Meant to write to you after your first new issue you have done a superb job re-thinking and re-presenting. Good luck. My heart is with you.
Cheers for Shelter
Thank you very much for printing the fantastic article on Shelter and Bhakta Vic in the Sep/Oct issue. These guys really deserve it. Shelter is an incredible inspiration to me as well as many other young devotees everywhere. Shelter was my introduction to Krsna consciousness when they played here on Oct. 3, 1990. That day was the most purposeful moment in my life, and from then on it has been complete joy. I look forward to seeing Bhakta Vic's column in upcoming issues, as he is an incredibly intelligent individual. All glories to Shelter's devotional service! Hare Krsna!
Thanks so much for publishing the article by Bhakta Vic. It was thoroughly enlivening to read the whole magazine!
Grass Valley, California
I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany Shelter at their very packed concert here recently (they broke the fire code, there were so many people). Immediately upon their arrival, groups of anywhere from five to ten people surrounded the band, and the "youths" asked sincere questions for the entire length of time we were there (six hours). Then many came back to the temple, and even more came to the Sunday feast the next night.
When the band sang, a hundred young men and women were screaming the words to "Saranagati," and everybody chanted Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Many of Srila Prabhupada's books were sold.
I thought straightedge hardcore wouldn't last, but it appears now to me to be expanding, and there definitely is a group of people within it who are seeking higher consciousness.
Contemporary and Controversial
I think the new magazines are excellent. The basics are still there, but it looks exciting and new. Even simple changes such as adding pictures of temples and Deities to the list of ISKCON temples make a difference and make the whole magazine more enticing.
I also very much appreciate BTG's willingness to discuss "controversial" (women's issue, mistakes of the movement in the past) and contemporary ("Hardcore Hare Krsnas") topics. I find the quality of the writing to be very good, less "official party line" and more of the personalities of the individuals being expressed.
Port Royal, Pennsylvania
In the Sept./Oct. issue of BTG, Suhotra Swami points out the devotions of one Jagannatha Dasa, a so-called follower of Haridasa Thakura: "He (Jagannatha Dasa) had his followers cover their mouths while chanting the maha-mantra and told them to chant the second half (Hare Rama) first." But according to Srila Prabhupada it doesn't matter whether one chants Hare Krsna first or Hare Rama first.
The following is taken from a class by Srila Prabhupada on Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.26.5), given on December 17, 1974, in Bombay.
Srila Prabhupada is describing the many forms of the Lord and then goes on to say, "So either you chant Hare Rama or you chant Hare Krsna, it is the same; there is no difference. Sometimes they place first Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare; and sometimes they place first Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. There is no difference. Sometimes they say, 'No, it should be Hare Rama first'; sometimes 'Hare Krsna first.' But that is not very important, childish."
While one is chanting the maha-mantra one after another, what is the difference? Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples to chant Hare Krsna first because that is how Lord Caitanya chanted. Otherwise, it makes no difference, as pointed out by Srila Prabhupada.
Like the Ganges
Every two months I wait for that breath of fresh air to arrive, and just like the river Ganges it comes down from the spiritual world through the mists of Maya to illuminate my heart. I cannot practice Krsna consciousness very nicely, and I keep falling down and picking myself up, but without your magazine I would be lost forever. Please keep sending it for my sake and for sudras like me.
Worshiping Krsna as Buddha
As a subscriber to the new Back to Godhead magazine, I enjoy reading about Lord Krishna and the spreading of Krishna consciousness more than I ever have before.
On June 20, 1991, I formally converted to Buddhism, from the Baptist branch of Christianity. I learned subsequently that Lord Krishna does truly appear in the form of Lord Buddha, and I became more enthusiastic than ever in my daily worship in my new religion.
Keep up the grand work in your magazine.
Don Coston, Jr.
Disappointed Becomes Satisfied
When BTG first came out last January, I was a little disappointed. First, it was late. Then I never received my second magazine. But after the last issue, I was satisfied. I'm writing to thank you for producing a beautiful magazine!
Just the other day my mother was commenting to me how she liked the new BTG. She said it didn't treat you like a first-timer to Krsna conscious philosophy, but now BTG gave more information and discussion on Krsna consciousness today.
Jagai Nitai Dasa
Hare Krsna! I just returned from my first visit to a temple. I've felt pretty isolated in Des Moines, so I was really looking forward to meeting other devotees. I hadn't ever spoken with a devotee face to face.
The Detroit temple is where I was able to visit, Sunday, Sept. 22, 1991.
I really wasn't sure what to expect.
The grounds were very nice. When I walked from my car to the main entrance, I felt very calm, the whole grounds are wonderful to walk thru.
As I opened the front door at 9 A.M. that morning, I heard someone singing some beautiful Sanskrit. I found him sitting on some steps in the entryway. It was from that point on that I felt very welcome. The devotee, Navadwipa Dasa, took the time to show me around the beautiful building. The tours weren't to start until 12:30 and I had to leave around that time, so Navadwipa Dasa was kind enough to show me the temple and rest of the grounds. Navadwipa Dasa's wife was also very kind to explain things to me. After Navadwipa Dasa had shown me around and left me to enjoy the temple and grounds, I was sitting outside on a bench reading a book on Krsna when a devotee from the kitchen came out and offered me some cooked sweets. This was very nice! A little later, after I had the chance to use my japa beads for the first time in a temple, the gift shop opened and I stocked up on several books and other items.
I can't say enough about the wonderful temple and devotees in Detroit. All glories to Krsna and His devotees!
Des Moines, Iowa
One Father's Service
"If they read one word of my books," Prabhupada said, "they'll be benefited." That applies also to BTG.
In the '60's, my father worked for a big commercial bakery in the Bowery. He mentioned to me then that he met these young men several times who wore ridiculous clothes and were bald. "Nice boys," he said. "They're nice boys. I give them money and they always want me to take their magazine, but I don't want to get into that stuff!"
A long time after I became a devotee, the temple president and I both sent my father a BTG subscription one year. When asked what he was doing with the two magazines, he said he was placing them each month in the waiting room of the Veterans Hospital where he was being treated for cancer.
Although my father was a typical example of an ignorant person who wouldn't read anything but the newspaper, he became attracted to Back to Godhead, and the philosophy had some effect on him. He would sometimes say things like, "Those guys with the ropes are coming for me soon, you know."
Presently it's the anniversary of his death. Whether or not he had an appointment with the Yamadutas is not too significant to me. What is significant is the service, however small, that he rendered to Prabhupada and his movement. I think BTG would be well placed in the homes of all our parents, and we need not think too much if they'll read the whole thing.
On behalf of the grateful dead
San Diego, California
I can understand the prohibition against meat-eating. But what's wrong with eating garlic and onions? Surely there's no more violence committed when we eat an onion than when we eat a potato. Is it considered sinful to eat garlic and onions?
Durban, South Africa
Eating onions and garlic adversely affects one's consciousness. Why? Because the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance influence every living thing human, animal, or plant and we learn from the Vedic literature that onions and garlic are in the lower modes of nature: passion and ignorance. In spiritual life one should cultivate the mode of goodness and avoid the lower modes.
Sin in its broadest sense is any activity that hinders our spiritual advancement. Since eating foods in the modes of ignorance and passion hampers our Krsna consciousness, Vaisnava spiritual masters teach their followers to give up onions and garlic. Most important, as aspiring devotees of Krsna we eat only what we offer Him. And His great devotees tell us He doesn't eat onions and garlic.
We welcome your letters. Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O.Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169, USA.