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The following exchange is reprinted from The Rising Nepal, a daily newspaper published in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I am surprised that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness plans to build a temple in Nepal for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. I feel they are undertaking this enterprise on the wrong end. They should be advised to open more centres in the West rather than waste their time and money establishing temples in this part of the world. It is the West that is at present suffering from an excess of materialism and therefore in urgent need of spiritual teaching. Haven't the members of the Krsna cult, and especially Sri Gargamuni dasa Svami, who is at present in Kathmandu, seen that there are already enough temples here? I am sure visitors from the West will have no problem listening to sermons on Gita or accounts of the Great Epics in our temples. So why do we need their temple?
In regard to the letter of Gautam Shakya, the Hare Krsna Movement is dedicated to fulfilling the following prediction of Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great exponent of the science of bhakti-yoga or devotion to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, which is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta:
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
"In all the villages and towns all over the world, this sankirtanamovement will be preached everywhere."
Some 500 years ago in Bengal, Lord Sri Krsna Himself appeared as Caitanya Mahaprabhu and preached this sankirtanamovement of the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra—Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. My Guru Maharaja [spiritual master], His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, being a practical and sincere servant of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is just trying to fulfill this prediction of the Lord. He has established over seventy training centers all over the world to scientifically instruct interested students in the science of bhakti-yoga. In addition, thousands of missionaries have been sent throughout the world to teach sanatana-dharma [the science of the soul's relationship with Lord Sri Krsna]. Therefore, under the instruction of our Guru Maharaja, we have come to your city of Kathmandu to scientifically train the Nepalese people in the science of bhakti-yoga.
It is stated in the Brhan-naradiya Purana: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. "Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name! There is no other alternative, there is no other alternative, there is no other alternative for God realization in the age of Kali."
Chanting of the holy names is also recommended in the other scriptures of the world. In the book of Isaiah it is enjoined: "And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known on all the earth." (Isa. 12:4-5)
And in the New Testament it is stated: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved . . . That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people." (Rom. 10:13, 15:6, 15:11)
Therefore, we are not propagating a sectarian idea, but we are distributing the religion of pure love of God. In our Society we have Jews, Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Parsis, Moslems, Hindus, etc., and all of us are chanting the names of God. The age of Kali (this present age) is what Mr. Shakya so rightly characterizes as one of an "excess of materialism." However, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated in one very nice verse sung by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit, kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti by eko mahan gunah: "My dear King, this age of Kali is full of faults, but there is one good opportunity." Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: "Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one can be liberated and go back to Godhead."
Unfortunately, I do not find your city of Kathmandu free of an "excess of materialism." I am quite surprised that you have not recognized the degeneration presently existing in your city. I may just cite some examples in this connection. (1) In the same newspaper in which our activities were reported you will find an article calling for an end to existing corruption and injustice. But you will also find a full-page advertisement to attract people to become intoxicated. (2) 1 have counted more liquor shops on New Road than you would ordinarily find on an American city street. (3) Ganja is freely offered in the streets although it is illegal in the U.S. (4) Many of the Nepalese youth are turning away from their religious tradition and taking to the Western culture of "eat, drink and be merry." (5) It seems that more crowds jam the cinema shows daily than attend thearatis [ceremonies] at the temples. (6) In addition, I have seen that the cinema houses seem to be in a better condition than the temples and seem to be better managed. The temples have become sleeping quarters and places to excrete stool and urine, exchange money and sell ganja and other wares to tourists. I have not found transcendental instruction in the science of God in any of the temples.
These are only a few of the diseases which are characteristic of this present age. My advice is that the learned men of Nepal organize and initiate a program to ward off these diseases—not only in Kathmandu but the whole world—and give scientific training and education in the science of love of God.
You will also be pleased to know that all the members of our Society refrain from eating meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic, and they also refrain from illicit sex life, gambling, and intoxicants such asganja, pan, cigarettes and even coffee and tea. Surely if the intelligent people of the world take up this movement very seriously and thus restrain their senses from such nasty habits, the whole world atmosphere may be transformed into Vaikuntha (one of freedom from anxiety). All the modern problems pertaining to health, economics, population, politics, ecology, war, etc., may be solved by the practical application of this great science, as outlined in the text ofBhagavad-gita.
We are presently holding classes on Bhagavad-gita every evening at the Nepal Cultural Association in Kathmandu, and everyone is cordially invited to attend these meetings.
Sincerely, Gargamuni Svami