I read with interest some of the books sold by your vendors, and I would like to ask the following questions:

(1) Who am I?

(2) Where do I come from?

(3) What is the purpose of my existence?

(4) How can I get out of the cycle of repeated birth and death?

Inasmuch as I have a keen interest in knowing the science of self-realization, I would be grateful if my questions are considered and answered at your earliest convenience.

Abraham Dick-Ab Isiotu
Unyengala Doni Town

OUR reply: According to the ancient Vedic scripture Bhagavad-gita, the answers to your questions are as follows:

(1) You are an eternal spirit soul, and your physical body is merely a temporary vehicle in which you are riding. The soul can be in either the materially conditioned state or the liberated state. In the conditioned state the soul transmigrates from one material body to another. In the liberated state the soul can return to the eternal kingdom of God.

(2) You come originally from God. God is the eternal Supreme Person, the creator of all things, and the cause of all causes. He is known in the Bhagavad-gita as Krsna, and He is known by many other names in other religions. The spirit souls are of the same spiritual nature as Krsna, but they are minute and dependent, whereas He is infinite and completely independent. Since God is an eternal person and the spirit souls are of the same nature as God, they are also eternal persons. The spirit souls, however, are always subordinate to God.

(3) The real purpose of your existence is to serve Krsna. The nature of the soul is to render service, but because people are bewildered by material illusion they wind up serving many false masters. In the liberated state, the soul becomes completely free from material entanglement, serves Krsna directly, and achieves unlimited happiness.

(4) The most effective way to get out of the cycle of birth and death is to take up the process of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Krsna. The basic idea of this process is that you can come to the stage of directly serving and associating with Krsna by beginning to serve Him in a practical way here and now.

You can obtain more information about bhakti-yoga from any of the centers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

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I have just finished reading the latest issue of Back to Godhead magazine. It is hard to describe how it makes me feel to find it in the mailbox. It makes my day. I found the Book Section about "The Cosmic Manifestation" so good to read. It's so full of knowledge and wisdom, along with the answers to many questions that I have. I want to thank you and every one in the Hare Krishna movement for the great work you are doing and for having mercy on me and other fallen souls like me. Thank you. Thank you.

Steve D. Harold
Denver, Colorado

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Your magazine is a great blessing, especially to those who desire more knowledge of Christ!

John J. Bryant
Glen Elly, Illinois

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Over the past few years I have had an ever-increasing interest in Krishna consciousness, and during the course of this past year Lord Krishna has provided several opportunities to associate with His devotees. The most memorable of these occasions was hearing Bhavananda Vishnupada Goswami speak in Auckland early in the year. This has demonstrated that those situated in spiritual life are much better off than those in the material world.

For myself, I have never been really satisfied with life, no matter what position or employment I have taken. I have, however, seen the happiness and peace of mind that devotees have, and feel that devotional service to Lord Krishna is the best path to tread.

Here in Wellington, I have no chance to associate with devotees and can but chant and read about Krishna.

I think the time has come for me to do something about my position. I would like to join your movement, as this would allow me to serve Krishna much more effectively than I can at present.

If I might be permitted to join your movement and accept a spiritual master, I would be very happy.

Tony Grimwood
Wellington, New Zealand

Challenge to the Anti-Cult Community

Back to godhead's Senior Editor recently sent the following letter to several leaders of "anti-cult" groups.

Dear Sir:

Despite our desire that the work of the Hare Krsna movement in the Soviet Union continue unpublicized, the article Hare Krishna Chant Unsettles Soviet recently appeared in the New York Times (see page 20). It reveals that the Hare Krsna movement, to the disgruntlement of Soviet authorities, has for several years been vigorously working to spread Lord Krsna's teachings of God consciousness among the people of the Soviet Union.

As leading scholars in Indian religion and culture have repeatedly and unequivocally affirmed, the Hare Krsna movement authentically embodies a devotional tradition that some 700 million people have honored as part of their religious and cultural mainstream for hundreds if not thousands of years. But you and others devoted to a self-styled "anti-cult" crusade have for several years publicized your view that the Hare Krsna movement, on the contrary, is a "cult," an evil, wicked enterprise meant to enslave and exploit the young and innocent so that the movement's leaders can live in luxury and power.

Now, our question is this: how in the world can you reconcile such a view with the facts reported in this article from the Times? Why do you suppose that self-serving money-grabbers (as you believe us to be) would waste time and money printing ancient Sanskrit religious books in Russian? And why should we risk our necks to travel about the Soviet Union and teach people to chant the holy names of God? Are we merely robots whose programs have run amuck and sent us blindly marching into Moscow? Maybe we hope to form an army of brainwashed Russians to help us recruit gullible Christian and Jewish kids from Beverly Hills and Scarsdale. Or maybe you think we're just in it for the rubles.

In all seriousness, I humbly suggest that the reasonable explanation is that we're just what we and those professors who study us say we are—members of a genuine, traditional religious movement, sincerely trying to spread love of God all over the world.

If you feel you have an explanation that makes more sense, I humbly request that you let me know what it is at your earliest opportunity.

Jayadvaita Swami

Senior Editor