I was reading the book on self-realization by Srila Prabhupada. In one chapter, when he talks about bhagya [fortune] he says that our every material success, failure, and achievement is predetermined. Is death also predetermined? If yes, then if a person is destined to die by murder, or if a chicken is destined to be killed by a butcher, then why do we say that the killers have committed a crime or a sin? If we eat the chicken that was destined to die by killing, then what's wrong in that? Why do we consider it a crime, when it was destined to happen?
Via the Internet
Our Rely: Our time of death depends on our destiny, but our activities in this life can change our destiny and thus our duration of life. Bhakti-yoga can remove or reduce one's karma and thus change one's duration of life, and offenses to saints and innocent beings are described as reducing the duration of one's life.
Someone who kills a person or an animal destined to die is responsible because he or she desired to kill. Had he or she not wanted to do it, Krsna would have arranged for someone else to do it, and that person would have been held accountable. Krsna arranges that people who deserve to die are killed by people who want to kill, and so the killers are responsible for their desire to kill their victims and have to suffer the result. The same is true in the case of the chicken.
People could use your reasoning to kill others and deny responsibility. That, of course, would create chaos in society, and cannot be Krsna's idea.
Vaisnava View On Resurrection
I am a Christian who has an interest in Eastern religions. I recently purchased a copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is along with a couple of other books by your guru Srila Prabhupada. One question I have that I have not been able to get an answer to is in regards to 1 Corinthians 15. In this chapter the Apostle Paul expounds on the doctrine of the resurrection. I have read a number of articles by devotees referring to Matthew 16 and John 9 to show references to reincarnation but nothing dealing with the resurrection. Paul points out that there is a difference between a natural body and a spiritual body; however, he also points out that the resurrection is a specific event in time (1 Thes. 4:13-17). If possible, I would like to know the Vaisnava understanding of the resurrection "event."
Via the Internet
Our Rely: Srila Prabhupada considered Lord Jesus Christ to have a spiritual body that was not under the laws of material nature and could not be killed. In a conversation with a disciple he said, "It is not possible to kill him. Such a great personality—representative of God—he is not killed. That is not possible. . . . He made a show that 'I am killed.' That is resurrection."
Srila Prabhupada often stated that God and His representatives have spiritual bodies that cannot be destroyed. The Vedic scriptures say specifically that Lord Krsna and the devotees Yudhisthira and Arjuna attained the spiritual world in the same bodies that were visible on earth, and so Srila Prabhupada did not consider resurrection to be unique to Jesus Christ.
A Swami Misses the Mark
Thank you for Srila Prabhupada's detailed lecture "God Beyond the Void" in the September/October issue. It was most appropriate, as I had recently accompanied my father to a recital of the Bhagavad-gita by a famous Indian swami.
I was intrigued by the swami, who had a full audience who listened to him laugh, cry, tell jokes, and so on. He was, on the whole, a good orator.
I sat amongst them, but with Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is open before me. As I listened to the speaker's sweet words, I checked them against Srila Prabhupada's. The exercise became fun. I didn't mean to search for any shortfall, but sadly it soon became apparent.
Though the swami was handsome, had a great singing voice, and spoke poetic Gujarati, there was little substance. Though he declared that to love God was perfection, he failed to describe a process for awakening that love. Though he glorifiedBhagavad-gita, he discredited Krsna by saying that the Lord did not speak it Himself. He spoke of a great Hindu culture, but presented no concept of surrender to Krsna.
As Srila Prabhupada explained in his lecture, if we have no positive destination, simply abandoning our present condition is of no value. This became apparent as I followed the speaker, comparing his words with those of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. With each word that jumped off the open book like a firecracker, Srila Prabhupada seemed enormous—detailing a science and a process to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, while with his every sweet word the swami paled in comparison.
A little amazed, I felt sorry for the other listeners. They were being cheated. I am so thankful to Srila Prabhupada and the disciplic succession, and I wish that the same mercy could be spread to those who are being misled by the cheaters.
Right Response to Criticism
Please accept my belated "thank you" for publishing Arcana-siddhi Devi Dasis touching article "Why Do We Criticize Others?—A look at the causes and cures for faultfinding, a major obstacle to spiritual progress." (May/June 2003).
The emotional disturbance caused by faultfinding generally affects two parties: the person doing the criticizing and the recipient of the criticism. The article mentions the incident where Ramacandra Puri invented fault in Lord Caitanya's spotless character. When he saw ants where the Lord was living, he criticized the Lord for eating sweets—a sign to Ramacandra Puri that the Lord was not acting as a proper renunciant.
Arcana-siddhi Devi Dasi writes, "Because Ramacandra Puri was the Godbrother of Lord Caitanya's spiritual master, the Lord respectfully abstained from responding to his offense." Very few of us can maintain our composure in such circumstances. Even if we abstain from responding, we will likely feel some bitterness or hostility inside us.
What should we, the recipient of faulty criticism, do in such instances? We can chant the holy names of Krsna. That will pacify our agitated mind and purify our heart. We can also take the shelter of the most important Purana, the Srimad-Bhagavatam. "These people are not the cause of my happiness and distress. Neither are the demigods, my own body, the planets, my past work, or time. Rather, it is the mind alone that causes happiness and distress." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.23.42)
"A sober person, even when harassed by other living beings, should understand that his aggressors are acting helplessly under the control of God, and thus he should never be distracted from progress on his own path." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.7.37) These realizations will soothe the emotional turmoil inside us caused by unjustified criticism.