Sensational and Unintellectual

While I generally appreciate your endeavors in making Back to Godhead a lively and interesting magazine for everyone, I have come across few things, which I wanted to point out for your correction and action.

1. In the article about rebirth (BTG April 2010), the section about the previous lives of Abdul Kalam, Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, etc is without pramana. Although BTG says it does not make any claim of such statements, it is improper to publish something which doesn’t have any pramana. Srila Prabhupada wanted BTG to be like an authorized scripture and not something that will create some sensation to stupid minds.

If I were an intellectual, neutral reader of BTG, I would simply consider such claims very cheap and the entire magazine would lose its authenticity. The general unintellectual public may become interested in such sensational things, but if we have to feed public sensation through our magazine, then how does ISKCON differ from other so-called spiritual groups who just deal with the sentiments of the people?

2. In “Orkuting with Krishna,” (BTG April 2010), why should someone write a letter from Krishna, as if he were Krishna? Although the subject may be valid and based on what Krishna says in various places, it is improper to speculate and publish it as a “Letter from Krishna.”

3. My next strong objection is about “Founder’s Views.” The word views reduces the authentic presentation of Srila Prabhupada into somebody’s “views.” The messages given are not Srila Prabhupada’s views, but his presentation of the authentic message of the shastra. By keeping the word views, we are offending the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. Views would mean something of a person’s opinion, but Srila Prabhupada’s points are not his own views but the views of shastra and authentic presentation of the shastras. Whatever we do, let us remember to please Srila Prabhupada, who will not be pleased with presenting his teachings as his views.

I hope that necessary actions will be taken on these points. (Sri Giridhari dasa,)

Our reply: 1. We cannot have pratyaksa- and sabda-pramanas for this case. For anumana-pramana, we have quoted the words of an authority in this field. Moreover, the photos speak for themselves.

As per Bhagavad-gita (8.6), “In whatever condition one quits his present body, in his next life he will attain to that state of being without fail.” Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.1.47) also mentions, “Just as springtime in the present indicates the nature of springtimes in the past and future, so this life of happiness, distress or a mixture of both gives evidence concerning the religious and irreligious activities of one’s past and future lives.” Srila Prabhupada elaborates in his purport, “As soon as spring arrives, the usual exhibition of various types of fruits and flowers automatically becomes manifest, and therefore we may conclude that spring in the past was adorned with similar fruits and flowers and will be so adorned in the future also.”

 Based on these two verses, we can infer that material nature offers an opportunity to a spirit soul to continue similar activities in the next life provided he does not degrade himself.

Also, devotees, when presenting Krishna consciousness philosophy, often quote non-Vedic references if they conform to scriptures. Even Srila Prabhupada would quote contemporary persons whose opinions matched with the Vedic conclusions. When scientists proposed the theory of matter and anti-matter, Srila Prabhupada wrote an entire series of articles in BTG (Volume 3.15, 20 February 1960), which was later compiled into a book Easy Journey to Other Planets. We also follow the same principle.

2. Reply by Yugavatara Dasa, author of “Orkuting with Krishna”: It is true that we cannot write on behalf of Krishna. But if you read the lines carefully it is written, “Here is the reply we are waiting for.” That means that this is a reply I desire that Krishna will send me. Also all the lines of that letter were based on our philosophy and there was no deviation.

3. We agree. Your suggestions for a better heading are invited.

A Youth-friendly Magazine

Thanks to a recent need for extra rest, and the yearning to read something new and light yet Krishna conscious, I finally got to read recent issues of BTG India cover to cover (whereas earlier I had only glanced at the titles before setting the magazine aside) and I loved every page. I am very happy to see that BTG India is so much more youth-friendly, giving clear answers from the Srimad-Bhagavatam to modern day confusions. I have made reading BTG India compulsory for my teenage son and am recommending it to other teenagers too. It seems to be a good stepping-stone to children of devotees who are yet to delve themselves into Prabhupada’s books and others who are still searching for spiritual truth.

Personally, I also feel encouraged to contribute articles. BTG India is showing openness to all levels of Krishna conscious writers honoring their devotional feelings, services, and aspirations.

Thank you for making BTG India reach the depths of our mind and giving a fearless arena for readers to share the Krishna conscious depths of their minds! Hope you maintain it through the years to come. (Tarini Radha Devi Dasi ISKCON Chennai)

Wonderful ISSUE

Thank you very much for the wonderful June 2010 issue. The cover story on the farm community in Hungary was fantastic. We just felt that we were actually on that farm. We would like to have more and more such spot-reporting stories. (Santipura Natha Dasa)

Live-in relationships existed IN INDIA

In BTG May 2010, there were two articles on live-in relationships. One was by Murari Gupta Dasa (“Perks without Liabilities”) and the other was by Syamananda Dasa (“Live-in relationships and Radha Krishna”). Both have criticized the Hon’ble Supreme Court for citing Radha-Krishna relationship to uphold live-in relationship.

In this context, I would like to mention that live-in relationship existed among Gaudiya Vaishnavas (i.e. the Vaishnavas of Bengal) for many centuries. This was called samyogi upasana. I quote one incident narrated in the book Shri Shri Sadguru Sanga written by Shri Kuladananda Brahmachari about his guru Shri Bijoy Krishna Goswami. In part two of this book,  one day a young Bengali brahmana widow comes to Bijoy Krishna Goswami and complains that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas  of Vrindavana  are harassing her because she is not agreeing to have samyogi upasana (or live-in relationship) with them. She wants to know whether Mahaprabhu  had prescribed such upasana. Shri Bijoy Krishna Goswami tells her that Mahaprabhu  had never prescribed such upasana. In fact, Mahaprabhu had never said anything contrary to shastra. He advises her to shun the company of such Vaishnavas.

In Bengali society, Vaishnavas were looked down upon because of their sexual promiscuity and live-in relationships. The Brahmo Samaj had come down heavily on the Vaishnavas because of this. In those days, a person putting the Vaisnava tilaka was looked down upon as a man of bad character. Bhaktivinoda Thakura started the reform movement among Gaudiya Vaishnavas, which was further strengthened by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

So, the statement in your articles that live-in relationship is a product of western culture is not true. It existed in India long before it existed in Europe or America.(Debi Prasad Bhattacharya, Mangalore)

OUR REPLY: First let us understand why Vaisnavism was condemned as encouraging promiscuity. After the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, many deviant sects sprang up. We should be very careful not to be fooled by them.  Srila Prabhupada explains in a lecture: “In Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, this Krishna consciousness movement was going nicely. And after Him, there were six Goswamis. They also managed. Then, as it is the rule of this material world that you start something very good but in due course of time the things deteriorate, so this Vaishnava, Krishna consciousness movement, also deteriorated in due course of time. After the disappearance of the Goswamis, about 250 years after, the things became most ridiculous. The so-called devotees… Their representatives still are continuing. They are called prakrta-sahajiyas. Prakrta-sahajiya means taking things very easily. They thought that Radha-Krishna is just like a boy and girl’s lusty affairs. And in this way they took sex life as religion.

“Bhaktivinoda Thakura was at that time a householder, government officer and magistrate. He felt very much: “Oh, as soon as one will see that he belongs to the Caitanya sampradaya, he’ll deride, ‘Oh, these are all rascals, simply taking sex pleasures. That’s all.’” (Los Angeles, 7 February 1969)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has identified thirteen apasampradayas that claim to have inherited Lord Caitanya’s mission, though they have nothing to do with the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. They are known by the names aula, baula, kartabhaja, neda, daravesa, sani, sahajiya, sakhibheki, smarta, jata-gosani, ativadi, cudadhari, and gauranga-nagari. Because these apasampradayas (apa means “deviated”) do not nurture Vaisnava qualities, their missionary activities are condemned as cheating. Sampradaya means those who carefully follow the Vedic principles.

As mentioned in Vaishnava Ke by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the apasampradayas display only inauspicious qualities viz. anitya-vaibhava, the hankering for material success; kaminira-kama, illicit sexual affairs that are usually passed off as “transcendental; mayavada, philosophical speculation that undercuts the personal nature of God as taught by the Vaisnava sampradayas.

The conditioned soul is always mad for sense gratification and will justify it by whatever means possible-in the name of materialism as in the West or in the name of religion as in 18th-century Bengal. Today Indians are not practicing live-in because it was done by some Indians 250 years back, but they are doing so imitating the West. What we condemn is the blind following of a deviant practice-whether followed in India or coming from the West.

Replies to the letters were written by Syamananda Dasa.

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