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I was reading the article "Election Scandal" [by Mathuresa dasa; Vol. 23. No. 9], and I was surprised to read in the last paragraph. "I'm all for the separation of church and state. . . ."
From Srila Prabhupada's writings on varnasrama and the Vedic way, it would appear that this would be the last thing devotees would be for. The brahmanas guide the society and disseminate Vedic knowledge, as well as train up the ksatriyas, who are the administrators. The brahmanas also try to focus the activities of theksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras on Krsna's service, unlike our separate church and state today.
The separation of church and state, in the United States and all over the world, appears to be a degradation of Krsna's supreme plan. A church and a state and never the twain shall meet! Kali-yuga society is in the hands of godless sudras. who manage by speculation rather than sastra.
Perhaps the author meant something else in his article. If so, please elaborate.
Amita Cara dasa
Rougemont, North Carolina
MATHURESA DASA REPLIES: Yes, it may sound odd to come out for separation of church and state, especially when we know that the Vedic state was supervised by brahmanas. But Srila Prabhupada emphasizes that while leaders of a state must not neglect religious principles such as cleanliness, austerity, and so on they need not be partial to a particular faith, creed, or dogma. The principles of religion must be followed by any human being who claims to be more than an animal, but those principles are not the exclusive property of the Hindu or Muslim or Christian faiths. They are universal.
The First Canto, Part Three, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is a good source of information on these points. Verses 1.17.25 and 1.17.32 in particular talk about the difference between dogma and principle. Nowadays, when many religious organizations openly support sinful activities such as gambling and meat-eating, the "church" as such really doesn't have much to offer in the way of guidance.
As members of ISKCON, we too have to remember that our strength and authority come from following and becoming well acquainted with the various principles of religion, so that we do not appear to the public, or to each other, as self-righteous dogmatists and fanatics.
In my article on the election. I was indicating that political leaders might avoid officially recognizing the Hare Krsna movement or the Bhagavad-gita, but they can't avoid recognizing the principle of sacrifice if they want to give their followers even material prosperity.