Relishable Reading

I just finished reading the article “A Successful Quest,” by Daivisakti Devi Dasi, in the March/ April issue and wanted to tell you how much it touched my heart. I especially liked how she found the Bhagavad-gita in the university library after all those years of reading other books, searching for this transcendental knowledge, and the part when she heard the hand cymbals and followed the sound. It reminded me of a time in my life when I also heard the hand cymbals and followed the sound, knowing it would take me to the devotees. It’s very relishable reading the different arrangements Krishna makes for bringing His sincere souls back to Him.- Banke Bihari Dasi Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Japa Is the Anchor

I would like to compliment BTG for the Jan/Feb edition, which was one of the best I have ever read. As far as I am concerned, japa is the anchor of bhakti-yoga. The article “Creating a Culture of Pure Chanting” was much appreciated. Also, concerning the article about Bhaktivedanta Hospital, I hope we will hear more about it in the future and that it might be a catalyst for similar hospitals throughout the planet.- Daniel Joseph Haur Lostwithiel, England

Love and Bhakti

What is the difference between love and bhakti, and how can both be achieved? – Adesh Shushil

Our reply: Bhakti means “love” but refers to eternal love for Krishna. Love in the material world is temporary. Love for Krishna can be achieved by serving a guru who has bhakti, chanting the holy names of the Lord, serving the Lord’s devotees, and performing devotional service. Real love here in the material world means giving Krishna to others so they can also learn to love eternally.

Questions about Jnana-yoga

What is jnana-yoga? Does it require other types of yoga? What are the types of yoga? Is jnana-yoga similar to philosophy? Is it worth pursuing jnanayoga? Who can attain it? – Witt Keller

Our reply: Yoga means to link to the Lord, and jnana means knowledge. So jnana-yoga is a process by which one links to God through knowledge. This involves studying the scriptures, practicing austerity, and meditating on the self. One first understands that he is an eternal being different from the body. When one makes further progress, he understands the supreme as an impersonal entity free from material attributes. Understanding the personal form of the Lord is a higher stage of realization, attainable only through bhakti-yoga.

Besides jnana-yoga, the other main types of yoga are karmayoga, where one acts in this world but offers the fruits to God; astanga-yoga, where one meditates on the Lord by strict procedures like breath control; and finally bhakti-yoga, where one connects with God through acts of devotion, such as chanting His names, hearing about Him, and worshiping His form.

It is not worth pursuing jnanayoga, because it is a very difficult path. Only after many lifetimes may the jnana-yogi realize that the goal is Krishna and begin to worship Him. But one can do that immediately by the simple process of bhaktiyoga. Krishna explains this in the Bhagavad-gita (12.3–7).

Chanting and Regulative Principles

It is said that by chanting we get a higher taste so that we lose interest in material things and thus we automatically start following the regulative principles. If this is the case, then what is the use of following the four regulative principles [no meateating, illicit sex, intoxication, or gambling] before we get a taste in chanting? – Deepti Shah

Our reply: When we get a higher taste by chanting, it becomes natural and easy to follow the regulative principles. We become more attached to Krishna and detached from matter. But till such time, we should follow the rules, even though they may be difficult, because that way we show the Lord we are trying to give up sense enjoyment separate from Him. If we don’t follow the rules, then chanting becomes even harder. It becomes like cooking while pouring water on the stove.

Furthermore, for success in chanting, we have to avoid the ten offenses to chanting. One offense is to maintain material attachments, which would surely include not following the regulative principles.

Replies written by’s Live Help volunteers.

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After printing the January/ February issue, we learned the identity of the photographers and the locations of two photos of Srila Prabhupada appearing in that issue. Yaduvara Dasa took the cover photo at the Mayapur Gaura Purnima festival in 1972. Visakha Devi Dasi, his wife, took the photo accompanying Prabhupada’s lecture. That photo was taken at the ISKCON temple in Berkeley, California, in 1975.

These photos are from a large collection preserved by the Bhaktivedanta Archives. All followers of Srila Prabhupada are indebted to those who photographed him and contributed their photos to the Archives collection. It is BTG’s policy to give credit to these photographers when we know their identity.