The Task of Saving Hinduism
Thank you BTG for standing firm in your resolve not to bow down to pressures from the so-called defenders of Hinduism. I used to be one of those millions of Hindus who hesitated to proclaim my faith openly and be proud of it. The reason? Simple: Nobody, no organization, no book, no magazine has ever explained, discussed, and analyzed Hinduism the way Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, Bhagavad-gita As It Is and BTG have done.
At the countless "Hindu" prayers and ceremonies I have been to, barely a single reference has been made to the Bhagavad-gita or any other Vedic scriptures. All I heard was what the speakers had to say, and believe me they had a lot to say but none of it based on our scriptures.
"Who is Krsna, Siva, Brahma, Ganesa …?" They would say. "They are all one." This simplistic answer might satisfy some, but most of us would still go home with many unanswered questions.
Such speakers have made everything so simple. They have reduced Hinduism to a cheap "idea." Go to the temple once a week. Be a vegetarian on Fridays or Tuesdays. And the rest of the time do what you please. In the end you will merge into the light.
"I thought God was Krsna, Siva, Brahma …?"
"Well yes, they are, but they are also light."
"So why don't we just pray to the light?"
"Well, it's the same. Everything is the same. Everything is one. Everything is light."
These are some of the explanations given by Hindu "scholars" in my country, and I suspect that the same thing is happening the world over.
When a person of a different faith condemns them for praying to "stones" and "objects," they will quickly explain that these are only symbolic, nothing more. Such scholars do not have the guts and the knowledge to stand firm and explain confidently that God and His form, name, fame, and pastimes are one and the same because God is omnipotent and omnipresent. And when someone Krsna conscious gives an explanation contrary to their beliefs but in accordance with the scriptures, these so-called scholars will use political and cultural sentiments to plead their case. They will use words such as "fanatics" and "misguided." Well, at least the "fanatics" are chanting the glories of God all over the world. They are showing the world what India and Hinduism really have to offer human civilization.
I beg you to keep on telling the truth. Don't surrender your convictions. Send your chanting parties to every country. For many, including myself, you are the only sensible thing in this confusing material world.
Prabhupada defeated Western scholars who misinterpreted Hinduism. Now you have the unpleasant task of saving Hinduism from within that is, from Hindus themselves.
Thank you. Jai Sri Krsna.
National University of Malaysia
(via the Internet)
Keep Up the Great Work
You have a box in Back to Godhead that says we don't complain enough. I don't know of any other publication that is so transcendentally blissful as this one. You deliver the nectar of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples in a clear, cogent, and relishable form that will help a suffering humanity to come to its senses.
Keep up the great work you are doing. Srila Prabhupada must be very pleased with you for this wonderful service.
San Francisco, California
(via the Internet)
Moving Toward a Cruelty-Free World
Recently my wife and I have given up drinking milk and all milk products. This is because we were shocked to learn about the inhumanity of raising cows for milk production, including the shocking revelation that cows in the US are regularly fed animal products including other cows! This is what led to mad-cow disease in the UK.
Srila Prabhupada wanted us to drink cow's milk, and this made sense in Vedic India, where cows were treated properly, (and perhaps modern India as well). But in the modern Western world milk has associated with it countless negative karmas. How can it be right for us to support this inhuman activity? There is a large group of pure vegetarians ("vegans") in this country who avoid milk and meat products. Should we not belong to that group?
Vitamin B12 can be received from other sources (certain yeasts, breakfast cereals, etc.), so there is nothing inherently healthy about milk. "Organically grown" milk is not available where we live. My wife and I would like to hear ISKCON's views about drinking milk when it is produced so cruelly.
Dave and Bharti Kythe
Columbia, South Carolina
(via the Internet)
OUR REPLY: The Vedic scriptures tell us that drinking milk is important for developing the finer intelligence that will help us in spiritual realization. And we saw that Srila Prabhupada, even while in the West, offered milk to Krsna and drank milk regularly.
The way cows are exploited, especially in the West, is sinful. And those responsible will suffer sinful reactions. But one cannot become pure simply by avoiding milk.
In Kali-yuga, nearly everything involves exploitation. Even simple fruits and vegetables soaked with chemicals, and grown by big corporations, and harvested by workers paid a pittance. In this age, nothing is pure.
Animal products are everywhere photo film, car tires, computer chips …
What can be done?
We simply follow in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada. He was keenly aware of the evils of Kali-yuga. And he was the greatest advocate of love and protection for Krsna's cows. Still, he continued to offer Krsna the Kali-yuga milk available and accept it. And all the while he encouraged us to establish our own communities, where cows would be properly protected.
This material world is a bad bargain. Materially speaking, our life here can never be pure. But by dedicating our lives wholeheartedly to the devotional service of Krsna, we can rise above the inevitable impurities of this material world by going back to the only world where everything is pure, the spiritual world of Lord Krsna.
In Accordance with Srila Prabhupada's Instruction
Thank you for the August issue of BTG. It reminded me of earlier editions, full of pictures of happy devotees on sankirtana, in accordance with Srila Prabhupada's instruction. The cover was beautiful, all of Srila Prabhupada's selections were wonderful, and among the articles, "Madana Mohana Verses Madonna" and "Prepared for Death" especially appealed to me. In all, it was an issue I enjoyed reading and felt confident distributing.
We'd like to hear from you. Please send correspondence to: BTG, P. O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. Fax: (904) 462-7893. Or BTG, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. Phone: (022) 618-1718.
Fax: (022) 618-4827.