The ISKCON Laity
I would just like to say how much I enjoy BTG. Each issue seems to have so much in it when it arrives. But it is never enough; I am always left wishing there was more. But I guess only one issue can come at a time!
It struck me recently that we never see any articles in BTG from the ISKCON laity and there must be many more of us than there are devotees. It may well be that none of the lay members are qualified to say anything that could be printed in BTG, but perhaps our experiences within ISKCON and our meetings with Srila Prabhupada would be of interest to some readers. It is just a thought, and I have enclosed a short piece that might be of some use. If not, please consign it to the waste paper bin!
We plan to run the article in an upcoming issue. The Editors
I was amazed to read your editorial in the Sept./Oct. 1997 issue of BTG. Swami Prabhupada claims that Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon. It was a grand illusion played out by the U.S. administration. Please bear in mind that your magazine is printed thanks to technology; Swami Prabhupada flew to the U.S. to spread the message of Krsna consciousness thanks to technology; I am sending this e-mail thanks to technology. You are entitled to your beliefs, but this sort of balderdash erodes the credibility of the movement and pushes you to the edges of the lunatic fringe.
Mahim, Mumbai, India
REPLY FROM JAYADVAITA SWAMI: You are bashing us for more than we said. On the basis of Vedic literature, Srila Prabhupada indeed affirmed that the moon landing didn't happen; Mr. Armstrong couldn't have strong-armed his way onto the moon. But whether the landing was a U.S. hoax or the lunar explorers mistakenly thought they had gone there is a matter we left open.
As for technology: Thanks to technology, King Kong climbed the Empire State Building, and Steven Spielberg's aliens and dinosaurs walk the earth. Thanks to technology, people see heaven on LSD, born men become lovely women, and political propaganda bewilders entire nations. Thanks to technology… Shall we go on?
By the way, speaking of the lunatic fringe, why do you suppose that the great conquerors of space, having spent billions to land on the moon, are now bypassing the moon and sending rockets off to Mars?
More on the Moon
I truly believe we did go to the moon and have gathered scientific data about the moon. I could say it confidently because of my education (M.S. in physics and M.S. in electrical engineering).
What Srila Prabhupada does not like is a heart, whether of a scientist or not, who does not know or love Krsna.
There is no need to go to moon or Mars, Srila Prabhupada says. There is a need to become Krsna conscious first. As Krsna consciousness spreads, particularly among the leaders of a society, the society will have fewer problems.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Questions from a Life Member
In July 1978, just sitting in my house, I picked up a book bought for me by my son. The book was about Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I read it and I was determined to read more. I went to the Hare Krsna temple (Bhaktivedanta Manor), Letchmore Heath, for worship. I met some devotees there and they gave me some more books to read. These were Teachings of Lord Caitanyaand The Science of Self-Realization. I read them both, which gave me a lot of strength to continue.
By my determination I became a life member of ISKCON in May 1982. The devotees of this society render commendable services to mankind. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada has enlightened the whole world by writing his books. He is still present. We can always associate with him through his instructions. These books and instructions give me that association and salvation. I appreciate Srila Prabhupada's writings and instructions from the core of my heart, as well as his high position in the spiritual world.
I am a retired person and strictly vegetarian, living with my wife. I have unshakable belief both in Sanatana-dharma and in vegetarianism. Some time ago I read about the Gaudiya Math, personalists and impersonalists and Mayavadis, what they are and their religious philosophy. I shall be very grateful if you could please put some light on this subject according to the Vedic scriptures.
Southall, Middlesex, England
OUR REPLY: The Gaudiya Math was the spiritual society set up by Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, to spread the teachings of Krsna consciousness. After Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati left this world, the Gaudiya Math broke up into many smaller institutions, some of them still existing. Srila Prabhupada later established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which is now spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world.
Impersonalists, or Mayavadis, are philosophers who believe that the Absolute Truth is ultimately impersonal or void. All variety, they say, is but illusion (although they cannot clearly say where that illusion has its source). The personalist philosophers, in contrast, are those who recognize that everything material variety, illusion itself, spiritual oneness, and spiritual variety has its source in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
I can fill up several e-mail letters praising BTG magazine. It always was a first-class publication, and the new format is superb. Everyone I know is impressed by it. In particular I have enjoyed the articles on holy places in India, and the ongoing series of translations of the Mahabharata is absolutely delightful.
via the Internet
[In response to BTG's announcement that henceforward we're putting India first in our address list:]
Back to Godhead is a magazine with a spiritual purpose. Once that purpose is achieved correctly by the reader or contributor, where BTG is printed or which center is listed first among many others around the world does not matter. Because the actual center of Krsna consciousness is in our own individual hearts. It is a spiritual awareness. To think in terms of physical places is allowing our minds to be confined in a sense gratification, which is not the purpose why BTG was started.
Alfa B. Saam
Roermond, The Netherlands
OUR REPLY: Yes, the place for Krsna consciousness is in our hearts. But when we're conscious of Krsna, we also become conscious of the sacred places where Krsna appeared and performed His pastimes. As Krsna is spiritual, so too are the places connected with Krsna, such as Vrndavana, Dvaraka, Kuruksetra, and Mayapur. Krsna's places are dear to the hearts of Krsna's devotees. And it is because of the presence of such places in India that we're listing India first.
Muslims the Real Followers of Bhagavad-gita?
I have gone thoroughly through all the issues of BTG this year, and I could to some extent know the essence of life. Sir, based on the knowledge gained, I have the following comment to make:
In Dyaneshwari, Dyaneshwar Maharaj says that in spite of knowing the supremacy of Lord Krsna, people worship demigods (the sun, moon, etc.) for exploiting the required sakti [power] from God. Krsna says you need not go anywhere, just remember Me, but. …
In this connection I would like to say: The Muslims are the real followers of Bhagavad-gita, who only concentrate on their Allah (here, say Krsna).
Kindly offer your comments.
Dr. Suresh S. Mahalle, M.Sc., Ph.D., IARI
Introduction Training Centre
Regional Agricultural Research Station
Karjat, Maharashtra, India
OUR REPLY: According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6):
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
"The best method of religion is that by which one develops loving devotional service to the transcendent Supreme Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self."
Whether one is Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or whatever is of little consequence. The real purpose of religion. is to develop pure, unalloyed love for God. In the present age, the most recommended way to develop such love is to chant the holy name of the Supreme Lord. One should also give up four kinds of contaminating materialistic activities gambling, intoxication, meat-eating, and illicit sex.
There is no need to worship demigods. The Vedic scriptures recommend that we single-mindedly render devotional service to the Supreme Lord, especially by chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Dating Human Existence
In the article by Ravi Gupta in the March/April '97 issue, he writes, "Lord Rama ruled during Treta-yuga, some two million years ago."
According to all paleontologists, man evolved as Homosapiens with the current brain size only about 100,000 years ago. The evolutionary experts like Dr. Richard Leaky and all others estimate that mankind originated from Africa some 2.5 million years ago. Your writer only loses credibility when he uses numbers like two million years ago for Rama's existence. There is no scientific proof that Sri Rama existed in Ayodhya that long ago. The question really is: Are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata historical facts, or are they fiction written to spread the word of God?
via the Internet
DRUTAKARMA DASA ADHIKARI REPLIES: There are two ways of getting knowledge about events in the distant past. One is the descending path of knowledge, by which we accept the statements of the Vedic literature as true because they come from a perfect source. The Vedic literature, especially the Puranas, tells us that human beings have existed on earth for tens of millions of years.
These days, many people do not have much faith in the Vedic descending path of knowledge. Instead, they place their faith in the ascending path of knowledge, which relies on proposing various theories from material evidence. This path of knowledge, according to the Vedic epistemological principles, is unreliable because it depends on human beings, who are all subject to four defects: they have imperfect senses, they can be in illusion, they make mistakes, and they have the tendency to cheat.
Archeology, the study of human antiquity, is one branch of modern science's ascending path of knowledge. And generally we are led to believe that all the archeological evidence ever discovered supports the idea that humans like ourselves evolved from more apelike ancestors within the past 100,000 or 200,000 years.
Archeology is certainly subject to the four defects just mentioned. Nevertheless, if we look into the entire history of archeology, and evaluate all the discoveries as fairly and objectively as we can, we find that over the past 150 years, archeologists and other earth scientists have uncovered a vast body of evidence consistent with Vedic accounts of extreme human antiquity. This evidence, reports of which can be found in scientific journals, takes the form of anatomically modern human skeletal remains and artifacts of human manufacture. This evidence has been eliminated from scientific discussion largely because it contradicts Darwinian evolutionary ideas. A detailed review of this astonishing evidence can be found in my book Forbidden Archeology, co-authored by Richard Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa). Those who read this book might develop a new respect for the historical accuracy of the Puranic histories, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata.
Drutakarma Dasa (Michael A. Cremo) is a research associate with the Bhaktivedanta Institute and an associate editor for Back to Godhead.
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