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BACK TO GODHEAD
51 West Allens Lane
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119
Coming into contact with the Krsna movement is an attractive proposition for anyone with an interest in spiritual (God) realization. One of the things an aspirant would become aware of is the mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Among the letters of the Krsna mantra are Ram . . . Ha . . . Ksa . . . These Arthur Avalon [a writer on yoga] places as: Ram the mantra of the Manipura cakra (around the navel) and Ha . . . Ksa . . . for the petals of the Ajna cakra (between your eyebrows). The logic of making the references is that through chanting the Hare Krsna mantra the two areas respond to the vibrations of those letter combinations.
New South Wales, Australia
Our reply: Though seemingly logical enough, Mr. Avalon's comments about the effect of the Hare Krsna mantra are unnecessary. Although the various cakras, or centers of energy within the body, may indeed respond to the chanting, these energy centers are material, just as one's entire body is ultimately material and temporary. The chanting of Hare Krsna, however, goes directly to the eternal spiritual soul within the body. The transcendental sound of the Hare Krsna mantra is identical with Krsna Himself. So by hearing and chanting the mantra the soul comes directly in touch with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way the soul is freed of all material contamination and comes at once to the spiritual platform of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. And by continued chanting one gradually attains the highest perfection of yoga pure, unalloyed love of Godhead.
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I've just subscribed to your magazine, BACK TO GODHEAD. I was very surprised to find that you no longer include a worldwide list of your centers, restaurants, and farms. I feel that this is a very important part of your magazine, since I know a lot of people from other countries who are interested in your movement, and I often send them copies of your magazine and indicate on the address list where the nearest centers to them are. Would you please include the complete list in your future issues?
I found the article "Exploding the Myth of the Innocent Citizen" (Vol. 17, No. 8) very interesting. I am a lifelong vegetarian and an activist in the vegetarian movement and the movement for animal welfare. I am often faced with the hypocrisy of people who are working to improve human conditions but who eat meat or commit other acts of cruelty toward animals. They tell me that it's O.K. to abuse animals that the important thing is to be good to people and love them. I feel that one must show mercy and compassion not only to people but to all living things.
I also found the article "A Great Fortune for the People of Trinidad" very interesting. I have a deep interest in geography and the development of local Hare Krsna centers, and this article satisfied both my interests.
Langley Park, Maryland
Our reply: Starting in this issue, we will again provide a complete list of Hare Krsna centers around the world. Sorry for the inconvenience.
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Hare Krsna! I have been reading BACK TO GODHEAD for some two years now, and I cherish each copy, reading and rereading, or just feeling very happy with your happiness as I look at the pictures.
I wonder if I might ask you two questions. They are not theological but of general interest. Here goes.
Why are devotees not allowed to drink tea or cocoa, or to eat chocolate, onions, or mushrooms? I can understand the ban on alcohol and cigarettes, to say nothing of drugs. Who wants them, anyway? The other things, though, I would like you to explain, as I do enjoy a cup of tea.
Your Society seems peopled by young, strong, healthy devotees. Is there any place among you for older people, not to say the really elderly and not-too-strong?
Brighton, South Australia
Our reply: As you know, stimulants of all kinds are out for Hare Krsna devotees. Tea contains caffeine, while chocolate and cocoa contain the stimulant the obromine as well. (Good substitutes are herbal teas and drinks made with carob powder, both of which are offerable to Krsna and thus drinkable for devotees). As for onions and mushrooms, our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, advised us that because these foods are rajasic they increase passion in whoever eats them we shouldn't offer or eat them.
Older persons are certainly welcome in our Society. After all, we expect our young members to become elderly members themselves one day. And many of our members are elderly now.
But few of our centers are now physically equipped to care for the needs of the elderly and disabled. So in most places elderly people will prefer to practice Krsna consciousness while living at home rather than in our temple asramas.
Elderly people have an important role to play in the Krsna conscious social system. Also, for one's own spiritual realization old age is a warning that to make the best use of one's life one should wrap up his worldly affairs and focus on Krsna consciousness in the precious time he has left.
Krsna consciousness is the perfect spiritual science for meeting the spiritual needs of elderly persons and of everyone else. And as our Society matures, we're sure its ability to meet the material needs of older people will mature along with it.
For information about those Hare Krsna centers best equipped to accommodate older persons and to get in touch with older persons who are practicing Krsna consciousness you can write to our Secretary at 3764 Watseka Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034.
Any other readers with thoughts about this subject? We'd be interested in hearing from you.
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In one of your recent issues in the "Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out" section your leader says that contraception "is the most sinful activity." Frankly, this shocked me. I can understand your condemnation of abortion I share your sentiments 100%. But why is contraception wrong? It seems like the only humanitarian way to avoid unwanted children. Please explain.
Palo Alto, California
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Our reply: The main reason contraception is sinful is that it encourages unrestrained sexual indulgence. The Vedas tell us that human life is meant for restraining sensual impulses such as the sex drive and using our vital energy for self-realization. Of course, sex does have its place in spiritual life: within marriage, only for having Krsna conscious children. But free sex is the worst enemy of spiritual culture. It saps the energy we need for practicing spiritual disciplines, deludes us into thinking physical pleasure is the goal of life, and absorbs our consciousness totally in the false idea that our body is our self. So the one truly sinless and humanitarian way to avoid unwanted children is to abstain from sex.