Introduction to Vaishnava Philosophy

(This was written as an Introduction to a book
on the World Vaishnava Association)

by Acharya Das Adhikari, Secretary of the WVA

The introduction to this book is for the purpose of informing the unfamiliar, especially members of the media and various government institutions throughout the world. It is about some of the core philosophical principals and history of Vaishnavism, followed by a brief history of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

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You are your body, right? You are chemical in essence ... right? At least, that’s what one of America’s most influential scientists claims:
I am a collection of water, calcium and organic molecules called Carl Sagan. You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label.*
Like Sagan, most people believe that they are their body. So if you ask them who they are, they think and respond in terms of bodily labels.
“I’m Susan. I’m blond, 29 years old, a mother, and still 36-24-36!”
“I’m Henry. I’m a white American male and proud of it!”
“I’m John. I’m a lawyer. I’m 40 years old and getting older every day.”
“I’m Alice. I’m a female student. I’m fat and I’m a Methodist.”
Name, race, age, sex, religion, nationality, occupation, height, weight, and so on — all these are bodily labels. Therefore if you consider your body to be yourself, you automatically identify yourself with such labels. If your body is fat and ugly, you think, “Woe is me! I am fat and ugly.” If your body is 60 years old and female, you think, ”I am a 60-year-old female.” If your body is black and beautiful, you think, “I am black and beautiful.”
But is the body really the self? Are you really your body?

Science of Identity Foundation - Siddhaswarupananda
*Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random House, 1980), p. 127.

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