I would like to express my admiration for the article “Water: A Meditation,” written by Urmila Devi Dasi [July/August]. It was especially nice how the author was able to build an illuminating and inspirational article simply from the act of bathing in the ocean while she was on a visit to Hawaii.
Just as the Ganges flows from the spiritual world to the material planets, bringing with it opportunities to become purified and remember Krishna, so this article in its flowing manner was an opportunity to remember Krishna in a clever and refreshing manner.
Urmila writes, “The Earth planet once fell into the universal water when demoniac persons disturbed her orbit by drilling for oil and upsetting her balance.” I was initially skeptical about this statement, but I found this quote from Srila Prabhupada in the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.1: “The floating of the planets in the weightless air is due to the inner constitution of the globes, and the modernized drilling of the globe to exploit oil from within is a sort of disturbance by the modern demons and can result in a greatly harmful reaction to the floating condition of the Earth.” Srila Prabhupada goes on to say, “A similar disturbance was created formerly by the demons headed by Hiranyaksha (the great exploiter of the gold rush), and the Earth was detached from its weightless condition and fell down into the Garbhodaka Ocean.”
So Urmila was spot on in what she said, and it certainly made me more aware of the demoniac and dangerous practice of oil production in today’s society, and its over-dependence on oil. Perhaps we should be doing more as devotees to minimize our use of oil and oil products.
Thank you again for a stimulating and well-wrought article.
Gratuitous Scientist Bashing
We are ever so thankful to our esteemed Vaishnava devotees for sharing their spiritual experiences and thoughts with us through their contributions to Back to Godhead magazine. But may I suggest a little less of the gratuitous scientist bashing, please! There are a lot of us who work in different scientific and medical fields without losing sight of our ultimate destination—to be Krishna conscious through developing our love for Him. As long as paper and printing presses are used for publishing Krishna conscious thoughts, as long as devotees need to travel by road, rail, or air, as long as we need to have our medical needs taken care of, as long as computers and the Internet are needed to have our websites, we should give the scientists their due respect. They are just using their talents to make our material lives livable. Not all of them are godless creatures trying to replace God.
As much as it displeases me to give specifics, the write-up titled, “A Call to Spiritual Heroism,” by Chaitanya Charana Dasa, in the Sep/Oct 2008 issue is an example of this infraction. We don’t need to berate scientists at every opportunity to spread our message. A little sensitivity would go a long way toward keeping things civil. It is considered highly sinful to offend a devotee of Krishna. Why is it okay to do so when the devotee is a working scientist and not a full-time devotee living in a temple?
Huntington Beach, California
Chaitanya Charana Dasa replies: I share your respect for all people—including scientists—as they are all children of Krishna. But you state that scientists are just earning a living. Unfortunately, many explicitly claim to be discovering the truth about the world. And their truth-claims have misled people away from God by atheistic theories like evolution and the big bang, both of which, despite being unproven, are portrayed in textbooks and media as scientific truth, thus making faith in God as the designer appear unscientific and foolish.
Krishna conscious philosophy can certainly stand on its own right without comparison with anything else, science included, but many people will not give it due consideration, being misled by scientism. That’s why Srila Prabhupada put considerable emphasis on disproving atheistic science, and we are simply following in his footsteps.
Regarding devotees using technology while berating scientists who make the technology, it is like the strategy of using a thorn to remove a thorn. As the latest technology is used to promote scientism, to effectively counter it we use the same technology to spread the truth. For more on this, please see my article “Where Technology Falls Short” (BTG, Mar/Apr 2006).
To summarize, as devotees of God we have nothing against science or scientists, but because science is being misused, misinterpreted, and misrepresented to propagate atheism, we point out the deficiencies in the truth-claims of science.
Taking the Life of Plants
When I requested my friends to adopt vegetarianism, they replied that vegetarians kill plants and eat them, so why not kill animals?
Via the Internet
Our reply: It is true that plants have life, and that means that to kill and eat them for sense gratification is sinful. Fortunately, Krishna’s devotees incur no sinful reaction for their vegetarian diet because they are following the directions of the Supreme Lord. In Bhagavad-gita (9.26) Krishna says, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” So devotees, by making the act of eating a sacrifice for the satisfaction of the Supreme, are protected from any sinful reaction.
The objective of devotional life is pleasing the Supreme Lord by following His directions, not in vegetarianism or any other “ism” related to material life.
Can We Make Mistakes?
If one makes even one mistake, does that mean that he or she cannot be Krishna conscious or become perfect? It is all right to make mistakes and correct them? What are the consequences of our mistakes?
Via the Internet
Our reply: The objective of devotional service is to perfect our existence through practice, and “practice makes perfect.” Krishna’s material energy conditions us to think that we are the supreme enjoyer, so naturally it will take some time to rectify our polluted consciousness. As long as we are sincere and determined to progress in spiritual life and work toward that objective, we will gradually come to the perfect stage of pure, unalloyed devotional service. The anarthas (bad habits) will decrease and eventually cease all together as we continue with our regulated chanting and take shelter of Lord Krishna and His pure devotees, always praying for their mercy.
Why should we chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra when we can simply work and live in good way?
Via the Internet
Our reply: Honest work and living in a good way are certainly commendable, but such a way of life will not liberate one from the endless cycle of birth and death in the material world. We are all pure spirit souls, part of the Supreme Lord, and will find complete fulfillment and enjoyment only on the spiritual platform of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
To purify our existence and attain our true spiritual identity, the great acharyas (spiritual masters) recommend that one take to the simple process of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Chanting is the best means of complete self-realization in this age.
By taking up the simple process of chanting the holy names of the Lord, we will be able to fulfill the mission of human life and ultimately return to our spiritual identity in the personal loving association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna.
Maya Won’t Let Go
Someone from ISCKON told me that if you wish for something, Krishna will make an arrangement for that. For example, if you want to forget Him, then He will make such an arrangement. Then why is Maya still catching me when my heart needs liberation and I’m truly trying to change?
Via the Internet
Our reply: The desire for pure service to Krishna is not just a statement or a thought; it must be demonstrated as a way of life, that of acting in pure devotion. Maya Devi is a great devotee of the Lord. She is like the security guard for the spiritual world. She will not let anyone in without the proper credentials, which are a pure heart free from material desires and filled only with the desire to serve the Lord. If there is any tinge of material desire, her job is to find it and then not let you in.
Your job is to continue to purify your heart, as Maya Devi does her job of checking again and again and asking you to prove that you are pure.
If we break a regulation but our desire is sincere, Krishna will see that and He will help. But we cannot fool Krishna with artificial sincerity. He will look to see if indeed our desire is to purify our heart. Sometimes He will help by testing us, taking things away—whatever He feels is necessary—but He will watch to see how we take shelter of Him, serve Him despite difficulty, associate with devotees, follow the regulations, and remain determined even in the face of struggles.
Dovetailing Knowledge and Renunciation
While trying to be Krishna conscious, how can one dovetail the desire for knowledge and renunciation?
Via the Internet
Our reply: Krishna consciousness is based on the Vedas, and veda literally means “knowledge,” so there should be no problem in dovetailing one’s desire for knowledge. There are two types of knowledge: that which deals exclusively with mundane things and that which deals with the relationship between the material word, the spiritual energy, and the spirit soul (you and I). One can dovetail mundane knowledge by using its results in Krishna’s service. And one can use spiritual knowledge to extricate oneself from the cycle of birth and death.
As for renunciation, Lord Krishna says, “One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.1)
Since nothing is ours in the first place—it all belongs to Krishna—what can we renounce? Therefore Lord Krishna describes renunciation as doing one’s duty without being attached to the results and offering them to Him.
Both rejection and attachment are signs of personal desire. We want to avoid things that give us pain or discomfort and get things we perceive as giving us happiness. Or perhaps we want to look renounced or wealthy so that we can gain fame or adoration. All these are selfish motives. True renunciants see pebbles and gold, friends and enemies, as the same, neither hating nor desiring anything. They simply do their duty to the best of their ability and understand that the Lord will choose to award or withhold the result.
Is euthanasia wrong? We were discussing it in school, and I would like to know what the Krishna conscious view of it is.
Via the Internet
Our reply: In Krishna consciousness we look at the process of suffering, disease, and ultimately death as intimately tied with karma. One gets a certain amount of happiness and distress along with the body. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8) it is said: “My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words, and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.” To take one’s life before the allotted suffering is complete will only mean that somewhere, at another time, that suffering will have to be accepted.
Furthermore each living entity is meant to stay a certain amount of time in a particular body. By altering that artificially, one will have to take birth again to complete the time within that body.
These are some aspects of the Krishna conscious position on euthanasia.