Back To Godhead Year 2011 Volume-08 Number-09

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C O N T E N T S Founded 1944. Vol. 8 No. 9 September 2011

Features

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ÇRÉLA PRABHUPÄDA ON

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SPIRITUAL SCIENTIST

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COVER STORY

RÄDHÄRÄËÉ— THE FEMININE SIDE OF GOD

LEARNING FROM THE FOOLISH FISH

A SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION IN READING CLASS?

Is God male or female?

If we turn away from Kåñëa, all that we get is misery.

Touch a page of these Kåñëa stories and they speak in multiple languages!

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FACE TO FACE WITH FRUSTRATION

A MUSLIM VAIÑËAVA? A Russian devotee helps the author remove all misunderstandings about Muslims.

Not getting what you want? Perhaps it’s good for you.

Departments I Y 2 L O W N

ETTERS

VEDIC THOUGHTS

OUR

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PHOTOSCOPE

ORDS

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What steps will you adopt in your life towards natural living?

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VAIÑËAVA CALENDAR

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Cat and Death

EVERY TOWN AND VILLAGE

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CENTERS IN INDIA

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EDITORIAL MY EXPERIENCE

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In and Out of Fire

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HARE KÅÑËA PEOPLE

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How do you verify the authenticity of Vedic scriptures?

THE MANY FACES OF KARMA The principle of action and reaction works on all levels.

LESSONS FROM THE ROAD

MODERN CULTURE—A CIVILIZATION OF ANIMALS Give up lower forms of enjoyment to enjoy the bliss of Kåñëa consciousness.

Since the Lord is purnam, all-perfect, there is no possibility of His being subjected to the laws of material nature, which He controls. However, both the living entities and inanimate objects are controlled by the laws of nature and ultimately by the Lord's potency. —Çré Éçopaninad

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

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Bhagavad-gétä Enquiry

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 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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I request you to simplify verse 11.55 from Bhagavad-gétä, particularly the word nirvairaù. How can a person living family life implement it? I have come across so many situations in life when this seems very difficult. —Bhavinder Mehta Our reply: In Gétä 11.55, Kåñëa says, “My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being—he certainly comes to Me.” Lord Kåñëa glorifies the process of bhakti—loving devotional service (bhaktyä tv ananyayä çakya aham evaà-vidho ’rjuna). In 11.55 He elaborates what is meant by bhakti: that one should act for Him (mat karma kåt), make Him the supreme goal of one’s life (mat paramaù), be engaged in nine-fold processes of bhakti, namely çravaëam, etc., one should not associate with those opposed to Kåñëa (mat bhaktaù saìga-varjitaù), and be friendly to every living being (nirvairaù). After this, Lord Kåñëa also gives us the benefit of leading such a life: such a person returns to Him. Çréla Prabhupäda translates nirvairaù as “without an enemy.” To be friendly to those who are themselves friendly is easy, but to be friendly to those who are malevolent is easier said than done. Maintaining one’s enthusiasm while enduring through such mental struggles is the test for those who claim to be true spiritualists.

As a householder, you might face opposition from your own family, friends, and even from those to whom you are trying to help in different ways. Not losing hope and enthusiastically maintaining concern for such people will be proof of our commitment. A devotee considers that reversals in life are only a result of one’s own wrong doing in the past and thus does not hold anyone else responsible for it than his or her own self. Such a devotee is not naive to worldly realities and remains alert to any potential harm, safeguarding himself and his dependents by employing suitable means for protection. Such a devotee is proactive for safety, but avoids unduly harassing or harming others. Recognizing Kåñëa’s pleasure when He sees people receive spiritual help, and the benefits one derives from carrying out such difficult but benevolent acts of compassion will keep us motivated. Being nirvairaù empowers us to change people’s hearts by practicing purity in our own lives. Also this allows us to conserve our time and energy in serving the Lord and helping others rather than getting disturbed by opposition. The first three recommendations by Lord Kåñëa, namely mat-karmakåt, mat-paramaù, and mad-bhaktaù, when practiced will attract the mercy of the Lord and empower us to deal with different challenges encountered while practicing saìgavarjitaù and nirvairaù. Simply put, the quality of being nirvairaù is being non-envious by positively engaging in acts of others’ well-being.

Interesting BTGs The articles in Back to Godhead

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are often based on current events and affairs, and they provide a spiritual perspective to the situation. I find this very interesting. I thus get better guidance to confront the situation. Thanks BTG! —Navin Poojary I like the BTG articles dealing with hot current issues, or based on science and fiction. Topics like sati, euthanasia, artificial life, etc., which appear controversial to sanätana-dharma, are dealt very interestingly by Çyämänanda Däsa, Caitanya Caraëa Däsa and Muräré Gupta Däsa. —Saurabh A. Gupta

Lord’s Anger I was attending a class on Bhagavad-gétä 2.21. The speaker mentioned that everything happens by the sweet will of the Lord and that while fighting with His enemies, the Lord gets angry too. How can the Lord, who is beyond the three modes of material nature, ever get angry? —Bhavinder Mehta, by email Our reply: Life means emotions. We as ordinary living entities have emotions. Similarly the supreme living entity—Lord Kåñëa—too possesses emotions. In fact, as the original person, Kåñëa is the origin of all the emotions we experience and He possesses them to a supreme degree. Unlike our anger, Kåñëa’s affection and anger are unlimited, transcendental, and of equal value. Just as a loving father sometimes expresses anger and sometimes caresses his child, the Supreme Lord too expresses transcendental and selfless anger for the benefit of the living entity.

When Kåñëa as Lord Nåsiàhadeva saved Prahläda and killed Hiraëyakaçipu, Hiraëyakaçipu benefited as much from Kåñëa’s anger as Prahläda did from His affection. Kåñëa is the father of all living entities, and therefore, like a good father, He exhibits love and anger only for His children’s benefit. Kåñëa Himself explains in the Bhagavadgétä (4.11) that He is equally disposed to everyone but that He warmly reciprocates the service and mood of His devotees. Since the three modes of nature rule over us, our expression of emotions— affection or anger—are impure and manipulated expressions. Since the Supreme Lord is beyond the modes, His expression of emotions is pure and original. Thus there is no difference between His violent and nonviolent moods.

benefits, we will plan our lives in such a way that we can do this. If one gets delayed due to some engagement the previous night, one should try and get up after around five hours of rest, chant our rounds and then catch up with the rest of the much-needed sleep during the day. If this is not possible, one may sleep early the following day and compensate. Many püjärés get up at 2 am and chant their 16 rounds of Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra before they start their services. I know one mother from Pune who chants all 16 rounds before her baby gets up at 6 am. In the long run, sustaining this habit of morning japa is only possible with good health, which is achieved by moderate diet, exercise and going to bed early in the night. Replies to other letters were written by Nanda Duläl Däsa.

Early Morning Japa Thank you for publishing the article “The Expressway to Devotion” by Yugävatära Däsa. It was mentioned in the article that it is best to chant Hare Kåñëa during brähma-muhürta (pre-dawn). Sometimes, this is not possible because of late night programs or early morning services. What must be done in such cases? —Ashish Patil Reply by Yugävatära Däsa: Japa is the easiest and the most important activity in devotional service. Japa during early morning facilitates rapid advancement. Unless one is sick, the morning hours should be dedicated for japa. If we understand and experience the

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ha-krishna

F O U N D E R Ä C Ä R Y A’ S V I E W S

Rädhäräëé The feminine side of God The Vedic scriptures provide a satisfying answer to the question “Is God male or female?”

Excerpts from the teachings of His Divine Grace

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

Prayer to Çrématé Rädhäräëé tapta-käïcana-gauräìgi rädhe våndävaneçvari våñabhänu-sute devi praëamämi hari-priye I offer my respects to Rädhäräëé, whose bodily complexion is like molten gold and who is the Queen of Våndävana. You are the daughter of King Våñabhänu, and You are very dear to Lord Kåñëa. —Gétä Introduction

(Cc. Ädi 1.5). The ählädiné-çakti is manifested as Rädhäräëé, but Kåñëa and Rädhäräëé are the same, although one is potent and the other is potency. Çrématé Rädhäräëé is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Rädhäräëé is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Kåñëa, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 2.3.23, purport

Rädhäräëé’s Identity It is not that Rädhäräëé is separate from Kåñëa. Rädhäräëé is also Kåñëa, for there is no difference between the energy and the energetic. Without energy, there is no meaning to the energetic, and without the energetic, ÷ there is no energy. Similarly, Sétä, Lakñmé, Rädhä—all represent the internal potency of the Lord. The potency always comes first. without Rädhä Rädhä kåñëa-praëaya-vikåtir hlädiné çaktir asmät

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there is no meaning to Kåñëa, and without Kåñëa there is no meaning to Rädhä. Because of this, the Vaiñëava philosophy first of all pays obeisances to and worships the internal pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord. Thus the Lord and His potency are always referred to as Rädhä-Kåñëa. Similarly, those who worship Näräyaëa first of all utter the name of Lakñmé, as Lakñmé-Näräyaëa. Similarly, those who worship Lord Räma first of all utter the name of Sétä. In any case—Sétä-Räma, Rädhä-Kåñëa, LakñméNäräyaëa—the potency always comes first. —Cc. Adi Introduction The Lord appears in female form if necessary, but His perpetual form is puruña because He is originally male. The feminine feature of the Lord is displayed by goddesses of fortune—Lakñmé, Rädhäräëé, Sétä, etc. All these goddesses of fortune are servitors of the Lord; they are not the Supreme, as falsely imagined by the impersonalist. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 4.8.47, purport

pleasure, He has to create a woman from His internal potency. Thus the tendency to be attracted by womanly beauty is natural because it exists in the spiritual world. In the material world it is reflected pervertedly, and therefore there are so many inebrieties. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.31.38, purport

Durgä and Rädhäräëé Devotees of Kåñëa try to remain under the guidance of daivé-prakåti personified, Çrématé Rädhäräëé. Materialists, however, are under the control of the aparä-prakåti, personified as Goddess Kälé, or Durgä. —Dharma, the Way of Transcendence, Chapter 11 Durgä is the expansion of the internal energy and Radharani is the quintessence of internal energy. In that sense Durga is expansion of Rädhäräëé. —Letter to Uddhava, May 28, 1968

Enchanter of Kåñëa Rädhäräëé is daivé-mäyä. Just like we are, in our material conditional life, we are under the material energy. Similarly, in our liberated state we have to become under the spiritual energy. That spiritual energy is Rädhäräëé. —Lecture on Introduction to Bhagavad-gétä As It Is, Los Angeles, November 23, 1968

The Lord sometimes becomes mad after the beauty of Rädhäräëé. Poets describe that under those circumstances, although Lord Kåñëa is Madana-mohana, He becomes Madana-däha, or enchanted by the beauty of Rädhäräëé. Actually the Lord’s beauty is superexcellent, surpassing even the beauty of Lakñmé in Vaikuëöha. The devotees of the

Çrématé Rädhäräëé is the principal head of all such goddesses of fortune, and therefore She is the pleasure counterpart of the Lord and is non-different from Kåñëa. —ÇrémadBhägavatam 2.4.20, purport Rädhäräëé is the manifestation of the pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Supreme Lord wants to derive transcendental

Although an expansion of Rädhäräëé, Durgä Devé punishes the materialists while Rädhäräëé provides shelter to the devotees.

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Lord in the Vaikuëöha planets want to see the Lord as the most beautiful, but the devotees in Gokula or Kåñëaloka want to see Rädhäräëé as more beautiful than Kåñëa. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.15.42, purport

The pure devotees of the Lord take shelter of the parä prakåti, the internal potency of the Lord called Lakñmédevé, Sétädevé, Çrématé Rädhäräëé or Çrématé Rukmiëédevé, and thus they become actual mahätmäs, or great souls. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 3.6.38, purport

Extremely Compassionate If one takes shelter of Våndävana under Våndävaneçvaré, Çrématé Rädhäräëé, certainly all the problems of his life are solved very easily. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 4.8.24, purport If a devotee approaches Çrématé Rädhäräëé to offer some service to Kåñëa, even Çrématé Rädhäräëé thinks that the devotee is greater than She. —Çrémad-Bhägavatam 7.1.27, purport

Rädhä-Kåñëa Affairs Not Mundane Lust Actually Rädhä-Kåñëa is the exchange of love—but not ordinary love. . . . Kåñëa’s embracing Rädhäräëé or His dancing with the cowherd girls in the räsa dance are generally not understood by ordinary men, because they consider these pastimes in the light of mundane lust. They foolishly think that Kåñëa is like themselves and that He embraces the gopés just as an ordinary man embraces a young girl. Some people thus become interested in Kåñëa because they think that His religion allows indulgence in sex. This is not kåñëa-bhakti, love of Kåñëa, but präkåta-sahajiyä—materialistic lust.

Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu and Rädhä-Kåñëa When Kåñëa desired to enjoy His pleasure potency, He manifested Himself in the separate form of Rädhäräëé, and when He wanted to understand Himself through the agency of Rädhä, He united with Rädhäräëé, and that unification is called Lord Caitanya. —Cc. Adi Introduction

Lord Caitanya is non-different from Rädhä-Kåñëa combined.

The very name “Rädhä” suggests that Çrématé Rädhäräëé is eternally the topmost mistress of the comforts of Çré Kåñëa. As such, She is the medium transmitting the living entities’ service to Çré Kåñëa. Devotees in Våndävana therefore seek the mercy of Çrématé Rädhäräëé in order to be recognized as loving servitors of Çré Kåñëa. —Cc. Ädi 4.56, purport

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Antaù kåñëa refers to one who is always thinking of Kåñëa. This attitude is a predominant feature of Çrématé Rädhäräëé. Even though many devotees always think of Kåñëa, none can surpass the gopés, among whom Rädhäräëé is the leader in thinking of Kåñëa. Rädhäräëé’s Kåñëa consciousness surpasses that of all other devotees. Lord Caitanya accepted the position of Çrématé Rädhäräëé to understand Kåñëa; therefore He was always thinking of Kåñëa in the same way as Rädhäräëé. By thinking of Lord Kåñëa, He always overlapped Kåñëa. —Cc. Adi 3.81 purport

Rädhäñöamé The Appearance Day of Çrématé Rädhäräëé

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PHOTOSCOPE

Cat and Death

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hen a mouse is in the mouth of a cat, the mouse sees the cat as death personified. It’s fearful and struggles to get away from the cat. The cat carries its kitten in the same mouth. The kitten’s perception is totally different. It sees the cat as the most protective loving mother. It’s because the kitten has surrendered to the cat and is fully dependent on her love. Ultimately through the power of time we all have to meet death. Devotees see the love, the grace, and the beauty of God in life and in death. Devotees whose intelligence is always concentrated upon the service of Lord are unafraid of death. They are ready to go back home, back to Godhead. Their perception is completely different from a person being taken away by Yamaräja, the Lord of Death, for a punishment. They simply see Kåñëa with love and gratitude, feeling His divine protection and divine love. They see that death is simply the door opening to the spiritual world. Therefore there is no fear. It is a promotion, like graduating. —by Muräré Gupta Däsa

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SPIRITUAL SCIENTIST

Learning From the

Foolish Fish If we turn away from Kåñëa, all that we get is misery.

by Caitanya Caraëa Däsa

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he American Paradox—Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty by David G. Myers is one among the several books that use telling facts and revealing statistics to examine the reality behind the globally-glamorized American dream of the happy life through wealth and sensual enjoyment. Since 1960: The divorce rate has doubled. The teen suicide rate has tripled. The recorded violent crime rate has quadrupled. The prison population has quintupled. The percentage of babies born to unmarried parents has sextupled. Cohabitation (a predictor of future divorce) has increased sevenfold. Depression has soared—to ten times the pre– World War II level. Has the American dream turned out to be a masked nightmare? What went wrong? For devotees of Lord Kåñëa, this sad situation is a vindication of Kåñëa’s teachings in the Bhagavad-gétä wherein he declares in 5.22 that material enjoyment is pregnant with misery; the delivery is only a matter

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of “when, not if?”. The devotees of the Lord are often more merciful than the Lord; one way their extra-mercy manifests is in their forceful enunciation of the Lord’s teachings. “There is no point in arguing that a materialistic man can be happy.” This is one of those quotes of Çréla Prabhupäda that, by its sheer conviction, jolts us out of our complacency in material life. Most of the media and culture around us is vigorously propagating that materialism is the way to become happy and Çréla Prabhupäda is asserting with absolute conviction that materialism can never make anyone happy. The fact is that Çréla Prabhupäda is simply rephrasing an essential and repeated teaching of the Lord. To help us grasp this scriptural teaching, Çréla Prabhupäda would often give the analogy of a fish: just as a fish starts suffering the moment it leaves the ocean, we start suffering the moment we leave the nectar-ocean of Kåñëa consciousness. Let us reflect on this analogy a bit more.

The Fate of the Fish Imagine a fish in the water on an ocean coast

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bordering a vast desert. Suppose it is allured out of the vast ocean by a mirage. From the moment it comes out, its suffering begins. But no matter how good-looking that water outside the ocean seems to be, it due to its sheer smallness it can never satisfy the fish. The only way the fish can experience happiness is by returning to the ocean. The more it pursues the drops of water, the more it will have to suffer due to the scorching heat of the sand underneath and the sun overhead. Therefore, when it is obvious that the fish is going become miserable the moment it comes out of the water, why then should it ever come out? Indeed, why should it even cast a glance at the mirages that might beguile it to come out? Even if it doesn’t feel sufficiently happy in the water, the only way to greater happiness is not outwards, but inwards; not out of the ocean, but deeper into the ocean. All of us are like the fish and Kåñëa consciousness is like the

ocean. From the moment we let our consciousness come out of the nectar-ocean of Kåñëa consciousness, we will begin experiencing misery. We are allured out of Kåñëa consciousness by the sense objects: pleasures and treasures, positions and possessions. No matter how goodlooking the sense objects seem to be, they are simply a sham (they are temporarily pleasure-giving, whereas we are eternally pleasureseeking) and can never make we happy. The only way we can experience happiness is by returning to Kåñëa consciousness. The more we pursue the sense objects, the longer we will have to suffer as our consciousness makes the painful and difficult journey to and fro between Kåñëa consciousness and the sense objects through the scorching heat of the materialistic conditioning internally and the material conditions externally. Why is this journey painful and difficult? Because every action that we perform conditions us, implicates us into

patterns of thinking and behaving that incite us to repeat that action. It is the human vulnerability to conditioning that traps us in addiction—often unwittingly and sometimes even unwillingly. That’s why, when we do realize the futility of material enjoyment, often material enjoyment has become the default setting of our mind; we instinctively, unthinkingly gravitate toward it and going against that gravity force becomes difficult and often painful. Moreover, the pursuit of material enjoyment also makes us mix and bond with materialistically oriented people and the emotional bonds that have opportunistically formed between us and them often make it tough for us to turn away from those worldly pleasures that have earlier won us their approval. Therefore, when we know that we are going to eventually only increase our misery by coming out of Kåñëa consciousness, why then should we ever come out? Indeed, why should we even cast a glance at the sense objects that might beguile us to come out? Even if we don’t feel sufficiently happy in Kåñëa consciousness, the only way to greater happiness is not outwards, but inwards; not out of Kåñëa consciousness, but deeper into Kåñëa consciousness.

Noteworthy Nuances Of course, the fish analogy is not perfect. In fact, no material analogy can ever

Kåñëa consciousness is like an ocean of happiness in comparison to which material happiness is insignificant.

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perfectly convey a spiritual truth. But as long as we are at our present material level of consciousness, we can think of only material objects and concepts. So, if the spiritual teachers did not use material analogies, then we would hardly be able to grasp any spiritual truth. Therefore, they use material analogies to convey spiritual truths—even if imperfectly. To avoid any misconceptions due to the incidental imperfections of the fish analogy, let us consider its limitations. In fact, these qualifications reveal important nuances of the philosophy of Kåñëa consciousness: 1. When the fish comes out of the water, within a short time, it dies. We being eternal souls never die, but by forsaking Kåñëa consciousness we “kill” our spiritual awareness: the awareness that we are spiritual beings entitled to spiritual happiness in the spiritual world by reciprocating spiritual love with the supreme spiritual reality, Kåñëa. Those who kill their spiritual awareness are referred to in the ÇrémadBhägavatam and the Éçopaniñad by the apt metaphorical term “atmaha,” killers of the soul. 2. A fish is never allured by a mirage, but we are attracted by the mirage-like sense objects. This is due to the power of Maya, the illusion-causing energy that perverts our perception by its twofold potencies: a. Ävaraëätmikä-çakti (covering potency): This potency obscures our perception of our true nature as spiritual beings and freezes our spiritual desires b. Prakñepätmikä-çakti (kicking potency): This potency deludes us with the false self-conception that

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we are materialistic creatures and kindles our material desires. 3. A fish out of water can be seen to be suffering, but people devoid of Kåñëa consciousness are not always seen to be suffering. Factually, no one can be happy without Kåñëa consciousness and the statistics quoted at the start are a poignant demonstration of this eternal truth. But those living beings who have been living without Kåñëa consciousness for a long, long time have almost entirely forgotten the taste of Kåñëa consciousness. As they presently don’t know any pleasure other than the pseudo-pleasure of sense gratification, they have become habituated to this pseudo-pleasure despite all the miseries that precede and succeed it. Due to this habituation, they don’t always seem miserable, as is confirmed in the ÇrémadBhägavatam (3.30.5), “The conditioned living entity is satisfied in his own particular species of life; while deluded by the covering influence of the illusory energy, he feels little inclined to cast off his body, even when in hell, for he takes delight in hellish enjoyment.” Due to this power of illusion, materialistic people may seem temporarily happy, though they aren’t. And this apparition may beguile even spiritually-minded people into materialistic pursuits and to alternate between material enjoyment and spiritual purification. But those of us who know something better, who have recently tasted Kåñëa consciousness, can no longer be satisfied with the illusory tastes of sense gratification. Why? Because the sublime and supreme taste of

Kåñëa consciousness is still fresh in our memory—if not in our conscious memory, then at least in our subconscious memory. That’s why even if we consciously turn away from Kåñëa consciousness to pursue sense gratification, we subconsciously keep comparing the taste of sense gratification with the taste of Kåñëa consciousness and naturally find the former unsatisfying. That’s why the Bhägavatam (1.5.19) proclaims, “Even though a devotee of Lord Kåñëa sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again.” Unfortunately, despite repeatedly experiencing sense gratification to be insipid and inane, our stubborn mind may still impel and compel us to keep pursuing it. In such situations, we can use the graphic fish analogy and the resonant Çréla Prabhupäda quote as the hammers for driving in the nail-like truth of the futility of sense gratification through the wall-like stubbornness of our mind. Sooner or later we will realize that the pursuit of sense gratification is a lost cause and will turn—rather re-turn—to Kåñëa consciousness. But better sooner than later. Caitanya Caraëa Däsa is the associate-editor of Back to Godhead (US and Indian edition). To subscribe to his free cyber magazine, visit thespiritualscientist.com. Contact him at ccd.rnsm@gmail.com

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EVERY TOWN AND VILLAGE

Worldwide Activities of Kåñëa consciousness Gitamrita Celebrated in Guntur Guntur, AP: ISKCON here organized a function entitled “Gitamrita” that was celebrated from June 3-7. The program was attended by many students, businessmen, and members of the parliament. The goal of the program was to educate people about the importance of the Bhagavad-gétä, as well as to inform the public about ISKCON Kondaveedu’s Spiritual Heritage Revival project. ISKCON is building a new temple for the ancient Venna Gopal deity at the foot of the Kondaveedu Hills.

Bhagavad-gétä in US Motels Las Vegas, Nevada, USA: On June 16-17, 2011, ISKCON devotees from the Motel Gita Project attended the annual convention of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in

Çrémad-Bhägavatam in Telugu Tirupati, AP: Çréla Prabhupäda’s ÇrémadBhägavatam was released in Telugu language here in the presence of respectable dignitaries and members of the Tirupati Balaji temple. The entire set is available in twenty-two volumes having golden covers and many color photos inside. To order a copy, write to amitahk108@hotmail.com

Ratha-yäträ Celebrations Puri, Orissa: The traditional Ratha-yäträ at Jagannätha Puré was held on July 03, 2011. Devotees from all walks of life were thrilled to pull on the ropes tied to the chariots of Lord Balaräma, Subhadrä and Lord Jagannäth. Over twelve lakh devotees from all over the world had converged on Puri. On the same day, Ratha-yäträs were held simultaneously in Ahmedabad, as well as at Mira Road, north of Mumbai.

New ISKCON Temple in Brisbane Brisbane, Australia: A new ISKCON temple will soon come up here after the City Council gave its approval amidst local environmentalists raising concerns about environmental protection. Temple president Ädi-Keçava Däsa reminded the public that ISKCON has the utmost respect for all living entities, including trees, and said he was sure that the beautifully-designed temple would enhance the location.

Las Vegas, Nevada, requesting the owners of hotels and motels to include a copy of Bhagavad-gétä As It Is in their guest rooms, as is commonly done with Gideon’s Bibles. More than 100,000 copies of Bhagavad-gétä were thus kept in rooms.

Prabhupäda Ghat in Pandharpur The honorable chief minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, along with His Holiness Lokanätha Swami, conducted the stone laying ceremony for the new Prabhupäda Ghat in Pandharpur early morning on 1st May 2011. The Government of Maharashtra wishes to transform Pandharpur into an international destination so that Lord Viööhala’s glories may spread throughout the world. ISKCON Pandharpur has enthusiastically accepted the government’s request to construct a bathing ghat. The first segment of the ghat—right in front of ISKCON’s Çré Çré Rädhä Paëòharénätha Temple—will cost approximately Rs. 10 crore. Contributed by Madhava Smullens, Amitakåñëa Däsa, and Akrüranätha Däsa.

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COVER STORY

A Spiritual Revolution Beginning in Reading Class? Touch a page of these Kåñëa stories and they speak in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, and 20 other languages!

by Urmilä Devé Däsé

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W

e are what we think, feel, and desire. Our thoughts in life and at the time of death create our body and life circumstances. Change our mind, change our life. Material thoughts and desires give us material bodies and karma, whereas spiritual thoughts and desires get us our original pure spiritual consciousness. And when are our thoughts most easily formed? In the Gétä the answer is, “from the very beginning of life.” Where is Our Ancient Wisdom? In the holy city of Mäyäpur, school children crowded around, ready to read. “Look at that!” one boy said jumping from his place. “The boys in this book are vegetarian!” Although the children in this class live in a Kåñëasaturated environment, in order to learn how to read they had to use books filled with materialistic messages. Until now. In Belgium, a six-year-old girl who learned French in school learned English with her mother. The mother explained how difficult it is to raise a child with spiritual values. It’s painful, she said, to have to sacrifice the values we want to teach our children, in order to give them an excellent academic education. Why not be able to do both? Now, there seemed to be a way. In Australia, Sri Prahlad grew up in the Hare Kåñëa Movement in the 70’s and 80’s. For his academic education, his teachers had to use books and materials opposed to spiritual values. He told me that he longed for learning books that would also speak to his heart.

What Values are Taught in Modern Learn-to-Read Texts? In 2007, devotee teachers gathered dozens of reading systems from top publishers. We expected to find patterns of materialist propaganda in the books. But I had never looked at so many books from so many authors and companies. Even so, I was surprised by the specifics of the underlying messages and themes, molding children’s thoughts and desires. You might guess what was portrayed, over and over, as an ideal life. It was all middle-class families. Most of them lived in suburbs. The few rural families didn’t farm with oxen. Most books also showed broken families as an alternative ideal. Not only was religion in general absent, but no books showed renunciates at all. I did expect to see success shown as a secular, middle-class family, but I was unprepared for a very different pattern in nonfiction stories of animals. In all cases except where the prey was an insect, the prey animal would escape from the predator. Children readers were clearly expected to identify with the prey, seeing the predator as a dangerous enemy. Yet, they consistently showed non-vegetarian food in stories of humans. Such hypocritical and unnatural treatment of meat-eating—opposing it in carnivorous animals but accepting it as normal in humans—was pervading. We can see that these books teach much more than how to turn symbols into speech and meaning. They teach a particular perspective on life along with socially accepted identities that have corresponding

actions and mindsets. Is the solution a valueless, thoughtless, desireless series of stories? Or perhaps we would look for educational materials where the ideal presented in one story directly conflicts with that of another. The first idea, the so-called neutral program, is impossible. In the Gétä (12.5) such a course is described as against the nature of the soul and prevents love for God. In terms of reading books, reading instruction must involve reading something, and that something must have a message. As to the second alternative, publishers use a consistent message, since children tend to see the world as orderly. And, the consistent message in learn-toread books is materialistic. Therefore, if a school or parent would like children to value vegetarianism, reincarnation, simple living, spiritual life, and love for Krsna, there was no “learn to read” program that would support those ideals? Prabhupäda wrote in 1970: “What one learns as child is not lost throughout the life. So this [producing children’s educational books] is a very important business. Please execute it with great care and seriousness of purpose.” Would there finally be a solution?

Speaking Stories: An Alternative at Last Starting in 2007, a few devotees interested in education decided to produce something revolutionary in a reading program. Three years and an international team of 200 people later, a London publisher produced the resultant system of 83 books with three “MagicPens.”

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books like this to engage and instruct me when I was a child growing up in the Hare Kåñëa movement. Knowing that future generations of Kåñëa kids will have access to this wonderful resource makes me happy.” The new book series is being used for social change in Våndävana, India. There, in two schools—one for children who are the poorest of the poor and another for children of privilege— children are getting a message of caring for cows humanely and celebrating traditional festivals in When he saw the books, Sri ecologically supportive ways, along Prahlad wrote, “The stories in these books bring tears to my eyes with the philosophy and stories of their own Kåñëa conscious culture. with their sweetness and devoWithin two months of starting to tion, food for my soul, spiritual learn English with the new series and moral instruction and creof books, children and teachers ative mental imagery to my mind, were talking more about serving with their beautiful colorful Våndävana than about becoming pictures. They systematically wealthy engineers. develop the child’s reading Seeing the success of these skills—teaching children to read books reminds us of how at higher levels. I wish I had had Prabhupäda wrote in several different letters in the late 60’s and early 70’s: “It is good to note that you are writing these children’s books to comply with the academic standards of the public schools… if you can illustrate these books with pictures they will certainly become very, very popular in the [government] (Top) Learn-to-read kits; (above) school kids eager to schools. ..… you learn using these kits; (opposite page) a teacher can write many teaching a student on how to use the magic pen. books for children

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and insert pictures, then they will be a sure success…. Therefore do this work very carefully to explain simply and directly Who is Krsna, who we are, what is the material world, what is the relationship of Krsna with the living entities, how we should act in that relationship, etc. And if you can illustrate these books with pictures they will certainly become very, very popular in the schools.”

“Give me more of those books!” Now I sit with two of my grandchildren and teach them reading from the new books. If we take a day off they beg for reading class, and they are learning so quickly I am astonished. When we finish a class, they take the word lists and study on their own, creating their own sentences and their own books. They look for the words they are learning in any other print they can find throughout the day. It’s hard to end class each day. It is interesting to see that they are both learning easily and in their own style. The program naturally adjusts to them with no effort on my part. My daughter-in-law and I notice them talking about the stories. “Most stories in early learn-to-read books are so boring, no one wants to read them,” I comment to her. Hearing our discussion, my 13year-old grandson calls out from his room, “The stories are so much fun, I like to read them myself!” It is common for me to get letters saying that older children or adults are having so much fun with the books that the children for whom they were purchased have to beg to read them.

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What’s Magical about These Textbooks? I taught hundreds of children how to read during about three decades of being a teacher, but children didn’t like reading class this much. Is it the spiritual content? The fact that even the beginning stories have a real plot? The fact that many illustrations are done by devotees who are professional animators? The variety of illustrations from international artists? The fact that the series can support varieties of teaching techniques, even though some proponents of each claim these methods cannot be reconciled? The fact that 2 of the top 5 literacy experts in the world gave book-by-book guidance? The fact that the pages talk in 25 languages and the pictures speak? Books that talk? How did that happen? In 2009, I learned about a new technology that would embed audio files into ordinary paper using nearly invisible dots. Our books would be able to talk with the touch of a special penlike device. We decided to have each page of text speak in 25 languages. The characters in the pictures would also talk, adding conversational English and songs beyond the text. Children and teachers could also record their voices into the pages. No other “learn to read” book in the world had such features. Our publisher told us, “Have devotees of Kåñëa do the recording, rather than professional actors who are not devotees. The mood comes through the voice, and you want people who love the stories.” His advice now shines from every page as the characters in the 500 pieces of

original artwork speak to the young readers.

Worldwide Appreciation When I was in Tirupati and Chennai in South India, local devotees took me to meet leaders in education in the Çrésampradäya, in the disciplic line from Rämänujäcärya. They are astounded to see their beloved stories and values in a series that uses the most scientific teaching methods. And they were thrilled to hear the books speak in their own languages of Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada as much as the North Indians enjoyed the Hindi, Bengali, and Gujarati, or the European devotees were amazed to hear Spanish, French, Russian, and Croatian come from otherwise ordinary paper. Children who are not Indian, not Hindu, not devotees of Kåñëa, and not even vegetarian or interested in reincarnation are also enchanted with the “magical” books. We received this letter from the staff at a secular government school in Wales, UK, “We would like to thank you for the wonderful books you gave us for the children. They have enjoyed using them. We feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to enjoy these stories.” The Hare Kåñëa Movement is now the first among all the top publishers of the world to have a learn-to-read series that speaks in twenty-five languages. We are

also the first to have a series that can be used with whole language or two kinds of phonics. We are the first to have a reading series that promotes India’s spiritual values while at the same time meeting professional educational standards. But the greatest satis-

faction is being part of a program that pleases the Lord and His pure devotees, who want to see as many people as possible molding their hearts and minds towards spiritual perfection. To know more about these books or order them, visit: http://talkingpen.in/ www.illuminationeducation.com/ home http://blservices.com/books/ children-books/dr-best-urmila-dd Urmilä Devé Däsé, a disciple of Srila Prabhupäda, is an associate editor of the International Back to Godhead magazine. She has a Ph. D in Education with three decades of teaching experience. Urmilä and her husband are in the vänaprastha order. They have three married children and ten grandchildren.

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The Many Faces of

Karma

The principle of action and reaction works on both macroscopic and microscopic levels, much beyond the perceivable world of physics.

By Satyaräja Däsa

M

y first experience with karma—although I did not call it that—came as a little boy. I used to collect comic books and, although I had never done anything like this before, I had one day stolen three new issues from the local newsstand. My mother, of course, would have freaked, and I made it

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a point not to tell her. But some two weeks later I invited a new boy in the neighborhood to see my collection. After he left, I went through my comics—only to find that one of my favorite issues was missing. I never saw that boy again. I told the whole story to my brother—he was older and wiser

(I was nine and he nearly twenty). Terribly upset by the incident, I could hardly convey my anguish and fear. I had just been violated in what seemed to me a very serious way. Someone had stolen my most cherished comic book. While my brother, in later years, did not turn out to be the most religious person, I will

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never forget his sage reply: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” This was karma in a nutshell, but I didn’t know it then. Still, I never stole again, the connection between my own thievery and that of losing my own comic becoming clearer as the years passed.

Golden Rule of Karma As I approached my teenage years, a good Christian friend told me of The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This Rule, I was later to learn, is expressed variously by the world’s major religious traditions. In Judaism, it is taught, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen.” (Talmud, Shabbat, 3 la) Christianity teaches, “Whatever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12) The followers of Islam declare, “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (Sunnah, Hadith) In Confucianism, it is said, “Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others that which you would not have them do unto you.” (Analects. 15:23) Buddhism also teaches, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga, 5:18) And finally, in the world’s earliest religious scriptures, the Indic texts, we find, “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” (Mahabhärata, 5:1517). This Golden Rule, of course, is inextricably linked to karma: Whatever you do to others is

going to come right back at you. It may not always come as quickly as it did in the incident with my comic books, but it is a universal law of justice with which I was becoming increasingly familiar. A few years later, in fact, I was observing a sad-looking shoppingbag lady on the street, who was murmuring to herself something about “an unjust God.” She began to use foul language, and her tirade soon developed into a hysterical and blasphemous spectacle that everyone present was aghast to behold. At the very climax of her animated shouting match with the Supreme Lord, how-

of karma, and I seemed to find examples of this wherever I went. As I entered high school, for instance, I was taught Newton’s Third Law of Motion in my primary physics course. “For every action, there is an equal and commensurate reaction.” While this at first sounded distant and clinical—as did most things I would learn in that science class—I soon realized that this was just another form of karma. It had its limitations, to be sure. Newton’s Law applied only to matter. But I was aware that the implications ran deeper than that, and it was applicable on a more subtle level as well. It was not until I met the devotees of Kåñëa, however, that my knowledge of action and reaction gelled. Cause and effect, I came to learn, exists in subtle realms, even as it exists with gross matter, as was expressed in Newton’s Law. What exits on the macro scale must have a counterpart on the micro scale.

Karma, Akarma and Vikarma ever, she inadvertently did something which made her entire audience chuckle (and I think it even made them somewhat aware of the law of karma): she raised her head and spit into the sky—as if she were spitting into the face of God. The next scene was priceless, as her very own saliva came crashing down onto her own face. Ironically, as she was trying to assault God, she would herself receive the brunt of her own attack. This was, again, a very immediate form

What I had always felt intuitively was confirmed by the philosophy of Kåñëa Consciousness. The Vaiñëava scriptures of ancient India—upon which the philosophy of Kåñëa consciousness rests—logically and precisely explains karma and all of its ramifications. It especially explains karma’s all-inclusive nature. This is the aspect that interested me most of all. For throughout my life I saw threads of karmic truth weaving a story around me, culminating in my affiliation with the Kåñëa Consciousness movement.

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Karma was the subject of a popular John Lennon song in the ‘70s, Instant Karma. And in the ‘80s, author Mark Braunstein, in his book, Radical Vegetarianism, eloquently summed up the farreaching effects of the universal law: Scientifically, karma can be described as action and reaction, epistemologically, as cause and effect, Biblically and botanically as sowing and reaping, and even economically as supply and demand.

Over the years, karma became a catch word, but few were aware of its deepest implications. According to the Vaiñëava literature, karma indeed exists on the most subtle and profound levels. But we need, in turn, a more subtle and profoundly spiritual level of awareness to perceive such action and reaction. The Vedas teach us that there are three kinds of karma. The first, known simply as karma, actually refers to righteous duty, performed with reference to scripture and the advice of the sages. This results in pious reaction. Second, we learn of vikarma, which is a product of misconduct and snowballs into complete degradation. Finally, we learn of akarma. These are transcendental activities meant for the pleasure of the Lord. There is no material reaction for akarma activities— only spiritual life, in eternity, knowledge and bliss. Needless to say, most people engage in karmic and vikarmic actions. Karma, or pious activities, is

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preferable, of course, to vikarma, or impious activities, for such good karma leads to health and happiness. But good karma can itself be binding (since it leads to happiness, it can also lead to attachment to the material world). Still, it can sometimes act as a catalyst to transcendence, to the superior platform of spiritual happiness. After all, material happiness is limited and temporary by definition, but spiritual happiness is limitless and perpetual. Naturally, given the choice, one will choose to become free from karma. And good karma may put someone in the position where they can make a clear choice. The third face of karma, then, known as akarma, is thus the situation that is most desirable, for it in essence frees one from karma altogether, frees one from

action and reaction once and for all. This idea is not very difficult to understand. For in principle one is no longer working on his own behalf—why then should one have to suffer or enjoy the fruits of his activities? If he is now acting on God’s behalf, why would God not accept the residual effects? Why would God not destroy the material effects and let His devotee live a fully free life in service to his Lord? In fact, this is what happens. And it can be clearly understood by the following (admittedly crude) analogy. If a man walks out into the street and kills someone in cold blood, he would be considered mad and hopefully caught and put in prison. But if another man joins the armed forces, the Army, and kills a man for the government, then he is given a

Devotional service to Kåñëa gives you no material reaction. In fact, it destroys all past accumulated reactions.

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medal or a nice plaque to put on his wall. He is then considered a great hero. When he kills for his own purposes, he is held responsible for his actions, but when he kills on behalf of his government, he is lauded as a great personality and his government accepts full responsibility for him. It is the same thing with God and His devotees. If one works for his own selfish ends in this world, he will naturally absorb the full reaction to his work. But if one surrenders to God, it is God who burns up all of the reactions. This is the principle of akarma. The choice is ours.

The Mystery of Karma For many people, karma— whether they call it that or not— remains a big question. But it should not be overlooked that karma answers many questions as well. Why is one child born blind and another with vision? It’s their karma. This may be a little difficult to understand, at first. But it is important to note that the doctrine of reincarnation logically accompanies the idea of karma. Think about it. Why is one child born blind and another perfectly healthy? Or as Job in the Bible asks: “Why do the righteous suffer?” The answer has eluded Western theologians for centuries. But the Vaiñëava texts answer this in a convincing way: To the degree that one has been righteous, to that degree one will not suffer. In other words, one’s suffering is commensurate with one’s sinful activities. And those activities could have been performed in this life, or in a previous one. But why an innocent child? It follows that the child is not innocent. If we deny the previous

life, then we are caught without Prabhupäda and the great äcäryas an answer. But the answer of of India do not use these exact karma and reincarnation—as words, they do in fact develop cold as it may at first sound—is a this concept to its fullest extent. logical response. We return to And their teaching goes further this world time and again to learn still. They explain that you only our lessons and develop our become free from this vicious strengths. The learning is often cycle by surrendering to God, subtle, so that, though we do not which is epitomized in the perforovertly remember what mistakes mance of akarma activities, such we may have made in a previous life, as chanting the holy name of the we will naturally be directed by Lord and performing the other them to constantly progress, or heartening and enjoyable actividigress, according to our desire ties of bhakti-yoga. But especially and work (karma). That we do chanting—this is the recomnot remember the activities of previous lives is an insubstantial claim to their nonexistence. After all, few readers probably remember the first few words of this article. And, with the trauma of death and a recurring birth, our memory is hardly sharpened. Still, Vaiñëava knowledge as delivered in the sacred texts of Understanding the laws of karma help one understand India—and parwhy even righteous people sometimes suffer ticularly as found terrible reactions. in the translations and explanations of Çréla mended process of self-realization Prabhupäda’s books—does for the current age of quarrel and sharpen one’s memory and develhypocrisy. Becoming free from ops one’s intellect. In these books, karma is merely a mantra away! and in others like them, it becomes clear that you not only Satyaräja Däsa is a disciple of reap what you sow, but you “sow a Çréla Prabhupäda and a regular thought to reap an act, sow an act contributor to Back to Godhead. to reap a habit, sow a habit to He has written several books on reap a character, sow a character Kåñëa consciousness. He and his to reap a destiny.” Although Çréla wife live in New York City.

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Face to

Face with

Frustration Not getting what you want? Perhaps it’s good for you.

By Muräri Gupta Däsa

P

lease cancel my tickets,” I said to my friend on the phone. “I won’t be able to

go.” I hung up the phone and sank down onto my bed, my head in

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my hands. I had to cancel the trip to Jagannätha Puré and Mäyäpur I had been so eagerly looking forward to. Past few weeks in my life had been very turbulent, so when my friends proposed a spiritual

retreat to the holy dhämas so dear to the followers of Lord Caitanya, I jumped at the offer, hoping for a welcome break. But it could not happen now. My stringent schedule was not loosening its grip on me.

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and tested remedy to find solutions for life’s incessant problems: scriptures and devotional talks. As always, I found direction. Teachings from the scriptures gave me a perspective to understand my situation and make peace with it. Inevitably all of us will sometimes find ourselves face to face with frustration. Some people advocate venting frustration by going to an empty field and shouting curses or visiting a dump-yard to break the windows of rejected vehicles. You can do that. Or you can choose to ponder over some jewels from the timeless Vedic teachings that may help during turbulent times. Here are my lifelines: Light in the Abyss 1. Don’t brood: Stop I had to come out of the mental mess, so I turned to my old meditating on the problem over and over again. Unfulfilled desires have a strange habit. Unlike most of the thousand other thoughts that arise in our mind and then vaporize in thin air, unfulfilled desires hover around the mind like a hot air balloon anchored to the earth. The more we think about them, the more strongly they stay tethered to our consciousness, refusing to leave, making it increasingly Scriptural teachings can throw light on our life’s effortless to situations and help us make peace with them. think of them. “Damn it!” I swore. I shot from the bed, threw my pillow to the ground, and pulled out the bed sheet. I heaved the coir mattress and wanted to fling it too but it was too heavy. I dropped it half on the floor, stomped out of the room, went into the bathroom, and stood with my arms bent over the sink. Breathing heavily I stared down at the dark drain. A while later, tears dripped in it. Unable to drive my life according to my desires I was frustrated, angry, and helpless. My mind swirled like a dry leaf caught in a hurricane. I had no one to talk to, no way to sort things out.

It creates a vicious cycle. And when you can’t satisfy their demands, they bring their buddies—anger and frustration— who are so expert in making you miserable. The Gétä (2.62) warns us against such moody musings: “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” So the first solution is to think of something else. Get busy. Don’t keep an idol mind ransacked by devilish thoughts. 2. Wait for the good times: The Eighth canto of ÇrémadBhägavatam relates a story in which the demons attack the demigods. Although the demigods are the “good guys” in the cosmic hierarchy, and one would expect them to win against the evil forces, in this instance they find themselves no match for the vastly superior demoniac army. Helpless, they approach the Supreme Lord. But instead of helping them win the war, the Lord advices them to declare a truce, until time favors them. There are times when anything we touch turns to dust. Our projects fail, people misunderstand us, we don’t get credit for the good things we do, get blamed for wrongs others do, our relationships sour, our academic performance plummet, and our career crashes. Nothing—absolutely nothing— works. Instead of getting restless during these times, we should remember the Lord’s instruction to the demigods and declare a truce with life until time favors us. In the Bhagavad-gétä (2.14) Lord Kåñëa points out the impermanence of good and bad

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times and emphasizes the quality of tolerance: “O son of Kunté, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” As the proverb says, “Good times, bad times, all times, pass over.” 3. Persevere: Patiently tolerating

America, and only a handful of followers, yet he did not give up. Within a decade, his perseverance saw the emergence of not just one Kåñëa temple, but more than a hundred temples worldwide. 4. There might be a higher plan: Sometimes the efforts we put into a project might not fetch us the expected returns. But then Lord Kåñëa may reward us somewhere else. A few years back I was part of a group of devotees distributing sets of Çréla Prabhupäda ’s books in factories. We were working hard in

new area turned out to be a goldmine. He met a highly placed person who arranged for us to visit many top companies, and we distributed hundreds of book sets. 5. Be detached: While randomly opening the pages of Bhagavad-gétä, I came across text 9.7, where the Lord says, “O son of Kunté, at the end of the millennium all material manifestations enter into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency, I create them again.” I pondered, “Within this unlimitedly vast creation and unlimited stretch of time, where do I and my tiny problem stand?” I heaved a breath of relief. 6. Kåñëa knows the best: Lord Kåñëa is like the affectionate father who gives us what we need, not what we want. Often something we ask for could be harmful for us, so God does not give it. Or by denying us what we

(Top) One must persevere in spite of all adverse situations, and (below) one must have faith that there is the plan of God behind everything.

adverse times does not mean we should give up our efforts. Çréla Prabhupäda brilliantly exemplifies the quality of perseverance in times of frustration. Desiring to build the first Rädhä-Kåñëa temple in New York City, he solicited help from influential godbrothers, pious Indian business magnates, and the government of India, but no one helped him. He was seventy, with modest means, few contacts in

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the capital of an Indian state, trying to meet VIPs, political leaders, police chiefs, and so on, with the hope of getting large orders of books. But nothing seemed to work out. I remember walking into eighteen companies in a day and getting no’s everywhere. Later, I stayed in the area to coordinate book distribution while my senior colleague went to another area. And—whoa! The

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want, He may be giving us a chance to grow internally. He knows what is best for us. And He is the controller, not us. It’s prudent to be patient and keep faith in His good judgment. 7. Accept the situation with humility: In a lecture, His Holiness Rädhänätha Swami Mahäräja, explained how to accept frustrating situations with humility: One of the greatest illusions is the pride that we deserve what we want. Humility means thinking, “I deserve nothing. I deserve the worst. Whatever I get is better than what I deserve.” A humble person is grateful for whatever he gets. If good comes, with folded palms we say, ‘Thank You Kåñëa, You are so kind. You are a loving father.’ If suffering comes in our lives, with tears in the heart we will say, ‘Kåñëa you are so kind I

deserve so much worse. This is just what I require for my purification.’

“The egoistic person always thinks, “I deserve better.” But the humble person thinks everything is the causeless mercy of the Lord. If you are grateful to Kåñëa and you are reciprocating with loving feeling with Kåñëa in every circumstance of your life, you will never be disturbed. That is

helps me face the hurricanes. In this regard, Çrémad-Bhägavatam teaches us a wonderful lesson through the life of brähmaëa from Avanti. Formerly a multimillionaire, he lost all his wealth and was subsequently shunned by his family and friends. People treated him brutally, yet he found solace in taking shelter of God. In a stanza of a song he composed, he spoke about his realizations, “These people are not the cause

“One of the greatest illusions is the pride that we deserve what we want.” humility. The one qualification which makes us eligible for joy and peace in the state of liberation is that we expect nothing, that we deserve nothing. Therefore with gracious heart we thank Lord Kåñëa for everything that comes. Lord Caitanya prays in the Çikñäñöaka (8), ‘My Lord if You want You can embrace me; if You want You can make me broken hearted by not being present before me; if You want You can trample upon me. I am Your servant and You have every right to deal with me in any way You please.’ If you can become humble you will be peaceful. You will be joyful, and full of bliss twenty-four hours of the day, because happiness is not what we have or get; happiness is the disposition of the heart.

A Continuous Challenge Although I have compiled this list, I must say I still find keeping sane in the face of frustration a continuous challenge. But the foundation of spiritual teachings in my life

of my happiness and distress. Neither are the demigods, my own body, the planets, my past work, or time. Rather, it is the mind alone that causes happiness and distress and perpetuates the rotation of material life.” (Bhägavatam 11.23.42) A materially attached mind is a source of suffering, but a mind focused on transcendence, fixed on Kåñëa, is always in a state of happiness (änandämbudhivardhanam). Happiness comes as a by-product of love of Kåñëa. The prime benediction for all humanity is the chanting of the Lord’s holy names. There is no other way in this age to purify our mind, to make it our best friend. When the mind is purified then the heart blossoms like a lotus. We see Lord Kåñëa everywhere, and we see His love in everything and everyone. We should aspire to be in such a spiritual state of consciousness. Muräré Gupta Däsa is a member of the BTG India editorial team.

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MY EXPERIENCE

T

his particular story began when I was thir teen—I began to develop a chronic, mysteri ous illness that only became progressively more painful. One day at school when I was fourteen, Google was just emerging as a tool to find information, so I searched for the symptoms of my illness, and this is what I found: a form of cancer— six months to one year to live. I remember that my mind numbed, my vision became sharp and blurred at the same time. I remember that I stood up from the computer and

my condition and nearly declared that I had cancer and would need a very invasive surgery if I had any hope to live. Her diagnosis was incorrect, but the mystery persisted. For my fifteenth summer, I flew to my childhood home of New Vrindavan. A spiritual teacher of the Hare Krishna movement was visiting then. One morning he was giving a lecture and I decided to stay. His lecture spoke about life and death—the immediacy that at any moment we may die and the immediacy of taking to spiritual life right now. Tears streamed down my face because I knew he spoke from realization—he must have heard his own death sentence in his life once, because his words resonated so deeply within me. An elder woman who had known me for many years as a child saw me crying and came over to comfort me. She asked me what was wrong. All I could say was, “This is true.” I struggled for many years with my illness, but I found shelter in Kåñëa consciousness, and I found shelter in the teachings of Çréla Prabhupäda.

In and Out of Fire By Bhakti-latä Devé Däsé walked out into the hot sun. Students and teachers busily moved about me in a whirl, and one question echoed in my mind: WHY? How do I describe how it feels to hear one’s own death sentence? At fourteen, I was planning all the things I would do—the world to travel, schools to establish, people to meet—and in one moment it had all been taken away from me. It seemed so unjust, so unfair. With my deep nature and immature age, the weight of the mystery of life and death began to crush down upon me that day and for many years to come. I did not tell anyone what I had found. Instead, I searched for the meaning of life in scripture, in my faith. The next several years brought in a merry-goround of doctors. One doctor in particular looked at

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A devotee once told me that in metalworking, gold is put into a fire to purify it. The hotter the fire, the purer the metal becomes. Our soul is like that—sometimes if the Lord is especially loving and kind, He will put us into the fire of an experience to purify our soul. More than a decade has passed since that fateful day at school. Several years ago, my illness left me just as mysteriously as it came. To this day, I still do not know its name or cause. Or maybe I do: its name was “fire” and its cause was to purify my soul, to learn to live every day of my life, every moment of my life, every breath of my life for the Lord. Some days I weep tears of gratitude for that fire, and grateful to Çréla Prabhupäda for teaching me that that fire was one of the most beautiful blessings I could ever receive from the Lord.

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HARE KÅÑËA PEOPLE

A Muslim Vaiñëava? A meeting with a Russian devotee helps the author remove all misunderstandings about Muslims.

By Vrajavihäré Däsa

A

n ISKCON temple is located on the outskirts of Moscow, in a town named Eurolova. I stayed there for two weeks. One day, while giving the morning Çrémad-Bhägavatam class, I quoted from both the Koran and the Bible. Devotees cheered me, giving me the “thumbs up” sign. They were elated to know that the Koran mentions that God has a form. Later we discussed how certain religious systems do not allow their followers to raise their level of consciousness. Names of popular figures came up during the discussion, and devotees expressed how Russia is full of mlecchas and yavanas (followers of non-Vedic principles, namely unrestricted meat-eating etc.). Little did I know that in just

a few hours, a life-changing incident was to unfold.

Life-changing Incident After my class I went down to the temple hall to see the Deities.

Amåta Gopäla Däsa

I was surprised to see an old man in saffron robes (a brahmacäré from the temple’s äçhram) alone in the spacious hall, chanting and dancing. His fervent devotion touched my heart, and I tried to take his photo. He shied away, but I succeeded in the end. Still, it was clear he was embarrassed, so I left the room. Four hours later I returned to the temple hall. That brahmacäré was still there chanting and dancing. I was surprised. Not wanting to disturb him this time, I asked another temple resident about him. I was informed that the man was Amåta Gopäla Däsa, a 55-year-old devotee who loves to chant and glorify Kåñëa. When he is at the temple he spends his whole day in kértana. He also travels on the

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temple’s behalf. I learnt that for the last so many years he has been one of the most prolific distributors of Vedic literature in Russia—he travels from Vladivostok to Siberia, selling books by the thousands. He goes out to sell books even in the winter, when temperatures fall to -20 or -30 degrees Celsius. I can barely conceive of such cold. I am from Mumbai, where the coldest it gets is +20. A few devotees saw me listening to the glories of Amåta Gopäla with rapt attention and became excited to both hear what was being said and add their own details. I learnt that Amåta

his devotion. I witnessed how he didn’t waste time gossiping or being frivolous. I also noticed him every day at ärati coming forward to take the lamp and flowers offered to the Deity and, with the childlike enthusiasm of a new bhakta, offering them to the devotees.

Purifying My Material Vision Near the end of my stay I got excited enough to run up to him. I hugged him tightly and exclaimed, “You are a Vaiñëava! My life is a success because I have seen you!” Immediately he pulled away and tears gushed from his eyes. “You are a devotee from the sacred land

Each time he said “I have no devotion for Kåñëa,” I felt pained at how wrongly I had judged Muslims. Gopäla doesn’t sleep at night. Instead, he chants japa throughout the night and sleeps between 5:00 am and 7:00 am. During the rest of the day he is busy with various services or his kértana. He also sometimes does three-day fasts from food and water in order to save time for chanting the holy names. A younger devotee explained how the other night he wasn’t chanting in his usual place. Curious, this devotee searched for Amåta Gopäla and was surprised to find him alone in the altar room (the place where the Deities are worshipped). Amåta Gopäla’s face was wet with tears as he offered prayers to Kåñëa, indifferent to the world asleep around him. Over the next two weeks, I heard one incredible story after another about Amåta Gopäla and

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of India. I am simply a worthless mleccha.” I gaped in disbelief as he condemned himself for being from a yavana background. The others then told me that Amåta Gopäla Prabhu’s legal name is Albert Tariqq Abbassov, and that he was born in a conservative Muslim family in southern Russia. He continued to lament, “I have no

devotion for Kåñëa. Please bless me that one day I develop attraction for chanting Kåñëa’s holy names.” I was humbled and inspired by his genuine, non-pretentious Vaiñëava qualities. Over the next few days I embraced him daily, saying, “O Vaiñëava!” And he responded each time, “No, Musalmaan, Musalmaan! You are a Vaiñëava!” Each time he said it, I felt pained at how wrongly I had understood Muslims. Here was a Vaiñëava who defied all my conventional understanding of religion. Praying to Nämäcärya Çréla Haridäsa Öhäkura, who was also born in a Muslim family but is considered the greatest devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu, I desired to be free from my offensive mentality of judging people based on their external religious designation. It’s better to be born in a non-Vedic family and have genuine humility and devotion to Kåñëa than as a puffed-up hypocrite with no devotion, carrying the burden of material qualifications. My hope is that if one day I can sincerely appreciate Amåta Gopäla Prabhu, I will be purified of my material vision.

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

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Modern Culture A Civilization of Animals Unless we transcend animalistic forms of enjoyment, we will remain aloof from the bliss of Kåñëa consciousness.

by Jähnu Dvépa Däsa

I

n the modern culture it is advertized that sense enjoy ment will create happiness. Indeed, sense enjoyment is the only type of happiness the population is educated in. Let’s analyze what bodily and mental happiness is all about. Sex is regarded by most people to be the highest form of joy available in the world. But this enjoyment is merely an attempt to escape the suffering of being without sex. It’s misery to live in forced celibacy. Anyone who has reached puberty can testify to that. Or eating. To eat is considered one of life’s major enjoyments. But actually to eat is just an attempt to escape the suffering of hunger. In the Western culture few people don’t know what it means to suffer from famine, but it is a great suffering experienced by many people of the world. And that’s how it is with most of the enjoyment we seek and experience. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, are the four activities shared by all living entities. In the modern world it has become the foremost goal to fulfil and satisfy these four base urges. They have been made the standard of happiness and enjoy-

ment in life. The entire civilization revolves around these four principles. That is an animal civilization. A proper human civilization runs on a whole different set of principles. As a human, one is expected to have higher goals in life than the mere chasing after basic animal urges. But in the modern culture entire industries have been created to fulfil these four basic needs. Billions of tons of iron are extracted from the earth to make pots, knives, forks, plates, serviettes, cups, and glasses etc. All of it, just to aid us in eating. Then they have more sense in India. In fact, they are more civilized. They eat with their fingers from a banana leaf. In the west this is scoffed at as primitive and backwards, but actually it shows a higher sense of intelligence. No use for billions of tons of iron to make knives and forks. No dishwashing afterwards. You just throw your banana-leaf on the compost heap and wash your mouth and hands. How easy is that? And who is to be blamed for the fact that the modern world runs on animalistic principles? Atheism is at fault. Atheism

reduces the human being to nothing more than an animal. But the human life-form is a unique opportunity for the soul to realize his real, eternal identity. The human form of life is a waste of time for the soul if it is not used to learn how to love Kåñëa. The soul can relate to Kåñëa as his master, his father, his son, his lover, or he can have a neutral relationship with Him, the point being that Kåñëa is the only center. He is the beloved of the soul. When we love Kåñëa, Who is the root of everything, we automatically love all His parts and parcels—all other living entities. It’s like watering a tree. One does not benefit the tree by pouring water on every leaf and branch. Water is poured on the root. Then the whole tree is nourished. In the same way all living entities are benefitted, when one loves and serves Kåñëa, the root of all existence. Jähnudvépa Däsa is a disciple of His Holiness Jayapatäka Swami Mahäräja. He, along with his wife, Braja Sevaké Devé Däsé, published Mäyäpur Journal and Mäyäpur Magazine for several years.

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In your own words ... How will you encourage a devotee during his or her hard times? I WILL TRY TO PACIFY my friend by saying a few consolation words: “I understand you are undergoing a difficult time. The situation is going from bad to worse, and it seems this is never going to end. Know for certain that this is Kåñëa’s special mercy, and through these situations, the Lord wants to purify you by removing all the unwanted things from within you. The situations you are undergoing are like cleaning, brushing and sweeping of your heart, and that is definitely painful. Be patient, tolerant and humble. Associate with devotees, chant Kåñëa’s holy names sincerely, and I am sure you will get the strength to face the problems. Lord Kåñëa will give you the intelligence to tackle the situation, and eventually He will overflow your whole life with unlimited love.” —Janaka Däsa DURING HARD TIMES, a person feels that such times are going to last forever, and one loses all faith in God. I would try to encourage such a person by instilling within faith in God. God never leaves His devotees to suffer. He actually takes extra care of His devotees. I would tell my friend that if things are not working out the way he wants, he should not fret. Instead, he should be calm and believe in God. Whatever is the situation, God will always rescue His devotees. However, my friend

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should play his part. He should try his level best to resolve the situation. He should do whatever he can in his capacity. But in the entire process he should remember that God is there with him. Devotees are God’s most beloved! He should simply trust God and everything will be in place. —Swati Pande FOR A DEVOTEE undergoing difficult times, I will assume the role of Jämbavän, who in Rämäyaëa had reminded Hanumän of his innate strength and capabilities. I will remind my devotee friend that he need not worry as our father is the Supreme Lord Çrédhara who has the potency to take care of us in all dire circumstances. Lord Kåñëa himself declares in the Bhagavadgétä that His devotee never perishes. Our limited job is to remember Kåñëa in every walk of life, which will protect us from all accidental downfalls. As the popular saying goes, “When God closes all doors and windows, don’t think your bad days have come. It is just that there may be a storm on its way, and He wants you to be safe.” —Aashish Mungekar I WILL TRY TO PACIFY my friend with the following words: “If life’s a bed of roses then something is seriously wrong. Çré Kåñëa has declared this material world as full of miseries. If life sways like a

seesaw then it’s a good sign of normal life. We see that the lives of all great devotees consisted of many ups and downs. But because they were too absorbed in their beloved Lord, these troubles seemed trivial to them. Their life histories are living proofs of the power of devotion that worked beyond all material laws. Though the whole world was against them, they sailed through safely, for they had Kåñëa by their side. Troubles are like stepping stones to success in devotion because they teach us great lessons. Rest assured that Kåñëa as jagad-guru certainly guides us to become better humans. Catch hold of Kåñëa as tightly as possible. You need Him more and more than any time before.” —Meera Kåñëa ENCOURAGING A DEVOTEE is easy because a devotee is aware of the basic Kåñëa consciousness philosophy. I will encourage my friend by explaining to her that hard times are put forth IN YOUR OWN WORDS QUESTION FOR THE FORTHCOMING ISSUE

What steps will you adopt in your life towards natural living?

Deadline for submission is September 25 Answers will be published in November 2011

Word limit: 150 words/ 15 lines E-mail: ed.btgindia@pamho.net

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by the Lord to those whom He feels are capable of handling them. Life was not a bed of roses for the Päëòavas, Kåñëa’s ardent followers, and they could successfully cross all hurdles by holding firmly to the shawl of the Lord. She too can get over her hard times by becoming more strong and firm in Kåñëa consciousness. I give her prasäda because by eating it, her mind will think less of the problem that she is undergoing. I will show her the Lord’s wonderful creation, all around destruction

and the hard time He must be having maintaining everything he has so lovingly created. —Geeta Dodeja BHAGAVAD-GÉTÄ (2.14) SAYS, “The non-permanent appearance of happiness or distresses and their disappearance in due course of time, are like appearance and disappearance of winter and summer.” I will tell my friend that he must learn to tolerate such ups and downs in life, without being unduly disturbed. The hard times are but a passing phase,

just like low or high tide on the sea shore. The Lord is testing your firm faith in Him and also your ability to overcome such adverse situations. You must have complete faith and must surrender at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu and Rädhä-Kåñëa. Find solace in the association of Vaiñëavas, honor kåñëaprasäda, chant Hare Kåñëa and be happy! It is said: “Tough times do not last, tough people do! Just do not give up!” —Colonel Ashok Sayanakar (Retd.), Pune

Hare Krishna, Greetings and best wishes from ISKCON Juhu, Mumbai, to all the readers of Back to Godhead Magazine. ISKCON Juhu is happy to announce the launch of a new book distribution website, http://www.iskconbooks.com. It will allow easy access to all the transcendental literatures of Çréla Prabhupäda. One can order the books online for oneself and also gift it to near and dear ones on various occasions. You can also participate in our educational program by donating to our Vidyadan program in which we distribute Çréla Prabhupäda’s books to students and needy people free of cost or at subsidized rates. Highlights of the website · Over 300 titles available in 15 languages · Easy to order, easy to pay, easy to track · Multiple shipping options available for India, like Ordinary Registered post and Speed post for instant delivery by Air mail. · Shipping options also available by Air mail Economy, Standard and High Priority courier for fast and efficient deliveries of books worldwide. · Easy and secure online and offline payment options

Online payment options are given as below: · All major credit cards, ATM-cum-debit card, Net banking through Indian Bank Accounts, Convenient Mobile Payment Option, easy Cash Card payment option Offline payment options are given as below: · COD Cash on Delivery by VPP, Money Orders, Bank transfers (NEFT/ RTGS), Cheques/ Demand Drafts/ Pay Orders, etc. We humbly request all the readers to kindly make use of this website and be blessed by becoming an instrument of peace and happiness. Haribol!!!

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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness

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/ jasomati nandan.acbsp@pamho.net, Baroda—(0265) 231-0630/ 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: Beed—(02442) 231799/ iskcon.beed@pamho.net; 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/kamalalochan.gkg @pamho.net; 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—(0141) 2782765, 2781860/ jaipur@pamho.net; TAMIL NADU: Chennai— (044) 24530921; Coimbatore— (0422) 2574508/ info@iskcon-coimbatore.org; Madurai—(0452) 2746472; Salem—(0427) 2360012, 9442153427/ iskcon.salem@ pamho.net; Sri Rangam—(0431) 433945; Vellore—(0416) 2241654, 9790392143/ akinchan_bvks97@rediffmail.com; TRIPURA: Agartala—(0381) 227053/ 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) 2636500; Noida—(095120) 2454912/ vraja.bhakti.vilas.lok@pamho.net; Varanasi—(0542) 276422; Vrindavan—(0565) 254-0021 (Guesthouse) 2540022 vrindavan@pamho.net; UTTARANCHAL: Haridwar— (01334) 260818, 261116; 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

V AIÑËAVA C ALENDAR September 01 – October 15, 2011

2 Sep: Çrématé Sitä Öhäkuräné (Çré Advaita’s consort) – Appearance 3 Sep: Lalitä-ñañöhé: Appearance of Çrématé Lalitä Devé 5 Sep: Rädhäñöamé: Appearance of Çrématé Rädhäräëé 8 Sep: Fasting for Pärçva Ekädaçé (Additional complete fasting till noon today on account of Lord Vämanadeva’s appearance on the next day) 9 Sep: Breakfast (Mumbai) 06:25 am – 10:32 am, Çré Vämana Dvädaçé: Appearance of Lord Vämanadeva (Fasting is done yesterday), Çréla Jiva Gosvämé – Appearance 10 Sep: Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura – Appearance 11 Sep: Ananta Caturdaçé Vrata, Çréla Haridäsa Öhäkura – Disappearance, Last day of the second Cäturmäsya month 12 Sep: Çré Viçvarüpa Mahotsava, Acceptance of sannyäsa by Çréla Prabhupäda, Third month of Cäturmäsya begins (fasting from milk for one month) 19 Sep: Çréla Prabhupäda’s arrival in the USA 24 Sep: Fasting for Indirä Ekädaçé 25 Sep: Break fast (Mumbai) 06:27 am – 10:29 am 6 Oct: Çré Rämacandra Vijayotsava, Çré Madhväcärya – Appearance 8 Oct: Pakñavardhiné Mahädvädaçé, Fasting for Päçäìkuçä Ekädaçé, Çréla Raghunätha Däsa Gosvämé – Disappearance, Çréla Raghunätha Bhaööa Gosvämé – Disappearance, Çréla Kåñëadasa Kavéräja Gosvämé – Disappearance 9 Oct: Break fast (Mumbai) 06:31 am – 10:27 am 10 Oct: Last day of the third month of Cäturmäsya month 11 Oct: Çré Kåñëa Çäradéyä Räsayäträ, Çré Muräré Gupta – Disappearance, Lakñmé-püjä, Fourth month of Cäturmäsya begins (fasting from urad däl for one month) SEPTEMBER 2011

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EDITORIAL

How do you verify the authenticity of Vedic scriptures?

I

s your software genuine? If not, kindly contact us, and we will help you sort out your problem.” Can something similar be done with Vedic literature? For example, if someone wants to know whether Jesus Christ is mentioned in the Vedas, he will face a bewildering array of information. Some scholars will insist that he is not mentioned in any of the mainstream scriptures, while others may quote some lesser-known text and state that he is indeed mentioned. In today’s day and age when so many books are translated, published and printed under the heading “Vedic literature,” how does one confirm the veracity of information available today? Let’s begin with the issue of interpolation. An interpolation occurs when any or all of the following three scenarios may take place: 1. A particular text is removed 2. A particular text is added 3. A particular text’s composition is altered Judging by the above standards, large number of Vedic passages has suffered at the hands of invaders, especially the British. It is perfectly understandable, at least now, that the British Raj wanted the local population to lose their faith in their own scriptures and to accept the political conquest of their country as primarily due to cultural superiority. Thus there was a concerted effort on the part of the British to discredit Vedic culture, and they did succeed for some time. At the other end of the spectrum we have Indology scholars and others who study Asian history but do not even accept that Çréla Vyäsadeva is the single compiler of the entire Vedic canon. The entire gamut of Vedic literature, at a very conservative estimate, contains one lakh lakh verses (10,000,000,000). It is certainly impossible for one

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individual today to say that he can understand all of them in their entirety. So what does one do? Çréla Jéva Gosvämé, who was a acclaimed scholar of the fifteenth century, says that unless a Vedic text is accompanied by a commentary given by chain of disciplic succession—technically known as guruçiñya-paramparä (literally, a chain of teachers and students, one coming after the other)—one should not accept it. This paramparä is of paramount importance to students of Vedic literature. In fact, the Bhagavad-gétä was spoken because the paramparä was broken and Krishna decided to repair the damage Himself. Krishna explains , “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Bhagavad-gétä 4.2) Imagine you are watching a sports event and suddenly due to transmission failure your television screen goes “blink.” As far as you are concerned the event is lost, but in reality the event is continuing but the relaying part is lost. Similarly the Vedas are described as apauruñeya, not composed by any ordinary mortal having the four defects of imperfect senses, tendency to be illusioned, tendency to commit mistakes and the propensity to cheat others. Judging by this standard we have authentic paramparä explanations for the most important Vedic texts like the Çrémad Bhagavad-gétä, ÇrémadBhägavatam, and a few Upaniñads available today, and one should read these texts. Otherwise, just as pirated software may promises you authentic information but you end up with a huge virus attack on you hard disk, similarly reading non-paramparä Vedic literature will destroy our tender faith and end our quest for the ultimate goal of human life. —Çyämänanda Däsa

SEPTEMBER 2011

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