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Write to BACK TO GODHEAD
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119
Hare Krsna! Having read several copies of Back to Godhead, I notice you often quote the Bible regarding the eating of meat. But you neglect the best quotes. You point out that when the cow's blood is transformed into milk, it is purified and suitable for drinking. Why not cite Biblical passages like those in Genesis 9, Leviticus 17, and Acts 15, which specifically forbid blood?
Marrabundah, N.S.W., Australia
OUR REPLY: Sometimes we quote the Bible because, after all, we're circulating amid a largely Judeo-Christian society. For every passage we adduce to condemn meat-eating, however, the carnivore who calls himself a Christian will cite another to justify it. The fact is, the Bible is ambiguous on this issue. After the great flood, God revised His original ban on eating flesh (Genesis 9:3), as a concession to human weakness. Despite the concessions and justifications, though, the passages you cite remind us that God is continually trying to raise us to a higher consciousness of Him.
Arjuna, the hero of Bhagavad-gita, represents the ideal level of God consciousness. Unlike the multitudes of the Old and New Testaments, he is completely submissive to the Absolute Truth. And that's what he gets. "If one offers Me with love and devotion," the Supreme Personality of Godhead tells him and all of us, "a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it."
For the true spiritualist meat-eating is unacceptable, as the Gita makes crystal clear. The person who chews flesh and gives thanks to God would do well to remember that the Bible begins and ends in a kingdom where the sound of slaughter is unknown. If he wants more proof, then let the flesh-eating religionist visit a slaughterhouse and hear that terrible sound. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15).
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I have to congratulate you for the wonderful work you are doing in publishing such an exciting magazine. I eagerly look forward to the arrival of the magazine each month. I sincerely feel that Back to Godhead is very valuable and a step in the right direction in the process of God realization.
According to Srila Prabhupada, one needs a guru for spiritual advancement. But is it not possible to go back to Godhead by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and following the teachings of God? Sometimes it might be difficult for people living in different parts of the world to find a real guru. I would appreciate your advice on this matter.
Prasada A. Iragavarapu. M.D.
Boca Raton, Florida
OUR REPLY: If you chant Hare Krsna and abide by the teachings of God, it is indeed possible to go back to Godhead. But following the teachings of God means accepting a spiritual master. Krsna says in the Gita(4.34). "Just try to understand the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth."
So if we're actually following Krsna's orders, one of the first things well do is sincerely seek out a bona fide guru. This is one of the Lord's first and foremost instructions to Arjuna, as well as to all of us.
In the Eleventh Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is another verse, spoken by the Lord to Uddhava, describing some of the qualifications of the spiritual master: The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters."
And there is another verse, from the Adi Purana, where the Lord describes the supreme position of service to His devotees:
"One who considers himself to be directly My devotee is not actually My devotee. But one who thinks himself the devotee of My devotee is actually My devotee."
So taking shelter of and serving the spiritual master is essential for making spiritual advancement. One important consideration to bear in mind is that Krsna wants us to come home, back to Godhead, and He's willing to train us. no matter how slow we may be. An integral part of that training is learning how to associate with and serve His devotees, who are His representatives. When we achieve the spiritual realm, we'll be serving devotees, for the Lord is not alone there. He is surrounded by millions of servants and loved ones. If we don't learn clearly how to serve His devotees in this life, then how will we be qualified to serve them in the next? We must be eager for and expert at this most important service.
You mention the difficulty of not being in close proximity with a temple or devotees. But to meet a bona fide spiritual master, you will have to associate with devotees. You might be able to do this through the mail, but Srila Prabhupada and his followers have established temples all over the world to enable everyone to associate with devotees. So you can go to the temple as much as possible, and you can invite devotees to your home. Somehow or other you have to get to know devotees, and then it will only be a matter of time before Krsna sends you a bona fide spiritual guide who'll inspire you in your spiritual life and help you in your journey back to Godhead.