Accepting Srila Prabhupada
Can I accept Swami Prabhupada as my spiritual master even though I have not had the opportunity to meet with him in person because I was too young? Can I be accepted as a devotee of Swami Prabhupada through his teachings left in his books?
Lake Geneva, Florida
OUR REPLY: Srila Prabhupada lives on among us through his teachings. So by accepting these teachings we accept him as our spiritual master. Still, one essential teaching he gave us is that to become fully Krsna conscious one must accept initiation from a spiritual master still physically present in this world.
Therefore, to get the full benefit of Krsna consciousness, one should try to find a bona fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession and receive initiation from him.
The spiritual master initiates disciples during his physical presence, and after his departure his disciples initiate. In this way the disciplic succession continues. By becoming a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's disciple, one becomes linked with Srila Prabhupada and with the entire disciplic succession, all the way back to Lord Krsna Himself.
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Send Your Library Back to Godhead
I'd like to help put BTG in libraries, by Krsna's grace. Let me know what to do.
OUR REPLY: We are most eager for libraries to have subscriptions to BTG. You can visit your local library and suggest that the librarian subscribe. You may give a gift subscription to your library. Or you may like to sponsor subscriptions for several libraries.
You can sponsor library subscriptions at the special rate of $13.00. Just send us a list of the libraries you'd like the subscriptions to go to, or let us pick them for you. Send your payment and list to Arcita Dasa, c/o BTG, P.O. Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169.
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Back to Godhead On Death Row
I write from Death Row. Here, what little one has is used to write, to prepare legal briefs, to stay in contact with a world spiraling away. BTG is to one such as I a luxury. If your resources allow you to provide a gratis subscription, I would truly appreciate it.
M. A. Jamal
OUR REPLY: Done.
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Who Is an Aryan?
One definition of Aryan is a spiritually advanced person. But does it also designate a particular race of humans? If not, then can a black or an oriental person be considered an Aryan?
Floral Park, New York
OUR REPLY: According to the Sanskrit dictionary of Monier-Monier Williams, the word arya derives from the root word ar (aryanti), meaning "to praise." The Aryans, then, are the praiseworthy, honorable, respectable people, the people advanced in spiritual culture and understanding.
Historically, the land between the Himalayas and the Vindhya Hills was called Aryavarta because its people followed the principles of Aryan civili-zation. Sometimes the word Aryanis also used for the nations of Indo-European stock, who are said to have descended from the ancient king Yayati.
But the main meaning of Aryan, as you have mentioned, is "spiritually advanced." And spiritual advancement is open to anyone.
In particular, anyone can become advanced in spiritual knowledge and culture by chanting the holy name of the Lord. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.7):
aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan
yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya
brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te
According to this verse, a person who always chants the holy name of the Lord is glorious, even if born in a degraded family of dog-eaters. Such a perSon is understood to have already performed all the Vedic austerities and sacrifices, bathed in all the sacred rivers, and studied all the Vedas. Such a person is factually an Aryan.
And, in contrast, if a person born in an exalted family gives up the principles of spiritual realization, he becomes a non-Aryan, as mentioned in Bhagavad-gita (anarya-justam asvargyam).
To be an Aryan, then, is not the exclusive privilege of a particular race. Anyone, from any race, any family, or any country of the world, can become an Aryan. The factual Aryans are those who always chant the holy name of the Lord.
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I find BTG completely transformed into an interesting and lively magazine which makes me want to be a devotee and encourages me to think more positively about ISKCON. I think your time has been well spent on revitalising it, and I congratulate you on a job well done.
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Stop Blaming ISKCON
I was taken aback not by the subject matter of "The Role of Women Today in ISKCON" [BTG January/February] but by the presentation. The sometimes defiant, sometimes defensive tone of the five women was what one would expect from a different publication.
BTG has always been Srila Prabhupada's tool for expressing the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. It was meant to awaken conditioned souls from the misidentification with their bodies and minds and educate them in spiritual thoughts and actions. Prabhupada wanted devotees to write about their realizations, yes, but with a grave and friendly attitude.
It is time to stop blaming ISKCON for our problems. It is the same as blaming Srila Prabhupada. "ISKCON is nondifferent from my body," Srila Prabhupada said.
We should grow up and take the responsibility for our own mistakes. Srila Prabhupada never told women to act like men. Nor did he tell them that their marriages should keep them from preaching. And he never told men that women cannot preach.
"There are no problems in Krishna consciousness," Srila Prabhupada said. "If there are problems, it is a creation of the mind."
Krishna consciousness is simple and joyful. If our own lives are less than joyful, then we have complicated the recipe somewhere.
Parvati Devi Dasi
San Diego, California
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Special thanks go to Yadurani, whose article in the "Women in Krsna Consciousness" section was full of scriptural vision. Her article shone the most transcendental light on the "women's issue" and made me feel, "This person I could take shelter of." Instead of saying, "I am a female devotee," she wrote with the understanding "I am a spirit soul in a material body." Her advice gave the most practical instruction on how a woman can mold her thinking so as to return to the spiritual world as neither a man nor a woman but a servant of the Lord.
Vaijayanti Mala Dasi
Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia
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Shorter Than You Think
I would like to answer the letter written by the 16-year-old aspiring devotee having problems with wanting to live at the temple and not being of age [BTG January/February].
When I read your letter, I was surprised to hear how similar it was to mine about a year ago. I was 16 also.
I've had a very hard year, and now I'm at a boarding school. Yes, it's tough to wait to be of age, but you have to trust Krsna that He will take care of you no matter what. As I said before, I've had a difficult time this year. But I know that all I've been through and am going through is a part of His plan. Krsna has been merciful to me to allow me to still love Him, worship Him, and put my faith in Him.
Please don't run away to a temple while you're still under age. I'm sure you know about the ordeal with Robin George [BTG, January/February]. In the long run, you'll suffer and so will ISKCON. I've wanted to run away to a temple many times, but I don't want to impose any danger on the devotees.
And stay in school, no matter how hard it is. And it's veryhard, I know. You've got two more years. It seems long, but it's shorter than you think.
Just keep chanting and reading Prabhupada's books every day. And maintain good, steady devotee association. That is very important.
I hope I have helped a little. You're not alone. Why don't you write to me and let's talk about Krsna.
616 High St., Bath, Maine 04530
OUR REPLY: Chant, chant, chant Hare Krsna!
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In 1981 I was fortunate to come across an issue of BTG which turned my face to the Supreme Lord Krsna. By "ajnata sukrti" [the merit of pious deeds unknowingly performed] and by the causeless mercy of Lord Krsna, I became the candidate to receive the unlimited mercy of Srila Prabhupada. Although I never had "darshana" [audience] of him,
just by associating with him in thoughts I can experience the ecstasies and blessings of his mercy. I very much wish that the same mercy of the pure devotee of Krsna be distributed all over in the form of BTG and other means. If I could be of any service in this, kindly let me know.
Dr. P. V. Patel
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Happiness Every Day
The BTG's are my reading every even-ing. Happiness is with me every day. I think it has to have something to do with chanting and thinking of Krsna as much as possible.
Lake Park, Florida
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Why Doesn't Krsna Come Now?
Whenever there's a decline of religion and a predominant rise of irreligion, Krishna comes down. So why doesn't He come now? His next incarnation is going to be in some 400,000 years, but by that time this world will be in big trouble. Why can't He come sooner?
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
OUR REPLY: Lord Krsna has come here now. In the present age, He comes in the form of His holy name. TheCaitanya-caritamrta says, kali-kale nama-rupe krsna-avatara: "In Kali-yuga Lord Krsna descends in the form of His holy name." Only five hundred years ago, the Lord appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to spread the movement ofsankirtana, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord, as found in the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So we can best take advantage of the Lord's presence by chanting these holy names.
We welcome your letters. Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O. Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169-0864, U.S.A.