Kichari - The All Purpose - Totally Delicious - "Poor Man's Feast Fit For The King"

How to make kichari according to ekendra das (reposted for reference):

read these directions all the way through before atempting. you can use the 'printer friendly version' link at the bottom.

1.) get a big pot and fill it half way with water. put it on the stove and turn up the heat high
2.) open the fridge and see what veggies are about to go off.
3.) take them out of the fridge and put them on the counter.
4.) wash them off and chop them up.
5.) find some DAHL - nearly any kind will do but be aware of cooking times. toor takes forever. urid is a bit strange (IMHO) i think the best is whole mung dahl but split mung is good too.
5.) if you got split mung dahl or channa dahl put a few handfuls into a new dry pot with a thick bottom and turn the heat to medium while stirring. this way you can 'toast' the dahl a bit before washing and cooking. this makes it taste really good
6.) other dahl you can skip the last step
7.) wash off the dahl and remove any bits that look like rocks as you'll ruin your teeth if you crunch on them. they don't cook down.
8.) now chuck your dahl into your pot of hopefully boiling water. give it a good stir at first so it doesn't stick to the bottom. when it gets boiling again you can focus on the veggie chopping and let it do its thing. still check it occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
9.) chop up your veggies. potatoes are pretty stodgy in kichari but some people like them a lot. pumpkins bits are good but if they are too sweet i think it makes it taste wierd. most people like cauliflower (i dont) and pretty much whatever you find in the fridge can go in. the good thing about making kichari regularly is that you don't waste any veg. we buy organic a lot of times which means a lot of wasted cash which i can't live with so we love kichari :)
10.) don't put your veggies straight in. you gotta time this out according to what kinda veggie it is and what the cooking times are. if you put potatoes in that are cut in big pieces you'd obviously need a longer cooking time so put them in earlier. capsicums and spinach cooks quick so save it till the last minute. tomatoes are somewhere in between.
11.) speaking of tomatoes. if you have them around then chop them up too and keep aside. we will use this for the spicing. i take the skin off by blanching or quick boiling them in a seperate pot.
12.) now we will do the spicing. (says the great chef Laughing ) you need a bit of mustard seeds, lots of cumin, chopped ginger, chilies, asefetida (hing), and tumeric
13.) put a bit of ghee in a smaller pot on the stove on low heat.
14.) throw in the mustard seeds and put a lid on so they don't pop all over your stove.
15.) once the mustard seeds have slowed popping then move the pot to the side and off the direct flame.
16.) throw the ginger in which cools down the ghee a bit.
17.) stir it around and put the pot back on the heat when it seems to stop 'frying' the ginger.
18.) add the cumin. i use heaps
19.) let the cumin warm up a while . (some folks like to roast the cumin seeds seperately on high heat and then grind in a pistal and mortar which is an amazing taste but when powdered you save it until last with the tumeric.)
20.) add the chilies
21.) then add the asefitida powder while stirring
22.) then the tumeric and keep stirring so it doesn't burn. the whole spicing episode should only take a few minutes.
23.) immediately after stirring the turmeric a second then put all the chopped tomatoes in. if you don't have the tomatoes then skip the next step.
24.) stir the spice mixture in with the tomatoes and turn the heat right up to high. keep a close eye on this pot so it doesn't go black on the bottom. a little black around the edges and rim of the pot is ok but never on the bottom. after the tomatoes are cooked down (5 minutes or so) ....
25.) turn the heat off on the spice pot and let it wait until we need it (nearly the last thing we add to the big pot)
26.) hows the dahl going? is it broken up into a soupy broth? the whole mung takes forever to break up like this so as long as its soft i'd go ahead. other dahls are more cooperative but whole mung is supposed to be the healthiest i've heard.
27.) once the dahl is broken up then add as much rice as you'd like. you should at least add enough to absorb the rest of the water in the pot but add more water if you need to keeping in mind that rice expands and could overflow the pot if you put too much in. about equal portions of dahl and rice is normal but nothing is written in stone. i like basmati rice or jasmine but there are less expensive ones if you are on a tight budget. short grained rice is NOT the best for kichari.
28.) Surprised Now you gotta pay attention or the whole thing will be ruined. Surprised once the rice is in then its all hands on deck. you can't space out at all or the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot and put an unusual burnt taste in your beautiful kichari. keep it almost constantly stirring on low/med heat.
29.) you can add your spices at any time now and whatever lighter veggies are left over (spinach and anything else that cooks quickly)
30.) stir in the spices and just make sure it doesn't start to get sticky on the bottom of the pot. if you feel it sticking then try to scrape it with your stirring utensil until the bottom is smooth again. if its gone past that point then quickly pour it into a new pot as you will not salvage the kichari if you continue to cook it once it sticks tough to the bottom. if you don't have another pot then put it into anything .. and ice cream tub whatever and then wash the pot thoroughly and try again.
31.) once the rice is a bit mushy and overcooked, turn off the heat, add a bit of salt and either keep stirring for a minute until there is no danger of sticking or tranfer to another container.
32.) put a bit of yoghurt in a bowl along side the kichari and offer the whole preparation to Gopala and His Brother. If you need to you can print out this picture and either laminate it or put it in a nice frame. Laptop wallpaper will do in a pinch.
33.) when They are done then ENNNNNNJOY !!!!

I've purposefully been vague here about the measurements and proportions as kichari need not follow an exact recipie to be good. if you don't have much experience cooking say even rice or something then mabye have a friend who cooks help you at first. at least do a Google image search to see how its supposed to look when done. you'll get the hang of it after a few tries and will naturally develop your own preferences how to cook it. its a very convenient and satisfying preparation that can be eaten all year round with whatever produce is in season. you can even make it without veggies.

what i do when i know my wife will be away for a while or is sick or something and i have to do the cooking.... i cook a big pot of kichari and put most of it into containers in the freezer . it keeps frozen for weeks. when i don't have time to cook or can't be bothered i just pull out an ice cream tub of kichari and heat it up in a pot. (not a microwave!!!! Tongue out yuck!) of course its best fresh cooked but when you don't want to cook its sure beats junk food.

ahhh kichari .... ' a poor man's feast fit for a king'

 

Sri Sri Gopala-Douji's Darsan

?c?ryas – Why do they exist?

Ācārya is commonly understood as ‘one who teaches by example’. His basic duty is to spread a bona fide religious system and induce people to bow down to the Supreme Lord. They personally follow the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus model real religious principles (see Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.48 purport). By Krishna’s arrangement the acaryas lead, by example and precept, those enveloped in the darkness of ignorance. Krishna is kind to his parts and parcels so He sends us leaders to help show us the way home.

Sometimes we take advice from folks who aren't aware of their life's purpose. For instance, if I need to fix my car I'd much rather go to someone who is expert than try myself. Whether or not he can existentially place himself in perspective has little bearing on his ability to advise me on such a matter.

When we seek advice for how to deal with other individuals, however, we need to use more discrimination. Dealing with people, what to speak of leading or organizing them, requires far more spiritual sensitivity. This sensitivity develops proportionately to our own spiritual awareness. The more Krishna conscious we are, the more aware we become of the dormant spiritual yearnings in those whom we come in contact with.

If, on the other hand, a person’s consciousness is covered by impersonalism (read: not chanting Hare Krishna) then, whether they can detect it themselves or not, their social outlook will be fatalistic and mechanistic. When such a person posits theories on social development, leadership, or self-improvement then these views are unavoidably tainted by impermanence and atheism.

The question then arises whether or not such theories on leadership and social organization are of much value to devotees when we have an abundance of not only effective but spiritually empowered leadership examples within our own tradition. In a sense, its an insult of negligence to think that we need to rely upon the advice of the blind when we have been given the opportunity to associate by vani with the personalities specifically sent to teach, inspire and lead us. Some of us even take initiation into such a line of authority and thus voluntarily become responsible for keeping this authority intact by our own example and precept.

So is it seditious to read a modern book on leadership? Personally, I don’t think so. There may be something useful there according to time, place and circumstance. I do think, however, that we have to keep such association in perspective considering the authors’ qualification.

Here’s a rule of thumb that may serve as a guide when taking such association, “Does this person know who they are? Even theoretically?”

Granted, a participant in a sub-theistic tradition (upadharma) may have a dim notion that they are servants of God but can they demonstrate and articulate this identity like the acaryas in our Gaudiya line?

Here’s a timely illustration:

“ANYONE hoping the Dalai Lama would divulge the meaning of life at his public talk in Sydney yesterday would have been disappointed.

"The precise answer is, I don't know," the smiling Buddhist monk said when the question was put to him by a reporter.”

Here is an honest man and I respect him as such. I think he even recently took up vegetarianism again. (or maybe not)

So, if we are inflicted with a hunger for leadership then we should take this desire to the Deity and ask Him to use this desire in His service. At that point we should be sensitive to advice from devotees as often this is the medium by which Krishna reciprocates with our direct requests and directs us accordingly.

 

When Does Food Become Prasadam?

This article was sourced from His Holiness Sivarama Swami's website.

The phenomenon of something changing from material to spiritual is an extraordinary one, but it is something we as devotees are involved in daily—often several times a day. It happens when prasadam (unoffered food) becoming prasadam, or food sanctified by the Lord.

When I was a new devotee in Montreal, we arranged a program that was to be given on campus at McGill University. The leaflet advertising the program read, “See matter transformed into spirit before your very eyes.” That title certainly drew interest from a lot of people.

During the program, the temple president was giving the presentation, and he was leading up to this point. Finally he said, “OK, now it’s going to happen. You are going to see spirit manifest before your very eyes.”

The students were sitting on the edge of their seats. The plate of unoffered food, which was the feast for that day, was brought in and placed in front of a picture of Panca-tattva (Lord Chaitanya and His four main associates). A devotee then bowed down, rang the bell, and uttered some mantras.

Finally he stood and declared, “Here it is! We brought in ordinary food, and now it’s transformed into spiritual substance.”

And before anyone could challenge, he said, “The proof will be that you eat it now and see the effect that it has.”

As Krishna says, pratyakshavagamam dharmyam: “The principle of religion is understood by direct experience.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.2), or in this case, the proof is certainly in the tasting. Those who have tasted Krishna’s prasadam know that it has extraordinary potency, and eating it is a very different experience from eating food that isn’t offered to the Lord with love and devotion.

So when does prasadam become prasadam? When it is offered, certainly. But for an offering to be successful, it must be accepted. When Krishna accepts what we offer to Him, it becomes prasadam. The word prasadam means “mercy,” and in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, prasade sarva-duhkhanam hanir asyopajayate: “Receiving the mercy of the Lord destroys all misery.” Therefore, when we eat (or, as we say, honor) prasadam, we feel elated. prasadam destroys the results of our past sinful activities. Rupa Goswami says it makes us feel “very auspicious.”

And what is it that is really being accepted? Is it the foods itself? Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (9.26),

patram pushpam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahritam
ashnami prayatatmanah

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” He says, “I accept the bhakti.” You may offer a leaf, a flower, fruit, milk, or ghee-cooked preparations, but the devotion is what carries those preparations to Krishna, and that’s what makes Him inclined to accept it. Sri Ishopanishad (Mantra 5) tells us, tad dure tad v antike: although Krishna is very far away, He is also very close. So wherever we are when we offer something to Krishna, devotion brings Him right to us.

We should recognize, however, that not all offerings are on the same level; they depend on the nature of the devotee. Although there are many ways to categorize devotees, in this case we may consider three types: motivated, pure, and love-saturated devotees. Consequently, their offerings will fall into one of these three categories.

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The Motivated Offering

A motivated offering is when something is offered to Krishna with the idea that some material benefit will come in return, such as liberation from material suffering: “If I give this to Krishna, I’ll be prosperous, I’ll be healthy, my children will find suitable spouses,” and so on. Or someone might desire to be free from suffering, or to recover from an illness—this is offering with motivation. But even that motivated offering can be done in two ways. If it is done through the guru-parampara, the succession of gurus, then Krishna will accept it, because pure devotees are very merciful, and to elevate motivated devotees they beseech Krishna to accept their meager offerings. In other words, it is the purity of the devotees in the guru-parampara that transforms the impure offering into a pure offering. If a motivated person just makes an offering whimsically, however, not through a guru-parampara, then the offering doesn’t become prasadam but remains prasadam. Yet still such offerings have value in the sense that the person is thinking, “At least I am offering this to Krishna.”

Of course, whatever way people think of Krishna is beneficial. Akama, sarva-kama, moksha-kama: without material desires, full of material desires, or desiring liberation. In each case they become gradually purified. But unless Krishna exercises some extraordinary mercy, He doesn’t accept food offered with ulterior motives. Yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi: “Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.” (Gurvashtaka 8th verse) Krishna won’t accept something unless it comes through the guru-parampara.

An interesting question often arises regarding congregation members or new devotees who are not initiated but who are making offerings: Are the offerings prasadam or prasadam? In this case we should consider the potency of the disciplic succession. The disciplic succession is not restricted to initiated devotees. If someone receives an instruction from an authorized Vaishnava to offer food, then Krishna will accept their offering. Krishna won’t reject their sincere approach, because such persons are, in effect, accepting the guru-parampara even though they have not yet gone through the process of diksha.

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The Pure Offering

The second type of offering is the pure offering, when a devotee offers something to Krishna to please Him. A devotee has no selfish motives; he only wants please the Lord. Therefore at home he offers food to a picture, to a deity, to a shalagrama-shila. And in the temple, pure-hearted pujaris try to please Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Krishna. But even in this category there are two types of offerings: regulated and spontaneous. Regulated offerings are done out of duty, following all the rules and regulations. The other also involves the devotee doing everything just right, but out of a spontaneous attachment to the Lord. Such a devotee has a certain degree of affection, and the dominant thought is not one of obligation—”I will do this because I’ve been instructed to by guru and shastra.” Yet by doing things according to guru and shastra, devotees awaken their natural attraction to Krishna and perform spontaneous acts of devotion out of affection. This affection is a little different from mature love, spiritual love, but it is genuine. Still, both these pure offerings have to be made through the guru-parampara.

The prasadam is also different in this category. When you offer something to Krishna out of duty, He accepts it out of duty. He feels duty-bound. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.24) Krishna says, “If I didn’t follow the rules and regulations, then other people would be misled.” Krishna is acting out of duty. But Krishna considers that of all the devotees who are surrendered to Him, the one who is offering things to Him with affection is most dear to Him. Consequently, Krishna reciprocates in kind: He responds with loving affection toward that devotee.

Naturally the question arises, Are there different kinds of prasadam? And the answer, then, is yes. Krishna says, ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamyaham: “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.” (Bg. 4.11) According to the quality and quantity of devotion with which one makes an offering to Krishna, that offering proportionately becomes prasadam. It is interesting to note that a devotee’s ability to taste prasadam will also be in proportion to his or her ability to offer prasadam. In other words, devotees will taste the spiritual nature of prasadam in the same degree they are manifesting devotion in the offering.

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The Offering in Pure Love

The third kind of offering is that which is done with pure love. When devotees come to the stage of loving devotion, Krishna directly accepts offerings from their hands, and He reciprocates with them in kind. Loving devotion is that which is exhibited by Krishna’s eternal associates in the spiritual world, where He is directly engaged in tasting all the types of love His devotees offer.

So what is it that’s different, and how is it that prasadam becomes spiritual? The food looks the same before and after the offering, but what actually happens is that Krishna reciprocates with the devotion of the devotee by manifesting His svarupa-shakti, or His daivi-prakriti, His internal spiritual potency, to the degree that the devotee allows. By “allows” I mean to the degree the devotee wants, or to the degree that he manifests a quality and quantity of devotional service. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in Jagannatha Puri and tasted Jagannatha prasadam, He became overwhelmed by the ecstatic taste of the prasadam. He glorified the prasadam and could directly taste the saliva of Krishna’s lotus lips mixed in with the food. He went on to glorify the effect of the touch of Krishna’s lips.

This is what happens when someone in loving devotion tastes food that has been offered to the Lord. And in this case, no doubt, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s ability to taste the potency of the prasadam exceeds that of the brahmanas who offered it to Lord Jagannatha. But, still, that prasadam is Krishna’s internal potency. It is non-different from Krishna, and it is dynamic. A loving devotee may taste more of the spiritual potency present in prasadam than was originally manifest to the pujari who offered it.

We may also consider the examples of Prahlada Maharaja and Mirabai: Both were given poison to drink, but because of their great loving devotion, the poison was transformed into nectar and had no effect. Why is that? Because both poison and nutritious food are part of the relativity of this material world. But when we offer something with love to Krishna, then Krishna’s sac-cid-ananda potency manifests in that food. In this way, poison becomes as much prasadam as a pakora does.

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Offering Our Lives

We shouldn’t think, however, that an “offering” is simply the prasadam or food we offer to Krishna. Devotees make their entire life an offering:

yat karoshi yad ashnasi
yaj juhoshi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurushva mad-arpanam

Krishna is saying, “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.” (Bg. 9.27) Ultimately every breath a devotee takes is an offering: when devotees sleep because they need to maintain their bodies for Krishna’s service, then that sleep becomes an offering to the Lord; their eating to maintain their bodies so they can remain healthy to serve Krishna is an offering to the Lord; when they receive anything—food, soap, money—all of these things are offered to Krishna. In New Vraja Dhama (the devotee farm community in Hungary) anything the devotees acquire or receive, they first offer to Radha-Syamasundara, the presiding deities, on a tray that sits before the altar. In this way the practice of offering everything to Krishna becomes natural.

We should learn how to offer everything. We rise early in the morning, and the first thing we do is offer prayers to the Lord. We chant Hare Krishna not as entertainment but as an offering to glorify Krishna. And when someone lives like that, then in one sense the act of making the offering becomes unnecessary (although devotees do it to set the example) because such devotees are always absorbed in doing everything for Krishna. Therefore, yo me bhaktya prayacchati—the bhakti is already there, and Krishna is very eager to receive it. In fact, Krishna follows behind devotees to accept their loving devotion every moment of the day, in every movement of their bodies, and in every thought they manifest in relation to their devotional service to Him.

Ultimately this is what we aspire for, and this is what loving devotees do: they live for Krishna, and thus everything they do becomes Krishna conscious—it becomes prasadam. The cowherd boys simply sit down with Krishna and eat from their lunch packs—they don’t make any offering to Krishna. When they offer something to Krishna, they take from their lunch packs and put it right in Krishna’s mouth. Or they may even bite off half a sweetball and then say, “Oh, Krishna, just see how wonderful this sweetball tastes!” and put the rest in Krishna’s mouth. Yo me bhaktya prayacchati: it’s just their love. The formality and technicality of offering is no longer relevant, because what Krishna really wants is the love and devotion. That’s all that actually interests Him. And whether Mother Yashoda offers her breast milk, the gopis offer their bodies, the cows offer their milk, the cowherd boys wrestle and jump on Krishna’s shoulders—everything becomes prasadam because everything is an offering of love.

Our business in Krishna consciousness, therefore, is to live in this world of prasadam and thereby become prasadam ourselves. This is what Krishna concludes in the Bhagavad-gita (4.24) when He says, brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmagnau brahmana hutam …: “A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities.” If we’re thinking about offering everything to Krishna, if our physical acts are an offering to Krishna, if our words are an offering to Krishna, then ultimately we become an offering to Krishna. Then we become prasadam. And Krishna is always very eager to taste the wonderful mellows of our loving offerings to Him.

 

Beautify Your Heart

"I am so glad to hear how nicely you are attending the Deity. Please continue this activity along with your other godsisters. The more you beautify the Deities, the more your heart will be beautiful and you will understand Krishna Consciousness very distinctly."

- Letter to Citralekha - 15 June, 1971

Krishna On Leadership

yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

 

TRANSLATION

Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.

PURPORT

People in general always require a leader who can teach the public by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher should behave properly before he begins teaching. One who teaches in that way is called ācārya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher must follow the principles of śāstra (scripture) to teach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-saṁhitā and similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society. Thus the leader's teaching should be based on the principles of such standard śāstras. One who desires to improve himself must follow the standard rules as they are practiced by the great teachers. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also affirms that one should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and that is the way of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the executive head of a state, the father and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependents; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.

 

Education is fortune.

"Ignorance means misfortune. The unfortunate persons are those who are ignorant, uneducated. Therefore you have to take education to become fortunate. And that education is being imparted by Krishna, but you don't take it. That is misfortune. If you take education from Krishna, you become fortunate. So why don't you take it?"

- Srila Prabhupada - Evening Darshan - 10/8/76

Want to check if you're a demon?

Prabhupada: These wars where the demons fight the demons they don't mean anything because just the demons win. But if you have a war where one side there are devotees and the other side demons then its Krishna Conscious. Then its Krishna Conscious. First you say "No. No. No. And finally .. a slap on the hand."

Ravindra-svarupa das: You envision a time when the Krishna Conscious devotees will command armies and run whole countries. How can we be sure, under those circumstances, that we won't become demons?

Prabhupada: Chant sixteen rounds a day and follow the four regulative principles.

Ravindra-svarupa das: That's enough?

Prabhupada: That's enough.

-----

This is sourced from a seminar entitled 'ISKCON - The enemy within' by His Grace Ravindra-svarupa Prabhu.

Many more lectures from Ravindra-svarupa Prabhu are here.

 

 

Want strength for preaching? Try verbatim.

"Regarding preaching work: If you simply reproduce verbatim the purports which I have given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and chant Hare Krishna with ecstasy, that will be sufficient for your preaching work, and as you do it seriously and sincerely, Krishna gives you more and more strength for this noble missionary work. "

- Letter to HariVilasa Prabhu - June 10, 1968

The Leadership Industry - Why Does It Exist?

Lately there has been a lot of talk amongst some devotees on the subject of leadership development. This is something that raises my concern and interest. Its a delicate and multi-faceted subject so I don't think I have the capacity to express my thoughts in a single posting. Over the next few weeks I intend to publish a series of missives to this effect. Hopefully they will stimulate my own critical thinking and, perhaps provide some food for others’ thoughts. I’ll leave commenting open, pending registration, on these entries and see how, or if, a productive discussion ensues.

Why read a book on leadership?

It seems like a fairly benign proposition. After all, from a book we might be able glean insight that could put us over decades of suffering through trial and error experimentation. There are many testimonials that support the value of such expositions and, indeed, there is an entire industry that revolves around self-improvement that presupposes its potency to make leaders out of those who would otherwise remain peasants. Should we then, as aspiring Vaisnavas, brandish the seemingly ever-expanding concept of yukta-vairagya and incorporate some of the training offered by these peddlers of contemporary power? After all, we live in the twenty-first century where the strictures of Manu Samhita are often difficult to map into our lives and interactions with others.

My introductory topic is: Why does the ‘leadership’ industry exist?

Here’s one way of answering this question: People are suffering and looking to take shelter of something to extricate themselves.

The idea of being a leader can be appealing to those who have come to the point of awareness wherein one determines that due to being exploited by those in leadership roles they are suffering. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.47 elucidates this idea:

ahastāni sahastānām
apadāni catuṣ-padām
phalgūni tatra mahatāṁ
jīvo jīvasya jīvanam

TRANSLATION

Those who are devoid of hands are prey for those who have hands; those devoid of legs are prey for the four-legged. The weak are the subsistence of the strong, and the general rule holds that one living being is food for another.

Devoid of an expressible identity of spiritual servitorship, the conditioned entity, human or otherwise, reacts to such a predicament by adopting defensive patterns of behaviour. Sometimes it is said that ‘a good offense is the best defence’. Thus being a leader, associating with aspiring leaders, reading books on leadership, paying lots of money to attend conferences on leadership, etc may appear to offer a competitive advantage in the capitalist society we live in. It sure beats spending a life being enslaved by the assertive doesn’t it?

The sad irony occurs when those sentient enough to see this happening cash in on the punters. In the capitalist purview, markets often need to be generated by impressing upon consumers that they are unfulfilled because they are missing a certain something in their lives. Billions of dollars are spent annually to find novel ways to influence people into accepting something like “The reason why girls don’t like you is because you smell, you don’t wear the right kind of clothes, drive the right kind of car, imbibe the right kind of media, and so on. Save up your paychecks, buy our stuff and then you’ll enjoy like these people in our advertisements.” Does this sort of gross manipulation work? You bet. In fact it has been determined that even when people are aware that they are being influenced this way the repeated messages still do the job. (reference available upon request)

In the same vein, the leadership industry trots onto the scene to fill the need of those wanting to voluntarily imbibe certain principles that purport to increase their level of individual effectiveness. Like some sort of rajasic new age mind, body, spirit fair, entrepreneurs complete to hawk their own brand of bullet pointed principles for how to get ahead in a vast number of spheres. Playing on the underlying assumption that there are two categories of people, leaders or followers, a consumer frenzy emerges to catch the latest trend in self-advancement.

So what kind of transformational messages do these guides offer? On what level does any transformation actually take place? Do they challenge the submissive reader’s identity as an exploiter of their environment and underline this conditioned perspective as the cause of their ineffectiveness and frustration? If there is an example of a book like this then I’d have a hard time accepting that it could be more effective than Srimad Bhagavatam.

Let’s examine the hypothetical situation supposing that the leadership industry really could deliver the goods. We’d then have an exponentially increasing number of leaders walking amongst us that would gradually transform the mass consciousness to the point where those who were previously leaders would recursively and cyclically be relegated as followers again. So long as the goal is anything other than service to God then it doesn’t matter how much we transform thinking patterns on the mental and intellectual levels – the result is still the same: punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām (SB 7.5.30)

Leaders of what?

Granted, there are some who look to leadership gurus because they are living for a cause that inspires them to introspectively assess their shortcomings and improve their game. Alright, but I don’t think there are enough of these people to inspire or fund such an industry. Rather, they mostly cater to people who want to extricate themselves from an exploitative paradigm but don’t exactly have a situation to contextualize their newly forged ‘leadership identity’. So they are then forced by self-imposed conditioning to compete for such a situation that will allow them to assert themselves accordingly.

Do genuine leaders need to read books on how to manipulate people into following them?

To give my presentation some structure we can let this serve as the topic of our next article. I hope something written here might help you to look at this subject from a different angle. Please feel free to comment at whatever length you like. I enjoy thorough presentations. You might want to jot down some of your thoughts while your registration is pending. I don’t allow open registration to avoid spambots.

 

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