Srila Giri Maharaja “Elements for Advertising”

initiation 3

Date: 9/16/15

Dear Sriman Dayardra Nitai dasa,

Please accept my blessings.

Previously you asked for some guidance with regard to your preaching programs at the university. Now that you have arranged for such a program, it is a good time to begin.

On Facebook I received an invitation from you containing the following:

This photo:

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And the text:

Local interspiritual minister DEWnada will present a question and answer session on eastern spiritualities and talk about the presence and practices of Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and other eastern faiths here in our region.

This photo is not appropriate for our purposes. You have seen our books and the photos contained therein. They should be your guide. Any of those photos, or one’s similar to them may be used.

Sometime ago your wrote to me:

On Dec 9, 2014, at 10:20 PM:

I volunteer at PSU Altoona Campus so can usually book events there. But it is best to work with professor to offer extra credit for attending to get a good turnout. We could email the Religious Studies, Philosophy and Literature professors to see if they would encourage students to attend your talk. My director there…

He knows me by the name DEWnada. I can speak to him first if you have ideas about a presentation on campus. But feel free to email him yourself. I have been representing Hinduism on the Interfaith Council for several years.

This was fine at the time, but now you have received your spiritual name Dayardra Nitai dasa. You should inform the director that you have taken spiritual initiation from your guru and now prefer to be known by this name.

Previously you asked if you could operate as a branch of SCSM. In furtherance of that idea you should use your spiritual name as far as possible. Especially in communications with devotees, gatherings for sankirtana and preaching programs such as the one you have arranged.

You finished your last email thusly:

Thank you for your ongoing inspiration and may Krishna continue to bless your ministry. Hari Bol!
Dayardra Nitai

Dayardra Nitai is directly Lord Nityananda. You are not Lord Nityananda, you are one of His servants, dasa. Therefore, your proper name is Dayardra Nitai dasa.

Using your initiated name will lend authority to your preaching, as people will recognize you as being in a proper Vaishnava sampradaya. A bonafide connection with such a sampradaya is the only sure indicator that we have some authority to represent the teachings of Sri Krishna. The degree to which we strictly adhere to those teachings is the final indicator of our actual authority.

Local interspiritual minister DEWnada will present a question and answer session on eastern spiritualities and talk about the presence and practices of Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and other eastern faiths here in our region.

I don’t know why you refer to yourself as “interspiritual minister.” I do not even know the meaning of “interspiritual.” It is not in my dictionary.

“Inter” generally means “between”, thus the meaning would be “between spiritual.” Between spiritual and what? “between spiritual” means “not spiritual.” Think of “interstellar”, between stars; a point in the void of space which is neither on one star or another.

It could also mean “Between this spiritual and that spiritual.” This only complicates the question by including two “spiritual whats.” i.e. “Between this spiritual (what?) and that spiritual (what?).”

I think your idea is to imply you are a minister with no affiliation with any particular spiritual sect. Such a minister cannot exist, for then he would be the minister of nothing. It is, rather, a way to hide the fact that such a minister is actually asserting himself as a minister of his own spiritual teachings, independently of all others’ teachings.

This was true in the case of Wayne Teasdale who founded his own spiritual movement based on his concept of “interspirituality”:

Devoted to a new interfaith understanding, Teasdale came to espouse what he termed “interspirituality”, a perspective that discovered in the world religions a degree of commonality which could be approached through mystical experience. Teasdale was active in promoting and developing this facet of spirituality.

. . .

After his death in 2004, ISD expanded internationally to become Interspiritual Dialogue ‘n’ Action. This network works to promulgate Teasdale’s vision of interspirituality and the interspiritual age. In 2008, ISDnA, the Common Ground Conferences and other of Teasdale’s friends partnered with One Spirit Learning Alliance and Interfaith Seminary in New York City to form an educational program based on Teasdale’s work and that of the Integral thinkers such as Ken Wilber and Don Beck.

You will not find such ideas in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, in Bhagavad-gita, etc.

Krishna clearly rejects such ideas:

Bg 9.25

yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām

Word for word:
yānti — go; deva-vratāḥ — worshipers of demigods; devān — to the demigods; pitṝn — to the ancestors; yānti — go; pitṛ-vratāḥ — worshipers of ancestors; bhūtāni — to the ghosts and spirits; yānti — go; bhūta-ijyāḥ — worshipers of ghosts and spirits; yānti — go; mat — My; yājinaḥ — devotees; api — but; mām — unto Me.

Translation:
Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.

He instructs us clearly on what is what. He tells us the destination for the worshipers of demigods, ancestors, ghosts, etc. Only those that worship Him, will go to Him and live with Him. And that is His unequivocal advice:

Bg 18.66

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Word for word:
sarva-dharmān — all varieties of religion; parityajya — abandoning; mām — unto Me; ekam — only; śaraṇam — for surrender; vraja — go; aham — I; tvām — you; sarva — all; pāpebhyaḥ — from sinful reactions; mokṣayiṣyāmi— will deliver; mā — do not; śucaḥ — worry.

Translation:
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

The summum bonum for all human beings is stated in this last verse above.

It is better to be straight forward. Is it not your intention to represent the teachings of Sri Krishna and Sriman Mahaprabhu as represented in Bhagavad-gita, and other scriptures?

If so, you can still comment on “the presence and practices of Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and other eastern faiths here in our region”, but on the basis of where they converge and where they diverge from the summum bonam as found in your field of expertise, namely, Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Lastly, there are some essential elements to advertising any of our preaching programs to the public. You will see them present in this flyer done in late 1966 by Srila Prabhupada’s earliest disciples:

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Although I don’t recommend advertising our programs in this way, alluding to the use of intoxication, as was done by the earliest disciples of Srila Prabhupada, Swami Maharaja, you will see that they at least included these important elements:

Practice Krishna Consciousness

Through: “Transcendental sound vibration”

Chanting the: “Hare Krishna Mantra”

Quotation from shastra (“cleanse the dust from the morror of the mind… “)

A process the public can relate to: “music, dance, philosophy, science, religion and prasadam (spiritual food.)”

A positive purpose: “Awaken your transcendental nature!”

Segregating oneself from cheating practices and unholy things: “Drop out of movements employing artificially induced states of self-realization… “

The authority of our teachings: “Bhaktiyoga has been practiced for many centuries and is authorized by India’s great acharyas.”

Naming the current acharya and his credential: Swami Bhaktivedanta is in the bonafide line of Krishna’s disciplic succession.

Naming the institution being represented: ISKCON

And the acharya of that institution: “Acharya: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”

Time and place of the program and inviting the public’s attendance.

While it is not possible to include all the above elements on every form of advertisement, they should be considered carefully and used as far as possible.

If you have any question regarding the above, I will be happy to answer them.

I pray this finds you well in all respects.

Swami B.K. Giri