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I want to praise Suresvara dasa for his recent article "You Can Talk of Peace Till the Cows Come Home." Certainly cow slaughter is undermining the moral strength of this country as much as slavery did, and just as surely, it must stop, one way or another. If we are not shocked by the killing of innocent cows who do us service by giving us their milk, then why should we be shocked that people from this country can go out and shoot women and babies in other lands? Even the most basic familiarity with human psychology should tell us that animal slaughter and world peace cannot exist together.
Suresvara certainly had courage to endure the horrors of the slaughterhouse in order to write his article. His position was more painful than that of Red Cross members who inspected Nazi prison camps in World War [I. At least the Nazis tried to hide their worst sins, but the managers of modern slaughterhouses are so inured to carnage that they don't even realize how abominable their actions are.
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In one of your BACK TO GODHEAD magazines, in an article by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I was not surprised to read that "Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises." This is a fact every Christian or highly religious person of any sect knows and believes.
But regrettably enough the members of the Krsna consciousness movement are not practicing what they preach. My question is, Have they forgotten that these gigantic industries are making the Hare Krsna movement prosperous by printing magazines, by providing building materials for temples all over the world, by providing cars, trucks, and other means of transportation to spread their gospel, and by manufacturing and providing almost all the necessities of the movement?
I conclude, therefore, that ISKCON is surviving by means of a godless civilization as elaborated in the second paragraph of that article.
Tandoh Takoradi, Ghana
Our reply: The basic philosophical principle of the Krsna consciousness movement is that everything in this universe is the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. Those rebellious souls who deny God's authority are illusioned, misidentifying themselves with their material body and mind, and thus they work for sense enjoyment. Because men have built gigantic industries in order to exploit God's creation for their own sense enjoyment, those industries cause the destruction of the noble aims of human life.
The Bhagavad-gita, however, teaches that we should use our body, mind, and possessions in Lord Krsna's service, not misuse them for sense gratification. As you note in your letter, the Krsna consciousness movement utilizes cars, trucks, printing presses, and so on. But we use these things as you have also noted to spread the gospel of Krsna consciousness, not for our sense enjoyment. Thus even the energy mankind has misdirected toward godlessness is being turned toward the service of God. Devotional service means to utilize the kingdom of God for God, not for fulfilling material desires.
As Srila Prabhupada explains in The Nectar of Devotion, "Anything that can be utilized in advancing Krsna consciousness and devotional service should be accepted. For instance, we are using many machines for the advancement of our present Krsna consciousness movement, machines like typewriters, dictating machines, tape recorders, microphones, and airplanes. Sometimes people ask us, 'Why are you utilizing material products if you condemn the advancement of material civilization?' But actually we do not condemn. We simply ask people to do whatever they're doing in Krsna consciousness. This is the same principle on which, in Bhagavad-gita, Krsna advised Arjuna to utilize his fighting abilities in devotional service. Similarly, we are utilizing these machines for Krsna's service. With such sentiment for Krsna, or Krsna consciousness, we can accept everything. If the typewriter can be utilized for advancing our Krsna consciousness movement, we must accept it. Similarly, the dictating machine or any other machine must be used. Our vision is that Krsna is everything. Krsna is the cause and effect, and nothing belongs to us. Krsna's things must be used in the service of Krsna. That is our vision."
However, we cannot neglect the prescribed rules and regulations regarding devotional service. Since sinful activities such as meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling interfere with Krsna consciousness, devotees never attempt to utilize such things in the service of the Lord.
ISKCON is expanding by the will of God. It does not depend on industrial enterprises, because everything, including the raw materials utilized by the factories, are ultimately gifts of God. So although you have suggested that the Krsna consciousness movement "survives by means of a godless civilization," the fact is that everyone God conscious devotee and godless materialist alike exists by the gifts and mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The devotee recognizes this; the atheist does not.
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I must mention my special appreciation of the articles by Ravindra-svarupa dasa, most recently, "Endless Love" and "Encounter at Kuruksetra." His explanations of the value and qualities of spiritual pleasure compared with material pleasure are so clear and thorough and strikingly poetic that his words enter my mind and heart to arouse my dormant feelings of love for Krsna. His articles, one by one, are helping me realize that "there is no society like Krsna's society, and no love like Krsna's love." I certainly hope he continues writing about the nectar of devotional service so that we may all benefit from his mature insights. Also, the illustrations are supremely beautiful!
Lake Huntington, N.Y.