Dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada:

I am the Indian boy who talked with you at the Krsna temple in Los Angeles during the Sunday festival. I also spoke to you once over the phone in Dallas. Now I am staying here at the temple in Atlanta, and this has upset my parents very much. They started crying on the phone, and my mother even fainted once. Now I see what you meant when you told me that the family ties are much stronger in Indian families than in American families.

My parents are going to come Sunday to take me home for a week. They want me to show them that my staying at the temple for the summer is really my own choice. They think I've been brainwashed by the devotees. Mainly they are worried about the future who will take care of them in old age because their only children are my sister and I.

I would deeply appreciate your writing to them. They think being a devotee means never seeing one's parents anymore. They also think that the Krsna consciousness movement somehow brainwashes the devotee to make him accept what, in my parents' opinion, is an impractical life of serving Krsna all the time.

I want to serve Krsna, and in my heart I know this will give the greatest benefit to my family, myself, and all people. But when I talk to my parents on the phone, sometimes I am overcome with grief because of their attachment to me. So again I humbly request you: please write to my father and mother. Thank you very much.

Your servant,
Bhakta Rakesh

Dear Mr. Sharma,

Recently I met your son Rakesh when you and your family visited our Hare Krsna center in Los Angeles. Since then I've corresponded with him and learned that he sincerely wants to be a full-time devotee of Lord Krsna at our Atlanta temple. But he also is very concerned that you and your wife not think his taking up spiritual life is something bad. So he asked me to write you on his behalf.

First, I would like to call your attention to an article we published in BACK TO GODHEAD, Vol. 12, No. 6. It is an excerpt from the scripture Caitanya-caritamrta and is called "Lord Caitanya, the Joy of Mother Saci." It tells how the great devotee Lord Caitanya took up the renounced order of spiritual life: He did not neglect His mother (His father had passed away), nor did she try to dissuade Him from leaving home. Rather; Lord Caitanya and His mother maintained a sweet spiritual relationship even after He entered the renounced order.

Certainly you and Rakesh should also be able to maintain such a loving relationship-so that he will be allowed to perform his duties in service to Lord Krsna (as his conscience dictates) and you may visit, write, or phone him as often as you like. On the other hand, if overly possessive affection causes you to obstruct your' son's entry into spiritual life, then, according to the Caitanya-caritamrta, you are open to criticism.

I humbly pray that these words from a stranger do not offend you. I know how you feel toward Rakesh, but all scriptures declare that service to the Lord takes precedence, even over close family ties.

Another thing concerns me. Rakesh wrote me that you suspect Krsna consciousness to be some kind of "brainwashing." I can see that the demonic propaganda prevalent in the West has affected your judgment. Certainly no one in India regards worshiping Lord Krsna as "brainwashing." "Brainwashing" refers to a form of extreme coercion that convinces a person, against his will, to do something completely contrary to his nature. I would not expect you, an Indian and a Hindu, to think that if someone worships Krsna with his heart and soul, he must be a victim of some kind of devious control by Krsna-conscious devotees.

Of course, we were not born Hindus, so you might find some shortcomings in our practice. But we are all sincerely trying to follow our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, who is a bona fide guru coming in the line of Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna. You can know that our movement is authentic, because we have all given up meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling, and we have taken up chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, which all the Indian Vedic scriptures strongly recommend for the troubled age we live in.

Finally, I beg you to please look upon us kindly. Talk things over with Rakesh and the Krsna devotees at the Atlanta temple. I'm sure you will then be able to understand how Krsna consciousness is beneficial not only for your son, but for yourself as well.

Yours in the service of Lord Krsna,

Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami