Realism and Transcendence

"Simple living, high thinking."Srila Prabhupada gave us all we need in that one sentence, and to have a magazine reflect and support us in pursuit of that goal is the ultimate. When I glance through the copy each month, I am totally amazed at the beauty and bounty of pictures and graphics. The editorial content is very articulate, and tuned in and timely, in a mood of complete dedication and responsiveness. Your travel documentaries allow the reader to dive into the nectar and actually feel the splash of realism and of transcendence.

The devotees are so inspiring and uplifting in their scope of vision and practice of Krsna consciousness. You can tell they truly are sincere to fulfill the wishes of Srila Prabhupada to "build a house in which the whole world can live."

I particularly relish articles about devotees, profiling their experiences, lives, and how they make a difference.

Thank you so much for my subscription. I pray that all obstacles be removed for you and your staff.

Yogarupini Devi Dasi
Tullahoma, Tennessee

Why Pilgrimages?

In the July/August 2003 issue you ran an ad for Also in a recent issue you published an article about a devotee's trip to Vrndavana, and this was also an ISKCON-sponsored event.

I feel it is wrong to encourage devotees to waste their money on pilgrimages. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura says in Sri Prema Bhakti-candrika (2.5), "Traveling to the holy places is a waste of energy and born from illusion." In Skanda Purana it says, "For one who continually chants the Lord's holy name there is no extra spiritual benefit by visiting even such holy places as Kurukshetra, Kashi, Pushkara, etc." And in Vamana Purana: "The spiritual value of Hari kirtana [glorification of the Lord] is far superior to even circumambulating many thousands of holy sites."

I feel it is a deceit to advertise these pious activities. The money would be much better spent on the distribution of books or prasadam.

God bless us, everyone.

Subala Dasa
Perry, Florida

Our Reply: Lord Caitanya Himself approved of visiting, and indeed did visit, holy places like Vrndavana and Jagannatha Puri, and our predecessor spiritual master Rupa Gosvami talks of how our transcendental sentiments are awakened in such places as Mathura. He includes such visits in his list of favorable devotional activities. Srila Prabhupada considered it rejuvenating for preachers to go to Vrndavana and Mayapura to become purified so they could go back and spread Krsna consciousness with vigor in the West. Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote that pure devotees of Lord Caitanya are eager to visit all the places He went to even briefly. So the condemnation of holy pilgrimages is just one side of the story.

Of course, Hari kirtana is meant also to be done at the holy places, and its influence is certainly enhanced many times there, according to Srila Prabhupada. For example, one who does devotional service to Damodara (Krsna) in Vrndavana in the month of Karttika is blessed with pure devotion otherwise difficult to obtain.

For these reasons, it is not deceitful to promote the visiting of holy places, especially those like Vrndavana, Mathura, Mayapura, Dwaraka, and Jagannatha Puri, which are identical to the spiritual world. Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada approved of it. In these most pure of settings, glorification of Krsna should not be neglected but rather increased.

Of course, to spend money on spreading Krsna consciousness with books or prasadam is better than just spending money on one's own purification, but if by visiting the holy places one becomes purified, one's natural desire to spread Krishna's glories can awaken, and one's preaching will naturally increase.

Visiting holy places instead of Hari kirtana or instead of preaching would be inauspicious. Nonetheless, pilgrimage can be a inspiring part of a balanced devotional life pleasing to our previous spiritual masters and to Krsna, and so to share it with others who may benefit by it is a good thing.

An Angel of ISKCON

I was incredulous and overwhelmed to see the article "The 3-Year-Old Preacher I'll Never Forget" [March/April], because although she left this world about twenty years ago, I also have not forgotten this three-year-old preacher warrior, Radha-Govinda Dasi. She was my daughter's friend.

I cried to see Lord Krsna's glorification of this obscure angel of ISKCON. Krsna is, after all, bhakta-vatsala very dear to His devotees and the devotees are very dear to Him. He has not forgotten about that sweet devotee girl with her dark curls like a miniature gopi [cowherd girl], and now she can be remembered by devotees worldwide thanks to the wonderful article and transcendental memories of Campakalata Devi Dasi. All glories to Radha-Govinda Dasi!

Candrasekhara Dasa
ISKCON Prison Ministry
Toledo, Ohio

Liberation and Rasa

What are the five types of liberation? Can you please give examples of the five types of devotees in Vrndavana? Where can this information be found?

Via the Internet

Our Reply: The five kinds of liberation are:

(1) to merge into the existence of the Lord (sayujya)
(2) to have the same opulence as the Lord (sarsti)
(3) to reside on the same planet as the Lord (salokya)
(4) to have a form similar to that of the Lord (sarupya)
(5) to have the intimate association of the Lord (samipya)

The first one is never accepted by Vaisnavas, or devotees of God, because it impedes devotional service to God. The others may be accepted if they assist in the Lord's service.

The "five types of devotees" in the spiritual world refers to the five rasas, or relationships with Krsna:

(1) neutrality or passive adoration (santa)
(2) servitude (dasya)
(3) friendship (sakhya)
(4) parental (vatsalya)
(5) conjugal (madhurya)

The grass and cows are examples of devotees in santa rasa. The cowherd boys who act as Krsna's personal servants, like Raktaka, are in dasya rasa. The cowherd boys who are friends of Krsna, like Subala, are in sakhya rasa. Nanda, Yasoda, and the older cowherd men and women are in vatsalya rasa. Radharani and the gopis are in madhurya rasa.

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has discussed this topic elaborately in The Nectar of Devotion, a summary study of Rupa Gosvamis Bhakti-rasamrta- sindhu.

Please write to us at: BTG, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. E-mail: