I have been reading your books, but still they raise many questions. For instance, Krsna consciousness seems to build entirely on the teachings of Lord Caitanya and assumes it has all truths. Especially the total emphasis on chanting. I have read other books on the history of religion in India, and in some Lord Caitanya isn't even mentioned, though many other teachers are. I'm wondering why.
I still think you're too literal in interpretation, like Christians who believe that every word in the Bible is exactly true and given by God through Jesus. True believers or fanatics cause a lot of trouble in this world. They are certain of their rightness, and much blood has been shed in the name of religion.
Santa Maria, California
OUR REPLY: For many years Western scholars failed to recognize the importance of Lord Caitanya, so their books scarcely mention Him. But in the last two decades, with the spread of the Hare Krsna movement, Lord Caitanya has come prominently to scholarly attention. More recent books, therefore, discuss Lord Caitanya extensively, and several scholars have specialized in Lord Caitanya and His teachings.
It was on well-established scriptural grounds that Lord Caitanya emphasized chanting Hare Krsna. Lord Caitanya's teachings are in fact the essential teachings of the Vedic literature, presented for the modern age in a cogent and practical form.
The disciples who followed Lord Caitanya wrote many books offering strong logical arguments for accepting Lord Caitanya's teachings as true and correct. And when Srila Prabhupada brought Krsna consciousness to the West, he made these books the basis of his movement.
To accept what these books say as literally true is not a fault. An authority, after all, is a source of knowledge one regards as reliable enough to accept as is. For example, we accept without need of interpretation what we find in a good map, a dependable text on science, or a book of recipes written by an expert cook. The followers of Lord Caitanya have argued persuasively that the Vedic teachings should similarly be accepted.
Without philosophy, religion easily becomes fanaticism. And as you say, fanatics cause trouble. They do so in the name of religion, of country, of freedom, democracy, peace, revolution, conscience, safety, love, business, security—you name it, some fanatic has spilled blood for it.
Lord Caitanya therefore taught a philosophy of love for God with a strong underpinning of philosophical understanding. And at the same time he gave the chanting of Hare Krsna, which cleanses the heart of the passion and ignorance that allow lust for bloodshed to drag people down from love of truth.
On the Way to Krsna
Thank you for your article "Srila Prabhupada's Speaks Out" in the March/April issue, where Srila Prabhupada speaks with a representative of an impersonalist movement.
Being influenced by older family members, I was once affiliated with an impersonalist movement for almost nine years. Originally my impression was that the studies of this movement would bring me closer to God, but to the contrary I felt myself becoming more alienated from God. I eventually decided to leave, vowing to unlearn everything I learned from them. Needless to say, I was disappointed, disturbed, angry, sad, and confused.
Years later I took it upon myself to assist in a family crisis which was so disturbing that I had no answers to offer. I had reached the point of desperation when I came across an ISKCON TV program one Saturday afternoon. I was immediately attracted to the pictures of Krsna and Srila Prabhupada, and to the music of Brahma-samhita. At the conclusion of the program I called the phone number provided and arranged to obtain a copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
I had known of Bhagavad-gita for some time but was never moved to read it until now. This was surely the right time, for not only did I start to read, I also began my spiritual relationship with Srila Prabhupada. I became completely convinced that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that Srila Prabhupada is Krsna's representative and a bona fide spiritual master whereas the so-called masters of the impersonalists are all bogus.
From just reading the first few chapters I was able to put my family's problems in perspective and to happily prepare for the birth of my daughter.
It took some months, but I was able to complete my reading, with Srila Prabhupada's spiritual encouragement. Since then I have prayed daily for his guidance in my spiritual progress, and by his grace my household and I are progressing every day in Krsna consciousness.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the devotees and sponsors for their work in "On the Way to Krsna" on Vision TV Canada. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Back to Godhead magazine is brilliant! I look forward to every issue.
I am a student at King's College in London, U.K. I just received the Jan/Feb issue and noticed your e-mail address, so I couldn't wait to offer my pranamas [respects] unto you. I'd just like to say thank you and keep up the good work.
Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
Plaudits from Poland
I'm a twenty-three-year-old Polish student. I've been interested in bhakti-yoga since the summer of 1991, when I bought Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I visited a few Polish Hare Krsna temples, the Polish farm (New Santipura), and many ISKCON temples in west Europe as well. I started to chant the maha-mantra, became a vegetarian, etc.
Since March '93 I've been a fortunate subscriber to Back to Godhead magazine. It's a wonderful and enlightening magazine. I enjoy it very, very much. You're doing important service for the whole earth. I'm sure of this. I wish you all the best in spreading His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's mission. Let Lord Caitanya, who is God Himself, bless you million of times and more.
Thanks for Helping Restore Respect
[Written to our columnist Ravi Gupta.] I am writing to thank you for the inspiring article you wrote in the May/June issue of BTG, "Restoring Our Respect for Sadhus." It was very clear and informative, with proper support of guru, sastra [scripture], andsadhu [saintly persons].
How important it is for us practicing devotees to be consistently attentive to Vaisnava [Krsna conscious] etiquette and behavior as taught by Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnava sampradaya [community of teachers].
Tusta Krsna Dasa
Albuquerque, New Mexico
One thing we know for sure is this: Living at longitude this and latitude that equals absolute hell if you don't have a good compass. So we want to thank you for the nice presentations in BTG that keep us pointed in the right direction, like "Vedic Thoughts."
Pracetas Dasa and family
Ft. Kent, Maine
In my article on the ontology of the Bhagavad-gita, recently published in BTG, I stated that I had personally translated all of the many dozens of verses cited from the Gita. However, my Godbrother Riktananda Dasa has pointed out to me that in fact I have used Prabhupada's translation for verse 7.23 and that my translation of verse 4.6 includes portions of Srila Prabhupada's translation. I am sorry for the unintentional oversight in my citation.
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
Pass (up) the Chives
I have a question about the March/April '95 issue of BTG. In Yamuna Devi's recipe for French-Herb Cheese, she lists chives as an ingredient. Chives are in the onion family and I assume not offerable to Krsna. Please comment on this.
Sandhini Devi Dasi
YAMUNA DEVI REPLIES: You're right—chives are onions and not offerable to Krsna. Sorry for the error.