A Seed Bears Fruit
Many years ago, and it seems like lifetimes now, I had two high school friends who were a couple of years older than I and were Hare Krsna devotees. We used to go on the weekends to the Potomac, Maryland, temple together. From the beginning my faith was confident in SriKrsna and Srila Prabhupada. I was even fortunate to have darsana [audience] with His Divine Grace when my friends received initiation. I can't remember, after almost three decades, what my friends' initiated names were. But, Jerry and Sandy, may you know that the seeds of devotion planted so long ago established something which flourished over time. May Govinda bless you both for the most excellent of matchless gifts.
L. C. Hagerty
While chanting, is it wrong to listen to Krsna's bhajanas or read about Krsna?
Via the Interent
OUR REPLY: The process is to hear and chant the holy sound of the Hare Krsna mantra. Revelation of the form, qualities, and pastimes of Krsna will then take place gradually in due course. To do other things while chanting Hare Krsna makes it more difficult to pay attention, and inattention is an offense to the holy name. Attentive chanting can vanquish our other offenses, but inattention can prevent us from attaining love of Godhead.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that there is nothing of value in the whole material world except the holy name. Why then do we feel the need to do other things while we chant Hare Krsna? It may be that our realization of this point is lacking. So we should humbly return our attention to the mantra and continue, again and yet again, always trying to hear with attention.
Looking for a Guru
BTG seems to arrive just when my "Krsna battery" seems to be running out of power!
Where can I find out more detailed, practical information about initiation? I have contacted a couple of siksa [instructing] gurus who have Internet Web sites. They (I guess) in turn had a couple of their disciples contact me. Alas, they offered no tangible information that I could use. This "initiation thing" is like a "private club" that I can't get into. I'm forty-eight with family responsibilities, so it's hard to visit the closest temple (which is two hours away). I follow the four regulative principles and chant ten rounds a day. Any thoughts?
OUR REPLY: In different places in Srila Prabhupada's books the importance of initiation is described. It is an essential part of spiritual life. At initiation one receives transcendental knowledge about God and how to approach Him. The spiritual master also takes the karma of the disciple. Srila Prabhupada had a standard of having the devotees chant sixteen rounds a day and follow the four principles forbidding meat-eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex for at least six months prior to initiation. During this time, the disciple may also see that the guru is steadily qualified to represent Krsna.
Generally Srila Prabhupada taught that when one is serious about spiritual life, Krsna will send the guru. Therefore, you should not be overly anxious about it. You can pray to Krsna and Srila Prabhupada and keep your eyes open to see who they may be sending.
As a disciple you will have to dedicate your life to the service of your guru, so you should keep that in mind, and be sure you have that much faith in the person you accept as guru. The guru must be a faithful follower of his own guru in a line of succession going back to Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada gives some guidance about choosing a guru in The Nectar of Instruction (pages 25-30).
In reality, initiation is not a private club you cannot get into. It is beyond superficial appearances. It is Krsna revealing Himself to you through one of His confidential associates.
Why No Shoes?
I'm a student of anthropology, and I have a question regarding the removal of shoes before entering the temple. What is the significance of that?
Via the Internet
OUR REPLY: The reason is that cleanliness is an important religious principle. Here are two statements by Srila Prabhupada about cleanliness in worship:
"In India it is still the prevalent custom that one put his shoes in a specified place and then enter the temple barefoot after washing his feet." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adilila 7.59, Purport)
"To keep the temple very cleansed, very attractive, that is also Deity worship. Those who are here working, they should keep this temple as clean as possible. Then Krsna will be satisfied. Krsna's body this temple. Do not think it otherwise. Temple should be worshiped in that way. Therefore I ask you not to come with shoes." (Lecture, August 17, 1976)
Our shoes can become contaminated with so many unclean things, and thus we should not enter the temple wearing them. This is out of respect for the deity, who is considered an especially merciful form of the Lord, for He appears before the material senses of the neophyte worshiper.
I think that man has forgotten God. With all of his fancy inventions and technology, man has lost touch with God. Therefore a cleansing of some sort must inevitably come. Would you agree?
Via the Internet
OUR REPLY: Yes, we will have to turn away from this absorption in materialism. There is no doubt about it. There is a counterculture of people turning away from it, and it will increase. We are confident that if the congregational chanting of the glories of God is promoted in human society, then all the sinful reactions will be dispelled. That is the great need at the present moment.
Please write to us at: BTG, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32616, USA. E-mail: email@example.com.
In the last issue, the text on page 15 was laid out incorrectly. The right-hand column of text should be the first column on the page. Also, the deity on page 14 is Gadadhara, not Lord Nityananda as the caption states. We apologize for these mistakes.