How would you respond to the charge that Krishna consciousness, like religion in general, is naïve sentimentality?

When I think of the definition of “naïve sentimentality,” I understand that it generally means having or showing strong feelings or emotions based on a lack of experience, judgment, or information. Those who level this criticism towards Krishna consciousness obviously have not tried this process for themselves. Before joining the devotees, I was considered by my family and friends to be an agnostic. I would challenge the persons who gave Krishna conscious classes, asking them to prove their statements. The responses usually included references from the scriptures and a suggestion that this is a “living proof”; that by actually adopting the process of hearing and chanting about Krishna, personal realizations would come. I was told that this life we have been given is a laboratory and that we are the scientists conducting an experiment on ourselves. Try it and see. So I did.

What followed was experience, judgment, and information based on the pure process of bhakti-yoga as taught by Srila Prabhupada. My life completely changed from being dependent on temporary arrangements for temporary happiness to a life with constant happiness and satisfaction based on spiritual knowledge and practice. When my family and friends see me now, they see living proof of how it works. This truly is a “try it and see” method. Hare Krishna!
Kunti Devi Dasi
Dallas, TX

The so-called material scholars have put down religion as “naïve sentimentality.” Why? Because the concept of religion and a supreme controller cannot be fathomed by their material minds.

Naïve are those who claim that in order for something to exist, you must be able to see it. They forget that some of the most essential things around us cannot be seen. For example, one of the most essential elements we all rely on—air—cannot be seen, yet we all agree that it exists.

Naïve are those who are consumed by the material accumulation of wealth, properties, and other assets, acting as if they will remain on this planet for all eternity.

Naïve are those who think that the fact that all the planets are in perfect orbit, in perfect distance from the sun and each other, is all due to chance, that the existence of numerous other galaxies results from some random big bang!

Krishna consciousness lifts the cover of ignorance from this naïveté and explains the ancient Vedic science of self-realization. It is only through this powerful science that one understands that he is not some randomly created organic material that will perish with time, but is an eternal part of an eternal God, Lord Krishna, separated from Him and living on this planet due to our very own actions and desires. The science of Krishna consciousness presents a very clear way for how we can realize the self and ultimately realize the connection between the self and the supreme self. This connection, or devotion, is the ultimate purpose of this human life.

I would encourage all those who see religion as a naïve sentimentality to come out of their myopic tunnels and explore the world of Krishna consciousness. There’s eternal bliss to be found.
Ram Sajjan
Sydney, Australia

The answer is simple. I would quite simply respond by saying, “What in the world is wrong with being a naïve sentimentalist?” Must we always be grounded in the hard facts? Must we always be on the lookout for practicality and efficiency? Is there perhaps more joy to be found in the sentimental pastimes of Lord Krishna?

Sentimental to me does not mean “weakly emotional”; it simply means appreciating the tender emotions and feelings that fill the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Similarly, the word naïve to me does not mean “unsophisticated” or “having a lack of judgment.” Instead, it means living a simple life with none of the corruption inherent in this material world.
Krishna Prema Dasa
Fairfield, California

Sentiment means mental feeling. Religion is generally a particular way of training one’s mind to comprehend the nature of a superhuman agency (God). Religion is believed to govern the well-being of the general population. In this process, the mind is trained to rely upon God, by way of worship/glorification, primarily for supplying the necessities of life or for removing miseries so that one can feel relaxed that there is someone in whom one can seek refuge and in this way agree to behave within a given moral code.

In various religions (including Hinduism if not practiced as the eternal religion of the spirit soul), this superhuman agency is looked upon as either formless or of some imaginary form or a form adopted as suitable or preferred over another, out of the many described in religious scriptures. Similarly, the other relevant information, namely His place, activities, likes and dislikes, and the best welfare He offers for human life, are either partial truths or concocted out of the human brain.

Krishna consciousness includes but is not limited to training the mind to link with God for one’s wants. It explains the absolute form, nature, activities, and connection of that superhuman agency with the moving and nonmoving objects that are seen or not seen by human eyes, irrespective of whether one is trained or not trained to appreciate Him. It transcends both a general religious faith and the absence of it. All this is explained on the solid evidence of Vedic history.
Govinda Nandini Devi Dasi
Plainsboro, New Jersey

The charge that Krishna consciousness, like religion in general, is naïve sentimentality is unfounded because Krishna consciousness is a scientific process that stands up to scientific scrutiny, while religion, with its sectarian doctrine, may not stand such scrutiny and therefore becomes a sentimental issue for the followers on account of blind faith.

Krishna consciousness is a way of life based on the individual’s true dharma, that of being part of the Supreme and an eternal servitor of the Supreme. Religion per se is faith in some doctrine. While one can change one’s faith, one cannot change one’s eternal relationship with the Supreme. Being exclusively on the spiritual platform, Krishna consciousness is nonsectarian, and therefore it encompasses anyone and everyone regardless of their external attributes, and as such it is the only true religion one needs to follow.
Vaikuntheshvara Balaji Dasa
Austin, Texas