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C O N T E N T S Founded 1944. Vol. 8 No. 5 May 2011

Features

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ÇRÉLA PRABHUPÄDA ON

AÑÖÄÌGA-YOGA There is more to yoga than just physical fitness and mystic powers.

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THE RIGHT TO LIVE OR DIE

AIÑËAVA

ALENDAR

EVERY TOWN AND VILLAGE POETRY

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Saintly Prahläda

CENTERS IN INDIA

Drug-hallucinations, free sex, undercover CIA activities—is that what you find inside the Hare Krishna movement?

If we approach God in the right mood, He will bestow unlimited blessings upon us.

One must reject superficial painkiller-like solutions and seek out a permanent solution to all problems.

Departments V 2 L C What measures will you take to resolve a relationship problem?

DUM MARO DUM: FACT OR FICTION?

SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS—V

Destiny would have turned her into a nonbeliever, but Kåñëa’s mercy pulled her out of the pitfall of impersonal atheism.

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FROM THE ROAD

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LED BY THE HAND...

IN YOUR OWN WORDS

LESSONS

LEARNING TO DO MY HOMEWORK

Do we have the right to take away someone’s life?

HOW I CAME TO KÅÑËA CONSCIOUSNESS

ETTERS

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COVER STORY

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EDITORIAL

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Chant Hare Kåñëa because it is good for you . . . and don’t ask any questions

To prove that the statement of His servant Prahläda Mahäräja was substantial—in other words, to prove that the Supreme Lord is present everywhere, even within the pillar of an assembly hall—the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, exhibited a wonderful form never before seen. The form was neither that of a man nor that of a lion. Thus the Lord appeared in His wonderful form in the assembly hall. Nåsiàha-caturdaçé, appearance day of Lord Nåsiàha, will be celeberated on May 16, 2011.

OUR PURPOSES • To help all people discern reality from illusion, spirit from matter, the eternal from the temporary. • To expose the faults of materialism. • To offer guidance in the Vedic techniques of spiritual life. • To preserve and spread the Vedic culture. • To celebrate the chanting of the holy names of God as taught by Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu • To help every living being remember and serve Çré Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

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LETTERS

BACK TO GODHEAD The Magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement FOUNDER (under the direction of His Divine Grace Çré Çrémad Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Prabhupäda) His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda BTG INDIA: EDITOR Çyämänanda Däsa • ASSISTANTS Nimäi Devé Däsé, Muräri Gupta Däsa, Nanda Duläl Däsa, Mukunda Mälä Däsa • EDITORIAL CONSULTANT Caitanya Caraëa Däsa • PROOFREADERS Täriëé Rädhä Devé Däsé, Kaiçoré Devé Däsé, Nimäé Devé Däsé • PUBLISHER Yudhiñthira Däsa (Ujwal Jajoo) • PRODUCTION Saccidänanda Däsa (Sanjiv Maheshwari), Sundar Rüpa Däsa (Sudarshan Sapaliga) •GENERAL MANAGER (CIRCULATION) Pänduraìga Däsa (Rajendra-kumar Pujari) •ACCOUNTS Sahadeva Däsa (S.P. Maheshwari) • SUBSCRIBER SERVICES Manjaré Devé Däsé (Mira Singh) OFFICE Back to Godhead, 33 Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049, India. SUBSCRIPTIONS Back to Godhead is published twelve times a year. Subscriptions charges—one-year: Rs. 150/-, two-year: Rs. 300/-, five-year: Rs. 700/You can start subscription from any month. Send the amount to Back to Godhead, 302, Amrut Industrial Estate, 3rd floor, Western Express Highway, Mira Road (E) 401 104. Tel: (022) 28457751 E-mail: BTGINDIA@pamho.net To change your address or clear up any questions about your subscription, write to BTG Service Center & Marketing Office at the above address. We can answer your questions faster if you send a recent mailing label or invoice. Allow eight weeks for changes to show up on your mailing label. PRINTING Magna Graphics Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai. © 2011 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. All ® rights reserved. (Trustee for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust: Jayädvaita Swami.) ISSN: 0005-3643. Published for The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust by Ujwal Jajoo , 33, Janki Kutir, Next to State Bank of Hyderabad, Juhu, Mumbai and printed by him at Magna Graphics Pvt. Ltd. 101-C&D, Govt. Industrial Estate, Kandivli (W), Mumbai-400067, India. Editor: Çyamänanda Däsa, Çré Çré Rädhä-Gopénätha Temple, Chowpatty, Mumbai- 400 007, India.

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IMMORAL “CRICKET” RELIGION The recent article “Cricket Fever” (BTG March 2011) by Yugävatära Däsa was really an eye-opener for the cricket maniacs. The influence that cricket has on our minds can be gauged by the way cricket “tsunami” has grappled the entire nation. Everywhere—in media circles, trains, lunch tables, office parties—there is only one topic to talk about: cricket. I was amused when some senior professionals from my office who often talk about maintaining morality took leave for a couple of days to go all the way to Nagpur to watch the India-South Africa match. They had to purchase the tickets in black, which are usually sold at exorbitant rates, much higher than regular tickets. I wondered, if cricket is our religion and cricketers our gods, then why does this religion encourage its followers to perform such immoral acts? And why do these “gods of cricket” indulge in match-fixing and other scams that run into crores of rupees? Most of these “gods” hardly contribute to the welfare of the society. They are too busy signing multi-million dollar endorsements for companies that sell alcohol and similar harmful products. I sincerely urge the BTG team from the bottom of my heart that they continue publishing articles of such dynamic preachers, who can cut the layers of ignorance accumulated in our hearts and mind with the weapon of their enlightening words that nourish our souls with eternal kåñëa-prema. Thank you very much. — Aashish Mungekar, via email IMPROPER WORDS Çréla Prabhupäda’s quotes on “Anxieties” (BTG December 2010) were really nice. He gives so many wonderful

and practical solutions to deal with mental problems, the biggest cause of morbidity today all over the world. In the same issue, I read about Pürëacandra Gosvämé’s departure from this world, where it was mentioned that he “passed away.” Could we use some more appropriate words for a devotee of Lord Kåñëa than “passes away”—like, for example, “left his body”? —Prema Rasa Däsa Belgaum, Karnataka Our reply: Thank you for your suggestion. We will be more sensitive next time when reporting someone’s departure from this world. DELIBERATE MISINTERPRETATIONS The article “When Vedas are Misinterpreted” (BTG December 2010) rightly states that the Vedas are being misinterpreted by certain people to suit their selfish motives. I would like to highlight that there have been concerted efforts from certain sections of the society to demean the entire Vedas by grossly misinterpreting the facts. Few of the below examples will highlight this gory fact. 1. In one of the judgments on livein relationship, the honorable judge of the Supreme Court of India justified such relationship by citing the relationship of Lord Kåñëa and Çrématé Rädhäräëé. As per the judge, Kåñëa and Rädhäräëé were in a live-in relationship. It is really a shame that such pious and transcendental relationship was questioned by the judge. Sadly, no one, neither the media nor any political party, opposed it. 2. In another ruling the Supreme Court of India criticized Droëäcärya for asking Ekalavya his right thumb. This also showed that the judge was unaware of the truth or was willingly

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misinterpreting the right facts. 3. A famous painter of India painted obscene pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses, and this was praised by so-called modern secular thinkers as freedom of expression. Such misinterpretations of the scriptures are continuing in the country unopposed and unabated. It shows that either the people sitting on the higher echelons of the society have very limited knowledge of the religious scriptures or they are purposefully doing it for some ulterior motives. —Purushottam Kumar Kolkata, WB DEALING WITH OUR KARMA How can one control his past actions and transform them into something good. —Nisha, via e-mail Our reply: Our past actions are finished and therefore out of our control. They have created the situations with which we must live, for example our level of wealth, beauty, and intelligence, as well as the general amount of suffering and happiness we are destined to have in this life. On the other hand, how we react to those situations creates our future. Our actions can bring upon us more material happiness and distress in our next bodies, or can assure that we will go back to Kåñëa and never take birth again. At each moment, we have decisions to make: Will I serve my senses and those of my family and friends? Will I serve Kåñëa? Will those actions that please others also please Kåñëa? Will my guru be pleased? Are my actions in line with the recommendations of devotees and the scriptures? Should I do a thing that will apparently make me feel good

but cause suffering in the future? We constantly choose our reactions to the circumstances we have already earned. Our choices will bring auspiciousness or inauspiciousness—or Kåñëa consciousness. It is best to put material attachments aside and think in a Kåñëa conscious way when we decide how to proceed in our lives. Some people are rich but miserable, proud, addicted to sinful acts, and devoid of spiritual values. Some people are poor but religious and happy. We can make any situation in life good if we choose to react to it in a way that is in line with the instructions of Kåñëa and His pure devotees. KÉRTANA PRACTICE In response to “Tone Deaf Bhakta’s” letter in the March/April issue, I would like to let him know that when I was a young devotee in Hamburg, Germany, in the early days of the movement, I was once requested not to lead Sunday-feast kértanas by one devotee because I couldn’t sing so nicely. I took exception to this, probably due to my neophyte position, and wrote a letter to Çréla Prabhupäda about it, and he answered that “practice makes perfect.” (In those days we often wrote Çréla Prabhupäda things that weren’t so important.) I think my kértana voice has since improved, but that nice instruction by Çréla Prabhupäda stands. —Çivänanda Däsa Sandy Ridge, USA Write to us at: Back to Godhead, 3rd Floor, 302, Amrut Industrial Estate, Western Express Highway, Mira Road (E)-401104. Email: ed.btgindia@pamho.net

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ÇRÉLA PRABHUPÄDA ON

EXCERPTS FROM ÇRÉLA PRABHUPÄDA’S TEACHINGS

Añöäìga-yoga Meditation on the Supersoul Within There is more to yoga than just physical fitness and mystic powers. The ultimate goal of yoga is to realize the presence of God within the heart.

by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda Founder-äcärya of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness

THE EIGHT MYSTIC PERFECTIONS The mystic perfections achieved by actually successful yogés are eight in number. Aëimä-siddhi refers to the power by which one can become so small that he can enter into a stone. . . . Similarly, all of the yoga-siddhis, or perfections, are material arts. . . . In one yoga-siddhi there is development of the power to become so light that one can float in the air or on water. . . . A mystic yogé can enter into the sun planet simply by using the rays of the sunshine. This perfection is called laghimä. Similarly, a yogé can touch the moon with his finger. . . . This siddhi is called präpti, or acquisition. With this präpti-siddhi, not only can the perfect mystic yogé touch the moon planet, but he can extend his hand anywhere and take whatever he likes. He may be sitting thousands of miles away from a certain place, and if he likes he can take fruit from a garden there.

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This is präpti-siddhi. . . . By the yoga- possible. siddhi known as éçitä one can cre—Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 1 ate and destroy an entire planet simply at will. Another perfection WHAT IS AÑÖÄÌGA-YOGA? is called vaçitä, and by this perfecWhen jïäna-yoga increases in tion one can bring anyone under his control. . . . There is another mystic perfection, which is known as präkämya (magic). By this präkämya power one can achieve anything he likes. For example, one can make water enter into his eye and then again come out from within the eye. . . . The highest perfection of mystic power is called kämävasäyitä. This is also magic, but whereas the präkämya power acts to create wonderful effects within the scope of nature, kämävasäyitä permits one to contradict nature—in By practicing the añöäìga-yoga system, an expert yogé can transfer himself to another planet. other words, to do the im-

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meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes, and the mind is on Him, it is called añöäìgayoga. —Gétä 6.47, purport Añöäìga-yoga is practice in concentrating the mind, releasing oneself from all engagements by the regulative processes of meditation, concentration, sitting postures, blocking the movements of the internal circulation of air, etc. —Bhägavatam 2.5.16, purport The añöäìga-yoga system is a materialistic art of controlling air by transferring it from the stomach to the navel, from the navel to the heart, from the heart to the collarbone, from there to the eyeballs, from there to the cerebellum and from there to any desired planet. —Caitanya-caritämåta, Ädi 5.22 MEANT FOR WHOM? The process of restriction from sense enjoyment by rules and regulations is something like restricting a diseased person from certain types of eatables. The patient, however, neither likes such restrictions nor loses his taste for eatables. Similarly, sense restriction by some spiritual process like añöäìga-yoga, in the matter of yama, niyama, äsana, präëäyäma, pratyähära, dhäraëä, dhyäna, etc., is recommended for less intelligent persons who have no better knowledge. —Gétä 2.59, purport There are still others who engage themselves in different kinds of mystic yogas like the Pataïjali system (for merging into the existence of the Absolute), or haöha-yoga or añöäìga-yoga (for particular perfections). And some travel to all the sanctified places of pilgrimage. All

these practices are called yogayajïa, sacrifice for a certain type of perfection in the material world. —Gétä 4.28, purport

IT’S PURPOSE The [añöäìga-] yoga system is a mechanical way to control the senses and the mind and divert them from matter to spirit. The preliminary processes are the sitting posture, meditation, spiritual thoughts, manipulation of air passing within the body, and gradual situation in trance, facing the Absolute Person, Paramätmä. Such mechanical ways of rising to the spiritual platform prescribe some regulative principles of taking bath daily three times, fasting as far as

After explaining the above principles of liberation in the Supreme, the Lord gives instruction to Arjuna as to how one can come to that position by the practice of the mysticism or yoga known as añöäìgayoga . . . . In the Sixth Chapter the subject of yoga is explicitly detailed, and at the end of the Fifth it is only preliminarily explained. One has to drive out the sense objects such as sound, touch, form, taste and smell by the pratyähära process in yoga, and then keep the vision of the eyes between the two eyebrows and concentrate on the tip of the nose with half-closed lids. There is no benefit in closing the eyes altogether, because then there is every chance of falling asleep. Nor is there benefit in opening the eyes completely, because then there is the hazard of being attracted by sense objects. The breathing movement is restrained within the nostrils by neutralizing the upmoving and down-moving The perfection of añöäìga-yoga system is to air within the body. By pracrealize the presence of the Supreme Lord tice of such yoga one is able within one’s heart. to gain control over the senses, refrain from outward sense possible, sitting and concentrating objects, and thus prepare oneself the mind on spiritual matters and for liberation in the Supreme. This thus gradually becoming free from yoga process helps one become free viñaya, or material objectives. —Bhägavatam 1.13.53, purport from all kinds of fear and anger and thus feel the presence of the According to Pataïjali, when Supersoul in the transcendental one is fixed in constant realization situation. —Gétä 5.27–28, purport of the supreme form of the Lord, one has attained the perfectional

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stage, as attained by Kardama Muni. Unless one attains this stage of perfection—beyond the perfection of the preliminaries of the yoga system—there is no ultimate realization. —Bhägavatam 3.21.12, purport Lord Kapila, the Personality of Godhead, who is the highest authority on yoga, here explains the yoga system known as añöäìga-yoga, which comprises eight different practices, namely yama, niyama, äsana, präëäyäma, pratyähära, dhäraëä, dhyäna and samädhi. By all these stages of practice one must realize Lord Viñëu, who is the target of all yoga. There are so-called yoga practices in which one concentrates the mind on voidness or on the impersonal, but this is not approved by the authorized yoga system as explained by Kapiladeva. Even Pataïjali explains that the target of all yoga is Viñëu. Añöäìga-yoga is therefore part of Vaiñëava practice because its ultimate goal is realization of Viñëu. The achievement of success in yoga is not acquisition of mystic power, which is condemned in the previous chapter, but, rather, freedom from all material designations and situation in one’s constitutional position. That is the ultimate achievement in yoga practice. —Bhägavatam 3.28.1, purport FEATURES OF AÑÖÄÌGA-YOGA The yoga system as generally understood is añöäìga-yoga, or siddhi, eight-fold perfection in yoga. By dint of perfection in yoga one can become lighter than the lightest and heavier than the heaviest; one can go wherever he likes and can achieve opulences as he likes. There

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form of the Lord is the highest perfectional stage of yoga. In the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-Gétä, where yoga practice is described, this realization of the personal form of the Lord is called the perfection of yoga. After practicing the sitting postures and other regulative principles of the system, one finally reaches the stage of samädhi—absorption in the Supreme. In the samädhi stage one can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His partial form as Paramätmä, or as He is. Samädhi is described in authoritative yoga scriptures, such as the Pataïjali-sütras, to be a transcendental pleasure. The yoga system described in the books of Pataïjali is authoritative, and the modern so-called yogés who have manufactured their own ways, not consulting the authorities, are simply ludicrous. The Pataïjali yoga DEVIATIONS AND system is called añöäìga-yoga. SomeDISTORTIONS IN times impersonalists pollute the AÑÖÄÌGA-YOGA The realization of the personal Pataïjali yoga system because they are monists. Pataïjali describes that the soul is transcendentally pleased when he meets the Supersoul and sees Him. If the existence of the Supersoul and the individual is admitted, then the impersonalist theory of monism is nullified. Therefore some impersonalists and void philo-sophers twist the Pataïjali system in their own way and pollute the whole yoga process. . . . If, through the yoga sysOne must not be deviated from the goal of yoga practice tem, one wants to atby obtaining mere health and other material benefits. tain the stage of see-

are eight such perfections. The åñis, the four Kumäras, reached Vaikuëöha by becoming lighter than the lightest and thus passing over the space of the material world. Modern mechanical space vehicles are unsuccessful because they cannot go to the highest region of this material creation, and they certainly cannot enter the spiritual sky. But by perfection of the yoga system one not only can travel through material space, but can surpass material space and enter the spiritual sky. . . By present standards, scientists calculate that if one could travel at the speed of light, it would take forty thousand years to reach the highest planet of this material world. But the yoga system can carry one without limitation or difficulty. —Bhägavatam 3.15.26, purport

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ing the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face, but is attracted instead to attainment of some material power, then he is detoured from proceeding further. Material enjoyment, as encouraged by bogus yogés, has nothing to do with the transcendental realization of spiritual happiness. —Bhägavatam 3.21.12, purport EXAMPLES OF AÑÖÄÌGAYOGÉS IN VEDIC TIMES Dhruva Mahäräja had already been instructed how to practice the añöäìga-yoga. It is understood that in añöäìga-yoga one practices settling the mind and then concentrating it on the form of Lord Viñëu. Añöäìga-yoga is not a bodily gymnastic exercise, but a practice to concentrate the mind on the form of Viñëu. Before sitting on his asana, one has to cleanse himself very nicely in clear or sacred water thrice daily. The water of the Yamunä is naturally very clear and pure, and thus if anyone bathes there three times, undoubtedly he will be very greatly purified externally. Närada Muni, therefore, instructed Dhruva Mahäräja to go to the bank of the Yamunä and thus become externally purified. This is part of the gradual process of practicing mystic yoga. —Bhägavatam 4.8.43, purport LIMITATIONS OF AÑÖÄÌGA-YOGA PRACTICE For the meditation process, as described in the Bhagavad-gétä, one has to select a secluded place, he has to execute it alone, he has to sit down in a rigid posture, he has to lead a life of complete celibacy, and so on. There are many rules and regulations. Thus añöäìga-yoga

meditation is not possible. If one is satisfied by imitating, that is a different thing, but if one wants perfection, then he has to execute all the eight stages of añöäìga-yoga. If this is not possible, then it is a waste of time. —Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 5d YOGÉÇVARA ÇIVA AND YOGEÇVARA KÅÑËA kåtvorau dakñiëe savyaà päda-padmaà ca jänuni bähuà prakoñöhe ‘kña-mäläm äsénaà tarka-mudrayä “His left leg was placed on his

controlling, following the rules and regulations, then practicing the sitting postures, etc. Besides véräsana there are other sitting postures, such as padmäsana and siddhäsana. Practice of these äsanas without elevating oneself to the position of realizing the Supersoul, Viñëu, is not the perfectional stage of yoga. Lord Çiva is called yogéçvara, the master of all yogés, and Kåñëa is also called yogeçvara. Yogéçvara indicates that no one can surpass the yoga practice of Lord Çiva, and yogeçvara indicates that no one can surpass the yogic perfection of Kåñëa. Another significant word is tarkamudrä. This indicates that the fin-

Lord Çiva is known as Yogéçvara and Lord Kåñëa äs Yogeçvara. right thigh, and his left hand was placed on his left thigh. In his right hand he held rudräkña beads. This sitting posture is called véräsana. He sat in the véräsana posture, and his finger was in the mode of argument.” Purport: The sitting posture described herein is called véräsana according to the system of añöäìgayoga performances. In the performance of yoga there are eight divisions, such as yama and niyama—

gers are opened and the second finger is raised, along with the arm, to impress the audience with some subject matter. This is actually a symbolic representation. —Bhägavatam 4.6.38, purport

Hare Kåñëa Hare Kåñëa Kåñëa Kåñëa Hare Hare Hare Räma Hare Räma Räma Räma Hare Hare

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COVER STORY

The Right to

Live or Die Under special or extreme circumstances, do we have the right to take away our life or someone’s life? What is the Vedic viewpoint on this?

by Çyämänanda Däsa

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runa Shanbaug was work ing as a nurse at Mumbai’s KEM hospital. In 1973 a ward boy tried to violate her, but because he was unsuccessful he then tried to strangle her with a dog-chain. As her brain was starved of oxygen she became completely paralyzed and now lies in the hospital in a persistent vegetative state. She is now looked after by the nursing staff that caters to her every need. Recently a journalist filed a petition requesting the Supreme Court to allow her to die rather than go on suffering in this way. However in a landmark verdict the Supreme Court of India pronounced that she should live. Although the Court ruled out the option of giving Aruna a so-called “merciful death,” because she still showed some emotions, they allowed “Passive Euthanasia” in cases where the patient is unable to express any kind of emotional activity whatsoever.

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“Passive euthanasia” is defined as a deliberate withdrawal of medical treatment to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient who is in no position to express his or her

desire. Simply put it means turning off respirators, stopping all medicines, discontinuing food and water, thus starving the patient to death or not allowing him to re-

Aruna Shanbaug has been lying in Mumbai’s KEM hospital for the last thirty-eight years. Many feel she deserves mercy-killing.

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suscitate. The patient’s life is terminated in a polished way thus making it appear that this is the best course of action. This raises more questions: Who has the moral right to take a decision on someone’s behalf for administering euthanasia, passive or otherwise? What are the different factors that one must consider before taking such a decision? This article attempts to understand on the basis of the Vedas the concept of quitting one’s body for a more favorable existence. CAN SOMEONE TERMINATE ONE’S LIFE? Should a person be entitled to terminate one’s life? The Vedic answer is a conditional yes. The Bhagavad-gétä (Chapter Eight) describes how exceptionally qualified yogis quit their present material body even much before their appointed time of death. How do they do it? In texts 11, 12 and 13, Lord Kåñëa describes how to achieve the status of giving up one’s material body at a favorable moment. “Persons who are learned in the Vedas, who utter omkära and who are great sages in the renounced order, enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now briefly explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation. The yogic situation is that of detachment from all sensual engagements. Closing all the doors of the senses and fixing the mind on the heart and the life air at the top of the head, one establishes himself in yoga. After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable Om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual

planets.” The privilege of being able to quit one’s body at a chosen time is not exactly the same as “dying peacefully,” which happens in a complete ignorant state of consciousness. Most of us fear a slow, painful death or death due to being burnt alive or drowned or shot by a bullet . . . Actually, there is nothing like a “pleasant” death. No matter how it comes death is always miserable. Only great souls try to conquer death. And the best technique of conquering death is the one described by Lord Kåñëa in his Bhagavad-gétä. Life is a preparation, and death the final examination. What happens to the person after death? To understand this concept we have to look at a few Vedic facts: 1. We are not our material bodies. Rather we are spirit souls who are temporarily residing in these bodies. The Gétä explains that just as one gives up old and useless gar-

ments and puts on new ones, a person gives up old bodies and accepts new ones. 2. The soul is more or less condemned to accept his present material status. Each and every material body has to undergo old age, disease and death once it is born. There is no escape from this cycle for anyone. Just as a condemned prisoner has to serve his sentence in prison, a living entity has to complete his tenure in that particular body. Any attempt to quit that body (due to trauma or misery) is tantamount to a prisoner trying to break away from his prison. This act, even if successful, will not mitigate his sentence, and he stands to be punished more, with the added offense of attempting to run away from the jail after being caught. 3. The law of karma decides which body one has to accept. Only in the human form of life can one choose to adjust his karmic future.

Bhéñma chose to leave his body in the midst of Kåñëa and the Päëòavas.

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Let us study two famous historical incidents.

As Bhéñma had chosen the particular time for quitting his body he prepared himself by reciting this prayer: “May my Lord, who is fourhanded and whose beautifully decorated lotus face, with eyes as red as the rising sun, is smiling, kindly await me at that moment when I quit this material body.” (Bhägavatam 1.9.24) He then merged his self into thinking of the Lord and his mind into remembering His different activities. Bhéñmadeva chanted the glories of Çré Kåñëa especially remembering Him as the beloved friend of Arjuna. Thus he quit his body and everybody around fell silent as birds at the end of the day. Both men and demigods sounded drums in honor, and the honest royal order

THE PASSING OF BHÉÑMADEVA Grandfather Bhéñma was a statesman, the head of the Kuru dynasty and a great general and leader of the warrior class. He was a great fighter and a hero and was endowed with the unique boon of being able to choose his time of death. While fighting with Arjuna, Bhéñma’s body was pierced with arrows and he lay on the battlefield awaiting an auspicious time to depart from this world. The battle was over in eighteen days, and the Päëòavas emerged victorious. Lord Kåñëa then persuaded the Päëòava brothers along with many other saintly persons to visit the dying Bhéñmadeva. This is how the ÇrémadBhägavatam (1.9.30) describes the glorious qualities of Bhéñmadeva: “Thereupon that man who spoke on different subjects with thousands of meanings and who fought on thousands of battlefields and protected thousands of men, stopped speaking and, being completely freed from all bondage, withdrew his mind from everything else and fixed his wide-open eyes upon the original Personality of Godhead, Çré Kåñëa, who stood before him, fourhanded, dressed in Dhåtaräñöra generated fire from within his body yellow garments that burned his body to ashes by yogic powers. glittered and shined.”

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commenced demonstrations of honor and respect. And from the sky fell showers of flowers. DHÅTARÄÑÖRA QUITS HIS BODY Dhåtaräñöra was the father of the hundred Kauravas headed by Duryodhana. As Duryodhana schemed to wrestle the kingdom from the rightful heir Yudhiñöhira, Dhåtaräñöra always sided with his evil-minded son. After the battle of Kurukshetra was won by the Päëòavas, Dhåtaräñöra remained in the palace of Yudhiñöhira. At that time his younger brother and counsel, Vidura, visited him. Seeing his condition, Vidura admonished him in the harshest possible language. Vidura said, “My dear King, please get out of here immediately. Do not delay. Just see how fear has overtaken you. This frightful situation cannot be remedied by any person in this material world. My lord, it is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as eternal time [käla] that has approached us all. Whoever is under the influence of supreme käla [eternal time] must surrender his most dear life, and what to speak of other things, such as wealth, honor, children, land and home. Your father, brother, well-wishers and sons are all dead and passed away. You yourself have expended the major portion of your life, your body is now overtaken by invalidand ity, and you are living in the home of an-

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other. You have been blind from your very birth, and recently you have become hard of hearing. Your memory is shortened, and your intelligence is disturbed. Your teeth are loose, your liver is defective, and you are coughing up mucus. Alas, how powerful are the hopes of a living being to continue his life. Verily, you are living just like a household dog and are eating remnants of food given by Bhéma. There is no need to live a degraded life and subsist on the charity of those whom you tried to kill by arson and poisoning. You also insulted one of their wives and usurped their kingdom and wealth. Despite your unwillingness to die and your desire to live even at the cost of honor and prestige, your miserly body will certainly dwindle and deteriorate like an old garment.” (Bhägavatam 1.13.18–25) For the first time in his life Dhåtaräñöra took Vidura’s instructions to heart and actually took steps to implement them. The next morning unknown to anyone in the palace he left with his wife Gändhäré and Vidura for the deep forest. There he began the practice of the art of quitting his body successfully. First he performed añöäìga-yoga, then bathed three times daily and then performed the agnihotra fire-sacrifice. Throughout this period he only drank water. Thus he began his yoga system by drinking water only and sitting calmly in a place with a spiritual atmosphere, deeply absorbed in the thoughts of the Lord Hari, the Personality of Godhead. In a matter of days he perfected this process. After having complete success in this endeavor Dhåtaräñöra was able to quit his body by his own choice of time and had the facility to attain any planet he desired by turning the present body into ashes by self-made fire. CONCLUSION The conditional “yes” given by the Vedas for those desiring to leave their material bodies should not be seen as a short-cut to decrease present miseries. The Vedas do NOT condone suicide in any way. However, only for those highly qualified individuals who exactly know their final destination is this facility offered. In the Gétä Lord Kåñëa asserts jévanaà sarva-bhüteñu: “I am the life of all that lives.” It is Kåñëa who has given the particular duration of life to a living entity. Çréla Prabhupäda clarifies in his purport that Kåñëa allots the duration of man’s life. Therefore by the grace of Kåñëa, one can prolong one’s life or diminish it. Çyämänanda Däsa serves as the editor for English and Marathi editions of BACK TO GODHEAD magazine in India.

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KÅÑËA

CONSCIOUS REALIZATIONS FROM EVENTS OF DAILY LIFE

LESSONS FROM THE ROAD vine master, He is unlimitedly merciful and showed how the mercy of a real devotee is bestowed upon the lowest of mankind. I decided to visit the ISKCON temple in Mumbai and participate in the abhiñeka ceremony, where one can personally bathe the transcendental form of the Lord in His Deity form. The abhiñeka was scheduled for 6 pm. As I took a shower, put on a fresh dhoté and shawl, and prepared to leave, I saw my wife and child were still not ready. The reason? My daughter’s homework assignment was pending. That it had to be done immediately was justified, because by the time we got home from the temple it would be too late for her to work on it. So she hurriedly finished her work, and we all went and sat in the car. But as we were about to leave, our building’s civil engineer phoned me to attend to a problem on our premises. After quickly dealing with it, we finally hit the road at 5:30 pm. It takes exactly thirty minutes from our home to the temple. But that day also happened to be the Islamic festival Eid, and I saw on the streets thousands of Muslim brothers dancing in jubilation. Yet I was crying because I could hardly move through the traffic. I feared I would not make it to the ceremony on time. After a prolonged drive we reached the temple, and there I faced another problem: there was no place to park, because so many sincere souls begging for Lord

Lord Nityänanda

Learning to do my

Homework God is all-merciful. If we approach Him in the right mood, He will bestow unlimited blessings upon us.

by Yugävatära Däsa

N

ityänanda-trayodaçé 2011. Like every year, I eagerly awaited this day—the appearance day of Lord Nityänanda, one of the members of the Païca-tattva. An incarnation of Godhead as di-

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Nityänanda’s mercy had come to the temple in their individual cars. Finally, I found a parking spot, dumped the car, and raced to the main Deity altar. And to my utter disappointment, the abhiñeka was over by just a

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devotional service after he was re- homework centered on academic jected by Lord Caitanya. Although subjects solidifies what a student has Käla Kåñëa Däsa was serving Lord learned at school, spiritual homeCaitanya during His South India work—the practice of the devotour, he fell prey to the allurements tional principles at home—solidifies of Bhaööathäri women. Lord the spiritual lessons a disciple learns Caitanya rejected him, but Lord at a spiritual institution, like a Nityänanda engaged him in de- temple. Most of us restrict our devotional service by sending him votional service to the temple preto Bengal to narrate Lord mises. We become saints the moCaitanya’s pastimes to the devo- ment we enter the door, but as soon tees there. Who can be more as we step outside we are back to our merciful than Lord Nityänanda? mundane, ignorant selves. I concluded that the main reaTHE TEMPLE SCHOOL son I missed the program was my AND HOMEWORK daughter’s inability to finish her When someone asked Çréla homework on time. While rePrabhupäda why he was building so turning home, I listened to a class given by Çréla Prabhupäda where many temples although there were he said that not a blade of grass already many temples in India, he moves without the sanction of the said none of those Indian temples Supreme Lord. I realized that I preached the absolute message of The abhiñeka of the Deities of Lord Caitanya was not destined to make it for Godhead. ISKCON temples are and Lord Nityänanda with sacred items. the abhiñeka. That’s why I kept on meant to spread the divine message facing obstacles. There was no point of Bhagavad-gétä and ÇrémadTHE BLAME GAME Feeling utterly hopeless, I left the blaming my daughter and her home- Bhägavatam. So our ISKCON temples are like altar. I didn’t know whom to work or anyone else. More likely, it blame—those dancing on the roads was my inability to perform my spiri- schools. Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad(please turn to page 19) or the traffic police for their bad tual homework properly. Just as traffic management, the engineer The BTG Yatra Seva has who called me in at the last minute been organizing conducted or my daughter’s homework assigntours of spiritual places (dhams) as part of a sincere ment. I was totally disappointed. effort to revive the true Lord Nityänanda’s lotus feet were Indian culture in these my only hope. If I fail to get His changing times. Pilgrims on mercy, what hope do I have to atthese well-planned tours shall gain much spiritual tain the mercy of Çré Çré Rädhäinsight from authentic Kåñëa? The great Vaiñëava poet, guidance based on in-depth Narottama Däsa Öhäkura, in his study of the scripture. bhajana Nitäi-Pada-Kamala, sings, We welcome all spiritual heno nitäi bine bhäi, rädhä-kåñëa päite BTG Yatra Seva presents seekers to participate in this näi: “One cannot attain Çré Çré blissful exploration of THE Rädhä-Kåñëa without the mercy of SPIRITUAL INDIA. Lord Nityänanda. If not Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri Nityänanda, who will save me?” Lord Nityänanda saved the two rufYatra Dates: May 17– 29, 2011 fians Jagäi and Mädhäi even though they tried to kill Him. He even enFor further details, please contact: Panduranga Däs : 09324581718, Sunderrupa Das: 09324207533, Manjari Devi Dasi : 09322005944 gaged the fallen Käla Kåñëa Däsa in few minutes, and the devotees were cleaning the whole area after moving the Deities out. I was devastated—like a person who has missed a bus, train, or plane. In this case, I had missed my plane to Vaikuëöha, the spiritual world.

Char Dham Yatra

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Dum Maro Dum Fact or Fiction? Drug-hallucinations, free sex, undercover CIA activities—is that what you find inside the Hare Krishna movement?

by Veìkaöa Bhaööa Däsa

W

hen Dev Anand’s film Hare Rama Hare Krishna first hit the big screen in 1971, few could have guessed the movie’s significance. After all, an industry that churns out thousands upon thousands of movies can hardly expect all of them to have a lasting impact on the history of Indian cinema. And yet this is precisely what Hare Rama Hare Krishna did. The film launched all those associated with it into superstardom. And the soundtrack—with the infectiously popular song “Dum Maro Dum” as a centerpiece—redefined Indian filmi music forever. In fact, four decades after Hare Rama, Hare Krishna was first released, the film continues to make waves. A new film, titled Dum Maro Dum after the popular song, hopes to win over new legions of fans with its groovy beats and smoky sensuality. The 2011 film stars some of Bollywood’s hottest A-list celebrities, and features a remixed version of the classic song. As we mark the 40th anniversary of this historic film, might not there be a darker legacy to consider? Along with the entertaining

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acting and catchy music, Hare Rama Hare Krishna also seemed to include a strong message about the interaction between India’s spirituality and Western hippies. In his narration to the film’s opening, Anand makes this message clear. He begins by praising “India’s great saintly teachers who crossed the ocean” to bring the holy name of Kåñëa to distant lands—an obvious reference to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta S w a m i Prabhupäda, who founded the International Society for Krishna ConÇréla Prabhupäda, the spiritual ambassador of India s c i o u s n e s s (ISKCON), known popularly as chanting and dancing plays on the the Hare Krishna movement. As screen, Anand’s voiceover apprefootage of real ISKCON devotees ciates how the mantra was spread

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all over the world. However after a few moments, the scene changes and we see a den of (fictional) hippies, with young people shamelessly taking drugs and dancing seductively. Dev Anand’s narration describes these people as those who chant the names of Kåñëa and Räma, but are actually “devotees of heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs.” To his credit, Anand’s monologue never explicitly equated the actual devotees with those hippies who “misuse the mantra without properly understanding its significance.” But for many Indian viewers, the connection was made anyway. They walked out of theaters concluding that the white-skinned young men and women they saw chanting Hare Kåñëa and chiming cymbals were drug-crazed hippies out to exploit Hinduism. Some even began to see the Western devotees as a threat—a bad influence out to corrupt Indians in the name of their own religion. Not surprisingly, some conservative Indians kept their distance from these American and European converts and eyed them with suspicion.

But was this a fair assessment of the Hare Kåñëa movement, or an undeserved stereotype? Was Hare Rama Hare Krishna more fact or fiction? THE SONG Taken at face value, the story of Hare Rama Hare Krishna is typically full of twists and turns that characterize a Bollywood movie. However, the film’s most memorable scene is the one that features the song destined to become a classic—“Dum Maro Dum.” It shows hippies gathered together in a celebration of debauchery, drinking alcohol and passing around a pipe filled with hashish, from which they share puffs. Some embrace lustily, while others simply lie on the ground in a drugged stupor. And all the while, the song plays their anthem: dum maro dum, mita jaaye gham bolo subah shaam, Hare Krishna Hare Ram—“Take another puff, let your sorrows fade away, and morning and evening chant Hare Kåñëa and Hare Räma.”

struck such a chord, we need to look at the social landscape of the 1960s and 1970s. All over the Western world, a counter-cultural revolution was underway. Young people—many from educated and affluent backgrounds—were rebelling against the conservative restrictions, materialism, and hypocrisy of their parents’ generation. Dubbed “hippies” by the mainstream media, some took shelter of mind-altering drugs and a vagabond lifestyle. Others, however, turned to spirituality—especially Eastern practices such as meditation, vegetarianism, and accepting a guru. Many felt drawn to India, and soon young Western men and women wearing backpacks and flowers in their hair became a common sight in major Indian cities and towns. Meanwhile, India was undergoing its own cultural revolution of

(above) Modern Indians trying to cheaply imitate the West; (left) people from the West seriously taking up Indian cultural values and principles

CULTURE CLASH To understand why Hare Rama Hare Kr i s h n a

sorts. The country was modernizing at breakneck speed, and with technological and industrial advances came more and more Westernization. Western fashion, music, and films became increasingly popular. More young Indian men and women began traveling to America and Europe than ever

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before, either to study or to settle down. As exciting as this new exposure to the West was, however, it also became a source of fear. The West was still regarded as a vastly unknown and powerful force that could overwhelm and even destroy Indian culture. Not surprisingly, the more conservative older generation saw Westernization as a threat. By contrast, like their American and European counterparts, many liberal Indian youth embraced it, seeing it as an opportunity to free themselves from the strictures and limitations of the past. In this context, Çréla Prabhupäda set sail from India to New York. Although he was alone, with few material resources and practically no contacts in America, Çréla Prabhupäda’s purity and sincerity soon attracted a following. American men and women came forward to become serious students and eventually initiated disciples. Convinced of Prabhupäda’s teachings and transformed by his personal example, many of them moved into ashrams and became full-time devotees. They donned dhotis and saris, learned to play traditional instruments and cook succulent Indian feasts, and began to live according to the strict principles of orthodox Vaiñëavas. Above all else, they became dedicated to the chanting of Lord Kåñëa’s name and sharing their faith with others. The movement began to spread rapidly. News of this began to trickle back to India, and by the time Çréla Prabhupäda returned to India with a group of American and European disciples for a homecoming tour, it had become a full-blown sensation. Leading Indian newspapers covered the Western devotees’ arrival as front-page news. When they would chant on the streets, traffic

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would grind to a halt as the local population simply stood and stared. In some places—such as Surat, Gujarat—the devotees were greeted with flower petals by the citizens and garlanded by no less than the city’s mayor. Most Indians seemed to have an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the “whiteskinned bhaktas.” They felt immense pride to see people of the West take up their faith and traditions with such seriousness. However, the devotees also had their critics. Some dismissed the non-Indian devotees as sentimental faddists. Others raised objections based on caste; they argued that those born in non-Indian families were untouchables who could never be accepted as “real” Hindus. Still others accused the devotees of having ulterior, even sinister, motives. A handful of these people even came up with a conspiracy

to the film and imply that non-Indian devotees were synonymous with drug-taking hippies. Never mind the fact that the film made no substantial connection between the devotees and the hippies; the mere fact that the chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra and drugtaking were uttered in the same sentence became a kind of “guilt by association.” Now critics could simply dismiss the entire Hare Krishna movement by invoking three simple words—“Dum Maro Dum.” FACT OR FICTION? But does Hare Rama Hare Krishna measure up to the reality of the Hare Krishna movement in the 1970s? A side-by-side comparison reveals that not only does the film fail to accurately depict devotees—almost on every point, it actually conveys the exact opposite. 1. In the film: The female lead

At the time of initiation, devotees of Kåñëa take strict vows, which they follow throughout their lives.

theory that the devotees were actually CIA agents in disguise, spying on India to further the interest of America-supported Pakistan. Whatever their particular objections, critics found their battle cry in the Hare Rama, Hare Krishna film. Now, they could simply point

character exchanges her Indian values for a Westernized hedonistic lifestyle. She trades in her traditional desi clothes for a miniskirt, and renames herself with a western name. In reality: The Western-born devotees happily accepted the values of India’s glorious spiritual heritage,

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them to not take the names of Kåñëa and Räma in vain, but rather to learn the Lord’s teachings and purify their lives. In reality: Hare Kåñëa devotees absolutely condemned mixing intoxication and chanting as cheating in the name of religion. They even felt that talking about drug use and chanting in the same sentence was improper and offensive. In fact, ironically, this is exactly why so many devotees of the time were offended by the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movie itself—they felt that by indirectly associating the Holy Names with imagery of drug use and debauchery, the film was dishonoring the name of Lord Kåñëa and Lord Räma. EAST MEETS WEST Hare Rama Hare Krishna seems to portray the West as a source of problems for Indians. Whenever any of the lead characters embrace Western values or lifestyle, it leads only to a tragic turn of events. This pessimistic outlook reflects the perception, held by many Indians at the time, that the West was a threat to the culture and traditions of the East. Çréla Prabhupäda, however, tackled the challenge in his own way. From a spiritual perspective, Prabhupäda didn’t make a distinction between East and West. To him, all liv-

ing beings were all children of Kåñëa, and all equal candidates for Kåñëa’s mercy. And so, at an age when most people would consider retirement, he left India and set sail for America. He didn’t travel there for his own enjoyment or because he was enamored by the opulence of the West; he went in order to share the spiritual treasures of India with the rest of the world. He went to give, not to take. This was the instruction that this own guru, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, had given him, following in the footsteps of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, who had predicted 500 years earlier that the holy name of Kåñëa would one day reach every town and vilSketch by Janardhan Salkar

and adopted a traditional Vedic lifestyle that even modern-day Indians could hardly maintain. From eating only sätvika vegetarian food, to waking up early in the morning and bathing, to dressing in saris and dhotis—in every way, these devotees upheld, not degraded, Indian culture. In fact, they even accepted new Sanskrit names, such as Viñëu Däsa or Rädhä Däsé, signifying their new identities as the menial servants of Kåñëa and His devotees. 2. In the film: The hippies indulge in intoxicants and engage in amorous relationships without restraint. Their lives revolve around the principle of gratifying the senses without restriction. In reality: The devotees took strict vows of no intoxication—including not only hard drugs, but also alcohol, cigarettes, and even coffee, tea, or betel nut (pän). They lived chastely; men and women cooperated for the purpose of serving Kåñëa together, but did not socialize frivolously or keep girlfriends or boyfriends. A devotee man addressed all devotee women other than his wife as mätäji, or “respected mother.” Many devotees lived as celibate monks (brahmacäré or sannyäsé) or nuns (brahmacäriëé); even those who were married (gåhastha) maintained the highest standards of chastity and personal morality. Their lives revolved around the principle of self-realization and service to Kåñëa and others. 3. In the film: The hippies sing “Dum Maro Dum” and smoke hashish and then chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra. When Dev Anand sees this, he cannot tolerate it and follows up with a song of his own— entitled “Ram Ka Naam Badnaam Naa Karo” (translation: “Don’t dishonor the holy name of Lord Räma”)—in which he preaches to

The East and the West must cooperate with each other, like the blind man and the lame man, in order to uplift the world.

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lage of the world. From a practical point of view as well, Prabhupäda favored harmonizing the best of Indian and Western gifts. He often quoted the allegory of a blind man and a lame man. Individually, each was limited by his disability. But when they worked together so that the lame man climbed atop the shoulders of the blind man, they could both move forward. Similarly, Prabhupäda explained, India had spiritual insights to offer the world but was hampered by a lack of material resources. The West, on the other hand, had strong infrastructure and resources but was suffering from lack of a clear spiritual vision. If the two could work together, he suggested, the whole world could be spiritually uplifted. When the prestigious New York Times newspaper covered ISKCON’s Ratha-yäträ festival in New York City, they headlined the story “East Meets West.” Prabhupäda was so pleased that he asked disciples to purchase additional copies and send them to friends and supporters and prominent people in India. Why? Prabhupäda appreciated that the newspaper had understood the essence of his mission and the reason he had journeyed to America: to bring East and West together, under the common banner of God consciousness. FAST-FORWARD If we fast-forward 40 years from the historic release of Hare Rama Hare Krishna, how far have we come? Some things, of course, remain the same. “Dum Maro Dum” is still a popular song, and—for better or worse—may remain so for many years to come. Westerners seeking spiritual alternatives (or simply an exotic holiday) still flock to India. And certainly

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some Indians still have mixed feelings about this. But many things have changed too. Thanks largely to globalization, economic forces, and the pervasiveness of the internet, the distance between India and the West has become far shorter. The West is not nearly the same source of mystery and fear that it once was. Today, the sight of a whiteskinned bhakta walking down the busy streets of Mumbai or Chennai hardly raises an eyebrow. Far from being viewed with suspicion or ridicule, today ISKCON is one of the most respected and dynamic spiritual organizations active in India. In places like Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Tirupati, ISKCON has built huge cultural centers that celebrate and promote India’s spiritual heritage and teach people how to apply Vedic wisdom in the modern age. Today, ISKCON runs the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program; ISKCON’s Indian temples are leading the way in working to eradicate hunger and poverty—especially through innovative midday meals programs. The rest of the world is a different place as well. Throughout America and Europe, interest in India’s spirituality is at an all time high, but in a very different way than it was back in the 1960s and 1970s. Practices that were considered radical and on the fringe back then—like meditation, vegetarianism, believing in reincarnation, or chanting mantras—are today considered mainstream. Surveys indicate that as many as 30 million people in America alone practice yoga today. The Bhagavad-gétä is considered a must-read for those who fashion themselves educated citizens of the world; even US President Barack Obama mentioned reading the Gétä in his au-

tobiography. Kértana is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of music, and there was recently a proposal made that it be given it’s own category in the famous Grammy Awards. The westerners taking part in these practices today are not the hippies and drop-outs of yesteryears. Visit a yoga class, Bhagavad-gétä discussion, kértana concert, or a satsaìga at any of the thousands of yoga studios throughout America. You will find it filled with CEOs, lawyers, doctors, college professors, artists, and even a scientist or two. Of course, this spiritual renaissance is the result of many cultural and social forces at work. But it is also due, in no small part, to the efforts of those first devotees of the Hare Kåñëa movement in the 1960s and 1970s. We are only now beginning to see the fruits of some of the seeds that these pioneers planted forty years ago. Investment bankers carry a japamälä in their briefcases. Executives of Fortune 500 corporations fill their social calendars with yoga retreats and pilgrimages. Champion athletes conclude their workouts by assuming a lotus position and practicing meditation for hours on end. It may sound fantastic, but in this case truth may indeed be stranger than fiction. It comes off as a great story, and one that a filmmaker looking to make a hit Bollywood sequel might want to consider telling on the big screen. Vineet Chander (Veìkaöa Bhaööa Däsa) is the Director of the Hindu Life Program at Princeton University. An attorney and communications consultant, he formerly served as the Director of Communications for ISKCON in North America.

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Learning.... (Continued from page 13) Bhägavatam, Caitanya-caritämåta, and other Vedic scriptures as given by Çréla Prabhupäda are our textbooks, and the discourses in the temple are our lectures. The preachers of the Kåñëa consciousness movement are our teachers,

badly means to drag out our japa till late at night, not study Çréla Prabhupäda’s books thoroughly, not associate with devotees (even associating with non-devotees in the form of television, the internet, or other mundane entertainment), and to eat food cooked by nondevotees (or not offered to Kåñëa). It is important if we want to make progress to maintain good attendance at school and then follow the proper discipline at home. A critical disciplinary rule is to avoid offenses against our schoolmates (other practicing devotees). Lord Kåñëa is highly displeased and may even suspend us from the bhakti school. I realized that I was lax in doing my homework. So I should not complain if I am occasionally punished—not being allowed to perform abhiñeka to His Lordship, for example. Every time we are punished we should examine our spiritual life: “Am I doing the prescribed homework properly? 100%?”

Like modern academic institutions, ISKCON temples act as institutions of spiritual education.

MERCIFUL TEACHER NITYÄNANDA A school may impose strict rules on its students, but there are always some teachers who are lenient and merciful. Lord Nityänanda is the most merciful teacher in the school of devotional service. The day after Nityänandatrayodaçé I arrived at the temple to chant my japa. I intensely prayed to Lord Nityänanda, “O Lord, if I am deprived of Your mercy, how will I survive in this dangerous world?” I decided to fast that day.

and the fellow students our classmates. Our homework is to follow in our daily lives the spiritual instructions we receive. Good homework means to rise early in the morning, chant our rounds attentively, read Çréla Prabhupäda’s books daily, regularly associate with devotees, and eat only food cooked for Kåñëa and offered to Him with love (kåñëaprasäda). Doing our homework

But the moment I finished my sixteen rounds a devotee came up to me and said, “Go to the prasäda hall and take a piece of the birthday cake offered to Lord Nityänanda yesterday.” I took it as the Lord’s special mercy. I ran downstairs and stood in the queue. Everyone was getting only one piece of the cake, but when I arrived at the counter, a huge piece fell onto my plate— equivalent to a double serving. I understood this as double mercy from the Lord. While gratefully honoring the cake, a devotee congratulated me, “You received great mercy!” This too I accepted as special mercy. Within three minutes I had received triple mercy. In Kali-yuga our brains are so dull we cannot appreciate Vedic instructions easily. For example, the Vedas instruct, harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam: “The name of Lord Hari, the name of Lord Hari, the name of Lord Hari is the only means of deliverance.” The point is made three times for emphasis. So when I received this triple mercy I realized that the most merciful teacher had forgiven me for my bad homework and still rewarded me with His mercy, boosting my depressed spirits. For the first time in my life I honored the cake prasäda with real humility and gratitude. Tears flooded my eyes as I ate every bite. Afterwards, I went upstairs to Lord Nityänanda and thanked the merciful ßord. I left the “school” that day with the determination to be a better student—regular in attendance and promising to do better homework. Yugävatära Däsa is an associate professor in Anatomy in a medical college in Mumbai. He is a regular contributor to BTG.

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HOW I CAME TO KÅÑËA CONSCIOUSNESS

Led By the Hand… Destiny would have turned her into a nonbeliever, but Kåñëa’s mercy pulled her out of the pitfall of impersonal atheism.

By Täriëé Rädhä Devé Däsé

I

wrote that I hate Jinnah,” said Ruth. Jyoti added, “I wrote that I hate Nehru!” Chitra, my best friend, was more positive: “I wrote that I am grateful to Gandhi.” It was 1984. We were in class 10, discussing our responses for the essay “A Recent Film You Saw.” We had all written on the film Gandhi. I had been greatly impressed by the film and inspired by Gandhi. But the strong statements my friends made goaded me to delve deeper into the freedom movement and decide whom to hate and whom to appreciate. After reading several books, I was no wiser in deciding whom I should hate. However, following Gandhi, I made changes to my lifestyle—I began to sleep on the floor, I fasted on Ekädaçé, and I reached out to the poor and hungry. INTRODUCED TO THE BHAGAVAD-GÉTÄ Gandhiji called the Bhagavadgétä his “guiding force.” During my spirited teens I decided that I too must read the Bhagavad-gétä and become as great as Gandhi! I found the Bhagavad-gétä as absorbing as a novel. In my eagerness to know Kåñëa I skipped through the commentary. As I read, my teenage

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mind fell in love with Kåñëa. He became my absolute “boyfriend.” Up until now, I had been a bundle of inferiority complexes. I was skinny and unimpressive, a failure at academics and a dull friend. Though I was learning music and dance, comments of friends at-

The author

tempting humor ate at my confidence in the arts as well. I was not happy at home, though there was nothing particularly wrong there, and I yearned for love. My attempts to find that love in romance novels brought some relief but not enough. Now, introduced to Kåñëa, a natural attraction for Him arose, and with it, love. I was not new to the path of bhakti. My parents were very pious. My mother would strictly perform her Çiva-japa every morning and celebrate all festivals grandly. My home resounded with classical songs and dance in praise of the Divine. My maternal grandmother was also an extremely pious lady. With her eight children and her husband, she walked the 2000 miles from Burma to India during World War II. By the time they arrived, three of her children and my grandfather had died. A year after my grandfather’s death, my grandmother, about thirty years old at the time, donned saffron robes, shaved her head, and engaged herself completely in spiritual activities. FOLLOWING THE BHAGAVAD-GÉTÄ Reading Bhagavad-gétä revived the devotion she and my family had

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instilled in me during my childhood. Two particular instructions from the Bhagavad-gétä became part of my life. One was to “do your duty without worrying about the result.” This drew me out of my self-conscious shell. Giving up fears and complexes, basking in the confidence of Kåñëa’s love, I participated in all the competitions and events at school. Why? Because He said not to worry about the results! These two years of class 11 and 12 were wonderful for that reason. I was always blissful, enthusiastic, and I even became a good performer both in academics and the arts. The other instruction was the yoga process taught in chapter six. Whenever I attended any spiritual program I would sit with a straight back and concentrate on the tip of my nose with half-closed eyes. Once I found my classmate Rita in a sad mood. “I can understand that you are suffering from an inferiority complex,” I said. “Why don’t you take shelter of your Lord Jesus? I took shelter of my Lord Kåñëa and now I am so happy.” Rita became a serious Christian. Several years later, she did me a good turn by bringing me back to devotion from the brief period of atheism into which I had ventured.

phy teacher gave me a big calendar with a picture of Kåñëa playing His flute. This Kåñëa became my all-inall. I would talk to this picture and base my decisions on how the calendar moved: left meant “yes” and right meant “no.” I now had a very close friend. Once, when I was riding my bicycle to my aunt’s house in the dark, I became afraid. I prayed to Kåñëa. When I reached my destination and parked my bicycle, a leaf that

lar, but who came out on the other side was, to my vision, a form of Kåñëa as I had seen in dances and dramas! I learned to see my friend Kåñëa in others rather than a “ghost.” This helped me overcome my fear to a large extent. These two extraordinary incidents and others like it helped me maintain faith in Kåñëa, even when I was led into atheism by a group of Mäyävädés. Though the final two years of

A family photograph with husband and son

INCREASING ATTACHMENT TO KÅÑËA Once, when one of my aunts visited our house, she brought a small part of the Mahäbhärata to read. This portion spoke of Lord Kåñëa’s friendship with the Päëòavas. Seeing Kåñëa’s friendship with His devotees, my attachment to Kåñëa grew even more. From treating Him as a “boyfriend,” I began to revere and pray to Him. My extremely religious geogra-

had fallen off a tree on the road reminded me of the leaf Kåñëa lies on at the time of universal dissolution. This assured me that Lord Kåñëa had been with me during the ride. I used to have a terrible fear of ghosts. Once, when I was in the car park of our flats with my sister, it became dark and my own sister looked like a ghost! In fear I prayed to Kåñëa. Then, as I watched, my sister passed behind a concrete pil-

school were spent in devotion to Kåñëa, the beginning of college saw me enter a phase of meditation and questioning. Any silly thing could send me spiraling into philosophy. But I was stumped when I arrived at this question: Who is more powerful—God, fate, or prayer? INTRODUCTION TO MÄYÄVÄDA I took this particular question to my cousin-brother, who is a serious

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Mäyävädé. With his encouragement I started attending Mäyäväda classes and began to deny the existence of Lord Sri Kåñëa! I came to think that devotion was a crutch for people like Rita, a way to find an anchor in life. And the universe was simply too wonderful and systematic. How could one person possibly engineer and then take care of the whole thing? I slipped into what I called healthy atheism. Mäyäväda encourages atheism: for them, neither the Lord exists nor the world. Nothing exists but Brahman. And if I asked something based on çästra, I was told, “Even çästra is false!” What can you speak or think when everything is false? At least contrasted with regular atheism, Mäyäväda philosophy fosters good

whether ghosts really existed. At that time, the only theory of origin available for atheists was Darwin. The Big Bang theory was not yet in vogue. But Darwin’s theory had many flaws. One major flaw I had just discovered was that he did not even mention about ghosts but here was a book serializing experiments that tried to prove their existence. After reading several more books and meditating on Darwin’s theory, I came again to a crucial question: Let’s say God does not exist. But I know that I exist! What, then, is the source of my existence?” BACK TO DEVOTION At this point I was in my final year of college. I was given the as-

After studying Darwin’s theory, I came to a crucial question: “Let’s say God does not exist. But I know that I exist! What, then, is the source of my existence?” qualities and habits and ensures good citizenry. Although talking like an atheist, how could I forget Kåñëa? How could I become ungrateful to Him for being my friend and for all the times He had helped me? Internally I would tell Him, “Dear Kåñëa, please forgive me for saying You do not exist. But I need to know You scientifically, not just sentimentally— on the basis of the special exchanges we have had.” THE TURNING POINT Being Literature students, we were expected to read a lot. Once, I got a very interesting book by Arthur Conan Doyle, and that was the turning point in my “atheistic” life. Doyle, along with leading citizens of the Victorian age, conducted several experiments to study

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signment to find a topic outside of college and make a presentation on it. I was completely at a loss for a topic. My good friend Leela Pal Choudhury then invited me, “I am going to ISKCON to conduct my interviews. Come with me and ask questions. As you are an atheist, it will be more interesting.” So one sunny afternoon, Leela and I dropped in at the ISKCON temple in T. Nagar, Chennai. We were taken to the room of the then temple president Gaìgä Däsa, an Italian by birth. Gaìgä Prabhu was patient as we poured forth our questions. I liked his analogy of a fish out of water to explain the condition of the jéva lost to spiritual life. I soaked up his words like a sponge. Unfortunately for Leela, I had no atheistic front to put up any more as all the an-

swers that he gave sounded logical. I asked him why he had left Christianity to embrace Hindu culture. He said, “There is no question of leaving anything. It’s just like going from the lower classes to the higher classes in school. I was interested in joining the clergy in Rome, but I was disappointed to see the priests smoking and drinking. Their lifestyle did not appeal to me.” Then he discovered Kåñëa consciousness. The necessity to conduct interviews gave me the opportunity to speak to almost all the devotees in the temple and find out what had attracted them to ISKCON. Nimäi Nitäi Däsa, the head püjäré of ISKCON Chennai, explained how he would visit ISKCON often simply because he liked the smell of the incense. Soon I met Lélä Padmä Devé Däsé, the wife of the then vicepresident, Rädhikä Ramaëa Däsa. On her invitation, every Sunday I dropped in for three hours before the program and spent the afternoon with her, asking my neverending questions. I read Çréla Prabhupäda’s books, hoping to find a question he couldn’t answer. But I realized that every question I had was convincingly answered by Çréla Prabhupäda. CHANTING AND THE GREAT RELIEF I started chanting. The greatest benefit I derived from chanting was relief from daydreaming. I was a heavy daydreamer. If I was dreaming that I was India’s President, I would continue the dream until I was cremated in harness. My daydreams made me miserable. But now I would sing Hare Kåñëa as I went through the mechanical household chores. Peace and happiness filled me.

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SLOW GROWTH Though I liked the philosophy of Kåñëa consciousness, along with the kértana and prasäda, I was not ready to chant more than four rounds a day. Even those four rounds were done with absolutely no attention, as my ears would be drawn to the dialogues running on the TV in the other room. I tried reading the Bhagavad-gétä As It Is, but could not get past text 2.39, where Çréla Prabhupäda explains buddhi-yoga as Kåñëa consciousness. I just could not figure out how buddhi, which literally means intelligence, could mean Kåñëa consciousness. Confused, I would be unable to read further. I also made the colossal mistake of comparing different translations of the Bhagavad-gétä: editions by Chinmayananda, Chidbhavananda, and Çréla Prabhupäda. The differences made me tear my hair out! FINAL DECISION What made matters worse was the rescreening of Gandhi on TV. My heart again went out to Gandhi, who had placed me on the path of spirituality. Confusion reigned in my heart. “Why ISKCON?” I asked myself. “Why not Sabarmati Ashram? Why not Ramakrishna Mission? Why not Mother Teresa?” As my mind reeled, my mother called me in for dinner. When I was finished, I picked up my plate to wash it and my tongue automatically slipped into a tune of the Hare Kåñëa mantra! “That’s it!” I decided. “I am going to become a Hare Kåñëa devotee because I like it! I love singing; I love kértana. Singing Hare Kåñëa has cured me of my miserable daydreaming, and chanting has silenced my

teen rounds everyday! By the causeless mercy of guru, I was given the ability to read Çréla Prabhu-päda’s books and chant the holy name. I could delve deeper into the process of Kåñëa consciousness instead of staying His Holiness Jayapatäka Swami Mahäräja on a mental mind. What more can I ask for?” and intellectual level caused by my association with Mäyävädis. My guru INTRODUCED TO GURU continues to help me in so many One day His Holiness Jayapatäka ways in my devotional service, and I Swami visited Chennai. I listened am indebted to him forever. to his arrival lecture. Later, after So I was “led by the hand” by inhelping with services related to his ternal and external guidance to give dinner, I began to grind the batter up dharma (mundane social service), for idlis. It was about 2 am when I artha (pursuit of economic advancefinally got to sleep. ment), käma (lust for the material The next morning I was help- world), and mokña (the path to libing with the breakfast service when eration as taught by the Mäyävädés). I heard the sound of Hare Kåñëa I was brought into the association of kértana. Tears rolled from my eyes. devotees, who showed me the path I couldn’t understand what was of pure devotion to Lord Kåñëa. The happening to me. It seemed that Çrémad-Bhägavatam (3.33.7) says that Guru Mahäräja was giving me a a person who is practicing devotional glimpse of the mountain of ecstasy service has already performed all rituavailable in the holy name. I had alistic acts such as giving charity, visnot yet been introduced to Guru iting pilgrimage sites, and so on. I feel Mahäräja, so I had not spoken per- that in my early life I was taken on a sonally with him, but somehow, by tour of these things to confirm to me his merciful glance, my conscious- their inferiority in comparison to deness had been purified. votion to Lord Çré Kåñëa just so I A few days later, I began reading could be more determined in my Bhagavad-gétä As It Is for the third practice in this lifetime and come time. This time I easily read past text closer to achieving the real goal of 2.39. The obstacle of doubt caused life. by my ignorance and my arrogance had been removed. And then one Tariëé Rädhä Devé Däsé is the morning, I woke at 3.30 am feeling mother of four children, and she coso fresh and bright that I immedi- ordinates children’s programs in ately started chanting. On that day Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Contact her I began my practice of chanting six- at tariniradha@pamho.net.

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the Search for

Happiness

Part

5

One must reject superficial painkiller-like solutions and seek out a permanent solution to all problems.

By Vraja Vihäré Däsa Continued from the previous issue . . . FROM SUPERFICIAL ATTEMPTS TO PERMANENT SOLUTION I had a friend who would get recurring boils. His doctor gave him an ointment to heal the boils, but two days later another boil would surface on some other part of his body. Again he used the medicine and got relief for a couple of days. It didn’t take him long to realize he was actually miserable. So he tried another doctor. This doctor asked my friend to be patient—the treatment would be painful at the beginning—and then, as expected, there was a painful upsurge of boils all over his body. He screamed in agony but kept faith with his doctor and continued the treatment. Two weeks later, all the boils disappeared and he became healthy. He has never had boils since. The difference between the two doctors was that the first treated the symptoms—the erupted boils themselves—whereas the second addressed the root cause of his boils—the impurities in my friend’s blood.

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What’s the moral of the story? If we attempt to seek happiness by addressing the “boils”—the symptoms of our miseries—we will never become truly happy; we will only experience a fleeting relief from our distress. Later, sorrow will again strike us in some other aspect of our lives. If we address the root cause of unhappiness—our real problems—we can experience lasting happiness. Boils recur because of impure blood; suffering recurs because of our sinful tendency to

break God’s laws. We need to lead our lives in congruence with nature and God’s laws. Doing so cures the impure blood in the consciousness. In an attempt to be happy we try out a variety of pleasure-giving activities—we go see a movie, drink, take drugs, or freak out. However, these activities may give us temporary relief from our dayto-day grind, but soon the cause of our distress bounces back into our awareness even more vigorously. If we address the real problems

Painkillers are useless to cure a disease; we need to take genuine medicines.

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“Search for Happiness, Part Two”.)

“We are progressing.” Really?

(please refer to the last article: “Search for Happiness, Part Four”), then we permanently cure distress. Unfortunately, modern society encourages us to seek temporary relief rather than address the real problems. SEEKING HAPPINESS— PAINKILLERS VS MEDICINES Our present predicament can be compared to a heart patient who takes a painkiller to cure his chest pain instead of medicine to regulate the rhythm of his heart. A painkiller gives superficial relief from pain; real medicine, however, deals the disease from the root. The painkiller does have some advantages: it gives instant relief, it’s cheap, and it’s easily available. Disadvantages: it usually has miserable side effects, brings no permanent cure, and can often aggravate the original disease. The first time someone feels chest pain, the pain often goes away with a single pill. But when the pain returns, one pill is usually not enough—a higher dose is needed. With each recurrence of pain, it generally takes more and more of the drug to re-

lieve it. Eventually even six to seven painkillers can’t give us relief. Then one unfortunate day, a foolish patient may die of a heart attack despite swallowing a dozen painkillers. Painkillers aren’t bad—they just aren’t a substitute for real medicine. Movies, sex, liquor, drugs— these are just a few things that provide instant relief to pressures of modern society. They may be effective, cheap, and easily available, but they are not a substitute for the real medicine—a revival of our lost relationship with God. Temporary pleasures will eventually leave us disillusioned despite their promises. That explains why the rich and famous, despite unlimited opportunities to enjoy, commit suicide. Some years ago, Nafiza Joseph, the former Miss India, committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. She had all kinds of pleasure at her disposal, yet her heart hankered for something else. We too may enjoy our senses unlimitedly yet still be miserable because of ignoring the real medicine of bhaktirasa, the pleasure of devotional service to God. (Refer to the article

SMS—THE THREE PAINKILLERS OF MODERN SOCIETY Modern society has three broad categories of painkillers: sense gratification based on scientific advancement, mental speculation, and superficial religion. We’ve abbreviated these as SMS. The first category, sense gratification based on scientific advancement, or technology, provides us with instant relief and even more instant enjoyment but has also left human civilization disillusioned and unhappy. Over the last one hundred years science has made tremendous progress, with new and useful discoveries and inventions every year. Humankind has never had it so comfortable. Yet during the same one hundred years we have unprecedented poverty and human suffering. We call scientifically based material advancement “a painkiller” because it provides temporary solutions to society’s problems but in the long run gives rise to further problems. For instance, the invention of the automobile solved the problem of having to commute by foot. We can now travel long distances comfortably and quickly. But now we have the problem of air pollution and global warming. Which problem—the problem of having to walk everywhere or our inability to breathe the air—is more serious? Today we are surrounded by luxuries—air conditioners, iPods, laptops—but we struggle to get basic necessities like fresh drinking

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water or clean air. We have acquired luxuries at the cost of necessities. Thus the solutions that modern scientific advancement provides leads to greater problems than the original one that were intended to be solved. The external razzle-dazzle, the glamour of modernization, impresses us, and we tend to think

we’d be happier leading a life centered on sense gratification. We have painkillers to dull body pain, hair dye to hide our gray, facelifts to erase wrinkles. We have access to huge amounts of information, quick communication, and global connectivity. At the same time, we also have to deal with health issues, impersonal relationships, and online pornography. The invention of mobile phones has made us more efficient and enhanced the speed at which we can accomplish our work. However, we have lost our privacy. As a result, stress and heart disease are on rise. The Washingtonbased World Watch Institute, in a press release dated May 4, 1999, revealed that the twentieth century was the most violent century known in human history; three times more people died in wars during the twentieth century than during the entire history of warfare between 1 AD and 1899. By the mental speculation category of “painkiller,” we are referring to selfhelp pep talks that promise happiness based on developing a positive attitude. The skills these selfhelp attempts provide have limited Modern man is surrounded by luxuries, value because they do but he struggles to get basic necessities not address the real like clean air and pure drinking water. problems; rather

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they encourage us to seek solutions in this temporary world where the sevenfold problems constantly batter us. Books like You Can Win, Neuro Linguistic Programming, and meditation techniques are a few such painkillers that deny the realities of the world and tell us artificially to be positive. Televangelism, too, is a painkiller that gives temporary relief through television channels like Ästhä attendance in professional spiritual discourses (Bhägavatkathas), and performance of empty burdensome rituals. Watchers get some pious entertainment but do not realize the goal of life. Watching religious and spiritual programs on television can at best give us some mental peace, but they do not give us lasting solutions to the real issues burning our heart. People may even fight over rituals and claim the superiority of their path while the heart remains sad due to their not addressing the soul’s deep need to be connected to God through loving devotional service. Empty rituals do not satisfy the deep desires of the heart; they simply temporarily cover up our misery. To be continued… “Returning Home—the Permanent Solution for Happiness” Vraja Vihäré Däsa holds a master’s degree in International Finance and Management (MBA). He serves as a full-time resident devotee at ISKCON Mumbai and conducts seminars for students and the temple’s congregation members.

Hare Kåñëa Hare Kåñëa Kåñëa Kåñëa Hare Hare Hare Räma Hare Räma Räma Räma Hare Hare

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In your own words ... What measures will you take to resolve a relationship problem? THE SHIP OF MY RELATIONS has been amidst storm always. I wish it was a boat; it would be easier for me to handle. Since the time I have started my voyage on relations, I have been struggling to sail my ship on a straight path. Firstly, I wasn’t aware where I was heading, but now by the mercy of devotees I know that my destination is Kåñëa. But that doesn’t make the journey easier. Storm has intensified, winds are blowing harder, and my sail seem to blow away. Parents complain that I don’t have time for them; old friends feel I have changed, people in office find me uninteresting, and with devotees I muddle every second day. Whenever I have decided to resolve a troubled relationship, I have imply walked to the person and said, “See, I love you. . .” and hug him and there is peace. Ultimately, as Mahänidhi Swami says, “In bhakti we don’t depend on our strength; we depend on Kåñëa’s strength.” —Manish Goel, via email LORD KÅÑËA IS OUR universal father and we are all His children. To please Kåñëa it is imperative that we have good relationships with everyone—especially with devotees. To quell any misunderstandings, we should serve others without expectations and not deal whimsically. We should respect other people’s viewpoints. In case of disagreements, it is better to discuss and resolve. We should also abstain from backbiting. We must sincerely practice Kåñëa conscious-

ness and serve the devotees. Kåñëa, being in everyone’s heart, will purify our consciousness and give intelligence so we can forgive and forget whatever slights we may feel from each other. —Purushottam K., Kolkata, WB TO ADVANCE IN spiritual life we need two things: our endeavor and Kåñëa’s mercy. Similarly, to resolve a relationship problem with someone, we must honestly endeavor to resolve the problem through impartial dialogue, and we must simultaneously pray at the lotus feet of Lord Dämodara , Kåñëa, that everything works out well. Seeing the other person as a son or daughter of Kåñëa and trying to serve him or her rather than being authoritative may appease the other person and could go a long way in resolving many relationship problems. —Aashish Mungekar Mumbai, MH MATERIALISTIC RELATIONSHIPS, with a few exceptions, are bound by selfish, rigid limitations. The moment one gets to know the other person’s limitations, a chain reaction begins that shatters all tall expectations, the basis of such relationships. Any relationship problem occurs due to wrong self-identity. True self-

identity takes one beyond the selfimposed limitations and bindings. With the true knowledge that all souls are part and parcel of the Kåñëa, all relationship problems vanish. Problems exist because of the absence of right knowledge, not because there is no solution for them. Thus, to resolve someone’s relationship problem I would try to guide the person toward spiritual understanding, toward Kåñëa consciousness, and toward the devotees of Kåñëa, whose mercy is bound to resolve all problems of the universe. —Rajesh Kumar Mishra BARC, Mumbai

AS SOON AS WE TAKE birth in this world, we develop a relationship with our brothers, sisters, mother, father, and so many other people. But the purest relationship one can have is with Kåñëa, the reservoir of all relationships. The best way to solve relationship problems is to leave all our sadness with Him, because He knows what is best for us. Relationships begin not with words but in the heart. If a relationship is about to break, it means love, trust, and other divine virtues are

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missing. These things have their origin in Kåñëa. Therefore one should reestablish one’s relationship with Him. The best way to solve a relationship problem is to pray together, take prasäda together, chant and dance together, and appreciate each other. —Pushkar Madan Faridabad, Haryana When a relationship soars, I ask myself, what is important for me—my false ego or the other person. Kåñëa is in the heart of every living being. When I hurt someone, it hurts Kåñëa. Moreover when I wake up the next day and approach Guru and Kåñëa at the altar, Kåñëa may hold back His love. Reminding myself that the cause of all conflicts are false ego, envy, greed, lust, pride and illusion, which spoils the rasa in all relationships, I would humbly beg forgiveness, exchange a loving hug in dancing kértana, and cook or share prasäda with the other person. Keeping Çré Guru and Kåñëa in the center is the secret behind conflict resolution. —Gayatri Gaitonde, via email IN YOUR OWN WORDS

EVERY TOWN AND VILLAGE ISKCON JAPAN IN TSUNAMI RELIEF Tokyo, Japan: The ISKCON temple in Tokyo has given shelter to forty Nepalese who had to leave the Sendai airport area after nature’s fury hit the region. Shrikant Shah, a member of the temple, said, “We were approached by the Nepali embassy. We are trying our best.” For their act of kindness, the Nepali ambassador is expected to visit and thank the temple on Thursday. President of India Inaugurates Science Conference New Delhi: India’s President, Pratibha Patil, inaugurated the sixth All India Students’ Conference on Science and Spiritual Quest (AISSQ-2011) at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan. The three-day conference was organized by the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Kolkata, in association with the Delhi Technological University (DTU) from March 12–14, 2011. More than 400 social, scientific, and spiritual thinkers and students from many countries participated in this event. TEMPLE OPENINGS Mombasa, Kenya: More than 4,000 devotees from around the world attended the opening of the New Dvärakä Dhäma complex in Mombasa from April 9–13, 2011. The new temple will house the Deities of Rukmiëé-Dvaräkadhéça and Sétä-Räma-Lakñmana-Hanumän.

The new temple in Mombasa

Nigdi, Maharashtra: Çré Çré Rädhä-Govinda were installed in Their new temple in Govinda Dhäma, a new ISKCON temple opened on March 22. More than 50,000 people attended. The temple is 50-foot tall and is decorated with wooden carvings. The ceiling is fitted with Mangalore tiles, which will help to keep the interior cool. ISKCON’S MÄLATÉ DÄSÉ ON WIKIPEDIA’S FRONT PAGE ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner Mälaté Däsé was featured on Wikipedia’zs front page on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011. Born in Vallejo, California, she was part of the hippie movement before becoming an initiated disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda in 1967.

QUESTION FOR THE FORTHCOMING ISSUES

How will you respond when someone tries to provoke you with insulting words? Deadline for submission is May 25

Answers will be published in June 2011 Word limit: 150 words/ 15 lines E-mail:

ed.btgindia@pamho.net

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KRISHNA VALLEY AT HUNGARY’S TOURISM EXPO Budapest, Hungary: Devotees from ISKCON Hungary’s Krishna Valley presented their rural community’s activities at Budapest’s annual Tourism and Travel Expo this year in an effort to further promote the already popular tourist attraction. “Visitors saw little glimpses of our temple, restaurant, gift shop, cow protection goçälä, gurukula school, and botanical gardens,” says Krishna Valley head of tourism, Çrépaté Däsa. Contributed by Mädhava Smullen, Dhwani Pathak Dave, Archana Dahiwal and Çeñadeva Däsa

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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Correct as of April 30, 2010

CENTRES IN INDIA Founder-Äcärya: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada

ANDHRA PRADESH: Hanumkonda—(08712) 77399; Hyderabad—(040) 2474-4969/ vedantacaitanya@ pamho.net, Nellore—0861-2314577, 9215536589/ sukadevaswami@gmail.com; Secunderabad—(040) 7805232; Tirupati—(0877) 2231760/ guesthouse.tirupati@ pamho.net; Vijayawada—(08645) 272513/ mmdasiskcon vijayawada@gmail.com; Vishakhapatnam—(0891) 5537625/ samba.jps@pamho.net; Warangal—(08712) 426182; ASSAM: Cachar—(03842) 34615; Guwahati—(0361) 254-5963/ iskcon.guwahati@pamho.net; BIHAR: Patna— (0612) 687637/ krishna.kripa.jps@pamho.net; CHHATISGARH: Raipur—(0771) 5037555, 9893276985/ iskconraipur@ yahoo.com; DELHI: New Delhi—(011)26235133/ neel.sunder@pamho.net; New Delhi—25222851, 55136200. GUJARAT: Ahmedabad—(079) 26861945/ jasomatinandan.acbsp@pamho.net, Baroda—(0265) 2310630/ basu.ghosh.acbsp@pamho.net; Dwarka—(02892) 34606; Surat—(0261) 2765891/ surat@pamho.net; Vallabh Vidyanagar—(02692) 230796; JAMMU & KASHMIR: Jammu—(0191) 2582306; Katra—(01991) 233047; Udhampur—(01992) 270298; KARNATAKA: Bangalore— (080) 23471956/ ard@iskconbangalore.org; Bangalore— (080) 23565708, 9844234108/ vibhav.krishna.jps @pamho.net; Belgaum—(0831) 243-6267; Mangalore— (0824) 2423326, 9844325616; KERALA: Thiruvananthapuram—(0471) 2328197/ jsdasa@yahoo.co.in. MADHYA PRADESH: Indore—(0731) 4972665; Ujjain— 0734-235000/ iskcon.ujjain@pamho.net; MAHARASHTRA: Chowpatty, Mumbai—(022) 23665500/ radha.krishna.rns@ pamho.net; Juhu, Mumbai—(022) 26206860/ iskcon.juhu@pamho.net; Kharghar, Navi Mumbai— 9820039911/ iskcon.kharghar@gmail.com; Mira Road, Thane—(022) 28454667, 9223183023/iskcon.miraroad@ gmail.com; Nagpur—(0712) 6994730, 937015638/ iskcon.nagpur@pamho.net; Nasik—(0253) 6450005/ 9850071227/ siksastakam.rns@pamho.net; Pandharpur— (02186) 267242, 9423335991/ iskcon.pandharpur@ pamho.net; Pune—(020) 41033222/ infocenter@ iskconpune.in; Solapur—9371178393; MANIPUR: Imphal— (0385) 2455693, manimandir@sancharnet.in; Moirang— 795133; ORISSA: Bhubaneswar—(0674) 255-3517/ iskconbhubaneswar@rediffmail.com; Brahmapur—(0680) 2485720; Brahmapur—(0680) 2350100, 9437179400/ panchratna.gkg@pamho.net; Jagatsinghpur—(06724) 238112/ srigopalccd@yahoo.co.in; Puri—(06752) 231440; PUNJAB-HARYANA: Amritsar—(0183) 2540177; Chandigarh—(0172) 2601590/ bhaktivinode.gkg@ pamho.net; Kurukshetra—(01744) 234806; Ludhiana— (0161) 2770600, 9815940005/ iskcon.ludhiana@pamho.net. RAJASTHAN: Bharatpur—(05644) 22044; Jaipur—(0414) 2782765/ jaipur@pamho.net; TAMIL NADU: Chennai— (044) 24530921; Coimbatore— (0422) 2574508/ info@iskcon-coimbatore.org; Madurai—(0452) 274-6472; Salem—(0427) 2360012, 9442153427 iskcon.salem@ pamho.net; Sri Rangam—(0431) 433945; Vellore—(0416) 2241654, 9790392143/ akinchan_bvks97@rediffmail.com;

TRIPURA: Agartala—(0381) 22-7053/ premadata@ rediffmail.com; UTTAR PRADESH: Allahabad—(0532) 2416718/ iskcon.allahabad@pamho.net; Ghaziabad—(0120) 2824200, 09310969623/ snd-gkg@rediffmail.com; Jhansi— (0510) 2443602; Kanpur—09307188117/ iskcon.kanpur @pamho.net; Lucknow—(0522) 223556; Noida—(095120) 2454912/ vraja.bhakti.vilas.lok@pamho.net; Varanasi—(0542) 276422; Vrindavan—(0565) 254-0021 (Guesthouse) 254-0022 vrindavan@pamho.net; UTTARANCHAL: Haridwar— (01334) 260818/ 9411371870; WEST BENGAL: Haridaspur— (03215) 57856; Kolkata—(033) 22873757/ iskcon.calcutta@ pamho.net; Mayapur—(03472) 245239, 245240/ mayapur.chandrodaya@pamho.net; Nadia—(03473) 281150/ shyamrup.jps@pamho.net; Siliguri—09800865104/ abd@pamho.net

VAIÑËAVA C ALENDAR May 01 – June 15, 2011

3 May: Çré Gadädhara Paëòita – Appearance 6 May: Akñaya Tåtéyä, Candana-yäträ starts (continues for 21 days) 10 May: Jähnu Saptamé 12 May: Çrématé Sitä Devé (consort of Lord Çré Räma) Appearance, Çré Madhu Paëòita – Disappearance, Çrémati Jähnavä Devé – Appearance 14 May: Fasting for Mohini Ekädaçi, Rukmiëé Dvädaçé, Tulasé Jala-däna ends. 15 May: Break fast (Mumbai) 06:04 am–10:24 am, Çré Jayänanda Prabhu – Disappearance 16 May: Nåsiàha Caturdaçé: Appearance of Lord Nåsiàhadeva (fasting till dusk) 17 May: Kåñëa Phula Òola, Salila Vihära, Çré Parameçvaré Däsa Öhäkura – Disappearance, Çré Çré Rädhä-Ramaëa Devajé – Appearance, Çré Mädhavendra Puré – Appearance, Çré Çréniväsa Äcärya Appearance 22 May: Çré Rämänanda Räya – Disappearance 28 May: Fasting for Aparä Ekädaçé 29 May: Break fast (Mumbai) 06:00 am–10:24 am, Çréla Våndävana Däsa Öhäkura – Appearance 11 Jun: Çré Baladeva Vidyäbhuçaëa – Disappearance, Gaìgä Püjä, Çrématé Gaìgämätä Gosväméné Appearance 12 Jun: Fasting for Päëòava Nirjalä Ekädaçé (total fast, even from water) 13 Jun: Break fast (Mumbai) 06:00 am–08:20 am 14 Jun: Pänihäöi Ciòä-Dahé Utsava 15 Jun: Snäna-yäträ, Çré Mukunda Datta – Disappearance, Çré Çrédhara Paëòita – Disappearance MAY 2011

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EDITORIAL

Chant Hare Kåñëa Because it is Good for You And Don’t Ask Any Questions

A

mother asked whether she can force her children to accept Kåñëa consciousness unconditionally, and she was told that this strategy may not work. In today’s times parents have a tough job ahead when introducing their children to accepting spirituality as a important component of life. During Lord Kåñëa’s presence on this planet He once observed that His father, Nanda Mahäräja and other inhabitants of Våndävana were busy making preparations for a big festival. Kåñëa was unaware about this; so He went to His father and inquired, “Father, what are these preparations for? Whom are we going to worship?” Nanda Mahäräja remained silent, thinking his little boy may not be able to understand the intricacies of this worship (püjä). But Kåñëa persisted. Today a child psychologist may opine that Kåñëa underwent emotional abuse when His father refused to explain things in a way He can understand. When Kåñëa persisted with His inquiries, Nanda Mahäräja finally disclosed that this was the annual worship offered by the cowherd community to Lord Indra, the rain-god. Kåñëa said, “My dear father, for those who are liberal and saintly, there is no secrecy. They do not think anyone to be a friend, an enemy or a neutral party, because they are always open to everyone. And even for those who are not so liberal, nothing should be kept secret from the family members and friends, although secrecy may be maintained for persons who are inimical. Therefore you cannot keep any secrets from Me. All persons are engaged in fruitive activities. Some know what these activities are, and they know the result, and some execute activities without knowing the purpose or the result. A person who acts with full knowledge gets the full result; one who acts without knowledge does not get such a perfect result.

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Therefore, please let Me know the purpose of the sacrifice you are going to perform. Is it according to Vedic injunction? Or is it simply a popular ceremony? Kindly let Me know in detail about the sacrifice.” In this passage Kåñëa implores His father that he needs to take his son into confidence. Today it is more important than ever to take children in confidence before expecting them to take interest in any activity, especially spiritual life. In the USA one of the first things taught to kids is the helpline number, which they can call in case of a domestic emergency. To what absurd length this can go is illustrated by this story. A young girl had the habit of sleeping till seven in the morning. One day when her father knocked on the door much before 7 o’clock, she warned him, “Dad, please don’t do that. The next time you do this I shall call the police.” Some parents may complain about the abnormal power today’s legislators have bestowed in the hands of children. But we also have to remember that every law enacted is a response to a crime committed. In these days of advanced gadgets available for communication and retarded communication skills practiced by the majority, parents may well pay heed by developing good dialogue with their children. A few tips on having a proper dialogue with your kids: 1. Allow them to speak, and listen actively. 2. Paraphrase what they have to say in your language so that they confirm this is what they had intended. 3. Discuss the issue for possible solutions. 4. Be enthusiastic to follow the rules and regulations of spiritual life in your case; in the case of your children, remain patient. —Çyämänanda Däsa

MAY 2011

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