualities like their father and mother.
Even though we may produce many good children, our desire for sex that is beyond the prescribed method is to be considered sinful. Too much enjoyment of any of the senses (not only sex) results in sinful activities. Therefore one has to become a svāmī or gosvāmī at the end of his life. One may beget children up to the age of fifty, but after fifty one must stop begetting children and should accept the vānaprastha order. In this way he must leave home and then become a sannyāsī. A sannyāsī’s title is svāmī or gosvāmī, which means that he completely refrains from sense enjoyment. One should not accept the sannyāsa order whimsically; he must be fully confident that he can restrain his desires for sense gratification. King Puranjana’s family life was, of course, very happy. As mentioned in these verses, he begot 1,100 sons and 110 daughters. Everyone desires to have more sons than daughters, and since the number of daughters was less than the number of sons, it appears that King Puranjana’s family life was very comfortable and pleasing.

— Bhaktivedanta Swami, ŚB 4.27.7

Thus, I was not convinced by my friend’s argument, which was pure speculation and not sanctioned anywhere by our gurus. Our gurus directed us to cut off the supply of varna- sankara through the practices of preaching and purification, not by the use of abortion or infanticide.

śrī-indra uvāca
āste ’syā jaṭhare vīryam
aviṣahyaṁ sura-dviṣaḥ
āsyatāṁ yāvat prasavaṁ
mokṣye ’rtha-padavīṁ gataḥ

Translation

King Indra said: In the womb of this woman, the wife of the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu, is the seed of that great demon. Therefore, let her remain in our custody until her child is delivered, and then we shall release her.

Purport

Indra, the King of heaven, decided to arrest Prahlāda Mahārāja’s mother because he thought that another demon, another Hiraṇyakaśipu, was within her womb. The best course, he thought, was to kill the child when the child was born, and then the woman could be released.

— Bhaktivedanta Swami, ŚB 7.7.9

Like my Godbrother, Lord Indra speculated that the child born of Hiranyakashipu, a demon, would be a great demon like his father. He was completely wrong. Even the great fear of Indra and the other demigods did not cause them to suggest abortion as a solution to their fear. Fortunately, Narada Muni could see what even the demigods could not:

“Nārada Muni replied: The child within this woman’s womb is faultless and sinless. Indeed, he is a great devotee, a powerful servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore you will not be able to kill him.”

— Bhaktivedanta Swami, ŚB 7.7.10

and out of respect for Sri Narada, the demigods minds were changed.

The lesson here is that we should not presume to know the outcome of a child’s birth. If any presumption is to be made it should be this: given proper training in the practices of devotion to Sri Krishna, administered with affection, a child will be a blessing upon society.

Children unwanted during pregnancy usually become wanted after their birth, regardless of the circumstances. No one has the right to deny a child the chance to be wanted or deny him the greatest opportunity afforded by human birth, the chance to become Krishna conscious.

The R’s who used to stand against abortion now refuse to defund Planned Parenthood, perhaps the world’s largest child killing institution, which either kills them directly or through their world-wide propaganda promoting abortions. “Never trust a woman or a politician.”, an adage quoted by Srila Prabhupada, is well worth remembering when it comes to viewing the political arena where compromise is the name of the game when it comes to a choice between supporting demonic activities, or not. Compromise with those who support abortion leads ultimately to the final compromise between killing a child or not; kill only half the child, which results in killing it in toto.

Voters in Kali Yuga are not voting for Rama Raja, Lord Ramachandra to be King, they are voting, generally speaking, in the fashion Srila Prabhupada described as “Many little asses voting for one big ass.” And Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s admonition “mass is ignorant” is one worth remembering.

Democracy works best when it is supported by a base of pious and religious people. This is the same for all forms of government. A demonic autocrat can be very cruel to his citizens and cause them much suffering. The same is true for a democratic majority unmoored from piety, reason and common sense. Unfortunately this is the fate of all democracies when citizens learn they can get whatever they want by vote rather than their own work. Democracies then become the agents for rogues and thieves. If a thief takes money from one man and gives it to another, he is called a criminal and may be punished. If a politician tells lazy men “Vote for me and I will take money from hard workers and give it to you to support yourselves and your families.” he will be heralded as a great man; righteous, kind and generous.” He will never be asked how much personal wealth he has acquired through this scheme or how much of it he distributes to the lazy. If he is asked, he will shrug it off as an irrelevant question and, feigning deep empathy explain “everyone knows no one man could ever support all the worthless unproductive members of society, it is the work of all the citizens, not me alone.” With such language the politician absolves himself of all personal responsibility for the poor while demanding personal responsibility for everyone else. In short he is saying “Everyone must look after the needs of the poor (infirm, diseased, homeless, etc) except me.”

In this way Bernie Sanders’ wealthy life-style goes unquestioned while he demands others give their’s up to support the socialist causes he promotes with cries of “We must help the children, help the poor, help the needy, help the illegal aliens, help the prisoners, etc.” Is it fair to ask “If you really believe what you’re saying you must have taken in many of these people and be looking after them by feeding them nicely, providing for their health care and housing them in your several mansions. Is that true?” It’s a fair question; I’ve never heard it asked… or answered. What I have seen is that investigations reveal politicians like this give little or nothing of their personal wealth to charity. They don’t open their homes as shelters for the homeless or invite the hungry to come dine with them. And they get richer by the day selling their political ideas to others.

What is the real basis for a wealthy and prosperous society? It begins with the performance of sacrifice to Lord Vishnu, sankirtan yajna in the age of Kali. It proceeds from there with a government that gives protection to all the citizens, including the cows and other animals who are also citizens of the state.

Our political party is the sankirtan party. I encourage you to give it your full support. It is the only party that can counteract the sinful activities, and their outcome, in the age of Kali.

Please forgive me if it is an offense to ask, since it is not a spiritual based question.

Spirit is the basis for everything. While your question may not have initially been thought of by you as spiritual, every question is, in some sense, tied to spiritual reality. While visiting one of his Godbrothers (I think it was Sripada Madhusudana Maharaja), and staying with him in his Math, Srila Sridhara Maharaja read a newspaper every day. The acharya of the Math (Madhusudana Maharaja) forbid his disciples to read newspapers. Naturally they asked their guru why Srila Sridhara Maharaja is reading what they have been forbidden to read. His answer (paraphrasing) was this: “For Sridhara Maharaja there is no difference between reading the paper and reading the Vedas.”

Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana Goswamis would regularly converse with the residents of Vrndavana about “ordinary” affairs; the weather, their families, their work, etc. We have been told that such talks within the Dhama are no different than reading the Vedas.

For those living within the spiritual plane, their vision is always of that plane and everything is seen by them as being within that environment.

You may ask me any question and I will try to respond with an appropriate answer, based on my knowledge of, and experience with, our Sri Guru Varga.

The best part about my job is that I get other people jobs. When I acquire new accounts, we have to hire new agents. This means that’s more families who can put food on the table. I do find pleasure in seeing the new faces, excited and happy to have stable work.

“[Food] on the table” is supplied by Krishna. No one else can make food, or supply it. “Work should be done as a sacrifice to Vishnu”, not for any other purpose:

Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage. — Bg. 3.9

Krishna is very clear about work, how to work and the results of work:

One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, O mighty-armed, does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for fruitive results. — Bg. 3.28

The worker who is attached to work and the fruits of work, desiring to enjoy those fruits, and who is greedy, always envious, impure, and moved by joy and sorrow, is said to be in the mode of passion. — Bg. 18.27

and, please remember:

One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled. — Bg. 5.7

I have been reading and chanting aloud Sri Sri Premadhama-deva-stotram nightly.

This is great news. I am very happy to hear you are following this practice.

Swami B.K. Giri