Can the Worship of God’s Penis bring you a good Husband? – 19 Feb 15

After having told you the story why Hindus worship Shiva’s penis and joking a bit about this penis worship yesterday, I today would like to get a bit more serious and tell you why I actually think it is not right. Depending on how much you know me or have read of my writings, you may be surprised by the reason.

I don’t think it is good to worship Shiva Lingam, the penis of a god, not because of the fact that it is a penis. No, because I think it doesn’t make sense to worship anything! I truly believe that you shouldn’t worship any statue, any part of god or any god. No ceremony or ritual will help you anything.

Let’s stay with the example of Shiva’s genitals. In Hinduism, unmarried girls are encouraged to worship the Shiva Lingam. It sounds bizarre, right? The religion that puts such an emphasis on the purity of girls, wanting them to stay chaste and away from boys, asks them to worship a penis. What is that supposed to give them? You would never guess: a good husband. Every Monday unmarried girls fast and worship Shiva Lingam for this purpose: to get an even better version of it for the rest of their lives!

Once they are married however, most Hindus believe that women should worship but not touch Shiva Lingam anymore. They should not anymore drink the milk which they had poured over it and which is then considered as blessed.

Trust me, dear ladies, neither will rubbing a penis-shaped stone with milk help you find a good husband nor will it bring you more wedding offers if you don’t eat on Mondays. And it will really not harm your marriage if you touch this penis after your wedding either.

It is just crazy to think that religion really makes people believe these things. Seeing it from a distance, it makes you wonder very much. I know from own experience that you don’t question such worship if you are doing it. You should however, when you are reading these words, start thinking about it seriously.

How much milk was wasted once more, day before yesterday on Shivaratri. Thousands of liters of milk in one temple, how many temples in each city and how many cities in India! Poured over a stone penis and then thrown into the gutter, flowing down the sewage lines, past hungry children who starve because they don’t get even one glass of milk in a day!

I tell you, it would make you much happier to give the milk to a poor mother and her children instead of bathing a stone penis in it.

Vrindavan’s Temples – old ones for Prayers, new ones for Tourism – 4 Jul 12

When coming home from Delhi on Monday, we entered Vrindavan when it was already dark, maybe around 8 o’clock. Entering Vrindavan, we saw the colourful lights of the ‘Prem Mandir’ that Kripalu and Prakashananda have built and the crowds in front of it as well as in front of the ISKCON temple. Looking a bit more closely however, you could see clearly that it was tourists going there.

Vrindavan is known as the town of 5000 temples. Obviously not all of these temples are big buildings into which dozens of people can go. There are a lot of small temples, tiny shrines and the truth is that every house has its own temple, too.

I grew up in Vrindavan, playing on the streets and in front of all these temples. In our childhood my brothers and I saw how many new temples were being built, including the enourmous palace-like temple of ISKCON. When we had guests at home, we then took them to go sightseeing at that temple and told them how much money had been invested to build it.

The Prem Mandir, which was opened to the public only recently, was built in the last few years, too. I wrote about it in 2009 when it was under construction and mentioned it when it was being opened.

Last year, when we heard that Kumar Swami wants to build his own huge temple in Vrindavan, I talked with friends and more people and many of them asked what we need another big temple for. So I did some research and wrote my article.

It is true, why would local people want another religious monstrosity in front of their door? It would just be another cause for hundreds of religious tourists flooding the town who just want to see a big golden temple into which a lot of money was put. I anyway don’t believe in the number that he mentioned – five lakh crore! That would be a 5 with 12 zeros. It is just a figure that Kumar Swami used to impress people, just like he used the names of Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth or just like he says he has healed more than 500 million people.

All these figures are just there to get more people, more popularity and in the end more money. Those big temples are not being built in order to help and support people and put money into society for good but in order to take money out of society! And this is not right.

Instead of all those big temples people should have started schools or hospitals and run them for poor people who need it or, if not that, establish an industry so that the unemployed can get work and earn their living to support themselves. If Kumar Swami had taken his money and had really supported the poor, he would not have any problem now and people would not be against him – I had definitely not written my article had I not seen such claims in the newspaper advertisement. It is not only me, a lot of people are against this.

Local people use those new, big temples only as an attraction that they show to visitors. Tourists go there. Already in my childhood, we, my family and friends and the people around went to the old temples for worship. Bihari ji, in the heart of Vrindavan, for example, Radha Vallabh ji, Madan Mohan ji or Radha Raman ji. There is where people had and still today have their real belief. The center of people’s love and belief is old temples. They don’t go to pray in the ISKCON temple or in the Prem Mandir. They go because there are colourful lights, they can buy snacks in front of them and they can take pictures and say ‘I was in a temple which was built with so much money!’

Gurus should look for Students, not for Followers and Disciples – 3 Jul 12

Today is a religious holiday in India. It is called ‘Guru Purnima’, the full moon day of masters, celebrated as masters’ day. On this day disciples and followers go and worship their gurus.

I was once in this profession myself and on this day, there were always people who came to the Ashram when I was in India or who phoned or emailed to somehow get in touch with me on that day. I have left this profession far behind and question now what I believed in then.

The literal meaning of the word guru is teacher. If you use this meaning of the word, I have absolutely no problem with it. Anybody can be your guru, really anybody of whom you learn something. But with scripture and through this religious scene, the word ‘guru’ got a holy touch and that is where the whole hype started that we can see today, when the word ‘guru’ means God or even more than God.

In my eyes it turns wrong when a guru is not anymore only a person to learn from but someone whom you are supposed to worship. When people put pictures of the guru onto their altars and pray for them, when followers wash the feet of the guru and then drink the water, when gurus have their statues made and sell them and when scriptures tell people that they can only be liberated if they have a guru.

Obviously, such scriptures were written by those religious people who liked to be treated like Gods, who wanted to be Gurus. These people had a deep desire to get worshiped and I believe every guru who instructs his followers to act as described above, has this wish. Otherwise they would tell people not to do this.

I have however also seen gurus who give instructions to people not to worship them and who pretend to be humble but who in reality want to be worshiped – but don’t want to take responsibility for this.

Gurus work like God’s agents for those people who believe in scriptures that tell them this. They don’t only tell people that their service is the only way to reach God but they also take their commission for it, their fee. And the extra respect, worship, the power and the privilege to do anything without being questioned by their followers.

I actually have a problem with the words ‘followers’, ‘disciples’ or ‘devotees’. It seems to me that these words per se give much room for abuse of the relationship that should be there to a guru. The words show how much higher the guru is and how low the disciple, follower or devotee is. The guru has supreme power and can do what he wants. The devotee is not allowed to question anything. This is how it comes to it that the guru abuses his disciples and unfortunately there have been far too may such cases already.

So why not keep the original meaning of the word, stay simply with the sense ‘teacher’? And whoever wants to learn can simply be a ‘student’. Of course you give respect to your teacher but that can be any teacher, be that your spiritual teacher or your mathematics teacher.

So without all the unnecessary nonsense that now comes with it, I want to say that a guru is just a respectable teacher. And in this sense, a happy Guru Purnima to all those people I have learnt from in my life.

Christian Worship of the Pope is also Human Worship – 6 Sep 11

I have written a lot about Hinduism and have condemned the worship of humans many times. Friends who grew up in Christian culture told me that they have always learned as Christians not to worship any person and not to worship any statue. For them there is only one God and He does not have any image. This is why, they said, they don’t have God statues or murtis, as they are called here, in their churches. Although I have repeatedly been told that there is a big difference between Hinduism and Christianity, I see a lot of similarities, even in this point.

I cannot know as much about Christianity as I know about Hinduism but I have also heard about Moses who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt as a kind of messenger of God. When the people there started worshipping a cow out of cold, he got angry and God gave them the message that they should not worship any statues. When he himself claimed to have helped the people, God made him aware that he was not the one with the power, that he was not God and should not want people to believe this.

These stories make it very clear that whoever wrote it wanted to have a very different religion than the ones existing in that time, the Roman Gods, the Greek Gods, the Celtic Gods and maybe they had even heard of the Hindu Gods. They did not want statues and did not want to worship any person pretending to be God. In the end however I do not see much difference in between today’s Hinduism and the Christianity that I have seen and heard of.

Both religions have such scriptures, that is anyway the very first thing. Many people believe in them word by word although they are also only stories, nicely told for people to understand the basic rules of religion. And although Christianity says in their Bible that nobody should worship any statue, I again and again see the crucifix, the statue of Jesus, hanging at the cross, blood running down his sides. People stand in front of that statue and pray to it. What is that? Well, it is not a statue of God himself, I am told. It is a statue of God’s son. But it is a statue! Then there is mother Mary with the baby Jesus. She resembles hope, everything good, soft and loving. Isn’t that as though you are praying to the statue of the goddess Parvati, Lakshmi or Saraswati? Where really is the difference? You ask her, you pray to her and you make a wish. Isn’t it the same thing, praying to a statue? This is why it was easy for Christian missionaries in South India to convert people to Christianity. They just change the statue, it does not make much difference! When we were in Kerala earlier this year, we noticed this. If you see the statues there, they look pretty much as the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, colourful, adorned, flowers spread around them. In its basics it is the same.

The main point that I wanted to make though is that Catholic Christians say that they don’t do any human worship but when I talk against human worship, I also consider their main priest like any of our Hindu gurus: the Pope. What do you do if not worship him? Have you ever seen how those masses of people come together to see him and maybe even be touched by him when he comes out to speak the Easter blessing? Or how many people gather to have a look at him when he comes to their town or anywhere close-by? How many of those believers long for just a single touch, just one word or a look of him? It is the same thing again! How can that not be human worship? He even has the attribute of being impeccable. What he says and writes has to be accepted as the truth, just like the words of any guru!

Again, there is really not any big difference in between the religions. I grew up here in India, in Hinduism and that is why I obviously know much more about it than about any other religion. When anybody tells me anything from other religions though, there are always things that strike me as same. So it doesn’t matter which religion, when I talk against human worship, I speak of human worship in any religion and culture. It is always wrong.

Please do not worship Anna Hazare – 5 Sep 11

Here in India I sometimes watch news on TV and daily read the newspaper. While I was looking for news on TV, I stopped on a channel for a minute on which I saw Anna Hazare sitting on a stage and in front of him there were many people, some of them performing Aarti. Aarti is an Indian ceremony in which you worship a statue of God or a river for example with fire.

I had a very funny feeling when I saw this. Did Anna Hazare become a God now? Did he ask people to do this? But then I had a closer look and my impression was rather that he was not interested and even irritated by what people were doing there. So why do people worship a person if that person doesn’t even want to be worshipped?

I saw this on TV but later I came across an article and realized that he does not even need to be present, people do that nevertheless and they even make money with it! On 1st September India celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the God Ganesha. India is a religious country with a Hindu majority, so of course there is always a big celebration, many ceremonies and in many cities they have big festivals with enourmous tents called pandals. This time you could not only see statues and pictures of Ganesha in the tents, there were big pictures of Anna Hazare, too! They did not only worship Ganesha in the ceremonies but Anna Hazare, too! And of course they sold T-shirts with Anna Hazare’s image on them and caps of the style that he is wearing.

I wrote before about the flexibility of Hinduism and here you can see once again that they do not mind taking in something new and changing their ceremonies a bit. Priests and organizers are like agents. Religion is their business, those tents are their shops and now they are selling the image of Anna Hazare. They have to sell something and get income to make their living and if they can attract people to buy at their tents by selling Anna Hazare as a God, it is fine for them. I believe it is human worship and it is wrong.

I know that many Swamis and Gurus are promoting human worship, even if they don’t say it as clearly as I do. I was against one of Baba Ramdev’s political ideas for exactly this reason. He wanted to change the political system that we have now in India, with more power in the hand of the parliament than in the hand of the president, to a system more similar to America, with the president in power. Ramdev tried to get higher on the ladder of his political career and may have even tried to become president. Imagine he changed the political system in India and became president with so much power. India is a religious country and many people have many emotions when religion and their guru are concerned. If he had become president in this way, he would be worshipped like nobody else in the country!

We have seen on examples all over the world that human worship is never good and cannot be accepted. Hundreds of names can be listed as examples but I believe you all have an idea what I mean and I don’t have to point out more names here. Anna Hazare was already seen with such people who promote human worship and I believe he should be careful. It can even weaken his cause because human worship is corruption, too!

Please do not understand me wrong, I am not blaming Anna Hazare for the worship of his person but the public and more than that those money oriented, religious people who want to cash in on his popularity. Please don’t do this! This is not right and surely not what he wanted. He did not fight to be worshipped religiously! Let him be Anna, don’t make him God. He is a nice person, let him be a nice human being. Don’t worship him. He woke you up and made you aware of a good cause but now the rest is up to you. I wrote a letter to him in support and one letter to the Prime Minister stating clearly that he is only a symbol for the fight against corruption. I even asked those who were opposing him to please support his cause because it is not about him but about the issue of corruption. It is now our responsibility, the responsibility of everyone together, to further fight corruption. If you put it all on him and make this kind of drama, the real spirit of this fight will get lost!

It is great that the media supported this issue by reporting about it. I thank them for bringing regular news out to people but I also want to say please leave him alone now! You don’t need to follow each and every step that he does as if he was holy. You create the image of a holy person by showing where he showers, where he eats, what he does and more! He is not a guru! You greatly supported the cause by passing out information but now you are responsible not to create this kind of image for him. I supported his campaign because of the fight against corruption, not to make him a God.

Philosophical Fiction of religious Scriptures is not the only Truth – 27 May 11

I got a lot of response for yesterday’s diary and among those emails there was one, asking me about my point of view on scriptures.

First of all I want to mention that I respect any scripture from any religion. The Vedas, Gita, Ramayan, Puranas, Upanishads but also the Bible and the Quran. What I love about scriptures is that there is always something for everyone. There is so much philosophy in those scriptures, that you really can get some ideas on how to behave differently or change your pattern of thinking. Many people who study scriptures thus realize a lot about their own behavior and develop further, which in general a good thing.

So you see, I am not against the philosophy of the scriptures but I don’t agree on making one scripture your only truth. There are many people who believe that whatever is written in one particular scripture is the universal truth for all human beings on earth. There it is written what is right and what is wrong. With such a person you cannot have a healthy discussion because it will always end with them telling you that in their opinion something is a fact because it was written in the scripture.

This is when I believe the use of scriptures is wrong. You need to think about whether that, which you follow, is right for you or not. If I give you an example, we can have a look at the Bhagavad Gita. I love its philosophy and I still sometimes use a shloka or a mantra of the Gita in some talk or lecture. I believe that there is a lot of wisdom in it. There are however parts that I don’t agree with. Here is one of those shlokas, the 24th and last Shloka of the 16th chapter of the Gita:

Tasmac chastram pramanam te karyakarya-vyavasthitau |
Jnatva shastra-vidhanoktam karma kartum iharhasi ||

The translation of this shloka could be:

"One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated."

I don’t agree with this. The rules and regulations written in scriptures were written more than a thousand years ago! Times have changed, how can they be applied today? But many people insist that this is what the scripture says and it has to be done as it is written there.

This reminded me of a comment that another friend, Annan Boodram from America, wrote to me, quite some time ago:

”To be honest I question the concept of avatar. If one analyzes the lives of Rama and Krishna one sees many things that are incongruent with god. For example, Krishna kidnapped a woman about to married. And he dallied with hosts of married women. Both Rama and Krishna supported the inhumane caste system and the subjugation of women to men. Both advocated violence as a means of solving problems. And one can go on….On the other hand the God I accept is all compassionate, all merciful, all loving, absolutely embodies non-violence, does not tolerate inequities and inequalities et al. Anything less cannot be God.”

I absolutely agree and say again that a scripture is not a proof and should not be read with the thought that whatever is written there is 100% correct and relevant for this time. And this is something that is true for all religions, not only Hinduism.

I have not done much academic education but have invested thirty years of my life in studying scriptures. My personal opinion is today that these stories which are written in the scriptures may be nice but are still fiction, nice stories and no proof. Who knows if Krishna did that? Who knows who Rama really was? There is a lot of controversy in those stories. The different scriptures and sometimes even different versions of the same scripture contradict each other. This shows how things were added and changed in the course of time. If someone comes today and says that a certain action is right, because Krishna also acted like that, I see it as an excuse for doing wrong.

There is no scientific proof for those stories and they are nice to read with devotion. I want to request intellectual people, too, to read them in this way. Don’t read those scriptures from an intellectual point of view, trying to prove its contents in a scientific way. They are stories.

These scriptures were written by people like you and me, normal men. It was their experience, the experience of those who have written in that time. It was okay and right for them but that doesn’t mean that it is accurate for today. You don’t know in what situation they were and in which time they wrote it. When time changes, definitions change, our surrounding changes and we need to progress with it. Why should you make the same experience as that person who lived 1000 years ago? Times have changed and you make your own experiences. If your experience is different than from what the Bible or the Gita tells you, why don’t you believe in yourself? Why don’t you trust your experience?

What we read today is anyway mostly only an interpretation. Everybody can have his own view on things and I know that there are thousands different interpretations of the Gita. Again, don’t trust another person’s interpretation, trust your own feeling. You can take the positive aspects of every scripture and use them for you. Leave away what does not fit to you, what you don’t experience and what you feel is wrong.

My concept of God is just love, which is in all of us. We do not need to search God in scriptures or religions. This is how for me the concept of Avatar, a God reincarnated among us here on earth, does not make sense. It is just fiction. But unfortunately with this idea, people claim that they are God and others worship them as if they really were Gods. This is why I always say I am against human worship. It is just not real.

My whole life long I have preached from the scriptures, worshipping them and creating a full ritual out of such a lecture on the scriptures. I told about this in the category ‘My Life’ in my blog.

Today I don’t preach scriptures in ritualistic way anymore. Now all those scriptures have melted down to four letters: LOVE

This is my only philosophy. You don’t need to understand a lot of complicated philsophy, just learn how to love!

God has no religion – just like me – 26 May 11

Someone asked me a question on my facebook page. I thought it could be interesting for more people, so I decided to answer it here in my diary.

“Swami, I have been reading your writing for some time now. I have also seen your profile and understand that you are a spiritual person and not religious. And I find that great. In reading some of the other blog posts you wrote, I saw that you don’t believe in worship of any man. I could not agree more. But I do not understand that you do not believe in Krishna and Ram. Do you believe in Christ? Or you don’t believe in Jesus Christ or Muhammad. Just trying to understand as I am a follower of your blog. Also I was showing my grandma your website and she said that some of the mantra that you have on your website belong to Hanuman. So I am confused. Thanks and regards Swami.”

I replied this question by saying that I see Krishna and Ram as my very close friends. I grew up with them and each year I wish them a happy birthday. How could I forget them? Their names are on my tongue often. When I greet people, I say ‘Jaisiyaram’. There, too, the name of Ram is present. Sometimes you can hear me say ‘He Ram’, just as those, who grew up in Christianity sometimes say ‘Oh Jesus’ or those who grew up in Islam say ‘Insha'Allah’.

This does not mean however that I am Hindu. I am no more a Hindu. I come from a very strong religious background but I do not consider myself anymore belonging to any religion. I don’t do any rituals and I don’t go to temples for worshipping. I have also not changed my religion. I don’t believe in converting or jumping from one religion to another. I did not start going to churches, synagogues or mosques now. I have left religion.

Sometimes people then wonder, if I left religion, why do I write ‘Swami’ Balendu? If I am not a Hindu, why do I use this attribute? I actually don’t see this word ‘Swami’ in connection with religion. You can read about this question in detail in one of my previous blog entries.

I don’t want to be Hindu, Muslim, Christian or anything else. I just want to be Human. I encourage other people, too, to leave religion and become only human. I believe religion often had and has the effect of poison: it kills people, it separates them, it creates hate among them. Human is made by God and religion is made by man. God did not create people with different religions, he made us all the same.

If you ask me now why I then use the names of God or their Mantras if I don’t believe in any religion, I have to tell you that I don’t think any of those Gods has a certain religion. For me Ram and Krishna are not Hindus, Jesus not a Christian and Allah and Muhammad not Muslims. They are God and they are one. I say love is God. They all are love and they all are God, without any religion.

I grew up with Ram and Krishna as my friends. Later I got to know about Jesus and Muhammad and made them my friends, too. I believe they love me, too. We have something in common: they don’t have a religion and I don’t, either. I am not a religious person and I don’t seek God in religious icons or figures. I know God is love and lives in our heart. If you, in a prayer or mantra, mention the name Jesus, Ram or also Hanuman, another friend of mine, it doesn’t mean that you specify a religion you are praying to. You have God in your heart, no matter which name you say with your tongue.

Followers and Fake Gurus: You cannot Stop me! – 22 Apr 11

After writing and posting yesterday’s diary entry about Sathya Sai Baba, I was verbally abused on facebook by someone who is obviously a follower of this fake guru. It was a bit funny as I have talked and written about Sathya Sai Baba before, too, and that person could have known that I am not at all in favour of such fake Gurus. Nevertheless, there were several abusive comments posted on my facebook wall which I had then to remove.

This was not the first time that such an abuse took place. In the past, too, when I was writing about Sathya Sai Baba or Nithyananda, Kripalu, Prakashananda, Kumar Swami, ISKCON, Baba Ramdev and all of those gurus’ lifestyles, people talked bad about me, asked me why I wrote in this way and just openly used insulting words and abuses. That happened on facebook, with comments on this blog, through emails and even by telephone calls.

I am an Indian citizen, India is a democratic country and I have freedom of speech there. I am right now sitting here in Germany, another democratic country with the right for free speech and I can say what I want and what I feel. Followers and fake gurus cannot stop me in this way.

I feel a responsibility for our society and fellow men, to inform others about things that they might not know yet, so that they don’t get cheated. This is what happens, people get cheated! And if there is any chance that I can make them more careful and aware through my words, I will try. Those cheaters show cheap magic tricks, call themselves God and pretend to be able to materialize things as well as cure every disease. This creates a wrong hope in others, they believe that they can really get help and all that happens is that they are disappointed. I want people to take their own responsibility.

I am fully against all these fake gurus and babas that make unrealistic claims and promises. I am additionally against anything and anybody that encourages others to do human worshipping. If you see all those gurus, they have the strong disease of wishing to be worshipped. They and their followers obviously don’t like it if I talk like this and against them.

There are others like me, too, who write against fake gurus and show others why they are fake. They, too, have to face such attacks. I have read about the experiences of the owner of this blog and the person who is running this facebook page and I feel that their difficulties and what they have faced from followers of those gurus is similar to what I experience with my own blog. I appreciate their efforts and the help that they give to others by unearthing the truth.

They have not stopped and neither will I. They have each been writing about one particular person whereas I am writing about the whole system.

I believe that writing in this way will make people happier than blindly following like sheep. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. I guarantee that you will be able to live a more authentic and happy life with more love.

Hinduism Prohibits Lower Caste People from Entering Temples – 19 Apr 11

Today I saw the above pictures on Facebook, shared by some Indian friends. These pictures are from a temple in Himachal Pradesh, an Indian state in the Himalayas. It is a beautiful state and many people do pilgrimages there, to the ‘Land of Lords’, as it is also called. The pictures above are signs which were found at the temple entrance and the dining hall next to the temple. For those who cannot read Hindi, I would like to translate what is written on those two signboards.

“Lower caste people should not enter the dining hall.” and “Lower caste people should not enter the temple.”

This is India’s situation in the 21st century. We are developing, the country is getting more and more modern but the mindset obviously stayed the same.

You may now be outraged about the idea of writing such a sign and prohibiting some people of society of doing their worship in the same temple where others do. What most people would not know however, even if they have travelled to India and have visited temples there, is that this is an unwritten law in all Hindu temples all over India. You may not realize this anywhere, as there will not be any signs but it is simply understood.

Those signs are actually a crime against the law against discrimination of people because of their castes. And this is also one reason why in bigger towns and cities you may as well find people of lower castes entering in temples. A caste is anyway not openly visible, so one would not even notice it. Even if you noticed it, in a bigger city, it would be difficult to do something against that person’s entering. If anybody called out to them, saying “Hey, you are of the lowest caste, you are not allowed here”, it would be a crime and that man or woman might go to police.

In smaller villages however, where everyone knows everyone else, people also know each other’s castes. They know everybody who is allowed to enter the temple and everyone who is not. Lower caste people are well aware of that and stay away from the temple. They know that the whole village would get angry if they did and the higher caste people in the temple would go as far as to kill them for breaking this law.

I have heard higher caste people saying that in scriptures it is written, a lower caste person, who is not allowed to go into the temple and worship there, gets the same amount of good Karma only by seeing the tip of the temple from far away. This is the most polite way to prohibit them from entering the temple. They are allowed to clean the outer part of the temple but never to go in. This is Hinduism and it is a big shame for this religion, for the society and the country that this is still alive in people’s minds.

This is one of the reasons why many people of lower castes have converted to Buddhism, a religion in which there is no concept of God. It is horrible that the caste system is still that much alive. You can see the caste system everywhere, whether this is in the arrangement of marriages or the fact that higher caste people don’t want to eat together with lower caste people. I wrote already several times how politicians encourage this system even today and were successful in creating hatred in between castes. I see myself as out of any religion and caste. We have to work against this suppression of others, eat with them at one table and discourage everyone who believes that lower caste people have any less rights or any less dignity than higher caste people.

Vrindavan Population Doubting ISKCON because of Acquisition of Land – 23 Feb 11

When I mentioned yesterday that local people would not like Kumar Swami to build another temple, I really talked about the feeling that many people of the town have at the moment and which you can hear and read about on newspapers and online.

In the last years and decades, Vrindavan has grown a lot. I have expressed this many times when writing about Vrindavan and telling how different the town was when I was a child.

Today there are many new and very big temples, around the temples there are guest houses, hotels, some restaurants and of course many shops. Whole buses of pilgrims come and among them are also a lot of foreigners. This development actually started with the growth of ‘ISKCON’ in Vrindavan, the ‘International Society of Krishna Consciousness’.
The organization was founded by Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, who came from West Bengal and lived in Vrindavan. He was a preacher, travelling in India and in the west and in the late 60s he founded the organization ISKCON. I remember his death when I was six or seven years old. They carried his body past our house through the streets towards the Yamuna river.

In our childhood, this organization’s temple was a small, simple temple in the outskirts of Vrindavan. Although it was far out of the town, quite a way from where we were living, that temple was a center of attraction because there were some foreigners worshipping there. We sometimes took a walk to there and since that time the temple is popularly called ‘Angrejon ka mandir’, the temple of foreigners.

Later on, the organization started getting more and more famous and more people came to Vrindavan from other countries to live here, chant, worship, pray and sometimes live for longer time. Foreigners brought money and the temple grew to this big marble building that it is today. For local people and pilgrims it is now a tourist attraction rather than a place of worship. They go there to do sightseeing, to see a nice temple and also to see foreigners, people with fair skin, doing pooja and chanting there. It is something you don’t see every day and definitely worth a visit. If they want to worship however and say their own prayers, Indian people go to the old temples in the center of the town.

Of course the people of the town were also happy that the foreigners who came brought some of their money with them and this is how many local businesses were able to grow their shops in that area and in the original market. Lots of money entered Vrindavan in the last decades and local businessmen were happy to get their share.

After some time however some doubts started to grow in peoples’ minds, too. The organization grew and grew and they started buying more and more land in the surrounding of the temple, building their own guesthouse, restaurant, living areas and a school. Soon a lot of property was in their hands and in the hands of people connected with them and many local people started changing their mind towards doubts and fear. Will they keep on buying land in Vrindavan until they own the whole town?

Shortly ago, they saw themselves justified in their worry because of this organization. The city of Vrindavan has lately made a lot of changes on the roads of Vrindavan, to install a sewage system and to make the streets broader. In order to do this, they tore a lot of buildings which were standing too much into the road. A lot of houses had to tear down their front wall and rebuild it further back because they had illegally extended their buildings onto government land. Many walls were broken and even some whole shops just destroyed. They had to move. ISKCON however, whose gates and outer walls were also quite a way into the new, broad street, remained unmolested and as they were.

This is why locals had been protesting in the last weeks, writing letters of protest to the city government and even going on hunger-strike in Mahatma Gandhi style, demanding that their outer wall has to be shifted, too. They accused officials of having taken bribes for not destroying their building while they were removing so many poor peoples’ houses and shops. And really, one man did not eat until he got the official confirmation last week that the fences of the ISKCON property would have to move to the back, too.

This is not the only reason for locals to complain about the big organization and I will dedicate tomorrow’s diary entry to explaining more of them.

Today the food of the children of our school was sponsored by the friends and family of our dear friend Sonja Kling. She celebrated her birthday on the last weekend and asked her guests to donate instead of giving presents. Thank you for this initiative to help our children selflessly!

Click here to see pictures of today's food