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Please send me a copy of your catalog. I found your magazine so enlightening. I especially enjoyed the article on cooking. I tried the recipes at home, and they were delicious. If you have any further information with recipes or other insights into cooking, please send them along with the catalog. At the present time I am a practicing Mormon, but I am interested in exploring alternate spiritual paths.
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What gives Jayadvaita Swami the right to judge who are pure devotees? In his article Entering Orissa (BTG Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3) he states, "Yet for the most part these kirtana singers are not what we'd consider pure devotees. Some smell of fish and sugarcane-liquor. And when the chanting is over we see singers and mrdanga drum players relaxing with a smoke." I object. We all serve God in our own way. In the Sixth Chapter of the Gita Krsna says that those who are sincere will reach the goal. God is the father of all, and He doesn't discriminate between the pure and the impure. We should follow His example and not selfrighteously pass judgements.
P. B. Patel
JAYADVAITA SWAMI REPLIES: Although Jayadvaita Swami considers himself a neophyte devotee and lacking in realization, as a servant of a learned and bona fide spiritual master, he thinks it his duty to speak the message of Bhagavad-gita as it is, as handed down from spiritual master to disciple.
In Bhagavad-gita (7.28) Lord Sri Krsna clearly tells us that the steadfast, pure devotees are those who have left behind all sins.
The four main sins, say the Vedic scriptures, are intoxication, gambling, illicit sex, and eating meat, fish, or eggs. So we consider a devotee pure only when these are cleansed from his life. One who sets out on the spiritual path but later goes astray may turn again to spiritual life in his next birth. After many such births, when free from all sins, he becomes a pure devotee and attains the supreme goal. In the verse you cite from Bhagavad-gita, Sixth Chapter, Lord Krsna uses the word samsuddha-kilbisah to point out that for perfection one must be sinless.
A person who chants Hare Krsna under proper guidance, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, can cleanse his heart and reach purity and perfection quickly, even without waiting many births. Our article therefore expressed the hope that this is what the sincere people we met in Orissa would do.
If, despite one's sins, one single mindedly devotes oneself to Krsna, one must be considered saintly. Why? The Bhagavad-gita (9.31) tells us: Such a person quickly becomes righteous, free from sins.
Despite our bad habits, if we simply chant Hare Krsna with sincerity, we will be pulled toward the Lord. We shall then give up our bad habits for the higher taste of Krsna consciousness and become pure devotees.
The Bhagavad-gita explains this science of pure devotional service. So if we simply hear Bhagavad-gita from a bona fide spiritual master, as directed in the Gita itself, we'll soon come to pure consciousness, kick the fish and smoke and liquor, and attain to the kingdom of God.
Krsna is not a devotee but God Himself, and we are children of God. Krsna fully loves each of us. But some of us love smoking, drinking, woman-hunting, and meat-eating more than we love Krsna. And Krsna is no fool. As our companion in our hearts, He knows what's what and who's who, and He responds accordingly.
If God didn't discriminate between pure and impure, He'd give all of us liberation at once, regardless of what we think or do. But it's clear from Bhagavad-gita that God does judge. According to our desires and our acts, He takes some of us back to Godhead and sends others back to repeated birth and death.
Sometimes we may twinge at criticism of someone's low habits, because we may have the same habits ourselves. But Lord Sri Krsna in Bhagavad-gita and saintly teachers throughout the ages kindly point out our attachments and illusions. When we humbly recognize our mundane habits for what they are, our sincere chanting of Hare Krsna helps us overcome them. We then leave them behind, become pure devotees, and attain the perfection of life.
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I very much enjoyed Mathuresha das's article on the laws of karma (BTG Vol. 21, 4). However, I still have one major apprehension about the moral implications of a karmic theology: If we accept the existence of karma, then it means no one is an innocent victim of someone else's cruelty. To stop cruelty would therefore be wrong, because it would be interfering with the laws of nature, which are properly punishing those who deserve it.
La Jolla, California
MATHURESA DASA REPLIES: While you would be correct to say that the victims of both natural and man-made calamities are receiving the results of their karma, or past activities, it does not follow that a man or nation can perpetrate cruelty without being held accountable.
The laws of karma are the laws of God. Therefore, just as it is criminal to whimsically take enforcement of state laws into your own hands, so also a cruel person who holds that his victims are merely getting their just karmic deserts is punishable under that very system of karmic laws he is citing.
Even ordinary law courts make a distinction between "acts of God" events beyond the defendant's control and events for which the defendant may be held liable. The same is true of karmic judgments. In either case, a human being must take responsibility for his actions.
It also betrays a shallow understanding of karma for a witness to glibly say that the victims of either natural or man-made disasters simply suffered their fate, and that we therefore could not have done anything to help them.
There is much we could have done, because karma and karmic reactions are changeable.
The best way to change our karma is to directly render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, who in the Bhagavad-gita promises to liberate His devotee from all karmic reaction. Krsna is the karmic lawmaker, and He therefore has the power to commute or nullify our karmic sentences. Furthermore, as long as we remain servants of the lawmaker, there is no chance of our breaking His laws and accruing further karmic reaction.
So those who know the laws of karma are neither callous toward suffering nor complacent toward cruelty. But they understand that economic, political, and altruistic attempts to help their fellow man are in the long run doomed to failure unless they are coupled with programs to change their fellow man's karma.