A Jain Hari Bhakta

I am a Jain, and I want to do Hari bhakti. Can you tell me how I should start my bhakti and what I can do to come closer to the Lord? I am very attached to Lord Rama as well as Lord Krishna. So can I do bhakti to both of Them simultaneously?
Umang Bhansali
Via the Internet

Reply: Bhakti is the natural propensity to love God, whether it be Lord Rama or Lord Krishna or His other forms. Devotees of Krishna naturally have bhakti for His other forms, understanding them to be nondifferent from Krishna.

Each person has a unique relationship with the Lord. One starts the practice of bhakti by hearing about Him and glorifying His unlimited characteristics and pastimes. Then one should take every opportunity to serve Him and tell others about Him. With God in the center of one’s life, then everything becomes spiritual. So do whatever helps you focus on Him.

You should have the expert guidance of a spiritual master to help you in your spiritual practices of purification. Lord Krishna Himself recommends this in the Bhagavad-gita (4.34).

We aspiring devotees begin our day with chanting the holy names of the Lord and reading about His pastimes. That helps us focus during the day and remember that we are His eternal servants. We also offer our food to Him, and then we enjoy the food as His prasadam (“mercy”).

Try to get in touch with ISKCON devotees for further guidance. You can find a list of our temples at centres.iskcon.org.

Modern Technology and God

I have a few questions. In this century with so many technological and scientific advancements, man today has been sending satellites and rovers to Mars, the moon, and several other parts of the solar system. Does this mean that the conception of God is a fallacy? Does this mean that God doesn’t exist or, if He exists, that we have managed to be equal to His power?

There are so many gods – Shiva, Durga, Kali, Ganesha, Sarasvati, and so on. And there are so many temples – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Dakhshineshwar Kali. If people accept Krishna as the supreme God, will they no longer visit these holy places? Should we abandon these temples? And what about the devotees? Should they abandon their aradhya devata or devi [worshipable god or goddess]?
Satyaki Basu Sarbadhikary
Via the Internet

Reply: If you study the scriptures, you will find that space travel has been going on for thousands of years because in other ages people were more technologically advanced than we are today. While Krishna was on the earth five thousand years ago, space travel was going on. Demigods were visiting other planets, and there were people like Narada who could move throughout space in their own body. Arjuna even got to go with Krishna on His chariot to see Maha-Vishnu beyond the universe. There are many incidents of space travel described in the Vedic literature. The flying machines were much more sophisticated than they are nowadays.

Our elementary attempts to go to the closest planets are childish play compared to what mature yogis can do, and are not near approaching the majesty of Lord Krishna. He creates and controls all these planets, machines, and people’s intelligence.

Even if modern humans have gone to other planets, they all come back because they can’t live there. The Lord is unlimited and infallible, whereas all of us are temporary and imperfect. Therefore we should not offend the Lord, but surrender to Him.

Regarding your question about the exclusive worship of Lord Krishna, He is the Supreme Lord, and He comments in the Gita that worship of the demigods is misdirected; all worship is really meant for Him. Still, the Vedic literature sometimes condones demigod worship to encourage persons who are so inclined, mainly with fruitive intentions, to acknowledge a higher power beyond themselves. Gradually they can understand that Krishna is the source of the demigods. Not everyone is ready to surrender to Krishna, so He helps people move toward Him. Therefore demigod worship will naturally go on. We don’t need to worry about that.

Krishna’s devotees don’t disrespect the demigods. In our guidebook The Nectar of Devotion (Bhakti-rasamrita–sindhu) disrespect of the demigods is listed as one of the offenses that must be avoided by the aspiring devotee of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya, Krishna Himself, visited many temples of demigods in South India during His travels, bowing to and respecting the demigods. So He showed that there is no problem with devotees’ doing that. Still, we pray that in the quest for perfection, everyone will gradually take up the worship of Lord Krishna.

Soul to Krishna

I want to become a devotee of Krishna. I want to give my soul to Him.
Via the Internet

Reply: You have made the best choice. We should all finish up our business in the material world and go to Krishna. Since we are inexperienced in offering loving devotional service to Him, having been in the material world for many lifetimes, we need to get proper guidance and start a purifying process. That is what our temples are about – engaging our material bodies in a spiritual program. Bhakti-yoga is the art of giving everything to Krishna. Our consciousness has to be reprogramed from thinking “It is all about me” to thinking “It is all about Krishna.”

To remind us of our eternal loving service position, we are advised to glorify the Lord, beginning with chanting His holy names. You can visit our temples, even on their live webcams, and see our daily programs. We have many classes and seminars available too, and many books. Begin by reading Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We study the Vedic scriptures every day to keep our minds purified and enlivened. Make service to Krishna your priority in this lifetime and perfect yourself. Bhakti-yoga is a joyful process that anyone can take part in.