A Word of Thanks
We at Back to Godhead would like to express our thanks and gratitude to Jayadvaita Swami, who stepped down as editor in chief at the end of last year. Jayadvaita Swami has been involved with Back to Godhead since joining the Hare Krsna movement in the late 1960s. In 1989 he became the editor in chief. He updated the editorial and graphic content of the magazine and transformed it to an unsubsidized, subscription-based publication. He also opened BTG offices in India and developed three Indian-language editions: Hindi, Marati, and Gujarati.
Jayadvaita Swami will continue to advise the BTG staff and, we hope, write articles for BTG. We invite our worldwide readers to join us in thanking him for his wit, wisdom, dedication, and invaluable ser-vice. He never liked to have his picture published in BTG, but since he's no longer in charge, here it is. The BTG Staff
Assurance from Like-Minded Souls
It brought me great delight to read "The Search for the Authentic Self," by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami [January/February]. It was so full of insight into what the spiritual path is all about. It's very encouraging for an aspiring devotee like me to find an echo for what goes on inside my mind. The article gave me the assurance that we are not alone on the path back to Godhead and like-minded souls are there to encourage our efforts in bhakti-yoga. I want to thank Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami for bringing Srila Prabhupada's mood in a refreshing language that reaches the common person.
Jayagauri Devi Dasi
Alachua, Florida, USA
A Teacher's Tool
Thank you so much, Visakha Devi Dasi, for the insightful and informative article "What's a Woman To Do?"; March/April]. I teach a cooperative home-school class of young girls (ages 10-14), and we read the article aloud in class. The response from the girls was even more positive than I had hoped for. They were inspired and enthusiastic about future service to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. We talked at length about all the facets of the article, discussing what Srila Prabhupada wanted for all of his disciples regardless of gender. Afterwards, the girls wrote essays about their future goals and aspirations. This article moved us to think about the many aspects of Krsna conscious service and about cultivating the right attitude for our future. BTG is a major educational resource in our Krsna conscious schools. The format is enlivening, and the material indispensable.
Gopisvari Devi Dasi
Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, USA
Not Ready for Krsna?
Further to the article "Who Is Worshipable?" [July/August, 1998] I have understood the following from the Gita.
Krsna states, "I am everything." He further states that He is the Absolute Truth and the ultimate knowledge. His state is transcendental, and the souls who know and understand Him experience absolute bliss.
As per my understanding, Krsna states that He is present for the souls who have cultivated a pure heart, have developed pleasure in serving Krsna, and have made Krsna the center of their devotion. In other words, Krsna is there for the souls who want nothing in return, have seen the Absolute Truth, and wish to indulge in the bliss of transcendental service to Krsna. For these souls, Krsna asks them to devote their complete attention on Him. He asks these souls to perform duties without attachment to the fruitive results of the work as a way to purify the heart (niskama karma). For the souls who are anything less than this, Krsna suggest that they should devote their attention to the demigods.
Krsna explains that the souls attached to material gains should offer their worship to the appropriate demigod, so as to please the appropriate demigods, and in return the demigods will provide material happiness to the souls. In this way souls in the modes of ignorance and passion can satisfy their desires. Since everything directly or indirectly comes from Krsna, the material happiness provided by the demigods can be considered coming from Krsna.
Krsna further explains that souls who receive material happiness from the demigods must in return show their gratefulness to the appropriate demigods (sakama karma). The material gain provided by the demigods will serve to satisfy the souls' desires. In this manner the souls' desires will eventually diminish, and the true love for the God will begin. Regardless of time, the soul will learn the true knowledge and eventually become detached from material things, and the heart will begin the process of becoming pure. Now the soul is ready to begin its service to Krsna.
Both the approaches lead to Krsna. The choice is ours, depending on our ability to understand Krsna's teaching. This is my understanding.
Girish N. Gohil
Via the Internet
OUR REPLY: One of Krsna's most important teachings of the Gita is that to understand the Gita we must inquire submissively from a self-realized spiritual master who is a pure devotee of Lord Krsna. Without such guidance, we are sure to come to the wrong conclusion.
While much of what you have said is correct, your conclusion is not in line with the teachings of the self-realized devotees of Lord Krsna. For example, the Bhagavad-gita commentary of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a pure devotee of Lord Krsna, points out that Lord Krsna clearly wants all of us to surrender to Him alone. Krsna derides demigod worship, and He says, in effect, that trying to satisfy material desires by worshiping the demigods or by any other method is like pouring fuel on fire. Sensual gratification is not the path of liberation but the path of bondage.
Although we are indebted to the demigods for the necessities of life they provide, the demigods are never independent of Lord Krsna in supplying these necessities. We can pay our debts to them by worshiping Lord Krsna, as He requests.
Since we can get the highest knowledge from the Gita, why should we cling to a lower level of knowledge? From the Gita we learn that full satisfaction material and spiritual comes from worshiping Lord Krsna. Why should we turn to the demigods?
Besides, worshiping Krsna is easier than worshiping the demigods. Especially in the present age, by the mercy of Lord Krsna's incarnation as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we don't need any prior spiritual qualifications to begin practicing bhakti-yoga and thereby attain Krsna. We simply have to chant the holy names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Because chanting connects us with Krsna, the reservoir of all pleasure, it will satisfy all our desires and awaken our original love for Krsna.
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