An article in “Newsweek” reports that Americans are slowly accepting typical ‘‘Hindu’’ beliefs. It specifically states two of them: Firstly, that there is no ‘‘one’’ way to salvation and secondly, the possibility of life after death.
For the Vedic way of thought, these are so obvious that we may wonder why did it take so long. And more importantly, are these so-called beliefs truly ‘‘Hindu’’?
It is a documented fact among scholars like Dr Edward Dimock (University of Chicago) and Dr. Harvey Cox (Harvard’s School of Divinity) that Western scholars felt the massive impact of Vedic thought with the rise of the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON) in the USA. Before that, many attempts were made to apprise westerners about the Vedas, but they were mainly limited to that particular personality gaining a few close admirers. A mass movement created amongst westerners had never happened.
In the teachings of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which are based on the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, one can find that the path of salvation and the process of reincarnation are explained in a very scientific and lucid manner.
Let us examine the nature of salvation. In today’s times traditional religious systems are peddling salvation in the same manner as marketers peddle their wares or the way in which American presidential candidates ‘‘sell’’ themselves. A typical approach goes like this: “You should ONLY come to my path because ONLY my path assures salvation. And at the same time, you should have a bitter hatred for all other paths because they cannot bestow salvation.” Salvation has thus become a packaged product! Some even go so far as to state that once you have officially become a member of their path then even if you DO NOT fulfill all the commitments expected from you, STILL you will be saved.
The doctrine of reincarnation is also described as a ‘‘Hindu’’ belief system. That is certainly not the case. There is enough historical evidence to suggest that early Christianity did accept this doctrine. In order to make Christianity more popular many vital doctrines like reincarnation were deliberately dropped.
This kind of egoistic, exploitation and unethical preaching has certainly alienated intelligent people. Moreover it is observed that this also gives rise to religious fundamentalism. Srila Prabhupada stated that religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.
In an interview with a reporter we can observe Srila Prabhupada’s clarity of thought in presenting the teachings of the Vedas in today’s times:
Reporter: Which particular teachings you think can purify a man? Because you said the salvation lies in practical teachings of Gita.
Prabhupada: Yes. You have to revive your consciousness that you are part and parcel of God. And the part and parcel of God means to serve God. Just like this finger is part and parcel of my body, but it is meant for serving my body. I ask the finger, “Come here”; it is serving me. “Come here”; it is scratching. “Pick up the food. Give it to me”; he is giving it. This is business of the finger. If the finger cannot carry out my order, then it is diseased. And if he immediately carries out order, then it is healthy.
Similarly, we being part and parcel of God, we must be ready to give service immediately. Then it is healthy condition. And if we do not, then it is maya. We are serving. You are serving. Everyone is serving, because our constitution is to serve. Big, big leaders, they are also serving. Anyone you can see. The sun, he is serving. Exactly in the time it is rising by the order of God. Exactly on time it is setting. So everyone is serving. Ekale isvara Krishna, ara saba bhrtya. [Cc. Adi 5.142] “Only master is God, and everyone is His servant.” But the diseased condition is that when we do not serve God, we serve something else, maya and that is diseased condition.
Therefore now that the global trend-setter USA is adopting Vedic spiritual doctrines, the opportunity is open for every Indian to strive to spread the teachings of the Vedas especially the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and thus help make India the world’s first spiritual superpower.