It was really a pleasure reading the January/February issue of BTG. The article by Kalakantha Dasa on the research project of Dhira Govinda Dasa was mindblowing. I am a postgraduate student at the University of Mauritius. Many times I have tried to apply the teachings of Srila Prabhupada to my research studies, but I was always unsuccessful. When I read that article, I was really inspired. In my opinion BTG magazine should publish more articles related to the personal experience of Srila Prabhupada's teachings in everyday life. This will surely inspire more people to take to Krsna consciousness and to strengthen the determination of Krsna conscious devotees.
Mauritius (Via the Internet)
I am an ardent follower of this beautiful magazine. I come from a family with a strong religious background, all widely read in the holy scriptures. We were disciplined to follow the strict Vedic rules. I would like to give my heartfelt gratitude to all of you behind the superb BTG. Every time I receive an issue, I look forward to the next one. I'm getting spiritual upliftment from every issue.
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Death and Remembering
In several places in BTG I have read that while departing the body, if the soul thinks of Lord Krsna as the last thought, then it reaches only Lord Krsna, the Supersoul, as its final destination. How does this fit with the laws of karma, where your past works determine your next life and destiny in the material world? Is it not saying that all your life you can commit sins and in old age run to the shelter of Lord Krsna and try to develop the skills to think of Him in your last thoughts and thus reach Him in other words, attain liberation?
Via the Internet.
OUR REPLY: One of the main teachings of Bhagavad-gita is that karma, or work, done for the satisfaction of Krsna brings no reaction. Such work is called akarma. The devotee serving Krsna under the direction of Krsna's representative, the bona fide spiritual master, performs spiritual activities that not only have no material reaction; they act to purify the consciousness. Purified consciousness means Krsna consciousness.
Unless we develop Krsna consciousness during our life, to remember Krsna at the time of death will be very difficult. Srila Prabhupada cautions, "Remembrance of Krsna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krsna consciousness in devotional service."
At death, we'll naturally remember whatever we're attached to. If we spend our life developing attachments to things other than Krsna, we'll remember those things look to them to save us at the time of death. So while it is true that whoever remembers Krsna at death goes to Him, we should understand that doing so will be impossible unless we diligently practice and awaken our love for Him.
BTG is awesome. It reads beautifully. All the devotees who contribute are doing an incredible job. I can't wait for the next issue.
I remember the first time I ran across a devotee of Krsna. If I could see him again, would he remember me? I wonder if he knows that what we talked about (on a KrishnaFest bus) had a profound effect on the way I would think about God for the rest of my life. Now I'm swallowing up as many of Prabhupada's books as I can, chanting sixteen rounds every morning, and learning how to cook prasadam. All glories to the hardworking devotees behind the scenes of the only magazine that really needs to be at Borders bookstore.
Looking for Hope
I am a Life Member of ISKCON. I understand that a more materialistic life means a less spiritual one. But I'm not strong enough to follow all of God's rules (as mentioned in the Gita). I therefore follow a more materialistic life and less of a spiritual life, apart from praying to Lord Krsna almost daily.
I want to make money, get married, have a sex life, and eat meat. If I do all these things, does that mean I can never enter God's kingdom when I die, even though I believe in God's existence and pray to Him daily?
OUR REPLY: You are correct in saying that material life and spiritual life oppose each other. Fortunately, the power of Krsna consciousness is such that you don't have to give up your ordinary life and leave for the forest. You can spiritualize your life by connecting it with Krsna. But connecting with Krsna means following His instructions. If we disobey Krsna or his representative, how can we expect to please Him with our prayers?
The regulative principles followed by members of ISKCON are traditional rules found in the Vedic scriptures. Although any civilized person should follow them, in modern society they seem like great austerities. Our conditioning and karma make us think we can't follow them. But if we are sincere in making spiritual progress, we'll get the resolve to follow them.
Achieving the association of Krsna is no small feat. We shouldn't think we don't have to work for it. It takes effort, or what we refer to as austerity. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Rsabhadeva tells his sons that human life is meant for austerity, because by austerity one can attain unending bliss.
Our problem is that we're not serious about attaining the goal. Materialists are so serious about such things as making millions of dollars or winning Olympic medals that they perform incredible austerities to attain their goals. We have to muster at least a minimum amount of desire if we expect to attain Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada said that performing sinful activities while trying to advance in spiritual life is like trying to ignite a fire while pouring water on it; it won't work. What you propose won't work. You can't have it both ways. Your problem is one of desire. You have to increase your desire for spiritual life. How can you do that? Regularly chant Hare Krsna, read Srila Prabhupada's books, associate with devotees, visit the temple, and so on.
You are fighting an inner conflict, being pulled in two directions. If you want to be successful, you have to increase your attraction to the pull of Krsna. Sinful life will dampen the power of even the best spiritual practices. Again, you have to have enough determination to give up sinful life. Pray to Krsna for that, not for material things. He can give you strength and determination, as He has for thousands of others.
Most ISKCON devotees came from backgrounds that included sinful acts, but they were able to give them up. It's not so hard to give up meat-eating, for example. Millions of people who aren't even spiritually inclined have given up this vicious habit. Don't think that you can sincerely offer prayers to the Lord while slaughtering his innocent creatures. We suggest you at least give up this bad habit to show Krsna you're trying.
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