Bhagavatam Is Relevant
I thank Satsvarupa Maharaja for writing his article "Is Srimad-Bhagavatam Class Still Relevant?" [Jan/Feb 1992] and reminding us of how essential hearing and chanting are for one who aspires to develop love for Krsna. Our psychologists, aerobics teachers, health counselors, and so on, will not be able to assist us at the time of death, but the lessons of Srimad-Bhagavatam will.
Mahavegavati Devi Dasi
Buffalo, New York
The Right to Believe
In the January/February issue of this year I read the most heart-wrenching story about the people in Lithuania who want the right to practice Krsna consciousness. What hell they went through! Everyone has the right to believe in what they want to believe. I believe in Krsna consciousness.
Cheryl Ann Blum
Pembroke Pines, Florida
My question concerns the day of Ekadasi. Many Indian families, mine being one of them, observe fasting on the days set by the Indian calendar. I have told my parents that since these calendars are made in India, the dates are accurate in India but not in the United States. I'm having a hard time convincing them. Would you please write an article on Ekadasi, its rules and regulations, its rewards, as well as reasons why we cannot follow dates set by the Indian calendar? I know we aren't the only family who disagree on this topic.
In our issue for January-February 1991 (Premier Issue), we published an article about which calendar days to observe. An article to explain the importance of Ekadasi would also be a good idea, so we'll keep that in mind for a future issue.
The main purpose of Ekadasi is to increase our devotion to Krsna. Because we are living in the West, there may sometimes be some confusion or disagreement about precisely how to follow the rules and regulations. But the essence of all the rules and regulations is to always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna. All other rules should be servants of this one.
Srila Prabhupada came to America before the days when we had calendars calculated for the West, so he used to follow the Indian calendar days. He didn't seem too concerned about the technical discrepancies in the dates. He just followed the principle as closely as possible and kept in mind the ultimate purpose devotion to Krsna.
So even if you and your parents may disagree about the dates, if you can agree about the purpose, that will be very nice.
Let's Have Some Humor
I enjoy the new Back to Godhead very much, but I believe it's greatly lacking in one area: humor. As a devotee I understand that Krsna consciousness is a serious pursuit, but I believe Back to Godhead could serve its readership better by balancing the intense subject matter with some humor.
Most devotees I know have a very good sense of humor. From some things I've read and been told by other devotees, Srila Prabhupada had a delightful sense of humor.
I think Back to Godhead would more accurately reflect the Krsna consciousness movement by exhibiting this side.
You're right that Krsna consciousness is a serious subject, and Srila Prabhupada wanted us to present it seriously. Still, I think you are right that we can sometimes afford to be a little humorous. In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says that a devotee of the Lord is jolly. So that joyful attitude should be reflected in BTG, and sometimes we may have some amusing anecdotes.
We'll try to keep an eye out for ways to introduce humor in BTG while still keeping our overall sober tone.
Where Are the Ox Products?
I like the fact that Hare Krsna Dasi got down to dollars and cents with her column [Nov/Dec 1992], the net loss of $720 per ox [when the ox is not productively engaged]. I hope she will go further along this line. Neither she nor most of the rest of us can own an ox at present, so where are the ox-power products we can purchase? There must be many products besides milk that are marketable and shippable.
Port Royal, Pennsylvania
Hare Krsna Devi Dasi replies: As far as I know, devotee ox-farmers are now producing and selling vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and firewood, in addition to feed crops for animals. But you're right when you say there must be ox-power products more shippable than milk. Grain produced by ox power has been the basis of wealth in numerous societies for thousands of years partly for that very reason: grain can be easily stored and shipped. Ox-power produced grain and the flour, breads, and cookies made from it are important products that should be made available.
Unfortunately and I hope devotees will correct me if I'm wrong no one in ISKCON is growing or processing food grains with oxen. This is not because our farmers are lazy or ignorant of Srila Prabhupada's desires, but because of the great obstacles to such activity in the current economic environment. As I've indicated in past columns, market-oriented production is the great eradicator of farmers. And to counteract this fact is going to take a lot more than for us just to buy the right products. Though the market does have an important role to play in the agricultural economics of varnasrama, it's often hard for us to understand that it's a secondary role.
As I discuss in this issue, Srila Prabhupada indicated that the first aim of production should be to provide for the farmer's family. One challenge we face right now is how to get the farmer and his family securely situated on their land so they can farm for a living in a community of devotees. Then they can gradually become purified without being distracted by exploitive market forces, mortgage payments, rent, and unreasonable taxes, all of which make subsistence grain production nearly impossible.
As you say, neither of us is in a position to work the oxen. Nor am I qualified to make policy that will encourage Krsna conscious farming. Neither have I the ability to raise funds for this purpose though all these things are needed. But we can all chant Hare Krsna, and Krsna will give us the intelligence to help in whatever way we can. I'm researching and writing, someone else is leading, someone is farming, someone is fundraising, someone is telling a friend that productive use of the oxen will save animals and the earth and bring us closer to God. According to our desires, Krsna is sure to give us the best service to help fulfill His plans.
I want to congratulate the BTG team on the new contents. I enjoy all the different columns. It makes practicing Krsna consciousness more down-to-earth and gives a forum for discussions, presenting different angles of vision, problems and difficulties faced by individuals and the movement. That's what a magazine is, something dynamic not static but ecstatic!
Gaurangi Devi Dasi
Praise and Encouragement
Here is one fallen soul who wants to offer some praise and encouragement for your efforts to spread and maintain the teachings of Krsna consciousness as given by Srila Prabhupada. Krsna must be pleased with your service, for how else could you produce such an inspiring magazine. I pray that you all remain pure and that your publication of Back to Godhead will enter the hearts of conditioned souls everywhere.
We welcome your letters. Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O.Box 90946, San Diego, CA 92169, USA.