I thoroughly enjoyed reading articles from the Nov/Dec 2009 (Special) issue of Back to Godhead. Because the articles were clear, concise and convincing to me, I have been encouraged to share the special issue with friends and colleagues. I look forward to conversations with them that surely will be generated in the future.
While sharing these articles with my coworkers from other faiths, I decided to share only specific articles depending on the person. Based on my experience, it is much more effective to share specific articles that may fit their level of consciousness or personality. My objective has been to start and maintain spiritual conversations with them.
Following instructions from scriptures has been beneficial for my conduct at work. It provides me greater strength to focus on my work amid workplace dualities salary raise or not, supervisory position or a worker, exciting project or routine work. It encourages me to network with people of faith, which reduces my association with coworkers who might be inclined to gossip, politics, or even illicit activities. – Damber Kumar Gurung Fairfax, Virginia, USA
One Unscientific Article
Thank you for the excellent collection of scholarly and authoritative articles in the November/ December issue discussing evolutionary theory from the Vedic perspective. I love to share my BTG with friends and coworkers new to the philosophy, and the issue addressed Darwin’s theories in a logical and thoughtful way, through scientific evidence as well as Shastra [scripture].
The only article I felt was out of place was the final article [by Urmila Devi Dasi], which told about the creation of the different bodies for living entities. I fear that article might have seemed quite unscientific compared with the rest of the issue. I have been a devotee since 1972, and had never read that account. There are many well-known passages from Srimad- Bhagavatam that explain how the living entity comes into the material world. I would prefer to acquaint newcomers with the absolute truth of Krishna consciousness through those descriptions. Thank you for your preaching work in service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya’s movement.- Braja Banesvari Dasi
Urmila Devi Dasi replies: I’m glad you appreciated the issue on evolution. The account at the end, from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is indeed how shastra describes the creation of each species. It is true that often in ISKCON we do not discuss these specific details, such as which demigoddess created which species. We often simply say that the various species are Brahma’s creations, or that the celestial devas create the species. It is true that this account is not scientific in the sense of something we can perceive and test. But the same can be said for evolutionary theory about the origin of species. Ancient history cannot be verified scientifically.
How the living entity comes into the material world is a separate topic from a discussion of how the demigods and demigoddesses create various species of bodies for the fallen living entities to inhabit. We dealt somewhat with the living entity coming to the material world in the article “Evolution of Consciousness.”
I am reading both The Science of Self-Realization and Srimad- Bhagavatam, First Canto, Part One, for the first time, and every single page amazes me. I use to read Bhagavad-gita As It Is regularly years ago, but I have just purchased it to start studying once again.
I am fifty-seven years old and finding myself drawn to Krishna more every day. I chant all the way to work and home, and I think about Him and what all of His devotees are doing to bring all of us back to Him. I visit the Krishna.com website every day, and I appreciate what all of you do to keep it updated and all of us connected.- Steve Harvell
False or Illusoryn
In the book The Quest for Enlightenment, Srila Prabhupada says that the concept of the material world as being an illusion is false. But in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1, he says that the material world is a false one. Please clear up this apparent contradiction. – Anamika Thakur
Our reply: Your paraphrasing of Srila Prabhupada’s words is not quite accurate. Srila Prabhupada and all Vaisnava philosophers say that the material world is illusory but not false.
There is a class of philosophers who claim that the material world is false, by which they mean that it does not actually exist at all. Due to our illusion, they say, we think the world is out there while in reality it is not there. But according to the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad- Bhagavatam, that is not so. And that is being refuted in The Quest for Enlightenment.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1, the world is not said to be false; it is said to be temporary. Anything temporary can also be said to be illusory because one moment it exists and the next moment it is not there. But the world as it is exists. Souls occupy that world. The world is the material energy of Krishna, as explained in Chapter Seven of the Bhagavad-gita. So it is real in the sense that it exists. It is wrong to think that it does not exist at all. But things here are temporary and changing, and so we term the material world illusory.
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