Impressing a Nine-Year-Old

I love BTG! Whenever an issue comes in my mailbox I feel like Krishna was thinking of me.

I have a five-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son. My daughter is very “into” Krishna, my son—not so much. But in the July/August issue there was apiece on the movie Avatar. My son had seen the movie and thought it was fantastic. So I said, “Hey, Cam, there’s an article about Avatar in here,” and showed him the picture. Unfortunately, he could hardly take his eyes off the video game he was playing. But later on, he picked up BTG. He asked me where the article was. (Sad to say, it was the first time he’d ever showed an interest in BTG.) Anyway, he read the article and was impressed. I’m grateful to get a little Krishna into him any way I can!

I’ll look forward to more “love letters from Krishna” as I enjoy the next three years of my subscription.
Avril Heffernan
Middleboro, Massachusetts

Concept of “Shiva”

After a long time, I have come across a brilliant article titled “Time & Again,” by Mathuresha Dasa, in the July/August issue. Not only has it clarified many unresolved questions revolving in my mind about time, creation, material nature, etc., but it has vastly removed the conundrum I hadabout the concept of Shiva. I now better understand the entity, the institution, and the role of Lord Shiva. The confusion generated in me by studying Srimad-Bhagavatam (especially Canto 4) and Brahma-samhita has finally been subdued by this article. I thank the author for this contribution.
Rathin Chowdhury
Long Island, New York

Quality, Relevance, and Devotion

We just today received our latest issue of BTG magazine [September/October] and had to write to express our appreciation for the overall excellence of the magazine. Srila Prabhupada would be extremely pleased by its content—the quality, relevance, and devotional nature of every article. The colorful illustrations are like icing on a cake. Already I have read five articles, and this in the midst of a very busy day. Such a balance of insight, practicality, and scriptural reference came through in each of these interesting and heartfelt articles. Along with eternal gratitude to Srila Prabhupada, I want to say thanks to all the contributors. You made my day!

I wish the whole world could read Back to Godhead, for this would surely facilitate each soul’s quick progress on the spiritual path.
Krishnanandini Devi Dasi
Cleveland, Ohio

Qualifications of a Disciple

Could you kindly help me to know the minimum qualification for a disciple?
R. Radhakrishna
Via the Internet

Our reply: “Disciple” means one who has an attitude of surrender and submission toward the guru and is willing to follow instructions with discipline. That attitude is essential. Any guru in ISKCON will ask you to follow basic rules, the four regulative principles: no eating of meat, fish or eggs; no illicit-sex (sex only in marriage, and only to have children); no gambling; and no intoxication (including caffeinated beverages). Also, you will be asked to chant a minimum of sixteen good rounds of japa on beads every day.

Many ISKCON gurus require at least one year of “testing” each other, so that both can learn more about each other and become fixed in the confidence that each will do his or her part to assist in the growth of the disciple’s Krishna consciousness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam states that for learning to take place, both the hearer and the speaker must be qualified.

Some gurus also require systematic study of Prabhupada’s books, sometimes followed by an exam, to see that the potential disciple is fully aware of the basic philosophy of Krishna consciousness.

But the “minimum” is to have a servant’s mentality, a desire to please guru and Krishna, and the determination to follow the vows required at initiation: the four regulative principles and sixteen rounds daily.

Stories from Other Planets

It is mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam that it contains stories about devotees from other planets, not just this planet. How does the story come to be known here and then be written in Srimad-Bhagavatam?
Pooja Jayaswal
Via the Internet

Our reply: The Srimad-Bhagavatam was compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, a shaktyavesha-avatara of Lord Vishnu. Vyasadeva is a jiva soul like us, but he has been directly empowered by the Supreme Lord to compile the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The stories in the Bhagavatam are historical, and the Lord and many of His empowered devotees are tri-kala-jna: they can know the past, the present, and the future.

Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.13: “Such liberated persons as Vyasadeva are perfect not only by the power of vision and wisdom, but also in aural reception, in thinking, feeling, and all other sense activities. A liberated person possesses perfect senses, and with perfect senses only can one serve the sense proprietor, Hrishikesha, Sri Krishna the Personality of Godhead. Srimad-Bhagavatam, therefore,is the perfect description of the all-perfect Personality of Godhead by the all-perfect personality Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedas.