Caitanya Carana Dasa has brilliantly portrayed the pathetic situation prevailing in this country where the Christian missionaries lure and force the Hindus for conversion into Christianity (“Conversion to Intolerance or Transcendence?” December 2009). It is a shame that the government remains a mute spectator to this religious bullying. Indulgence in such conversions is an irreligious act. As the article rightly narrates, those who force conversions and those who are victims of conversions are both in the lower modes of passion and ignorance. We have to pity both of them. The best way, however, to put an end to conversions is that every Hindu shall take to the Krishna conscious path by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and hearing the glories of the Supreme Lord, and every Christian shall first convert as a true and selfless servant of Jesus. (R.M. Manoharan, Chennai)
TRI COLORED INDIAN
Read Yugavatara Dasa’s excellent article “Real Tricolored Indian” (Jan 2010). Only Srila Prabhupada truly fulfils the real meaning of the tricolor. (Prema Rasa Dasa,Belgaum, Karnataka.)
1. It is said that we suffer for the karma we did in our last birth and there is no escape, and surrender to Krishna removes all bad karma. But I have seen that people engaged in devotion are also suffering. Why is that so?
2. Krishna protects His devotees, but many times His pure devotees like Mirabai and Kanakadasa are put to test. Why?
3. Why are pujas for demigods recommended in Puranas when Krishna is the cause of all causes?
4. Does our karma change if we perform pujas to demigods or does it change by surrender to Krishna?
5. What to do if one does not want his past karma to affect the present life? (Radhika Potdar)
OUR REPLY: Karma can be described as the activities one performs for one’s own enjoyment. Consequently, sinful reactions are incurred in the process, which in turn lead to continued acceptance of a material body. The cycle of material existence (and suffering) thus continues.
1. We indeed suffer from our past karma either of this life or our past lives. Gahana karmano gatih: the mechanism of karma is very intricate. (Bg. 4.17) It is very difficult to ascertain the exact cause of a particular reaction that we receive. But pure devotional service removes all karma, good and bad. Karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam (Brahma-samhita 5.54).
Still devotees may appear to suffer. Why? Because many devotees are sadhakas, who may not be on the perfected stage of pure devotional service. They are aspirants, and depending on the extent to which they are pure in their service to Lord Krishna, their karma is destroyed. Since most of us are not on the platform of pure devotional service, all our karma may not be destroyed. We may still have some vestiges left. If our actions are not completely surrendered to Krishna, we may also create new karma.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says, “Often devotees appear in low-class families, or to ordinary eyes seem like fools or to be afflicted with disease. There is a great purpose behind this: if people were to detect that the Lord’s devotees appear only in high-class families and are always strong, healthy and well-educated according to material calculation, they would become discouraged.”
2. Exalted acharyas may appear to suffer. But the seeming sickness and other apparent adversities undergone by pure devotees must be accepted as lila and not misunderstood as karmic sufferings of conditioned souls. Pure devotees are never forced to experience the fruits of their karma. All their pastimes are enacted simply by Lord’s will. Sometimes, to glorify these pure devotees, the Lord can put them in trying circumstances and difficulties. Their unswerving devotion and allegiance to the Lord’s service even in such situations remind us of their exalted nature. Where ordinary souls like us easily give up, the acharyas continue with determination.
3. Demigods are bona fide and authorized representatives of the Supreme Lord designated to carry out certain administrative functions. Pure and unmotivated devotional service to the Supreme Lord may not be possible for all and so, to prevent them from going astray by rejecting any kind of authorized service, the Puranas advise such people with fruitive expectations to at least stay connected to the demigods and stay within the jurisdiction of the universal government. Gradually they are purified and they can take to pure devotion to Lord Krishna.
4. Demigods being authorized representatives of the Supreme Lord can temporarily reduce or eliminate suffering in the worshiper’s lives. But they cannot neutralize karma completely. Only Lord Krishna can neutralize all karma. Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.6) states:
bhajanti ye yatha devan
deva api tathaiva tan
“Those who worship the demigods receive reciprocation from the demigods in a way just corresponding to the offering. The demigods are attendants of karma, like a person’s shadow, but sadhus are actually merciful to the fallen.”
The demigods are empowered by the Lord to follow precisely the particular karma of a living entity in awarding him happiness and distress. Just as a shadow cannot move independently, the demigods cannot punish or reward a living being independently.
5. The natural conclusion of the above understanding is that an intelligent person who wants to end his material sufferings in this troublesome place will slash the Gordian knot of karma with the sword of surrender to Krishna rather than try to disentangle it.
Replies to the letter were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa (Nanda.Dulal.RNS@pamho.net)