I would like to express my gratitude to all the devotees who contribute to BTG magazine. Each time I receive a new issue in the mail, I am always greatly inspired to do as much devotional service as I can.
As a first-year student pursuing a career in sociology, I found the Jan./Feb. issue particularly interesting. I had been wondering for a while how I could practically apply such a degree to a Krsna conscious way of life, when, lo and behold, the article by Kalakantha Dasa ("Putting Krsna to the Test") came before my eyes! It was very encouraging to see a devotee able to integrate the philosophy into his university studies, with incredible results. Prabhupada wanted highly educated people to become devotees, and we should all strive to fulfill his wish in any way possible.
I would first like to congratulate and thank you for the wonderful issue of Jan./Feb. 2000. I read the magazine cover to cover, which I normally do not do. I really enjoyed reading articles such as "Why We Must Know Who God Is" and "Putting Krsna to the Test." To put it simply, I enjoyed everything.
Just one question regarding the article "Why We Must Know Who God Is." It relates to how you determine if Krsna is satisfied. The test is performed by way of your spiritual master: If your spiritual master is satisfied, then Krsna is. What if I am not initiated yet and don't have a spiritual master? Who do I look to, to see if I'm satisfying Krsna?
Fort Kent, Maine
OUR REPLY: To accept initiation from a spiritual master is required for steady progress in spiritual life. But if you accept Srila Prabhupada's teachings even before initiation (as well as after), then he is also your spiritual master technically called siksa-guru, or instructing guru. By following his instructions, as received through his books, disciples, and grand-disciples, you undoubtedly satisfy him, and Krsna is satisfied.
I very much appreciated Kalakantha Dasa's chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the first half of the Bhagavad-gita in the March/April issue. I have been reading and worshiping Srila Prabhupada's gift of the Bhagavad-gita for twenty-five years. I am enlivened by your presentation. My knowledge of Bhagavad-gita is now becoming organized.
Thank you for adding questions to the Srimad-Bhagavatam section. I have to admit that I tended to skip that section before, but now the questions draw me in. They help me focus on the important philosophical points that Prabhupada always makes in his purports. I hope other readers are taking advantage of this valuable addition to the magazine.
Via the Internet
Questions About Offenses
I was reading the Jan./Feb. issue of BTG, and I have two questions about the offenses in chanting God's name, listed on page 28.
Offense 7: Teaching the glories of the Lord's names to the faithless.
I thought that was something that we should do: By teaching and preaching about the Lord, we can try to bring faith to those who don't have it.
Offense 9: Being inattentive while chanting the holy name.
When I tell devotees that I'm struggling while chanting my rounds because I can't concentrate, some devotees say, "Don't think! Just chant and be happy. Chant any place, anytime."
These two offenses confuse me. Can you clarify them?
Via the Internet
OUR REPLY: Our predecessor guru Srila Rupa Gosvami teaches that devotees should teach the innocent and avoid the demoniac. So we take "faithless" here to mean those who are clearly antagonistic toward Krsna consciousness. We avoid trying to teach such persons, because they will offend Krsna. Innocent persons, on the other hand, can hear without offense, even if their faith has not yet been awakened.
We should try to concentrate when we chant Hare Krsna. It seems devotees are just trying to encourage you by saying, "Don't worry about it too much. We all have a hard time concentrating. Just do your best."
I'm writing in reference to Dhira Govinda Dasa's maha-mantra experiment, where chanters showed increased qualities in the mode of goodness. As children of Krsna, it is natural to live every moment in goodness. Yet to live with passion and to be passionate should not be misunderstood. Passion is actually a driving force for our existence. Our desires and goals are driven by our inner passion to succeed whether spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, politically, academically, or financially. We should be passionate and eager about developing and perfecting the above spheres of our life to the highest degree possible.
Ladysmith, South Africa
OUR REPLY: The philosophy of Krsna consciousness promotes simple living and high thinking. The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us to earn only enough to live comfortably and considers a person who takes more than he needs a thief.
"Passion," as it refers to one of the modes of nature, generally includes the strong desire for sense gratification. You may intend the word to mean simply ardent endeavor. But Lord Krsna tells us in the Gita that focusing our energy on spiritual perfection is best. Other things will come of their own accord. We should, of course, perform all our duties the best we can, but we should avoid the feverish pursuit of material goals.
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• On the "Letters" page in the January/February issue, under the heading "Paying for Mayapur," there are some errors in the reply.
Srila Prabhupada's will says nothing about funding the Mayapur temple and nothing about royalties from books. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust funds the building and renovating of temples because that is one of its functions, as stated in the documents by which Srila Prabhupada founded the Trust. Funds for temple renovation and construction have little to do with royalties; the BBT allots a percentage of its income for this purpose.
• The photos in the Dvaraka article (March/April) credited to Maha-Visnu Dasa were taken by Ramanuja Dasa of ISKCON Jaipur.
• The cover painting for the March/April issue was done by Ramanatha Dasa, not Ramadasa Abhirama Dasa.
• In the article "What Exactly is 'Vedic'?" (March/April), the chart listing the divisions of the Vedic literature mistakenly puts the tamasic Puranas in the rajasic category, and vice versa.