I want to say many thanks for March 2013 issue of BTG, especially for the article "Our longing for Love" by Caitanya Carana Dasa, It is really an amazing article! – Aarti
I received the April issue of BTG and it was so rich in content and its variety that I read from cover to cover in one sitting. In particular the answer to the question on the "Karma of the Rape Victim" was an excellent piece writing, very convincing and deftly handled, showing the knowledge level and skill of the writer. Congratulations. However, the cover page was a surprise with it not being dominated by some beautiful photo of the Lord. First I thought it was the back cover. My request is to maintain the old format. I hope you will give a thought to this. Best wishes. Hare Krishna! – Shyam Sunder Sharma, New Delhi
What type of conduct is expected of a Vaishnava? How should the conduct of a Vaishnava be any different from others?
Our reply: Lord Caitanya, when asked this same question, replied, asat-sanga-tyaga,-ei vaishnava-acara. This means that a Vaishnava is not attached to impermanent things (asat); he is also likewise disinterested in grossly materialistic persons who are absorbed in impermanent pursuits. This does not mean a Vaishnava shuns people and things of this world. He deals with them from a position of knowledge of their proper relationship with the Lord, and therefore without personal attachment and without intimate dealings with worldly-minded individuals.
Externally a Vaishnava may conduct their life as any other honest and virtuous person. The only way their conduct is expected to be different from others is one of qualitative difference, i.e. in their steadfast cultivation of compassion, honesty, humility, equanimity, non-violence, simplicity, cleanliness etc.consistently with an internal cultivation of doing all of this for the satisfaction of Krishna or Vishnu, as an offering of oneself and one's life to Him.
A Vaishnava also chooses a lifestyle that reflects his or her faith and respect towards the Supreme Lord and His devotees. They are naturally attracted to chanting the holy names, respecting the Deities, observing the holy days, eating only sanctified food (Krishna-prasada), dressing simply, etc., but how these principles manifests in their outward appearance and conduct depends on each individual devotee.
Essence of Spirituality
I am a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, teacher, friend and a human being. I believe in the Almighty, especially in the form of Lord Vishnu, I believe that He listens to me and guides me spiritually. My question is, what is the essence of spirituality? Should it not assist us in conducting ourselves in our day to day life? – Meena Singh
Our reply: The essence of spiritual life is to reestablish one's constitutional relationship with God, and to learn to fully function in that relationship in all aspects of one's life.
Pious persons have natural faith and attraction to God they look to Him when in distress, when in need, or when inquisitive (Gita 7.16). Such beginning spiritualists also generally lack complete understanding about the nature of God and how exactly everyone and everything is related to Him. Authorized spiritual practices along with their authorized teachings are meant to carry us beyond these limitations and, likely, our multiple misconceptions. Perfect understanding of these truths (sambandha-jnana, or factual understanding how all things are connected to their energetic Source) enables one to function properly, without duplicity, within this material world.
Thinking of spiritual life as something utilitarian meant to better one's life in this realm and the next is both common as well as conceptually misleading and insufficient in perspective. Spiritual life is truly other-worldly, living one's life with Krishna or Vishnu both now and always, eternally, beyond this temporal realm. However, ironically, the fact is that a spiritually well-situated person alone is able to properly execute all his or her duties towards others satisfactorily to their satisfaction, and his or her own too!
A realized spiritualist is in fact the most earnest servant to everyone, but he does it with perfect vision of how everyone is related to the Lord. Those who lack spiritual foundation are left frustrated at some point sooner or later, despite their most strenuous efforts for perfectly fulfilling their obligations, like one watering the disconnected branches of a tree.
By performing daily spiritual practices carried out under the guidance of a qualified Vaishnava teacher, together with proper training in the principles of Bhagavad-gita, you will come to realize all of the above. In that condition your day-to-day activities will become palpably spiritualized.
Ram, Rama or Ramo?
Is it OK to say "Ram" instead of "Rama" while chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, as would be done in Hindi? Also, in Bengali "Rama" is pronounced as "Ramo." Is that OK? – Arindam Ghosh
Our reply: BTG used to give this explanation: "Hare is pronounced huh-ray. Krishna is pronounced Krishna. And Rama rhymes with the English word drama."Since Rama is a sanskrit word, it's not really acceptable to change it into an Indianized or Hindi-ized dialect version. Rama should be pronounced "Rama" as in drama.
Bengalis use "0" in place of short "a." However it may be good for the Bengalis as their tongue is made that way, but not for others. If you are not a Bengali, Ramo instead of Rama is not correct.
Why are people suffering? Knowingly or unknowingly people are put into dificulties, and thereby they go away from devotional service. – Albert Pinto
Our reply: Thank you for your compassionate question. The root cause for all suffering is ignorance or forgetfulness of our loving relationship with God.
It is not difficulties themselves that cause one to "go away from devotional service."
To be even more specific, the root cause of this ignorance is a lack of connection with the pure devotees of God, the bonafide representatives of God. Such saintly devotees are dedicated to teaching forgetful souls how to regain their lost relationship with God, and how to practically live a pure God-centered life. As soon as one gains the association and guidance of a saintly devotee, and as soon as one takes that relationship seriously, one can immediately experience transcendental happiness and relief from all material difficulties. Externally it may appear to others that there are many difficulties in their life. But subjectively a person who has firmly taken shelter of a bonafide representative of God feels complete tranquility and joy in any situation. Examples of the Pandavas, Sudama Vipra and even the life of Srila Prabhupada illustrate this-so-called difficulties did not deter them; rather it increased their devotion and caused their lives to shine brighter.
Our real suffering is not poverty, disease, crime or quarrels these are but mere symptoms of the real disease. The real suffering is a lack of scientific education about a God-centered way of life, due to neglecting to respect the saintly acaryas. In fact, objectively a true shelter-taking individual is undergoing the beginning of the end of all their troubles due to past sinful reactions.
Replies to the letters were given by Romapada Swami.