The Universal Theme of Passover
I was somewhat surprised at the article "Six Essential Questions," by Satyaraja Dasa, in the November/December issue. I have been a friend of the Hare Krishna movement since the late 1960s, so I am familiar with what Vaisnavas believe, but I felt Satyaraja's explanation of Passover might inadvertently leave BTG readers with the wrong impression of what Jews believe. Far from being merely a sectarian holiday, the theme of Passover is universal: people of all religions have lived under tyranny and hoped for deliverance. At the Seder (which in most American homes is conducted in English and Hebrew, not Yiddish) participants read the story of how the Jews were slaves in ancient Egypt, and how we finally attained our freedom. In prayer and in song, we express our gratitude for what God did for US; we also pray that those who are still in bondage in other countries will one day be set free. Thank you for letting me clarify why Passover is such an important and joyous holiday.
Donna L. Halper, Ph.D. Lesley University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Identity of Advaita Acarya
I have just been blessed to receive the current issue of BTG (November/December). A reply to a letter has a curious reference about Advaita Acarya being the incarnation of Lord Shiva. While the transcendental abilities of Krishna and His devotees are always above our mundane comprehension, I remember, from what I have read in srna Prabhupada's translations, that Advaita Acarya is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu.
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Our reply: It was somewhat imprecise for us to write that Lord Shiva incarnates as Advaita Acarya. In fact, it is Sada Shiva who incarnates as Advaita Acarya. Sada Shiva is a Vishnu-tattva expansion of MahaVishnu in Vaikuntha, and Shiva is an expansion of Sada Shiva.
Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter (April 6, 1975): "Regarding your question, you may refer to [Caitanya-caritamrita], Adi-lila, Chapter 6, Text 79, along with the purport. The answer is there. The basic understanding is that Sada Shiva is an expansion of Maha Vishnu and that same Sada Shiva incarnates as Advaita Acarya. Therefore since Advaita Acarya is an incarnation of Sada Shiva, who is non different from Maha Vishnu, we can say that Advaita Acarya is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu."
A Treat for Mind and Soul
Back to Godhead is the best magazine I have ever read. It provides an impetus to work hard in spirituality and teaches us how to use Krishna consciousness in our lives as a tool for happiness. Its articles are really a treat for mind and soul.
Dr. Vivek Sharma
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What is the special benediction of the maha-mantra?
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Our reply: The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the recommended method for becoming self-realized in this age, Kali-yuga, which is very difficult in many ways. People are always disturbed and distracted, it is difficult for them to control their minds and senses, and the environment favors a very unspiritual way of life. Intoxication, gambling, meat-eating, and free sexual connection are all commonplace but highly deleterious for anyone interested in becoming Krishna conscious. Society is very materialistic and working to train people to believe that the more things they can get, the more happiness they will find. But this is a lie. Happiness comes from reconnecting you, the soul, with the Supreme Soul, God, or Krishna. Considering all this, the Vedic scriptures recommend the maha-mantra for this age. One can chant it anywhere, it is easy to chant, and it is a very powerful sound composed of names of God and His energies. Since God and His name are identical, by chanting this mantra one can get in touch with God, Krishna, and get to know Him. To know Him is to love Him, and so this mantra can help you develop a loving relationship with Him.
As a doctor may give medicine but also recommend a diet and exercise, the effectiveness of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is enhanced by a balanced life free from meat-eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sexual connection. One should also associate with people endeavoring to become spiritually enlivened, read transcendental literature, and focus the mind with deep concentration while chanting. The maha-mantra is so powerful that it will purify one of sinful karma and begin to awaken the realization of one's spiritual connection with Krishna. That is the special benediction of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Preaching to the Faithless
It's written somewhere that we should not preach Krishna consciousness to persons who are completely materialistic and not interested. Can you explain that restriction?
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Our reply: One of the ten offenses in chanting is to preach the glories of the Lord to the faithless. But in Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila10.67, Prabhupada writes in his purport: "Even though a person is rejected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotees of the Lord do not reject him; therefore the Lord's devotees are more merciful than the Lord Himself. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura thus sings, chadiya vaishnava-seva nistara payeche keba: one cannot be relieved from the material clutches without engaging in the service of pure devotees. The Lord Himself may sometimes be very hard, but the devotees are always kind." So although Krishna may suggest not preaching to those not interested, the devotees can't stand to see the soul suffering in this world, and so they take all risks and preach the Lord's glories even to those not qualified to receive it.
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