he Passing of Krsna's Devotee
I couldn't help but wonder what supercilious fancy drove your "Every Town and Village" writer to add this comment in the May/June issue to the Buddhimanta obituary: "He seemed to forget about Krsna and become ensnared in maya. … [who] also gave Buddhimanta a brain tumor." To leave your readers with such an ambivalent sense of Buddhimanta's service does not strike me as proper Vaisnava etiquette.
This is probably the most snide and callous sentence ever printed in BTG.
Freeport, New York
How can the writer say that it is maya who gave Buddhimanta a brain tumor, especially when Buddhimanta went to Vrndavana to take shelter of Krsna? Anything which makes you surrender to Krsna is given by Him. Maya wants you to forget about Him. So this disease was Krsna's special mercy on Buddhimanta and obviously not maya's punishment. Krsna took Buddhimanta out of maya and put him in Vrndavana to leave his body so that next life, wherever he may be, he can go on with his devotional service. Doesn't that sound more in tune with what we know about the Lord's unmotivated mercy?
Indriya Damana Dasa
Your offensive us and them mentality plagues the entire magazine. Rather than glorify a devotee who left his body in Vrndavana, you judge him and accuse him of material enjoyment. I'm so sick of this. It's so sad to see so many of Prabhupada's disciples still clinging to their dogma and their regulative principles and not becoming more enlightened. The only regulative principle is to remember Krsna and never forget Him.
Ksiracora Devi Dasi
Thank you for mentioning Buddhimanta's passing away. I only heard of it because you were thoughtful enough to include it in the May/June issue.
I know that most of the old-timers in North American ISKCON remember him with his book bag, selflessly serving Srila Prabhupada's mission in airports across the country. It was good of you to glorify this special Vaisnava, and I appreciated your gentle treatment of our friend.
To serve Srila Prabhupada so nicely, to pass away in Vrndavana surrounded by devotees and Hari-nama, the holy name of the Lord I pray for these benedictions.
All glories to our Godbrother Buddhimanta Dasa.
I was very happy to read in the May/June issue of BTG that Buddhimanta Dasa successfully departed from this world in Vrndavana, India.
What your brief article failed to mention was Buddhimanta's extraordinary contribution in spreading Krsna consciousness in Australia. He established book distribution here in the early seventies.
Prior to his arrival in 1972, a handful of devotees would go out into the cities with the local chanting parties and distribute magazines. On a big day they would give out up to forty between them. Buddhimanta trained the devotees to distribute books.
It was because of Buddhimanta's enthusiasm and determination that the Australian devotees went on to become the leader in book distribution in the seventies.
Older devotees will remember this exciting era in the movement's history. Srila Prabhupada was so pleased that he chose to come to Melbourne, Australia, for Rathayatra in 1974.
Many souls who have taken up Krsna consciousness in later years came in touch with devotional service through books distributed directly by Buddhimanta or devotees he personally trained and inspired. The Vaisnava lives forever!
We're sorry we came across to some readers as disdainful of Buddhimanta Dasa. That was far from our intent. Yet we didn't want to pretend that he had never strayed from devotional service, because Krsna and His devotees are glorified by the truth.
For example, the Vedic scriptures tell of many devotees King Bharata, Ajamila, King Citraketu, and others who fell from the spiritual path but were saved by the Lord because of their past devotional service.
As such histories show, Lord Krsna remembers the service of His sincere devotees and always protects and cares for them. InBhagavad-gita He therefore asks Arjuna to declare that His devotee will never perish. And the Lord Himself says that even the slightest devotional service (what to speak of many years of it) can save one from the greatest danger.
That's why we felt the story of Buddhimanta Dasa worth telling.
Our thanks to Subhalaksmi Dasi for telling us more about Buddhimanta's devotional service.
Ksiracora Dasi writes that remembering Krsna and never forgetting Him is the only regulative principle. What, then, is the meaning of the other rules one agrees to at initiation? Remembering Krsna is the main rule, but surely not the only one. The other rules, the scriptures say, are servants of this main one. If we value the main rule to remember Krsna why should we neglect its servants?
We regret any harshness that may have come across in our brief telling of Buddhimanta's story. We're grateful that at least to some readers it came out right. Editor
I recently read one of your issues of Back to Godhead magazine. I think it was the first magazine in my life that I ever relished with all my heart. So I wish to subscribe to the magazine for five years.
Must we give up Jesus?
My sister is a member of ISKCON, and I guess that is why I write. My concern is she is also a Christian. My friend at work told me, "Well, if she ever becomes a devotee she'll have to denounce her belief in Jesus as her savior."
Is this true? Does she have to leave Christianity and Jesus to become a devotee?
To be a Krsna devotee, she doesn't have to give up being Christian. Krsna consciousness makes one a better Christian. (See the article by Srila Prabhupada, page 7.)
Why no fish?
Why is eating fish prohibited? I understand the prohibition against killing and eating more evolved forms of life like cows, chickens, and pigs, but why not fish?
Devotees of Krsna eat only food offered to Krsna and Krsna doesn't accept offerings of fish. Anyone who has seen fish flapping on a hook or in a net knows how acutely fish feel pain. And fish-eating is considered to be in the mode of ignorance. Fish eat all sorts of nasty things floating in the water. So the Manu Samhita says, "One who eats fish eats everything."
Nonviolent Dairy Options
Thank you for the articles on cow protection. If we are to establish Krsna consciousness, it is imperative that we live our philosophy and support cow protection by supporting employment of the cows and oxen.
But it doesn't seem we are doing so well in that regard. Looking over the information about the farms, I noticed with interest that only a small number of the cows are actually being milked. For example, at Gita Nagari 2 of 69 were fresh [newly calved and therefore milking], and I suspect that more are dry than retired.
A devotee friend of mine explained to me that it's a matter of economics: the farms simply cannot afford to keep the cows fresh. I heard this with great astonishment. If we as a society are committed to cow protection, then we must arrange for it to make sense economically. Otherwise, as the article pointed out, cow protection will be abandoned.
Every temple, I am sure, uses large amounts of milk products. Why aren't these products of our own farms? My friend pointed out that the temples can buy dairy products from the store for less than what it costs to make them ourselves, because the store products are government subsidized.
But is that an excuse? That means we value dollars above cow protection. As a society we spend millions of dollars a year to distribute books and prasadam because we understand the great need for these programs, even though they may not pay for themselves. Why should cow protection be considered less important?
Many nondevotee vegetarians shun commercial dairy products because these products are linked to the slaughter of calves. Yet we, who profess to champion cow protection, buy these products instead of our own dairy produce because they're cheaper.
This doesn't make sense, nor is it morally sound. Not only should we not buy commercial dairy products, but we should offer our own nonviolent dairy products. Charge what we must, there are people out there willing to pay for it to support the principles they (and we) believe in.
I would like to ask the leaders of our farm communities to make these options available to us. Let us stop voting for cow slaughter with each dollar spent, and let us instead vote for cow protection when we make our purchases.
Laguna Beach, California
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi replies:
I appreciate your support for cow protection. Your letter raises several important topics.
In general, we in ISKCON have made the mistake of putting the cart full of milk cans in front of the ox. In other words, over the long term we can't have milk from protected cows without working oxen. (In my column this issue I talk about the economics of why.) Most of us have not yet grasped the need to work the oxen as a basic feature of a sustainable Krsna conscious society. And that's the reason we're not getting milk from protected cows.
Another crucial point: The Krsna conscious economy Srila Prabhupada describes is a localized subsistence economy based on ox power and cow protection. It's not a centralized market economy that depends on petroleum and a highly technological infrastructure. Ultimately that means that if we don't serve Krsna within ten miles of a Hare Krsna farm, it's unfair for us to demand that milk products from protected cows be shipped to us by petroleum-fueled trucks.
Spiritually advanced people naturally want to avoid foods that support the sinful cow-slaughter industry. And in fact the most practical way to do this is to help work the oxen and protect the cows on a Krsna conscious farm. As Srila Prabhupada tells us, "Agriculture and cow protection are the way to become sinless and be attracted to devotional service."
Finally, those of us who can't directly work on a farm should stick behind those who have dedicated their lives to this part of Srila Prabhupada's mission. We should understand the courage and incredibly hard work of the devotees at a place like Gita Nagari. And we should support their decision to switch from pumping milk into the commercial market to breeding cows only to yield oxen and milk for their community.
We welcome your letters. Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O. Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169, USA.