Statement of Purposes
1. To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary.
The Hare Krsna Catalog
WITH THIS ISSUE, we begin a new service we've long had in mind—the Hare Krsna Catalog. The idea is to bring together all sorts of items you'll find useful for your spiritual life.
Why should you have to write to one place to order books, another for tapes, another for videos, still another to subscribe to BTG? Now you can do it all at one place, with one order—or, in America, one toll-free phone call.
Just as there are catalogs for material needs—the Sears Catalog and countless others—here's a catalog where everything is aimed at the deepest need of the soul, Krsna consciousness.
The Hare Krsna Catalog is a natural part of our editorial vision for Back to Godhead. We'd like BTG to work not merely as a magazine but as a resource center, providing you with services, advice, information, opportunities—all for Krsna consciousness.
Working with us to bring you the Hare Krsna Catalog is the staff of the Bhaktivedanta Archives, in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina. The Archives is the branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust that makes Srila Prabhupada memorabilia and his teachings available through photography, tape cassettes, compact discs, computer info-bases, and other media. The Archives has become known for prompt, reliable service. And now, when you place an order through the Hare Krsna Catalog, it's the staff of the Archives who will speed to you what you ask for.
The Archives people have also taken over the handling of our BTG subscriber service—new orders, renewals, back issues, changes of address. The work was being done by a commercial firm in California, who did a reasonably professional job. But we wanted better, and the feedback we got from our readers is that they'd rather be cared for by devotees. Now, in the few months since the devotees at the Archives have taken over, they've already much improved our service. (Among other things, unlike the people in California, they know how to spell Indian names, and they're used to working with devotees who go by two names—a legal one and a spiritual one.)
By the way, in case you'd like to know where Sandy Ridge is, it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. More precisely, it's out in the woods and farmlands of North Carolina, about forty miles northwest of Greensboro. It's the site for one of several growing communities of Hare Krsna devotees, mostly family people, who've moved out of manmade cities to live a simpler way of life in the Krsna-made country.
In Sandy Ridge, some devotees have gone back to the very basics, farming with oxen, not tractors, growing food for themselves and their devotee neighbors. And others are working high-tech, like the devotees at the Archives and the Hare Krsna Catalog. As Srila Prabhupada used to say, Krsna consciousness isn't one-sided; it's all-sided.
We hope you'll find the Hare Krsna Catalog useful and pleasing. And if you have any suggestions on how we can make it still better, please let us know. It's there to serve you.
Is the Guru the Same as God?
May I request answers to the following queries:
1. Some devotees accept the living guru as God Himself, to the extent that Lord Krsna Himself becomes of lesser importance. They call this "prakat-guru-hari"; i.e., Krsna has manifested in the living guru, and hence there is not much devotion required to be directed to Krsna bhakti. How could a living entity, in whatsoever capacity, equate with Lord Krsna?
2. Is it appropriate to worship an avatara of Krsna, to the extent of reducing Krsna's own worship?
3. How do I verify that a certain avatara is actually a Visnu-tattva [form of the Supreme Lord]? E.g., Bhagavan (Acharya) Rajneesh, Bhagavan Swaminarayan, Sri Sahajananda Swami.
I shall be highly grateful if these queries are solved on the basis of sastra [scripture] with adequate evidence.
Dr. P. V. Patel
OUR REPLY: According to the Vaisnava teachers and all Vedic scriptures, the guru (spiritual master) is respected as the direct representative of Lord Krsna (saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih). This is because the spiritual master is a very dear servant of Lord Krsna (kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya).
The spiritual master is not God, but he is very dear to God. So one should equally honor both.
As stated in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.23), yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau/ tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah: "Only unto those great souls who have full devotion to both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed."
The avataras (incarnations) of Lord Krsna are all Krsna Himself, appearing in different forms. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.20.25), anugrahaya bhaktanam anurupatmadarsanam: "He manifests His innumerable transcendental forms for the satisfaction of His devotees." So one may worship the Lord in any of His Visnu forms.
Sri Hanumanji, for example, prefers to worship Lord Krsna in the form of Sri Ramacandra, and Sri Laksmi prefers to worship Krsna in His form as Narayana. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.9.11), Lord Krsna reciprocates with the devotee in whatever Visnu form the devotee prefers.
The members of the Hare Krsna movement, however, prefer to worship the Lord in His original form as Krsna, Syamasundara, because this form is the fountainhead of all incarnations (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam), the reservoir of all transcendental qualities.
One should note, however, that worship of demigods like Brahma and Siva can never equal worship of Lord Krsna or Narayana. As stated in the Padma Purana:
yas tu narayanam devam
"A person who considers demigods like Brahma and Siva to be on an equal level with Narayana must certainly be considered an offender."
If one is condemned even for equating the Supreme Lord with the great demigods, what to speak of equating God with an ordinary human being?
The most important way to identify a bona fide incarnation of God is by specific evidence from revealed scripture. Genuine avataras like Lord Rama and Lord Caitanya are precisely described in scripture. Unless specifically mentioned in scripture, the so-called Bhagavan is simply bogus.
Compromising the Culture?
This is in regard to the Nov./Dec. '94 issue and the article by Pranada Devi Dasi ["At Work With Krsna"]. Item 5 of your Statement of Purposes states that BTG will "perpetuate and spread the Vedic culture." I am having a difficult time understanding how the depiction of a devotee mother leaving the "protective environment of a life guided by full-time devotional service in ISKCON" to venture out, briefcase in hand, into the work force perpetuates and spreads the Vedic culture.
There is no reason given for her venturing into the work force. Was it out of financial necessity, or maybe it was to pad the bank account? Are women in our movement trying to prove themselves? The reader is left with more questions than answers.
The traditional family unit must be supported both within and without ISKCON. BTG should not publish articles that would seem to undermine the traditional family roles and values that Srila Prabhupada supported so strongly in his books and which form the foundation of the Vedic society.
Jiva Mukta Dasa
OUR REPLY: There are sixty million women in the American work force. Should we tell them all to quit their jobs, or should we tell them to chant Hare Krsna?
Krsna consciousness is not meant to bind everyone to tight stereotypes. America in the 1990s is a far cry from Vedic India.
Pranada Dasi is a smart businesswoman, and her husband is an excellent editor. The profit from Pranada's business lets her husband work full-time—for free—for Back to Godhead.
Though their roles may not conform precisely to Vedic tradition, both Pranada and her husband set an ideal example of dedicated service to Krsna. And serving Krsna is in essence what the Vedic culture is all about.
North America Left Out?
I was perplexed that BTG, among eight pages of plans for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial, made no mention of the North American rural Padayatra program and the recently established North American centennial office.
OUR REPLY: Sorry for the oversight. The new centennial office is located at P. O. Box 1987, Alachua, FL 32615. Phone: 1-800-205-6108 or (904) 462-0436. Fax: (904) 462-0550. Plans for a rural Padayatra are just getting started. For information contact Saunaka Dasa at 1030 Grand Ave., San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (619) 483-0330.
Hare Krsna on the Internet
I am curious if there is a [LISTSERV] group on the "net" regarding Krsna consciousness. If so please help me get connected. If not, let's start one. I am a full-time student in MIS/Computer Science and also am a lover of Krsna. I would be glad to contribute in any way possible to the betterment of such a group.
Jennifer J. Schulke
OUR REPLY: No, we don't have a LISTSERV group yet, though we hope that one (or maybe several) will start soon.
But we do have a Hare Krsna site on the World Wide Web. It was started by a student, Anand Ravipati, who is now working with our Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. The site is still in its embryonic stages. We expect a lot of changes to it within the coming months. (If you'd like to make suggestions or help with development, please feel welcome.) This is the URL: http://www.webcom.com/~ara.
Clear Message About the Demigods?
BTG has improved so much in the past few years. But this demigod glorification series just doesn't seem to be going anywhere BTG wants to go.
One congregational member (she is from India and has been chanting for four years) told us this: "When I saw the article on the cover I thought, 'Oh no, not in BTG!' I didn't even want to read the article. But since it was in BTG I wanted to see what it said. I was disgusted by reading it. The article was very confusing. This is so unexpected. We are trying to give these things up." When asked what she thought the message of the article was she replied; "That it is all right to worship the demigods. You can do it."
Could we get a substantial reply about the apparently inconsistent messages about demigod worship?
OUR REPLY: We thought our message was clear: The demigods are glorious because they are servants of the true object of worship for all living beings—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna. Following the example of the demigods, every living being should worship Lord Krsna.
And Then Again
I am writing to you at the request of the Radha Raman temple board. The article "Ganesa, Remover of Obstacles" disturbed them because it portrays Lord Siva and Ganesa in what the members of the board interpret to be inappropriate and offensive ways.
For example, the article states that Ganesa is "ugly" and was "a seducer of women." Lord Siva is described as being so "passionate" that Parvati Devi had to have a bodyguard to prevent him from entering while she was bathing.
Apart from being personally offended by these statements, the board members are concerned that reading the article may alienate many people in their congregation. Consequently, the board is considering not distributing this issue.
OUR REPLY: It was never our intention to disrespect Sri Ganesa or Lord Siva. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that we should be respectful even to the ant, so what to speak of such exalted devas (demigods) as Sri Ganesa and Lord Siva.
The intention of the article was to make clear that the devas are all highly elevated, super-powerful beings who carry out cosmic universal functions, being empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The histories mentioned in the article were taken, the author assures me, from authorized Puranas. In these histories, it may seem that the devas sometimes do something that in human society would be open to criticism. But we understand that the devas, being super-powerful, are not subject to ordinary human standards.
Lord Siva, for example, may sometimes be described in the Puranas as acting in a way that seems passionate. But Lord Siva also drinks an ocean of poison to protect innocent living entities. Therefore, Lord Siva is superpowerful, and he cannot be subject to criticism like an ordinary human being.
I've asked our author and editor to make sure that nothing in this series of articles disrespects the devas in any way. Rather, we want to make clear that the devas are our respectable superiors. They are all most exalted and powerful servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, so they are always worthy of our respect.
Following the instructions of Bhagavad-gita, we are exclusively worshiping Lord Sri Krsna as the Supreme Absolute, the Personality of Godhead. But at the same time we want to respect all other living beings, and especially such exalted controllers as Lord Siva and Sri Ganesa.
My apologies to the devotees who may have felt offended. My thanks to them for bringing the matter to my attention.
I hope this letter will clear up the matter to everyone's satisfaction.
[NOTE: The board decided to distribute the issue, along with our letter of explanation. Our thanks to them again.]
When you love Him, you will see Him always.
A lecture given in Los Angeles, December 25, 1973
avapur duravapam te
"Thus by pure consciousness due to constant devotional remembrance, the Pandavas attained the spiritual sky, which is ruled by the Supreme Narayana, Lord Krsna. That is attained only by those who meditate upon the one Supreme Lord without deviation. That abode of the Lord Sri Krsna, known as Goloka Vrndavana, cannot be attained by persons who are absorbed in the material conception of life. But the Pandavas, being completely washed of all material contamination, attained that abode in their very same bodies."
Dhyana means meditation. The Pandavas were always thinking of Krsna. While eating, sitting, sleeping, talking, fighting—Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness. When Arjuna fought, Krsna was there. When the Pandavas dealt in politics with Duryodhana, Krsna was there.
Krsna is Arjuna's friend. Krsna was always talking with him, staying with him, sleeping with him, eating with him. Krsna consciousness is so nice that in our ordinary life we can deal with Krsna as Arjuna and the Pandavas did. There is no difficulty in doing this. We simply we have to practice. That practice must be bhaktya, "with a devotional attitude." Dealing with Krsna as the Pandavas did is only possible through devotional service. Krsna was so near to the Pandavas on account of their devotion.
The sage Narada, while speaking to Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, praised the Pandavas: "Even yogis and jnanis, speculative philosophers, cannot reach Krsna, but by your devotion Krsna is living with you as a friend and sometimes even as your order carrier."
During negotiations with Duryodhana, the Pandavas once asked Krsna, "Take this letter and deliver it to Duryodhana." And Krsna agreed—"Yes, I shall go." Krsna acted as an ordinary peon. He also acted as an ordinary chariot driver—Partha-sarathi, the charioteer of Arjuna.
If you become a devotee of Krsna, then you can live with Krsna, even in this life. Krsna is omnipotent. If you are really a devotee of Krsna, He will talk with you, He will dance with you, He will eat with you—everything. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva. By bhakti, prema—love—saintly persons, those who have developed love of Krsna, can see Krsna at every moment. Sadaiva means "at every moment." Saintly persons do not see anything except Krsna.
Rascals inquire, "Have you seen God?"
We may reply, "Not 'seen' God, sir. The saintly person is seeing God at every moment."
There is no question of seeing God only once. No. Sadaiva—at every moment.
Why can one see Krsna at every moment? Because Krsna is already there within us. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. Krsna's location is given in the Bhagavad-gita: He is within your heart. So to see God you don't have to go far away. Wherever you are you can see God.
Sarva-bhutanam means that God is not only within the human beings; He is also within the animals, the beasts, the trees, the plants, the aquatics, the insects. He is within everyone, from Brahma, the greatest creature, down to the ant.
God is everywhere. Andantara-stha paramanu-cayantara-stham. God is within the universe, within your heart, even within the atom. So what is the difficulty in seeing God? You simply have to make your eyes qualified to see Him. That is the meaning of premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena. If you actually love somebody, you can see him always. When you are in your office, you see him. When you are eating, you see him. If that is possible materially, how much more must it be possible spiritually.
Seeing God always is possible only by bhakti, as described in today's verse: bhaktya visuddha-dhisanah pare. Visuddha means "purified." Our consciousness is not purified at the present moment, but we can purify it by being always in touch with Krsna. And that touch is made possible very easily by hearing about Krsna. Those who come here to our classes may not know anything about Krsna, but God has given them ears, so they can hear about Krsna. We are therefore discussing so many points about Krsna, and we have written so many books simply about Krsna. People cannot imagine that sixty books can be written about God. There is no system of religion where you can find so much information about God.
We should turn our attention to Krsna consciousness. We can chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. We can read about Krsna our whole life, because the literature about Krsna is so vast. Even if you read twenty-four hours daily, you'll have to devote your whole life to finish this literature.
My Guru Maharaja published a daily newspaper in Mayapur called Nadiya Prakasa. A big politician once asked him, "You are publishing a daily paper about God consciousness?"
"What are you writing about?" The politician was surprised. Politicians think that newspapers can be filled with rubbish political news only. They cannot think that a newspaper can be filled by news from the spiritual world. They have no idea of this. They have no idea even that there is a spiritual world.
My Guru Maharaja explained: "Why are you thinking of only one small newspaper? You do not know the spiritual world. The material world is one fourth of the whole creation of the Lord. And the three-fourths portion is the spiritual world. In this one-fourth portion there are innumerable universes. This is one of the universes. In each universe there are millions of planets. And this planet is only a small planet in one universe. And on this earth planet there are so many cities. And in each city there are so many newspapers. And each newspaper has so many editions. This is the position of the material world.
"Now, consider the spiritual world. It is three times bigger than the material world. And there are so many spiritual planets and so many universes and so many activities. So we can produce not just one newspaper about God daily, but a newspaper every minute. Unfortunately, there are no customers. That is the difficulty. For material news there are so many customers, but for spiritual news, no customers. You are thinking of one newspaper daily. We could issue a newspaper of spiritual news every second."
We must be interested in the news of the spiritual world. Krsna consciousness can be achieved by ekanta-matayo gatim—a person who has decided, "Now, in this life, I must go back home, back to Godhead." That determination is described in the Bhagavad-gita:
"Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus [Arjuna], the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched."
One must decide, "This life is not an ordinary life like that of the cats and dogs. It is human life. I have advanced intelligence, and it is possible in this life to go back home, back to Godhead, simply by cultivating spiritual knowledge. So why shall I waste my time like cats and dogs?" That determination is required. "The cats and dogs are busy in eating, sleeping, and sex life—and one day they die. So why shall I waste my time in that way? I have good intelligence. Krsna has provided me a better standard of life. I can lie in a nice room, not like the cats and dogs on the street."
And Krsna has provided such nice foodstuff—fruits, grains, milk—which we can offer Him. Krsna has given different food for different animals and human beings. Krsna has given stool for the pigs and such nice foodstuff—fruits and grains and milk—for the human being. It is not that every food is for everyone. No. "One man's food is another man's poison." Stool is also a kind of food. Everything is a kind of food. Even the stone is food. Pigeons eat stones. They can digest them. The gorillas in the African jungles eat fruits harder than iron bullets. If you hammer on a bullet, it may bend. But that fruit will not bend. And the gorillas chew them just as you chew peanuts. [Laughter.]
Human beings determined to go back home, back to Godhead, have their food. For them, no meat-eating. For them, fine kacauri, rasagulla, puri.* "You are what you eat." If you eat stool, then you are stool. After all, this body will be stool. After death, the body becomes stool or ashes or earth. If the body is buried, in due course it will turn into earth. If it is burned, as done by the Hindus, it will turn into ashes. And if the body is simply thrown away at death, as done by the Parsees, it will be eaten by animals and birds, like vultures. So the body will become the stool of a vulture. That's all.
Our beautiful body will become one of three things: stool, earth, or ashes. And we are taking so much care—for stool, earth, and ashes. And the occupier of the body? Forgotten. That is the position of modern society with its so-called advanced scientists.
Those who think "I am this body" are third-class rascals. The present world is simply full of third-class rascals because everyone is thinking, "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am white," "I am black," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian." Such thinking is simply "I am this body." That's all.
One must become completely cleansed of this misconception. Virajena atmanaiva. Virajena means to become completely washed, cleansed. Raja means "the material world," and vi means vigata, "without." It is very difficult to come to the position of complete purification. Therefore it is said here, avapur duravapam: It is very difficult to come to this stage of life, but the Pandavas did it. For whom is it very difficult? Asadbhih, for those attached to temporary things.
Asat means "temporary." There are two kinds of things: those that will exist permanently and those that will not exist. Temporary things may exist for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few years. The material world is asat, because it will not exist. The material body will also not exist. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that the body is born at a certain date, will continue for a certain number of years, will produce some by-products, will change into different forms, will become old, will dwindle, and one day will be finished.
These are called sad-vikara, "six changes." This is not progress. If one is progressing in age, that is not progress; that means he is going to death. I am seventy-eight years old. So I have already died seventy-eight years. I have only, say, two to five years left. People say "advanced age." No. Advanced in death, not advanced in age.
So that is the meaning of asat: The body will not stay. It has begun to die from the very moment of birth. If you ask a mother how old her child is and she says "One month," that means the child has already died one month. And he has a certain balance of months and years before he dies. He is simple waiting for death.
Our duration of life is called asat. And material existence is also asat. Narottama Dasa Thakura therefore sings, sat-sanga chadi kainu asate vilasa/ te karane lagila ye karma-bandha-phansa: "I gave up sat-sanga, the spiritual society, and I associated with the material society. Therefore I am now entangled by karma, one reaction after another."
Spiritual realization is difficult for persons attached to temporary things. Why? Visayatmabhih: Because they are simply attracted by the four principles of material life—eating, sleeping, sex life, and, one day, death. One must be above these interests. One must be sane. One must think, "These interests are there in the animals. So if I am also interested in only these things, what is the difference between the dog and me?"
There must be something more. That information is given in the Bhagavad-gita: avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam. The body is perishable, asat, but there is another thing, which is sat, permanent. What is that? It is that which spreads all over the body. If you pinch your body you feel pain. Why? Because there is consciousness. Consciousness is permanent. And as soon as the consciousness is gone from someone's body, you can chop off the hand and there will be no response.
Those not interested in understanding consciousness and the origin of consciousness are asat. They cannot understand spiritual life. Therefore the beginning of spiritual life is to understand consciousness. The Bhagavad-gita says, dehino 'smin yatha dehe: In the temporary body is the proprietor of the body. That point is to be understood. Who can understand? Vidhuta-kalmasa, "those who are washed of all sinful acts." Therefore we prescribe, "Don't associate with sinful activities." What are the sinful activities? Meat-eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex. One must be washed of these to understand spiritual life. If you think, "I will do whatever I want," then you will remain in the material world life after life. That is the point.
Thank you very much.
*These are tasty preparations offered to Krsna.
Idealism, Maturity, and Realism
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
When I was eighteen years old I wrote an essay for the college newspaper about maturity. In the essay, I examined the word maturity and commented that most of my elders equated maturity with selling out on idealistic values. Of course, although my concerns weren't so God conscious back then, I didn't think maturity meant giving up ideals and embracing middle-class values in their stead. I still don't.
Recently when I visited the museum at the Brooklyn Hare Krsna temple, I saw photos of devotees chanting in the streets of Manhattan in the early 1970s. One photo showed a young woman holding a Lord Caitanya sign. I looked at her face and thought, "What an idealist!" She seemed to be saying, "I've surrendered to the Hare Krsna movement and I'm carrying this sign. This is what I have been waiting to do for many, many lives. I believe everything I have been told, and I just want to go on coming out here, carrying this sign and chanting Hare Krsna for the fallen souls." A true idealist.
One ideal for which a person often comes to Krsna consciousness is truth. We want to be true to ourselves. People often say they joined the Hare Krsna movement because they saw truth here and couldn't refuse it.
But idealism can be dangerous. Idealists may put their ideals ahead of practical considerations. In a practical world, we have to face the consequences of our idealism.
Many of us followed our ideals to join this movement, and few of us stopped to figure out the practicalities on the way: "If I join, what will my parents say?" "These people don't seem to have jobs. How will I live?" "How will I get along in a community with all these people?" "What will happen to me when I get older?"
I remember when I used to go out chanting on the Boston Common. A man would regularly shout at me, "You'll be sorry when you're forty." Did he think I would wake up and see I had wasted my youth? "I spent my youth foolishly, walking in rubber shower shoes and chanting. Now my life is lost." I was too much of an idealist to take him seriously.
What about now?
Youth gave us the impetus to sustain a certain brand of idealism. I think of that young woman carrying the Lord Caitanya sign. That was something she could do every day when she was eighteen years old. It may not be something she can do now at forty or forty-five.
And ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is itself no longer young. For devotees who have been around ISKCON for many years, what they find in it now may no longer be what they expected when they joined. "ISKCON used to promise that our economic needs would be met. ISKCON used to promise that our leaders would never fall down and would always be practicing purely. So many things have changed."
What concerns me is that on the plea of these very real changes, some devotees have fallen away from their Krsna conscious practices and even rationalized their falling away as realism.
But we should consider carefully what hasn't changed and what is still available to us.
What hasn't changed is the nature of the material world. Srila Prabhupada would always be quick to say, "According to Vedic knowledge ... " and then sometimes he would add, "Not Vedic knowledge—it is a fact ... " The fact is that material life is temporary. Even if we work hard to become materially successful, we still have to leave it all at death. Prabhupada often commented that people work hard for things they will lose but are not interested in eternal life.
Prabhupada used to give this example: If a man builds a beautiful house and then tells us he built it just so he can set it on fire, we will think he is crazy. But that's our position. The body is set on fire at death. If we are working hard simply to have the results of our labors set on fire, what kind of sanity is that?
For Prabhupada, the ignorance of people living in a materialistic mentality was a fact, and the enlightenment found in Krsna consciousness was an overwhelming truth. In mature idealism, we should continue to live by that truth.
Krsna consciousness is not just a matter of ecstasy or high realization; it's truth and reality. How can we live in a false way? How can we become the foolish materialists Prabhupada preached so strongly against? The facts we learned when we first came to Krsna consciousness have not faded with our young bodies and our particular hopes of what life was going to be like in ISKCON. If we forget this fact we are cheating ourselves.
These things have not changed: the truth of Krsna, the promise of the holy name, our invitation to go back to Godhead, if not in this lifetime then in later ones. And these also have not changed: the dangers of material life and the fact that no matter how hard we work for material security in the shape of home, job, family, or money, everything can be knocked apart in a minute because it's based on the material body.
Therefore to be mature in Krsna consciousness we ought to accept the inevitable changes in our lives and not give up our spiritual aspirations. Maybe we thought we would be lifelong monks and we now have wives and children. Maybe we looked at ISKCON as an ultimate material shelter and now we have to fend for ourselves. Maybe we thought our leaders were pure devotees and we found out they were practicing devotees like us. Still, we have to keep practicing Krsna consciousness and not let ourselves be cheated by the material energy.
"Realism" is often seen as the opposite of idealism. But Krsna consciousness, the highest ideal, is also the highest reality. Material sense gratification is not realism, and those who follow its path are not realists.
Being realistic in Krsna consciousness may mean that as married devotees we can't live in the temple anymore. It may mean we can't go out all day carrying a Lord Caitanya sign. But we do have to live according to Krsna conscious truth. When we are in material illusion we are not in the real world.
That's what Prabhupada came to teach us and what is taught in all the scriptures. Prabhupada came to us in Boston and New York. He smashed our illusions and showed us Krsna. And through his teachings and his example he is still here. His words and actions are permanent and fixed. Maya may try to draw us away from Prabhupada's basic teachings, telling us they are idealistic or not based on reality, but Prabhupada spoke the truth: life is not meant for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.
If even as devotees we are overwhelmed by money-making and family maintenance and forget Krsna, we shouldn't say we are living in the real world. We should say, "I'm in illusion." Spiritual life is the only reality.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.
Cooking Class: Lesson 18
By Yamuna Devi
MOST NEWCOMERS to a Vedic diet are quick to get a taste for two prominent categories of classic salads—raita and kachamber. Both are fresh and light, the former yogurt-based and the latter made with many types of vegetables. Indian salads, usually served in small portions, are meant to be cooling contrasts to warm dishes in the main meal of the day.
Raita is little more than lightly seasoned yogurt and diced, sliced, or shredded raw vegetables. Kachamber, also called kosumalli, is a salad of barely seasoned raw or cooked vegetables, lightly dressed in a flavor-infused oil. Salad textures range from crisp and crunchy to smooth and creamy. These highly nutritious dishes are low-fat, simple to make, and full of flavor.
Like any ingredients used in Vedic cooking, the fresher the elements of the salad, the better. To ensure purity, freshness, and quality, many cooks in Indian temples and homes make yogurt once or twice a day and never use yogurt more than a few hours old. Today many Indian cooks opt to buy yogurt from a milk shop, but it is very fresh, rarely more than four or five hours old.
You can make your own yogurt, or for convenience you may rely on yogurt bought from a store. When buying yogurt, you'll have a few choices to make. Avoid yogurts made with gelatin, additives, preservatives, thickening agents, or long lists of ingredients, and look for the longest expiration date. Of course, if the words "organic" or "biodynamic" are on the label, you'll likely be pleased with the yogurt's purity. Indian dishes traditionally use whole-milk yogurt, but you may use fat-free or skim-milk yogurt if you prefer.
Yogurt in Ancient Texts
Yogurt is mentioned numerous times in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and other sacred Vaisnava texts, both as an auspicious ingredient in temple worship and as a food offering to the Deities. In Visnu temples, Deities are worshiped in a bathing ceremony called abhiseka using a nectarean mixture of ghee, milk, sugar, honey, and yogurt. In Vrndavana during the Annakuta festival to worship Govardhana Hill, temple priests traditionally offer the Deity many pots of milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, and thick cream. At an Annakuta festival in a temple at Govardhana Hill, I once counted more than a hundred silver pots filled with yogurt. The Ayur Veda says that too much milk can cause indigestion but that another form of milk—fresh yogurt mixed with salt and black pepper—relieves the malady.
Yogurt and How It Is Made
Yogurt, in Hindi called dahi, has been an ingredient in Indian kitchens for millennia. It is a fermented, slightly acidic food made from milk and a souring agent. Srila Prabhupada once said that in past centuries the culturing agent was usually sour tamarind. In India today, as in most of the world, yogurt is most commonly made using one or both of the lactic cultures known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These cultures are in the yogurt you use to sour the milk to make new yogurt. So to make a classic Indian-style yogurt with a mild acidity and delicate flavor, you need nothing more than fresh cow's milk, a controlled temperature, and the right amount of yogurt containing the cultures.
Commercial yogurt is made by heating concentrated milk or milk fortified with skim-milk powder to about 194 degrees F (90 degrees C) for a few minutes. After the milk cools to 111 degrees F, a culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus is added. Souring and thickening take about three hours. To arrest further souring, the yogurt is then refrigerated to bring the temperature to near 49 degrees F (5 degrees C).
If you can get organic raw milk or fresh milk from a local dairy, the brief effort it takes to make your own yogurt is well worth it. If you are an anxious newcomer in the kitchen, you might invest in an inexpensive yogurt-maker for fail-proof temperature control during the setting period. But most cooks can make good yogurt without buying any equipment save a thermometer. For that you just have to be willing to master the procedure with trial and error, the way I learned some thirty years ago.
Properly made fresh yogurt is firm, mild, delicate, and almost sweet, lending a special distinction to raita salads. If you are following the cooking class series, making several batches of homemade yogurt is a must exercise. Take time to read and study the sections in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine, entitled "Homemade Yogurt, Cheese, and Other Milk Products," "Yogurt Salads," and "Little Salads." Aside from making yogurt, try the dishes on the preceding page and several more from the cookbook. Experiment to find a few variations of your own.
Yamuna Devi is the author of the award-winning cookbooks Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking and Yamuna's Table. She is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and Vegetarian Times. Write to her in care of Back to Godhead.
How To Make Yogurt
(Makes one quart)
This is a simple recipe for mild, rich-tasting yogurt. If you want a less firm yogurt, omit the step adding milk powder. To control temperature, use a yogurt or candy thermometer, available at cookware stores. For setting, use an electric yogurt-maker, a wide-mouth insulated one-quart thermos, or a thick bowl wrapped in thick towels.
1 cup (70 g) non-instant, nonfat dry milk powder, optional
If you want thick, spoonable yogurt, combine the milk powder and 1/3 cup (100 ml) of milk in a blender and process until smooth and frothy. Heat the milk to the boiling point in a 2-quart pan. If you're using powdered milk, cool the milk to 118 degrees F (48 degrees C) and gently stir in the yogurt-milk mixture.
If you're not using milk powder, cool the milk to 112 degrees F (44 degrees C) and stir in the yogurt. To allow the yogurt to set, pour it into individual 8-ounce containers or a 1-quart container and set aside in a warm spot (85-110 degrees F, 29-34 degrees C). Yogurt is set when jellylike firm, and it continues to solidify and firm up when refrigerated. Cover and refrigerate. The yogurt may be kept for up to 4 or 5 days.
Instead of tomatoes, you can try coarsely shredded beets, carrots, cucumbers, or radishes.
2 cups plain yogurt
In a bowl, stir yogurt until smooth; add the tomatoes and salt if desired. Sprinkle with cumin, and with cayenne, paprika, or pepper as desired. Chill for 30 minutes to infuse the yogurt with flavor. Offer to Krsna.
For outstanding results, try organic Jewel sweet potatoes or Red Garnet yams. To make long, thin orange zest (from orange rind), use a zester, available in cookware stores.
2 cups plain yogurt
In a bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Add the yams, currants, zest, and juice; add salt, if desired. Gently mix and sprinkle with cayenne, paprika, or hot chilies as desired. Chill 30 minutes before offering to Krsna.
This salad is not only delicious; it also helps digest a meal.
1 cup finely shredded carrots
Combine the carrots, cashews, and dairy in a bowl; toss to mix. Heat the oil in a small pan, add the cumin, and fry until darkened a few shades. Toss in the ginger and chilies and fry for 10-15 seconds. Pour the cooked spices into the salad, add the herbs, season as desired, and toss to mix. Offer to Krsna.
You can use chickpeas instead of sprouts for this salad.
1 large cucumber, preferably European, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ghee or corn oil
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl, add the lemon juice and salt as desired, and toss to mix. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, and when they start to pop and turn gray, add the remaining ingredients. Within seconds, pour the seasoning into the salad and mix well. Garnish with coconut and offer to Krsna.
Training Through The Stages of Childhood
By Urmila Devi Dasi
WHAT WE CALL "a child" is simply a soul in a particular type of physical and mental dress. And by understanding the stages of material growth through which the child progresses, we can help the soul attain ultimate freedom.
The sage Canakya saw these stages in terms of how a child can accept responsibility. He wrote that until age five little responsibility can be expected and so the child should be treated with leniency. From five to ten the child's responsibility should gradually increase, and with it the discipline with which the child is treated. From ten to sixteen the adolescent should be treated "as strictly as a tiger," so that he or she doesn't even think of being irresponsible. At sixteen, the young adult should be treated as a friend.
Besides discipline and responsibility, many other things change as a child develops. A child builds his understanding of reality somewhat as a person builds a house. In infancy the land is clear for development. Then the child assembles facts, ideas, and modes of behavior as a builder might collect piles of brick, glass, and wood. An adolescent tries to put childhood understanding into a sensible whole with the tools of maturing intelligence the way a builder creates a structure with the materials he has collected. And a young adult integrates his life with his world view the way a resident finally moves into a completed building, making it suitable for his use.
How can we make sure our child's spiritual and material training match his changing needs and strengths?
Cleared Land and Foundation
When we read that Canakya advocates leniency from birth to age five, we might think he wants young children to be spoiled tyrants. Not so. Rather, children should be free from too much care and responsibility. They benefit from, and should learn, basic skills of eating, cleanliness, and respect for the Lord's temple. Young children can also take on small responsibilities at home. In Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down, Dr. Kevin Leman suggests that two- and three-year-olds can have such tasks as setting up for meals and cleaning their own messes, and four-year-olds can put groceries away or get the mail. I have found that most children by the age of two or two and a half can learn to sit quietly through a lecture and eat Krsna-prasadam with respect.
It may seem odd that the ages for the lightest discipline is when some physical punishment (often wrongly thought synonymous with discipline) can be most effective. But from about age two to age six or seven a child may, for example, need physical punishment for breaking safety rules to understand the seriousness of a busy street.
Because a child at this age is free from academic learning and practical responsibilities, he or she can use that freedom to think of Krsna's qualities and pastimes. The child's main business is to prepare the foundation for his life. He has forgotten his past lives and activities and now identifies with his present body. But the mystery of the material creation is that the world is meant simultaneously for bondage and liberation. So the same forgetfulness that allows the derelict to forget his former life as a king also gives an ideal opportunity for a child to forget material desires altogether. Prabhupada tells us that the ignorance, or innocence, of a child allows the child to easily accept any training. So if an innocent child is properly trained from the beginning of life to love God, that love will never deteriorate into lust.
And for the baby or toddler to love Krsna is so easy! The tiny child loves to see Krsna's picture, hear stories of His activities, and discuss simple philosophy.
Gathering Building Materials
Training is the keystone of ages five to ten, when children traditionally get their primary education, in the Vedic system at the school known as gurukula. During these years, Canakya tells us, we should put aside physical punishment but gradually increase discipline. When children don't fulfill their responsibilities, they should certainly suffer the consequences, which may involve physical discomforts or deprivations, such as standing in a corner for a few minutes or missing some play time. But now the child can understand that good and bad reactions are natural results of his own decisions, rather than punishments or rewards authorities impose on him.
Now in school, the child is forming lifelong habits and points of view. The child's life should be so ordered that he or she won't even think of waking late, being dirty or rude, or failing to worship and hear about Krsna. A child should feel that doing everything for Krsna, in a life full of goodness, is an essential and valuable piece of existence.
How does the child benefit from this order? It becomes a basic material for the life the child will build. Unlike a house builder, the child cannot fully know the end product. Parents and teachers, therefore, must carefully choose what examples and facts they show the elementary-school child. And a child at this age can learn an amazing amount of information! This is the age for memorizing and investigating.
Children between the ages of five and ten often seem to have a comprehensive philosophical understanding. But generally they are simply repeating stories, analogies, or explanations they have memorized.
Building the Structure
Canakya advises the strictest discipline for children ages ten through sixteen. Srila Prabhupada calls this period the turning point of life, the most critical time. Now the child should be held greatly accountable for his work, words, and behavior. Prabhupada instructs us not to spoil young people with our Western ideas of freedom. We give a young person responsibility for completing schoolwork and duties on time, but we do not give him or her the freedom to make serious moral mistakes that can have a lifetime of miserable consequences. For example, at age ten, if at all possible, boys and girls should be taught separately. If that's not practical, then at least contact between boys and girls should be minimized. And they should understand the importance of separating the sexes.
The adolescent moves from memorization to synthesis. Not that a twelve-year-old has stopped taking in new information, but he or she is most concerned with evaluating the materials acquired in childhood and fitting them together to see if an integrated view of reality emerges. Adolescents often have difficulty knowing how facts, ideals, morals, a way of life, and understanding God fit together sensibly. Prabhupada tells us, therefore, that this stage of development demands regular detailed study of philosophy and its application. An intensive course in the Bhagavad-gita, the study of logic, and looking at the world through spiritual vision are some means by which parents and teachers can help their growing children understand an integrated world view.
At age sixteen, when our children have learned self-control and self-discipline, we can gradually treat our children as friends. The young adult, with the help of a disciplined life and adult guidance, has taken the prepared ground, the foundation, and the building materials of childhood to build a structure of meaning and function. The young adult can now move in and use his building in his own way—he can see his place in relationship to Krsna and Krsna's creation.
Urmila Devi Dasi was initiated in 1973 and has been involved in ISKCON education since 1983. She, her husband, and their three children live at the ISKCON community in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where she runs a school for children aged 5-18. She is the main author/compiler of Vaikuntha Children, a gurukula classroom guidebook.
Restoring Our Respect for Sadhus
By Ravi Gupta
When my father was born, my grandmother took him to the feet of her guru and asked for the guru's blessings. When Srila Prabhupada was a child, his father would invite sadhus (holy persons) and ask them to bless his son to grow up to be a devotee of Srimati Radharani, Lord Krsna's eternal consort. The Vedic scriptures stress that even a moment's audience with a pure devotee can change a person's entire life and transform a sinner into a devotee.
The Vedic tradition is full of examples showing the importance of respecting and associating with sadhus. The great sage Valmiki, author of the Ramayana, was formerly a hunter who took pleasure in killing animals. By meeting the saint Narada, Valmiki became a trikala-darsi, one who can see the past, present, and future. Valmiki then documented the pastimes of the incarnation Lord Ramacandra. Narada Muni himself had been the son of a maidservant who served saints and sages in an asrama. By their contact Narada obtained the darsana (audience) of Lord Krsna.
For many people today, however, including people from India, sadhus are to be mocked. Sages or sannyasis are often thought to be beggars, making a living by religion.
Our family recently conducted a Krsna conscious program at a home in Moscow, Idaho. We chanted Hare Krsna and spoke on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Afterwards a boy from a family originally from India asked his father to explain the meaning of "sadhu." His father replied that sadhus are people who go around making some propaganda for money.
Unfortunately, today's so-called sadhus sometimes do collect money in the name of worshiping the Lord and then use it for their own sense gratification. Mystics and yogis who make a show of spiritual realization while thinking of enjoying the senses are cheating the public. Such people have corrupted the word sadhu. Their so-called knowledge has no value. People in India are often skeptical when they see anyone in saffron robes or even with tilaka, the clay mark on the forehead. They think the person must not have found any occupation and so has become a "saint." A couple once refused to come to our Boise temple if there were to be any sannyasis or sadhus present. The couple had lost faith in such persons.
Those of us who look for "saints" who will condone our materialistic way of life must share the blame for the rash of so-called sadhus. We may not want to perform austerities and follow the regulative principles, so we try to find sadhus who will allow us to do whatever we want. The tendency to cheat is one of the main defects of human nature. Srila Prabhupada says that if we want to be cheated, Krsna, knowing our desire, will send us a cheater. But if we sincerely try to understand Krsna and perform devotional service, He will send us His genuine devotee. "Naturally, if you are cheated, you become suspicious," Prabhupada said. "But this does not mean that if you are cheated once you will always be cheated. You should find someone genuine." If there is darkness, there is also light. If there are fake saints, there must also be genuine ones.
Someone once asked Srila Prabhupada the mark a genuine saintly person. Srila Prabhupada replied, "Just find out the one who is most addicted to Krsna. He is genuine." The person who is fully Krsna conscious is the true sadhu. The sadhu is surrendered to the instructions of the spiritual master and simply repeats the words of Krsna. He gives the Lord's holy name freely. He leads and inspires people on the path of spiritual life. The real sadhu lives only to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If the real sadhu accepts money, he uses it only in the service of Krsna. He is a friend to everyone and is devoid of false prestige. He is equipoised in happiness and distress and is self-controlled. He lives only to teach others about Krsna.
Without the mercy of the pure devotees, or sadhus, we cannot advance in spiritual life. The sadhus, like expert guides, show us the path to Krsna. Krsna is like a powerhouse, and we are like light bulbs. If plugged directly into the powerhouse, the bulb will blow out. To reach Krsna we need the help of transformers who change the great voltage of the powerhouse into a level of power we can take. Because Krsna is pure and we are impure, we cannot approach Him directly. We need the help of saintly persons who are pure. Because they are experienced in devotional service, we must learn from them, sitting at their feet. Thus we will shine. The great devotee Prahlada Maharaja taught, "Unless human society accepts the dust of the lotus feet of great mahatmas—devotees who have nothing to do with material possessions—mankind cannot turn its attention to the lotus feet of Krsna." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.32)
Prahlada was born in a demonic family. His father, teachers, friends, and family were all teaching him to be an atheist. But while Prahlada was in the womb of his mother she was staying at the asrama of Sri Narada Muni. Narada taught Prahlada's mother the science of Krsna consciousness, and Prahlada heard it all. By Narada's association, Prahlada grew up to be a Vaisnava, a devotee, for whose protection the Lord appeared as Nrsimhadeva, the half-man, half-lion incarnation.
Pure devotees purify our hearts, our homes, and the places of pilgrimage. Therefore, people in India traditionally invite saintly persons into their homes to glorify Krsna and chant His holy names. When Maharaja Pariksit first met Srila Sukadeva Gosvami on the bank of the Ganges, Pariksit said, "Simply by our remembering you, our houses become instantly sanctified. And what to speak of seeing you, touching you, washing your holy feet, and offering you a seat in our home?" Srila Prabhupada comments, "Therefore, the holy saints actually have no self-interest with householders. The only aim of such saints is to sanctify the houses of the householders, and the householders therefore should feel grateful when such saints and sages appear at their doors. A householder who dishonors such holy orders is a great offender." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.33)
To advance in spiritual life we must serve the devotees and get their mercy. In the Adi Purana, Krsna says to Arjuna:
ye me bhakta-janah partha
"My dear Partha, one who claims to be My devotee is not so. Only a person who claims to be the devotee of My devotee is actually My devotee." So rather than lose faith in sadhus, we must find the pure devotee of Krsna and run after him, for by his mercy alone we can attain Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada was a genuine sadhu who changed "hippies into happies." Through his association and instructions, thousands of people have become devotees, addicted to serving Krsna.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings:
krsna se tomara, krsna dite paro,
"O venerable Vaisnava! Krsna is yours; you have the power to give Him to me. I am indeed wretched and simply running after you shouting, 'Krsna! Krsna!' "
The Vaisnava not only possesses the name of Krsna but also freely distributes it. We are all kangala, destitute. So the next time a sadhu knocks on our door, we should run after him and let him fill our empty coffers with the treasures of the holy name. Such an opportunity is indeed our heritage and good fortune.
Ravi Gupta, age thirteen, lives at the Hare Krsna center in Boise, Idaho, run by his parents.
Protection by the Government
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
The real business of a chief executive is to see to the happiness of the mass of people by training them in Krsna consciousness in different divisions of life. Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah (Bg. 4.13). A leader should train the people as brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras and engage them in various occupational duties, thus helping them progress toward Krsna consciousness.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.17, purport
In my last column we saw how the government spends billions of dollars in a "crusade against crime" that creates lots of fanfare but doesn't protect citizens. Part of the latest move in the U.S. is a call from citizens for increased use of the death penalty.
The Vedic scriptures do, in fact, recommend the death penalty for murder and other severe crimes. According to the laws of karma, a criminal who undergoes the death penalty has his sufferings in the next life reduced. And in a well-trained society, a death penalty can deter crime.
But in an untrained society, simply imposing a death penalty loses much of its effectiveness for protecting society. That's understandable. If a trained dog begins to attack someone and the master swats the dog and tells him to stop, the dog will fall back. If an untrained dog starts to attack, hitting him can just make him crazier and more vicious.
Srila Prabhupada explains that the basis of real protection for citizens is training according to varnasrama, the system of social divisions Srila Prabhupada mentions above. The government should ensure that all citizens are trained in work that suits their nature and engaged in appropriate occupations. Once properly placed in that way, the citizens can make spiritual advancement.
It is very difficult to rule citizens in a kingdom without organizing varnasrama-dharma. To rule the mass of citizens in a state and keep them in a complete progressive order is not possible simply by passing laws every year in a legislative assembly. Varnasrama-dharma is essential in a good government.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.81, purport
Wherever there are untrained, unemployed people, the government has failed in its first duty for protecting its citizens.
In Krsna consciousness we're concerned that the government do much more than protect the citizens from bodily harm. The ideal government also ensures the spiritual protection of its citizens. The government's duty is not simply to train its citizens and keep them employed but to train and employ them in occupations that have spiritual as well as material benefits.
Naturally, most citizens tend to be suited for work as vaisyas (farmers, merchants) and sudras (laborers). If they are trained and employed by a government informed by spiritual values, their work will be quite different from that of people guided by materialists.
As Srila Prabhupada mentions, the four classes of citizens already naturally exist, but the work of the citizens will be of little or no spiritual value unless the citizens are trained to follow the principles of their varna. Let's look at what following those principles would mean for vaisyas.
In crude terms, a grain farmer, a beef rancher, a drug dealer, a tobacco farmer, a cosmetics salesperson, and a vegetable vendor could all be said to be acting according to the vaisya nature. Yet some of their activities are decidedly detrimental to spiritual advancement. Why? Because the workers are not acting according to the principles of the vaisya varna. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.44) Lord Krsna outlines the principles for those who earn their livelihood by vaisya work:
"Farming, cow protection, and business are the natural work for the vaisyas." Srila Prabhupada elaborates:
The mercantile class is meant for producing food grains and distributing them to the complete human society so that the whole population is given a chance to live comfortably and discharge the duties of human life. The mercantile class is also required to give protection to the cows in order to get sufficient milk and milk products, which alone can give the proper health and intelligence to maintain a civilization perfectly meant for knowledge of the ultimate truth.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.5.37, purport
Obviously, the beef rancher is not carrying out his vaisya duties of cow protection. Neither the tobacco farmer nor the drug dealer can hope to make spiritual progress by producing and selling intoxicants. And though the cosmetics seller may fill some useful role, if all vaisyas made their living selling skin cream the basic vaisya work of growing food and protecting cows would fall by the wayside. Someone needs to oversee the balance of workers in society so that the essential jobs get done. Even though not all the vaisyas I've mentioned work in trades that go with spiritual advancement, anyone with vaisya tendencies can be properly trained in the vaisya varna and make spiritual progress engaged in vaisyas work.
In conclusion, laws and punishments can be of only secondary importance in protecting the citizens. The first principle of protection is to give people a chance to earn their livelihood in occupations pleasing to the Lord. As Srila Prabhupada explains, "Discharging one's occupational duty as a means of rendering devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.9, purport)
Next time we'll find out how a society's relationship with cows can influence human social relations.
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi, an ISKCON devotee since 1978, is co-editor of the newsletter Hare Krsna Rural Life.
Creating Lawful Citizens
SIMPLY ENFORCING laws and ordinances cannot make the citizens obedient and lawful. That is impossible. Throughout the entire world there are so many states, legislative assemblies, and parliaments, but still the citizens are rogues and thieves. Good citizenship, therefore, cannot be enforced; the citizens must be trained. As there are schools and colleges to train students to become chemical engineers, lawyers, or specialists in many other departments of knowledge, there must be schools and colleges to train students to become brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, sudras, brahmacaris, grhasthas, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis. This will provide the preliminary condition for good citizenship (varnasrama-gunan-vitah).
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.10.50, purport
From Ignorance to Bliss
by Vraja Kishor Dasa
HEY, IS THAT some calypso band around the corner?
No. It's a group of fifteen or twenty people in strange outfits, dancing around with drums and hand cymbals ... Oh yeah, the Hare Krsnas.
You cross the street quickly and watch the spectacle from a safe distance. What are they doing? What are these people all about? They do look kind of happy ... Maybe they have something interesting to say. You dabble with the idea of speaking to one of them. Maybe, maybe ... nah. You keep walking.
In my last article I explained that this attitude shows a tiny bit of sraddha—faith. And I explained that "faith" really means "respect."
If you ask Joe and Jane Average to tell you what faith means, I doubt they'd say "respect." They'd probably say "belief" or "trust" or "surrender." But if you take a close look you'll find that all these are just symptoms of respect. The more we respect something, the more we can trust in it, believe in it, surrender our hearts to it. So the real core of faith is respect.
When you respect something, you want to hear about it, and that desire to hear brings you into the company of those who know about it. Like this:
The first time you see the Krsnas chanting on the street, you think they're outlandish—but interesting. You begin to wonder what they're all about.
Sometime later you unexpectedly spot a young American woman dressed in Indian clothes—another Hare Krsna. Again the questions bounce up: What are they—a bunch of lunoids? Or is there something solid behind all this weird stuff?
Timidly, you walk gradually faster, catching up to her. You jog.
She stops. You talk.
Guess what? You've just started to reach the second landmark on the road from ignorance to bliss: sadhu-sanga—association with devotees. Your faith brought you in touch with a devotee.
You ask a few questions about the clothes and the shaved heads and the paint on the nose.
The conversation ends, and you go back to your daily existence. Assuming the person you met was a genuine devotee, the answers she gave made a surprising amount of good sense. You walked away thinking, "Yeah, they really do have something interesting to say."
Your tiny bit of faith grew a little stronger.
Now you respect the devotees more. Other questions pop up quickly and nag to be answered. You start to glance around corners, vaguely hoping to find a devotee somewhere.
Finally, another devotee, more questions asked, more answers given—clear, sensible answers again. And the devotees are nice people. The more you talk with them, the more your respect increases. The more your respect increases, the more you want to talk to them to find out more about them.
One day you spot a flier tacked to a lamppost: "Hare Krishna Temple ... Sunday Feast."
Like this, the faith and association strengthen and push each other. You start coming to the temple regularly, becoming fairly good friends with some of the devotees.
Then, late one Sunday night, as you relish the last few crumbs of carob-cashew halava, you hear a voice.
"Excuse me, Prabhuji ... "
You look up cautiously from your plate.
"Would you be interested in doing some devotional service?"
"Uh, I guess so. I don't see why not ..."
"Great, come with me into the kitchen."
On the way to the kitchen you cross the border into a new realm. There's a sign on the road: "City Limits: Bhajana-kriya—Execution of Devotional Practice."
The next article will describe the precincts in the city of Devotional Practice (bhajana-kriya), as we move from unsteady service to steady service. Stay tuned.
Vraja Kishor Dasa joined the Hare Kasna movement four years ago. He and his band, 108, are based at ISKCON's temple in Towaco, New Jersey.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Cleanliness and Krsna Consciousness
By Rohininandana Dasa
WHEN I ONCE licked a stamp in a post office in India, a man next to me frowned and pointed to a little pot containing glue and a brush. All my life I'd been licking stamps and envelopes without a second thought, but in that simple, rather scruffy post office in an Indian village, I learned something about cleanliness not to be learned in all the immaculate establishments of Europe and America.
In India I noticed how clean people are. First thing in the morning even the poorest people are busy cleansing themselves, their clothes, their homes, their temples, their cooking pots—practically anything they have.
When I saw how concerned the Indian people are with cleanliness, somewhere inside me a voice said, "Ah well, Indians have to be clean because India has a hot climate and disease spreads fast here." But another voice said, "And me, at home in my damp English fridge—I don't need to be clean?"
The cleanliness of Indian people is part of a culture that for centuries has fostered the highest qualities and consciousness possible for a human being. The Vedic culture encourages one to be clean within and without.
Water is not the only cleanser at work on an Indian morning. In places that still have not contracted the Western disease of having "no time," you can hear bells and mantras from temples, houses, offices, and rickshas. After bathing and dressing in fresh clothes, people chant and meditate on the holy names of the Lord for internal purification.
As a general rule, even a simple person in India knows himself to be an eternal spiritual person whose clear consciousness is now covered by the dirt of what Prabhupada called "the six agitations"—lust, greed, anger, envy, madness, and illusion. Our consciousness is now like a drop of pure water fallen upon muddy ground. And just as powerful sunshine can restore a muddy drop to its pristine condition, so can Lord Krsna, the source of all suns, purify us.
One of India's ancient texts, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, gives another analogy. It says that we souls in the material world have become so involved with our erroneous ways that it is as if our hearts have become buried in a gloomy mountain of sinful desire. The lotus feet of the Lord, however, are like brilliant thunderbolts that can shatter these mountains and illuminate our true consciousness.
That consciousness, known as Krsna consciousness, is not only the heritage of a person from India, but is the birthright of every human being. Krsna consciousness is what human life is for. Srila Prabhupada explained in a letter, "Our Krsna consciousness movement is not a religious movement [in the sense of teaching a particular type of religion]; it is a movement for purifying the heart."
The essential heart cleanser is a regular scrub with Krsna's holy names. Lord Caitanya says that chanting Hare Krsna cleanses away the influence of our six enemies as one cleanses dust from a mirror. When a dirty mirror becomes bright and clean, it gives a better reflection. Similarly, our mind, when purified, helps us see Krsna at every step of our life. And as our purity increases, we will attain love of God and be able to see within our heart the Lord's beautifully resplendent form:
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Syamasundara, Krsna Himself, with innumerable inconceivable attributes, whom the pure devotees see in their hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love." (Brahma-samhita 5.38)
Chanting Hare Krsna is so important that if for some reason a person can't take a bath, Vedic literature says he should simply chant. If one is spiritually clean, or free from the contaminating influence of the modes of nature, then he is also understood to be clean in all ways. Indeed, yogis in the past would sometimes forget to bathe because of their complete immersion in ecstatic trance, yet because of their elevated consciousness they would not smell bad or contract disease.
Although we are not the body, the state of our body does affect our consciousness. So keeping the body clean is important. "Cleanliness is next to godliness." By bathing regularly, we stay invigorated and healthy and better able to chant Hare Krsna with attention. The Ayur Veda lists three causes of disease—anxiety, overeating, and uncleanliness. If the skin is not cleansed, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
We need to keep the inside of our body clean and healthy, too. The best way to do that is by drinking pure water and eating healthy, nourishing food offered to Krsna.
In India I noticed some cleanliness practices people in the West may be unfamiliar with. For example, many people Indians use a tongue scraper upon rising in the morning to remove the coating that collects on the tongue during the night. The Ayur Veda says that this coating can cause sickness if not removed. People in India often bathe at least twice a day, morning and evening, and after evacuating. They use the left hand for cleaning their private parts. The right hand is reserved for eating, chanting on beads, and offering and accepting things, and for touching communal items, such as switches and door handles.
I noticed that many people in India pour liquids into their mouth to avoid placing their lips on the glass. They don't wear outdoor shoes inside the home. And they try to keep their cooking pots spotlessly clean.
Prabhupada encouraged us to keep everything as clean as glass. As we clean for Krsna, he said, we clean our hearts. Besides, our hearts, minds, bodies, homes—everything—belong to the Lord. If we take care of them, He will naturally be pleased.
Rohininandana Dasa lives in southern England with his wife and their three children. Write to him in care of Back to Godhead.
by Satyaraja dasa
According to the Vedic literature, behind the workings of the cosmos stand powerful controllers, known as devas, or demigods. As we people in this world control our cars or homes, the devas control various aspects of the cosmos. They are among the exalted servants of Lord Krsna.
Walk into any New Age bookstore and you'll find a section with dozens of Goddess books—their sales figures up there with books on sex and self-help. In India "the Goddess" is known by such names as Durga, Kali, Amba, and many others. And whether referred to by her Greek name, Gaia, her African name, Ashun, her Egyptian name, Isis, or any of the hundreds of names by which she is known throughout the world, the Goddess is enjoying great popularity today, especially in the United States and Europe.
The popularity of the Goddess is understandable—the material world is her domain, her jurisdiction given to her by Krsna. The Brahma-samhita (5.43), one of the oldest scriptures known to man, describes four levels of existence: The highest is Krsna's own abode, the kingdom of God in its most profound manifestation; just below that is Hari-dhama, the place of the other spiritual planets; lower still is Mahesa-dhama, the dwelling place of Siva and his devotees; and finally there is Devi-dhama, the material world, where the Mother of the Universe, the Goddess, controls the living entities who have chosen to try to enjoy separately from Krsna. Devi-dhama consists of fourteen planetary systems, from the lowest planet in the material world to the highest.
The Brahma-samhita (5.44) gives information about the queen of the cosmos:
The Supreme Lord's external potency, who is the shadow of His knowledge potency, is worshiped by all people as Durga, the creating, preserving, and destroying agent of this mundane world. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, in accordance with whose will Durga conducts herself.
This verse identifies the presiding deity of Devi-dhama as Durga (whose name means "fort"). Her form is sometimes frightening, and though real, Vedic teachers find symbolism in it as well. Commenting on this verse, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains the significance of Durga's form.
Her ten arms, he says, represent ten kinds of fruitive activities. She is often depicted as riding on a ferocious lion, signifying her heroism, and she tramples Mahisasura, a buffalo demon. This act, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta writes, represents her ability to destroy vices. She holds a snake, reminding us of destructive time, and twenty diverse weapons, representing pious activities enjoined in the Vedas for suppression of vices.
When people in India speak of Devi, "the Goddess," they generally mean Durga, who creates, maintains, and destroys within the material sphere. Durga is elaborately described in many of the Vedic books known as Upa-puranas, or "lesser Puranas," particularly in the Devi Bhagavata Purana. As the consort of Siva, she is known as Parvati, Gauri, Uma, Devi, and Bhavani. She has thousands of other names and forms as well.
Durga's characteristics are diverse, and they appear differently according to the aspect on which her worshiper chooses to focus. Gauri, Uma, and Parvati are the most benevolent, often portrayed as loving and kind. Durga is often represented as a heroic fighting goddess. And to people who don't know the purpose behind her actions, she—or her alter ego Kali—may sometimes even seem bloodthirsty.
Some Hindu sects, notably in the Saiva and Sakta traditions of South India, worship the divine union of Siva and his consort as the cosmic force behind life. This they do by worshiping the lingam (Siva's stylized phallus) along with the yoni (the stylized vagina). When worshiped in this way, the Goddess is identified with cosmic energy.
Durga is also identified with prakrti (material nature) and maya (illusion). Indeed, two of her more popular names are Mulaprakrti ("The Embodiment of Primordial Matter") and Mahamaya ("The Great Illusion"). In Bhagavad-gita (9.10) Krsna says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: "The material energy [prakrti] is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and is producing all moving and unmoving beings." Prakrti is Durga. So Krsna is in control, giving direction to Durga, His subordinate. And when one doesn't acknowledge that, Durga becomes Mahamaya—she places us under illusion.
In illusion we conditioned beings of this world eagerly take shelter of Durga and her domain. In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 21.53), Srila Prabhupada writes, "For material facilities, the conditioned soul tries to please the goddess Durga, and mother* Durga supplies all kinds of material facilities. Because of this, the conditioned souls are allured and do not wish to leave the external energy."
* Interestingly, the word "matter" is from the Latin word for "mother" (mater).
The facilities one receives by taking shelter of Durga—or any demigod—are material and therefore unsatisfying. The demigods are limited in their power; they cannot give the highest reward. "The goddess Durga is the superintending deity of the material world," says Srila Prabhupada. "The demigods are simply different directors engaged in operating the departments of material activities, and they are under the influence of the same material energy."
How then can the demigods free their devotees? They can't. They merely award material benefits. Bhagavad-gita (7.20) tells us, "Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." Moreover, Krsna says, although by faithfully worshiping a demigod one may receive the benefits one desires, "in actuality those benefits are bestowed by Me alone."
In other words, Durga and the millions of other demigods are dependent on Krsna for their powers, and the awards the demigods bestow are always temporary and limited. Only Krsna can bestow the highest thing—love of God. Worshipers of the Goddess pray, dhanam dehi rupam dehi/ rupa-pati-bhajam dehi: "Please give me wealth, beauty, a beautiful spouse ..." But they are missing the point. One's real desire should be to go back to Krsna. And Krsna says, "People of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet."
Satyaraja Dasa is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a regular contributor to Back to Godhead. He has written several book on Krsna consciousness. He and his wife live in New York City.
Back in 1972, when the Hare Krsna movement first acquired land for a temple in Nairobi, some members of the congregation thought the devotees were setting up in the wrong place. The land was near the center of the city, with its busy atmosphere and traffic. Better to select a calm, quiet location in the suburbs.
"I suggested to Srila Prabhupada some locations I thought would be more suitable," recalls Mr. Jayant Ruparel, a prominent agent in real estate. "But he told me, 'You don't understand. You are thinking to go far away from the people, but I am thinking to be in the middle of them.' "
So the movement set up its temple, and the programs there grew, so that over the last few years the devotees saw the need for a new temple to keep pace with the growth.
They began looking for land, found several good sites, and tried to make a deal for the best one of them. But the deal fell through—and every time they tried for another site, the same thing happened.
So finally the devotees decided to stay right where they were, and then everything began falling into place. Donors came forward with funds and materials, engineers and architects offered their services, and soon the new temple was well on its way.
The temple, with its new asrama, meeting hall, and guest house, opened last November 19.
"Open the Doors to Your Heart"
To advertise the opening of the temple, the devotees put a twelve-page insert in the Daily Nation, Nairobi's largest newspaper. The cover of the insert showed the temple doors opening to reveal the Radha-Krsna Deities, Radha-Bankebihari. The caption: "Open the Doors to Your Heart and Let Govinda In." The insert included articles on vegetarianism, Srila Prabhupada, chanting Hare Krsna, and Hare Krishna Food for Life. Here are some of the many letters the devotees received in response to the insert:
Please, we are very much interested to learn more about the Hare Krishna temple, how to let Govinda in, and how to be among your devotees.
2nd Brigade Headquarters
I am very much interested in your Food for Life Program. Although I come from a rural community and there is not much I can contribute, if you feel that a donation of one or two acres can be of assistance to you I shall be happy to give it. If there is any other way you feel I can be of any assistance, please contact me. Meanwhile, I leave you with the chanting of the Lord's holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Andrew K. Waitutu
I read information about the Hare Krishna Society in the Daily Nation, and my heart was opened to a new spiritual and intellectual awareness. I was particularly moved by the article on vegetarianism and its spiritual dimension, which helps us develop a natural appreciation and love of God.
I was greatly impressed by your educative, enlightening, and intellectually stimulating article on the subject of vegetarianism which appeared in the Daily Nation. I must add that I was fascinated by the articles on Krsna as a whole.
Having been born in a Christian family, I must admit I have always been suspicious of the practices and intentions of any religion or movement that did not believe in Christ. But having gone through your articles, I was surprised to learn that your teachings are not in any way basically at variance with Christian teachings, as they are also inspired by love, not only for human beings but also for animals. I would like to request more information on the Krishna movement.
George Edwin Omouk
I am a Christian church pastor, and I firmly believe in God and Jesus Christ. I am in charge of four church congregations in Nyambena District of Eastern Province. I was very much touched by a story with your beliefs which appeared in the Daily Nation. I was particularly impressed with your article on vegetarianism.
As church pastors we preach, "Love your neighbor," as Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. I now come to understand from your article that Jesus did not only mean human beings but animals also. It is a matter of fact that the other day I witnessed the slaughter of a camel for meat. It is certainly true that it underwent a lot of suffering, and most of us who were there had to run away, as we felt some mercy for this poor beast.
Your article I have gone through several times, and as from now I will teach my Christians this doctrine—to avoid eating any meat and to extend our love to all God's creatures.*
I wish for all Christians to be vegetarians, but to help me in this effort I kindly request you to please furnish me with any literature you might have available on this subject.
God bless you and your work.
Yours in the service of Christ,
* Pastor's emphasis.
Srimati Rukmini Devi
Srimati Rukmini Devi is the eternal consort of Lord Krsna in Dvaraka. When Rukmini and Krsna descend to this world, they enact many pastimes, including their marriage.
Rukmini Devi was the daughter of a king, and her elder brother arranged for her marriage with Sisupala, a determined enemy of Krsna. Desiring to marry Krsna, Rukmini sent a letter addressed to Him through a trusted brahmana. Here is part of that letter:
My dear Krsna, O infallible and most beautiful one, any human being who happens to hear about Your transcendental form and pastimes immediately absorbs though his ears Your name, fame, and qualities; thus all his material pangs subside, and he fixes Your form in his heart. Through such transcendental love for You, he always sees you within himself; and by this process all his desires are fulfilled.
Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana
Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana appeared in Orissa at the end of the seventeenth century or the beginning of the eighteenth. At an early age he learned Sanskrit grammar, poetry, rhetoric, and logic and then traveled to holy places throughout India. While traveling, he met the followers of the great teacher Madhvacarya (A.D. 1239-1319). Baladeva mastered the teachings of Madhva, accepted sannyasa, the renounced order of life, and continued his travels, spreading Madhva's teachings as he went.
After some years, at Jagannatha Puri Baladeva met devotees in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Baladeva accepted initiation into the line and quickly became an expert in the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta, the philosophical conclusions of Lord Caitanya and his followers. Baladeva then went to Vrndavana to study under Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the foremost Gaudiya Vaisnava of that period.
Visvanatha Cakravarti sent Baladeva to Jaipur to resolve a dispute about the authenticity of the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. Priests from another line were trying to convince the king of Jaipur that they—and not the Gaudiya Vaisnavas—should worship the popular Krsna Deities Govindaji and Gopinatha. The priests said the Gaudiya were inauthentic because they had no commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. Because of Baladeva's pure devotion, the Deity Govindaji dictated to Baladeva a Vedanta commentary, known as Govinda Bhasya, and Baladeva was successful in his mission of authenticating the Gaudiya Vaisnava line.
After the passing of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Baladeva became the leader of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. He wrote many books on the teachings of Lord Caitanya and is one of the most prominent teachers in Lord Caitanya's line. He left this world for Lord Krsna's abode in 1768.
"We Must Have A Definite Process"
Here we conclude an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and an official from an impersonalist ("God-is-simply-everyone-and-everything") movement. The exchange took place in Paris, on August 13, 1973, with Prabhupada's disciples translating the official's remarks from French.
Official: Personally, I do not like the idea of killing animals.
Srila Prabhupada: But what is the ideal of your order? That I am asking.
Official: Love between men. Understanding.
Srila Prabhupada: What have the animals done? There is no love or understanding shown to them.
Official: I love the animals. I have many animals living with me. I'm surrounded by animals. [Laughter.]
Srila Prabhupada: That is nice. But a person who is habituated to kill animals—will he be admitted into your order?
Official: I don't think someone who kills animals would like to enter, but if a butcher wants to enter, that is all right, because gradually we will elevate him.
Srila Prabhupada: Then, in principle, the order does not allow animal killing?
Official: Ideally, our movement would not want to see animals killed, or anyone killed.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore, I want to know what are the principles—the rules and regulations—of the order.
Official: Our principles are love, beauty, harmony, peace. And as you progress, one initiation after another. If you begin as a butcher, then gradually, in your own self, you will wish to give it up. But there are no rules.
Srila Prabhupada: "One initiation after another," but there are no progressive rules?
Official: Our order doesn't require that you give up meat-eating. Our order is intelligent. If we were to tell people, "Don't do this, don't do this, don't do that," nobody would join us. In any case, the real mystic is someone who has controlled his own body.
Srila Prabhupada: But you cannot explain how to control the body.
Official: It happens immediately, or it will happen in a while.
Srila Prabhupada: At least I cannot accept this. We could discuss further if you had some definite program. Say I want to enter your association. You must give me some prescription by which, if I follow, I'll make progress. But you have no such prescription.
Official: I shall submit to my grandmaster your request for a specific prescription to be given to you.
Srila Prabhupada: But, in principle, your order hasn't got any such prescription.
Official: We will make one special, just for you.
Srila Prabhupada: But not for the general mass of people.
Official: Correct. It is very good that you prescribe no meat-eating, no intoxicants, no premarital or extramarital sex, and so on. These are nice principles that you are following. And we are sure that you have come to these conclusions—on your own—just as perhaps one day we may also come to these conclusions—on our own.
Srila Prabhupada: So for the time being, your order has no such rules and regulations?
Official: Our order makes certain suggestions, but we do not oblige anyone to follow our suggestions.
Srila Prabhupada: What are those suggestions?
Official: Our movement suggests that people live a life as perhaps yours is—of purity, pure thoughts, moral living, and even following certain principles.
Srila Prabhupada: But these impure things are going on all over the world, and you don't say anything. Suppose a man is killing animals. You don't prohibit him. He is engaged in immoral life, and if you don't prohibit him, then how can he become moral? Do you think morality and the killing of animals go together?
Official: Our order likes very much the ideals of beauty and harmony and morality, but we cannot impose these things on anyone.
Srila Prabhupada: But, for instance, the Bible imposes the rule or regulation "You shall not kill." Yet you have no such thing.
Official: Realization is what counts.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but what that realization is you cannot explain. If you cannot explain, then what is your realization?
Official: Had I not realized something, I would not be here now.
Srila Prabhupada: Then first let us see whether you can describe who you are.
Official: When Moses saw the burning bush and asked the fire, "Who are you?" the fire said, "I am what I am." Who am I? That is a question you are going to have to answer by your own meditations.
Srila Prabhupada: But what is your meditation? What have you learned?
Official: The thing to realize is peace. When you join our order, you receive a letter, and at the bottom of the letter, it says, "With our best wishes for your peace and happiness."
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right. Everyone wants that. But what is the process?
Official: Praying, courage, faith. A serious movement, a serious order, would never guarantee instantaneous illumination.
Srila Prabhupada: No, that we also say. But we must have a definite process. For instance, in answer to the question "Who are you?"—because at least one must know who he is—you gave the vague reply "I am what I am." If you ask me, "Who are you, sir?" and I say, "I am what I am," is that the proper answer? [Laughter.] That is a nonsense answer.
Official: I could tell you my name, but the interior, the reality, is different. Now, if we all join together in silence and we enter into ourselves and create one person, then we will know who we are—from that silence.
Srila Prabhupada: But how it is possible to remain silent?
Disciple [in jest]: Bahunam janmanam ante: "After many, many births and deaths."
Srila Prabhupada [laughing]: That's all right. That's all right.
Srila Jayananda Prabhu
Srila Jayananda Prabhu joined Srila Prabhupada and the fledgling Hare Krsna movement in San Francisco in 1967. Jayananda Prabhu had been driving a cab, and, encouraged by Srila Prabhupada, he kept that job to help support the storefront Hare Krsna temple. He also gave Srila Prabhupada $5,000 to help print the first edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
For many years Jayananda Prabhu was the backbone of the San Francisco Rathayatra (Festival of the Chariots). He would do everything from asking for donations of food, flowers, and money to advertising, building the chariots, arranging for permits, and organizing the cooking and distribution of prasadam, food offered to Krsna.
The last festival Jayananda was able to work on directly was the New York City Rathayatra in 1976. Attended by Srila Prabhupada, it was the first Rathayatra in New York, and it went down Fifth Avenue. Jayananda called it the most successful of all the festivals he had worked on.
Soon after that festival, Jayananda Prabhu was diagnosed as having cancer. He spent his last few months advising devotees in Los Angeles who were preparing to put on their first Rathayatra. He passed away in 1977 while devotees chanted Hare Krsna in his room.
In a letter to Jayananda shortly after his passing, Srila Prabhupada wrote, "As you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka. Krsna has done a great favor to you, not to continue your diseased body, and has given you a suitable place for your service."
Srila Prabhupada requested devotees all over the world to commemorate Jayananda Prabhu's passing every year as they would that of any great devotee of Krsna.
Since we can have a fully satisfying relationship with Krsna,
By Visakha Devi Dasi
BEFORE WE KNEW with certainty that our daughter Hari-priya existed—when she was still smaller than a pea—much had already been decided about her: her sex, physique, mental capacity, overall health, who her parents would be, the suffering and enjoyment she would get in her lifetime—and where she would be born.
My husband, my ten-year-old daughter, and I were in India during this time, and when I was two and a half months pregnant, we decided to make Jagannatha Puri our base. From Puri we could continue our service (we were working on a Krsna conscious film), and as one of the major Vaisnava holy places in India, Jagannatha Puri would be spiritually nourishing for the three of us. In addition, as a seaside town it would be especially healthy and peaceful for me.
We weren't disappointed. A rented house on the edge of town near the sea became our home, and bicycle rides, long walks along the deserted beach, or swims in the cool waters of the Bay of Bengal, along with some hatha yoga, became my daily routine. We grew vegetables in the small garden around our house, enjoyed fresh, pure cow's milk from a nearby dairy, and often relished Lord Jagannatha's prasadam—pure vegetarian food that had been cooked by brahmanas and offered to the Lord.
From the rooftop of our house we had a clear view of Lord Jagannatha's famous temple, where these offerings were made many times daily. At night, under a sky crowded with stars, the temple glowed with silvery-green light. Over the months we lived in Puri, I chanted the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna. Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—for many hours while looking at the temple, about two miles distant, its huge yellow or red flag waving in the persistent breezes. And I chanted for many other hours before our small home Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai.
Unpredictably, but quite often, devotees from different parts of the world would come to Puri on pilgrimage, and we would join them in visiting and chanting at the many holy sites in Puri.
During these tranquil times, I reflected how, within my womb, Hari-priya's body was forming around a spirit soul. Hari-priya—like every other living being in this world—is a soul encased in a body. It's the soul that's alive, eternally; the body, lifeless matter. Previously, Hari-priya had abandoned the body she had been housed in (that body had "died"), and now a "new" body was growing around her in preparation for rebirth. But Hari-priya had abandoned only her previous physical form; her previous subtle body—mind, intelligence, and false ego—stayed with her. And her present state, arranged by the dictation of the laws of material nature, was due to the state of her subtle body. In other words, Hari-priya's destiny, shaped by her past activities, was already with her.
Srila Prabhupada explains that just as springtime in the present indicates the nature of springtimes in the past and future, so this life of happiness, distress, or a mixture of both gives evidence of the activities of one's past and future lives.
A person with a pious background may be good looking, wealthy, well educated, or born in a well-placed family. A person with an impious background, the opposite. One who acts religiously will be awarded a higher birth in his next life, whereas an irreligious person has a future that is bleak.
Many will object to this apparently fatalistic philosophy. A baby, what to speak of an unborn baby, seems innocent and has unlimited opportunities ahead. Why consider the future sealed? Why ignore free will and dismiss as futile a person's initiative and enthusiastic striving for excellence?
There's no doubt that an individual has free will, and has good cause to use initiative and to excel. But that doesn't alter the karma a child carries from previous lives.
Of course, my husband and I had no idea where Hari-priya had come from or what her karma had in store for her. We did know that just as it was her destiny to have us as parents, it was ours to have her as our daughter. The Srimad-Bhagavatam explains that the mentality of the parents at the time of conception attracts a suitable soul: "In order to give a particular type of human form to a person who has already suffered hellish life, the soul is transferred to the semen of a man who is just suitable to become his father. During sexual intercourse, the soul is transferred through the semen of the father into the mother's womb to produce a particular type of body." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.31.1, purport)
And my husband and I also knew that Hari-priya was ours to nurture and love and, as far as we were able, to awaken to her dormant God consciousness.
Along with whatever good and bad karma she was carrying with her from previous births, she was also, and in a deeper way, a purely God conscious person. Karma, although it may go on for an eon, is temporary. It can be eradicated. God consciousness, however, is an eternal characteristic of the soul. But it is covered—usually thickly. The Srimad-Bhagavatam instructs that we should not become a father or a mother unless we can deliver our children from the clutches of karma—from repeated births and deaths—by arousing their God consciousness. Good reason to be cautious about bearing children.
About a month after we arrived in Puri, a visiting married godbrother raised a question. "Since we have an eternal, perfect, and blissful relationship with Krsna," he asked, "why bother with marriage? Why have children? What can such temporary and imperfect relationships lead to except anxiety and disappointment, sooner or later?"
In the highest sense his point is correct. Srila Prabhupada encourages us to accept Krsna as our friend, as our child, or even as our lover, and in doing so, he assures us, we will never be disappointed. That relationship will never dissolve, nor will we ever feel material anxiety or dissatisfaction with it. The Supreme Lord is the perfect friend, child, and lover.
So why settle for anything less? Why have children who, at best, would certainly complicate our lives, and at worst ...?
My answer to this challenge dawned on me a month or two later as I was reading a verse in Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita (5.7): "One who acts in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a person is never entangled." Instead of reading this blithely and plowing on, as is my usual bent, I stopped and thought about each phrase and how it didn't apply to me. I don't act in devotion. I am far from being a pure soul and controlling my senses. I'm not dear to everyone, nor is everyone dear to me, and so forth. As I read more, I realized that every verse that describes saintly persons and saintly characteristics is beyond my level of realization: "One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within ..." (Bg. 5.24) "Those who are free from anger and all material desires ..." (Bg. 5.26) "One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires ..." (Bg. 12.17) "One who is equal to friends and enemies, who is equipoised in honor and dishonor ..." (Bg. 12.18) "One who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain ..." (Bg. 2.57). And so on.
The simple fact is that I am a neophyte; therefore I cannot fully repose my loving propensity in the Lord alone. And therefore marriage, children, and the gradual process of becoming free from material desires.
This path of household life is also acceptable to Krsna. When He Himself appeared on earth He played the role of a householder and set a perfect example. His many children also became householders. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the most recent incarnation of Krsna, also set an example in this regard. When one of His associates in the renounced order deviated slightly in dealing with a woman, the Lord sternly rejected him. Yet many of the Lord's most intimate associates were householders. His clear message: hypocrisy will not be tolerated.
This idea is also presented by Prabhupada. in a purport to Bhagavad-gita (3.7): "Instead of becoming a pseudo transcendentalist for the sake of wanton living and sense enjoyment, it is far better to remain in one's own business and execute the purpose of life, which is to get free from material bondage and enter the kingdom of God ... A householder can also reach this destination by regulated service in Krsna consciousness."
At six months, when the baby started vigorous kicking, my husband took to chanting the maha-mantra to her, while at other times my daughter told her short Krsna stories from The Nectar of Devotion.
Sometime later—about a month before the delivery—my husband was explaining to my gynecologist, Dr. Narayan Udgata, how our film work had been canceled for the time being and that now our only business in Puri was waiting for the birth.
"We know that it's auspicious for a child to be born here," my husband said. "That's why we haven't left."
Dr. Udgata, a permanent resident of Puri and knowledgeable and competent in his field, responded by revealing his devotion.
"Lord Jagannatha is most merciful," he said, "and because you are living here to have your child, surely He will be merciful to you."
Then he began reciting, from memory, verses from the Fourth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita about how the Lord descends to protect religious principles and to eradicate irreligion. And he explained to us how the Lord sends His empowered representatives or comes personally at different times, in different places and with different names—Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Allah, Buddha, Krsna, Jagannatha.
"She's also a scholar in Bhagavad-gita," my husband said, indicating me.
"I'm a neophyte," I said, and began reciting: dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara ... ("As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death ... Bg. 2.13)
Dr. Udgata joined me as I recited the verse, and then he continued reciting verses from that point in the Gita on. It turned out that he knew all seven hundred Bhagavad-gita verses and could recite them in several beautiful melodies and with great feeling. "It is a gift from the Lord," Dr. Udgata explained humbly.
When Hari-priya finally emergedon the new year's first Ekadasi (a special day for remembering the Lord)—Dr. Udgata performed the customary procedures, pronounced her healthy, and, when she had calmed down, asked the rest of us to be silent as he recited the Twelfth Chapter of the Gita, "Devotional Service" (his favorite chapter).
As he was leaving, I heard him say to my husband, "Everything is all right. Mother and baby are well. The only thing is that you wanted a son and it is a daughter."
I couldn't hear my husband's reply, but I looked at Hari-priya, pink-skinned, bright-eyed, and alert, and thought, "Yes, this time we did want a son. As always, however, Lord Jagannatha's desire prevailed over ours. And although we may not understand it now, His arrangement is perfect and certainly best for us."
When Hari-priya was about a month old, with some regret we left Jagannatha Puri to return to New Braja Bhumi—a community of devotees living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in central California. There we own nine acres of beautiful, rugged land, and there we will continue our hearing and chanting, associate with the devotees, and raise Hari-priya in a simple, natural, Krsna conscious setting.
Visakha Devi Dasi has been contributing articles and photographs to Back to Godhead for twenty years.
An address presented at World Archeological Congress 3,
By Drutakarma Dasa (Michael A. Cremo)
The World Archeological Congress is an international organization that meets every four years in a different city of the world. Nine hundred archeologists and scientists from related disciplines attended the New Delhi meeting, jointly sponsored by the World Archeological Congress and the Archeological Survey of India, with support from the Indian government.
The concept of time used by modern historical scientists, including archeologists, strikingly resembles the traditional Judeo-Christian concept. And it strikingly differs from that of the ancient Greeks and Indians.
This observation is, of course, an extreme generalization. In any culture, the common people may use various concepts of time, linear and cyclical. And among the great thinkers of any period, there may be many competing views of both cyclical and linear time. That was certainly true of the ancient Greeks. It can nevertheless be safely said that the cosmological concepts of several of the most prominent Greek thinkers involved a cyclic or episodic time similar to that found in the Puranic literature of India.
For example, we find in Hesiod's Works and Days a series of ages (gold, silver, bronze, heroic, and iron) similar to the Indian yugas. In both systems the quality of human life gets progressively worse with each passing age. In On Nature Empedocles speaks of cosmic time cycles. In Plato's dialogues there are descriptions of revolving time and recurring catastrophes that destroy or nearly destroy human civilization. Aristotle said in many places in his works that the arts and sciences had been discovered many times in the past. In the teachings of Plato, Pythagoras, and Empedocles on transmigration of souls, the cyclical pattern is extended to individual psychophysical existence.
When Judeo-Christian civilization arose in Europe, another kind of time became prominent—time going forward in a straight line. Broadly speaking, this concept of time involves a unique act of cosmic creation, a unique appearance of human beings, and a unique history of salvation, culminating in a unique denouement in the form of a last judgment. The drama occurs only once. Individually, the life of a human being mirrors this process; so, with some exceptions, orthodox Christian theologians rejected transmigration of the soul.
Modern historical sciences share the basic Judeo-Christian assumptions about time. The universe we inhabit is a unique occurrence. Humans have arisen once on this planet. The history of our ancestors followed a unique though unpredestined evolutionary pathway. The future pathway of our species is also unique. Although this pathway is officially unpredictable, the myths of science project a possible overcoming of death by biomedical science and mastery over the entire universe by evolving, space-traveling humans. One group, the Santa Fe Institute, sponsor of several conferences on "artificial life," predicts the transfer of human intelligence into machines and computers displaying the complex symptoms of living things. "Artificial life" thus becomes the ultimate transfiguring salvation of our species. Finally, the collapse of the Big Bang universe will bring everything to a close.
One is tempted to propose that the modern account of human evolution is a Judeo-Christian heresy that covertly retains fundamental structures of Judeo-Christian cosmology, eschatology, and salvation history while overtly dispensing with the scriptural account of divine intervention in the origin of species, including our own. This would be similar to the way Buddhism, while dispensing with the Hindu scriptures and concepts of God, retained basic Hindu cosmological assumptions such as cyclical time, transmigration, and karma.
Another feature the modern human evolutionary account has in common with the earlier Christian account is that humans appear after the other forms of life. In Genesis, God creates the plants, animals, and birds before human beings. For strict literalists, the time interval is short—humans are created on the last of six of our present solar days. Others have taken the Genesis days as ages. For example, around the time of Darwin, European scientists with strong Christian leanings proposed that God had gradually brought into existence various species throughout the ages of geological time until the perfected earth was ready to receive human beings. In modern evolutionary accounts, anatomically modern humans retain their position as the most recent major species to occur on this planet, having evolved from previous hominids within the past 100,000 or so years. And despite the attempts of prominent evolutionary theorists and spokespersons to counteract the tendency, even among evolution scientists, to express the appearance of humans as in any way predestined, the idea that humans are the crowning glory of the evolutionary process still has a strong hold on the minds of the public and the scientists. Although anatomically modern humans are given an age of about 100,000 years, modern archeologists and anthropologists, in common with Judeo-Christian accounts, give civilization an age of a few thousand years and, again in common with Judeo-Christian accounts, place its earliest occurrence in the Middle East.
I do not categorically assert a direct causal link between earlier Judeo-Christian ideas and those of the modern historical sciences. To demonstrate that would call for much more careful documentation than has yet been provided. But the many common features of the time concepts of the two systems of knowledge suggest that these causal links do exist and that to trace connections in detail would be fruitful.
I do propose, however, that the tacitly accepted and hence critically unexamined time concepts of the modern human sciences, whether or not causally linked with Judeo-Christian concepts, pose a significant unrecognized influence on interpretation of the archeological and anthropological record. To demonstrate how this might be true, I shall introduce my own experience in evaluating that record from the standpoint of the concepts of cyclical time and the accounts of human origins found in the Puranas and Itihasas of India.
My path of learning has led me to take the Vaisnava tradition of India as my primary guide to life and the study of the visible universe and what may lie beyond. For the past century or so, bringing concepts from religious texts directly into the scientific study of nature has been considered quite unreasonable. Indeed, many introductory texts in anthropology and archeology make a clear distinction between "scientific" and "religious" ways of knowing, relegating the latter to the status of unsupported belief, with little or no utility in the objective study of nature. Some texts even go so far as to boast that this view has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court, as if the state were the best and final arbiter of intellectual controversy. ** (See, for example, Philip L. Stein and Bruce M. Rowe, Physical Anthropology, Fifth Edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), p. 37.)
But I propose that total hostility to religious views of nature in science is unreasonable, especially for the modern historical sciences. Despite pretensions to objectivity, scientists unconsciously retain or incorporate into their workings many Judeo-Christian cosmological concepts, especially concerning time, and implicitly employ them in their day-to-day work of observation and theory building. In this sense, modern evolutionists share some intellectual territory with their fundamentalist Christian antagonists.
But there are other ways to comprehend historical processes in nature. One can graphically sense this if one performs the mental experiment of looking at the world from a radically different perspective of time—the Puranic time concept of India. I am not alone in suggesting this. Gene Sager, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Palomar College in California, wrote in an unpublished review of my book Forbidden Archeology: "As a scholar in the field of comparative religion, I have sometimes challenged scientists by offering a cyclical or spiral model for studying human history, based on the Vedic concept of the kalpa. Few Western scientists are open to the possibility of sorting out the data in terms of such a model. I am not proposing that the Vedic model is true.... However, the question remains, does the relatively short, linear model prove to be adequate? I believe Forbidden Archeology offers a well researched challenge. If we are to meet this challenge, we need to practice open-mindedness and proceed in a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary fashion." The World Archeological Congress provides a suitable forum for such cross-cultural, interdisciplinary dialogue.
The Puranic concept of time involves cycles of yugas. Each yuga cycle is composed of four yugas. The first, Satya-yuga, lasts 1,728,000 years. The second, Treta-yuga, lasts 1,296,000 years. The third, Dvapara-yuga, lasts 864,000 years. And the fourth, Kali-yuga, lasts 432,000 years. This gives a total of 4.32 million years for the entire yuga cycle. One thousand of such cycles—4.32 billion years—make up one day of Brahma, the demigod who governs the universe. A day of Brahma is called a kalpa. Each of Brahma's nights lasts as long as his day. Life is manifest on earth only during the day of Brahma. With the onset of Brahma's night, the entire universe is devastated and plunged into darkness. When another day of Brahma begins, life again becomes manifest.
Each day of Brahma is divided into 14 manvantara periods, each lasting 71 yuga cycles. Preceding the first and following each manvantara period is a juncture (sandhya) the length of a Satya-yuga (1,728,000) years. Typically, each manvantara period ends with a partial devastation.
According to Puranic accounts, we are now in the twenty-eighth yuga cycle of the seventh manvantara period of the present day of Brahma. This would give the inhabited earth an age of 2.3 billion years. Interestingly enough, the oldest undisputed organisms recognized by paleontologists—algae fossils such as those from the Gunflint formation in Canada—are just about that old.
Altogether, 453 yuga cycles have elapsed since this day of Brahma began. Each yuga cycle involves a progression from a golden age of peace and spiritual progress to a final age of violence and spiritual degradation. At the end of each Kali-yuga, the earth is practically depopulated.
During the yuga cycles, human species coexist with other humanlike species. For example, in the Bhagavata Purana (9.10.20) we find the divine avatara Ramacandra conquering Ravana's kingdom, Lanka, with the aid of intelligent forest-dwelling monkey-men who, using trees and stones, fought Ravana's well-equipped soldiers. This occurred in the Treta-yuga, about one million years ago.
Given the cycle of yugas, the periodic devastations at the end of each manvantara, and the coexistence of civilized human beings and creatures in some ways resembling the human ancestors of modern evolutionary accounts, what predictions might the Puranic account give regarding the archeological record? Before answering this question, we must also consider the general imperfection of the fossil record. Hominid fossils in particular are extremely rare. Furthermore, only a small fraction of the sedimentary layers deposited during the earth's history have survived erosion and other destructive geological processes.
Taking all this into account, I propose that the Puranic view of time and history would predict a sparse but bewildering mixture of hominid fossils, some anatomically modern and some not, going back tens and even hundreds of millions of years and occurring at locations all over the world. It would also predict a more numerous but similarly bewildering mixture of stone tools and other artifacts, some showing a high level of technical ability and others not. And, given the biases of most workers in the fields of archeology and anthropology over the past 150 years, we might also predict that they would edit this bewildering mixture of fossils and artifacts to conform with a linear, progressive view of human origins.
In fact, when Richard Thompson and I carefully investigated published archeological reports, we found that the evidence supports these predictions. We reported our investigations in our book Forbidden Archeology [See BTG, May/June 1993].
First of all, there is considerable amount of physical evidence for extreme human antiquity, but here we shall only mention a few examples. The evidence falls into several categories.
The first is animal bones that show signs of human work on them. In some cases the signs of work take the form of cut marks made by stone tools. Numerous bones bearing such marks were found by European scientists in formations up to 20 million years old. In some cases the work is more advanced. For example, in 1881, British geologist Henry Stopes reported a shell with a human face carved upon it. The shell was found in deposits over 2 million years old.
A second category is stone tools and other artifacts. Stone tools have been found at various locations around in the world, in formations up to 50 million years old. More advanced objects have also been reported by scientists. For example, in 1844 Sir David Brewster described a nail found in sandstone in England. The sandstone was from the Devonian period, making it at least 360 million years old. Objects taken from coal deposits over 300 million years old include a gold chain, an iron pot, and an artistically carved stone.
A third category is human skeletal remains. Numerous human skeletons have been found in deposits millions of years old, including a complete human skeleton from an Illinois coal deposit over 300 million years old. Human footprints of the same age have also been reported from the state of Kentucky in the United States.
In negotiating a fashionable consensus that anatomically modern humans evolved from less advanced hominids in the Late Pleistocene era, about 100,000 years ago, scientists gradually rendered unfashionable the considerable body of compelling contradictory evidence summarized in our book. That evidence thus became unworthy of discussion in knowing circles. Richard Thompson and I have concluded that scientists muted that evidence by applying a double standard—favored evidence was exempted from the severely skeptical scrutiny to which unfavored evidence was subjected.
One example from the many that could be cited to demonstrate the role of linear progressive preconceptions in the editing of the archeological record is the case of the auriferous gravel finds in California. During the days of the California Gold Rush, starting in the 1850s, miners discovered many anatomically modern human bones and advanced stone implements in mine shafts sunk deep into deposits of gold-bearing gravels capped by thick lava flows. According to modern geological reports, the gravels beneath the lava were from 9 to 55 million years old. The mine shaft discoveries were reported to the world of science by J. D. Whitney, state geologist of California, in a monograph published by the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Harvard University. From the evidence he compiled, Whitney came to a nonprogressivist view of human origins—the fossil evidence he reported showed that the humans of the distant past were like those of the present.
To this, W. H. Holmes of the Smithsonian Institution replied: "Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted."
This attitude is still prominent today. Stein and Rowe, in their college textbook, assert, "Scientific statements are never considered absolute." But they also make this absolute statement: "Some people have assumed that humans have always been the way they are today. Anthropologists are convinced that human beings ... have changed over time in response to changing conditions. So one aim of the anthropologist is to find evidence for evolution and to generate theories about it." Apparently, an anthropologist, by definition, can have no other view or purpose.
One of the things Holmes found especially hard to accept was the similarity of the purportedly very ancient stone implements to those of the modern Native Americans. He wondered how anyone could take seriously the idea that "the implements of a Tertiary race should have been left in the bed of a Tertiary torrent to be brought out as good as new, after the lapse of vast periods of time, into the camp of a modern community using identical forms?"
The similarity could be explained in several ways, but one possible explanation is that in the course of cyclical time humans with particular cultural attributes repeatedly appeared in the same geographical region. The suggestion that such a thing could happen is bound to seem absurd to those who see humans as the recent result of a long and unique series of evolutionary changes in the hominid line—so absurd as to prevent them from considering any evidence as potentially supporting a cyclical interpretation of human history.
It is noteworthy, however, that when confronted with the evidence catalogued in my book, a fairly open-minded modern archeologist tried to explain the evidence by bringing up, in a somewhat doubting manner, the possibility of a cyclical interpretation of human history. George F. Carter, noted for his controversial views on early man in North America, wrote to me on January 26, 1994: "If your table on p. 391 were correct, then the minimum age for the artifacts at Table Mountain would be 9 million [years old]. Would you think then of a different creation—[one that] disappeared—and then a new start? Would it simply replicate the archeology of California 9 million years later? Or the inverse. Would the Californians 9 million years later replicate the materials under Table Mountain?"
That is exactly what I would propose—that in the course of cyclic time humans with a culture resembling that of modern Native Americans did in fact appear in California millions of years ago, perhaps several times.
"I find great difficulty with that line of reasoning," confessed Carter. But that difficulty, which encumbers the minds of most archeologists and anthropologists, may be the result of a rarely recognized and even more rarely questioned commitment to a culturally acquired sense that time is linear and progressive.
It would be worthwhile, therefore, to inspect the archeological record through other time lenses, such as the Puranic lens. Many people will take my proposal as a perfect example of what can happen when someone brings subjective religious ideas into the objective study of nature. Jonathan Marks reacted in typical fashion in his review of Forbidden Archeology: "Generally, attempts to reconcile the natural world to religious views end up compromising the natural world."
But until modern anthropology conducts a conscious examination of the effects of its own covert, and arguably religiously derived, assumptions about time and progress, it should put aside its pretensions to universal objectivity and not be so quick to accuse others of bending facts to fit religious dogma.
Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa) is an associate editor of Back to Godhead and a research associate in history and philosophy of science for the Bhaktivedanta Institute. He can be reached at the Bhaktivedanta Institute, P.O. Box 1920, Alachua, Florida 32615.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
To get much of our news Back to Godhead teams up with ISKCON World Review, the newspaper of the Hare Krsna movement. For more detailed news subscribe to ISKCON World Review (see page 57).
At least twenty million people heard or saw Drutakarma Dasa (Michael Cremo) during his recent US tour to promote The Hidden History of the Human Race, a book of which he is a co-author. Drutakarma was interviewed on more than fifty TV and radio stations in fourteen cities. Hidden History exposes a major scientific cover-up in the study of antiquity and human origins.
A new community hall is being completed as part of expansion for the Houston Hare Krsna temple. The hall will be done by the end of May. Capacity: 700 people.
A Columbia University conference featured ISKCON devotee Bhagavata Dasa, a nutrition consultant, speaking on "Veda and Ayur Veda in the Modern World." The conference, held in October, focused on "Health, Science, and the Spirit." It was sponsored by Columbia's Dharam Hinduja India Research Center.
Readers of Boise [Idaho] Weekly voted Govinda's the city's best restaurant for vegetarians. The restaurant is run by the Gupta family, who also run the local Hare Krsna center. The Weekly honored the Guptas at a party in the Boise Convention Center, where the Guptas passed out 700 servings of Krsna-prasadam. Mrs. Gupta (Aruddha Devi Dasi) also writes a Sunday column on Krsna consciousness for The Idaho Statesman (readership: 60,000).
The first Hindu member of congress in North America recently visited New Vrindaban, the Krsna conscious community in West Virginia. Mr. Jag Bhaduria is a member of the Canadian Parliament, where he has introduced (apart from legislation) vegetarian lunches.
Devotees are raising funds to buy land for a library and bhakti-yoga center in Bangor, Maine. The Institute for Spiritual and Environmental Awareness (ISEA), headed by Sandhini Devi Dasi, has undertaken the project. The peaceful, forested state of Maine attracts many people interested in spiritual life. ISEA hopes to open its doors on Srila Prabhupada's Centennial Appearance Day in 1996. ISEA has also pledged to get 100 subscriptions to Back to Godhead in honor of Prabhupada's Centennial.
Devotees have installed Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda in Coventry, making it the third ISKCON center in England with installed Deities. Unlike most ISKCON centers, the one in Coventry has no full-time temple staff. Instead, members of the congregation take turns spending the night at the temple to attend to the worship of the Deities.
A new music book offers songs of the Hare Krsna movement, with proper musical notation, and explains all the services and ceremonies that take place in Hare Krsna temples throughout the day. The book, The Hare Krsna Music Book, includes twenty-six bhajanas (devotional songs) and thirty-two tunes for the Hare Krsna mantra. The book has been compiled by Joan Wilder and published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
The Grand Inaugural for the Puspa Samadhi memorial to Srila Prabhupada took place in Mayapur, West Bengal, on February 26. Devotees installed a murti (statue) of Srila Prabhupada, amidst festive ceremonies, and heard a spiritual address from Srila Prabhupada's Godbrother Sripada B. R Puri Maharaja. Leading the celebrations was Prabhupada's disciple Ambarisa Dasa (Alfred Brush Ford, great-grandson of the auto magnate) and his wife Svaha Devi Dasi (Sharmila Bhattacharya Ford).
Rathayatra, the festival of the chariots, was celebrated at the end of March in Kuruksetra and Bombay.
Devotees fed twenty thousand poor people in Baroda, Gujarat, on January 14, the auspicious day known as Makara Sankranti. The prasadam distribution took place at five sites. Ten cooks and forty-five helpers used nearly five thousand kilograms (eleven thousand pounds) of ingredients to prepare the meal of vegetables, halava, and rice pulao.
The newspaper Vecernji List (Zagreb Evening News) reviewed the book, Prabhupada, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, last December. The Croatian translation of the book, a biography of Srila Prabhupada, was on display during an observance for Vedic Literature Month at a hall in the center of Zagreb.
Prabhupada, the review said, is "a unique literary piece that is living spiritual knowledge, inseparable from the life of the person Prabhupada." The review concluded, "This is a book that must be lived."
A dentist and a former ballet dancer have started Hare Krishna Food for Life in Zagreb. The program brings prasadam meals and Krsna conscious programs to orphanages, old-age homes, camps of Bosnian war refugees, and psychiatric and convalescent hospitals.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Devotees have mounted a campaign to stop the ongoing religious repression and harassment of devotees in Yerevan, Armenia. In one development, the American embassy in Yeravan, Armenia, has produced a report on the mistreatment of devotees in Armenia. The report will be included in the US Department of State's 1995 human rights report on Armenia. Both the Swedish embassy in Moscow and the German embassy in Yeravan have requested copies of the report.
Devotees have prepared a document on the persecution in Armenia. Among the influential people who have received the document are the Armenian delegate to the Conference for Security in Central Europe, held last November in Budapest, and British minister of parliament David Atkinson, chairman of the Council of Europe's nonmember countries committee.
Mauritius ISKCON put on a three-day children's festival in December, working with the Mauritian Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Youth Developments. A two-mile procession with kirtana was held each day. The procession on the last day was the fifth Mauritius Rathayatra parade.
Padayatra South Pacific
A Padayatra to get ready for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial will begin in July. Stage one (six weeks): Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. Organizers encourage French-speaking devotees to take part in the New Caledonia segment, scheduled for the last week of July. For more information, phone Mandapa Dasa (+61 02 906-5576) or write to ISKCON Sydney.
Padayatra Europe will start in mid-May from the ISKCON farm in the Czech Republic and walk north to Wroclaw, Poland. From July to the end of August the Padayatra will walk east from Wroclaw to Krakow and then to Lvov, Ukraine, arriving there in mid-September.
Several devotees from England, Russia, and Turkey are planning to hold a Padayatra in Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel in September. For more information contact: Airavata Dasa, ISKCON, 3-C Albert Road, Calcutta 700 017, West Bengal, India. Phone: +91 (033) 2473757 or 2476075
For more information about Padayatra, contact:
62, Sant Nagar, New Delhi 110 065, India
Phone: +91 (011) 646-9633; fax: +91 (011) 647-0742
Padayatra England and Europe
Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath,
Srila Madhavendra Puri
Srila Madhavendra Puri was the spiritual master of Advaita Acarya and Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanya's spiritual master. Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Sri Laksmipati Tirtha, in the Madhva Sampradaya, the disciplic line from the great spiritual teacher Madhvacarya.
Madhavendra Puri toured India on pilgrimage for many years. He then resided mostly in Vrndavana, where he discovered the Krsna Deity named Gopala, now worshiped in Nathadwar, Rajasthan, as Srinathaji.
Once, while traveling through Orissa to get sandalwood for Gopala, Madhavendra Puri visited the temple of the Krsna Deity Gopinatha in Remuna. Having heard that Gopinatha was daily offered delicious condensed milk, Madhavendra wanted to taste the preparation so that he could learn how to prepare it for Gopala. Ashamed at having thought of tasting the condensed milk while it was being offered to the Lord, Madhavendra Puri left the temple and went to a nearby marketplace to chant Hare Krsna.
Rather than being offended, however, Lord Gopinatha was pleased by Madhavendra Puri's devotion to Gopala. When the priest came to remove the offering from the Deity chamber, Gopinatha hid a cup of condensed milk behind His cape. He then ordered the priest in a dream to deliver the condensed milk to Madhavendra Puri.
When Madhavendra Puri received the condensed milk, he drank it with great spiritual emotion. He kept the pot, and he would eat a small piece of it every day.
Bhima's Celestial Travels
Bhima's powerful new wife shows him the wonders of higher realms.
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. As the Mahabharata continues, Bhima, having killed the man-eater Hidimba, tries to rid himself of the man-eater's sister, who has begun to travel with them.
Bhimasena said, "Raksasas remember their grudges, and they resort to bewildering magic to avenge themselves. Your are one of them, Hidimba! Go now the way of your brother!"
Yudhisthira said, "Bhima, O tiger of men, even if you are angry you must never kill a woman. Protect the sacred law, Pandava, and don't worry about protecting your body. The mighty demon came to kill us, but you cut him down. So what can his sister do to us, even if she is secretly angry?"
Folding her hands in a prayerful sign, Hidimba turned to Kunti (and to Yudhisthira and Arjuna) and pleaded for help.
"O noble woman, you know how much women suffer when struck by the arrows of Cupid. Now, good woman, that pain has reached my heart because of Bhimasena. I tolerated the greatest sorrow, waiting for the right time, but now my time has come to be truly happy. Giving up my best friends, my duties, and my people, O good lady, I chose this tiger of a man, your son, as my husband. Most honored woman, does this chosen man, and do you also, reject my proposal for a wedding because I speak as I do? Whether you consider me a fool or a devoted servant, O fortunate woman, please unite me with your son in sacred marriage! Taking your son, as handsome as a god, I would go with him wherever we wish. And when my desire has been fulfilled, we shall return. Please have faith in me, fair lady.
"If all of you just think of me, then I shall always come to you in times of trouble, and I shall take you, best of men, across impassable roads. When you desire to travel with great speed, I shall carry all of you on my back. But now, please, give me your mercy so that Bhimasena will accept me.
"It is said, 'To escape disaster a man should save his life by whatever means is practical, and one who follows this rule must honor every practical means as his duty. This does not mean, however, that one should resort to evil acts, for even in distress one should maintain one's higher principles. One who knows this is the greatest student of virtue, for calamity often spells the ruin of religious principles and of those who practice them. But virtue preserves one's life, and virtue is the giver of life, so whatever means one adopts to preserve one's virtue cannot be condemned.' "
Yudhisthira said, "It is exactly as you have said, Hidimba; there is no doubt about it. Religion must be practiced as you have described it, slender lady. Bhimasena shall now take his bath and perform his daily rites. Let him take the sacred marriage thread, and you may receive him as your husband before the sun has set. You may travel with him during the days as much as you desire, and at the speed of the mind, but you must always bring Bhimasena back to us at night."
Hidimba the Raksasi then promised, saying, "It shall be so."
Taking Bhimasena, her husband, Hidimba traveled up into the sky and went with him to visit beautiful mountain peaks and sanctuaries of the gods, enchanting abodes always busy with the sounds of deer and birds. Assuming the most beautiful feminine form, adorning herself with all manner of exquisite jewelry, and conversing very sweetly, she gave pleasure in all these places to the son of Pandu.
Similarly, Hidimba delighted him in inaccessible forests and on hilltops filled with flowering trees; in charming lakes bedecked with blossoming lotus flowers; on river islands and beaches where the sand was made of gems; in the waters of the holiest forests; in the mountain rivers; in the lands of the ocean, filled with jewels and gold; in charming villages; in forests of giant Sala trees; in the sacred groves of the gods; on the mountain cliffs; in the abodes of the mystic Guhyakas; in the shrines of the ascetics; and on the banks of the celestial Manasa Lake, which abounds in the fruits and flowers of all seasons.
The Hairless Son
Giving pleasure to Bhima in all these places, going from one to the other at the speed of the mind, the Raksasi eventually gave birth to Bhimasena's son. [Although Hidimba had transformed her body into a beautiful feminine form, she was in fact a Raksasi, and thus her son bore her own original features.] The boy was frightening to behold, with his crooked eyes, great mouth, and conchlike ears. His form was bhima—"awesome"—his lips bright copper-red, his fanglike teeth very sharp, and his power great. Though an infant, this mighty hero quickly assumed the features of a human adolescent, O king, and attained pre-eminent skill with all weapons.
Raksasa women give birth to their children on the same day they conceive. The children can assume any form at will, and they do in fact appear in many forms.
Bhima's son was a great archer, a great hero with great stamina and strength in his arms. He had great speed, a huge body, and profound mystic power, and he could easily subdue his enemies. Though apparently born from a human father, he had superhuman speed and strength. In mystic power he surpassed all the witches and warlocks, as well as all the human beings.
The hairless child respectfully touched his father's feet, and then the mighty young archer reverently touched the feet of his mother. The parents then gave their child a name.
"His bald head is as bright as a pot," said Bhima to the boy's mother. And thus the boy's name forever after was Ghatotkaca*.
* gata: "pot"; utkaca: "hairless"
Ghatotkaca was always devoted to his uncles the Pandavas, and they always held him dear, for he was ever faithful to them, seeing always to their interest.
"We agreed to live together until our son was born, and that agreement has now expired," said Hidimba to her husband. Making another covenant with Bhima, she went upon her way.
Ghatotkaca then promised that whenever he was needed he would come to serve his father and uncles. Taking leave, that best of the Raksasa race departed toward the north. Lord Indra himself had arranged the birth of this powerful child, who in the future would cause the destruction of the exalted and invincible Karna.
O king, those heroes journeyed quickly from one forest to another. Traveling through the kingdoms of the Matsyas, the Tri-gartas, the Pancalas, and the Kicakas, they observed enchanting regions full of woods and lakes. The Pandavas and Kunti assumed the appearance of ascetics, braiding their matted hair and garbing themselves with tree bark and deerskin. At times the Pandavas traveled hurriedly, carrying their mother, and at times they moved completely at their leisure. By studying the Brahmana portion of the Vedas, all the Vedic supplements, and the moral treatise known as Niti-sastra, they became knowers of the sacred law.
They met on the way their grandfather, the great soul Krsna-dvaipayana Vyasa. The mighty Pandavas and their mother respectfully greeted him and stood with hands folded in veneration.
Sri Vyasadeva said, "I already knew within my mind, O noble Bharatas, how you were driven from your home by the sons of Dhrtarastra, who are set in their irreligious ways. Knowing that, I came, for I desire to do the greatest good for you. You should not be discouraged, for all this will eventually lead to your true happiness. Without doubt, all of you boys [the Kurus and the Pandavas] are equal to me, but when a child is suffering or very young, the relatives show him special affection. Therefore I now have greater affection for you Pandavas. Because of that affection I desire to act for your good. So listen now. Close by is a lovely city where you will have no trouble. Live there in disguise and wait for my return."
Thus encouraging the sons of Prtha, those tamers of foes, Vyasa went directly with them to the city, called Ekacakra, and along the way Vyasadeva encouraged his daughter-in-law Kunti.
"Push on with your life, my daughter, for your child Yudhisthira is the son of Justice, and Yudhisthira will rule over all the kings of the earth as the king of justice! He knows the sacred law, and he is naturally the leader of the world. He will conquer the earth by his virtue, and by the strength of Bhimasena and Arjuna he will enjoy unrivaled sovereignty. Your sons and those of Madri are all maharathas, warriors of the highest caliber. One day, with their minds at peace, they will delight and find happiness in their own kingdom. Having conquered the earth, these tigers of men will offer sacrifice to the Supreme Lord through the Rajasuya, the Asvamedha, and other celebrated rites, in all of which abundant charity will be distributed. Your sons will rule and enjoy the kingdom of their father and forefathers, and they will show great kindness to their loving friends, granting them wealth and happiness."
Having thus spoken, the sage Vyasa settled them in the house of a brahmana and then said to Yudhisthira, the greatest of earthly monarchs, "You must all wait for me here, for I shall come again. By understanding the place and time of our meeting, all of you will know the greatest joy."
O king, the Pandavas and their mother stood with folded hands and said to the sage, "So be it!" Then that incarnation of Godhead Srila Vyasa, that lord and saint, went to another place by his own infallible will.
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami led the team of devotee-scholars who completed the translation and commentary of the Srimad-Bhagavatam begun by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Fluent in several languages, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami has extensively taught Krsna consciousness in India, Europe, the United States, and Latin America. He is now doing graduate work in Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
I Shot an Error in the Air
by Kalakantha Dasa
After a recent airliner crash, investigating officials ruled out "human error" as a possible cause. But it wasn't apes who designed, constructed, flew, and serviced the aircraft. Clearly some human screwed up. Who's to blame, and what did they do wrong?
A plane crash brings the newspapers a windfall of poignant tragedies ... the young mother and children waiting for the father who grabbed an early flight so he could meet them at the airport ... the adolescent girl on her first plane trip leaving her grieving parents with a room full of stuffed animals ... the happy family on the way home from a vacation ... the local high school turned into a morgue.
Officials vigorously investigate, hoping to learn something to prevent future tragedies. This may lift the dead to technological martyrdom. Still, some of the mourning may blame God for this inhuman error. If an all-powerful, all-good God exists, how could He sanction this wholesale suffering?
As one popular theologian explains, when bad things happen to good people it's not God's intent, just His mistake. A true believer forgives God His occasional lapses. To err is divine, to forgive humane.
A devotee of Lord Krsna knows that God, Krsna, is beyond mistakes, imperfections, illusions, and cheating. A devotee also knows that there are no good people, and that nothing bad happens to anyone. Why?
Lord Krsna explains that all living beings are born into illusion, overcome by desire and hate. He does not cause anyone's suffering in the world of birth and death, nor does He create the world itself, for that matter. The material world exists only due to His parts and parcels, we living beings, who show up here to enjoy life without Krsna, and end up suffering our own karma.
The human error is to forget Krsna. And the human tragedy is to miss the flight back to Godhead.
Out of His compassion, Lord Krsna makes it easy for us to return to Him. All we need do is chant His holy name.
If we practice chanting we can remember Krsna at death. Then our eternal souls will go back to Him instead of back for another trip around the cycle of birth and death.
Suppose you were on that plane. You're sitting back, enjoying your flight, your safety belt securely fastened, observing the no-smoking sign, your carry-on luggage safely stowed in the overhead rack above your seat. Then, "THUNK" ... something breaks.
The plane reels out of control. Flight attendants fall over the complimentary beverage cart. You now have thirty seconds to live.
You realize thirty seconds isn't much, but it's more notice than a lot of people get.
You remember the great king Pariksit, who learned he'd die in seven days and at once dropped everything to hear and chant about Krsna. You now have fifteen seconds left. All around you, panicking passengers scream hysterically, not knowing what to do. If you're Krsna conscious, you're ready for this. Are you? Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
One Woman's Compassionate Contribution
By Gopala Acarya Dasa
IT POPS UP, like a tab on a file folder in a desk drawer, every time I hear some half-baked appeal for protection of animals by those who eat them every day. It is the memory of a conversation I had with a middle-aged woman fifteen years ago. With horned-rimmed glasses, a briefcase, and a mission to match a friendly but businesslike demeanor, she was en route to the nation's capital.
As we waited in the airport, I inquired about her trip, and she answered, "I'm going to visit my senator to push for legislation to stop the inhumane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses."
That's a worthy purpose, I thought, as she bubbled on.
"You see, when cattle are sent to slaughterhouses they're subjected to inhumane conditions, and I want Congress to pass explicit laws to protect them. The cattle are run through long, narrow, crowded chutes made of roughly milled lumber. It's full of sharp splinters. The cows get splinters as they're herded into place to be killed. They suffer needlessly. So I'm on a personal campaign to lobby for legislation that would require that all the corrals in slaughterhouses be made of aluminum."
Still waiting for the punch line, I coaxed her on.
"OK, and what about the fact that at the end of the chute, splinters or not, they are killed? What are you doing to stop that?"
She flatly informed me that animal slaughter was necessary, but she intended to ensure that the animals did not suffer needlessly in the process. Hers was a meat-based diet, and she supported the beef industry, but her conscience bothered her when she considered the discomfort wooden splinters would cause for cows about to be butchered. Her compassion had specific parameters that did not extend to the dinner table.
She left me to wonder: What is real compassion? And how do we express it unconditionally? These questions are at the core of the conversation between Krsna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. We learn from the Gita that devotional service to Krsna is the greatest act of compassion. God is sometimes likened to the root of a tree, and the living beings and their various interest groups to the tree's leaves and branches. If we water the leaves but neglect the root, the whole tree perishes. And if we water the root, then automatically the water is distributed to every leaf and branch, without separate endeavor. By focusing on spiritual life, we become free from the bodily conception of life, which is the source of misery, and we reconnect with Krsna, the source of pleasure. And because Krsna is the root of everything, when we serve Krsna we serve everyone. So everyone benefits. It's the holistic solution to our problems.
The woman had some good sentiment, but it was incomplete. We can add Krsna consciousness to our attempts at compassion and make them successful. Or without devotional service we can try, till the cows come home, to put an end to suffering—and wind up with nothing more than an unblemished carcass.
Sri Gangamata Gosvamini
Gangamata Gosvamini, the daughter of a king, lived two or three generations after Lord Caitanya. Her childhood name was Saci. At an early age Saci showed signs of being a great devotee of Lord Krsna. She began her education by studying the usual academic subjects but soon became immersed in the Vedic scriptures. She was so fascinated with Krsna consciousness that when her father wanted to arrange her marriage, she said she would not marry any mortal.
When Saci's parents passed away, she was left in charge of the kingdom. Once, on the plea of touring the kingdom, she went on pilgrimage, first to Jagannatha Puri and then to Vrndavana. In Vrndavana she wanted to accept as her spiritual master Haridasa Pandita, a grand-disciple of Gadadhara Pandita, one of Lord Caitanya's chief associates. Only after she had shown extreme renunciation—unheard of for a queen—did Haridasa accepted her as his disciple. Saci then lived on the banks of the sacred Radha-kunda for some time, until her spiritual master asked her to go to Jagannatha Puri to spread the teachings of Lord Caitanya.
In Puri, Saci lived in the former house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, whom Lord Caitanya had converted from monism to Krsna-bhakti. She became famous for her talks on Srimad-Bhagavatam and attracted the attention of the king of Puri, Mukundadeva. Inspired by Lord Jagannatha, the king built her a beautiful bathing place on the bank of the White Ganges (Sveta Ganga). The Ganges once miraculously carried Saci into the Jagannatha temple. Having witnessed this event and being again inspired by Lord Jagannatha, the king—along with many of Lord Jagannatha's priests—accepted Saci as his spiritual master. She then became known as Gangamata Gosvamini.
Those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
—Lord Sri Krsna
Spirit and matter are completely contradictory things. All of us are spiritual entities. We cannot have perfect happiness, which is our birthright, however much we may meddle with the affairs of mundane things. Perfect happiness can be ours only when we are restored to our natural state of spiritual existence.
—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A pure devotee of the Lord whose heart has once been cleansed by the process of devotional service never relinquishes the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, for they fully satisfy him, as a traveler is satisfied at home after a troubled journey.
A person who worships the demigods and gives up Lord Vasudeva [Krsna] is like a man who gives up the protection of his mother for the shelter of a witch.
The beauty of the cuckoo is her sweet voice. The beauty of a woman is her chastity. The beauty of an ugly person is his knowledge. And the beauty of an ascetic is his power of forgiveness.
A person becomes purified simply by hearing the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose lotus feet create the holy places of pilgrimage. Therefore, what remains to be attained by those who have become His servants?
Even if one distributes ten million cows in charity during an eclipse of the sun, lives at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna for millions of years, or gives a mountain of gold in sacrifice to the brahmanas, he does not earn even one-hundredth part of the merit derived from chanting Hare Krsna.
—Srila Rupa Gosvami
Your short letter of protest to the British government could save the day!
The long battle to keep Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, open for public worship is now in its final and most crucial phase.
Devotees and members of the Hindu community have campaigned for the last eight years to secure worship at this holy shrine. The case is now before the British government. In the next few months, the government is expected to issue its decision on the future of the temple.
The Council of the Borough of Hertsmere has banned public worship at the Manor. The worshipers, they say, bring traffic that upsets the peaceful life of the local village.
To meet the concerns of the villagers and still keep the shrine open for worship, the devotees of the Manor have offered to build a new access drive. With the new drive, temple traffic would bypass the village entirely. The Council's own officials have concluded that this would solve the problem. Yet the Council has rejected the proposal.
Thus the Manor has lodged an appeal with the British government. The decision on that appeal will soon be made by the Secretary of State for the Environment.
We are asking for nothing new. No new buildings, no extensions, no extra activities. All we are asking is to continue the same worship and observe the same religious festival days we have observed for the last twenty-one years. Worshipers should be free to come pray.
You can assist in this campaign to keep freedom of worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Please ACT NOW! Write a letter today, asking the Secretary of State for the Environment to keep Bhaktivedanta Manor open for public worship.
Send your letters to:
John Gummer, MP