I am a Vaisnava brahmana and my family follows a lot of rituals, blind beliefs and is very superstitious and orthodox. I don't believe it because I find it meaningless. I have developed interest in ISKCON and I hear ISKCON songs and visit the temple often. Our mythologies are having so many gods and goddesses like Venkatesa, Hanuman, Radha, Durga, and many more. I really don't know what the difference between God and demigods is. Krsna is the only one whom I believe. I want to know why Vaisnava should not eat onion and garlic or not drink tea or coffee. What difference will it make? (Radhika)
Our Reply: Your story is the story of most Indian youth, caught as they are between the materialistic and scientific culture of the west and the spiritual practices of our tradition. We visit temples and do our pujas but when we ask why we should do it the answer is mostly because our forefathers have been doing it! No one seems to have rational and scientific explanations and therefore to the modern mind these practices appear orthodox and superstitious rituals that are followed blindly.
But once we know the goal of these rituals then their practice makes sense. The goal of Vedic lifestyle is to guide a conditioned soul towards God. So every major or minor event in life is linked to certain rituals that are centred on serving God by some puja, yajna ,chanting of auspicious mantras, Deity worship etc. This instills faith and purifies the heart. By following these practices one gradually learns to live a life centred around spititual ptinciples. This gives happiness now and an eternal life in the kingdom of God later. For mote d etails you can read the books of Srila Prabhupada especially The Science of Self Realization.
Krsna is the supreme God and everyone else is His servant. The demigods are like ministers who are in charge of the various departments in cosmic management. This fact is clearly elaborated in the Bhagavad-gita verses 7.20, 7.23, 9.23, 9.25. Lord Krsna also says that He is the source of everything (10.8, 7.7) and one should worship Him (9.34, 18.65 ), which you already ate d oing. Srimatl Radharani is the eternal consort of the Lord and non-different from Him. By Her mercy one is sure to achieve the lotus feet of Lord Krsna.
According to Bhagavad-gita (17.9) foods that ate too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry, and burning are in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery, and disease, and are not conducive for a spiritual practitioner because they adversely affect the consciousness. Onion and garlic come in this category so we avoid them. We also avoid all kinds of intoxicants including tea, coffee, and cola drinks. Their contents cause agitation of the mind and as Srila Prabhupada often said – if one is already intoxicated by bodily identification why increase it further by taking these things?
Sir, Interesting have been the letters and the reply thereto as appeared in the "Back to Godhead", March 2007 issue. Self at 82 is a wingless bird today, compelled to remain within the four walls of peaceful home, h aving nothing worthwhile to do other than to read and write to newspapers and a lso ruminate on the wondrous episodes in Lord Krsna's teachings for the benefit of mankind through Bhagavad-gita, in the midst of the humdrum routine of life from 4 AM. to 11 P.M. Back to Godhead comes handy for rejuvenating devotees' state of minds. It's blissful reading and makes the spirits soar sky high.
Unto the service of Lord Krsna, P.K.V. Menon, Mira Road, Mumbai.
The reply to the letter was written by Murari Gupta Dasa
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