Why Am I Suffering?
I'm a Krsna conscious person, and I regularly chant the maha-mantra and read Bhagavad-gita. For the last two years I have been suffering from certain mental and physical problems. Whatever I do, nothing goes right. It's said in the Bhagavad-gitathat the suffering one gets is due to one's past sinful activities. Is it possible to know these sinful activities?
Is there any way to see the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna with my own eyes and to thus solve my problems?
Rajkot, Gujarat, India
Our Reply: You are doing the best thing by regularly chanting the maha-mantra and reading Bhagavad-gita. It is not necessary, or even possible, to know exactly what sins have caused our current suffering.
In the strictest sense, all activities other than devotional service to Krsna are sinful, and they result in our having to take another material body in the next life. And as long as we have a material body, we will suffer. That's certain, as Krsna tells us in theGita. He says that the body is duhkhalayam: sure to give us misery. So we shouldn't worry about specific past sins but resolve to try to engage fully in devotional service to Lord Krsna.
As for seeing Krsna with your eyes, that is possible when your eyes are purified by unadulterated love for Krsna. In other words, you can see Krsna when you have nothing to ask from Him. So don't try to see Krsna just to solve your problems. Try to qualify yourself to see Krsna, and your problems will disappear.
Milk and Nonviolence
I'd like to share my thanks and gratitude with all of you who have provided first-class service throughout the generations at BTG. The magazine takes my breath away every time I'm blessed with an issue. The quality is insurmountable. It is by far one of the most efficient tools I use when being approached by casual inquirers. They are always overwhelmed by the quality of BTG.
I have a question about milk. As a Vaisnava, I follow the path of ahimsa, the path of nonviolence and compassion toward all of God's creatures. Srila Prabhupada taught us that milk and milk products are an acceptable food to use in the preparation ofprasadam. But due to the ways of Western dairies, milk cows are bred to be slaves, kept in small restraint pens, shot full of drugs, used for many years, and finally slaughtered for pet food. That sounds extremely violent to me. Although I do partake of milk products, I feel the cow's pain. Do these feelings make me less of a Vaisnava? Should I just consider that the cow is suffering because of her karma?
K. K. Wirth
Crescent City, California
Our Reply: Your compassion for the cow is a natural Vaisnava sentiment. Even though devotees know that everyone suffers because of their karma, devotees still feel the pain of others. The devotees' solution is to do whatever possible to engage everyone in Krsna consciousness, devotional service to Krsna. That is the only sure way to end all suffering.
ISKCON doesn't have an official position on drinking milk from commercial dairies. Some devotees don't drink dairy milk for the reasons you mentioned. Others argue that, as Prabhupada taught, milk is so important in developing the brain for spiritual understanding that despite the current situation, we should drink milk anyway. Besides, by offering Krsna the milk of abused cows, they get great benefit.
On a practical level, our boycott of the dairy industry would probably have little effect, but we can help the cows by offering their milk to Krsna. And, of course, devotees should work hard to develop Krsna conscious villages where we demonstrate real cow protection through the proper use of both the cow and the bull.
Chanting with Motives
I've been a BTG subscriber for the past three years. Even though I am not a full-time Krsna devotee, I manage to chant eight rounds a day. As I am still in my college years, I always get attracted by material comforts. I want to know if material comforts are obtainable through chanting. If they are, then is such chanting an act of sin? Will we get punished by doing so?
Our Reply: We shouldn't chant Hare Krsna to fulfill material desires. The goal of chanting Hare Krsna is pure love for Krsna, which is fully satisfying. The maha-mantra means "O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service." We're supposed to chant Hare Krsna with the understanding that by awakening our Krsna consciousness, we'll be completely happy. Besides, a devotee knows that Krsna will automatically take care of his material needs. We don't need to ask Krsna for such things.
One of the offenses in chanting is to cherish our material attachments. Naturally in the beginning we will have attachments, but we should chant for purification, not for other things. Krsna can give us eternal life in His association. To chant with some other motive is like a foolish person's asking a millionaire for a trinket.
Can't Be Beat
In every way, BTG continues to inspire it is truly like a visit to a holy place. Of course, I miss the old format, especially Satsvarupa Maharaja's and Yamuna Devi's articles. Yamuna Devi's articles weren't just recipes; they were pure meditations on Srila Prabhupada. But this new format is spectacular. Yamaraja Dasa's design and layout just can't be beat.
Yasoda Dulala Dasa
Krsna as Narayana
I am a recent subscriber to BTG, and I'm really enjoying all the wonderful articles in your journal. I was really impressed by the article "Names and Forms of the Absolute Truth," by Pranada Devi Dasi [Sept./Oct.]. I completely agree with Krsna's being the source of all identities of God, including Lord Visnu (Bg. 10.8). However, I have a different explanation for the identity of Lord Narayana. Etymologically, Narayana consists of two parts: nara, "living beings," and ayana, "ultimate goal." Thus, Narayanameans the ultimate goal for all living beings, namely Krsna. (Everything else we do is Prayana, "a sojourn.") Therefore, the name Narayana is congruent with Krsna Himself.
Mysore N. Prakash
Via the Internet
Our Reply: Thank you for the analysis. We might add that all names that indicate the Supreme, including the name Narayana, naturally refer to Krsna. But Lord Krsna is generally not referred to as Narayana, except when He manifests a four-armed form. And that form is considered to be, in a sense, lower than the two-handed form of Krsna. For example, Krsna once hid from the gopis by taking on His four-handed Narayana form. The gopis respectfully offered obeisances to "Narayana" but kept looking for Krsna, who alone can satisfy them.
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