Enlightening, Inspiring, Uplifting
Yes, how enlivening to receive BTG. BTG is most essential to our Krsna consciousness. That association makes us energetic in devotional service to the Lord. The illustrations are enlightening to see. And all the articles are most spiritually uplifting.
I look forward to the next issue of BTG.
Isvara-Rani Devi Dasi and family
I just want to drop you a short note, thanking you for BTG, this great source of inspiration. I have been reading BTG and chanting for 7 years, and though personally I may be quite inadequate, I truly find these teachings to be the only true desire of my life. So I am very pleased with BTG. Every issue, as far as I can remember, has passed my test. I cry.
William L. Duke
Give Us More About Krsna
I have been reading the new BTG thoroughly for the last two years. I appreciate your articles. They are very interesting and contribute to our knowledge. The magazine should publish more stories from Bhagavatam directly related to Lord Krsna and His pastimes. Bhakta Vic's article has no place in BTG.
Ram and Rama Chaturvedi
Why not run a school?
In the March 1993 issue Urmila Devi Dasi wrote about different vocations devotees could perform for both spiritual and material gain. In my relations with schools I have discovered a great vocation that is very brahminical owning a temple school. I have seen many Christian churches that have schools attached to them, run by husband and wife teams. The schools are on the church property and pay rent but are privately owned. These schools teach traditional academics along with the Christian philosophy. We need schools in ISKCON. Good schools run by devoted people. Devotees running a school could make a reasonable living and do so much for our children. It seems like a great way to make a living and always be close to Krishna.
I thoroughly enjoy the articles on different places in India that you write about in each issue. But I tried looking on a map to find the small towns and can't find them. A suggestion: in future issues, is it possible to show a small map of India where these cities are?
Good suggestion. Will do.
Places for Guests
I should like to suggest that a list of ISKCON centers that offer guest accommodations be published in a future issue of BTG and that whenever an updated list of ISKCON centers appears in BTG, the availability of guest accommodations be indicated on the list.
By Srila Prabhupada's order, every ISKCON center tries to offer accommodations for ISKCON's life members. Some centers can provide more comfort than others. And some centers have large guest houses. Your suggestion is worthwhile. Look for the list in an upcoming issue.
Milk: It's for Everyone
I really liked the article "Is Milk for Everyone?" We need more articles like this to counter the false propaganda against drinking milk. Here at our restaurant we are putting copies on every table.
I would like to add that aside from cardamom and saffron as mucus reducers in milk, more effective are ginger, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and honey. (Honey, of course, should not be cooked but added afterwards.) Honey has the dual function of reducing mucus and providing sweetening, which, as noted in the article, is important for the proper digestion of milk.
Laguna Beach, California
Sharing Back to Godhead
The article on Tulasi Devi really opened my eyes and enthused me. While traveling on a train to Canada I met someone interested, and that BTG was the only small publication I had on me, so I gave it away. But I definitely want a copy for myself. Enclosed is a check for $4.00. Thank you very much.
The Controversy Over Ayodhya
I wish to comment regarding ISKCON's uninvolvement in liberating Rama Janma Bhumi [the birthplace of Lord Sri Rama] and in the future of Krishna Janma Bhumi, the holiest of all Vaisnava holy places.
At Bhaktivedanta Manor in London, where I have had the privilege to obtain the Darshan of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda over the last fifteen years, since 1981 an active campaign has been fought to keep the temple open for all visitors. So also in New York and other parts of America, ISKCON temples have taken their fight to the courts of America. Even our Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupadaji, fought a campaign in the courts of Bombay for the rightful possession of the land where now the Sri Sri Radha-Rasavihari temple stands.
Finally, I humbly cite the example of Lord Sri Caitanya. Over 500 years ago the Kazi of Navadwip ordered the followers of Lord Caitanya not to chant and dance or play mridanga on the streets, since the noise disturbed the residents. So what was the reaction of the Lord? Did He ask His followers to simply leave the area and go to the forest for sankirtana so that the people would not get disturbed?
Far from it: He showed through example that dharmic activity could not be checked by adharma. He gathered His followers, and others also, and led a public disobedience march right up to the door of the Kazi.
All this tells us that we should be peaceful as long as we (dharma) are not threatened. Otherwise we should consume the opposition (adharma) like wildfire.
ISKCON should be at the forefront of the campaign to uproot the adharma slapped on the most holy of the holy places Rama Janma Bhumi and Krsna Janma Bhumi.
I have been following the various editorials on the Ayodhya conflict in Hinduism Today, The New York Times, etc. I found your BTG commentary the most complete yet. It is a complicated issue, and you have handled it expertly.
San Diego, California
Since BTG is like scripture and its covers are worshipable, I feel constrained to comment on your March/April cover and its explanation.
The story of this art is that a well-known scholar in India, who wrote during the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, claimed that this painting in miniature was found on a wooden cover for a leaf manuscript of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and was executed by an artist in the court of Maharaja Prataparudra. Since this painting was done contemporaneously to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it now became the nearest thing to a photograph of the Lord.
It seems from your cover explanation that you accept this assertion. However, there is a dispute amongst scholars as to the authenticity of this painting. The scholar in question, D. C. Sen, once met with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, but was not recognized to write authoritatively about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Although he was perhaps the first to render the Bhakti Ratnakara into English, there are ample inaccuracies in his books. What is questioned in this painting is whether the scene took place, with all of the personalities depicted.
There are several modern renditions of the original painting, all with variations. The scene shows Sri Gadadhara reading from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and seated around him are Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and Advaita Prabhu. On either side of Gadadhara are Srivasa Thakura and perhaps Rupa Gosvami. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya is depicted in the background, kneeling rather that sitting. A turbaned King Prataparudra is prostrating himself before the group. In most of the modern renditions Haridasa Thakura is standing in the background, hanging his clothes on the clothes line. Sometimes other important personalities such as Ramananda Raya are included. Curiously, Srila Svarupa Damodara is excluded.
The rendition by the ISKCON artist Pariksit Dasa is different from other modern renditions. Advaita Prabhu, who was considerably older than Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is traditionally shown with white hair and beard, and not with the gleaming black hair of a younger person. Haridasa Thakura, shown in most renditions as bearded, is absent. Sri Gadadhara is shown having what appears to be either a South Indian or a Kashmiri sikha [the tuft of hair devotees keep at the back of the head], when in fact, being from Bengal, he is more likely to have one in the Gaudiya Vaisnava style. Also, the cloths on the line have been elongated to appear like dhotis, whereas in other renditions the cloths are usually short in the babaji style of dress.
I do not think the ISKCON artist was commissioned to make this painting to illustrate Srila Prabhupada's Caitanya-caritamrita, because scripture does not describe this particular event with all these personalities present.
Your dating in the cover explanation is questionable. It is risky to state dates for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's [pastimes], because there is such a paucity of them listed authoritatively in Caitanya-caritamrita. In fact Krsna dasa Kaviraja gives only three: 1486 A.D., the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; 1534, the Lord's disappearance (Adi 13.9); and 1616, the date given for the completion of Caitanya-caritamrita in the book's very last couplet. (The Saka calendar is converted to the Christian one by adding 79 years.)
Regarding your dates for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's residence in Puri, obviously 1544 is a printer's devil, because the correct one is 1534. From where did you get 1520? Srila Prabhupada says in the summary of Chapter 20 of the Antya-lila that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu lived in Puri for twelve years. This observation is based on verse 20.69, which describes that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu experienced ecstatic bliss for twelve years. That would give us 1522. However, this date should be taken to refer to the Lord's deep absorption in rapture rather than when He commenced residing in Puri. The Caitanya-caritamrita clearly reports that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu traveled for six years after taking sannyasa and lived in Puri for 18 years (Adi 13.12-13). Thus, the Lord's Puri residence began in 1516.
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