Fascinating story

Thank you for the July 2010 edition of BTG.  I have read many wonderful articles by Caitanya Carana Dasa and it was equally fascinating to know how he came to Krsna consciousness. The column “How I came to Krsna consciousness” is always my favorite and there are many fascinating accounts in previous editions of BTG. (N. K. Gupta)

Confusion cleared

The June 2010 issue of Back to Godhead was wonderful. I saw the most beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the article “Krsna Valley.” I am curious to see Nandi the Bull if I visit Hungary in the future.

I also appreciated the article “Personal-Impersonal Confusion” by Caitanya Carana Dasa. He has always been an extraordinarily knowledgeable devotee. I am astounded by his vocabulary and knowledge about God. It bowls me out.(Santanu Dasgupta)

Practicing yet trapped

I have been following the regulative principles, chanting sixteen rounds and associating with devotees. Yet, I have not been able to ward off attraction to opposite sex from my mind. Is there no end to my sins? Is there any system to stay in an ISKCON temple like Våndavana, etc. to further purify one? Please advise. (Bhavinder Mehta)

Our Reply: Attraction to the opposite sex is indeed very strong.  In fact, it is the very basis of material life. Thus, the question that you have posed is perennial. Lord Krsna says that one has to tolerate these urges till the time of death (Bg. 5.23). The struggle becomes easier by developing a taste for devotional service and developing conviction that alluring but temporary things of this world can never satisfy us. By executing devotional service as per prescriptions, we will overcome the effects of this all-devouring enemy, lust. We have to be determined in this endeavor.

On a practical level, try to follow these steps:

Restrict interaction with the opposite sex to only service-related issues. Avoid exposure to pornographic literature and websites. Eat only Krsna-prasada. Avoid bad company. Intensely pray to Krsna for help. Meditate on the eyebrows of Krsna for conquering lust. When we develop attachment to the beautiful face of Lord Krsna (Bhag. 3.28.32), lust cannot affect us. The higher taste of Krsna conscious activities will enable us to overcome lusty desires.

In the Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada explains, “The strong conviction that one will certainly receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called in Sanskrit asa-bandha.” He further mentions a prayer of Srila Rupa Gosvami exemplifying his hopefulness and then explains that, “…under this heading of asa-bandha, one should continue to hope against hope that some way or other he will be able to approach the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.”

Regarding your question about staying in any ISKCON temple for training, you may contact your local center.

Learning from the Yogi

The BTG team’s trip in the blazing summer sun to meet the austere sadhu who hasn’t eaten in decades was crowned with success when celebrated medicos admitted their bafflement at the feat of the yogi. We can surmise that there are higher realms of science that were known to ancient seers but are beyond even the imagination of modern science. Scientists are doing grave injustice to the world by claiming anything not certified by them as quackery and fraud. Politicians who chase the scent of money support such scientists. In reality, spirituality represents the higher truths.

The yogi has controlled only the urges of the tongue and stomach. But the soldiers in Srila Prabhupada’s mission as elucidated in the first sloka of Nectar Of Instruction are required to conquer all six urges which include those of mind, speech, anger, tongue, stomach, and sex to compassionately serve the suffering souls of this ma-terial world. No wonder then that feats such as the present one have no special attraction to the sincere devotee eager for love of God beyond serving as a tool to arouse interest towards the occult in common men. (Kalanidhi Dasa)

Temples for whom?

This refers to the article, “Why do we need a temple?” (BTG March 2010). The one and only one Almighty God, by whatever name He is being worshiped, is kind enough to provide a natural individual temple namely the heart. Can there be any better temple than that?

I am not at all an authority on spiritual matters. But I fervently pray to the Almighty God from the temple of my heart with utmost concentration in transcendental devotion. Most of the devotees, who cannot concentrate on the heart, go to manmade temples where concentration would be at its lowest depth, necessarily because of the usually large gathering of devotees. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that I do not go to temples at all. I do go for darsana primarily to learn more on transcendental devotion from contemporary devotees. (P. K. V. Menon)

Our Reply: Present-day civilization is becoming increasingly atheistic and antagonistic to any kind of belief in God. Under these circumstances, a temple becomes all the more relevant. Acting as a shelter for people seeking genuine spirituality, a temple provides clear and precise directions to people to connect to God. Everyone and everything in a temple reminds them about God. The supremely attractive Deities immerse their consciousness in remembrance of the Supreme Lord; Krsna-kirtana soothes them, Krsna-katha informs them, and Krsna-prasada satisfies them. The whole experience is

elevating. For someone wandering in the desert of this material world, the temple is like a spiritual oasis(a place where one can come for refuge.

Srila Prabhupada often compared ISKCON temples to embassies of the spiritual world. Just as a particular nation has its embassy in a foreign country to facilitate its people there to visit it, pure devotees of the Lord establish temples of the Supreme Lord in different parts of the material world to facilitate experience of the spiritual world. The whole atmosphere inside an embassy is that of the country being represented and not of the host country. Similarly the atmosphere in a genuine temple is permeated with true God consciousness that is originally found in the spiritual world.

Temple worship is not meant for neophytes only. Advanced devotees who have developed pure love for Krsna see the Deity as non-different from Krsna and render service to Him. The Deity also reciprocates with them in pure love. For neophytes, however, it is essential to worship the Deity in the temple to reach the advanced stages of devotional love.

Some people may prefer peaceful environments for prayers and meditation. Knowing that guru, sadhu and sastra eagerly proclaim the glories of a temple for providing spiritual sanctuary to individuals seeking shelter, one should try to balance one’s introvert conditioning and relish the temple ambience in spite of the noise and crowds.

Scriptures inform us that the yuga-dharma, the principal process for spiritual emancipation in the present age, is hari-nama-sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of Lord Sri Krsna. Above all other benefits, since ISKCON temples offer this opportunity to all, they are indispensible for the cultivation and proliferation of genuine God consciousness in this age.

Mr. Menon, 83, a frequent contributor to this column, left this world in July. BTG staff prays that he comes closer to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.

Replies to the letters were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa.

Write to us at: ed.btgindia@pamho.net