Encouraged by the Youth

I thoroughly enjoyed the article "Hare Krsna Youth on Tour," in the January/February issue. Not having the good fortune of living near a temple, I have often wondered about children raised as devotees. Are they happy? Well-adjusted? It was encouraging to see that the American Hare Krsna youth were able to experience the beauty of their country and at the same time introduce people to Krsna consciousness. Just seeing their smiling faces on the cover tells me they're special kids.

Gillian Ratliff

Kindred Biker

Lord Caitanya's mercy is revealed in Tota Gopinatha's biography [Jan/Feb]. I too ride a Harley for God. I have been allowed into places and situations dressed as a biker that give golden opportunities to talk about the Absolute Truth, Radha-Krsna. Tears of joy ran down my face as I read about Tota's past. Mine is not too different. I was initiated by Prabhupada in 1974, fell down, and scratched my way back to reality.

Revati-prana-natha Dasa
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Signs of Spiritual Progress

How can I know that I've improved in my devotional service?

Priya Raj

Our Reply: Here, from Srila Prabhupada's books, are several important ways we can tell if we are improving in devotional service.

In his purport to Bhagavad-gita 13.8-12, Srila Prabhupada writes that we can tell we are making progress if we are developing the qualities that Krsna mentions in these verses:

"Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona fide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth."

In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.29, Prabhupada stresses detachment from sex life as an indication: "One who is advanced in devotional service is never attracted by sex life, and as soon as one becomes detached from sex life and proportionately attached to the service of the Lord, he actually experiences living in the Vaikuntha [spiritual] planets."

In his purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 7.143, he writes, "A devotee's only attachment is Krsna; he no longer wants to maintain his attachments to many other things."

And in his purport to Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.60, he writes, "Unless one gets this spiritual encouragement by following the instructions of the spiritual master, it is not possible to make advancement. Therefore, one's development of a taste for executing these instructions is the test of one's devotional service."

The Supremacy of Krsna

Based on the four original Vedas, how do we find Krsna as the Supreme Godhead, outside of Siva, besides the sayings in the Gita? I have studied in the past with a Saivite, and he states that Siva is the supreme being. I would like some clarification on this.

Ty H. Phillips

Our Reply: The Narayana Upanisad (4) says, brahmanyo devaki-putrah: "The son of Devaki, Krsna, is the Supreme Personality." We also find references to the supremacy of Visnu and Narayana, plenary expansions of Krsna. The ag Veda(1.22.20) states, om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah: "The devas are always looking to that supreme abode of Visnu." The Narayana Upanisad (1) says, "From Narayana are born the seven Rudras [forms of Siva]." And the Maha Upanisad (1) states, "In the beginning of creation there was only the Supreme Personality Narayana. There was no Brahma, no Siva. . . ."

Prabhupada wrote in a letter to a disciple: "Sankaracarya is a Lord Siva worshiper and an incarnation of Lord Siva, and he admits that Narayana is the master and Narayana is the Supreme. [Sankaracarya writes:] Narayanah paro 'vyaktat ["Narayana existed before anything else was manifest"]. This is the best authority. What more evidence do you want? This is in his Sanka Bhasya [commentary] on Bhagavad-gita. This is not even the statement of the Puranas but of Sankaracarya's own writings. How can you deny if the incarnation of Lord Siva says that Krsna is Supreme?"

Why No Eggs?

I understand that you Hare Krsnas are vegetarians because you don't want to be responsible for animal slaughter, but why are you prohibited from eating eggs?

Jake Crosley

Satyaraja Dasa Replies: The most important reason we don't eat eggs is the same reason we don't eat meat or fish: We eat only Krsna prasadam, food first offered to Krsna in love and devotion. And in the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) and other places, Krsna tells us that He wants only vegetarian food, including milk products.

Krsna's diet has the benefit of being nonviolent, which is important to devotees, and which vegetarians can also appreciate. When it comes to eggs, however, it can be argued that no violence results from eating them. So why refrain from eating eggs?

First of all, to eat an egg you must first torture a chicken the two are inextricably related. The modern factory farm is a veritable concentration camp, with horrors better left unmentioned in the pages of this magazine.

Commercially produced eggs (for eating) do not require male chickens; they are the unnatural product of biological manipulation. Thus, they are often referred to as "vegetarian eggs." But make no mistake eggs can never be vegetarian. In the first place, they do not grow on trees. Secondly, the ovum, even in factory-produced eggs, remains in the center. This means that the eggs people eat contain living cells with all the processes of metabolism, such as respiration, digestion, and so on. The fifteen thousand pores on the eggshell alone are used to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and water vapor. What does all this mean? If that same unfertilized ovum were to encounter sperm, it could become a fertilized egg and then a chicken. As strange as it sounds, what we are really talking about here is the eating of a chicken's daily menstrual secretion.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna categorizes foods according to their effect on the consciousness. Eggs belong in the category of foods that drag the consciousness toward darkness and ignorance something that persons on the spiritual path would do well to avoid.

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