There are certain things that I need clarification about and I hope necessary action will be taken.
In your reply to Sri Giridhari Dasa in the August 2010 issue, you said, “Also, devotees, when presenting Krsna 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.” This is an incorrect reply to his question. In the Reincarnation article, April 2010 issue, the source of the controversy, you said, “BTG does not confirm or refute the following claims, but is only reporting them.”
1. Why do you want to report something if you don’t confirm its views? Is it that BTG wants to attract large crowds by displaying such reincarnations?
2. Srila Prabhupada (to my knowledge) when learning about something non-Vedic that matched with the Vedic conclusions would readily accept it. But your statement is like saying, “This analogy suits the Vedic conclusion, but BTG doesn’t accept or deny it.”
3. This has become a speculative view that so and so has reincarnated like this. Do you know for sure that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan was Edwin Booth in his previous birth?
4. There may be another person who may have the same qualities as Amitabh, and Amitabh may have been that person in his previous birth. We don’t know. So it’s not right to arrive at that conclusion.
5. And even if someone concludes in this way (as in Human Devolution), it’s not good to be published in an authoritative spiritual magazine as the BTG.
6. Any intellectual would strongly disagree with your views and would conclude that we are also one among the pack of sentimentalists. It pains me when I realize that our ISKCON magazine is publishing something inconclusive, sentimental, and unauthorized.
7. I fully agree with Sri Giridhari Dasa’s points mentioned in his letter. I hope you give an open-minded and authoritative answer to my questions and take the necessary action to avoid future errors. (Chandru)
Reply by Murari Gupta Dasa: Thanks for your valuable feedback.
1. We reported the news because it serves our purpose, which is to attract large crowds towards the philosophy of reincarnation and Krsna consciousness.
2. Here is an excerpt from a conversation with Srila Prabhupada:
Srila Prabhupada: …Recently one astrologer has said that one of the biggest politicians in India, he has now become a dog in Sweden. May be correct or not, but there is possibility. There is possibility. (Room Conversation with Dr. Arnold Toynbee, 22 July 1973, London)
Just as Srila Prabhupada used a secular authority to support a sastric principle while at the same time being noncommittal about the correctness of the secular authority, we too have done the same following in his footsteps.
4. We leave it for the readers to arrive at their own conclusions. We accept it because it suits our philosophy. But we have no tool to prove it. That way, there is no tool to prove scientifically either the process of reincarnation, or to refute or confirm who one was in his previous life. One may try verifying with Bhrgu-samhita, but we have neither the time nor the resources to do so. In the present case, a popular book is highlighting reincarnation, which is the basis of our philosophy. We are using it. Some may choose not to believe it. We respect their choice.
5. Again, it’s your choice and perspective. Human Devolution is written by a devotee scientist of international repute, who was personally trained by Srila Prabhupada. He knows his stuff better than most of us.
6. There are sufficient arguments to whet an intellectual’s appetite in the remaining article. If believing in reincarnation is sentimentalism, then so be it. I quoted an authority who is doing ground breaking research on the subject and widely popularizing it in the western world. His methodology may appear unconventional, so for interested readers I gave a list of websites and books for reference. Lot of research went into compiling the article, which is based on evidences so far not used in mainstream ISKCON and have just begun to gain popularity and acceptance in the secular world.
7. We will consider your views in the future. BTG is meant to stir intellectual debate and heart-felt contemplation. It’s not a placid, sterilized version of Vedic spirituality, but a dynamic tool to inform, inspire, and enlighten. Whatever helps us in these aims will be used.
AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE
Recently I had an amazing experience that I want to honestly share with you. I chanced to read two issues of BTG (June 2009 and June 2010). Since I had no distractions and was all alone in the room, I read them and didn’t realize the passing of time until I completed both the issues. It was simply excellent. So many varieties of articles and such hard work have gone into these issues.
I was particularly impressed with the articles “Finding Shelter in Sufferings,” “Educating about Education,” and “Safar or Suffer.” The column “In Your Own Words” on My Favorite Character in Ramayana was very interesting read. Also I liked the mistakes and blunders of devotees where Yudhisthira Dasa shared his experience. That was a brilliant idea to have such a column to show the human side of devotees and how we too are fallible. This column makes so much sense and it helps us get out of the holier-than-thou attitude.
I particularly liked Srila Prabhupada’s quotations on Illusion of Progress. I think it is excellent to have a collection of quotes rather than have one lecture. It is very much in touch with changing times.
I am very much inspired now to read BTG every month and also write articles for the magazine. (Vraja Bihari Dasa)
Vibrant and Godly
I have been living in Delhi for the past six years. Here I have visited many temples, but I really like the Parthasarathi Temple, East of Kailash (see below). It is not only a great architectural beauty, magnificent to look at, but it is a place where I find true serenity, peace, and solace from the multitude problems of the world. The Lotus Temple might be attracting more people than the ISKCON, but the former is only known for its architecture. I visited that temple only twice, once when I first came to Delhi and then when I showed it to some relatives on a Delhi tour. On both occasions, I felt people were being forced into silence and discipline without any godliness. In contrast, the ISKCON temple is vibrant with devotees of Lord Krsna, who pray, sing, dance, and worship with religious ardor. So, I have made it a point to come here regularly. Although not a member of the ISKCON community, I wish it every success and bow down to Srila Prabhupada, who created this wonderful organization.(Birendra Nayak)
Write to us at: Back to Godhead, 3rd Floor, 302, Amrut Industrial Estate, Western Express Highway, Mira Road (E)-401104.