Grudge or Not
At my local center I sometimes observe that devotees distribute prasada with unpleasant looks. Usually they even keep a good portion aside for themselves to divide later. Even initiated devotees indulge in this behavior. This upsets me, but I can't do anything about it. Is it right for me to be upset? – Brhadnatha Dasa
Our reply: It is certainly improper for a devotee to distribute prasada with a negative attitude. Prasada is mercy, and mercy is for everyone, without reservation. Thus one should feel fortunate to have a chance to freely distribute the Supreme Lord's mercy. If possible, this attitude of gratitude should be visible on a devotee's face in the form of a cheerful look. Such a look will make the devotee appear inviting even to uninterested bystanders.
Devotees who serve prasada and set aside some for themselves may be doing so simply for logistical reasons. After doing service, devotees who serve prasada deserve some mercy for themselves too. Thus, judging them for this might not be fair. It's laudable if a devotee distributes prasada without keeping anything for himself or herself, but we cannot demand that everyone show such ideal behavior – real life is not always ideal. We should recognize those who are eager to serve in Srila Prabhupada's movement, being glad that they have not chosen instead to serve elsewhere .
Given the situation you've de-scribed, the best possible outcome would be to learn from this behavior how not to practice devotional service yourself. It is good if one can learn from other's mistakes. Knowing how improper behavior hurts others and causes problems, if you can practice high ideals in your own life, you can make the most of even a negative situation.
For some time now I have been trying to engage myself in the Supreme Lord's service. I chant, but not regularly. My mind keeps distracting me with materialistic things. How do I purify my heart and soul and give myself 100% in service. I do not have any devotee association.
I have had a very bad life, but I don't have any complaints. I feel very lonely even when surrounded by people. I feel sad for no reason. I feel like crying out loud. Please suggest some way I can be involved in serving guru and Krishna, Please give me the intelligence to concentrate in chanting and hearing. – Shweta Desai
Our reply: Strength comes in the association of those who are strong. Whatever philosophy we read comes alive in the lives of those who live by that philosophy. For many practitioners of sadhana-bhakti; the challenge is not that they are ignorant of what is right and what is wrong; rather their problem is a lack of strength in following what is right and rejecting what is wrong. This strength is available only in the association of steady devotees. Anyone who sincerely desires to advance should eagerly seek out such association as it will naturally clear all mental obstacles and inspire you in the service of guru and Krishna,
Chanting and hearing are our spiritual lifelines. That is how we can connect to Krishna even while carrying out our daily duties. Anyone in any status of life can hear about Krishna and tangibly feel His presence through the simple process of hearing about Him from bonafide sources. Fear pervades our lives and loneliness envelopes us because we do not have a strong realization of Krishna's presence in our lives. The more we hear about Krishna, the more He becomes a reality, and the more we chant about Him, the more we get to share this reality and the accompanying satisfaction with others. Be assured that the realization of this original connection with the Supreme Lord and His dear devotees is the answer to all your mental worries. Very soon, loneliness will be bereft of your company, and your fears will start fearing you. For more inspiration you can refer to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.7 and 2.1.11.
Karma of Cows
I know that ISKCON opposes cow slaughter. I feel we should console ourselves by thinking that the cows being slaughtered are souls who have killed cows in their previous lives. Naturally, this is the punishment they are getting as a reaction. We should therefore not try to stop cows from being slaughtered, because this would postpone the punishment due to them.
At the same time, if we oppose cow slaughter, that would free the cows from punishment. How do these two things go together? -Vishant Naik
Our reply: For a better under-standing of the concept of karma, please refer to our previous reply "Karma of the Rape Victim," which appeared in the April 2013 issue.
Whoever a living entity might have been in a previous life, if in the present life it is in the body of a cow, it is our duty to protect the cow. How can we judge the past life of a cow? How can we be sure our analysis is correct? The Jiva in the body of a cow in the present life may not necessarily have been a cow-killer in its last life; it may be that Jiva has come to the cow species in the natural course of its spiritual evolution, having passed through many lower species of life. Because of this uncertainty, any analysis about the past karma of Jiva could easily lead to faulty results.
We should proactively oppose cow slaughter for all cows in whatever way we can, eschewing discrimination based on intellectual analysis. By protecting cows, we will definitely attract Lord Krishna' s merciful glance.
Manure for Tulasi Devi
I offer obeisances to Tulasi in the morning and feel very spiritual. When I compare my Tulasi plant with the one at the local temple, I feel that my Tulasi plant is very weak and not growing well. I don't use any manure, even cow dung, since it is impure. Can I use chemical fertilizer so that Tulasi grows well and looks healthy, with big leaves? – Sudhir Anand
Our reply: Cow dung is completely pure, as per the Vedic scriptures, and is in fact used to purify places or things that have become impure. Thus, you can safely use cow dung as a natural and bona fide fertilizer to nourish Tulasi Devi, Since Tulasi is a plant, different environmental and seasonal factors that affect other plants will affect her too. For more help, consult the gardener taking care of Tulasi at your local ISKCON temple. He or she can give you some simple guidelines for your service to Tulasi Devi,
If Krishna is all-powerful and wants us to come back to Him, why doesn't He simply do it? – Dinesh Modi
Our reply: The all powerful Lord exhibits His all powerful nature not just by an intimidating display of power to control the living entities in every small way but by extending His personal Self to reach out to the living entities in every possible way to establish a relationship with them. Krishna expresses His help in the form of His words (scriptures), His devotees, His personal incarnations etc.
The Supreme Lord Krishna loves us, and to love someone means to give freedom to that person to not love you in return. Love based on force and expectations is not love at all; it is just disguised selfishness. Krishna, in His original love for us, allows us full freedom to reciprocate with His love and even provides all arrangements for us to reach out to Him in case we decide to do so. This same love for us is also the cause for Him to grant us freedom to choose to not surrender to Him.
Love is motivated by good wishes for the beloved. Thus, Krishna's love for us is aimed at making us mature and taking a self-motivated decision to love Him back. A loving father reaches out to his child gently and pulls him in a gradual manner to teach him. This approach makes it easy for the child to learn. Very few living entities are able to take a "leap of faith" towards Krishna, If Krishna pulls us suddenly to Himself with a jerk, we will find it difficult to appreciate it. Also, imagine if we suddenly fin ourselves in the spiritual world (by Krishna's pulling) without the necessary purity and service attitude required for staying there. Will we not feel uncomfortable and suffocated there? Will we not cause only a disturbance there? Thus Krishna's method is to give grace in response to some efforts from our side. This combination of a living entity's efforts coupled with the Supreme Lord's grace is conducive to making the living entity responsible today and grateful tomorrow for receiving help from the Supreme Lord. When we receive the spiritual world in this way, we will only see it as our greatest treasure.
Replies to the letters were written by Nanda dulal Dasa.