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Earlier this year, with some patient perseverance on the part of my wife, I began reading some of the books published by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Being brought up with a Christian background, needless to say I was apprehensive.
It was comforting to see so many parallels between the teachings of the two faiths. That's when I began to realize that both were the same faith inspired by God into different versions to better reach the understanding of all humanity.
I started seeing myself and my relationship with God much clearer. The first thing to go was meat-eating. I actually developed a sincere hunger for more knowledge not only from scriptures like the Bhagavad-gita, but also from Bible passages that now seemed to make more sense. I must confess, though, that after doing this reading and visiting the Chicago temple for the Ratha-yatra festival, I still found some of the customs a trifle awkward to get accustomed to.
My question to you is this. From what I've read, there are no real contradictions between Christianity and Krsna consciousness in their message to us about our relationship with God. Not being an expert on the scriptures of either, am I on target with this way of thinking?
Our reply: From a scriptural point of view, your thinking is right on target. There is no real contradiction between the message of Christianity and that of Krsna consciousness. Lord Jesus Christ preached love of God, and in theBhagavad-gita Lord Sri Krsna preached the same thing. Lord Jesus described himself as the son of God the Father, and Lord Krsna said, "I am the seed-giving father of all living entities." We find no contradiction in this.
The Ten Commandments are laws for the Christians, and Krsna consciousness encompasses all those Commandments. And just as the Bible stresses glorifying the holy name of the Lord, the Krsna consciousness scriptures also put great stress on kirtana, or glorifying God's divine names. In this way, you will find many parallels between Krsna consciousness and the Christian ideal.
But, as you have noted, there are differences in the customs, and like anything new, they will take some getting used to. Please note, however, that customs, rituals, and socio-religious mores are largely external. They give but slight indication of the love a person has in his heart for God. Even within the various schools of Krsna devotees in India, differences among customs, standards, and rituals abound. But any religious process must culminate in a purified heart, full surrender to God, and unmotivated devotional service. The Krsna consciousness movement is offering people the opportunity to come tothat standard.
The Krsna consciousness scriptures, in addition to clarifying ambiguous passages in the Bible (as you have experienced), also deliver a wealth of knowledge about God. His abode and associates. His names and pastimes, as well as about spiritual life in general. And this knowledge is far more complete than Biblical accounts. This is a very significant difference, but not a real contradiction. It's more like the difference between a multivolume encyclopedic dictionary' and a pocket dictionary. They don't contradict each other, but one is more complete and therefore more authoritative. This distinction between Krsna consciousness and Christian thought is readily apparent to anyone who makes an unbiased comparison of the two. You seem to have no trouble doing this, and therefore you are becoming enlightened by coming in touch with Krsna consciousness.
Please continue to study this great movement. Take advantage of this knowledge, and help us give it to others. This will assure your rapid advancement in Krsna consciousness and make you very dear to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and to Lord Jesus Christ.