We welcome your letters.
Write to back to godhead
51 West Allens Lane
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119
I am sixteen years old, and for some time I have been studying ISKCON and the Vaisnava way of life. I have come to the conclusion that such is the will of God and the best mode of life. Therefore I will seek it.
I am told by my instructors at school that I have an exceptional writing ability. I praise and thank Krishna for instilling this ability within me, and I wish to somehow utilize it to His glory. Therefore I have taken up writing for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Enclosed you will find something I have written not for my own benefit, but in the hope that it would encourage others to seek Krishna. Chistopher Stewart Matheny, West Virginia (See Christopher's article on page 29.)
* * *
It seems to me, after reading some of your Back to Godhead issues, that you are extremely prejudiced against the theory of impersonal God. I find that your prejudice is based on ignorance and misinterpretation of the impersonal theory. Yes, the impersonal theory says that you are God, but by "you," here, is not meant the human body or the individual soul. By "you," here, is meant the impersonal self, the universal soul.
It is wrong to think that the personal theory of God is the only correct one. There are several roads to Rome. My point is, everyone should be tolerant. The objective of a true guru is not to say that this path is the only correct one and ridicule other paths, but to explain and describe each path, their merits and pitfalls, and let the sishya [disciple] choose according to his own nature and bent of mind.
OUR REPLY: In refuting with strong language the theory of impersonalism, Back to Godhead magazine follows the precedent set fifty centuries ago by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna, who said that those who think He is impersonal but has assumed a human form are mudhas, fools. Throughout the Vedic literature we find similar statements that reveal the unfortunate position of those who fall prey to the false conclusion that the Absolute Truth is ultimately impersonal.
As devotees of the Supreme Lord, we are not prejudiced; however, we accept the conclusions of the scriptures and must point out the fallacious and offensive "logic" of the impersonalists. The impersonalists, or Mayavadis, say that God exists but He has no form: no head, no face, no arms, no legs. In other words, God can't hear, He can't speak, He can't see, He can't walk. That is the same as saying that there is no God. Therefore, Lord Caitanya, who is Krsna Himself appearing as His own devotee, says that the Mayavadis are offenders.
The conclusion that the Absolute Truth is impersonal is based on speculation, not on the teachings of the Vedic literatures, which clearly substantiate the Personality of Godhead's transcendental form. In the Brahma-samhita, for example, Lord Brahma, the director of the universe, glorifies Krsna as sac-cid-ananda vigraha, the eternal form of bliss and knowledge.
And Krsna's form is His own individual form. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.12) Krsna says that we will continue to possess our individual identities eternally. He tells Arjuna, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings. Nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." Krsna clearly makes a distinction between the Supreme Self and the individual self. In the Thirteenth Chapter Krsna describes two "knowers" within the body, the individual soul and the Supersoul. The Upanisads also state that there are "two birds within the tree of the body." As you have said, "you" doesn't mean the human body. But neither does "you" mean the universal soul. "You" means the individual spirit soul. And that individual soul can never be equal to God. The Vedic literatures clearly explain that God is infinite and we are infinitesimal. The impersonalists cannot understand this essential point.
Because we are small we are subject to the control of God's energy. God is called acyuta, infallible. He never falls under the influence of the material energy. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya:"The material energy is coming from Me, and the minute living entities cannot overcome it." If we were the same as Krsna, we would not be bewildered by Krsna's material energy, maya.
Krsna is never bewildered. He says in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, "I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows." We cannot make such a claim.
Your statement "several roads to Rome" conveys a popular idea, but the statement is misleading. First we must understand what "Rome" is; then we can discuss whether there are various ways of getting there. By "Rome" I assume you mean the Absolute Truth. The highest aspect of the Absolute Truth, as explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is the personal form of God, Lord Sri Krsna, who says in the Bhagavad-gita, mattah parataram nanyat: "There is no truth superior to Me." And, contrary to what others may claim, He says later that there are indeed different paths but they don't lead to the same place. "Those who worship the demigods go to the demigods…. Those who worship Me come to Me." Earlier, in the Fourth Chapter, Krsna says that He rewards each of us according to our surrender. Not everyone gets the same result. Some roads lead to Rome, but some lead to the penitentiary.
The members of the Hare Krsna movement accept the words of Krsna as irrefutable truth. All the great teachers in the Vedic tradition have accepted Bhagavad-gita as authoritative Vedic literature. The Bhagavad-gita is the essence of Vedic knowledge. The words of Krsna not our own bent of mind are authority. The real guru must present Krsna's teachings without compromise, and the disciple must accept them as absolute truth. Arjuna demonstrates the proper way to accept the guru: He surrenders to Krsna for instructions. And Krsna Himself says that one must accept the spiritual master, inquire from him submissively, and render service to him because the spiritual master has seen the truth. If the guru actually possesses absolute knowledge, what right does the disciple have to pick and choose according to his "bent of mind"? The disciple is in ignorance. He must simply receive transcendental knowledge from the perfect spiritual master.
The members of the Krsna consciousness movement, under the guidance of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, accept only the direct purport of the Vedic literature as it has been explicitly enunciated in the Bhagavad-gita by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Lord Sri Krsna, who says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: "By all the Vedas I am to be known."
The goal of life is to reawaken our original love for God. The Mayavadi philosophy hinders the soul's progress by telling him that he is God. This is a grave injustice. One who carefully studies the Vedic literatures under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, however, will surely understand that Krsna is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the ultimate goal of life.