Ready to Subscribe
The special Mayapur issue [Nov./Dec. 1999] was fantastic! I'm ready to subscribe now.
Los Angeles, California
Top of the Line
I want you to know you're top of the line with me and my husband of forty-eight years. Every word I hear and read is Godsent, and we really appreciate Prabhupada's words. Two of his books go with us everywhere we go. May God bless all of you associated with this great person's writings. You are helping me greatly by keeping in touch. I am sixty-eight-years young and getting younger every day with people like you.
Worship of Devas
In Chapter 7, verse 20-23, of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna describes the worshipers of devas (demigods) as less intelligent. But in Chapter 10 He describes Himself as many devas, such as Indra, Siva, and Brahma. So is Chapter 10 saying that worship of the devas is all right?
Via the Internet
OUR REPLY: In Chapter 10 Lord Krsna reveals that the best of everything in this world represents Him. In that sense these things are Krsna, but Krsna doesn't suggest we worship Him by worshiping examples of His opulence. He says that among fish He is the shark, but we don't worship sharks. Similarly, because Indra, Siva, and Brahma are chief among the devas, they represent some aspect of Krsna's unlimited power, but Krsna says in the ninth chapter that worshiping them is avidhi purvakam, or against the rules. Because everything in the material world is Krsna's energy, it is in a sense Krsna. But Krsna tells us to worship Him the person and not His energy.
Room for Everyone?
I have subscribed to your magazine because I seek more devotion toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. I am a homosexual, and I do not follow the beliefs of the ISKCON movement but the traditional Hindu practices. Throughout my readings in the Vedas, the Gita, and other literary sources, I haven't found any information regarding homosexuality. I would like to know ISKCON's teachings on homosexuality and what you offer young people like me?
OUR REPLY: ISKCON encourages everyone to perfect his life by following the practices of Krsna consciousness. In replying to your question, we feel it's important for you to first understand what ISKCON is all about. The basic points of our philosophy, as taught by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita, are that we are all spirit souls, eternally related with Krsna, the Supreme Lord. The purpose of human life is to awaken our original loving relationship with Krsna. Krsna consciousness is not a question of believing or not believing something; Krsna consciousness is part of our true nature. Somehow or other we have to reawaken that consciousness and become purified of material desires, rooted in the false idea that we are these bodies.
The practices of ISKCON are all meant to purify our consciousness and free us from bodily identification. Spiritual life must be more than choosing which religion agrees with me. The question should be, "How will I become purified?"
In this age, the scriptures recommend the chanting of God's names as the only means to awaken our original consciousness. To chant effectively, we must give up sinful acts. The scriptures stress that we must give up gambling, meat-eating, intoxication, and illicit sex, defined as any sex not performed for procreation. Since homosexual acts cannot produce a child, they must ultimately be given up to get the benefits of chanting the Lord's holy names.
Still, one unable to give up sex at once should chant, go to the temple, read Srila Prabhupada's books, and so on. Everyone can do these things. They will help, but progress will be slow unless one gives up sinful activities.
Our bodies and our particular conditioning result from our individual karma. Krsna loves you and is happy that you are seeking guidance in your spiritual life. He knows your personal struggles and limitations. What He rewards, ultimately, is your sincerity and your effort to come closer to Him.
Concern for the Environment
I love reading your magazine. It is one of the only ways I can be in contact with other devotees. Still, I'm concerned that with so much emphasis on leaving the material world and our bodies to get to the spiritual world with Krsna, this philosophy is creating an ethic that disregards the earth we live on. Why isn't nature revered and loved just as much as Krsna? Is not the world, our environment, Krsna too? How can ISKCON join forces with the environmental movement to heal the relationship between people and land?
OUR REPLY: You're right in saying that as devotees of Krsna we should respect His creation, and Srila Prabhupada always taught that. (See Divine Nature, by Mukunda Goswami and Drutakarma Dasa, available from our Hare Krsna Bazaar http://www.krishna.com) Prabhupada himself showed respect for everything, because he knew that everything is connected to Krsna.
Still, we don't equate Krsna and His nature. We accept the philosophy of "simultaneous oneness and difference" Krsna is one with His creation and different from it at the same time. So although we respect nature as Krsna's energy, we don't elevate it to the status of God.
You shouldn't get any argument from devotees about the sanctity of nature. What you might find is debate about how much of our energy should go into conservation. Prabhupada taught us to try to live simply, and most of us could improve in that area. But Prabhupada never told us, for example, to go out and raise money for environmental causes.
Still, Prabhupada did encourage us to spend money to set up Krsna conscious rural communities based on farming and cow protection, activities that improve the environment. He also liked nice gardens at his temples, and he argued against needless killing of animals, needless cutting of forests, and so on. He set goals that require us to collect and spend money in ways beneficial to creating a cleaner environment, one more hospitable to the practice of Krsna consciousness.
Ultimately, Prabhupada taught that Krsna consciousness solves all problems. So our mission is to give people Krsna. Environmental problems are only one of hundreds of problems that concern people. There are so many causes we could take up. But Prabhupada taught that trying to solve problems one by one is like trying to water a tree by watering its leaves and branches rather than its root.
Again, we agree that devotees could improve in their respect for the environment. And they will as they advance in Krsna consciousness and learn more and more how to use the energy of Krsna in His service.
Please write us at: BTG, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. Or: BTG, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. Phone: (022) 618-1718. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org