Talk:Iṣṭa-devatā

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Idols and Icons[edit]

LordsuryaofShropshire, I think the link to idolaty should be present because the subject is related whether we like it or not. And believe me, I don't like the ignorance and prejudice of Muslims and Christians about Hinduism. Andries 20:18, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Icon means image. Idolatry is worship of a specific image. Irrelevant here, but why struggle with Andries? Wetman 20:21, 11 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Cults and "gurus"[edit]

Raj removed the sentence that I had inserted that a living guru could be an Ishta-Deva but Sathya Sai Baba was my Istha deva and still is for many of his followers. Andries 18:09, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Raj, you may not like it that current followers of SSB, India's most popular godman, see him as their ishta-deva but it is a notable, documented fact. Andries 19:56, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I hate what these gurus do and they act as if they define Hinduism. Hinduism is already a complex religion and there is a lot of ignorance from outsiders. These so-called gurus make the job even harder. If you want to understand what Hinduism really is, please read the links I have placed in Smartism and Common themes in Hinduism after the Hinduism article. Raj2004 12:02, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Living guru as Ishta-Deva[edit]

In a few cults, and new religious movements, especially some Contemporary Hindu movements, a living guru may be the Ishta-Deva of his followers, for example in the case of Sathya Sai Baba. He does not define what Hinduism is.


Such worship is improper and not in accordance with Hinduism as the guru is replacing himself for God.

However, if followers worship the guru like God, it is only proper if they are using him as a conduit to attain God or in a similar manner as Christians pray to a saint to intercede for them to help attain's God's grace.

Swami Sivananda has said that a guru can be likened to God if he himself has attained realization and is a link between the individual and the Absolute. Such a case is limited in contemporary times as very few have actually attained union with God, inspire devotion in others, and whose presence purifies all. Such examples of genuine God-realized gurus include Raghavendra Swami and Ramakrishna.

Even those God-realized gurus never claimed that they were God but are using the Lord's power to show His greatness. As early in the seventeenth century, the great saint, Raghavendra Swami, in his last speech before departing from the mortal world, warned about the dangers of fraudulent gurus by saying, "The search for knowledge is never easy. As the Upanishads say it is like walking on the razor's edge. But for those who have strong faith and put in sustained effort and have the blessings of Shi Hari and guru this is not difficult. Always keep away from people who merely perform miracles without following the shastras and yet call themselves God or guru. I have performed miracles, and so have great persons like Shrimadacharya. These are based on yoga siddhi and the shastras. There is no fraud or trickery at all. These miracles were performed only to show the greatness of God and the wonderful powers that one can attain with His grace. Right knowledge (jnana) is greater than any miracle. Without this no real miracle can take place. Any miracle performed without this right knowledge is only witchcraft. No good will come to those who perform such miracles and also those who believe in them."

This is good information, somewhere, but probably not on this article. It is also opinionated. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 23:24, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

For a living guru to consider himself or herself to be an Ista deva, that cheapens the definition what God is. I don't think the Sathya sai baba discussion is appropriate for the Ista deva article (it is more appropriate in the sathya sai baba article in criticism). Putting it here makes people confused about what Hinduism is.

Raj, It is a notable fact so it so it should be mentioned here possibly with a short remark that this is not mainstream Hinduism or even condemned by mainstream Hinduism. Andries 11:57, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I still think you should put that discussion into Sathya sai baba discussion. we should leave this discussion in the talk section; Sam Spade moved our comments in the talk section as both our views are strongly opinonated and not feature a neutral point of view. Raj2004 14:23, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Raj, only your reaction to my neutral statement was opinionated. Andries 17:24, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Andries, I still think putting in discussion of sathya sai baba as a ishta deva is also a point of view, and is not in mainstream Hinduism. For example, I think Jesus's alleged stay in India, should not be put in an article that discusses mainstream Christianity. Raj2004 18:25, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Then you should then write, "Although not accepted in mainstream Hinduism and in many cases, condemned or criticized by traditional adherents, many contemporary Hindu movements, some of which are cults, regard a teacher of their organization, for example, Sathya Sai Baba as their Ishta deva." That would be a neutral point of view. Raj2004 21:47, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I would support a somewhat stronger wording, and am uncertain Sathya Sai Baba merits specific mention (altho a link to cult might be appropriate). Some guy whose primary "miracle" involves producing costume jewlery, and "testing" his followers faith by "allowing" them to see his clumsily failed attempts to palm it properly (that is when he's not too busy molesting their children...) doesn't strike me as a particularly worthy mention here. Theres a whole list of folks who have claimed to be God thruout history, and this guys temporary popularity is of precious little import in the larger scheme of things. Encyclopedia articles are ment to be timeless, not excessively focused on the trends of the day. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 21:40, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

In all fairness to Sathya Sai Baba, he is only an accused pedophile and has never been tried before a court of law. Nevertheless, I agree that the discussion about cults using guru as ishta deva really shouldn't be in this article. Raj2004 21:51, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

As Swami Tapasyananda of Ramakrishna Mission said, "The avatar doctrine has been excessivly abused by many Hindus today and we have the strange phenomenon of every disciple of a sectarian Guru claiming him to be an avatar. Christianity has therefore limited the Divine Incarnation as an one-time phenomenon. The theory has strong points and equally strong defects but it surmounts the gross abuse of the doctrine indulged in by many Hindus." Raj2004 12:01, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree Sathya Sai Baba has not been proven guilty by law, but I am not editing Sathya Sai Baba, merely this talk page, and based on the evidence I have seen I personally assume his guilt. That is not to say that he doesn't do good deeds (building hospitals, etc...) as well, but he is an extraordinarilly poor candidate for suggestions of Godlike morality. In any case, I think this article should mention cults, but not name names. I'll try to do just that. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 13:56, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

That's fine, Sam, feel free to use this language: "Although not accepted in mainstream Hinduism and in many cases, condemned or criticized by traditional adherents, many contemporary Hindu movements, some of which are cults, regard a teacher of their organization, as their Ishta deva." Raj2004 14:20, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I already wrote something up prior to your advice. The wording may not be exactly the same, but I used some quotes you provided, and think the spirit is similar to what you had in mind. Please make any changes you feel are needed, of course. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 15:10, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hare Krishna's and Hinduism[edit]

I have never thought of Hare Krishna/ISKCON as Hindu, and I think many agree. It is something perhaps like how Mormonism is an offshoot Christianity. It is often disputed if mormonism is Christian, and likewise it is often disputed that Hare Krishna's are Hindu.

I placed them under new religious movements so as to separate them in this way. Many view Hare Krishna/ISKCON as a cult, even a clasic definition of one. No one views orthadox Hinduism this way, even orthadox hindu movements which prosletze, such as Arya Samaj, are not viewed as "cults".

Whatever our individual opinions, we must be careful not to take a stand in the narrative of the article. We can cite the opinions of experts, but where they differ we must remain neutral. Cheers, Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 19:42, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

ISKCOn is not a new religion. It is an old religion. It may be new in the West but it is not new in India. This is the international Wikipedia (incl. Indian) in English language so it is not a new religion. User:Andries (sig added by Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 20:19, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC))
We disagree as to its age, and other qualities as well, I assume. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 20:19, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I would agree with Sam. Although in most practices, ISKCOn resembles Gaudiya Vaishnvaism. In others it may not. At one point their founder even denied that their sect was part of Hinduism. see reference, http://www.hinduismtoday.org/archives/1998/10/1998-10-14.shtml Only their sect claims Chaitayna is an avatar.

At one point, the followers of Madhva had a bitter dispute with ISKCON; see http://www.dvaita.org/shaastra/iskcon.shtml and related subpages. Raj2004 21:22, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

These, and other issues make it clear that the wikipedia should take a neutral stance regarding Krishna Consciousness. Certainly there are those who regard them as Hindu, no one denies this. Hindutva sometimes recognizes all religions native to India as Hindu (sikh, Buddhist, Jain, etc...). But that does not mean there is not a concensus as to ISKCON's status. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 22:44, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I do not consider the webpages that Sam, and Raj provided as conclusive evidence that ISKCON is a new religion. The webpages described Praphupada's typical sectarian rethoric that only they are pure and authentic and that other forms of sanatana Dharma are misguided and corrupted. Just as the Jehovah witnesses consider all other forms of Christianity corrupted. Andries 15:23, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Of course, but most people think of Jehovah witnesses as a classic definition of a cult as well. Nobody is trying to provide you with conclusive evidence Andries, you are free to your opinions about ISKCON. Our goal is not to "prove" ISKCON is a cult here. Rather we are asking you to accept that it is a new religion (consider the age of Hinduism, the worlds oldest religion, compared to ISKCON!) with signifigant differences with Hinduism, and is often viewed as a cult. Check out a book on cults from the library, and I am quite certain ISKCON will be mentioned. What is important is that we remain neutral, and present information to the reader fairly. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 15:38, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I am not sure if ISKCON necessarily has significant differences with Hinduism but recognizing Radha as equivalent to Laksmi Devi, Mother of the World is unique to ISKCON. And recognizing Chaitayana as an avatar of Krishna is also unusual. Raj2004 00:48, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

There are also major problems with legal scandals [1], and isolating members from family and friends [2]. Sam_Spade (talk · contribs) 02:07, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you, Sam; here's the ISKCON view of themselves, [3]. I have wrote words showing various viewpoints. Raj2004 21:35, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This article is in serious need of a clean-up. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (in their aims) are a 'non-sectarian movement' based on the scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita which are classified as Hindu texts. Thus philosophically Iskcon shares many similarities with Hindu traditions (as well as with other world religions). From a theological perspective it's quite correct to call Iskcon a sect of Hinduism, but for followers this would not be the case. To quote the movements founder:
  • "Yes, you can call it Hinduism, but actually it does not belong to any "ism." It is a science of understanding God. But it appears like Hindu religion." No Culture--Just Money, May 19, 1975
Hoping to be of assistance, ys,Gouranga(UK) 11:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)


Ishta-deva in Vaishnavism[edit]

Hello Raj, I reverted your edits because the concept of an Ishta-deva is also important within other Hindu traditions, not just within Advaita schools. For example, within Vaishnavism it is true that Vishnu is witheld as the Supreme Person, however, one Vaishnava may worship Narayana as their Ishta-deva, another will worship Rama, and another might have Narasimha, and yet another might have Krishna as their chosen deities. There are innumerable different Vishnu forms also, with each Vishnu being known by a different name - the practice is that devotees will naturally offer worship to the form of Vishnu which they feel the most attachment for - this being their Ishta-deva. Gouranga(UK) 20:59, 11 March 2007 (UTC)


Yes, Gouranga I now agree. Tulsidas considered Rama to be his Ishta-deva. I recall reading an incident in the Mahabharata, when Krishna assumed the form of Rama and asked Rukmini to dress like Sita in order to please Hanuman who visited them, whose Ishta deva, was of course Rama.

Thanks for the clarification.

Raj2004 22:38, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree, the concept of an ishta-devata can exist in all sects. As another example, most Shakti worshippers don't directly worship Her as Shakti but through a Ishta Devi, such as Lakshmi, Parvati, Durga or Kali. GizzaChat © 08:38, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:Daśāvatāra which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RM bot 16:46, 6 February 2010 (UTC)