ISKCON Derire Tree's Posts (13077)

Mundane Rasa vs. Bhakti Rasa


Bhakti means “Devotional service”. Every service has some attractive feature which drives the servitor progressively on and on. Every one of us within this world is perpetually engaged in some sort of service, and the impetus for such service is the pleasure we derive from it.

Driven by affection for his wife and children, a family man works day and night. A philanthropist works in the same way for love of the greater family, and a nationalist for the cause of his country and countrymen. That force which drives the philanthropist, the householder and the nationalist is called rasa, or a kind of mellow (relationship), whose taste is very sweet.

Bhakti-rasa is a mellow different from the ordinary rasa enjoyed by mundane workers. Mundane workers labor very hard day and night in order to relish a certain kind of rasa which is understood as sense gratification. The relish or taste of mundane rasa does not endure very long and therefore mundane workers are always apt to change their position of enjoyment.

A businessman is not satisfied by working the whole week – therefore, wanting a change for the weekend, he goes to a place where he tries to forget his business activities. Then, after the weekend is spent in forgetfulness, he again changes his position and resumes his actual business activities.

Material engagement means accepting a particular status for some time and then changing it. This position of changing back and forth is technically known as “Bhoga-tyaga”, which means a position of alternating sense enjoyment. Change is going on perpetually, and we cannot be happy in either state, because of our eternal constitutional position.

Sense gratification does not endure for long, and it is therefore called “chapala-sukha”, or flickering happiness. For example, an ordinary family man who works very hard day and night and is successful in giving comforts to the members of his family thereby relishes a kind of mellow, but his whole advancement of material happiness immediately terminates along with his body as soon as his life is over. Death is therefore taken as the representative of God for the atheistic class of men.

The devotee realizes the presence of God by devotional service, whereas the atheist realizes the presence of God in the shape of death. At death everything is finished, and one has to begin a new chapter of life in a new situation, perhaps higher or lower than the last one. In any field of activity – political, social, national or international – the results of our actions will be finished with the end of life. That is for sure.

Bhakti rasa, however, the mellow relished in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, does not finish with the end of life. It continues perpetually and is therefore called “amruta” that which does not die but exists eternally. The Bhagavad-Gita says that a little advancement in bhakti-rasa can save the devotee from the greatest danger – that of missing the opportunity for human life.

The rasas derived from our feelings in social life, in family life or in the greater family life of altruism, philanthropy, nationalism, socialism, communism, etc., do not guarantee that one’s next life will be as human being. We prepare our next life by our actual activities in the present life.

A human being engaged in Krishna consciousness, even if unable to complete the course of bhakti-yoga, takes birth in the higher divisions of human society so that he can automatically further his advancement in Krishna consciousness. Such a practice of Krishna consciousness will immediately bring one to an auspicious life free from anxieties and will bless one with transcendental existence.


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This write-up is not intended as a criticism of the preaching efforts of any particular devotees. I am sure that all devotees involved in preaching to scientists and scholars are doing their best to promulgate the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness. However, there are certain general issues that are of great importance. Inevitably, the discussion of these general issues involves illustrations taken from the preaching work of particular individuals. I hope that these individuals will forgive me for any offenses that I may commit in an effort to clarify some important points regarding our preaching strategy.

I. Issues involving science.

When Galileo began his pioneering scientific work, did he set up an Institute with an advisory board of prestigious Aristotelian scholars, learned Jesuits, pompous prelates, and eminent Bishops and Cardinals? Well, no. He was connected with an society of like-minded researchers called the Academy of the Lynxes, and he received funding from the powerful Medici family. If he had burdened himself with a board of people who were hostile to his basic program of research, he never could have made any scientific progress. As we all know, his researches eventually got him in trouble with the accepted intellectual authorities of his day, and he was tried for heresy by the Church. Science came into sharp conflict with the prevailing world view of the Church, but by making a convincing case, science eventually triumphed.

Today, the Catholic Church has responded to this by creating a Pontifical Academy of Sciences staffed by a host of scientific luminaries, including several Nobel laureates. The Academy discusses current scientific issues from a mainstream scientific viewpoint, and it recently proclaimed that, “We are convinced that masses of evidence render the application of the concept of evolution to man and the other primates beyond serious dispute.” Meanwhile, Catholics continue to believe in such things as the miracles of Jesus Christ, which are part of a world view completely alien to the mechanistic, evolutionary world view of modern science.

For those who are ignorant of the issues, or who are able to enter into a dissociative state of double-think, this contradictory situation may be tolerable. But for thoughtful, well-educated people, it leads ultimately to one conclusion: science is right, religion is wrong, and there is no God in any traditional sense of that term. To see this, consider the following words of Ernan McMullin, a professor in the Dept. of Philosophy at Notre Dame University and a Catholic priest:

“If we set aside natural theology, if we are unable to identify a distinctively “psychic” agency operating through the evolutionary records of earth, we may in the end lack an argument for God’s existence that would convince a science-minded generation. The obverse of a [totally] transcendent God is a universe with no “gaps,” a universe where there are no barriers to complete scientific explanation… if Nature is complete in its own order, if there are no barriers to the reach of science, does not belief in a Creator drop away as superfluous?” (McMullin, 1987, p. 82)

I should stress that McMullin is not just talking academically about other people’s ideas. He is confronting a serious crisis in his own religious faith. In line with modern science, he -does- set aside natural theology (i.e. arguments against evolution and in favor of creation). He -is unable to identify any “psychic” agency in Nature, and he -does think that Nature is complete in its own order, i.e. it is not an integral part of a larger subtle and spiritual reality. So what can he conclude? Answer: There is no God.

The Catholic position is one of hopeless compromise leading inevitably to atheism. But what about ISKCON? Leaders of ISKCON will staunchly deny that ISKCON could ever fall into a similar position of compromise. But in spite of these denials, there is abundant evidence indicating that this is gradually happening. Perhaps it is even happening in ISKCON faster than it happened in the Catholic Church.

The quote from McMullin was taken from “Synthesis of Science and Religion, Critical Essays and Dialogues,” published by the Bhaktivedanta Institute. This book contains a foreword by the eminent Nobel laureate George Wald. Here are three statements that Wald made in that foreword: (1) “I feel myself to be deeply religious, for example; yet there is nothing “supernatural” in my scheme of things. For me to reach the supernatural, I should have to believe that we had exhausted nature, and we have not nor ever will.” (2) “Benedict Spinoza… ended by equating God with Nature, insisting, however, that we shall never go beyond a very limited conceptualization of either. I accept that position entirely, though I–as I believe was also true for Einstein–use the term God only as a metaphor.” (3) “The point of ritual is not to inform, but to assert a unity of those practicing the ritual, at times to create or produce the illusion of such a unity. ‘We are this and not that,’ the ritual insists; for it is important for it to declare its difference from others as its own unity. Unity for what? For action of one kind or another, if only the actions needed to maintain and perpetuate those practicing the ritual.” (Wald, 1987, p. xv)

To put it briefly: there is nothing supernatural, God is just a metaphor, and worship of God is nothing but rituals that create social cohesion in the worshiping group.

In order to acquire prestige through association with a famous Nobel laureate, the editors of this book found it necessary to place expressions of the Nobel laureate’s atheistic views in the very beginning of the book, thus setting the tone for the entire volume. This may seem harmless enough if it happens once, but why should it happen only once? It is an example of a general principle: If you want to gain prestige by associating yourself with an eminent scientist or scholar, you must pay the price of publicly promoting his views and agreeing not to publicly disagree with those views.

One might say: “All right. We will agree not to disagree with eminent scholars. After all, ‘cultivating academics is a delicate exercise in tolerance, maturity, and subtle steadfastness.’ But we certainly won’t wind up in the position of Father McMullin.”

Hopefully not. But consider the following statement from the paper “Quantum Epistemology–A View from Gaudiya Vaisnava Vedanta,” presented by Ravi Gomatam (Rasaraja dasa) at a convention of the American Philosophical Association: “…we hold that QM [quantum mechanics] provides a complete description of physical reality. The semantic content of the traffic signal (‘stop/go’) is beyond explication by physical laws, but the light itself works according to physical laws. The semantic content can be understood by studying the intent of the traffic department. Similarly, physical reality itself works according to causally complete physical laws.” (Gomatam, draft, p. 20)

I am sorry to take this statement from a draft of Gomatam’s paper, but I mention it because of its serious implications. He says that quantum mechanics provides a “complete” description of physical reality. This means that everything that happens in the world that we see, happens in accordance with the theoretical calculations of quantum mechanics. Anything that violates those calculations is ruled out: such things do not happen.

Many phenomena mentioned in the Vedic literatures fall in this category of things ruled out by the laws of physics. To pick one basic example, consider reincarnation. When a soul plus subtle body takes birth in a gross body, the karmic tendencies of that conditioned soul become manifest as gross, measurable activities (like Mozart’s music or Hitler’s politics, for example). These gross physical activities are “caused” by the soul, the subtle body, the karma carried by the subtle body, and the Supersoul. Quantum mechanics says nothing about this, and the calculations of quantum mechanics do not predict these gross physical effects. Putting it succinctly, if the laws of quantum mechanics are causally complete, then there is no transmigration of souls.

But Gomatam’s statement might be defended as follows: “Doesn’t he say that the meaning, the semantic content, of nature is provided by the higher consciousness of God? Isn’t it good that he is able to say this to scholars and scientists in a way that is acceptable to them?”

No. It is not good. He is not introducing a new idea. He is introducing the same old idea that Ernan McMullin was discussing, the idea that Nature is complete in its own order. As McMullin pointed out, this idea brings us to the point where belief in a Creator drops away as superfluous.

The idea that God gives meaning to things but does not contravene the “causally complete” laws of physics is a favorite among atheistic scientists. For example, Steven J. Gould harps on this point regularly in his essays and book reviews. In a book review in “Scientific American”, Gould recently said, “Science treats factual reality, while religion struggles with human morality.” He argues that God doesn’t “cause” things to happen in the factual world–this is done by the laws of physics and the evolutionary processes that take place according to those laws. What God does is give semantic content to life. God provides meaning and moral values.

This idea is used to argue that there is no conflict between science and religion. As Pope John Paul II said to the Pontifical Academy, “The collaboration between religion and modern science is to the advantage of both, without in any way violating their respective autonomy.”

The problem is that there is actually a big conflict between religion and science. Science strictly rules out the supernatural phenomena that play such an important role in religious scriptures. Science also requires an evolutionary–not supernatural–explanation of the origin of behavior relating to semantic content and moral values.

Any scientifically trained person who wants to take religion seriously must confront this conflict sooner or later. This includes all scientists and scholars that we may wish to cultivate and all students who might become devotees as a result of our preaching. What are these people going to think about the stark contradictions between the world views of science and religion? It boils down to the question: What is the truth?

Even if we don’t want to face this issue, each prospective college-educated devotee will have to face it. It will become very difficult for such neophyte devotees if they see that ISKCON has a policy (tacit or explicit) of agreeing not to publicly disagree with scientists and scholars.

Thus far, I have spoken in general about science and religion. However, all of the remarks that I have made apply to Vaisnavism and to the Vedic literature as a whole. There are obvious contradictions between the Vedic world view and the modern scientific world view. The question is: What is actually true and what is false?

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to challenge the scientists and scholars. He was quite uncompromising about this, as we can see from his conversation with the physicist Gregory Benford. However, it might be argued that we are not in a position to challenge the scientists. Their position is strongly supported by evidence and arguments, and we have practically nothing to offer in opposition to it. If we oppose the scientists simply on the basis of religious scriptures, then we will become known as foolish, ignorant creationists. Therefore, we should follow a policy of appeasing the scientists, recognizing our own helplessness, and simply depend on Krsna to change their hearts.

Actually, it is possible to challenge the scientists, as Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do. There exists a vast amount of evidence that supports the Vedic world view and contradicts the modern scientific world view. All we have to do is systematically gather this evidence and present it in a scholarly way.

For example, Drutakarma Prabhu and I have written a 900 page book giving extensive evidence showing that human beings have been present on the earth for millions of years, a conclusion that agrees with the Vedas and disagrees with modern science. Before we did this work, we had no idea that this evidence existed. But it was there, waiting to be used to support the Vedic world view.

We have also done extensive research into psychical phenomena and related fields of study. There is a vast amount of evidence there that strongly supports the Vedic world view and is contrary to modern science.

Someone might object: This evidence is disreputable and we will be disreputable if we mention it. The answer is: Of course, it’s disreputable. It’s disreputable because it disagrees with established science. Anything which goes against established scholarly authority will be branded as disreputable, but this does not mean that it isn’t true. Keep in mind that Galileo was certainly considered disreputable by the church authorities.

There are many fields of study in which extensive evidence supporting the Vedic world view can be gathered. These include archeology, anthropology, history, astronomy, cosmology, molecular biology, evolutionary studies, physics, psychology, neurophysiology, parapsychology, and ufology (which, contrary to common prejudice, is not a kooky subject).

To make our case in these fields a great deal of work is necessary. This work cannot be done by one or two people working independently with uncertain funding. A well-funded, secure research institute is needed that can support a large number of devotee scholars. This institute must be dedicated to the task of putting together the case for the reality of the Vedic world view. It cannot be hobbled by the presence of a board of scientific advisors who are fundamentally opposed to its goals. Nor can it flourish if its own leaders are opposed to the goal of openly facing the conflict between science and the Vedic world view and carrying out vigorous research to resolve this conflict in favor of the Vedic picture.

One might say that what we need is a Vedic university. This is a laudable goal, but before we can really present things properly in a Vedic university, we must do the research needed to solidly establish the truth of the Vedic world view. If we don’t do this, then our university courses will fall into the pitfalls of compromise or dogmatism. At the very least, a strong research institute must be an integral part of a Vedic university project.

It might be objected that at the present time, very little of the research that I am proposing has actually been carried out. Therefore we cannot realistically make plans depending on such research. The answer is that to correct this deficiency, we need a strong research institute now. If we don’t establish such an institute soon, then the needed research will not be done–at least not in our lifetimes.

The following argument might be made: Today the world view of science is solidly established and highly respected. Therefore, what we should do is show that in ancient India, people knew many important things that have recently been discovered by science. That is, we should show that the ancient Indians were really very scientific in the modern sense.

We can point to some things along these lines. For example, in the Mahabharata it is recognized that the moon causes tides. However, in the vast body of Vedic literature there are relatively few items of this kind. Basically, the world view of the Vedic literature is very different from that of modern science.

The modern scientific view is based on the idea that nature works mechanically. Nature is made up of little mechanical parts, and all phenomena occur through the interaction of these parts. In the early days of science, these parts were the “billiard ball atoms.” Today they are quantum waves, but the basic idea is the same.

The Vedic world view is based on the idea that life is the fundamental basis of all reality, and the original life is Krsna. This is the fundamental point that Srila Prabhupada emphasized. In more detail, the Vedic view is that living form starts on the spiritual level. From spiritual living form, subtle living form is produced, and from this, gross living form is produced.

This basic Vedic picture is supported by a vast body of evidence from psychical research, ufology, anthropology, subtle energy medicine, and so on. Many books have been written about all this material, and one might ask: What will we contribute by talking about it? The answer is that the Vedic literatures provide a systematic philosophical framework that enables us to understand all this evidence. This is a key contribution that the Vedic literature has to offer. Thus far, people dealing with these subjects have largely been groping in the dark, and they have not been able to put together a satisfying theoretical explanation of the phenomena they are studying. Nor have they been able to relate these phenomena to fundamental spiritual issues. However, the Vedic literature can remedy this deficiency.

The Vedic literature can help us understand the laws governing subtle and spiritual forms of energy. The scientific idea that natural phenomena obey laws is not wrong. However, the laws of physics as they are known today represent only a very incomplete understanding of the actual laws of nature.

II. Issues involving Indology. Indology is a field of academic research that is related to history, the study of religion, and the scientific fields of archeology and linguistics. Indology deals directly with the Vedic literatures, and it attempts to explain their historical development. It is based on the scientific presuppositions that (1) everything happens according to the accepted laws of physics and (2) everything has come about by historical, evolutionary processes obeying these laws. There are very strong contradictions between the Vaisnava understanding of the Vedic literatures and the understanding developed by the Indologists.

Recently, Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) has published an important book containing interviews with prominent Indologists and students of Vaisnavism. This is entitled “Vaisnavism: Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gaudiya Tradition.” Some of the same issues that I discussed above also arise in connection with this book. Since these are important issues that will come up repeatedly in the future, I will make some comments about them here. The aim is to address the general issues, not to criticize Satyaraja’s work. I will proceed by quoting some extracts from the book and then making some comments about them.

Michael Witzel is chairman of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard University. Here he comments on the historical development of the concept of Visnu:

“Visnu, you know, is even mentioned in the Rg Veda. So it goes back to the earliest texts. Now, the problem is this: in those texts he is considered a minor Vedic god whose basic feat is that he took three steps….

“To simplify this very complex issue, let us just say that Visnu undergoes a long development or unfolding, if you will, and by the time you get to latter-day Vaisnavism, of course, he is identified with the supreme god. Now a practitioner might say that this truth was there all along, but you cannot really get that from the Vedic texts proper. You would need a “guru” who reads the tradition in a particular way, perhaps.

“From a strictly scholarly point of view, however, Visnu goes through a transformation, from what is perceived as a minor god to the all-important divinity one sees today in the practice of Vaisnavism. One can debate this subject from various angles of vision. But if you are going by modern scholarship, particularly in terms of inner textual and philological evidence, you would have to concede this point. In any case, Visnu is there in the earliest part of the Veda, and that cannot be ignored.” (Rosen, 1992, pp. 23-24)

Comment: If we do concede Witzel’s point, then we abandon the authority of the Vedic sastras, accepting them as a product of historical processes of evolution. If we really do accept this, then we must conclude that Visnu is really fictitious. How then can we be devotees of Visnu? It is not possible.

In the book “Vaisnavism”, Witzel’s position is neither refuted nor seriously challenged. Witzel himself comes close to challenging it by pointing out the existence of a Vaisnava sect, the Vaikhanasa, that make use of texts related to the Yajur Veda. This is an interesting lead, but it means little by itself, and it needs to be followed up by further research.

My point is this: If we are going to publish and give prominence to the views of scholars such as Witzel, we must also be prepared to do the extensive research work needed to effectively refute their views. This requires a research institute of the kind that I outlined above. Witzel’s views represent the standard, mainstream position for Indologists. Since they are quite incompatible with Krsna consciousness, if we promulgate them and do not oppose them effectively, then we will ultimately have to give up Krsna consciousness. Of course, this has happened to a number of devotees in the past.

Dr. H. Daniel Smith is a professor of religion at Syracuse University. Here he comments on the Ramayana:

Dr. Smith: Aranya-kanda. That’s when you enter into what I call a kind of Walt Disney world–truly another world altogether… Steven Rosen: [laughter] I see. Dr. Smith: What I mean is that in it there are talking birds, and talking animals, and demons, and witches, and all sorts of wondrous, wonderful things. Steven Rosen: Seems like Walt Disney would be envious of some of these things. Dr. Smith: Well, I think he certainly missed the boat by not making it into an animated spectacle… (Rosen, 1992, p. 34)

Comment: A devotee might regard Smith’s statements as being somewhat offensive. But what can we say in response to them? One response is to simply laugh, say, “I see,” and roll with the punches. After all, do we ourselves really believe in a world full of talking birds, talking animals, demons, and witches? If we do, how could we rationally defend such a belief in a conversation with intelligent people?

Answer: It is necessary to really make to case for Srila Prabhupada’s position on the nature of life. Grossly embodied life comes from subtly embodied life, which in turn comes from spiritual life. The big picture regarding life is very remarkable indeed, but it can be backed up by vast amounts of evidence. We can gather together this evidence and make a case for the reality of the Vedic world. We can argue reasonably that the Vedic world is the real world. But to do this, we must have a well-funded research team dedicated to carrying out this task.

Note, by the way, that S.P. Hinduja liked the movie “Ghost”. This movie presented a world that included ghosts, psychic powers, Yamaduta-like evil spirits, and an effulgent heavenly realm. This is somewhat like the Vedic world, and I presume that this is why Hinduja liked the movie. To show the scientific validity of the Vedic world view, we have to make a solid, empirical case for the “wondrous, wonderful things” contained in that world view. We can then show how the Vedic philosophy gives a coherent, rational explanation of these wondrous things, even though official science is completely in the dark about them. This can be systematically done, and Hinduja is in a position to fund this effort.

Now Dr. Smith lays it on the line: Dr. Smith: Well, to get right down to basics, it has to do with how one understands the word “avatara”, more specifically, in what sense, if any, the “avatara” of Rama was historical. If so, when? If so, where?

Steven Rosen: They say Treta yuga.

Dr. Smith: That’s the answer given. And the literalists can even give a date, in July or something of such-and-such a year. And that’s fine for the believer–but it’s only one of several possible perspectives. You see, it’s that literalist commitment to the historicity of it, just like Christians are absolutely committed to the historicity of Jesus, that is at the crux of the matter.

Steven Rosen: Right.

Dr. Smith: Just as many Christians affirm that Jesus really did exist in Jerusalem in the year One, also many Hindus say with the Ramayana: Rama really did exist and he lived in Ayodhya, and when he went, he went out to Lanka, and there he fought and defeated Ravana and laid low all the Raksasa hosts. Now that’s a real tight bind that people put themselves in. Whereas on the other hand, another way of dealing with it, is to say that it is all a myth. Now please don’t misunderstand me: this view doesn’t necessarily hold that the story is fictional; what it says is that the Ramayana is telling a story that doesn’t have to be taken literally on all counts, and that it is basically a story, if nothing else, that tells us quite a bit about human nature.

Steven Rosen: And some believers take it like that?

Dr. Smith: Oh, indeed. Quite a few Hindus share that perspective–not many but there are definitely those who do. For example, how do college educated Hindus deal with it? Well some, to be sure, just go back to their childhoods, saying, “Oh Rama. Bless Rama.” Others, however, “do” try to think in terms of mythic meaning, and try to probe for deep, psychological references in their own experiences.” (Rosen, 1992, p. 42.)

Comment: Note the attempt to soften the blow: A myth is not necessarily fictional, it’s just a story that doesn’t have to be taken literally and that tells us something about human nature.

A fundamental point is that you cannot be a devotee of Rama if you think that He is not a real historical figure. But this does raise the issues of when and where. We have to face these issues, especially if we are going to publish books and journals in which Smith’s views are respectfully presented as scholarly and prestigious.

Here is Steven Rosen’s response to Dr. Smith’s remarks:

Steven Rosen: So you’re not questioning the story’s veracity–on some level you see it as true. But you would say that we should look more deeply at its implications. The how, where, and when are secondary considerations. But it’s the deeper aspect that is to be considered important. Well, there’s certainly truth to that. But I wonder how much of it is just resignation: “We can’t possibly, at this time, find the answers to the how, where and when questions. So we’re going to say the story can’t be understood in that context. Rather, it is to be understood in terms of its deeper implications. So it is not a subject for historians.”

Comment: Steven Rosen does not say, much less convincingly argue, that Lord Ramacandra really did exist historically. He accepts that the “how, where, and when are secondary considerations.” Of course, Smith is saying that we definitely should not regard Rama as a real historical figure. That would put us in a real tight bind, indeed.

Now we turn to the Bhagavata-purana. Clifford Hospital teaches at Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada, and he has been Principal of the Theological College since 1983. Here he discusses the date of the Bhagavatam:

Steven Rosen: And it [the Bhagavatam] predates Vopadeva?

Dr. Hospital: Oh yes. Absolutely. On a separate note, though, what’s interesting about their [J.A.B. van Buitenen’s and Friedholm Hardy’s] work is that they do a detailed analysis about the relation between certain parts of the Bhagavata and the South Indian Alvar tradition. I think they make a very good case for what people have long suspected: that many of the ideas of the Bhagavata are coming out of the South Indian tradition.

And I suppose the way the theory goes, then, is that the full blossoming of the Gaudiya tradition really comes through the contact that Caitanya had had in the South when he had gone there and brought back a version of the Krsna-karnamrta, which, as you know, is a South Indian text.

Steven Rosen: And Brahma Samhita.

Dr. Hospital: Right. And there are a few verses in the Bhagavatam (11.5.38-40), which van Buitenen describes as “a post factum prophecy,” and in which there is reference to “devotees of Narayana in great numbers everywhere in Tamil country…” (Rosen, 1992, p. 71.)

Comment: Dr. Hospital is “very favorable” towards Krsna Consciousness. Yet he accepts that the Bhagavatam was written recently, perhaps under the influence of the medieval Alvar tradition. Let’s face it: this means that the Bhagavatam is not what it purports to be, namely a 5,000-year-old sastra compiled by Srila Vyasadeva. In other words the Bhagavatam is a pious fraud. What implications does this conclusion have for a devotee’s spiritual life?

Note that “post factum prophecy” means a prophecy made after the events occurred, i.e. a phony prophecy.

What should we do about this? Should we all pretend that there is no problem, and agree tacitly to ignore the issue? Clearly, the trend in ISKCON is to publish statements by scholars like Hospital in order to enhance ISKCON’s prestige. This means that such statements will presented to devotees as respectable and prestigious. As time goes on, we can expect to see more and more of this. If we say nothing to counter these prestigious statements, and simply act so as to enhance their respectability within ISKCON, then they are bound to have a subversive effect on the faith of devotees. The only way devotees will be able to retain a semblance of Krsna Consciousness is by splitting their minds into two mutually exclusive halves–one for respectable, scholarly, intellectual thinking, and the other for narrow-minded, glassy-eyed, dogmatic fundamentalism.

But what choice do we have? Isn’t it true that we don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to contending with scholars and scientists? Isn’t it true that they have logic, reason, and evidence entirely on their side? Isn’t our choice limited to (1) agreeing not to openly disagree while cultivating the scholars and thereby gaining a respectable status as enlightened religious thinkers, and (2) being justly scorned and rejected as ignorant fundamentalist Yahoos lying somewhere between the Creationists and the Flat Earth Society?


If Krsna Consciousness is right and the mundane scholars are wrong, then this can be demonstrated rationally, so that an intelligent, unbiased person can accept it. However, to do this, it is necessary to do a lot of careful scholarly work. This means that we need an institution in which this work can be carried out. This institution requires funding to provide for the needs of many full-time scholars. And these scholars must be free to pursue Krsna Conscious objectives. They cannot make progress under the yoke of a board of advisors made up of prestigious mundane scholars that fundamentally oppose their goals. Nor can they make progress under the direction of a devotee management dedicated to “agreeing not to disagree” with the scholars.


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By Radha Mohan Das

Bhaktivedanta Manor organized a special dinner at the Avanti House Secondary School, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON’s establishment in the UK. The main invitees were disciples of Srila Prabhupada and other key senior devotees, and it was a great opportunity for the younger generations to serve, join in Srila Prabhupada Guru-Puja and listen to the memories of first generation of ISKCON devotees.

Speakers included Shyamasundar das, Gurudas, Malati dasi, Dhananjay das, former Manor President Akhandadhi das and Governing Body Commissioner (GBC) for ISKCON UK, Praghosa das.


The event was mainly organized by Kalakanti Radhika dasi, who, along with a dedicated team, worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the purpose of honoring their seniors.

Bala Gopal dasi oversaw the cooking of the three course dinner, Anuradha made a beautiful themed cake and the event was supported Bhaktivedanta Manor’s Senior Management.


“The event was a very uplifting and moving experience,” exclaimed Jyestha dasi, “A big thank you to everyone involved.” It definitely made an impact and it was greatly appreciated.” 


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Togetherness by Bhaktimarga Swami

In our Vedic lifestyle, a common theme is ‘team’.   You do things together.  Our approach to spiritual life has little to do with a yogi sitting under a banyan tree in solitary meditation.  Rather, we bond together to accomplish work for the mission.  We're like a bunch of beavers.  
For instance, I'm working with a group of committed individuals dedicated to rehearsals in the play, "El Gita", which involves all the ins and outs of making the drama ‘gel’.  It is real team work.  And each day since I came to the temple campus, I've observed so many men and women volunteering their energies to assemble this weekend's Chariot Festival.  It's a lot of hard but fun work. Also, when I find the extra hours to just get away for a ‘walk ‘n chant’, as soon as someone hears that I'm about to exit the gate, they will just drop everything and tag along until I detect someone behind me.  Their footsteps are obvious.  I turn around and there's suddenly a smiling partner pacing along.  There is all this companionship that makes you feel not alone.
It was taught by Chaitanya, the walking, singing, dancing monk, that the key to spiritual success lies in the sangha.  Sangha refers to the company of sadhus or holy folks.  He implied that it is the safest place to be, and that it is the beginning, end, and middle of our spiritual life.  We surround ourselves in team-ism.  

Even as I write this blog on this busy day of the festival, at an outdoor table, the community members are moving things all around in preparation for the great party about to take place.  We need each other together.  
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"Sometimes the longest journey we make is the sixteen inches from our heads to our hearts." - Elena Avila
Coming December 2019 marks 20 years of my consistent and daily chanting of 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, one of the prerequisite for a committed practitioner of Krishna consciousness. I started, chanting 16 rounds in December of 1999 and now, 20 years have passed by so quickly. One thing that helps me, be focused in spiritual life is watching the passing of the imperceptible time. How weeks turn into months, how months turn into years and how years turn into decades is a great wonder of life.
This article is in no way to glorify my two decades of chanting Hare Krishna but it is just meant to share my little thoughts and my little experiences in my spiritual life at this junction in life. I feel so grateful to Krishna and His wonderful devotees who have been extremely kind to me by showering their grace on me and thus helping me sustain my spiritual life for so many years. I know that without the grace of God and His devotees, it is impossible to chant Hare Krishna even for one day, what to speak of so many years. Srila Prabhupada would always remind devotees that Maya is extremely strong and impeccable. It is not within our power to resist her forces. Thus, we need to feel very humble, helpless and constantly seek and plead for the mercy of God and His devotees. Without their mercy we have no other hope.
I am also extremely grateful for all the wonderful and exciting opportunities to serve, that I was blessed with. I got to be part of so many successful projects and events in the course of pushing on this great movement of compassion. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve so many elevated and sincere lovers of God. I am so grateful to visit so many holyplaces in the company of holy devotees, chanting and hearing the holy Katha of the Lord. I also feel blessed to have gone through so many difficult tests and challenges in my spiritual life, which have helped me become a little humble, a little mature and a little wise.

At this junction in my spiritual life, as I feel grateful for all the wonderful things, I also feel simultaneously a little shameful and regretful for all the time I wasted in wasteful mental imagination, sheer laziness and in wasteful mundane engagements. I strongly feel that I could have advanced to a much higher spiritual stage than the stage I am at present. If I was more focused in my spiritual life all these years, I could have gone more deeper into my understanding of scriptures, developed genuine attachment to the chanting of the Holynames of Krishna and performed greater services to Guru and Gauranga. Now, that the time that is gone is gone and can't be relieved again; the least I can do, is to be more focused in my spiritual journey from this point on firstly, to make up for the spiritual time lost in the last 20 years and secondly, so that 20 years from now, I can be proud and unregretful of my life. Seeking your blessings and good wishes for my journey ahead.
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Inconvenient Foods: The Happy Facts


By Kesava Krsna Dasa

We love to picnic, barbecue, celebrate birthdays and entertain guests. We may hesitate on what fast-foods are on offer. Here is some “Party-pooping” information, which should enhance our parties even more. So “let’s party,” as they say.

Technology has enabled soya to transform into burgers, sausages, prawns, chicken breasts, steaks and more. Do we have the time to make the bread rolls to go with them? Not a problem, we can always get a few dozen from the local bakery.

In this era of instant fast-foods, it is tempting to “save time,” or to “cut corners,” and tuck in to some ready-made foods, and hope that Krishna accepts it all. The problem is, the more convenient the foods are, and the more they are infused with ignorance. Ouch!

We often hear elders say, “The generation of today have become lazy. Hardly anyone makes chapatis or rotis anymore. They’re spoilt.” Is this true? Perhaps today’s generation do not have the time that housewives had years ago. “With time on their hands they could stay at home and make full meals and breads.”

Confronting the pressures of our fast-paced social and working environments, it is quite common to get into the habit of buying convenient foods. They save time. But do they save our spiritual health? This “party-pooping” information is actually Sattvic knowledge. As sobering as it appears to be, it rewards happiness and contentment.


In true party spirits we can invent terms and give a fun twist on the three modes of nature. This scale should help us distinguish more clearly what is offerable to the Lord, and what is not. A few surprises may make our eating necessities seem like a daunting impossibility. But rest assured, this is not a fatwa, just happy knowledge. Let’s party.

Here are how the 3 modes of nature feel, from our sometimes lazy, rushed-for-time and inconsiderate selves:

(1) Goodness: Least convenient; difficult; no time; can’t wait; selfish
(2) Passion: Half or semi-convenient; easier; little more time; will wait; half-selfish
(3) Ignorance: Most convenient; easiest; any time; instant; most selfish

We can now look at the same modes from Lord Krishna’s Bhagavad-Gita perspective:

(1) Goodness: Most convenient; sense of duty; make time; patience; selfless, pleasing; 1st class
(2) Passion: Less convenient; will or won’t; in your own time; when it suits you; half or semi-selfish; let’s see; 2nd class
(3) Ignorance: Least convenient; anything goes; any odd time; impatient; most selfish; not pleasing; 3rd class


Bearing in mind the convenience scale, it should be easier now to choose our proper foods for offering. This is not a complete list, but it should help to define matters. But be warned, many of our favourites might be in the ignorance category. Those Take-away places we buy from, literally do Take-Away our devotion.

For fun we shall begin with the ignorant foods. We will discover that those bread rolls we wanted for our soya products earlier, should be renamed Iggy-rolls, or Tamo-doughs. Are we still partying? Buying shop bread and then toasting and buttering it, as an offering to the Lord, does not constitute a full act of Bhakti. It is minimal or partial at best.

If while out shopping we feel a little peckish and want a veggie-burger, or simply to sit down for a cup of decaffeinated coffee, it is not advisable to buy from a burger or fashionable meat chain-store. Our money will further jiva-aparadhas (animal killing) and increase our carbon footprints (environmental damage).

We should be reminded that convenient foods are those foods that have been prepared, processed, cooked and sold for instant gratification, from any place, without love and devotion. They are ready to eat immediately. This does not apply to genuine vaisnava outlets.


(1) All brought breads, including chapatis, rotis, etc.
(2) “Pure vegetarian” foods cooked by Mayavadis, impersonalists, atheists, non-bona-fide spiritualists, etc.
(3) Chocolates, sweets, candies etc.
(4) Cereals. (Surprised? The fact that they have to be fortified with vitamins and minerals, means the cereals are dead from over-processing)
(5) Pies, pizzas, samosas and other savouries.
(6) Canned foods.
(7) Ready-made flavoured and seasoned soya products (usually frozen0.
(8) Ready-made meals (sometimes frozen)
(9) Sandwiches, veggie-burgers, etc.
(10) Any foods brought from burger or hip meat chain stores (your money goes back into animal slaughter maintenance)
(11) French fries, potato chips, etc.
(12) Recycled chlorinated or fluoridated drinking water (In some districts the same water has passed through the human system several times over. Nice to get a water filter)

Foods in passion have been prepared to save us the hassle. But we still have to prepare and cook again at home, so half the job is done for us already.


(1) Flour (Who did the milling?)
(2) Frozen vegetables and other foods (Usually par-boiled or sprinkled with preservatives)
(3) Par-boiled rice
(4) Dried soya chunks or mince (par-boiled)
(5) So-called 100% pure juices (Usually pasteurised at high temperatures, then fortified with vitamin C etc.)
(6) Pasteurised milk
(7) Shop brought ghee, paneer, etc.
(8) All pastas and noodles (Oh how we love our pastas)
(9) Ready-made salads or fruit salads.
(10) Carbonated drinks, and canned drinks (Some are in ignorance)
(11) Cheeses.
(12) Microwave foods
(13) Cooking oils (Usually clarified by high heat or chemicals)

Foods in goodness usually take more time to prepare and cook. But that is the art of devotion. Sadly, society is geared towards, and almost dependent on fast-paced instant gratification, that leaves little room for devotional living.

Many of the above foods are also suffused with additives and flavour enhancers that try to revive their already dead state. This mirrors what we see in society. Because people have forgotten their purpose here on earth, they have to somehow seek happiness with what is available, which can be compared to MSG and Aspartame surface cover.


(1) Fresh produce from the land (Fruits, vegetables and herbs etc.)
(2) Milk from the cows (Can be pasteurised by boiling 3 times at home)
(3) Home-made ghee and cheeses.
(4) Raw produce.
(5) Cold-pressed oils.
(6) Whole grains, rice, pulses, etc.

When natural or healthy foods are generally more expensive than passionate and ignorant foods, it is a poor indictment of the society we live in. If every day is a festival in Krishna consciousness, then the real “partying” goes on in the mode of goodness and beyond. But judging from the vast permeation of sub-standard foods, we clearly need more devotee take-aways, farms, wholesalers, to enable acceptable food production. Until we reach that stage, the party is just beginning.

Your servant, Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS

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Recently I was in New York attending an initiation ceremony. As I watched the new devotees, young and old, take their vows, I reflected on my own beginnings.

Over 35 years ago I sat before the fire and took the same vows. I am grateful to still be practicing. Later that day I heard a talk which shared 4 reasons why devotees sometimes give up the process of Krishna consciousness, the one they once started so enthusiastically. Turning them into positives, here are 4 things, if we do them well, that can bring us success in our spiritual endeavor, which is to awaken love for Krishna and live to in congruence with that wholesome truth.

1) Humility – the heart of a spiritual practice is humility, accepting the fact that we can’t succeed alone, we need help. As the years go by we gain knowledge and spiritual insights and feel our relationship with Krishna deepening and sweetening. This is a good thing. It means the process, the practice, is working. However, we may also grow the weeds of pride, making us feel like the big cheese in the spiritual community. We should watch out for those thoughts and throw them out the window. We are as big as our gratitude to, and utter acknowledgement of the role, of our spiritual teachers and fellow devotees in our spiritual journey. Anything other than that will trip us up and cause us to struggle.

2) Offenses – when we hurt, disrespect, or in any way short change other devotees of the Lord, we are offending. It can be by speech, by action, or by inaction. In any number of ways, offending brings clouds of discontent to our life. If we are feeling discouraged, or have little taste for our daily chanting, we can often trace it back to offending others. We may compound that by blaming everyone else but ourselves. Press the pause button. Slow down. Go for a walk alone or talk to a trusted spiritual advisor. Recognise the grip offensive or negative attitudes may have over your way of living in the world and change it. Small offences can build up over time so be careful to treat everyone with affection and care. After all, they too are trying their best to serve the Lord.

3) Sanga – sanga means association, a gathering of those interested in spiritual subject matters. Make sure you have time in your week to be together with devotees to hear and chant about Krishna, to serve together or to have meaningful conversations. When we have good friendships with other devotees it not only makes the good times better, but we have support and love when we are facing difficulty. Who we ‘hang out with’ shapes who we become. Find good Krishna devotee association and make time in your life to be with them. It is one of the most essential aspects of a successful spiritual practice.

4) Knowing the Path – this last one is perhaps the one we might neglect the most. Life, and also spiritual life, is full of ups and downs. When times get rough we might think – “Krishna, what’s going on? I’m serving you and why are things not going my way?” When we expect difficulty, and expect to be challenged as part of the growing process, the purifying process, we are ready for it when it comes along. Oh, there you are – now what am I to learn from this? What I am to change or grow into?

When we make a commitment to the practice of Bhakti Yoga, to following strong principles and compassionate teachings, we make a commitment to make ourselves better. Such a practice has the potential to bring us extraordinary results, beyond even our wildest imagination. Don’t sell yourself short. Dive into the deep end, swim with courage, and honor the wisdom of those who have gone before us. If we do, we’ll make it to the end in one piece (and more).


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By Vaishnava Das


It’s a scene that has been repeated countless times on the thoroughfares of cities throughout the Western world-from Hollywood Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in America, to London’s Oxford Street and the Champs Elysees in Paris. There, in the midst of traffic, shops, restaurants, and movie theaters, people suddenly find themselves confronted by a group of young persons singing and dancing to the beat of cylindrical drums and the brassy cadence of hand cymbals. The men are dressed in flowing robes and have shaven heads; the women wear colorful Indian saris. Of course, it’s the Hare Krsna people, chanting their now familiar mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna … But what’s actually going on? Is it some form of protest, avant-garde street theater, a religious demonstration, or what?

If you were to ask them, you’d learn that these people are performing a type of meditation long encouraged and practiced in the West-the chanting of the holy names of God. (Krsna is the Sanskrit name for the Supreme Lord.) Of course, meditation is a word that’s thrown around quite loosely these days. It’s come to mean practically any technique employed to silence and calm the harried modern mind. But the ancient and authorized form of meditation practiced by Hare Krsna people has a much deeper and more sublime purpose. Although it easily soothes the turbulent mind, it also awakens those who chant it to their original, joyful spiritual nature and consciousness, imparting a genuine sense of pleasure unavailable by any other means.

The Vedas, scriptures containing the timeless spiritual knowledge of ancient India, state that such an awakening process is desperately needed because everyone in this material world is in a sleeping, dreamlike condition. We have forgotten our original, spiritual identity, accepting instead a temporary material body composed of physical elements as our real self. The Vedas compare the material body to the subtle forms we experience in dreams. While sleeping, we forget our normal waking identity and may find ourselves enjoying or suffering in different types of bodies. But when we hear the ringing of the alarm clock, we awaken and return to normal consciousness. We remember who we are and what we should be doing. Similarly, by hearing the powerful transcendental sound vibrations of the Hare Krsna mantra, we can gradually wake up to our original self, the soul, which is characterized by eternality and is full of knowledge and ever-increasing pleasure.

The sages of ancient India therefore tell us that the goal of human life should not be to try to enjoy our temporary dreamlike situation in the material world. Rather, we are advised to awaken to our original, spiritual nature and ultimately return to our true home in the spiritual world, where we may enjoy an eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna.

This search for the true self through the meditative process is not something recently discovered, nor is it in any way alien to the basically rationalistic philosophical and spiritual traditions of the West. Although Western civilization has for the most part directed its energies outward in various efforts to control and exploit the resources of nature, there have always been inner-directed philosophers, saints, and mystics who have dedicated themselves to a higher purpose than material well-being, which is in all cases temporary.

CABH 4.1: The Search for the Self

The Search for the Self

The Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato held a view of man’s original nature quite similar to that of the Vedic sages. This temporary world, they taught, is not our real home; we once existed in a spiritual world. In Plato’s famous dialogues, Socrates says that in our original condition, “We were pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body like an oyster in his shell.1. Phaedrus, translator Benjamin Jowett. 1 The purpose of philosophy, for these early Athenian thinkers, was to awaken a person to his original, spiritual identity, now hidden within the covering of the physical body.

The very same thing was taught in Galilee four hundred years later by Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of St. John, Christ says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life], the flesh profiteth nothing.”2. John, 6:63. 2 In other words, the body is simply an external covering for the soul, which is the real life-giving force. Therefore, Jesus warned, “What profiteth a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his immortal soul?”3. Mark, 8:36. 3 The highest goal of life, Christ taught, is to understand and experience our inner spiritual nature. In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus instructs mankind to look within for true spiritual life: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”4. Luke, 17:21. 4

Describing his inner search for God through meditation, St. Augustine, a great saint and eminent philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church, tells us in his Confessions how his mind “withdrew its thoughts from experience, abstracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images.”5. Confessions, translator C. Bigge. London: Methuen and Company, Ltd., p. 244. 5

During the Middle Ages in Europe, there was widespread interest in meditation, with many saints and philosophers writing of their thoughts about the inward quest for divine reality. Thomas a Kempis, in his classic Imitation of Christ, cautions man about material life and summarizes the purpose and goal of meditation: “What do you seek here, since this world is not your resting place? Your true home is in Heaven; therefore remember that all things of this world are transitory. All things are passing and yourself with them. See that you do not cling to them, lest you become entangled and perish with them. Let all your thoughts be with the Most High.”6. Imitation of Christ, translator Leo Sherley-Price. Baltimore: Penguin Classics edition. 6

When one achieves this deep spiritual vision, his entire world view is completely transformed, as in the case of St. Francis of Assisi, who devoted his life to prayer and meditation. In his Life of St. Francis, St. Bonaventura says, “In all fair things, he beheld Him who is most fair, and, through the traces of Him which He has implanted in all His creatures, he was led on to reach the All-loved, constructing of these things a ladder whereby he might ascend to Him who is Loveliness itself….”7. The Life of St. Francis. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1912. 7 In other words, when one’s original, spiritual consciousness is revived, one sees God everywhere and in everything. One enters a unique world of spiritual knowledge and pleasure, far superior to what most of us perceive as reality-a spiritual reality that lies just beyond our ordinary abilities of perception. William James, the American philosopher who specialized in the psychology of religion, writing on this point, said, “Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go throughout life without suspecting their existence, but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness….”8. The Varieties of Religious Experience. William James. London: Longman, Green, and Co., p. 388. 8

But what is the “requisite stimulus” for awakening the dormant consciousness of the self and God that lies within everyone’s heart? All genuine spiritual authorities agree that such transcendental experiences cannot be awakened by any material stimulus or experience, including ingestion of chemical substances like LSD and other “mind-expanding” drugs.

When Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya (spiritual master) of the Hare Krsna movement, was asked by a follower of Timothy Leary about LSD’s place in man’s spiritual life, he said that drugs were not necessary for spiritual life, that they could not produce spiritual consciousness, and that all drug-induced “religious visions” were simply hallucinations. To realize God was not so easy or cheap that one could do it just by taking a pill or smoking.9. Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1980, p. 201. 9

CABH 4.2: Sound and Self-Realization

Sound and Self-Realization

The Vedic scriptures advise that the proper technique for awakening spiritual consciousness is the hearing and chanting of transcendental sounds or mantras, like the Hare Krsna mantra. The power of sound to effect changes in consciousness has long been recognized. The English philosopher and statesman Sir Francis Bacon noted that “the sense of hearing striketh the spirit more immediately than any other senses.”10. Sylva sylvarum, in Works, ed. James Spedding, et. al. New York: 1864, IV, p. 231. 10

Ordinary material sounds, however, will not awaken spiritual consciousness. For this, one must hear spiritual sound vibrations. Therefore, almost every religion in the world recommends that we meditate upon the Word of God. St. John wrote in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”11. John, 1:1. 11 Divine sound is thus of a vastly different quality than worldly or material sound. This fact was clearly explained by St. Augustine in his Confessions. Once, as he emerged from a mystic trance, he said he “heard again the babble of our own tongues, wherein each word has a beginning and an ending. Far unlike Thy Word, our Lord, who abideth in Himself, never growing old and making all things new.”12. Confessions, X, p. 321. 12 And in the Gospel of St. John, Christ says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit.”13. John, 6:63. 13

While the Word, or teachings of God, have enormous power to transform and uplift our lives, just as important are the actual names of God, which are sometimes praised aloud in song or quietly meditated upon. Since God is fully spiritual and absolute, the Vedic scriptures inform us that His holy names are invested with the Lord’s full spiritual potencies. God and His name are the same. The Padma Purana states, “There is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. As such, the holy name is as perfect as the Lord Himself.” The Stoic philosopher Maximus noted, “There is one supreme God who is, as it were, the God and mighty father of all.” “It is Him,” he said, “whom we worship under many names.”14. Comparative Religion, Esther Carpenter, 1913, p. 35. 14 Modern Jewish theologian Martin Buber also agreed that “All God’s names are hallowed.”15. Worship in the World’s Religions, Geoffrey Parrinder. London: Faber and Faber, 1961, p. 7. 15

And the Bible is replete with similar statements. In the Old Testament it is said, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe.”16. Proverbs, 18:10. 16 In Psalms, King David proclaims, “I will praise the name of God with a song.”17. Psalms, 69:30. 17 Indeed, the Psalms contain countless references to the name of God: “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord: and shall glorify Thy name.18. Psalms, 86:9. 18… O give thanks unto the Lord: call upon His name: make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him: talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name.19. Psalms, 105: 1-4. 19 … Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals.”20. Psalms, 150:4-5. 20 The prophet Isaiah described God as “One that inhabiteth eternity, and whose name is Holy.”21. Isaiah, 57:15. 21 Centuries later, Israel Baal Shem Tov (1699-1761), the great Jewish mystic, founded Hasidism, a popular pietist movement within Judaism, in which members dance and chant in glorification of the Supreme Lord.

Christ, when teaching his disciples how to pray, glorified the Lord’s holy name: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” And in his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul wrote, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”22. Romans, 10:13. 22

In the early Christian churches, there was, according to the historian Eusebius, “one common consent in chanting forth the praises of God.”23. Ecclesiastical History. 23 The Gregorian chants, popularized in the sixth century by Pope Gregory the Great and later by works like Handel’s masterpiece the Messiah, with its resounding choruses of hallelujah (“praised be the Lord”), are still performed and appreciated all over the world.

In addition to praising the Lord’s name and glories in song, there also developed in the Christian churches the practice of meditating upon God by chanting prayers on rosary beads, a tradition continued today by millions of Catholics worldwide. John Chrysostom, a saint of the Greek Orthodox church, especially recommended the “prayerful invocation of the name of God,” which he said should be practiced “uninterrupted.”24. The Way of a Pilgrim, translator R. M. French. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 24 The repetition of the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me”) became a regular practice among members of the Eastern Church. In The Way of a Pilgrim, a Russian monk describes this form of meditation: “The continuous interior prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart…. One who accustoms himself to this appeal experiences as a result so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always, that he can no longer live without it.”25. Ibid. 25

Among the followers of Islam, the names of God (Allah) are held sacred and meditated upon. According to tradition, there are ninety-nine names of Allah, called “the Beautiful Names.” They are found inscribed on monuments such as the Taj Mahal and on the walls of mosques. These names are chanted on an Islamic rosary, which consists of three sets of thirty-three beads. Worshipers repeat the names to help them concentrate their minds upon Allah. The dual titles Al-Rahman, al-Rahim, meaning “God, the compassionate, the merciful,” are invoked at the beginning of each chapter of the Koran. Other Arabic names of God glorify Him as the creator, provider, and king.

In India, the Sikhs place special emphasis on the name of God. Indeed, the Sikhs call God Nama-“the name.” Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, prayed, “In the ambrosial hours of the morn I meditate on the grace of the true name,” and says that he was instructed by the Lord in a vision to “Go and repeat My name, and cause others to do likewise.”26. Japji (The Meditations of Guru Nanak). 26

“Rosaries are widely used in Buddhism; large ones by monks, smaller ones by the laity, says Geoffrey Parrinder, a professor of comparative religion at the University of London, in his book Worship in the World’s Religions. “The large ones have 108 beads, the two halves representing the fifty-four stages of becoming a boddhi-sattva (enlightened one). The large bead in the middle stands for Buddha.”

Members of Japan’s largest Buddhist order, the Pure Land sect, practice repetition of the name of Buddha (namu amida butsu). The founder Shinran Shonin says, “The virtue of the Holy Name, the gift of him that is enlightened, is spread throughout the world.”27. Buddhist Psalms, Yamabe, S., and Beck, L.A. Murray, 1921, p. 86. 27 The Buddhist teachings reveal that by chanting the name of Buddha, the worshiper becomes liberated from the cycle of reincarnation and joins the Buddha in the Pure Land, or spiritual world.

CABH 4.3: Krsna: The All-Encompassing Name of God

Krsna: The All-Encompassing Name of God

Although God is known throughout the world by many different names, each of which describes some particular aspect of His glories and attractive features, there is one name which expresses the sum total of God’s infinite qualities and characteristics This supreme, all-encompassing, and most powerful name of God is found in the oldest religious scriptures in the world, the Sanskrit Vedas of India, which state that the principal name of God is Krsna.

Srila Prabhupada explains: “When we speak of Krsna, we refer to God. There are many names for God throughout the world and throughout the universe, but Krsna is the supreme name according to Vedic knowledge.”28. Sri Namamrta: The Nectar of the Holy Name, Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1982, p. 142. 28 He further states, “God has many names according to His activities, but because He possesses so many opulences, and because with these opulences He attracts everyone, He is called Krsna [‘all-attractive’].”29. Ibid. 29

The spiritual qualities of Krsna’s holy name are described throughout the Vedic literatures. The Padma Purana states, “The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure…. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya [illusion]. Krsna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical.”

Since time immemorial, millions of devotees and saintly persons have chanted the name of Krsna to achieve spiritual perfection. But history records that it was widely popularized by Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of Lord Krsna who appeared in Bengal barely five centuries ago and established the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra as the universal spiritual practice for the present age.

According to Vedic cosmology, the material creation eternally passes through cycles of four ages. Each begins with a Golden Age (Satya-yuga), then conditions progressively deteriorate, ending in the Kali-yuga, an age characterized by quarrel and hypocrisy. For each of the four ages, the Vedas prescribe a universal method of self-realization just suited for that particular age.

For instance, in the Satya-yuga, the recommended path was that of the mystic yoga system, which involved a lifetime of unbroken yoga practice, accompanied by strict vows of penance and austerity. We are presently at the beginning of the last age, Kali-yuga. In this age people no longer have the endurance, willpower, or sufficient life span necessary to successfully practice the original yoga system described in the Vedas. The Vedic scriptures therefore advise, “In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress other than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of the Lord.” 30. Brhan-naradiya Purana. 30

The Kali-santarana Upanisad specifically recommends the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra: “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare-these sixteen names composed of thirty-two syllables are the only means to counteract the evil effects of Kali-yuga. In all the Vedas it is seen that to cross the ocean of nescience there is no alternative to chanting the holy name.”

Lord Caitanya’s biographers record that He spent many years traveling all over India spreading the chanting of the holy names of Krsna. He chanted the Hare Krsna mantra congregationally (kirtana) to the accompaniment of musical instruments, including drums and hand cymbals. The Lord also chanted the mantra quietly a specific number of times daily as a private meditation (japa). In the Siksastaka, His famous prayers about the holy names of Krsna, Lord Caitanya wrote, “Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krsna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.”

During His lifetime, Lord Caitanya predicted that the holy names of Krsna would spread to every town and village in the world. This prophecy lay unfulfilled for four hundred years, until the time of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great spiritual master in the direct line of disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya. In 1885 Bhaktivinoda wrote, “Lord Caitanya did not advent Himself to liberate only a few men in India. Rather, His main objective was to emancipate all living entities of all countries throughout the entire universe and preach the Eternal Religion…. There is no doubt that this unquestionable order will come to pass…. Very soon the unparalleled path of hari-nama sankirtana [the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord] will be propagated all over the world…. Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mrdangas [drums], and karatalas [hand cymbals] and raise kirtana [chanting] through their streets and towns! When will that day come?”31. Sajjana-tosani (newspaper). 31

Bhaktivinoda’s vision became a reality in less than a century. In 1965, India’s greatest spiritual and cultural ambassador, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, arrived in New York’s East Village, the heart of the countercultural movement of the sixties. Within a year Srila Prabhupada, tenth in the line of spiritual masters from Lord Caitanya, had founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Very quickly, the sound of the chanting of Hare Krsna spread, first across America, then on to England and throughout the world.

The Vedic scriptures predict that although the age of Kali is the most degraded of all, the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra will dramatically alter the present war-torn, hate-filled atmosphere of the world. These most ancient, timeless writings forecast a Golden Age, beginning with the widespread chanting of Hare Krsna, during which the painful disturbances of this age will be mitigated and people everywhere will be economically, politically, socially, culturally, and spiritually happy.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “Kali-yuga continues for 432,000 years, of which only 5,000 years have passed. Thus there is still a balance of 427,000 years to come. Of these 427,000 years, the 10,000 years of the sankirtana movement inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago provide the opportunity for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga to take to the Krsna consciousness movement, chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and thus be delivered from the clutches of material existence and return home, back to Godhead.”32. Sri Namamrta, p. 249. 32

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By Daiva Rama Das

ISKCON’s temple in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, is situated in a prominent area of town, and occupies a central and very visible location. Immediately across from the temple is a Bus Stop that has had the name of ISKCON Cross Road BRTS Bus Stop for a long time.


Now, the main street the temple is on itself got renamed after ISKCON-founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as “Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg.” 


The inauguration took place on Friday November 22nd, in the presence of Gopal Krishna Goswami, Anuttama Das and other GBC & bureau members, the Mayor of Ahmedabad Bijalben Patel and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Standing committee's Chairman Amul Bhatt, Local Member of Legislative Assembly Bhupendra Patel and about 150 devotees and other people.



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If we are at all aware of how dependent we are on God—for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and our very ability to eat and drink and breathe, to think and feel and will, and to walk, talk, and sense—we will feel grateful and want to reciprocate God’s kindness. We will want to do something for He (or She or They) who has done, and continues to do, so much for us.

We often take things for granted until we lose them. I use my right hand to chant on meditation beads, and one morning I found that I had severe pain in my hand and could no longer use it for chanting. I had taken the use of my hand for granted, but when I lost its use, I resolved to never take it for granted again and to always use it in the best way in God’s service.

How can we attempt to return some of God’s favor, some of God’s care and love for us? My spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gave one answer:

“Whatever you have got by pious or impious activities, you cannot change. But you can change your position, by Krishna consciousness. That you can change. Other things you cannot change. If you are white, you cannot become black, or if you are black, you cannot become white. That is not possible. But you can become a first-class Krishna conscious person. Whether you are black or white, it doesn’t matter. This is Krishna consciousness. Therefore our endeavor should be how to become Krishna conscious. Other things we cannot change. This is not possible.

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
   [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18]

Kalena, by time, you will get whatever you are destined. Don’t bother about so-called economic development. So far as food is concerned, Krishna is supplying. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He is supplying even cats and dogs and ants. Why not you? There is no need of bothering Krishna, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’ He will give you. Don’t bother. Try to become very faithful servant of God. ‘Oh, God has given me so many things. So let me give my energy to serve Krishna.’ This is required. This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I have taken so much, life after life, from Krishna. Now let me dedicate this life to Krishna.’ This is Krishna consciousness. ‘I will not let this life go uselessly like cats and dogs. Let me utilize it for Krishna consciousness.’”

I pray that I will dedicate this life and everything I have—everything God has given me—fully in God’s service, following His pure devotees.

manasa, deho, geho, yo kichu mora
arpilun tuya pade, nanda-kisora

“Mind, body, and home, whatever may be mine, I surrender at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda!” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Saranagati)


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In Buenos Aires, I had the pleasure of walking up and down a street in the company of friends while inhaling the great, breathable air that the city is known for.  I wouldn’t have dared in the daytime.  The sun can really bake alive a northerner like me.

Earlier in the day, word reached me that a pop star walked across the U.S. Congratulations to singer Mike Posner, best known for the song "I Took A Pill in Ibiza".  Yes, congratulations for the feet-feat.  

According to Mike, the just-shy-of 3000 miles which he triumphed over a span of six months, was a project undertaken in response to losing his dad to cancer.  I was forwarded his story by an American friend, a bhakti-yogi, as it was a transformational one.  Mike called it quits on drinking and drugs.  That's a conquest.  

He started his trek in April of this year, in New Jersey. Then, he went along his way to the Pacific Ocean, dealing with the challenges of every marathon walker sore legs, severe weather, perhaps loneliness, etc.  It all sounds familiar to me. 

What I did not encounter in my own trek across the U.S. was a rattlesnake bite.  That's what happened to Mike.  A helicopter took him up and flew him to a Colorado hospital, for treatment in their ER.  Lucky guy!  I hope he was chanting a few mantras.  Actually, he did use a mantra—though not a Vedic one.  It was "keep going", and that's why he's a hero in my books. 

I'm hoping to reach him, somehow.  We have stories to share, despite the difference of my being a monk, and he a pop star.  I'll have to check out his music.
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There are various answers in various scriptures to this question. In the Bhagavad-gita, we have the verse: paritrāṇāya sādhūnāḿ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām dharma-saḿsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge (Bhagavad-gita 4.8). Krsna says here that He appears millennium after millennium to annihilate the demons and to re-establish the principles of religion. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Kuntidevi is explaining that the Lord appeared because of the austerities carried out by Vasudeva and Devaki and that it was in response to these austerities that Krsna appeared as their son. Other sources say that bhumi was overburdened by military phalanxes and impious rulers, and accordingly went to Lord Brahma to request for Krsna to appear.

Gaudiya vaisnavas however understand that ultimately Krsna appears to reveal His transcendental pastimes from the spiritual world. No other incarnation of the Lord does this, not even Lord Rama, even though Lord Rama is practically non-different from Lord Krsna. Lord Rama appears with the purpose of teaching the example of dharma, however Krsna’s pastimes are simply transcendental and are not bound by any mundane morality. His pastimes are only bound by the love that His devotees exhibit and His desire to increase their love. So it is in this way that we must approach Janmashtami – meditating on how Krsna is bound by the love of His devotees and how He desires to increase the love of His devotees.


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By Jonathan B. Edelmann

This phenomenal world or material world in which we are placed is complete in itself because the twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, according to Sankhya philosophy, are completely adjusted to produce complete resources which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. There is nothing extraneous, nor is there anything needed. (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

An understanding of God’s relationship with the world is essential for an informed response to contemporary scientific worldviews. Although there is copious literature dealing with this subject by Christian theologians, very little has been done from a Hindu perspective, with its different metaphysics.

We will look at how Christian thinkers have dealt with the subject of non-physical influence and intervention in the world, and then what Hinduism has to offer the discussion. I hope to show that the theistic Sankhya of the Bhagavata Purana (Srimad-Bhagavatam) offers a rich metaphysics and conception of the self to enhance two divergent Christian theologies of nature.

According to the Bhagavata Purana there is no reason to believe that God intervenes in the mechanics of nature or has not created a closed system, wherein objects and events are produced by causes within nature alone. Moreover, with the introduction of the Bhagavata Purana’s metaphysics, the Western ‘natural/supernatural’ distinction must break down.

What has become of the scientific method

Upon reading a typical university-level biology or physics textbook, one striking feature is that one will not find reference to non-physical phenomena, such as mind, intelligence, consciousness, God, overriding purposes, or final causes. One function of science is to describe phenomena; the physical eye does not see non-physical phenomena, so science is silent regarding them. But science does more than just describe, it also attempts to explain what is seen in terms of natural laws, forces, and chance mechanisms — what we ordinarily call ‘theories’. ‘Naturalism’ means that scientific theories are constrained to natural laws, mechanisms, forces, and other physical events; they do not speak of miracles, divine interventions, the influence of minds, intelligences, God, or gods. Nature is assumed to be a self-sufficient, closed system that operates, transforms itself, and produces objects and events by the principles contained within itself. It is assumed that the laws and forces within nature can account for observed phenomena.

‘Methodological naturalism’ is the method employed by scientists in what is now known as ‘science’. As scientists study nature, they assume it is an unbroken chain of natural cause and effect; that all phenomena are explicable by natural laws and forces produced within nature. Naturalism as a method has become a slippery concept. In fact, it is often wrongly equated and conflated with a metaphysical position.2 Those who conflate say that because science studies nature as if there are no non-physical influences and therefore has formulated theories that make no reference to them, then science must be saying there are no such things or that they are simply irrelevant to our knowledge of the world. Neo-Darwinism in particular can give the impression that God is absent in natural history; that if evolution is true, then only natural selection and random gene mutations are the causes of biodiversity. The emphasis on ‘only’ seems to indicate that God simply does not exist, or that God set up the original laws and chance mechanisms, but is now absent so that nature carries on without Him. Thus deism is as consistent with naturalism as atheism is.

However, naturalism can remain a methodology and resist a deistic or atheistic metaphysics.

One may say that God is ultimately the cause of all phenomena, working in and through secondary causes to create them, just as a computer programmer may create a programme to construct images rather than creating them directly. In other words, it can be said that God creates by natural processes; He seeks His ends, in terms of cosmic creation and sustenance, by working in and through nature. This is a view of God as the foundation of all existence and diversity, but not acting directly in the mechanics of nature.

Alternatively, naturalistic theories can be seen as just one way of looking and talking about the world. They do not falsify theistic ways of talking about the world because they are part of a different language game. There are different levels of reality, and science only picks out one of them. A scientific language game serves one function, whereas a religious or spiritual language game serves another function. They are essentially different worlds of discourse and so cannot conflict with one another. However, methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism are not entirely different positions either. When non-physical entities are not needed to explain anything (and naturalistic scientific theories are purportedly full explanations), then that calls into question the need to believe in them. God and consciousness become unneeded hypotheses that make no difference to our understanding of the world.

Methodological naturalism is about the practice of scientific enquiry into the natural world. George. G. Simpson says that he rejects supernatural events not because of a metaphysical preference, but on ‘necessary heuristic grounds’. (Simpson 1967) The argument, in a nutshell, is that science cannot be productive without rejecting non-physical causation. Conversely, it can only be productive if it assumes (for methodological purposes) that every event and object has a material cause. Why is this? Because science places importance on tests: a proposition must be shown either true or false by an experiment, demonstration, or observation. A necessary condition of a test is that the event in question be repeatable, or at least an event derivable from it must be testable. If we did not assume gravity as an unbroken law, then there would be no way to generate predictions about planetary movement (predictions that would act as ‘tests’ of the law’s truth). Pennock writes that ‘Controlled, repeatable experimentation … would not be possible without the methodological assumption that supernatural entities do not intervene to negate lawful natural regularities’. (Pennock, p. 89) Supernatural events negate experimentation because they are supposed as inconsistent (unlawful).

Thus, methodological naturalism is necessary for the empirical standard of science. If the goal of science is to acquire a theoretical understanding of nature, then to say that ‘God was pleased to do it like that’ (although that may be true) is not going to progress our theoretical understanding: ‘if God did it directly, there will be nothing further to find out’. (Pennock, p. 356) For these reasons, scientists often say that non-natural causation, if allowed in science, would end up as a ‘science stopper’.

A magical God

Plantinga, a noted analytic philosopher and committed Calvinist, argues that Christians need a science that ‘isn’t restricted by methodological naturalism’. (Pennock, p. 139) He characterises contemporary science thus: ‘God is a supernatural being, hypotheses referring to him therefore deal with something besides the natural; hence such hypotheses cannot be part of science’. (Pennock, p. 344) This is problematic, for it seems that a scientist is allowed to retain scientific integrity by saying ‘God did X’, hence ‘referring’ to God, as long as a cogent natural explanation is also given or as long as he is not making a scientific claim. A theist can always consider that God is directly working in and through natural chance and necessity processes; but that need not preclude a natural explanation too. The definition of science (as naturalistic) is not an arbitrary a priori definition bolstered by a naturalistically inclined community as Plantinga has been criticised for suggesting, nor is it claimed to be an a posteriori proposition; it’s an explication of ‘what scientists do’ because of the heuristic reasons mentioned above.

Methodological naturalism, as the very term suggests, is a functional definition of how science best operates, scientists argue. A scientist becomes suspect (as a scientist, not as a person) when, without giving a cogent natural explanation, he says ‘God did X’. Because Plantinga wants to let this possibility into science, he is also making a theological claim: that God does occasionally break the causal chain, and that there are no natural explanations for some events. Plantinga sees naturalism as an ‘arbitrary’ theological position because it restricts God’s action to secondary causes; the Christian doctrine leaves open the possibility of divine intervention and special creation.

Regarding the heuristic justification for methodological naturalism, Plantinga argues that divine intervention could be both a ‘science stopper’ and true. It is absurd to see some thing that is true as stopping science. Although as a ‘general rule’ direct causation ‘does not make for good science’, it does not follow that theists should assume, for instance, that the universe ‘is just there’ God must have done some things directly. He writes that ‘[if] after a great deal of study, we cannot see how he created some phenomenon P (life, for example) indirectly; thus probably he has created it directly’. (Pennock, p. 361) Some people are likely to raise their eyebrows at this: ‘But when does one conclude God created P directly? Isn’t the history of science littered with cases of “divine intervention”, which were later shown to be the result of perfectly natural causes?’ Plantinga does not deal with this point.

A fundamental assumption in Plantinga’s thinking is that the world is contingent: God could have decided to not make it at all, or could have done it differently. Hence the need for a posteriori and not a priori analysis to see how He did it. That means allowing for God’s direct action. At times methodological naturalism is useful, but at other times it may not be; perhaps Christians should pursue their own Augustinian science, utilising ‘all the Christian knows’.

A cosmic musician

Rev. Dr Arthur Peacocke, winner of the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, is a trained scientist and that training carries through in his approach to theology. He endorses ‘theistic naturalism’ as a philosophical understanding of nature. For him this means that God does not intervene in the world’s natural laws; that we can rarely have enough evidence to believe in miracles; that there is no soul or spiritual entity separate from matter aside from God; that the details of the observed world do not require recourse to an explanation outside of nature and they are not predetermined by God; and that God does not directly alter nature in response to prayer. (Peacocke 1993, pp. 191–213) For Peacocke, God gave matter the necessary conditions to evolve into life we are space dust come alive. The world developed and continues to develop according to the free play of chance within the structure of laws. Just as a fugue takes one musical theme and layers it over itself in a polyrhythmic fashion, similarly God unfolds the universe in an improvised and developmental fashion. Science is the tracing of the notes played by the universe. But Peacocke does not think that God pushes or pulls the universe in any particular direction, rather, through time and the right conditions, human life (and all else) develops because matter has the inherent capacity to do that. (Peacocke 2001, p. 75–80)

Peacocke is not sceptical of contemporary science; he embraces it with gusto. He goes so far as to assert that any ‘exploration towards God’ can only be based upon the scientific study of nature and humanity. The method of this study ought not be the ‘subjective’, ‘less accessible’, and ‘more contentious’ mysticism, but the ‘widely accepted’ and ‘justified basis’ of natural science. (Peacocke 2001, p. 16) Nevertheless, from scientific discoveries such as the fundamental laws of physics and neo-Darwinian evolution, the best inference is an ultimate ground of being or ‘Ultimate Reality’.

There are a few things in nature that fascinate Peacocke, and he uses them to model God’s relationship with the world. For instance, ‘dissipative systems’ are meant to illustrate his theory of ‘whole-part influence’ (other times he calls it ‘top-down’). Apparently, when a fluid is heated, the molecules cease to bounce around randomly: they ‘self-organise’ themselves. The nature of the system as a whole (the fluid and the device it is being heated in) causes the parts to act in a particular way (i.e., orderly when heated). This too happens in gene switching: ‘The parts [genes] would not behave as observed if they were not parts of that particular system [the body].’ (Peacocke 2001, p. 52) He points out that science is becoming more aware that life is a web of interconnected systems, each mutually affecting and being affected by the other. He wants to consider this an ontological claim, as opposed to a provisional, scientific claim. (Peacocke 2001, p. 55) This introduces his theory of the ‘flow of information’ in hierarchical systems. For instance, the environment imprints information on DNA in organisms via natural selection. The world is full of such instances: systems of one level transmit information and thus constrain, direct and guide systems of a lower level. He says that the idea of ‘information’ is not dependent upon the matter and energy that is often its medium (at least in our experience). If so, then information is contingent; but this seems at odds with self-organising complexity, in which information arises directly out of the properties of matter (a topic we take up later).

Peacocke notes that some theologians, such as Polkinghorne, propose that God acts within the unpredictabilities in the quantum world ‘in a way that, in practice, we could never detect’. (Peacocke 2001, p. 103) Thus God can act in the world, but because His action is in the shadows of our knowledge, we may never notice it. But isn’t this just the old divine intervention in a modern guise? The staunch naturalist Peacocke says ‘yes’ and proposes another way of looking at God’s relationship with the world.

For Peacocke, God is the world and more than the world — this view is called ‘panentheism’. God is therefore immanent in the world by creating, sustaining, and guiding the world in and through secondary natural causes alone. Because God is the world (and more than it), there are no ontological gaps between Him and the world. (Peacocke 2001, p. 58)

With that background knowledge, let us develop his thesis of God’s interaction with the world. The world is a ‘system-of-systems’, that is, it consists of the interconnectedness of all subsystems, such as the quantum, biological, and cosmological. It is somewhat analogous to the human body: both have interconnected systems within systems. God does not interact with the subsystems, but with the ‘world-as-a-whole’. In dissipative systems the nature and conditions of the whole system affect the individual units. Similarly, God sets constraints and ‘boundary conditions’ upon the individual units by establishing the nature and conditions of the universe as a whole. Put differently, just as the environment places constraints upon, and determines the characteristics of, organisms in it, so God institutes the state of the world and thereby affects the things in the world. Put differently yet again, just as a songwriter may determine the mood, tempo, and key of a song, but then within those constraints improvise and create a song, similarly God sets the conditions of the universe and improvises within those constraints. Peacocke writes:

By affecting its overall state, God could be envisaged as being able to exercise influence upon events in the myriad sublevels of existence of which it is made without abrogating the laws and regularities that specifically apply to them. Moreover, God would be doing this without intervening within the supposed gaps provided by the in-principle, inherent unpredictabilities. (Peacocke 2001, p. 109)

God therefore implements his will not by interventions, but by influencing the ‘world-system’ as a whole. ‘Any interaction of God with the world-system would be initially with it as a whole’, and from that initial interaction His will would ‘trickle-down’ to the lower levels of complexity. (Peacocke 2001, p. 110) This form of interaction is a ‘flow of information’ from God to the world as a whole. Peacocke also believes in bottom-up causality, wherein the units also affect higher levels of the whole system.

But is the import of theistic naturalism that, as Peacocke suggests, God is not needed to explain the details of the world? And is the antithesis of theistic naturalism divine intervention?

Of lovers and gods: The Sankhya model of theistic naturalism

We have looked at competing views from Plantinga and Peacocke regarding God’s relationship with the world. We will now look at Sankhya, an ancient Indian natural philosophy, which is, I will argue, a form of qualified theistic naturalism. I believe it illuminates the thesis that there can be a theistic naturalism.

There are theistic and atheistic versions of Sankhya; we shall focus on a theistic rendition, from the Bhagavata Purana, because we are, after all, attempting to see if theism can be friendly with naturalism. We will look at how theistic Sankhya has developed an extensive set of analogies and philosophical concepts to elucidate God’s relationship with the world.

Sankhya literally means ‘to count or enumerate’. The general purpose of all Sankhya philosophy is to give one knowledge of reality, which in turn frees one from error, which then frees one from suffering. It is also said to prepare one for meditation.

As with most Indian philosophical systems, dates and original authorship are difficult to discern; the traditions themselves often posit radically different origins than those proposed by Western scholars studying them. In the Bhagavata Purana, Sankhya is said to originate from Kapila, an avatara (incarnation) of Visnu. Kapila is the son of Kardama (Bhagavata Purana 3.24.29)3 and Kardama is a son of Brahma (Bhagavata Purana 3.12.27).

Kapila’s teachings on Sankhya to his widowed mother, and Krsna’s summary of Sankhya to Uddhava, the famous statesman of Mathura, are presented as the ‘word of God’. Hence the tradition views Sankhya not as a speculative philosophy but as divine teaching. Krsna makes explicit reference to previous Sankhya philosophies, (Bhagavata Purana 1.22.4–6 and 11.24.1–2) supposedly species of Kapila’s original Sankhya.

Purusa and prakrti

The meaning of purusa varies according to text and context. In the Bhagavata Purana, purusa either means the enjoyer of the material world (the individual soul, present in each living thing) or God. God is described in terms of three separate categories: brahman (impersonal, lucid energy); paramatma (the aspect of God in our heart, located in the world); and bhagavan (the Supreme Person), transcendental to matter and possessor of the omni-qualities. These categories are different aspects of one non-dual spiritual substance. (Bhagavata Purana 1.2.11)

The substance of the material world is called prakrti; it is ontologically different from Purusa. Prakrti is more than just the phenomenological world, it is also the characteristic quality of the material world itself and the substance of which everything material is made. Although our universe is temporary, prakrti is eternal; it existed before the world and will continue to be the material cause of future worlds. In and through the process of creation, subsistence, and annihilation, the total amount of energy in the world remains the same. Prakrti is spoken of in terms of five ‘gross’ elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space) and three ‘subtle’ elements (mind, intelligence, and false ego); we shall introduce other elements of prakrti later. In Sankhya, the effect necessarily exists in its cause, and an effect is ‘like’ its cause; that is, the effect in some way resembles and is constrained by the properties of the cause. (Bhagavata Purana 11.24.17) Prakrti is the material cause of all phenomena, thus it contains all properties and constituents of all phenomena.

The distinction between God and the conscious living being (jiva) is one of quantity, not quality. We are made of the same spiritual energy as God, but less of it as evidenced by our subjection to time and the constraints of our physical environment. Moreover, the jiva is considered ontologically distinct from prakrti; therefore it is different from body, mind, and intellect.4 Therefore, our true identity has nothing to do with our present mental and physical condition, which is entirely rooted in prakrti. Prakrti may also be called ksetra, which denotes a space or situation where the jiva can act; and the jiva is called ksetra-jna or the perceiver of that field, although it is not part of it. The ontological distinction between the self and matter, yet the recognition of their gnarled and convoluted intertwining, differs radically from Christian theology and contemporary philosophy.

Creation and causality

As mentioned previously, a key issue in naturalism is God’s relationship with the world. There are a number of analogies in Sankhya and Vedic philosophies that elucidate this relationship; I will develop two in this section. Visvanatha Cakravarti, a renowned Vaisnava teacher, says that just as a king presides over his subjects and delegates responsibilities to his ministers, God similarly creates, maintains, and destroys this world through His material energies without getting personally involved in the mechanics of the universe.5 The second major analogy, found throughout the Vedas, is that of God relating with the world just as a husband relates to his wife and child.

At the beginning of time, before the universe exists, prakrti is in an unmanifest state, called pradhana. Pradhana is an eternal and subtle substance that contains all of the latent potentials and characteristics of the phenomenological world; it is prakrti in a state of samya or equilibrium and rest. (Bhagavata Purana 3.26.10–13) It contains the blueprints of the physical forms that will be later manifest by an evolutionary process, as well as the ability to perceive and the objects of perception. A contribution specific in the Bhagavata Purana is that the pradhana is Brahman (pure spirit) with the gunas (qualities of nature) added. The gunas are qualitative and moral forces or modes. All objects are imbued with a combination of the three gunas: sattva or goodness and existence; rajas or passion and activity; and tamas or ignorance and inertia. The concept of gunas is, I believe, unique to Indian philosophy. Within the pradhana the gunas are balanced such that no interactions occur between them. In our own experience, prakrti is in an unbalanced state and the transformation of it is due to the mixing of the gunas with each other.

Creation takes place when the gunas are disturbed or excited by the addition of time by the Purusa. (Bhagavata Purana 3.26.17) Time is spoken of as the glance or thinking of God about the world. As such, time is not part of prakrti or pradhana, but comes from the Purusa, who is outside matter. It is because of time or the thought of God that the latent potentials within the pradhana begin to unfold, just as a spider releases its silk upon deciding to build a web. (Bhagavata Purana 11.24.16) Time brings the unmanifested and motionless pradhana into manifestation and motion; thus, without time’s continued influence there would be no universe. Along with such descriptions, the Bhagavata Purana depicts the Purusa as placing His virya (potency) in prakrti, ‘She’ then proceeds to ‘deliver’ the universe. The rest of the story is a complex description of subtle elements unfolding into more gross elements, but all of the qualities of the final result are contained in the original cause. ‘Nothing comes from nothing’ is an axiom of Sankhya. The development is naturalistic in the sense that the gunas, time, and matter contain the necessary and sufficient properties to develop the phenomenological world by themselves; just as when a husband impregnates his wife, the combination of semen and egg contain the biological capacities to form a baby. In this analogy, the husband is the purusa, the wife prakrti, and the universe is their offspring.

It is explained that, once the fundamental aspects of the universe have been actualised, God creates a secondary creator: Brahma, the celebrated ‘creator’ god. God Himself does not directly or personally create what we know to be the world; He gives the responsibility and power to a jiva soul. But Brahma is only empowered; his potency is derived from a source greater than him.

Once the Purusa has unleashed the pradhana by disrupting the gunas, Brahma receives the power from God to substantiate planets, stars, and living organisms. Brahma describes himself as ‘manifest[ing] the created potentials’ and as ‘let[ting] forth the emanation’. (Bhagavata Purana 2.5.11 and 20) Commentators on the tradition have described him as the ‘direct creator of the manifest universe and everything within the universe’. (Bhagavata Purana 2.5.3) Thus it seems that Brahma is left with the work of assembling the universe, as one might bake a cake once the ingredients and recipe have been given.

The analogy used in the commentarial tradition is that of seeds. The seeds (potentials) are partially developed from the pradhana, and then handed over to gods and humans to nourish and bring to fruition. There are some obvious relationships with the notion of ‘co-creation’ as developed by some Christian theologians. The Sankhya tradition also distinguishes between creating and discovering: Brahma does not create the world, he discovers the process of unfolding the universe, just as one might discover the process of manifesting a tree from a seed; this is very different than creating the seed and tree. The forms (in a Platonic sense) of objects have already been brought out of the pradhana by the time Brahma arrives on the scene, but only in a very subtle or conceptual sense. The nature of Brahma’s work, therefore, is to slowly utilise those concepts to manufacture the constituents of our universe.

The overall point is that Brahma is given the power to manifest the world by God so that God’s direct help and intervention is not required. But devas such as Brahma are just as much a product of prakrti as humans, plants and animals. That is why the phenomenological world is considered to be governed by the gunas and not by the devas - the devas too are under control of the gunas. (Bhagavata Purana 1.1.1) The devas’ abilities and powers are constrained by the properties of prakrti. They are not ‘supernatural’ agents like the Purusa is. However, because the devas possess greater power than a human possibly can, their interaction with our phenomenological world may appear as ‘supernatural’. Therefore, this model problematises the simple natural/supernatural distinction of some theologians.

In terms of a human being’s experience of the world, that too is naturalistic in character. A consistent theme in Sankhya is that the perceived cause and effect, and the transformations of nature, are caused by the interactions of the gunas, which are constituents of prakrti alone. The jiva is bound, covered, and conditioned to perceive the world in terms of natural cause and effect by a complex matrix of cognitive structures. This gives one the illusion that it is ‘as if the world were materially produced’. (Bhagavata Purana 2.5.19)

There are parallels to be drawn between Peacocke’s notion of ‘world-as-a-whole influence’ and the Sankhya belief that the fundamental aspects and latent potentials that become the world all exist within the pradhana.

In both Sankhya and top-down causality, God sets or designs the initial conditions of the unmanifest world and then these play out or manifest over time. Sankhya puts more emphasis on the unfolding of predetermined potentials, whereas Peacocke, being influenced by Darwinian evolution, puts more emphasis on the free interplay of chance and necessity, which results in accidental forms. Sankhya says that the most general form of the universe, as well as the general forms of organisms, are eternal and to a certain extent necessary, whereas Peacocke erases a strict teleological evolution by saying that the way forms turn out is not predetermined by God (that is what I mean by accidental). But the basic principle of God endowing abstracted conditions of the world with specified characteristics and not intervening as they unfold is the same. The Sankhya model, however, is highly theoretical and the relationship between the gunas and laws of nature needs to be filled out; it may need a stronger empirical basis to become a viable theology of nature.

Qualifying methodological naturalism

We have shown that there are theistic ways of thinking about the world in a naturalistic light by discussing God’s relationship with the mechanisms of Nature, but nothing of God’s relationship with us has been discussed. It is on the level of the self that I wish to qualify theistic naturalism.

In Sankhya, the thing we call ‘life’ in all living things is not part of prakrti; it possesses free will and is controlled by the gunas, but it is able to become free of their influence. (Bhagavata Purana 3.27.23) God reciprocates with its desire, prayers, intentions, and action in a way unconstrained by the gunas, laws of nature, or material forces. Moreover, the concept of the avatara or ‘incarnation’ is prevalent in many Indian philosophies, and certainly in the Bhagavata Purana. The point here is that God ‘crosses over’ from a realm beyond prakrti to help the living entities for the sake of rasa, or spiritual relationship with those devoted to God.

For management of the universe, God created a closed system and its development is left to gods, humans, and the gunas. But in terms of rasa, spiritual relationship, naturalism may not apply in all cases. God does intervene in Nature’s workings, but not for reasons as mundane as cosmic management — God has better things to do!

If God reciprocates with our free will and so forth, then does God’s action interrupt what would be the normal ebb and flow of nature’s mechanisms? That is a question left unanswered here; we have only wished to show that in terms of nature’s mechanisms, methodological naturalism can be justified as a legitimate approach with a theistic conception of the universe. In speaking of how the actions of free, non-physical agents affect the world, methodological naturalism becomes more suspect.


A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1996.

Srimad-Bhagavatam. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1996.

Bhaktivedanta Narayana Swami. The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita. Mathura: Sri Keshava-ji Math, 2000.

Brooke, John Hedley. ‘Natural Law in the Natural Sciences: the Origins of Modern Atheism?’ in Science & Christian Belief 4, 1992, pp. 83–103.

Carroll, William. ‘Aquinas On Creation and the Metaphysical Foundation of Science’ in Sapientia 54, 1999, pp. 69–91.

Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986.

Dembski, William. No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Design. Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002.

Denton, Michael and Marshall, C. J. ‘Laws of Form Revisited’ in Nature 410, 417.

Gregersen, Niels (ed.). From Complexity to Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Johnson, Phillip. Darwin on Trial. USA: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Peacocke, Arthur. Paths From Science Toward God: The End of All Our Exploring. England: One World Press, 2001.

Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming — Natural, Divine and Human. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Pennock, Robert T. (ed.) Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives. Boston: MIT Press, 2002.

Polkinghorne, John. Belief in God in a Scientific Age. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

Faith, Science and Understanding. London: SPCK, 2000.

Ruse, Michael. Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Shastri, J. L. (ed.) Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology. The Bhagavat-Purana Vol. 11. Translated by Dr. G. V. Tagare. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Meaning of Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

Sheridan, Daniel P. The Advaitic Theism of the Bhagavata Purana. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.

Turner, Frank Miller. Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.

Van Till, Howard, and Stek, John. Portraits of Creation: Biblical and Scientific Perspectives on the World’s Formation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.


1 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (1996), p. 7.

2 See Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, and Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial.

3 All Bhagavata Purana translations taken from: Shastri 1997.

4 It is of course odd to say that there are two things, mind and intellect, and even stranger to say the self is not either of them. There is philosophical justification for this, but it goes beyond the scope of this paper.

5 Narayana Bhaktivedanta Swami. Srimad Bhagavad-gita. New Delhi: Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti (2000), pp. 513–4.

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Receiving guests at the Temple


Quotes from Radhanath Swami

1) From letters

  1. “The culmination of all our preaching efforts is when a sincere soul experiences his or her spiritual home when they visit our temple. I cannot overestimate the great importance the service, which you have accepted as a guest receptionist. I am most indebted to you for taking this service so seriously. Any person who ever visits our temple should feel so personally welcomed that they feel they have made a true friend. A devotee who genuinely is concerned with their spiritual lives. The beauty of the temple may attract people to come, but it is the hospitality of devotees, which will attract them to sincerely hear the divine message of Srila Prabhupada.” (Dated 16th July, 1998)

  2. “For many years I dreamt of having a first class Guest Reception Department. You are so kindly fulfilling that dream. Each and every congregational devotee, guest and temple devotee should be lovingly greeted with sweet words, folded palms, literature, caranamrita and prasadam. Make them feel that they have finally arrived in their eternal home at the lotus feet of Krishna. Your goal should be to treat people so nicely that they will come back again and again. To those who wish to hear, offer them a sitting place, and graciously discuss Hari-Katha. To those who wish only Darshan, graciously encourage them to receive causeless mercy of the Lord. When possible, take names and offer them to our database. Offer services to those who are sincere according to their spiritual needs. The overall spirit of our temple should be established by this wonderful service.” (Dated 15th May, 1999)

  3. “Thank you very much for your sincere service. We should not be attached to the results but rather we should be attached to pleasing Lord Krishna and the devotees by our honest efforts. May Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bless your devotional

service.”(Dated 14th Oct, 1999)

  1. From Lectures

  1. Guest is considered to be someone who is sent by Krishna. When guests come to our temple, Sri Radha Gopinath Temple, its Prabhupada’s temple and every single devotee who has faith in Prabhupada. We are the caretakers of this temple. Not only the department of Guest Reception but everyone, everyone should be eager and anxious to receive any guest that comes to the temple in such a way that they feel Prabhupada’s love for Krishna. No one should walk in these doors without feeling Prabhupada’s love for Krishna and Prabhupada’s love for them. And how will they feel that? Through us, through how we treat them, through how we speak to them, through how we respect and honor them. We are the vessels, we are all representatives. They are coming to Radha Gopinath’s personal guests. As Srila Prabhupada’s guests into their house. And we are the servants. If a rich person has a guest and the butler or maid or the servant of the house mistreats them, they will be cast away. So it is everyone’s duty. Any guest that comes, from India, from abroad should give them, whether we have lot or little, that is not important. It is the spirit of affection, spirit of respect, the spirit of servitude. (Lect. dated 12.1.03, SB: 4.21.4)
  2. Actually in our temple, Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple, We should try to adopt the spirit. We should know that this is Radharani and Sri Gopinath’s home. This is the home of Lord Nityanand Prabhu, Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Srila Prabhupada is the caretaker, he is teaching us how to take care of their home. We have been quoting Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. So anyone who comes through these doors of this temple, we should know they are special guests caring to visit the Supreme Personality of Godhead and it is expected of us to give them such hospitality, without discrimination, what their material status in society may be. They should be given affectionate loving words. They should feel wonderful. Srila Prabhupada explains this principle is so important. When a guest comes to the house of a king, he gives them royal treatment, but even if you are very poor, if you give that person a little straw mat, a little water and affectionate words, you will completely satisfy him, or her. So this must be established, when people come they should be welcomes with affectionate words. They should be given a nice explanation of the Deities. They should be given some nice Krishna Prasadam. They should feel by the by the love and behavior of the devotees towards them that they have entered into Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. S owe should try to establish this principle, as far as possible. And not only for guests but even for devotees, the residents who live here, even congregational devotees when they come they are also like guests. We should feel like that, we should try to welcome them with great affection, make feel very happy, comfortable, give them love of Vaishnava and this type of exchange will bring about the real presence of Krishna. Because Krishna is revealed through the loving exchanges of devotees, through this process He is pleased to make His presence known to the world. (Lect. dated 5.9.95, SB: 1.13.9, #767)

II) Personal Instructions

  1. “Treat every guest as a special friend of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath.”

  2. “Everyone should love you.”

(This means when guests come to our temple, they should feel free to express their feelings. They should feel that they are meeting a real friend. They should develop very god relationships. It is not that only when they come to the temple they open their hearts, but when they go back, they should be calling by phone to us and we should also be calling to them.)

  1. Try to maintain Vaikuntha atmosphere in the temple.”

(What is Vaikuntha atmosphere? It is spiritual world, which is free from anxiety. So when guests come to our temple they should not feel any anxiety. Therefore resident devotees should be expert in making them comfortable by sweet words, by some prasadam, taking care of their basic needs. The Temple-hall and the whole surrounding should be neat and clean. Everything should be kept at proper places. There should not be dirty things lying here and there.

In Vaikuntha, the mood of the devotees is to become the servant of the servant and put the Lord in the center. This mod should be reflected through one’s words, behavior and dealings with other devotees, between the departments. When the guess see devotees quarreling or having conflicts with each other, they carry these impressions with them & they remain in their minds throughout their lives. (First impression is the last impression). They will never forget. Therefore every resident should be extremely careful in the presence of newcomers, although he or she may not be directly engaged into this service.

Srila Prabhupada also said that his temples are in Vaikuntha, so it is the duty of everyone to create that Vaikuntha atmosphere in the temple.)

  1. “Better one moon than thousands of stars”

(This means that one should not be hankering to make everyone devotee, but to understand each person & guide them according to their level. Quality is important than quantity. Also one should be attached to the results of one’s service.)

III)Question asked by H.G. Krishnanaam Prabhu to H.H. Radhanath Swami Maharaj

H.G. Krishnanaam Prabhu: Maharaj you mentioned about serving devotees. Sometimes we find that we would like to serve devotees but somehow the resources that are available with us is not adequate to serve them. The resources that we have we.., when we try to use them for serving devotees, we find that actually since we are not able to serve them it becomes a disservice to them. So in that case what should one do?

His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj: The 1st thing you should do is give an example so I have a clear understanding of your question

H.G. Krishnanaam Prabhu: Let us say that some devotees want to stay at our house but the place that is there or the facilities that are there in the house is not adequate to service all the devotees. But the situation sometimes is that somehow the devotees because of either a festival in the temple or some other necessity there is, the devotees need to be accommodated. But since the facilities are not adequate we find that we feel that actually providing them accommodation is actually becoming a disservice. So in such a situation should we accommodate the devotees even in those conditions or should we accommodate fewer devotees. This is just an example Maharaj can be extended to other things also.

His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj: Krishna Consciousness everything should be done in a very personal way. What I would recommend that you consider is – what is best for the persons. If there is another accommodation available, where those people can be treated much nicer and more comfortable, then you should arrange for them to go there. If there is no other accommodation, and they will just be crowded in the Mataji’s ashram or the brahmachari ashram which for many people is very difficult, even your house not upto the standard you would like may be far more comfortable than what that would be or then any other alternative. So if it is within your means to accommodate them, it may be second-class by your standards but every other alternative of everywhere else is third or fourth class then you are doing on behalf of Radha Gopinath congregation you are doing the best that can be possibly be offered to him under the circumstances. If you can somehow or other make it of a higher quality of course that is better. So our consciousness should be according to the means that we have. We should try to do the best possible service we can to make the devotees the most happy, comfortable and situated in Krishna Consciousness. If it is not too difficult for you to accommodate an over crowded people you should simply like this – think will they be more happy overcrowded in my house or somewhere else.

Rather than only thinking – Am I doing the best that could be done. We should be thinking – Are they getting the best they could possibly get. And you should just try your best. And generally devotees, it is the spirit of hospitality that they appreciate more than spacious facilities. When People come from other places they are not expecting so much materially. But when they are treated with respect and with love, and they see their hosts are very attentively trying to please them and help them even though they have very little, devotees are overwhelmed by that. They are very very happy. So it is that spirit to please that is the most important part of hospitality. Facilities are secondary. Does that answer your question?

Hare Krishna !!!


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Dear assembled Devotees,

I was doing some work at my home, and I was listening to some Srimad Bhagavatam lectures giving by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada told a humorous story about a rabbit that killed a lion. It was so transcendentally pleasing that I thought I would share this nectar with all the assembled devotees on this world wide web site.

“God’s energies are a variety. All those varieties are grouped into three divisions. Out of the three divisions there are tatastha-shakti, antaranga-shakti and cit-shakti. Tatastha-shakti and this external, or karma-shakti”Triya shakti karma-sanga anya. It is mentioned that the spiritual world is just the manifestation of cit-shakti, and this material world is creation of material energy or karma-sanga, where everyone has to work. Without work, it is said, na hi suptasya simhasya, pravisanti mukhe mrgah. There is a very nice example. In the forest the lion is supposed to be the mightiest animal, and he is sometimes called the king of the animals, pasu-raja. So in one place it is said that even the lion, who is the king of the forest, if he sleeps and he thinks that animals will come and enter in his mouth, that is not possible. He has to also find out how to eat. Na hi suptasya simhasya pravisanti mukhe mrgah. The lion is so powerful, but he cannot also dictate.

So there is another story,

buddhir yasya balam tasya nirbuddhes tu kuto balam pasya simho madonmatah sasakena nipatitah

There is a story that a lion was killed by a rabbit. Sasakena nipatitah. Why? Buddhir yasya balam tasya: “One who has got intelligence, he has got power.” A Lion is very mighty, ferocious animal, and a sasaka, an ordinary rabbit, he killed the lion. How? The lion was disturbing all the animals, so all the animals held a meeting and called the lion: “Sir, you do not try to kill us all, hunting after everyone. We shall go voluntarily every day, one of us. So you don’t create disturbance. Let us become peaceful.”

So lion agreed, “All right, if you voluntarily come, I will sleep, and if you enter in my mouth” So this was the agreement.

Then it was the turn for one rabbit. So he planned something. He went to the lion a little late. So lion was very angry that, “Why you have come late? I am very hungry, and you did not come!” (laughter)

So the rabbit said, “Sir, there was a danger on the way.” “What was that?” “There is another lion, and he wanted to kill me and eat, so I protested, “No sir, you cannot kill me. (laughter) I am destined to be killed by such and such lion, so you cannot do it.”

So the lion was very much pleased: “Where is that lion!?” “Please come. I will show you.” So the rabbit took the lion near one well. The rabbit said, “He is living within this.” (laughter)

The lion immediately “Come on! Make a ROOAARR!” So there was vibration, (echo) still higher sound, and he looked down and saw his photo, yes, shadow (reflection). So he thought it, “Yes, there is lion!” He immediately jumped over him. (devotees laugh)

Finished! So how the lion was killed by the rabbit? Buddhir yasya balam tasya: “One who has got intelligence, he has got power.” The foolish, everywhere you will find.

So how one is intelligent, how one is dull, how one is via medium – that is due to these three gunas: sattva-guna, rajo-guna, tamo-guna. If one is intelligent, that is one of the qualifications of sattva-guna. Jnanam vijnanam astikyam. The brahminical qualification:

Satyah samo damo titiksa Arjavam eva ca Jnanam vijnanam astikyam Brahma-karma svabhava-jam

In the society, human society , there must be a class of brahmana, intelligent class. So our Krsna consciousness movement is trying to create a section of the human society – real brahmana, intelligence. And the intelligence means Veda. Veda means knowledge. One who has got sufficient knowledge, he is intelligence, not the fool, rascal. So there are the Vedas and there is the Vedanta. Veda, Vedanta, source of knowledge. So Vedas means knowledge, and Veda-anta. Anta means the last word. That anta knowledge, or the last word in knowledge, is Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vidya bhagavatavadhih, they say. Knowledge, expansion of knowledge, the last word is Srimad-Bhagavatam. So it is the explanation of Vedanta. Bhasyam brahma-sutranam. Vedanta’s, another name is Brahma-sutra. In India there are Mayavadi sannyasis. They advertise themselves as the Vedantists, “One who knows Vedanta.” But actually they do not know Vedanta. Real Vedanta is Srimad Bhagavatam, because this is the commentary. Bhasya ayam brahma-sutranam. Brahma-sutra is Vedanta.

Artho’yam brahma-sutranam Bharatartha-vinirnayah Gayatri-bhasya-rupo’sau Vedartha-paribrmhitah

Grantho’stadasa-sahasrah Srimad-bhagavatabhidhah
(Garuda Purana)

“The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the authorized explanation of Brahma-sutra, and it is a further explanation of Mahabharata. It is the expansion of the gayatri mantra and the essence of all Vedic knowledge. This Srimad-Bhagavatam, containing eighteen thousand verses, is known as the explanation of all Vedic literature.”

So Vedanta, what is that Vedanta? That is explained by Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyam:( Bg. 15.15) “Vedas means to understand Me.” That is Veda. If one does not understand Krsna, his so-called Vedic knowledge or Vedanta knowledge is useless, srama eva hi kevalam, simply labor.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam class by Srila Prabhupada; 6.1.44 on June 10,1976 Los Angeles)


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By Madhava Smullen

The Festival of the Holy Name, an annual community staple in Alachua, Florida is celebrating its tenth anniversary starting this week with an incredible ten days of kirtan.

The festival began in 2010, when second generation devotees Govinda Syer, Gaura Shakti Allin and Govinda Cordua decided to create an immersive experience for Alachua community members who couldn’t make it to kirtan events around the country.

The team, under the banner of the Kuli Mela Association (KMA) had already helped organize Kuli Mela events as well as Village of Vrindavan, a recreation of Lord Krishna’s birthplace during Alachua’s Janmastami festival. So they were excited for another chance to inspire their community.

Ten years later, their core team has grown to about twenty people and multiple generations, and the Festival of the Holy Name has become an integral part of the fabric of New Raman Reti. A 2017 Alachua community survey saw devotees rank it as both the event they attended most consistently, and the one that inspired them the most.

This year, for the tenth anniversary, seven evening kirtans in the New Raman Reti temple room from November 22nd to 28th will lead up to the main Festival of the Holy Name from Friday November 29th to Sunday December 1st.

Srila Prabhupada disciple and traveling kirtaniya Badahari Das will facilitate a full immersion into the Holy Name across the first seven evenings. Each evening will begin with a song by one of the Vaishnava Acharyas and then a short presentation by Badahari on the song’s subject matter.

Topics will include how devotee association makes Krishna Katha more potent; how to develop faith in the Holy Name; how to increase humility by chanting attentively; building your relationship with Krishna through chanting; and when Krishna Himself comes to the kirtan.

After sharing his insights and realizations on these topics from a life of chanting, Badahari and other devotees will lead about an hour and a half of kirtan.

“We hope this will help us focus our intention, and make the actual weekend more powerful individually and collectively,” Badahari says.

Adding to the experience, the temple room will be specially decorated, The Higher Taste Café will serve prasadam every evening, and a family-friendly outdoor dining area will be created around the fountain next to the temple with picnic tables and decorative lighting. Each evening, a different family or community team will help cook prasadam.

During the main Festival of the Holy Name over the weekend, meanwhile, festival t-shirts designed by kirtaniya Nadiya Mani will be available with the slogan, “The Holy Name has risen like the shining sun.”

The phrase is taken from verse seven of the song Udilo Aruna Puraba Bhage by Bhaktivinoda Thakur, which reads: “To penetrate the darkness of ignorance and bless everyone’s heart, the Holy Name has risen like the shining sun.”

This theme will be reflected in the large, colorful Festival of India style main tent, where a sun rays effect will be created using gold and silver streamers with special lighting.

To ensure the focus is on the Lord and the Holy Name, kirtan leaders will be announced not more than a day or two prior, and all devotees including lead chanters will sit in a semi-circle facing the festival’s presiding Deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra.

Kirtan will run from 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, with most slots lasting 30 to 45 minutes, although towards the evening, as the tent becomes packed and the fervor builds, some will stretch to an hour-and-a-half.

Lead chanters will range from teenagers to local devotees to well-known kirtaniyas from around the world, with a good balance of men and women. Along with traditional instruments and styles, some chanters, especially during the more relaxed lunchtime hours, will incorporate their own instruments and tunes, such as bass guitar, flutes, violins, banjos and cajon drums. To keep the mind engaged, kirtans will vary between high energy, with devotees up on their feet and dancing, and a more meditative mood.

On Sunday, the chanting will continue from 10am until 2pm, ending with a special closing ceremony before everyone takes down the tents and honors prasadam together.

“That’s a very sweet part of the festival,” says co-organizer Govinda Syer.

Throughout, as much effort as possible will be made to create an environment where devotees want to spend the whole day at the festival, and to improve on previous years. Prasadam will be served nonstop all day; the kids’ camp led by educator Mother Mandie will be expanded to a larger space; and a new floor system and additional outside lighting will make everyone more comfortable.

“Another part of giving the devotees a better experience is providing more engagement for them – because a lot of people actually enjoy being part of this service,” Govinda says. “Even the kids help in the kitchen. This year, my daughter said she wants to do fifteen hours with her friends.”

For the team behind Festival of the Holy Name, it’s such service that has transformed their lives.

“A lot of us already had friendships, but doing this service together made them even stronger,” says Govinda. “And it says a lot that although it’s exhausting work, everyone on the team keeps wanting to do it, even after ten years.”

Festival participants of all backgrounds also feel inspired by the festival. “Every year, we get feedback that it’s a lot of people’s highlight of the entire year,” Govinda says. “Many gurukulis and other devotees, old and young, have found their bliss in coming together with their family, their community, their tribe, and chanting together. Even the kids talk about it constantly – it’s a big deal for them. So the festival has been spiritually transformational for many.”

Govinda hopes Festival of the Holy Name’s success will inspire others around the world to make similar efforts.

“Find a team, and find something you can do together that serves your community,” he says.

Watch Festival of the Holy Name live online at or

Audio recordings of the past ten years of FOHN kirtans are also available at



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In his talk on the Bhagavad-gita 9.20–22, on December 7, 1966, in New York, Srila Prabhupada stated:

“The Lord says a very nice thing. What is that?

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
       [Gita 9.22]

[But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.] Here the Lord gives assurance that ‘Those who are unflinching and cent percent devoted in the transcendental service of Me, for them I take charge of their maintenance, all comforts.’ Nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham.

“Now, this sloka is very important for devotees. There was a great devotee named Arjunacharya. When he was writing commentaries on this particular sloka, verse, he saw tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham, that the Lord says, ‘I Myself take the burden and take the load on My head, and I deliver to My devotees what they require. They don’t require to go outside. I Myself go and deliver the goods, whatever they require.’

“This is written here. Tesam nityabhiyuktanam. Those who are cent percent engaged in the loving service of the Lord, tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham. Yoga means what is required by him, and ksemam means what he has got, what he requires to be protected. So, these two things the Lord takes charge, that ‘I personally do it.’ For whom? Ananyas cintayanto mam: those who have no thought other than Krishna, who are Krishna conscious. Ananyas cintayanto mam. Ye janah paryupasate engaged in that way always. He has no other business, simply Krishna. The Lord does these things for him. It is specifically mentioned here.

“This is an encouragement. This is an encouragement by the Lord that ‘Do not think that because you are not trying for going to the other planet you will be unhappy. You will have happiness.’ What is happiness? Happiness is within your mind. If you are assured of your peaceful existence and the next life you are transferred to the supreme planet, or supreme place, then that is happiness not for trying life after life to adjust happiness. Here is an assurance.

“This Arjunacharya . . . That’s a very nice story. When he was writing commentaries, and he thought, ‘How is that, the Lord will come Himself and deliver the goods? Oh, it is not possible. He might be sending through some agents.’ So he wanted to cut vahamy aham, ‘I bear the burden and deliver.’ He wrote in a way that ‘I send some agent who delivers.’

“Then Arjunacharya went to take bath, and in the meantime two very beautiful boys brought some very nice foodstuffs in large quantity. In India there is a process of taking two sides burden on the bamboo; just like a scale it is balanced. So, these two boys brought some very highly valuable foodstuff and grains and ghee and the like, and his wife was there. And the boys said, ‘My dear mother, Arjunacharya has sent these goods to you. Please take delivery.’ She said, ‘Oh, You are such nice boys, You are such beautiful boys, and he has given You? Acharya is not so cruel. How is that? He has given so much burden to You, and he is not kind?’ ‘Oh, I was not taking; just see, he has beaten Me. Here is the cane mark. Just see.’ His wife became very much astonished, that ‘Acharya is not so cruel. How he has become so cruel?’ She was thinking in that way.

“Then she said, ‘All right, my dear boys. You come on,’ and gave Them shelter. And, ‘No. We shall go, because when Arjunacharya comes back, he will chastise Us.’ ‘No, no. You sit down, take foodstuff.’ She prepared foodstuff, and then They went away.

“When Arjunacharya came back, he saw that his wife was eating. It is the system of Indian families that after the husband has taken food, the wife will take. They don’t take together. After the family members the boys and the husband are sumptuously fed, then the housewife takes.

“So Arjunacharya said, ‘You are . . .’ So, the wife said, ‘Acharya, you have become so much cruel nowadays?’ ‘Oh, what is that?’ ‘Now, two very nice boys brought so much foodstuff. You loaded on Their head, and They denied to take it, and you have beaten Them, chastised?’ He said, ‘No, I have never done this. Why shall I do it?’ Then she described, ‘Oh, such a nice, beautiful boy.’

“Then Arjunacharya understood that ‘Because I wanted that God does not deliver personally, so He has delivered these goods, and because I cut these alphabets that He does not give personally, so He has shown that beating mark, cut mark.’ . . . Of course, you may believe or not believe. That’s a different thing. But here the Lord says, ‘I personally deliver.’

“So, those who are in Krishna consciousness, who are actually busy in the matter of discharging their duties as Krishna conscious persons, may be assured that so far their living condition is concerned or their comforts of life is concerned, that is assured by the Lord. There will be no hampering.


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Neat Building by Bhaktimarga Swami

I'm staying at Cdad. de La Paz 394, the location of the Buenos Aires ISKCON, and it’s an interesting building.  If I was a kid (and who’s to say I won’t be one again), I would be in bliss within this structure.  It was a former school.  It has all these neat hideaways and narrow-to-wide staircases, some of them so tucked away.  Whoever designed the place was artistically eccentric, I would think. The only thing missing are tunnels.  I mean, we don't have architecture or building codes like this in Canada.  Unless, of course, you consider the city of Moose Jaw, where gangster Al Capone hid himself underground during boot-legging days.

I spent most of my day next to the kitchen, in the prasadam-eating room, for our drama practices.  To get there from my accommodations, on the rooftop, I have to go through all these nooks and crannies. 

At 3:00 pm, I had an appointment with Bhakti Bhushana Swami, a monk visiting from Germany.  He stays halfway up in the building.  We had a good chat.  He had just come from a radio interview. The broadcaster addressed the problem of serious social issues in not only Argentina, but the world.  The swami's resolution was that we live in a time of confusion, and to note, that the current age is astrologically known as the Kali-Yuga, a time when enlightenment and simple self-discipline are not a priority.

I was happy he shared his interview with me, after which I was compelled by schedule to go down the back way. It was almost a secret passage.  I'm doing a lot of ups and downs on stairwells, rather than walking on level ground.
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ISKCON India Youth Convention (IIYC) 2019

By Radha Rasikraj Das 
4th Annual ISKCON India Youth Convention (IIYC-2019)
(12th - 15th Nov 2019, Nathdwara, Udaipur, INDIA)
This year's Bhishma Panchak, the last five days of the auspicious month of Kartik saw the commencement of a confluence of ever energetic and enthusiastic youth and driving force of our movement at one of the holiest places of Vaishnava sampradayas, sacred seat of pushtimarga vaishnava traditional temple town, Nathdwara. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Krishna lifting Govardhan, Sri Govardhan Nath ji or Shrinath ji who was discovered by Sripad Madhvendrapuri at Govardhan.
Started from Mayapur in the year 2016, then Kanpur(2017), MiraRoad(2018) till this year's convention at Nathdwara we have seen a whole lot of reform and rise in the mood of collective endeavors to preach the science of Krishna Consciousness by the youth preachers..  
This year's meet was very graciously hosted by ISKCON Udaipur. 
In all around 300 devotees from many small centers and big temples gathered at Nathdwara for this annual festival of youth preachers. These 4 days were packed with Morning programs, Srimad Bhagwatam Classes, Individual presentations and Panel Discussions on various relevant topics.
The devotees started arriving at the temple town form 11th onwards and the mesmerizing yatra commenced with beautiful darshans of Ekling ji and Dwarkadhish ji at Kankroli.
Senioir Vaishnava Devotees marked their presence. HG Basughosh Prabhu, HH Vaishnava Maharaj, HG Devakinandan Prabhu, HG Radheshyam Prabhu, HG Sankarshan NItai Prabhu, HG Shankhdhari Prabhu, HG Gauranga Prabhu, HG Gauranga Darshan Prabhu and many more.
The gala opening was marked by presence of dignitaries from the temple trust of Srinath ji Temple and the first topic of discussion was Srila Prabhupada, the best youth preacher - Shankhadhari Prabhu, Basughosh Prabhu, Amogh Lila Prabhu.
Other topics discussed were, Social security  of ISKCON Brahmachari, Broadening the perspective of Youth Preacher - RadheShyam Prabhu, From Youth Preacher to Preacher-Murli Krishna Prabhu, Alternative approaches to Youth preaching & Srimad Bhagawatam class on Humility - Sundar Gopal Prabhu.
Panel Discussions - Mood of a Youth Preacher, Maturity, Purity and Clarity - Kamal Lochan Prabhu, Sundar Gopal Prabhu and Radheshyam Prabhu
Seminars - ISKCON Connect by Devakinandan Prabhu, Unified Approach within Diversity -  Sankarshan Nitai Prabhu.
Gauranga Prabhu took up the topic of Preparing devotees for Government Civil Services and Learning from other Organisations.  
HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj and HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj gave their blessings and registered their presence via Video Conferencing and answered many inspirational, administrative and philosophical questions put up by inquisitive youth preachers.
Dr Neeraj Kamthe (Karunanidhi Das), gave a seminar on taking care of the Dietary and Lifestyle Challenges to keep the body fit with ayurvedic way of life.
The high class arrangements for the recently concluded 4 day successful convention was the result of hard-work and perseverance of the devotees, HG Kamal Locan Prabhu(ISKCON Mira Road), Atul Krishna Prabhu(ISKCON Belgaum), Ravindra Chaitanya Prabhu(ISKCON Pune) and Chakravarti Prabhu(ISKCON Juhu). They had put in lot of efforts for almost 3 months to make this program a grand success.
It wasn't possible with the active participation of Mayapurvasi Prabhu and his team of ISKCON Udaipur. Despite the unavailability of proper resources he and his team made the stay of attending vaishnavas very very comfortable. It was an commendable task.

Devotees from Surat, headed by Braj Bihari Prabhu, cooked sumptuous prasadam for all the four days and Devotees from Bhilwara, Juhu and Pune served non-stop.
Overall the event was highly successful and everybody is eagerly looking forward to IIYC2020 at Kurukshetra.
More photos of this event can be seen on the below link:
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Hare Krishna,

Hrishikesh Kirtan Fest 2020, organized by H.H.Indradyumna Swami Maharaj.
In the foothills of the Himalayas on the bank of the sacred Ganges River, An Event that would serve to introduce people to India’s rich Vedic spiritual heritage through chanting, dancing and feasting.
Dates: 1st To 22nd March amidst of the prestigious annual International Yoga Festival which attracts thousands of spiritual seekers from across the globe.
21 days. 50 devotees. 42 discourses on Bhagavad Gita. 10,000 printed invitations distributed per day.

6,300 plates of prasadam. Unlimited kirtan ➡ H.H.Indradyumna Swami

H.H.BB Govinda Swami

H.G.BadaHari Das Prabhu

H.G.Madhava Prabhu and others*

We request you to support financially by donating for various service ▶ Click Here Now:
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