Who's the Rama in "Hare Rama"?

Why don't you have to know the meaning of the words in the maha-mantra in order for it to be effective? Does the word Rama in the mantra refer to Lord Rama of Ramayana?

Ajay J.
via the Internet


OUR REPLY: Srila Prabhupada compared chanting to taking medicine: Whether or not you understand it, it will work. The maha-mantra consists of names of the Lord, which are non-different from the Lord Himself. So when you chant you're in the Lord's association, and you become purified.

Rama is a name for Krsna, because it means "the supreme pleasure." By chanting Rama you can address Krsna Himself, or Lord Ramacandra, or Lord Balarama. Rama can refer to Them all Lord Krsna or any of His "Rama" expansions.

The Ancient Krsna And Krsna in the 60s

I have been doing a research project on Krsna. What I don't understand is how it is connected with the ancient Krsna. I mean, what was so enduring about the ancient life that it was founded in the 60s (I think)?

Please write back and set me straight!

via the Internet


JAYADVAITA SWAMI REPLIES: Thank you for your question.

To understand Krsna, it's best to consult the standard books of knowledge about Krsna. Our Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes many of these books, which you may be able to find in your local library. (The translator is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.)

From these ancient books we learn that Krsna is a name for the supreme source of everything in other words, God. It is not possible to understand Krsna properly without understanding this fact: By "Krsna" we mean God, the Supreme Person.

God is eternal, and every living soul is also eternal. And there is an eternal relationship between God and every living soul. That relationship is the subject of the ancient teachings about God. And because that relationship is eternal, those teachings are just as important for us now as they were then.

What happened about Krsna in the 1960s was not that something new was founded. What happened, simply, is that the ancient teachings about Krsna that were available in India were first brought from India to the West.

Since then, many people all over the world have learned about Krsna and their relationship with Krsna from these books. And by rediscovering their relationship with Krsna they have become joyful and have taken to a very pure way of life.

There are many books written by people who talk about Krsna but don't properly understand who Krsna is. Those books won't help you. (Maybe they're what got you confused in the first place.)

For more information, again, try looking in your library for the books from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, like Bhagavad-gita As It Is; Srimad-Bhagavatam; Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; and many smaller books as well. You can also get copies from our "Hare Krsna Catalog." The catalog people might be able to point you to other information too. The catalog has a toll-free number: 1-800-800-3284. Feel free to call.

I hope this helps. If you have more questions, please feel free to ask. And good luck on your project!

Mapping the Universe

I read (and reread) with great interest Sadaputa Prabhu's brilliant and convincing attempt to show that the Bhagavatam'sdescription of Bhumandala corresponds to modern observable astronomical phenomena [BTG Nov/Dec '97]. However, I was left with a couple of questions, which I hope Sadaputa Prabhu will graciously answer:

(1) I noted a complete omission of any mention of the moon, although Srila Prabhupada regularly raised the issue of the position of the moon in relation to the sun and the earth. How does the moon fit into this picture?

(2) Although Sadaputa Prabhu explains how the orbits of modern planets correspond in distance to the features of Bhumandala, he makes no attempt to explain what those features of Bhumandala are and whether they correspond to anything accepted in the modern sense of reality. We are left with the impression that Bhumandala and all its features, such as the oceans of yogurt, milk, and sweet water, are imaginary. (Sadaputa's only explanation is that Bhumandala must be regarded as invisible.)

Since Srila Prabhupada clearly states that these features do in fact exist, how do they fit into Sadaputa's model?

Hari-sauri Dasa
Mayapur, West Bengal


SADAPUTA DASA REPLIES: The BTG article does not tell the full story of the Fifth Canto. To do that, many more articles would be needed.

The moon does not fit into the solar system map, since if we plot its modern orbit we find that it is smaller than the radius of Jambudvipa. (This modern orbital radius, by the way, agrees with the lunar orbital radius given in the Surya-siddhanta.)

In the Bhagavatam the sun, moon, and planets are positioned above Bhumandala, which is a plane. Thus their heights above Bhumandala are not the same as their distances from the earth globe. To understand what these heights mean, we must first understand the relation between the earth globe and the plane of Bhumandala. The answer is that the plane map of Jambudvipa corresponds to a stereographic polar projection of the earth globe. This enables us to understand clearly the statements in the Fifth Canto about day, night, and the seasons. It also gives us a simple model that explains the position of the moon. The sun, moon, naksatras, and planets occupy successive planes in a planisphere model, similar to what we find in an astrolabe.

To explain this adequately, a complete article is necessary. Here I will just mention that the planisphere model also explains another point I left unexplained in the Advanced Astronomy BTG article, namely that the planetary heights in the Bhagavatamlie only on one side of Bhumandala. Thus, the Bhagavatam combines a planisphere model of the earth with a geocentric map of the solar system. From this standpoint, all the astronomical statements in the Fifth Canto make sense.

I should also note that a scholarly article on Jambudvipa as a planisphere model was published back in November 1985. The article, titled "Maps of Time," by W. Randolph Kloetzli, appeared in the journal History of Religions. This article shows that the planisphere model clarifies many difficult points in the cosmology of the Visnu Purana (a cosmology essentially the same as that of the Fifth Canto, but with more details).

Regarding the features of Bhumandala and their reality:

In the Advanced Astronomy article, I presented Bhumandala as a map of the solar system, and thus I spoke only about distances in the solar system. However, Bhumandala also maps a heavenly region called bhauma svarga (as well as divya svarga, which is Indra's heaven, and bila svarga, the lower planets).

This heavenly region is described as real in the Bhagavatam. Thus, it has mountains, rivers, inhabitants, etc. It is located in the plane of the solar system, and it extends about as far as the orbit of Saturn (corresponding to Lokaloka Mountain).

This region is certainly invisible, but that does not mean that it doesn't exist. I have argued that it is higher-dimensional. I should note that higher dimensions include three dimensions. So to say that Bhumandala is higher-dimensional in no way contradicts the description of its three-dimensional position.

My purpose in writing my book Alien Identities was to show that there is evidence for the existence of inhabited higher-dimensional realms. There is no need to doubt the reality of these things, since there is evidence for their existence even apart from the Bhagavatam.

Of course, this still doesn't answer the question of what the dvipas, oceans, etc., are made of. I do not know what it means to say that there is a ocean of milk, but I presume that there is some clearcut meaning. Perhaps we will find out later. (Milk that can be churned to produce "the nectar of immortality" is presumably not ordinary milk.)

I am presently writing a book and producing a CD ROM that will address these questions in more detail.

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In our news section in the January/February issue, we mentioned that the BBC World Service televised a half-hour program on the Janmastami celebrations at Bhaktivedanta Manor. In fact, it was a radio broadcast.

Dhira Govinda Dasa's research in the Vedic Personality Index (BTG May/June) was published in The Journal of Indian Psychology, not The Indian Journal of Psychology as we noted.

Our Project Profile on Yaduvara Dasa and his effort to digitize film of Srila Prabhupada (November/December 1997) failed to mention Puru Dasa and Nrsimhananda Dasa, both of whom were instrumental in collecting and preserving the original films.


The photographs in the article Journey to the Land of the Gods (May/June) attributed to Maha-Visnu Dasa were actually taken by Ramanuja Dasa..