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Write to BACK TO GODHEAD
51 West Allens Lane
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119
I am completely wonderstruck at the way the Krsna consciousness movement is spreading. Please keep up this excellent work and carry on delivering the many fallen souls of today's world.
I have a few questions that I could not find answers to. Therefore I thought it a good idea to write to you so that they may be cleared.
Generally, relative to Indian Vedic scriptures, we are not allowed to eat meat or kill any animal. If anyone does so, then according to reincarnation he himself will be killed in the same way in his next life. But if I kill an animal with the understanding that it must have done the same to me in my previous life, do I have the right to kill it?
Secondly, in Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Two, verse 24, Lord Krsna says that the soul is immovable. But when we die, our soul has to either transmigrate to another material body or go back home to Godhead. Could you kindly account for this apparent contradiction? In addition, what happens to the soul during a heart transplant?
Lastly, you say in your magazine that if Jesus had meant "Thou shalt not kill" to apply only to humans, then he would have said "murder" and not "kill." But I have seen a Bible where Jesus says, "Do not murder." I am not a Christian but would like you to clarify this issue.
OUR REPLY: Essentially you raise four questions, which we'll answer one at a time.
1. Regarding your "right" to kill animals because they must have killed you previously, by your karma you may have the right to take a life in retribution for a previous karmic debt, but if you read Bhagavad-gitacarefully, you will see that the whole idea is not to become snarled in the endless tangle of karmic action and reaction. That is the path of bondage to this material world. What Krsna wants Arjuna and us to understand is that as spiritual souls we do not belong in the material world, but in the spiritual world.
Krsna exhorts Arjuna to give up both the auspicious and inauspicious fruits of karma, as the true achievement of salvation. He further says that such salvation is most perfect in one who engages in bhakti-yoga, devotional service to the Supreme Person. It is better, therefore, to set our sights on transcending our karma rather than on fulfilling it.
2. When Lord Krsna says that the soul is immovable, He means that the soul cannot be moved from his constitutional position as an eternal servant of Krsna. Our material existence is really only a kind of dream; we think we are moving in the material world, just as a person in a dream thinks he is moving here and there, when actually he has not left his bed.
3. Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that the soul is seated in the heart of the living being. When the soul leaves the body, the body is dead. It becomes refuse. Srila Prabhupada explains that at the time of a heart transplant, the simply changes hearts, just as a person might change seats.
4. As for the question of "kill" or "murder" in the Bible, we say the same thing Srila Prabhupada said, which is that the Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill." This is a clear order from the Lord. It requires no interpretation for further clarification. It doesn't say (at least not until recently), "Thou shalt not murder."
When self-interested persons, seeking a religion of convenience, change "kill" to "murder," we can respond only with this sensible observation: if every individual were to fashion the state laws to suit his or her convenience, there would be no meaning to the word government. Similarly, if we whimsically tailor the scriptures to suit our fancy, there is no meaning to our professed allegiance to God.